Live updates, December 7: Poll sees Collins drop further as Labour maintains election lead

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for December 7. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

7.00pm: The day in sum

The Human Rights Commission is investigating the pay gap and lack of equal employment opportunities experienced by Pacific communities in New Zealand.

The Whakaari alert level for the volcanic island has been lowered to 1 (Green) just wo days out from the anniversary of the eruption that led to 22 people losing their lives.

Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci called New Zealand’s Covid-19 response better than any other Western nation.

The latest 1 News/Colmar Brunton polls sees Collins drop further as Labour maintains its leads.

There was one new case of Covid-19 in managed isolation to report.

6.15pm: Poll sees Collins drop further as Labour maintains lead

The latest 1 News/Colmar Brunton has put Labour 53%, National 25%, and the Greens and Act at 8% each. The results broadly reflect the results from the October election in which Labour received 50% of the party vote, National 25.6%, the Green Party 7.9% and Act 7.6%.

Meanwhile, the Māori Party, which received 1.2% of the party vote, has polled at 2%. NZ First also polled at 2% – slightly down from the 2.6% it received during the election.

Jacinda Ardern continues to be the overwhelming choice for preferred prime minister, polling 58% (up 3% since October 15 poll). Judith Collins, however, has dropped 8% since the last poll and is currently sitting at 12%. Her National Party colleague Christopher Luxon also made an appearance on the poll with 2% favouring him as preferred prime minister while Act leader David Seymour received 4%.

4.30pm: The Safety Warehouse ‘should apologise’ – Ardern

Questioned about the controversial “$100k cash drop” held by The Safety Warehouse in Auckland, Ardern criticised the company which pitched a money drop in Auckland only to give away mostly fake cash. “I cannot fathom how at any point someone would think that was a good idea,” she said during her post-cabinet press conference. “Clearly it was not. And it’s caused harm, it’s caused hurt – they should apologise.”

Since the ill-fated PR event, four complaints have been laid with the Commerce Commission while one attendee has launched a petition demanding the company compensate people with “vouchers” for real cash. A man was taken to hospital after an angry crowd smashed a car window.

4.15pm: Government to respond to March 15 report tomorrow – Ardern

At her weekly post-cabinet press conference, Jacinda Ardern said the government would release some initial responses to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the March 15 terror attack – a comprehensive 800-page report which is set to be tabled tomorrow. She said it will take longer to address some findings and recommendations but others will be addressed quickly, adding that a co-ordinating minister will be appointed to introduce the recommendations. “We owe to it to the [Muslim] community that they don’t go through this for nothing,” said Ardern, who acknowledged the report was “tough” reading.

4.00pm: Whakaari alert level lowered ahead of eruption anniversary

Two days out from the anniversary of the eruption that led to 22 people losing their lives, the Whakaari alert level for the volcanic island has been lowered to 1 (Green).

“Observations and monitoring data over the last two weeks indicate that Whakaari/White Island has been progressing on a gradual trend back to lower levels of volcanic unrest that are typical of the long-term behaviour of this volcano,” said GNS volcanologist Craig Miller.

“An observation flight on December 2 confirmed that ash emission from the volcano has now stopped. Satellite observations in the last week have also not detected any ash in the steam plume. Hot steam and gas emissions continue from the active vents.”

He added: “The volcanic alert level reflects the current level of volcanic unrest or activity and is not a forecast of future activity. Volcanic alert level 1 indicates the primary hazards are those expected during volcanic unrest; including discharge of steam and hot volcanic gases, earthquakes, landslides and hydrothermal activity. While volcanic alert level 1 is mostly associated with environmental hazards, eruptions can still occur with little or no warning.”

3.50pm: Pakistan cricket team return negative Covid-19 tests

The Pakistan cricket team have all returned negative day 12 Covid-19 tests, New Zealand Cricket has revealed. It means the team is on track to leave managed isolation on time.

The team was prevented from training together while in isolation, after an exemption request was declined by the Ministry of Health.

As the Herald reported, eight members of the 53-strong squad have tested positive for coronavirus since their arrival in the country.

“While we completely respect and understand the New Zealand government laws … there is no denying the fact that the implementation of certain regulations has affected our athletes, both mentally and physically,” head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said in a statement.

1.00pm: One new Covid-19 case in managed isolation; ministry to reduce frequency of updates

There’s just one new case of Covid-19 to report today, in managed isolation. Once again, there are no new community cases.

Today’s case arrived on December 4 from the United Kingdom via Hong Kong. They tested positive upon arrival and have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

One previously reported case has now recovered, bringing the total number of active cases to 56. The total number of confirmed cases is 1,723.

Yesterday laboratories processed 2,315 tests for Covid-19, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,312,307.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has announced plans to cut down on the number of Covid-19 updates. A spokesperson said that, at this stage, we are seeing cases routinely appear in managed isolation only.

“We expect this to continue to be the case while we remain in alert level one with managed isolation requirements in place<‘ they said. “To reflect this, the ministry is reducing the frequency of media updates to four times a week – currently scheduled to be on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.”

On those days, the Ministry will report cases that have tested positive in managed isolation in the preceding days since the last update.

“The public can be assured that the ministry will report any significant development, including any case emerging in the community, sooner if required.”

12.35pm: Ardern promises accountability over March 15 inquiry

Jacinda Ardern has hinted that a head may roll over the release of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the March 15 terror attack.

The prime minister this morning promised “accountability” once the report is made public tomorrow afternoon.

“I think we owe it to all those involved in the royal commission that we do follow through on its findings,” Ardern told RNZ.

“So for me, that expression of accountability is about making sure the community know who is responsible for implementation, they have a very clear picture of when there will be implementation around those separate recommendations and they’ve asked for that, they want to know who’s going to be co-ordinating that work and so on.”

The 800 page report has already been provided to victims’ families in order to give them an opportunity to consider the findings.

“The whole point … was so they could have time before there was public commentary. If we are in the order of 200 [copies] being distributed we do run the risk of not having that space for people to take it privately,” said Ardern.

11.15am: Inquiry into Pacific pay gap launched

The Human Rights Commission is investigating the pay gap and lack of equal employment opportunities experienced by Pacific communities in New Zealand.

Labour force data indicates that Pacific workers are the lowest paid across the country and the pay gap between Pākehā men and Pacific women in the public sector is 27%.

Equal employment opportunities commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo made the announcement of an inquiry while launching the report Talanoa: Human rights issues for Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Through the Talanoa report, we heard directly from our Pacific communities about the human rights violations they are experiencing. Pay and racial discrimination continues to rank high,” said Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo. 

“In addition to low wages, Pacific workers say they are often overlooked for upskilling opportunities and promotions. These workers also fear retaliation in raising concerns with their employers. This is racist and discriminatory.” 

Under the inquiry, the Commission will examine the causes and contributory factors of the pay gap, conditions of work, promotion, and career advancement of Pacific workers. Currently, it would take 120 years for Pacific women to reach pay equity with Pākehā men. 

The inquiry will be conducted over 12 months and is expected to begin early next year, the Commission said.

9.50am: Rudy Giuliani contracts Covid-19

In possibly the least shocking Covid-19 development overnight, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and conspiracy theory advocate Rudy Giuliani has caught the coronavirus.

Trump made the announcement on Twitter, labelling Giuliani “the greatest mayor in the history of New York City”.

As Trump said, Giuliani has been working tirelessly to expose corruption in the US election. As of today, he has yet to prove a single claim.

8.45am: Five sunscreens out of 10 tested failed SPF label claims

Five sunscreens out of a test of 10 do not meet the SPF claims on the label, according to a new Consumer NZ study.

Both the Le Tan Coconut Lotion SPF50+ and Ecosol Water Shield Sunscreen SPF50+ failed to meet the SPF and broad-spectrum label claims.

Banana Boat Daily Protect Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+, Natural Instinct Invisible Natural Sunscreen SPF30 and the Sukin Suncare Sheer Touch Facial Sunscreen Untinted SPF30 failed to meet SPF label claims but did meet the broad-spectrum claims.

Meanwhile, five sunscreens did exactly what was said on the label. The following products met SPF and broad-spectrum label claims, according to Consumer NZ:

  • Cancer Society Everyday SPF50+
  • Cetaphil Sun Kids Liposomal Lotion SPF50+
  • Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face Superscreen SPF50+
  • Skinnies Conquer with Manuka Oil Sports Sunscreen SPF50+
  • Nivea Sun Sensitive Protect SPF50

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said that, despite New Zealand’s high rates of skin cancer and melanoma, there’s no requirement for sunscreen manufacturers to regularly test their products. “In fact, we have the unacceptable situation that the sunscreen standard is voluntary, so sunscreens don’t have to be tested at all,” he said.

Full results are available here

7.50am: NZ’s Covid-19 response the best of Western nations – Anthony Fauci

The United States’ Ashley Bloomfield, better known as Anthony Fauci, has lumped praise on New Zealand’s Covid-19 response during an exclusive interview with the Herald.

Fauci has had a tough time in his job over the past year, often clashing with president Donald Trump over how to handle the pandemic. Over the weekend it was confirmed he would be kept on by Joe Biden.

The infectious diseases expert told the Herald that New Zealand had handled the coronavirus outbreak better than any other Western nation.

“New Zealand should feel good about the fact that they were so successful from a public health standpoint in containing the outbreak in their own country. So kudos to New Zealand.” he said.

Fauci acknowledged that Taiwan was probably the gold standard for coronavirus response, a comment that will please Act’s David Seymour.

Regardless, Fauci said: “when you talk about who’s done well and who’s not done as well, New Zealand always rises to the top as a country that has actually done really quite well.”

Fauci cited our geographical isolation along with the compliance of our population. [New Zealand has] a population that has done very well in listening to the kinds of public health messages that have come from the central authorities,” Fauci said.

Latest figures put the daily death toll in the United States at almost 3000. More than 200,000 new cases of the coronavirus are detected each day.

Top stories from The Bulletin

Local government minister Nanaia Mahuta has started the term with a big call. After months of dysfunction and infighting around the Tauranga City Council table, Mahuta has signalled that she will appoint a commissioner to take over instead, effectively sacking the council, reports the Bay of Plenty Times. She said she has “grown increasingly concerned at the governance issues, and the impact this has on Tauranga ratepayers and significant investment in the region.” The issues have been well documented, including by the now-resigned mayor Tenby Powell, who called for a commissioner to be appointed on his way out the door.

In a release, Local Government NZ welcomed the move from Mahuta, and that they looked forward to the restoration of full democracy when ready. “There is disappointment in the local government sector that such drastic action has had to be taken, but it is a lesson to us all that dysfunctional behaviour won’t be tolerated because it undermines faith in the local democratic process,” said LGNZ President Stuart Crosby. In this sense, it almost feels like a warning shot – appointing commissioners is a rare move, but right now there are plenty of councils and local government organisations that could be described as dysfunctional.

Some in Tauranga have vowed to oppose the move. Radio NZ reports councillor Steve Morris (a trenchant critic of Tenby Powell) has attacked the decision as being based on politics, rather than good governance. He also argued that the appointment of a commissioner would mean that those unhappy with decisions would have no democratically elected representative to complain to – rates increases to fund the rapidly growing city’s development loom. However, as the Bay of Plenty Times reports, Powell has described it as a win for residents. There is a bit over a week left for Tauranga City Council to offer a response.

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