The latest on New Zealand news, politics and the Covid-19 crisis, updated throughout the day.
5pm: The day in sum
Auckland transport received a $182m boost from the government for four transport projects to help the region’s economic recovery.
Torrential weather battered the upper North Island with roads closed and residents evacuated due to flooding.
One new case of Covid-19 in managed isolation was announced – a man in his 50s who arrived on July 12 from Central Africa via Tanzania, Doha and Brisbane.
Brexit “bad boys” Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore said New Zealand should expect “Winston on steroids” as they prepare a complete revamp NZ First’s social media presence.
4.45pm: Victoria reports 217 new cases of Covid-19, two dead
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced 217 new cases of Covid-19, ABC News reports. Eleven of those are connected to known cases, one is in quarantine and 205 are still under investigation.
There are now 2,608 active cases in Victoria alone. The state’s chief health officer, Dr Brett Sutton, described today’s new case numbers as “a relief” after Friday’s record 428 new cases.
There have also been two Covid-19 related deaths – a man and a woman, both in their 80s. This puts Victoria’s death toll at 34.
3.30pm: New National hoardings unveiled
National Party candidates and volunteers have been busy replacing their Muller/Kaye hoardings this afternoon with newly minted ones, including leader Judith Collins in her Auckland electorate of Papakura.
— Judith Collins (@JudithCollinsMP) July 18, 2020
However, it appears the old slogan (“Strong team. More jobs. Better economy.”) lives on thanks to a quick patch-up job.
2.40pm: Ministry of Health warns of scam emails
A series of scam emails including misinformation on Covid-19 was sent out to some inboxes pretending to be the Ministry of Health.
One email told the recipient they’d been identified as a close contact of a Covid-19 case and urged them to book a test immediately. A link was also included to a website registered under the domain websitefun.club. The website featured the Ministry of Health logo and asked for an email address and password to provide updates.
The ministry made it clear that it “doesn’t request personal details via email” in a tweet on Friday afternoon.
A spokesperson for the ministry says it became aware of the scam after being alerted by members of the public and that there was nothing to indicate that “anyone has suffered a loss”.
1.10pm: One new case of Covid-19
Today there is one new case of Covid-19 in managed isolation.
The case is a man in his 50s who arrived in New Zealand on July 12 from Central Africa via Tanzania, Doha and Brisbane. He’s now in the quarantine facility in Auckland after being transferred yesterday.
The number of active cases in New Zealand is 22.
It’s now been 78 days since the last case of Covid-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source.
1pm: Auckland transport to receive $182 million boost
The government has announced $182 million to be invested into four transport projects in Auckland to help the region’s economic recovery.
Approximately 800 jobs are expected to be created from two new transport projects in West Auckland, the first being $100 million worth of improvements to the North Western Motorway to allow faster and more frequent bus services, and the second being a $37m shared path alongside the Whau River connecting New Lynn and Te Atatū.
Around 200 jobs are also set to be protected on two projects already underway: the Puhinui Interchange and Stage One of the Ferry Basin Redevelopment project, both of which are expected to be completed next year.
Government funding for these projects means $98 million of Auckland Council funding will be freed up and re-invested into other infrastructure projects.
Transport minister Phil Twyford says the announcement reflects the need to invest in “shovel ready” projects and create a pipeline of work, while associate transport minister Julie Anne Genter adds these projects will help create a safer, healthier, and more accessible city.
“The Te Whau Pathway will be extended through New Lynn, from Olympic Park to Ken Maunder Park, and through Te Atatū South, from Laurieston Park to the North Western Cycleway. This will give these communities an easy and safe way to get around.
“By investing in public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure, not only are we helping people leave the car at home, we are reducing emissions and tackling climate change,” says Genter.
The Northwestern Bus Improvements will include a range of short-term works which includes new bus interchanges at Te Atatū Rd, Lincoln Rd and Westgate, local bus stop improvements, and bus priority at motorway interchanges and along motorway shoulders. The improvements could mean up to 35 minutes saved on a bus trip from Westgate into the city.
Auckland Transport is currently upgrading Puhinui Station to become a major bus and train interchange. Alongside the underway upgrade of State Highway 20B, it will create a 10-minute bus service to the airport.
The Ferry Basin Redevelopment is creating six new berths on the west side of Queens Wharf to provide improved accessibility and accommodate increased passenger numbers.
The funding comes from the government’s $50 billion Covid-19 response fund set out in this year’s budget.
12.10pm: Assistance for upper North Island during floods
Following extensive flooding overnight, Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare says the government is on standby to assist communities across Coromandel, Northland and Tairawhiti.
“I’ve spoken to the local mayors and understand the most important message this morning is to stay off the roads and avoid unnecessary travel so that emergency services can provide assistance to those most in need,” said Henare.
“Overnight several Civil Defence centres were open to help people who had to evacuate their homes due to flooding or couldn’t get home due to road closures.
“Last night there were 45 calls received by the Far North District Council relating to roading, infrastructure and downed trees. In Tarawhiti, SH35 was closed between Te Puia & Tolaga Bay, some local roads are also closed, and the Hikuwai River is being monitored.”
“As damage assessments take place this morning, I am considering options for travelling to the region to see where the Government can best support local communities during this time.”
10.40am: Winston Peters and the ‘bad boys’ of Brexit speak out
Ahead of NZ First’s convention and campaign launch this weekend, leader and deputy prime minister Winston Peters made an appearance on Newshub Nation this morning. While Peters wouldn’t say what percentage of vote the party was aiming for, he believed NZ First would do “extraordinarily well on election night” despite the party polling below 5%, adding that “none of my ministers have had to be sacked, none of them have screwed up”.
When questioned about his relationship with Brexit “bad boys” Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore, who’ve pledged to bring “mischief, mayhem and guerrilla warfare” to New Zealand’s election, Peters said it was important to work with people “from all around the world” and that other parties were doing the same.
In a segment aired after Peters’ interview, Banks and Wigmore were asked by reporter Lloyd Burr if the pair had put any money into NZ First. “Of course not. How can I?” said Banks. “The best way to smear Winston is through this type of thinking,” noting that the Serious Fraud Office should be looking into “dodgy donations” from China rather than Peters himself.
When asked what New Zealand should expect from their brand of politics, Banks said it would be “Winston on steroids” with the team set to completely revamp NZ First’s social media presence. Banks said they wanted to humanise Peters’ image and “get across what he’s like off-camera.”
“We advised him to be happier and enjoy the process rather than get drawn into the negativity,” said Banks. “He’s just nice guy with a good sense of humour,” with Wigmore calling Peters a “typical Kiwi”.
While Peters himself refused to say what percentage of the vote the party was aiming for, Banks and Wigmore said they personally were aiming for 13-15%.
For more on the relationship between NZ First and Banks, you can read our coverage here.
10am: ‘I’m not here to get second. I‘m here to win’ – Collins
On Newshub Nation this morning, National Party leader Judith Collins said she “won’t be losing” when asked if she would stand down if her party fails to lose the election. When pressed by host Tova O’Brien if she would hold herself to her previous 35% performance threshold, Collins said she stood by what she said and that 35% for the National Party wasn’t “a long term option”. However, she refused to say if she would step down from the leadership if she failed to reach that mark in September. “I’m not worried about that because we’re going to win … I’m not here to get second. I’m going to win.”
When asked about MPs Nikki Kaye and Amy Adams stepping down, Collins said she’d rather have people choose “to leave if they’re not completely committed to a 24 hour, seven day a week job that takes a massive toll” and that it was better to leave now than after the election. She added that Kaye and Adams had asked her to put her name forward for the leadership and that she was “personally fond” of them both. “I know they’re backing me,” she said.
9.10am: Heavy rain causes flooding in Northland and Whangārei
Torrential weather has been battering the north of the country as flooding closes roads and forces residents to evacuate.
The Far North District Council has reported flooding, slips and fallen trees throughout the region. Two welfare centres have been set up by Civil Defence at Kamo Scout Hall in Tikipunga and Onerahi Community Hall in Whangārei for homes hit with flooding and power cuts.
In Whangārei, MetService says 220 millimetres of rain had fallen since 7pm last night – a level that’s only expected once every 500 years.
Meanwhile, extraordinary scenes have emerged from a Whangārei petrol station where a group of 12 found themselves stuck in waist-high flooding. A staff member said workers and customers stranded were calm. “We ain’t going nowhere. Everyone’s pretty much chilling out talking and drinking coffee and eating pies,” he said.
8.45am: Two people in hospital after Auckland shooting
Two men were rushed to Auckland Hospital last night after a firearms incident in the suburb of Ellerslie, the NZ Herald reports. They were taken via ambulance with “moderate injuries”.
The incident reportedly took place near the suburb’s popular stretch of restaurants and bars on Arthur Street just before 9pm.
A police spokesperson last night said they were called about a “firearms-related job” at 8.55pm and enquiries were ongoing. It’s not yet known how or why the shooting occurred and the condition of the two individuals shot.
The incident comes one month after a police officer was shot and killed in the Auckland suburb of Massey. Constable Matthew Hunt was shot multiple times during a traffic stop and was the first police officer killed on the front line in 11 years.
8.00am: Yesterday’s key stories
Simon Bridges revealed he wanted Mark Mitchell to lead National.
Judith Collins unveiled a $31 billion transport plan, including rail to Auckland Airport.
The blogger once known as Whale Oil, Cameron Slater, was in court to defend defamation claims.
A range of magazines including the Woman’s Weekly and the Listener will be back in print soon, following the sale of Bauer NZ titles to Mercury Capital.
There was one more case of Covid-19, detected in managed isolation.
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