blog oct 30

PoliticsOctober 30, 2020

Live updates, October 30: Referendum results: Euthanasia to be legalised, cannabis set to stay illegal

blog oct 30

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for October 30. All the latest New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. Reach me on

2.00pm: Euthanasia to be legalised, cannabis set to stay illegal


Preliminary results from the two referendums have just been released, showing New Zealanders voted overwhelmingly in support of legalising euthanasia – while cannabis is on track to remain illegal. But, without special votes, the outcome remains on a knife edge.

The vote on the End of Life Choice Act has revealed 65.2% voted in favour of the law, with 33.8% against. Meanwhile, the referendum on cannabis legalisation has the yes vote on 46.1% and 53.1% against.

Both results are just preliminary, of course, with the official outcome – incorporating almost 500,000 special votes yet to be counted – to be released next Friday.

The margin of the cannabis vote does leave open the possibility of it going the other way with specials counted. Special votes often swing younger and to the left. With the no vote winning by 167,333 votes, it would require, based on the Electoral Commission’s estimate of 480,000 special votes, 68% of those specials to vote yes to turn the result around.

For more on the result of the euthanasia referendum click here; for more on the result of the cannabis referendum click here.

Ardern reveals ‘yes’ vote on cannabis; Andrew Little rules out introducing legislation without mandate

After months of speculation, Jacinda Ardern has revealed she voted in favour of cannabis legalisation. The revelation came via a spokesperson, who confirmed Ardern “voted yes in both referendums and will progress any legislation in line with the will of the people following the release of the final results next week”.

Based on the close margin between the yes and no vote, it’s possible an Ardern endorsement could have swung the result in favour of legalisation.

Meanwhile, justice minister Andrew Little has acknowledged the results of the two referendums.

“The End of Life Choice Act has gone through the parliamentary process and has been given Royal Assent, so it will come into effect 12 months from the final results – on 6 November 2021,” Little said.

“Assisted dying remains illegal in New Zealand until 6 November 2021. The Act will be administered by the Ministry of Health.

“The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill will not be introduced as legislation by the Labour Government this term.”

Greens awaiting results of special votes before throwing in towel on cannabis bill

The Greens’ Chloe Swarbrick – a staunch advocate for the proposed cannabis bill – isn’t accepting defeat just yet.

“Today’s result shows what we had long assumed, that it was going to be really close and that we need to wait for the specials to be sure of the result,” she said.

“We have said from the outset that this would always come down to voter turnout. We’ve had record numbers of special votes, so I remain optimistic … Many who have traditionally felt disenfranchised by the political system may have their voices heard at the specials. We’ll wait to see how that plays out next week”.

No vote on cannabis a ‘victory for common sense’ – National’s Nick Smith

National’s drug reform spokesperson Nick Smith, who recently lost his Nelson electorate seat, has welcomed the result of the cannabis referendum, saying it will ensure New Zealand is “healthier, safer and more successful”.

“This is a victory for common sense. Research shows cannabis causes mental health problems, reduced motivation and educational achievement, and increased road and workplace deaths,” Smith said in a release.

“New Zealanders have rightly concluded that legalising recreational cannabis would normalise it, make it more available, increase its use and cause more harm.”

1.30pm: Countdown to the preliminary referendum results

We’re just half an hour away from the preliminary results of the two referendums being released by the Electoral Commission. I’ll have the numbers for you at 2pm.

In the meantime, the Act Party are hosting an event at parliament to coincide with the results being release.

Our political editor Justin Giovannetti is there now:

(Photo : Justin Giovannetti)

“This has been a long, long, long journey. Too long to achieve what I’ve considered, and so do you, a basic human right that’s been denied to New Zealanders for far too long,” said Michael Laws, the former MP who tried and failed to get an assisted-dying bill through parliament.

“The miracle of David Seymour. Once this legislation got out of this institution, the public of New Zealand supported voluntary euthanasia, always. It was the politicians in this institution that sought to stop it,” said Laws, working a pretty old crowd of Act supporters gathered at parliament.

1.00pm: One new case of Covid-19, in managed isolation

There is just one case of Covid-19 today – a close contact of a previously reported case, detected in managed isolation. There are no new community cases.

The new cases is a member of the Christchurch-based international mariners group who tested positive. They were from the same group of mariners who had tested positive during day six testing and as such was already being closely monitored.

Three cases have now recovered, meaning the total number of active cases is 68. The total number of confirmed cases is now 1,594.

Yesterday, 7,472 tests were completed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,090,702.

This is the second consecutive day of more than seven thousand tests completed, the Ministry of Health said. “It is good to see a sustained response to the call for anyone with symptoms to be tested,” a spokesperson said.

“The isolated positive case reported today in the Christchurch-based international mariners group, which was a close contact of an existing case, gives us confidence that the standard practice for managing cases and contacts within managed isolation, supplemented by extending the isolation period and additional testing, was the right approach to take in the circumstances,” they said.

Day 15 testing will be carried out this weekend of all group members who are not already confirmed cases. All those who meet the ministry’s “low risk indicators”, which include those who’ve recovered or have returned consistently negative test results throughout their stay, will be eligible to leave managed isolation from next Tuesday November 3.

Genomic sequencing links Sofrana Surville crew member to Auckland cases

Genome sequencing, carried out in Queensland, of one of the Covid-19 positive crew members of the Sofrana Surville has returned the same genome subtype as three recent cases from the Auckland maritime company from whom we have genome sequencing.

“The Brisbane sequence was one mutation earlier than the genomes sequenced from our New Zealand cases. This supports our view that the index case in this group was infected by on board exposure to new crew members who joined the Sofrana Surville in Auckland,” the ministry said.

“We continue to investigate the exact circumstances where the infection might have occurred to inform any changes to protocols designed to keep workers and our communities safe.”

NZ Covid Tracer

There are now 2,333,600 users registered on the NZ Covid Tracer app, the ministry said. The app has recorded a total of 102,697,098 poster scans and users have created a total of 4,301,876 manual diary entries.

Super Friday – What to expect this afternoon

We’re now less than two hours away from the preliminary results of both referendums being announced, on this most Super of all Fridays.

The results will be unveiled by the Electoral Commission at 2pm, and we’ll have all the details here as soon as they come to hand.

Who will be speaking this afternoon?

1pm: David Seymour and the Act Party are hosting an event at parliament this afternoon to coincide with the release of the End of Life Choice Act referendum result.

2.15pm: Andrew Little will be providing a government response to the results of both referendums, at parliament.

3pm: Chloe Swarbrick from the Greens will respond to the result of the cannabis referendum, from Auckland’s Albert Park.

Of course, because I love being insanely busy, we will bring you everything from all of those press conferences as well. Basically, keep your eyes glued to The Spinoff all afternoon!

12.00pm: New Covid-19 testing rules announced for international maritime crews

The health minister has revealed new rules for Covid-19 testing of international maritime crews arriving in New Zealand.

It comes after it was revealed a crew from the Phillipines transited through a managed isolation facility without being tested for Covid-19.

“Yesterday I instructed officials to consult with the maritime sector around tightening of the requirements for international maritime crew entering the country,” Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

“Ultimately, this will mean mandatory testing for all replacement maritime crew arriving in New Zealand, regardless of the time they spend in transit. This will begin from next week, with any maritime crew in managed isolation for more than 24 hours getting a Covid-19 test.”

Maritime crew departing the country will also be tested, Hipkins said, providing “end to end protection”.

“This new requirement is a strong, yet carefully considered change which ensures that our maritime border is safe, and that to the greatest extent possible we reduce the risk of Covid-19 being spread, while also protecting our economy.”

10.55am: Former Trump official asks Ardern for help in US

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci has asked our prime minister Jacinda Ardern for “help” in the US and thrown his support behind Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Scaramucci enjoyed a very short stint working as part of the Trump administration from July 21 to July 31, 2017.

In an interview this morning with TVNZ’s Breakfast programme, Scaramucci said Biden “represents a return to normalcy”.
He claimed he tried to remain supportive of his former employee President Trump, but has switched his support since being fired.

“I tried to stay loyal to him, but he kept making a series of mistakes from a policy perspective that became impossible to support,” he said.

10.30am: Porirua most expensive district to rent – TradeMe stats

New statistics from TradeMe Property have revealed Porirua is more expensive to rent in than Auckland, Wellington and, in fact, everywhere else.

Trade Me’s rental price index puts the median rental in Porirua at $625 a week.

That’s above Auckland’s median of $570 and Wellington on $600.

Read more from RNZ here

Super Friday – Here’s everything happening in politics today


As detailed in The Bulletin (see more below), today’s a big day in New Zealand politics. It’s a day that we’re very earnestly calling Super Friday. Here’s what you can expect today:

  • 2pm: The preliminary results of the referendums – both for euthanasia and cannabis – will be released by the Electoral Commission. Final results will be released in a week.
  • The Act Party is hosting an event to coincide with the release of the End of Life Choice Act referendum result.
  • 2.15pm: Andrew Little will provide a government response to the preliminary results of the referendums.
  • 3.00pm: Chloe Swarbrick will respond to the preliminary result of the cannabis referendum.
  • The Greens are concluding their talks with Labour today, before the deal gets tabled to Green members tomorrow. Are you a Green member that will be seeing the deal on Saturday? I’m on

We’ll have all the latest, as it breaks, on The Spinoff this afternoon.

8.00am: National, Labour MPs ask government to provide refuge for young Hong Kongers

MPs from both National and Labour are urging the government to adopt a “lifeboat scheme” for those in Hong Kong facing political persecution.

Louisa Wall from Labour and Simon O’Connor from National – co-chairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China – have written to prime minister Jacinda Ardern calling for a “bespoke lifeline visa to provide refuge for young Hong Kongers”.

As RNZ reports, the UK government has already announced a scheme to help British passport holders and Australia has announced the creation of a five-year graduate visa for Hong Kong students as a pathway to residency.

The letter reads: “As we know you are aware, in the months since the National Security Law came into force there have been mass arrests of leading pro-democracy activists, the firing of academics, and the undermining of press freedom…”

“New Zealand has a proud record of standing up against human rights abuses across the world and a reputation as an open and generous country.”

7.35am: Top stories from The Bulletin

We’re finally going to get the provisional results of the two referendums today, on cannabis legalisation and assisted dying respectively. They’ll be announced at 2pm, and we’ll have immediate coverage on The Spinoff when we know. A reminder – these results won’t include the special votes, which won’t be added to the tallies until next week. So what are we expecting to see today?

Toby Manhire has taken a long hard look at the likely outcome of the cannabis referendum, and published his thoughts here. In short, the polling has been volatile, but has tended to favour cannabis legalisation losing. Having said that, polling in the leadup to the election also showed the left underperforming on their actual election result, and given those voters tend to favour legalisation that could also mean the polls are out. If it’s close, the wait for the specials will be crucial.

And on assisted dying? That doesn’t look like it’s going to be close at all. The NZ Herald has published a poll (which for legal reasons, was technically not an exit poll) which shows a clear majority have backed the End of Life Choice Act coming into force. It might end up being closer on the actual results, but the gap is large enough that it seems certain to pass.

While that’s all going on, Labour and the Greens will be finalising their talks. At some stage either today or tomorrow, it will become clear what Labour has offered the Greens in exchange for some form of parliamentary support, and that deal will then be taken back to the Green membership to either ratify or reject. A final decision on that is expected to be announced on Sunday, so either way by the time Monday’s bulletin rolls around there’ll be plenty of news to update you on.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

7.30am: Yesterday’s headlines

There were six new imported Covid-19 cases.

A group of top epidemiologists suggested New Zealand’s MIQ system could become more flexible, with arrivals from lower-risk countries allowed to spend half their quarantine stay at home.

The Green Party said the results of its negotiations with Labour would be announced on Sunday.

A post-election poll suggested euthanasia is on track to be legalised.

The ‘on the ground’ trial of the Covid Card technology got under way in Rotorua.

Keep going!