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PoliticsSeptember 24, 2020

Election Live, September 24: New locations of interest in Taupō and Auckland mall


Welcome to The Spinoff’s Election Live for September 24, bringing you the latest on election 2020 and other NZ news. The essential campaign dates are here. For all you need to know about the cannabis referendum click here. For the assisted dying referendum click here. Explore the parties’ pledges at Policy. I’m on

7.45pm: The day in sum

There were three new cases of Covid-19, all in managed isolation.

It was revealed that yesterday’s three new community cases had visited a number of stores in Auckland’s St Luke’s Mall, travelled to Taupō and met with people from around the North Island before testing positive.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw rejected a claim made by Green MP Julie Ann Genter that a wealth tax would be a bottom line for the party in any negotiations after the election.

Short-lived National leader Todd Muller wrote about the “waves of anxiety and dread” he experienced in the job, in an opinion piece for the Bay of Plenty Times to coincide with Mental Health Week.

6pm: More locations of interest in Auckland and Taupō

Following today’s news that the family with Covid-19 visited sites in Taupō and a hairdresser in Auckland’s St Lukes mall, the Ministry of Health has now added several more locations of interest. Anyone who visited one of these locations is considered a “casual contact” and is not required to self-isolate or get tested unless they feel unwell or start to develop Covid-19 symptoms.

Saturday, September 12

  • Briscoes St Lukes, Morningside, Auckland; 4.30pm – 6pm
  • Lotus Supermarket, Mt Roskill, Auckland; 7pm – 8pm

Monday, September 14

  • Kmart St Lukes, Westfield St Lukes, Mount Albert, Auckland; 6pm – 8pm

Wednesday, September 16

  • Dress Smart Outlet Shopping (Jacqui E, Max, Fila, Puma), Onehunga, Auckland; 2.45pm – 5pm

Thursday, September 17

  • Just Cuts, Westfield St Lukes, Mount Albert, Auckland; 4pm – 5pm
  • Kmart St Lukes, Westfield St Lukes, Mount Albert, Auckland; 5pm – 7.20pm
  • Mountain Warehouse, Westfield St Lukes, Mount Albert, Auckland; 5pm – 7.20pm
  • Farmers, St Lukes, Westfield St Lukes, Mount Albert, Auckland; 5pm – 7.20pm

Friday, September 18

  • Living Waters Spa at Taupō DeBretts, State Highway 5, Taupō, Toi Te Ora; 2:40pm – 6:45pm
  • McDonald’s, Tokoroa, Waikato, Toi Te Ora; 9:30pm – 9:44pm

Saturday, September 19

  • Taupō Tandem Skydiving, Taupō Airport, Taupō, Toi Te Ora; 2pm – 3:15pm

Sunday 20 September

  • KFC, Roberts Street, Taupō, Toi Te Ora; 5pm – 5:15pm
  • Subway, Roberts Street, Taupō, Toi Te Ora; 5pm – 5:15pm
  • McDonald’s, Frankton, Waikato; 8:20pm – 9pm

On The Spinoff: The main parties on the arts sector and creative industries

Interested in how arts policy will shape the future of Aotearoa for the next three years? Join a pre-election conversation on arts policies tonight at 6.30pm with Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni (Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister), Jonathan Young (Arts, Culture and Heritage Spokesperson, National Party) and Chlöe Swarbrick (Arts, Culture and Heritage Spokesperson, Green Party).

Convened by Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi and facilitated by Miriama Kamo, the forum will be an opportunity for each party to present its arts policies, to participate in a panel discussion and respond to questions.

Watch it live from 6.30pm on The Spinoff’s Facebook page here and as a backgrounder, read Sam Brooks’ overview of 2020 arts policies here.

On The Spinoff: Putting the spotlight on Te Tai Tokerau

From Te Rerenga Wairua at the top of the country, right down to Rakiura, The Spinoff’s taking a look at our seven Māori electorates and the candidates contesting the seats.

First up: Leonie Hayden’s taken a look at the electorate of Te Tai Tokerau.

Read the full piece here

3.15pm: Just Cuts St Lukes closes for deep clean

One of the new locations of interest linked to a confirmed case of Covid-19 has closed for a deep clean.

Just Cuts in the St Lukes mall in Auckland was visited on Thursday September 17 between 4 and 5pm by a confirmed case of Covid-19 (details in the 2.15pm update).

In a statement, the hairdressing chain said it’s confirmed that “all the appropriate hygiene measures” were in place last week, but the salon has closed as a precaution. It will reopen on Saturday.

2.15pm: Family with Covid-19 visited Taupō and Auckland mall 

A family who have all tested positive for Covid-19 visited Taupō and met with people from around New Zealand, it’s now been confirmed.

Public health services continue to contact trace, test and isolate close contacts of the three community cases reported yesterday.

The three people are part of the same family group, all linked to a confirmed case of Covid-19 that travelled from Christchurch to Auckland on a chartered flight for people who had finished managed isolation.

Two were tested because they were known flight contacts of the original case; the third was tested because they were a house hold contact.

The family has been self-isolating over the last four days.  As part of the continuing investigation, further interviews have taken place with the three new cases.

The Ministry of Health now knows the family travelled to Taupō between September 18-20, where they met up with 18 others from five locations around New Zealand. Those 18 people, who travelled from Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton are all considered close contacts.

In addition to those 18 people, another 13 people have been identified as close contacts. All 31 contacts have been or are in the process of being tested and all are isolating, the ministry confirmed.

Public health services have been in contact with businesses where individuals may have visited while infectious. Places and times of those visits assessed as requiring public notice at this stage are:

  • Christchurch domestic airport, September 11, 10.30-12.30pm;
  • Just Cuts, Westfield, St Lukes, Thursday September 17, 4.00-5.00pm;
  • Hot pools at DeBretts Spa Resort, Taupō, September 18, 2.30-7.00pm; and
  • Taupo Tandem Skydiving based at Taupō Airport, September 19, 2.00-3.30pm.

The National Contact Tracing team is working to identify other locations of interest and expects to be able to issue exposure notices through the Covid Tracer App.

2.00pm: Three new Covid-19 cases, all in managed isolation

There are three new cases of Covid-19 today, the Ministry of Health has revealed in a press release, all in managed isolation. There are no new community cases.

The three new cases are all separate returnees who arrived on different flights from the United States on September 18, from London via Dubai on September 16 and from Croatia via Frankfurt and Dubai on September 18.

Two are in quarantine in Auckland and the third case is in quarantine in Rotorua.

There are 32 people isolating in the Auckland quarantine facility from the community, which includes 15 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and their household contacts.

Three people are in hospital with Covid-19 – one each at Auckland City, Middlemore and North Shore hospitals. All three patients are in isolation on a general ward.

Since August 11, contact tracing has identified 4,044 close contacts of cases, of which 4,025 have been contacted and are self-isolating or have completed self-isolation.

The total number of active cases is 65. Of those, 31 are imported cases in managed isolation facilities, and 34 are community cases. The total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is now 1,471.

Yesterday, 6,142 Covid-19 tests were processed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 930,779.

12.45pm: Ministry to reveal new Covid-19 cases

The Ministry of Health will be sending out its daily Covid-19 case information at about 1pm today. Yesterday, three new cases were announced – all linked to a possible new cluster: a charter flight from Christchurch to Auckland.

Six historic cases were also confirmed.

I’ll have all the details for you here as soon as the ministry sends out the release.

11.25am: ‘National is a shambles, and their economic plan is a joke’

The Labour Party’s attacks on National’s economic plan are continuing to come thick and fast, with a press release from Grant Robertson this morning titled: “National’s shambolic economic plan going from bad to worse”.

Labour has been quick to attack National’s economic plan, after a $4 billion fiscal hole was discovered – and later doubled.

“Paul Goldsmith is floundering. He’s trying to change his plan quietly in the background so he doesn’t have to own up to his leader for another mistake. He has double counted $4 billion worth of funding, meaning there are now at least $8 billion worth of mistakes in his economic plan,” Robertson said in the release.

“In order to cover over this he is now claiming that he would take that money out of the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) to make up the difference.”

If National forms the next government, the party couldn’t be trusted to run the economy, Robertson said.

“If they were in Government, mistakes like this would have real-life consequences on jobs and infrastructure investment.”

10.45am: The Māori Party’s surprise preferred coalition partner

If the Māori Party scrapes back into parliament after next month’s election, its co-leader John Tamihere has a surprise suggestion for who he’d like to partner with – The Opportunities Party (TOP).

While it’s actually quite possible the Māori Party could return to parliament through winning a seat, TOP is polling at about 1% and has no feasible pathway to power through an electorate.

Tamihere told Newshub today his party’s most aligned with TOP in terms of policy. “They’ve got some outstanding ideas,” he said.

Labour would be Tamihere’s second choice, followed by the Greens. The last time the Māori Party were in parliament, they helped prop up the National government under John Key. That won’t be happening again: “Crusher [Judith Collins] doesn’t like us,” Tamihere said today.

Based on recent polling, if the Māori Party doesn’t win Te Tai Hauāuru, where co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is standing, it’s incredibly unlikely they’ll make it back on the party vote alone. Recent polling showed the party well below the 5% threshold needed.

On The Spinoff: The courage to make life better

This morning on The Spinoff, read Hayden Donnell’s piece looking at Labour’s current centrist strategy – and the cost of it.

Here’s an excerpt:

Cast your mind back to 2016. As Bill English rolled out his budget, Grant Robertson issued what looked like a criticism. In an article headlined “a Budget that lacks vision and courage to make life better”, he accused English and prime minister John Key of “refusing to take on the housing crisis”.

He wrote: “It is astonishing that nothing has been introduced to tackle demand in the housing market and that there’s nothing for first home buyers locked out of the Kiwi dream of homeownership.”

Many people would have taken Robertson’s words as a promise to be more visionary and courageous once he became finance minister. They made a big mistake. Last week, Robertson issued a release clarifying his position: Key and English were actually good at running budgets, he said, before excoriating his National Party rival Paul Goldsmith for clumsily misplacing $4 billion in his financial plan. “There is no John Key or Bill English there any more. No one who knows how to run a budget would have made a basic mistake like this.”

Robertson’s implied pitch to Key and English’s voters is that Labour is the real heir to the fifth National government. It’s him – not Goldsmith – who’s really carrying on the proud traditions of the pair who, in his own words, lacked the “vision and courage to make life better”.

Read Hayden Donnell’s full article here

On the campaign trail

Here’s where our political leaders are today:

  • Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern is in Christchurch this morning, unveiling a plaque at the Al Noor Mosque. Then, she’ll be in New Brighton for a media stand-up.
  • National Party leader Judith Collins is in Gisborne today to launch the party’s primary industries policy.
  • New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is jumping off his giant bus in the far north today, visiting Waipapa, Kerikeri, Mangonui and Paihia.
  • Act Party leader David Seymour is in Twizel for a morning meeting, before heading toward Ashburton with stops along the way (including a skydive!)
  • Greens co-leader Marama Davidson is in Tāmaki Makaurau and will be on Karangahape Road for a series of visits with locals, businesses and charities. James Shaw will be attending a candidates meeting in Wellington tonight.

8.05am: James Shaw denies wealth tax is ‘bottom line’

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has rejected a claim made by one of his own MPs – that a wealth tax would be a bottom line for the party in any negotiations after the election.

The claim was originally made by senior Green MP Julie Anne Genter, who told a small business panel discussion the plan would have to be part of any government deal, prompting widespread commentary online.

But Shaw, appearing on RNZ, said Genter had slipped up.

“It’s a heat of the moment thing, and that happens during these debates,” he said.

“At every election we lay out a series of priorities and we say ‘how many MPs do we have, are we in a position to negotiate’.”

Last election, the Greens were able to form a “confidence and supply agreement” with Labour, which is different to the coalition agreement that New Zealand First formed.

Shaw said that it’s been a very long election campaign, people are tired, and Genter just made a mistake.

However, a wealth tax remained a “top priority” for the Greens, Shaw clarified.

7.45am: Todd Muller describes ‘waves of anxiety and dread’ 

Short-lived National Party leader Todd Muller has spoken out about his mental health battle, in an opinion piece for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Published for mental health awareness week, Muller, who stepped down after about 50 days in the leadership, described “an intense prickling sensation in my head, followed by what I would describe as “waves” of anxiety”.

“I had never experienced these sensations before, despite having lived through some very high-pressured moments at Fonterra dealing with global food safety scares,” Muller wrote.

The panic attacks returned regularly, with Muller saying he could only sleep three hours a night.

“I could tell it was impacting my performance so I was prescribed sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication if needed to get through the weekdays in Parliament. At least this would get me through to maybe five hours’ sleep a night, maybe enough to function,” he said.

Read Todd Muller’s full account here

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

Fears are growing that fruit will simply rot on the vine this season, because nobody will be there to pick it. Plenty of this sort of horticultural work is done by people on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) work scheme, who come from overseas. But as Radio NZ reports, even with changes made to immigration policy, growers associations fear that only around 20% of the required workforce will be allowed in.

The issue is likely to start really hurting growers next month, when strawberries are ready to be picked. One News had a story about the country’s leading strawberry grower, who said New Zealanders weren’t going for the jobs, which are physically intensive and difficult, and that the government was being inflexible on allowing Samoan workers through. She said consumers would see high prices, the packhouses wouldn’t have jobs, and much of the crop would be lost. But a sharp eyed twitter user spotted the job listing, and noticed a pertinent detail: “Most of the work available is paid by bonus piecerate – where you are required to produce enough to earn at least the current minimum wage to retain your position.” Those are pretty tough conditions for someone to go out of their way to work under.

It’s possible that supply and demand will kick in, and growers will simply have to pay more for scarcer labour. But as Stuff reports, desperation is starting to set in. Even with the story quoting rates of $25-27 an hour (which is a suspiciously high rate compared to the current listings on the Backpackers Job board) other options are being seriously considered. Among them – tertiary students on summer break, or prisoners on day-release. Australia is having similar problems, and even more punitive solutions are being put forward, like hoping that a cut in the Jobseeker benefit will result in people forced out of work in other areas coming forward.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

7.00am: Yesterday’s headlines

There were three new community cases of Covid-19, all linked to a previously reported Christchurch to Auckland chartered flight.

Six historical cases dating back to February were announced, one confirmed and five probable. These cases present no risk to the public, according to the Ministry of Health.

The Reserve Bank held the official cash rate at 0.25%.

Labour announced its $50 million plan to reduce costs for farmers and growers.

More than one million people tuned in for the first leaders’ debate, according to TVNZ.

Read yesterday’s top stories here.

Keep going!