Live updates, November 11: Collins reveals full National line-up; cricket team punished for isolation breach

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 11, covering all the latest New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

7.00pm: The day in sum

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand announced a new funding for lending programme will be rolled out next month.

The impacts of Covid-19 on Auckland Council continued, with new forecasts indicating $1 billion hole in its finances by 2024.

Vanuatu recorded its first official case of Covid-19 – a man who flew into the island nation from the United States via Sydney and Auckland.

The West Indies cricket team, currently in managed isolation in Christchurch, had training privileges revoked for repeatedly breaking the rules.

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

National leader Judith Collins unveiled the party’s new list ranking and shadow cabinet.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand revealed it was looking to reinstate loan-to-value ratio restrictions on high-risk lending early next year.

The government announced a new $70 million fund that will allow businesses to access financial support to switch from coal and gas to cleaner electricity.

The government pledged $100,000 towards a “mayoral relief fund” to support those affected by the severe flooding in Napier.

Donald Trump continued to claim he’d won the US presidential election.

6.00pm: RBNZ to roll out new funding for lending programme

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has today announced a new funding for lending programme will be rolled out next month.

“The committee agreed that monetary policy will need to remain stimulatory for a long time to meet the consumer price inflation and employment remit, and that it must remain prepared to provide additional support if necessary,” the RBNZ said in its monetary policy statement released today.

The Funding for Lending programme is a way of providing affordable money to banks in the expectation they will lend to businesses and households looking to expand or invest. The planned programme would start next month and offer loans for up to three years at the prevailing OCR rate – 0.25%.

The RBNZ also announced it would keep the OCR the same at 0.25% and it’s LSAP (Large Scale Asset Purchasing) programme the same at $100b.

3.35pm: Auckland Council forecasts $1b hole

The impacts of Covid-19 on Auckland Council have continued, with new forecasts indicating $1 billion hole in its finances by 2024.

As the Herald reports, the supercity’s council had produced an “emergency budget” in July to cope with a $450 million hole this financial year, but work by finance officers has now forecasted this could grow by $540 million over the next three years.

“About 60% of Auckland Council’s income comes from sources other than rates like concerts and visitor attractions, operations at Ports of Auckland and dividends from Auckland Airport shares,” said mayor Phil Goff. All of these key income sources have taken a massive hit from the coronavirus, Goff said, and there is an expectation the borders will remain closed for another two years.

2.35pm: Melania Trump also not accepting election result

Despite earlier reports suggesting the first lady had told the president to concede defeat, Melania Trump has not started the transition process to incoming first lady Jill Biden.

As CNN reports, four years ago on this very day, Melania Trump had tea at the White House and a tour of the executive residence, at the invitation of then-first lady Michelle Obama.

However, Melania Trump has not extended the same courtesy to the wife of president-elect Joe Biden. Instead, a source with knowledge of Melania Trump’s daily schedule told CNN there is very little in the way of change taking place at all, and most of the focus of the first lady’s office remains on day-to-day meetings and upcoming holiday planning.

“It’s my understanding that it’s business as usual in the East Wing,” said the source.

Better get those terrifying Christmas trees back out of the cupboard, then!

1.55pm: Vanuatu records first case of Covid-19

Vanuatu has recorded its first official case of Covid-19 – a man who flew into the island nation from the United States via Sydney and Auckland.

The man, according to RNZ, is now in quarantine in Port Vila.

Prime Minister Bob Loughman has reassured the public of their safety at a press conference, where he said the situation is under control.

“I also want to remind the public that they must co-operate with all frontline government agencies as the work to carry out their duties,” he said.

1.00pm: One new case of Covid-19, in managed isolation; West Indies punished for isolation breach

There is just one new case of Covid-19 today, in managed isolation today. There are no new community cases.

Today’s case arrived on November 3 from Romania via Qatar and Australia. They are a family member of a previous case from managed isolation and had already been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

One previously reported case has now recovered, meaning 52 active cases remain with 1,632 total confirmed cases in New Zealand.

Yesterday our laboratories completed 5,995 tests for Covid-19, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,148,933.

West Indies cricket team training exemption revoked

The Ministry of Health has today advised that all members of the West Indies men’s cricket team who were provided certain exemptions from managed isolation rules will now be denied further training privileges after breaking managed isolation rules inside their Christchurch facility.

The team, here to play New Zealand’s Black Caps, is in the managed isolation facility at the Chateau on the Park in Christchurch.

Following an investigation, members of the team were confirmed to have repeatedly broken managed isolation rules. Many of these incidents have been captured on CCTV and have also been reported by staff. The incidents include groups mingling and sharing food.  The Ministry of Health said there is no risk to the public as all incidents occurred within the hotel facility.

“As with other sports teams that have come to New Zealand, the West Indies cricket team were given certain exemptions from the managed isolation rules which apply to everyone else. This included being able to be in larger bubbles and train in preparation for their international games,” Ashley Bloomfield said.

“It is a privilege to come here but in return they have to stick to the rules. Keeping Covid-19 out of our communities and keeping our staff safe depends on it. They didn’t do that, despite agreeing to abide by the parameters of the exemption.”

Members of the team will spend the remainder of their time in managed isolation and unable to train, Bloomfield said.

Members of the team are currently on day 12 of their isolation period. The group will be tested today, and the local Medical Officer of Health will determine whether the team in its entirety meets the low risk indicators for release. If there are any concerns, their period in managed isolation could be extended.

Evidence will be provided to Cricket West Indies to conduct its own investigation, and any disciplinary action it may consider appropriate. The West Indies cricket team are today discussing next steps with NZ Cricket.

November quarantine cluster

While CCTV does not capture all movements around the Auckland quarantine facility, a review of footage has not identified a connection between Case A and the returnees who have a similar genome. No other cases have this genome sequence, and all staff at the Auckland quarantine facility have returned a negative result to date. The investigation is ongoing into how transmission occurred.

All occupants of Case A’s accommodation have returned negative test results.

Genome sequencing for Case B matched that of Case A, confirming transmission of COVID-19 from the first New Zealand Defence Force worker to the second.

Of 58 close contacts identified for Case B, 56 have returned a negative result. The remaining two are pending.

N95 masks

The Ministry is currently working to update its advice around access to and use of N95 masks in MIQ facilities, including clinical criteria and the supply chain. The advice will be finalised and then communicated appropriately to clinical teams and managers in MIQ in coming days.

12.30pm: Judith Collins unveils National reshuffle; Goldsmith loses finance job

Paul Goldsmith has lost the finance role within the National Party, following a series of bungles before the 2020 election.

National’s leader Judith Collins has just unveiled the party’s new list ranking and shadow cabinet. Only 33 MPs remain in the party following the devastating election result.

Replacing Goldsmith in the finance role is Michael Woodhouse, who previously lost the health role to Shane Reti after his involvement in the leaking of Covid-19 patient details earlier in the year. The finance portfolio has been split in half with Andrew Bayly, who jumped up to number three on the party list, in the role of treasurer and revenue.

Bayly is the biggest winner from today’s ranking announcement, moving up 14 spots on the list.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest losers is Gerry Brownlee. The former deputy leader has dropped from number two on the list to number 15.

“We’ve only got 33 MPs – we can’t have anyone not pulling their weight,” Collins said.

Despite some speculation, first term MP Christopher Luxon has not dramatically shot up the ranks. He is placed at number 30 on the list.

With the loss of about 20 MPs, the party has also lost some of its diversity. Judith Collins is the party’s spokesperson for Pacific Peoples (after accusations of weaponising her husband’s ethnicity during the election campaign) and Luxon is the spokesperson for Iwi development.

As pointed out by the Herald’s Jason Walls on Twitter, placing the Pacific Peoples’ portfolio top of the National Party list suggested it will be a major priority for the party over the coming term.

Judith Collins unveils her new shadow cabinet (Photo : Justin Giovannetti)

The full list ranking and portfolios.

  1. Judith Collins – national security and intelligence, Pacific peoples, AI
  2. Shane Reti – health, children
  3. Andrew Bayly – treasurer, revenue, infrastructure, statistics
  4. Michael Woodhouse – finance, transport, deputy shadow leader of the house
  5. Louise Upston – social development and employment, social investment, Whānau Ora
  6. Todd McClay – small business, economic development, tourism, associate Pacific peoples
  7. Simon Bridges – justice, water, Pike River re-entry, Māori-Crown relations
  8. Chris Bishop – Covid-19 response, shadow leader of the house
  9. Melissa Lee – broadcasting and media, digital economy and communications, ethnic communities
  10. Scott Simpson – environment, workplace relations, RMA (environment)
  11. David Bennett – agriculture, horticulture, biosecurity
  12. Paul Goldsmith – education
  13. Mark Mitchell – public service, SOEs, sports and recreation
  14. Barbara Kuriger – energy and resources, rural communities, food safety, associate transport
  15. Gerry Brownlee – foreign affairs, GCSB and NZSIS, associate finance
  16. Nicola Willis –RMA (housing), housing and urban development (including social), associate economic development
  17. Stuart Smith – climate change, viticulture
  18. Jacqui Dean – conservation, assistant speaker
  19. Todd Muller – trade and export growth, internal affairs
  20. Simeon Brown – police, corrections, SFO, youth
  21. Matt Doocey – chief whip, mental health, associate social development and employment, associate health
  22. Maureen Pugh – junior whip, community and voluntary sector, emergency management
  23. Nick Smith – research and science, electoral reform
  24. Chris Penk – shadow attorney-general, defence, courts, veterans
  25. Simon O’Connor –customs, arts, culture and heritage, associate foreign affairs
  26. Erica Stanford – immigration, early childhood education
  27. Ian McKelvie – seniors, forestry, racing, disability issues
  28. Tim van de Molen – oceans and fisheries, animal welfare, building and construction
  29. Nicola Grigg – women, associate trade, associate arts, culture and heritage
  30. Christopher Luxon – local government, iwi development, associate transport
  31. Joseph Mooney – Treaty negotiations, associate defence, associate tourism
  32. Penny Simmonds – tertiary education, associate agriculture, associate disability issues
  33. Simon Watts – ACC, associate health

11.45am: Reserve Bank to reinstate LVR restrictions

Business editor Michael Andrew writes:

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is looking to reinstate loan-to-value ratio restrictions on high-risk lending early next year in an attempt to cool the housing market.

The restrictions – which dictate how much a bank lends against mortgaged property compared to its value – were removed in May to encourage home-buyers and lending as part of the Covid-19 response.

But with record rises in median house prices across the country over the past six months, there have been calls for the RBNZ to review its decision.

“We are now observing rapid growth in higher-risk investor lending. We will consult about re-instating the restrictions we had in place pre-Covid, which limited the amount of high-risk lending that banks could make,” RBNZ deputy governor Geoff Bascand said.

The RBNZ would consult on the changes next month.

11.20am: New fund launched to reduce carbon emissions from coal and gas

The government has announced a new $70 million fund that will allow businesses to access financial support to switch from coal and gas to cleaner electricity.

It was one of the Labour Party’s pre-election promises as part of its pledge to move the country toward zero emissions.

In a statement, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said: “reducing greenhouse gas emissions from process heat is win win for our climate and our recovery.”

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority will administer the fund, which is available to New Zealand-based businesses who demonstrate a commitment to decarbonising.

10.25am: Government offers support for Napier after flooding

The government’s contributing $100,000 towards a “Mayoral Relief Fund” to support those most affected by the severe flooding in Napier over the past few days.

Minister for emergency management Kiri Allan’s been in the region and met with locals and first responders overnight.

“It is still too early to understand the full cost of the damage from this massive downpour, but it is significant,” Allan said.

A car trying to get through flooding in Napier (Supplied, K-Ci Williams)

Meanwhile, Live Updates reader K-Ci Williams – a Napier resident – reached out to me yesterday, sending through a first hand account and photos of the flooding.

“In the aftermath of Napier’s highest rainfall recorded since the sixties, a whopping 242.4mm of rain was recorded between 9am Monday and 9am Tuesday and 800 homes faced their second night without power,” Williams said.

“Massive residential flooding caused a chunk of Napier Hill to collapse onto a car yard, writing off several vehicles. Residents were seen kayaking, paddle-boarding and whitebaiting in the floodwaters.”

Thanks for getting in touch!

Flooding in Napier (Supplied : K-Ci Williams)

10.00am: Trump, days after losing, continues to claim he will win election

Outgoing US president Donald Trump has continued to proclaim he will win back the White House, despite losing the presidency several days ago.

In a series of unhinged tweets overnight, Trump has claimed “BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE” and “WE WILL WIN”. Two of his most recent tweets have been labelled “disputed” by Twitter.

8.30am: Auckland Uni investigating ‘superspreader’ threat

Police and the University of Auckland are investigating a threat to spread Covid-19 to minority groups during an upcoming exam.

The threat was posted on online forum “8Chan” by an anonymous individual, and there is no evidence yet that it is nothing more than a hoax.

The individual claimed to have not yet been tested for Covid-19, but alleged that they had come into contact with a confirmed case.

7.40am: Judith Collins poised to announce National reshuffle

Following the revelation yesterday that Shane Reti would be replacing Gerry Brownlee in the deputy role, National Party leader Judith Collins will today be revealing her shadow cabinet.

With just 33 MPs (a drop of about 20 from before the election), it’s expected Collins will be giving some major promotions to some of her remaining colleagues.

In the Herald, writer Claire Trevett claimed the finance role would be taken away from Paul Goldsmith and split between two MPs: former leader Simon Bridges and Andrew Bayley.

It is likely to be loosely modelled on the “treasurer” and “finance minister” split which is used in Australia, according to Trevett, and would be the first time the split roles appeared in New Zealand politics since the 90s: when Bill Birch was finance and Winston Peters was treasurer.

Louise Upston is also tipped for social development, with Barbara Kuriger (former chief party whip) given heavier portfolio responsibilities, and a possible role for new MP Christoper Luxon – the former Air NZ head and a (likely) future National Party leader.

A report on RNZ this morning backed up the likelihood of Kuriger getting a promotion, but also suggested Mark Mitchell could join the economic team and Christoper Luxon will likely get a push up the ranks as well.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

It’s still raining heavily in Napier, and the flooding damage has got worse in the last 24 hours. As Stuff reports, hundreds of houses experienced a second night without power last night, and some are still in evacuation centres. People in the city are still being urged to limit water use to prevent further pressure on the stormwater system. A state of emergency remains in effect.

The downpour was caused by a convergence of factors, exacerbated by climate change but also sheer unfortunate circumstances. The NZ Herald’s Jamie Morton writes that 463% of the average monthly rainfall came down in the space of a few hours. A set of weather systems collided right over top of Napier, as opposed to out to sea or over a rural area. And as Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll put it, “in a warmer world, we’d expect those systems in 2020 to have the chance to produce more moisture than would have been the case back 50 years. So, while you can’t obviously pin climate change on this one event, you can say this is what we expect to see more of.”

The damage itself is really serious. Stuff has reported on a local artist who came worryingly close to being killed by a landslide hitting the side of his house. Hawke’s Bay Today reported on a woman on Hospital Hill who was buried up to her neck in mud, and had a lucky escape. Radio NZ reports this morning that at least 19 homes are now uninhabitable, amid hundreds more that have been damaged. Fortunately, nobody has been killed in this disaster, but the economic impacts will be serious. Stuff spoke to a furniture store owner whose showroom has now flooded twice in 15 years – he and his staff have a particularly painful few days of work ahead to get it all cleaned up.

Is the infrastructure able to cope with these sorts of events? Napier mayor Kirsten Wise has said the city’s pipes can handle one-in-100 year rainfall, but this was more like one-in-250 years. But I think it’s also worth reading this piece from local blog Napier in Frame, which is a bit more skeptical about the state of the infrastructure, and has the historical context to back that up.

Yesterday’s headlines

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

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced a breakthrough on a Covid-19 vaccine, with early trials suggesting it protects 90% of patients from contracting the virus.

The National caucus unanimously confirmed Judith Collins as leader and elected Shane Reti as deputy.

A massive voter fraud in favour of the kiwi was uncovered in the Bird of the Year competition.

A treasury update put the deficit at $6.8 billion and crown debt topping $94 billion – much better numbers than forecasted during the height of the Covid crisis.

Read yesterday’s live updates here.




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