blog oct 19 upd

PoliticsOctober 19, 2020

Live Updates, October 19: Covid-19 case a new border incursion – Bloomfield

blog oct 19 upd

All the latest New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. Reach me on

7pm: The day in sum

There were no new cases of Covid-19, the day after a shipworker tested positive outside of managed isolation.

A suspected historical case detected in a crew member at the Port of Tauranga is under investigation by the Ministry of Health. They are not believed to be infectious.

The Greens hosted a caucus meeting today ahead of a formal meeting with Labour sometime later this week. Co-leader James Shaw said he remained hopeful for a coalition.

National Party leader Judith Collins believes she will remain leader, despite the historic defeat over the weekend. The party will hold its first caucus meeting tomorrow.

TVNZ revealed that 1.4 million people (above the age of five) tuned into its election night coverage on Saturday.

The government has deployed an Air Force “maritime patrol aircraft” to help with imposing UN sanctions against North Korea.

4.20pm: Ardern meets with Greens, coalition talks yet to start

Jacinda Ardern has met with the Green Party’s co-leaders soon after arriving back in Wellington this afternoon. Here’s political editor Justin Giovannetti with the latest:

The Labour leader didn’t discuss possible coalition arrangements with the Greens, but engaged in a general conversation about Saturday’s election, according to her office. Ardern said she’d like the new government to be ready by early November, giving her two-to-three weeks to figure out how she’d like to govern.

Labour won a resounding victory on Saturday night and could govern alone. However, a number of pundits and ex-Labour leaders, including former prime minister Helen Clark, have said Ardern would be wise to bring some members from the Greens to the cabinet table to build a lasting relationship with the party.

Greens co-leader James Shaw has said he’d interested in looking at a number of “creative options” with Labour about the make-up of the future government.

4.05pm: Suspected historical case detected at Port of Tauranga

The Ministry of Health says it’s currently investigating a suspected historical case of Covid-19 detected in a crew member on the IVS Merlion which is currently docked in the Port of Tauranga.

The crew member has returned a weak positive Covid-19 test with a high CT value which indicates an old infection. The crew member is believed to no longer be infectious with other crew members, who’ve been on board the vessel for three weeks, all returning negative tests. Additionally, no crew members have come ashore, so the risk of community transmission remains very low, according to the ministry.

As a precautionary approach, the case under investigation has been isolated and has had a repeat Covid-19 test as well as a blood test. The results of these tests will confirm whether they are a historic case. All crew members are being treated as close contacts until the case investigation is complete. No crew members will be allowed to leave the vessel during the investigation.

Health staff and other port staff, who had minimal contact with the crew, have all been informed and no further action is deemed necessary.

3.45pm: Trump’s bizarre dance moves go viral

With our election season wrapping up, let’s take a look at what’s going on in the US.

President Donald Trump – leader of a country where more than 200,000 people have died from Covid-19 – is being widely ridiculed for his dancing at a recent political rally.

The strange dance moves have caught the attention of former secretary of state John Kerry, who has previously been compared to “Lurch” from The Addams Family.

The dance moves were also compared to a scene in Seinfeld, featuring Julia-Louis Dreyfus as Elaine Benes. Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander tweeted: “The president is apparently a fan of [Dreyfus’] famous I can’t dance for shit moves. Julia was working hard to be that awful. I feel like these are his best moves.”

3.15pm: New MP-elects land in Wellington for first day

National’s Christopher Luxon – one of the few success stories for the party – has arrived at parliament for his first day. The former Air New Zealand boss is one of just a handful of new National MPs, including Selwyn’s Nicola Grigg.

Newstalk ZB’s Barry Soper tweeted a (blurry) photo of Luxon being welcomed into his new gig.

Meanwhile, Labour are continuing to celebrate after Saturday’s red tidal wave, with party whip Michael Wood posting a photo showcasing most of the party’s new arrivals.

2.40pm: Ardern continuing to get phone calls from world leaders

Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada and definitely not the wife of Jacinda Ardern, has revealed on Twitter that he’s had a phone conversation with our newly reelected prime minister.

In a tweet, Trudeau said: “I’m wishing you all the best in your second term”.

Ardern previously revealed she had been contacted by leaders including Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison – but not Donald Trump.

2.20pm: TVNZ reveals massive election night viewership

TVNZ’s revealed that 1.4 million people (above the age of five) tuned into its election night coverage on Saturday. An average audience of 530,600 was recorded on the night, making it the highest reaching and highest rating TV programme on Saturday evening in both key commercial demographics and total audience.

Hilary Barry, who co-hosted TVNZ’s election night coverage, thanked viewers in a tweet.

In a follow-up message, Barry claimed the viewership was “about 40% more than our competition”, although Newshub has not confirmed this.

1.00pm: No new Covid-19 cases; latest case not linked to previous NZ cluster


There are no new cases of Covid-19, Ashley Bloomfield has announced, the day after a shipworker tested positive outside of managed isolation.

Bloomfield said the lack of new cases was “pleasing”, as test results were back from a number of close contacts of the case reported yesterday.

There are no new imported cases, in managed isolation, Bloomfield confirmed.

The most recent case, reported yesterday, is not being considered a “community” case due to it being linked to the border.

“We’re continuing to investigate the source of this man’s infection, and we have a clear line of investigation,” said Bloomfield.

“We believe the most likely source of the man’s infection is a ship that he worked on in Auckland on the 12th and 13th of October, the Sofrana Surville, which had travelled from Brisbane to Tauranga and then on to Auckland, where eight crew joined from the Philippines.”

The case that was reported yesterday had done some work on that ship when it was in Auckland, while wearing PPE.

“We also plan to test the New Zealand-based crew of another ship the man worked on a few days earlier. We do not believe that ship is the source of that infection as it only operates in New Zealand waters and has only a New Zealand-based crew,” Bloomfield said.

“Genome sequencing on the case reported yesterday has been completed and fits with the scenario that the case is a new border incursion,” said Bloomfield.

“The strain is not a type previously seen in New Zealand, and not linked to any existing New Zealand cases, including the recent August Auckland outbreak.”

Five more cases have recovered, so New Zealand now has 37 active cases. Yesterday 1,773 tests were processed, which were taken on Saturday, election day, bringing the total to 1,310,888.

On testing of port workers, Bloomfield said, “Of course we are going to look at the entire process that happens to see if there is anything that needs to be strengthened and if there’s anything we need to learn from this case.”

He said he believed fortnightly testing was sufficient.

12.45pm: Bloomfield to give Covid-19 update

It’s been a while, but Ashley Bloomfield is back once more with the 1pm Covid-19 update.

It follows yesterday’s news about a new community case of Covid-19 in New Zealand; a man whose work involved working at ports, including in the last two weeks Auckland and Taranaki.

We’ll have all the latest from 1pm.

Watch live:

12.05pm: NZ helps UN with North Korean sanctions

Winston Peters may have just been kicked out of parliament, but for now, he’s still the deputy PM and foreign minister.

In a press release issued this morning, Peters said the government has deployed an Air Force “maritime patrol aircraft” to help with imposing UN sanctions against North Korea.

“New Zealand has long supported the maintenance of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula,” said Peters said.

“The full implementation of UNSC sanctions resolutions is an important step towards the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea. New Zealand’s P-3 deployments contribute to the international community’s collective efforts to achieve this,” said Peters.

This marked the third deployment, Peters said, after October 2018 and 2019.

On The Spinoff: Where to now for Winston Peters and New Zealand First?

We’ve talked about National, Act and the Greens during this morning’s live updates – but now let’s turn our attention to New Zealand First. The ex-queenmaker and former deputy prime minister, Winston Peters, is gone from parliament, after pulling in less than 3% of the vote on election night.

But as Peters’ former researcher Josh Van Veen writes, the party’s legacy is too enduring for NZ First to be gone for good.

Here’s an extract:

Ambition and ideals are at the heart of politics. More often than not they conflict. What is good for one’s political career may not be good for the conscience. It is the ability, or inability, to reconcile these two poles of motivation that defines a political leader. In the case of Winston Raymond Peters, I believe history will judge that he did better than most. New Zealand First is the successful embodiment of both his ambition and ideals. But it represents a lot more than just that.

Read the full article here

8.25am: Greens remain hopeful for coalition

Based on the sea of red on Saturday night, Jacinda Ardern doesn’t need to call the Greens into government if she doesn’t want to. The party is celebrating winning almost 8% of the vote and an electorate seat, and remains hopeful Ardern will make the call to expand her control of parliament.

Co-leader James Shaw has spoken to Ardern since election night, and told Newstalk ZB he wants to just “see how it goes”.

“We congratulated each other on respective wins on Saturday. It was obviously a huge night for Labour, they made history, and so did we. We said, ‘Good on ya, and we’ll talk in the coming days’,” he said.

The Greens will host their caucus meeting today, before a formal meeting with Labour sometime this week.

Shaw remained confident that should Labour choose to form a coalition, the party would honour the Greens’ priorities.

“It has been a good partnership… we have a constructive working relationship,” he said. It was “absurd” to suggest all the party’s priorities would be rejected.

It’s also possible Ardern will want to work with parliament’s sole representative from the Māori Party, Rawiri Waititi, who won the seat of Waiariki off Labour’s Tamati Coffey.

8.00am: David Seymour confident with his team of 10

Act’s David Seymour says he’s not worried about his team of one becoming a team of 10. The party’s had a meteoric rise in support over the past 12 months, resulting in its best election outcome ever.

“The National Party’s result was lower than the polls suggested so in that sense it was a surprise,” Seymour told RNZ. “But the important lesson is you have to be constructive, you have to stand on principle. Those are the things that I intend for Act to do.”

Asked what Act will bring to the table, Seymour said any opposition party has two roles. “One is to ask the questions that people want asked about how taxpayers money is being used… and secondly to come up with alternative, competing vision for how New Zealand can be so that voters at the next election have choice.

“You’ll certainly see that on both counts, from Act,” Seymour said.

A lot of questions have been asked about how Seymour’s caucus will perform considering the lack of parliamentary experience. Seymour’s not concerned: “All new MPs have never been in parliament before,” he said. “They’ve all got very good experience.”

Seymour said his party includes a wide-range of talent, including a former policeman and a number of small business owners. Number two on the list, deputy Brooke van Velden, has previously worked in parliament as a staffer.

7.35am: Judith Collins remains defiant after election lost

National Party leader Judith Collins believes she will remain leader, despite the historic defeat over the weekend. The party will hold its first caucus meeting tomorrow.

“I’m fine,” Collins told Newstalk ZB. “I did everything I possibly could… sometimes you’ve just got to roll with it.”

Asked whether Covid-19 was to blame, Collins said there was “almost nothing” that could have been done, but that having “three leaders in four months didn’t help”.

A full review of the party is now needed, Collins said. “I’m really happy to provide a stability in the leadership,” she said.

Collins said there are no “moves afoot” to roll her as leader, and she remains committed on the 2023 election.

On RNZ, Collins refused to say whether her long-serving colleagues Gerry Brownlee and Nick Smith – who both lost their staunchly blue seats – should leave parliament. She said they need to both make up their minds, and she trusted them to do that.

7.00am: Top stories from The Bulletin

The mood in the room will be very different when the Labour and National caucuses meet this week. For Labour, it’ll be a crowded affair, with a huge crop of new MPs. Radio NZ reports moves to form a new government are already underway, with senior MPs meeting to sort out a timetable. PM Jacinda Ardern said the mandate existed for Labour to form a government alone – on the preliminary results, the party has 64 seats, and there’s a decent chance they’ll add one more on the special votes – lawyer Graeme Edgeler has put together an analysis on Public Address explaining why that is likely. That would make it the second-largest party caucus in New Zealand’s history, behind National in 1990.

When National meets, the mood won’t be quite so bright. Leader Judith Collins told media yesterday that she intends to stay on, but as Stuff’s Thomas Coughlan reports, there will be a confidence motion once all the new MPs are sworn in. No formal leadership challenger has yet broken ranks, but you’d have to assume a few of the more ambitious survivors will be considering their options. That story also hinted at veiled digs flying back and forth between Collins and former leader Simon Bridges about campaign messaging, and anger from Collins at a lack of discipline that saw leaks coming out in recent weeks. There’s a good chance of a bit more ill-discipline in the coming days, as the blame game for the defeat begins – Stuff’s Luke Malpass has a column today with a fair bit of off the record chat on that.

On the subject of discipline, deputy leader Gerry Brownlee has admitted he made a “huge mistake” by suggesting the government may have withheld information on the re-emergence of Covid-19. You might recall that as the infamous “interesting set of facts” press conference. Brownlee told Radio NZ that he “made a flippant comment that then quite reasonably was construed as suggesting something that I didn’t intend to convey.”

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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