Live updates, July 27: Wallabies granted ‘economic’ travel exemption, Bledisloe Cup to go ahead

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for July 27, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

3.30pm: Olympics wrap – what to watch tonight

It’s been a fairly slow day of Olympics action but tonight is packed full of New Zealanders vying for glory. Here are some of this evening’s highlights:

  • 3.51pm: Boxing – David Nyika
  • 4.05pm: Sailing – Josh Junior (Finn races 1, 2)
  • 5.50pm: More sailing! Peter Burling & Blair Tuke (49er races 1, 2, 3)
  • 6.03pm: Canoe slalom – Luuka Jones (women’s K1 semifinal, followed by the final at 7.15pm)
  • 8pm: Football – Football Ferns (women) v Sweden
  • 8.30pm: Rugby sevens – Men’s quarterfinals
  • 11.21pm: Swimming – Zac Reid (men’s 800m freestyle heats)

Have a good afternoon and, as always, go the Kiwis!

2.10pm: Wallabies granted ‘economic’ travel exemption

The Australian rugby team has been granted a travel exemption to enter the country due to “economic reasons”, the government has confirmed.

The Wallabies will travel from their Queensland base on a charter flight to Auckland on Friday. As with all other arrivals, they will require a negative pre-departure test within 72 hours of travel.

In a statement, sport minister Grant Robertson said the trip was economically important for New Zealand.

“A test match is estimated to be worth between $17-20 million in spending for host regions, while the broadcast rights provide much needed income for the sport, which positively effects all levels of the game,” Robertson said.

“Test rugby between the All Blacks and the Wallabies is keenly anticipated by New Zealanders, and I welcome the decision to allow the Australian team to travel given the game was less than two weeks away when trans-Tasman travel was suspended.”

At this stage, the Bledisloe Cup match in Auckland on August 7 will go ahead as planned with decisions still to be made on later games.

1.30pm: No more Covid-19 results after extra wastewater testing in Taranaki

Ongoing wastewater testing in Taranaki has revealed no further evidence of Covid-19.

Two samples taken last week tested positive for the virus, prompting a call for increased testing in the region. The Ministry of Health said test results from a 24 hour period between Saturday and Sunday, from six sites, show no further virus has been detected.

Local PCR testing in Taranaki has remained “steady”, the ministry said, with around 300 swabs taken yesterday. That’s almost double the number taken on Sunday.

“The ministry is continuing to encourage anyone in Taranaki with symptoms to be tested,” said a spokesperson. “The ministry is also recommending that any recent arrivals from Australia, who have symptoms, also get tested, and anyone who has recently been in Australia who is now in Taranaki to get tested even if they don’t have symptoms.”

Our latest numbers

There are no cases of Covid-19 to report in the community in New Zealand today. There is one case to report today in managed isolation.

Two previously reported cases have now recovered. The number of active cases in New Zealand is 52.

A previously reported case, from South Africa who arrived on July 15, has now been reclassified as historical.

A case we reported on Sunday who arrived from the USA on July 12, has been reclassified as “under investigation” and has been removed from our confirmed cases tally.

1.10pm: A timely reminder… Scan in, people!

It’s just as well that the delta variant isn’t wreaking havoc in Australia and threatens to at any moment leak into the New Zealand community because usage of the Contact Tracer app continues to be, well, pathetic, having drooped from a small bump when delta spent a lovely weekend aboard on Australian in Wellington.

In the 24 hours to 1pm yesterday, there were just 510,000 scans from 286,000 users, which is, frankly, hardly anyone.

A friendly reminder:

12.40pm: Victoria lockdown could be lifted as new case numbers fall

Victoria is poised to lift its lockdown after just 10 new cases were reported overnight, all who had been in quarantine while infectious.

According to Nine News, some rules could remain in place but schools and shops may reopen ahead of the weekend. The 5km travel restriction could also be scrapped.

10.50am: Brownlee changes view on alleged terrorist's deportation

National's foreign affairs spokesperson appears to have changed his views overnight about the impending arrival into the country of an alleged Isis terrorist, giving two different answers to the same media outlet.

Suhayra Aden and her two children are set to be deported to New Zealand from Turkey after Australia cancelled her citizenship earlier this year.

Gerry Brownlee last night told RNZ that the government made a choice by bringing them back to New Zealand. "I think you always have a choice," he said, questioning the government's claim that the family could not be broken up.

"Those children are victims of their parents' decisions. We have organisations in New Zealand that regularly take children away from bad parents so ... I don't think the suggestion that there were family bonds there that could not be broken was reasonable."

But this morning, Brownlee said the government had no choice – but needed to come clean about how the family will be managed upon their return. "There is no choice," he said.

The government needed to reveal more details about the family's deportation, Brownlee said, such as security arrangements when she arrived in New Zealand.

10.00am: Morning Olympics wrap

No more medals to report overnight with New Zealand sitting 46th on the medal table after Hayden Wilde's bronze in the triathlon yesterday.

Some results from last night:

  • Rugby Sevens – New Zealand beat Argentina
  • Swimming – Erika Fairweather qualified for today's semi-final in the 200m freestyle
  • Hockey – Black Sticks women beat Japan

And some of today's highlights:

  • Right now, the women's triathlon is taking place. It's live on TVNZ1 for those of us who reap the benefits of free-to-air.
  • 1.30pm: Erika Fairweather's freestyle semi-final.
  • 2.45pm: More hockey! Men's Black Sticks vs Japan.

9.30am: Covid pandemic sees child poverty rise 10% – new report

As many as 18,000 children could have been pushed into poverty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. A new report by the Child Poverty Action Group, focused on the first year of the pandemic through until March, also found that Māori and Pacific children were 2.5 to three times more likely to have fallen into poverty over that time frame.

Report co-author Janet McAllister said while the government avoided the health crisis posed by Covid, it enabled another one.

"This increase in child poverty of around 10% comes at a time when property owners have seen their wealth rise at an accelerated rate," said McAllister. "Loss of income related to job loss was probably inevitable for many families; but loss of income to the point of inadequacy – or further inadequacy – was due to political decision-making."

The "system default", McAllister said, is that Māori and Pacific families bear many of the heaviest burdens in hard times like this. "It is the responsibility of decision-makers to deliberately and actively avoid that," she added.

8.05am: Auckland mass vaccination event struggles to attract bookings

A three-day vaccination event in Auckland did not get the attention health officials expected it would. New figures have revealed the slow pace of bookings for the mass vaccination set to take place in Manukau from this Friday to Sunday.

According to RNZ, less than a quarter of those sent "initial invitations" to the event booked in for a jab, prompting a wider call out for attendees. The goal, according to Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins, was to vaccinate 15,000 people over the 72 hour period.

More than 12,000 students and teachers from the Manukau Institute of Technology were sent the first wave of invites, but just 3000 booked a slot. A second wave of invites to over 80,000 people still did not result in enough bookings, prompting a final call that saw more than 140,000 invitations sent.

"I think it is always disappointing when something that you've planned for doesn't get the response that you were hoping for," Alex Pimm, head of the the roll out for the Auckland DHBs, told RNZ. "I think it is an opportunity to learn about how we run these events for New Zealand in the future."

South Auckland GP Dr Api Talemaitoga speculated that the event may have been too boring for the community.

"I think the organisers should have thought about making it a celebration or an event that is like a festival where people come along with their friends, can listen to a bit of music, or watch a bit of entertainment or dancing. Have a bit of food and then get vaccinated," he said.

Hipkins said this weekend's event was planned to be the first of other mass vaccinations, but the slow pace of bookings may prove concerning for the government.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

The country’s leading anti-poverty lobby group has put the blame squarely on the government for an increase in hardship. In a report out this morning, the Child Poverty Action Group said 18,000 additional children have been pushed into poverty over the last year, and that calculation did not include those affected by rising housing costs. “This increase in child poverty of around 10% comes at a time when property owners have seen their wealth rise at an accelerated rate,” said report co-author Janet McAllister. “Loss of income related to job loss was probably inevitable for many families; but loss of income to the point of inadequacy – or further inadequacy – was due to political decision-making.

The report makes it clear that problems were already festering before Covid. You might recall the Welfare Expert Advisory Group report right around the start of this government’s tenure – while recommendations from that are slowly being implemented, many have seen no progress. Benefit rises were included in the 2021 budget, but it was noted at the time those benefit rises reflected a situation that had existed several years earlier, not the exacerbated situation of today.

There are severe ethnic inequalities within the data. In their report, the NZ Herald noted worse outcomes for Māori and Pasifika people since lockdown started, which again comes on top of existing inequality. “We already knew Māori, Pasifika and disabled children were disproportionately affected by poverty. We were concerned and suspected it would be worse for Māori, Pasifika and disabled children during Covid. This report appears to confirm those suspicions,” said Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft.

Meanwhile, one of the outcomes of poverty is food insecurity. And because we live in a country that produces plenty of food, that is an issue of political will, argues Katharine Cresswell Riol in this op-ed on The Spinoff. It is something of a microcosm issue for the wider societal problem – there is enough for everyone, but far too many are missing out, while others take far more than their share.


A New Zealand citizen captured in Turkey on suspicion of being a terrorist with Islamic State will be repatriated back to NZ, reports Radio NZ. The woman, who has two children, is also a dual Australian citizen – on paper, she is far more an Australian than a New Zealander. However that country cancelled her citizenship, and for New Zealand to do the same would render the woman stateless, which PM Ardern said we have an obligation not to do. It is understood that the woman will be free to live in the community in New Zealand, but she may be monitored by authorities.



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