Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for October 21. All the latest New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. Reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org
8.15pm: Covid case visited Auckland pub, patrons asked to self-isolate
People who were at The Malt pub in Greenhithe on the North Shore of Auckland on Friday night are being asked to self-isolate and get tested after it was visited by a person who has since tested positive for Covid-19.
The Auckland Regional Public Health Service says the person, who was infectious at the time, was at the pub from 7.30pm to 10pm on Friday night.
A few close contacts in the pub have been identified and are being contacted by the service.
“Most people in the pub at this time are considered casual contacts, but are being asked to get tested as soon as possible. They should stay at home in self-isolation until they receive a negative test result. Staff will also be asked to get tested,” said ARPHS in a press release.
Today two community cases of Covid-19 were confirmed, a close contact of the port worker who tested positive on Sunday and has been in quarantine since, as well as a casual workplace contact of that person.
The Malt’s owner, Malcolm McVicar, told Stuff he only learned of the person’s visit tonight.
There will be pop-up testing centres in Greenhithe tomorrow, the details of which will be on the ARPHS website when they’re confirmed.
7.20pm: The day in sum
There were 25 new cases of Covid-19, with 23 imported cases (18 part of the Sudima Hotel of fishermen) and two contacts of a port worker who had previously tested positive.
The Greens held “fruitful discussions” with Labour over their potential role in the next government.
National leader Judith Collins said her controversial pre-election comments about obesity could have been “shut down” more quickly.
The Electoral Commission revealed the cost of its lovely smelling hand sanitiser and polling booth pens.
7.00pm: Sudima fishermen sharing rooms, may have stay extended
MIQ head Air Commodore Darryn “Digby” Webb this evening told RNZ’s Checkpoint that the 235 Russian and Ukrainian fishermen in managed isolation at the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch may have to stay in isolation for longer than the standard 14 days.
There are now 21 cases in the facility, 18 confirmed and three suspected. Some of the hotel is set aside for quarantine, for those who have Covid-19 or are suspected to, which is separate from the standard managed isolation area.
He said the people were in twin-share accommodation, which was normal, but it wasn’t clear whether those paired together had worked together or would be working together after leaving the facility. Only arrivals from Russia and the Ukraine are staying at the Sudima.
Webb said the impact of the outbreak on the length of stay for the fishing crews was being considered. One option was “resetting the clock”.
“It’s early days in that process. We’re working closely with the Ministry (of Health) and the (Canterbury) DHB to come to the right conclusion.”
All of the approximately 150-200 staff at the facility were tested on Monday and Tuesday. Those not working those days were tested on Wednesday.
6.05pm: ‘Full of beans’ Peters breaks his silence
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has spoken to media for the first time since the election.
Peters, who hadn’t been heard of since he briefly spoke at the NZ First function in Russell after it became clear his party would not be returning to parliament, declined an interview with Barry Soper but did pick up the phone from his Whananaki bach when the Newstalk ZB political editor, with whom he has a good relationship, called.
“I’ve never heard him so relaxed,” said Soper on the station tonight. “He’s full of beans, he sounded about 20 years younger. He was full of life, enjoying getting away from it all.”
Peters’ future plans weren’t clear, but Soper didn’t reckon he’d be keen to give a valedictory speech.
5.40pm: Greens and Labour have ‘fruitful discussions’
The Greens met with Labour this afternoon to discuss what role they might play in the next government, but were tight-lipped about details.
Talking to media following the meeting this afternoon, Greens co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw were asked “what was on the table?” Co-leader Marama Davidson replied, “What’s on the table was Krispies, and cups of tea and coffee.”
— Marama Davidson MP (@MaramaDavidson) October 21, 2020
“We won’t be talking about what is actually happening in the discussions at this time,” Davidson added. “We’re starting to progress conversations and get some clarity.”
Both parties will be meeting again next Tuesday to progress talks.
3.45pm: Full cost of voting booth pens and sanitiser revealed
The Electoral Commission’s confirmed it paid $185,000 for the lovely smelling hand sanitiser available in voting booths nationwide.
The commission told The Spinoff it ordered 41,000 400ml bottles of the Earthwise sanitiser, to help combat any spread of Covid-19.
A spokesperson said the pleasant fragrance “was an unexpected bonus” but that the brand was chosen because of the price and the fact it was New Zealand made.
In addition to the sanitiser, 3.6 million pens were ordered for polling stations, at a cost of $734,000 ($450,000 for the pens and $284,000 for freight) excluding GST.
“Any unused pens will go to schools, charities and community organisations,” the spokesperson said.
However, any pens that were used and left behind at polling stations will be disposed.
“We bought the pens and hand sanitiser to help minimise the risk of Covid-19. We believe these were well considered and justified purchases,” the spokesperson said.
When asked how many pens were simply disposed of, the spokesperson said they did not yet know. The Spinoff received no response to a question asking whether there were any concerns about the possibility of millions of pens simply being chucked out.
2.55pm: Act Party caucus of 10 gathers in Wellington
The Act Party’s new caucus of 10 has gathered for a photo on the steps of parliament this afternoon.
For the first time in his entire parliamentary career, David Seymour will not be alone in parliament after his party pulled in 8% of the vote on Saturday night.
I’ve previously explained more about the top nine of the Act Party, and reported on allegations that number four Chris Baillie was spreading misinformation about climate change while working as a high school teacher.
And you can read my sit down interview with David Seymour here.
1.00pm: 25 cases of Covid-19, with two linked to port worker case
There are 25 new cases of Covid-19 today, with 23 imported cases at the border and two connected to a port worker who had previously tested positive.
Those two cases are both workplace contacts of the port worker, Ashley Bloomfield announced at today’s 1pm briefing.
The first of these two cases was previously considered a casual contact of the port worker, and had a very short exposure to the infected person on Friday morning. “A few minutes in the same room,” Bloomfield said.
They became symptomatic yesterday and subsequently tested positive. A household contact of this case is now in self-isolation and will be tested.
The second new case was a previously reported workplace close contact of the port worker, and they have been in quarantine at the Jet Park since Sunday. They were previously tested and had returned a negative result as part of regular testing of port workers.
The Sofrana Surville freightliner is still thought to be the most likely source of the initial infection, Bloomfield said.
Update on Christchurch Sudima Hotel ‘outbreak’
There are now 18 confirmed cases in the Sudima Hotel managed isolation facility in Christchurch, from a large group of 235 Russian and Ukranian fishermen who arrived in the country. The confirmed cases have now been shifted to a dedicated quarantine wing of the hotel.
Some of the cases may be new and acute, and some might be considered historical, said Bloomfield.
The chartered flight carrying the workers left Moscow, flew via Singapore and into Christchurch, where they’ve been in managed isolation since landing.
The entire cohort of fishermen was tested for Covid-19 before travelling to New Zealand. Two people did not board the flight from Moscow to New Zealand, Bloomfield said, as they had tested positive.
Testing of the group at day six of their isolation has been added to the routine day three and day 12 testing.
Additional imported cases of Covid-19
In addition to the 18 confirmed cases in Christchurch, there are three unrelated imported cases who flew in from London and who tested positive on routine day three testing.
There are also two new cases in managed isolation in Auckland; they arrived from Jordan and Malaysia.
‘Get a test’ – Bloomfield’s message to anyone with symptoms
Two previously reported cases are now considered recovered, bringing the total number of active cases to 56. The total number of confirmed cases is now 1,556.
Bloomfield reiterated that a key part of the continued response is community testing. “If you have symptoms, do not go about your usual business. Get a test.”
The significant lock-down measures being reinstated in Ireland and Spain were highlighted by Bloomfield, who urged New Zealanders not to become complacent. “We want to remain in the current state where we are, which is a high-level of confidence we have eliminated community transmission of Covid-19.”
11.40am: 500+ parents of children separated at US border cannot be found
To the US now, where lawyers have reported they cannot find the parents of 545 children separated from their families at the Mexico border in 2017.
The figure represents about two thirds of those separated at the time, according to a report from NBC.
“It is critical to find out as much as possible about who was responsible for this horrific practice while not losing sight of the fact that hundreds of families have still not been found and remain separated,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.
“There is so much more work to be done to find these families.”
Read the full report here
11.15am: Greens better off in opposition, says former MP
As reported earlier, it’s understood that Labour will not look to form a coalition with the Green Party and instead seek some sort of “confidence and supply” style agreement.
One former Green MP has waded into the issue, telling RNZ that the party would be better off in opposition.
“[The Greens] have been handed cards such as a huge dominating Labour Party, but they’ve won Auckland Central so they show they are capable of being a strong, independent party, and I think we’re going to need them to push this large monolith further to the left because the messages we’re hearing from Jacinda Ardern indicate a very centrist government,” said Catherine Delahunty, a Green list MP from 2008-2017.
“I think the Greens should go hard for independence right now and not become subsumed into any form of deal with Labour that actually mutes their ability to speak out.”
10.25am: More Covid-19 cases expected in Christchurch isolation hotel
No changes to our border exemption rules are expected, despite a further planeload of Russian and Ukrainian fishermen expected in the country. At least 11 people from a crew that’s already arrived in New Zealand have tested positive for Covid-19, while in isolation at the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch.
It was also revealed a further 14 cases are under investigation, with more confirmed cases of the virus expected to be announced today.
Air Commodore Darryn Webb told Newstalk ZB that he’s expecting the number of infected people to increase. “We knew in the planning that places like Russia are high risk,” he said.
As usual, all the latest will be revealed at 1pm and we’ll have it for you live.
8.10am: Collins admits obesity comments should have been ‘shut down’ quicker
Judith Collins is continuing to reflect on her party’s devastating election loss on Saturday, ahead of a full review of National’s campaign.
Appearing on RNZ this morning, Collins didn’t want to pick over previous comments or issues from before the election. “I’m very happy to wait for the review,” she said.
Asked whether her controversial comments on obesity played a part in the loss, Collins said: “We should have shut that down, quite quickly”.
New Zealand hasn’t replaced a first term government in 45 years, Collins said, so beating Labour was always going to be a “big ask”.
“No first term opposition under MMP has got more than 30%. That’s what happens under that first term,” Collins said.
Collins did believe she could change that trend and beat Labour first time around, but said “it was going to be very, very difficult.”
For the 2023 election, Collins hoped to still be leader of National but acknowledged it’s a job chosen by the party caucus. In the past, Collins has set a benchmark polling position of 35% for where she would stand down – almost 10% higher than the weekend’s election result. Today, Collins said she wouldn’t “play that game” when asked to provide a poll result where she would quit.
7.45am: Labour-Green coalition off the table – report
A Newshub report last night suggests that the chances of a formal coalition deal between Labour and the Greens are slipping away.
After the landslide result on Saturday, Newshub’s reporting that Labour will choose to wield its new found power and govern alone – although will still enter a low level deal with the Green Party.
Labour’s massive new team of MPs gathered for the first time in Wellington yesterday, as did the Greens’ new caucus of 10.
Jacinda Ardern has already met with the Greens’ co-leaders, although that was reported to just be a more of a catch-up rather than a formal negotiation.
Over on the Herald, it’s suggested that Labour will likely invite a “slight tinge of Green” into the next government.
Read more from our political editor Justin Giovannetti on day one back at parliament here
7.40am: Top stories from The Bulletin
As promised, today’s Bulletin will cover the government’s new climate change report, called Our Atmosphere and Climate. It was released just before the election, so rather than giving it a once over lightly, it’s worth looking at in more depth – after all, it’s quite an important issue.
And it’s an issue that is playing out now, not at some hypothetical point in the future. As the NZ Herald’s Jamie Morton reports, places all over New Zealand are already seeing more hot days than normal, in both summer and winter. Drought frequency is increasing, and frost days are decreasing. At the same time, rainfall patterns are changing, which combines to change growing seasons for crops. We’re also seeing an increase in wildfires, with longer fire seasons and worse conditions for firefighters to work in. And to reiterate the central point of that article, this is all happening now – not next decade, not in a century, but right in front of our eyes.
The increased fire risk is worth unpacking further, because it’s one of the effects of climate change that can destroy lives and livelihoods in an instant. Newshub’s Rosie Gordon and Vita Molyneux headlined their report with this, in particular highlighting that regions that aren’t accustomed to fires will see a much higher risk over the coming years. By 2040, “Wellington would see its fire danger double, and coastal Otago would triple,” is one rather jarring line. Professional firefighters were talking about being stretched last year, let alone the rural volunteer brigades.
The decisions made on climate by the incoming government will have far-reaching implications for the country for decades. Newsroom’s Marc Daalder has analysed where those decisions will take place, primarily around emissions budgets and targets under both NZ law and international agreements. And of course achieving emissions reductions is imperative, both for New Zealand and the world. But there’s a point very well made in this Stuff op-ed about how the conversation must also include adaptation for the changes already taking place. That involves both planning and getting real about what’s on the way.
7.30am: Yesterday’s headlines
The official Ministry of Health 1pm media release announced one new case of Covid-19 at the border.
A few hours later, media reported that at least 11 overseas fishermen at a Christchurch managed isolation facility had tested positive for Covid-19, with 14 other possible cases under investigation.
Whoever is deputy leader of Labour will become deputy prime minister, Jacinda Ardern revealed. The current deputy leader is Kelvin Davis.
National will hold an internal review of its dismal election performance, Judith Collins announced.
Several National MPs called for the leaker of an internal email to come forward. The email from MP Denise Lee, leaked in early October, was highly critical of Judith Collins’ leadership.
Police have called on sexual assault survivors to come forward following allegations of a sex assault ring operating in a Wellington music community.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.