Live updates, December 11: National loses confidence in Trevor Mallard; six new imported Covid-19 cases

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for December 11. Reach me at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

2.35pm: Disney announces possibly too many new films, TV series

Culture editor Sam Brooks breaks down the literal shit tonne of upcoming releases:

Today, Disney announced in their classic fashion – a massive Twitter thread – what they’ll be working on for the next few years. (This your reminder that Disney currently owns Marvel Studios, 20th Century Studios, FX Networks, Pixar, Lucasfilm and National Geographic.)

The company also announced Star, a Hulu replacement for international Disney Plus subscribers (that’s us!). This is a free tier that will be integrated into the app that will carry a number of shows from Disney’s other non-main franchise brands, see above. It will roll out on February 23rd. In short, it’ll mean that you get more shows per dollar on Disney+, including a few shows that have fallen through the cracks on our other steaming services.

Here’s the highlights, some of which have already been announced:

  • The Dropout, starring Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Holmes, the baritone-voiced con artist that duped the world
  • Nine Perfect Strangers, starring Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy, from David E. Kelley (The Undoing)
  • The fifth season of uplifting feminist comedy, The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Reservation Dogs, a new half-hour comedy series about four Native American teenagers, from co-creators Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi
  • A TV adaptation of Alien, from Fargo and Legion’s Noah Hawley
  • A retelling of James Clavell’s Shogun, from Justin Marks (the upcoming Top Gun remake)
  • Another four seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which will take it through to 18 seasons and make it the longest-running live action sitcom in TV history. Friends who?
  • A new instalment of the Indiana Jones series, with Harrison Ford returning and James Mangold (Ford v. Ferrari, Logan)
  • The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, a series that picks up where the films left off, starring Emilio Estevez as Gordon Bombay once more, and Lauren Graham
  • A remake of Turner & Hooch, starring Josh Peck and a dog
  • “Global content”, whatever the hell that is, from the Kardashian-Jenners
  • A sequel to Hocus Pocus, imaginatively titled Hocus Pocus 2, directed by Adam Shankman (Hairspray)
  • A remake of Three Men and a Baby starring Zac Efron (you know who Zac Efron is)
  • A ‘reimagining’ of Cheaper by the Dozen from Blackish producer Kenya Barris, starring Gabrielle Union (Mary Jane)
  • A new entry in the Ice Age franchise, called The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, the weasel voiced by Simon Pegg
  • An animated entry in everybody’s favourite franchise: The Night at the Museum
  • A prequel to ‘live action’ (it’s not live action, they’re not real lions) The Lion King from Barry Jenkins (Moonlight).

And for all your Star Wars nerds, Disney has announced a truckload of new entries in that universe:

  • Rangers of the New Republic, a new series set within the timeline of the Mandalorian (post-Return of the Jedi, pre-Force Awakens, for those who don’t know)
  • Ahsoka, a Mandalorian spinoff starring Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano, a spin-off with Jose Barbosa called for us a week ago
  • Andor, a series focussing on Cassian Andor, who Diego Luna played in Rogue One
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi, starring Ewan McGregor, had already been announced, but it was just announced that Hayden Christensen, of the maligned prequels, will be reprising his role as Darth Vader
  • The Bad Batch, a spin-off of The Clone Wars animated series
  • Star Wars: Visions, a series of animated short films from the lens of the world’s best Japanese anime creators
  • Lando, a spin-off starring Lando Calrissian, being developed by Justin Simien (Dear White People)
  • The Acolyte, a mystery-thriller that will take viewers into a galaxy of ‘shadowy secrets’ and ‘emerging dark-side powers’ in the final days of the High Republic, from Leslye Headland (Russian Doll, Bachelorette)
  • A Droid Story, which will follow a new hero guided by gay couple R2-D2 and C-3PO
  • Rogue Squadron, a new Star Wars film from Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman)
  • An already announced feature in development from Taika Waititi

And here’s your Marvel nerd needs covered:

  • WandaVision, a Disney+ series with Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprising their roles as Scarlet Witch and Vision, drops on January 15
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, starring Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie, drops on March 19 on the same service
  • Loki, ANOTHER original series, starring Tom Hiddleston as the Marvel trickster, drops sometime in May 2021
  • What If?, which tells the hypothetical, untold stories of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, comes sometime in Summer 2021 (that’s Winter here, folks)
  • Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first MCU film with an Asian lead, is in theatres July 9th, 2021
  • Ms. Marvel, a distinct character from Captain Marvel, stars Man Villain as Kamala Khan, and comes late 2021 to Disney+
  • Captain Marvel 2 sees Brie Larson returning as Carol Danvers, and comes to theatres November 11, 2022
  • Hawkeye, starring Jeremy Renner as the titular Avenger as Hailee Steinfeld as a second Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, is coming to Disney+, with dates yet to be confirmed
  • She-Hulk, played by Tatiana Maslany, is coming to Disney+
  • Moon Knight, about… a complex lunar-based vigilante, also coming to Disney+
  • Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury in Secret Invasion, also, yup, Disney+
  • Dominique Thorne stars as Riri Williams in iron heart, a series about the creator of the most advanced suit of armour since Iron Man
  • Don Cheadle returns as War Machine in Armour Wars
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, written and directed by James Gunn, will drop on Disney+ during the 2022 holiday season
  • Groot, the baby tree, will star in a series of shorts on Disney+ called, you guessed it, I Am Groot
  • Jon Watts will direct the new feature film (likely a reboot) featuring the Fantastic Four
  • Thor: Love and Thunder, starring Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, will strike lightning in theatres on May 6, 2022
  • The third Ant Man film, directed by Peyton Reed, is called Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Sure, why not.
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, directed by Sam Raimi, drops in 2022, and ties into both WandaVision and the next Spider-Man film

There’s also a prequel film on the way about Buzz Lightyear – but not the toy from Toy Story, THE Buzz Lightyear, the human. Honestly, who commissions this stuff! Will I still watch it? Almost certainly.

In short: It’s a Disney world after all. We’re all just living in it.

1.10pm: National loses confidence in speaker Trevor Mallard over legal battle

National’s leader Judith Collins said the party has lost confidence in speaker of the house Trevor Mallard, following revelations more than $330,000 of taxpayer dollars were spent on settling a legal dispute after he falsely accused a former parliamentary employee of rape.

The cost of the settlement was previously undisclosed, but was since revealed in written answers to National.

Of the total cost, $158,000 was an ex-gratia payment to the former staffer to settle a legal claim, $171,000 was paid in fees to Dentons Kensington Swan and $4641.70 went to Crown Law for advice to the former deputy speaker.

“This is unacceptable behaviour from the speaker of the house,” Collins said in a press release. “The sheer size of this pay-out illustrates how serious the matter is.”

Collins added: “Because Mr Mallard has not lived up to the high standards of behaviour that he has set for parliament, we believe he is no longer fit to hold the role of speaker.”

The people who work at parliament and New Zealand taxpayers deserve better, said Collins.

“It is the speaker’s job to set the standard of behaviour for everyone at Parliament but he has been reckless with his words, resulting in taxpayers footing a bill of more than $330,000 to clean up this mess.

“There has been no formal apology to parliament for this, despite the National Party encouraging the speaker to do so on the final sitting day this year.”

1.00pm: Six new imported Covid-19 cases

There are six new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation since the last update on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health has announced. Once again, there are no new community cases.

Of the six new cases, five are active and one is historical:

  • One case arrived in New Zealand on November 26, from South Africa via United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. This person was tested due to being in a travel bubble with two confirmed cases and is at the Auckland quarantine facility.
  • One case arrived in New Zealand on December 1, from Sweden via Qatar and Australia. This person was also tested due to being in a travel bubble with two confirmed cases, and is at the Auckland quarantine facility.
  • One case arrived in New Zealand December 2, from the United Kingdom via United Arab Emirates. This person was tested due to being in a travel bubble with a confirmed case, and is at the Auckland quarantine facility.
  • One case arrived on December 3 from the United Kingdom via the United Arab Emirates. This person tested positive at routine testing at around day three, and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
  • One case arrived on December 3 from the United Arab Emirates. This person was tested due to being in a travel bubble with a confirmed case, and is at the Auckland quarantine facility.
  • One case arrived in New Zealand on December 7, from the United Kingdom via Singapore, and was tested upon arrival due to being symptomatic. Serology testing revealed this case is historical and therefore not infectious. This person is at a Christchurch managed isolation and quarantine facility.

Two previously reported cases have now recovered, taking the total number of active cases in New Zealand to 57. Two previously reported cases have been reclassified as under investigation due to suspicion they are historical cases.

This brings our total number of confirmed cases to 1,736. Laboratories completed a total of 10,872 tests over the last two days, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,332,470.

The member of the Pakistan cricket team who remained in managed isolation has been released today.

12.00pm: Reserve bank shoots down finance minister’s idea it consider house prices when setting interest rates

Political editor Justin Giovannetti reports:

The governor of the reserve bank doesn’t support a proposal by finance minister Grant Robertson to give housing prices a bigger priority when it sets monetary policy.

In a letter sent to Robertson on Wednesday but published this morning, Adrian Orr instead suggested ways the government could look at controlling house prices that don’t impact the setting of interest rates. Orr said that the government could start by empowering a single agency to coordinate all its housing policy.

That policy advice probably wasn’t what Robertson was waiting for when he sent Orr a letter on November 24, asking the central bank to move on rising house prices.

The reserve bank also said that the government should look at capping the amount of debt people can take out relative to their incomes. That would go on top of the loan-to-value ratios the reserve bank is already bringing in to restrict low-deposit lending.

A debt cap would make it hard for property investors and other highly indebted individuals to borrow off their existing assets.

“Higher prudential requirements generally imply higher deposit requirements, lower credit ceilings, and higher interest costs for the mortgage borrower,” wrote Orr.

The reserve bank governor said he doesn’t support Robertson’s request to add housing prices to the guide that the RBNZ uses to create the country’s monetary policy.

The reserve bank said that requiring it to consider housing prices would probably lead to higher interest rates, higher borrowing costs and a stronger New Zealand dollar. While those could lower housing prices, they’d slow the overall economy.

Instead, it suggested that housing prices be added to a different policy around the soundness of New Zealand’s financial system. There would be fewer “trade-offs” according to the reserve bank if it did that, because then it would only need to ensure higher house prices don’t put banks at risk of failure.

The median house price across New Zealand hit $749,000 in November, up 41% in three years.

11.30am: Politics and Covid dominate Quote of the Year finalists

The 2020 finalists for the annual Quote of the Year competition have been announced.

Unsurprisingly, in a year dominated by domestic politics and Covid-19, many of the quotes are by Jacinda Ardern, Judith Collins, Ashley Bloomfield and those impacted by the pandemic.

TVNZ’s Hilary Barry also gets a mention with her election night “jazz cabbage” quip and even a bird has made the top 10.

The full list of finalists:

1.“Because we can’t get on each other’s nerves if we’re dancing constantly” – the Buchanan family in their music video that went viral during lockdown.

2.“When my eyebrow goes up, it’s a joke” – Judith Collins on how people can tell whether she is joking or being factual.

3.”I am the orange face you can trust” – Orange-fronted parakeet requesting votes in Bird of the Year competition.

4.“There are no new cases of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand today” – Ashley Bloomfield at press conferences throughout the year.

5.“The Aussies can have Russell Crowe, but they can’t have our buzzy bee” – Simon Beattie after The Crown shifted the New Zealand buzzy bee scene to Australia. 

6.“Let it be known these tears are not for you.” Sara Qasem speaking to the Christchurch Mosque gunman in her victim impact statement.

7.“I did a little dance.” Jacinda Ardern when asked how she reacted when New Zealand had zero active cases of Covid 19.

8.”You’re on mute.” Most New Zealanders on Zoom from March 2020 onwards.

9.“Put your jazz cabbage away people.” Hilary Barry on referendum results showing New Zealanders voted against legalising cannabis.

10.”It really highlights how three-ply soft we’ve become as a species.” Psychology professor Marc Wilson on stockpiling toilet paper during lockdown.

Vote for your favourite here

10.55am: More Otago University graduation ceremonies cancelled

The University of Otago has announced that tomorrow’s graduation ceremonies and street parade have been cancelled, following an unspecified security threat earlier in the week.

The threat, allegedly emailed to the university on Tuesday, led to the cancellation of ceremonies on Wednesday and Thursday at both the university and polytechnic.

In an internal email seen by The Spinoff, vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne said the cancellation came on police advice and she knew how disappointing the news would be for students.

“My heart goes out to all who have been affected by this difficult decision,” the email said. “We are currently working on alternative arrangements for those due to graduate this weekend and we will contact them directly.”

She added: “The depth of feeling has been only too real over the previous few days. No one deserved this, particularly the young people from the university and polytech who were expecting to celebrate their graduations at the Town Hall this week.”

Hayne said the one positive from the ordeal has been the “incredible strength and resilience” of the tertiary community.

“In particular, the students have been incredibly magnanimous and have taken care of each other and their friends and whānau,” she said. “They certainly didn’t let the horrible situation stop them from celebrating their special day in a very Otago way. The manaakitanga and creative improvisation in how they chose to celebrate is unique to our community here in Dunedin.”

10.00am: New Zealand gaming industry reports huge growth during 2020

Business editor Michael Andrew reports:

Despite Covid-19 – or possible because of it – New Zealand’s interactive gaming sector has reported stellar growth this year, with export earnings rising to $324m from $203m the year before.

The figures come from the annual New Zealand Game Developers Industry Survey of 42 interactive, gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and education tech companies.

New Zealand Game Developers Association Chairperson Chelsea Rapp said the industry was able to continue production during lockdowns and capitalise on soaring demand as people around the world stayed home and played online games throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Games and interactive media have given so many people the opportunity to come together when lockdowns and border closures have kept them apart,” Rapp said.

“The games industry has proven itself particularly resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic, both here in New Zealand and around the world. We are uniquely positioned to contribute to our economic recovery with weightless digital exports, but that growth will depend heavily on our ability to support young and emerging enterprises.”

While the majority of companies surveyed expected continued growth through next year, they raised concerns about the lack of support, and the challenges around the shortage of experienced staff, Covid-19 travel restrictions, attracting early stage funding and attracting investment for expansion.

While the 10 largest studios earned 95% of the revenue, 75% of studios employ five people or less. About 96% of local creators’ income came from overseas audiences.

9.40am: Queensland drops NZ travel restrictions – but bubble not happening soon

Queensland is the latest Australian state to relax Covid-19 travel restrictions with New Zealand.

“We are actually opening up to New Zealand from 1am (AEST) tomorrow morning,” premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced today, according to 1 News.

“Jeannette Young [the state’s chief health officer] advised me late last night that New Zealand is good to go,” she said.

Travel bubble not expected until at least February – report

Quarantine-free return travel with Australia won’t happen until at least February, according to a report in the Herald.

The government is soon set to unveil how it would handle a new Covid-19 outbreak over the summer period.

The lack of a travel bubble has prompted Act’s David Seymour to call for a “practical approach” to managed isolation and quarantine, labelling Jacinda Ardern a “can’t do prime minister” on the issue of Covid-19 contact tracing.

“We shouldn’t be isolating people from places that haven’t had Covid-19 for months with the same requirements for people coming from places where the virus is raging. New Zealand needs to be a can-do nation that evolves and improves on its response to Covid-19.”

8.25am: Trump, Biden, shortlisted for Time person of the year

The outgoing and incoming US presidents are both in the running for Time Magazine’s person of the year, the publication has announced.

The rivals are joined in the top four by frontline health care workers and Anthony Fauci – the leader of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – and the movement for racial justice.

Some on Twitter have questioned why Donald Trump, who has continued to baselessly reject the results of the US election, could be awarded the title. As Time said, the person of the year is awarded to someone who affected the news or our lives the most – for better or worse.

8.00am: Cargo ship crew allowed on shore before finishing isolation

A cargo crew that had arrived in Taranaki was allowed on shore before having completed their 14 day stint in isolation.

According to RNZ, more than 20 sailors from the Yangtze Flourish were able to wander the streets of New Plymouth before having fulfilled Covid-19 protocols.

The vessel arrived in the country on November 25, after leaving Malaysia earlier in the month. However, while the crew had been on the ship for more than two weeks, an Australian pilot came on board on November 15 – less than 14 days before they disembarked in New Plymouth.

The captain told Taranaki authorities about the pilot, but it was overlooked, RNZ claimed.

Taranaki DHB admitted the mistake, after initially saying the crew had met their isolation requirements.

“The vessel crew was granted shore leave under the belief it met the criteria. However, after this we discovered a pilot had boarded the vessel in the Torres Straight, meaning that the 14-day isolation period calculation was incorrect,” the DHB said in a statement.

“Taranaki DHB subsequently arranged for retesting of the vessel crew to ensure that illness had not developed.”

7.45am: Top stories from The Bulletin

It can be hard enough for key workers to live in the big cities, with the high cost of living. But for many smaller towns, the struggle is getting the services they provide at all. For today’s Bulletin, we’re going to start with an excellent hyper-local story about the town of Wairoa losing dental services, with next to no option for people who live around there except to drive for hours. The story by Stuff’s Georgia-May Gilbertson gives a clear insight into the sheer added difficulty and inconvenience that unfairly comes from living in a poorer town, away from the main centres. You might recall that last time The Bulletin mentioned Wairoa, it was a story about driver licencing services being non-existent. This is not an insubstantial place – almost 5000 live in the town itself, and almost twice that in the district around it.

There is a community hub for those under 18, but that doesn’t help adults who need treatment. And services that are promised in these parts of the world don’t always get delivered. The Gisborne Herald had a story recently about a service around the school in Tolaga Bay, in which the community waited more than a decade for any consistency or continuity in a programme.

All the while, and for a variety of reasons, oral health outcomes continued to be comparatively worse in the region, which could in turn have lifelong consequences for those people who missed out. It also comes at a time when hospitalisations for dental issues are becoming much more common, in part because of the high baseline prices of dentistry, and people are routinely turning to home jobs in an attempt to fix them. Communities that lack these services are likely to be disproportionately Māori, and it compounds inequalities.

Many different medical services are affected by similar problems, including roles with universal need like GPs and midwives, and particularly for anything specialist. With Covid-19 border restrictions, it’s harder to recruit people from overseas, reports Stuff – even with border exemptions for essential medical workers.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

7.30am: Yesterday’s key stories

For the first time in nine months, no Covid-19 update was released by the Ministry of Health. Going forward, updates are to be released on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

An investigation is underway after two UK health workers suffered allergic reactions on the first day of the country’s mass vaccine drive.

The United States recorded its worst day for Covid-19 fatalities since the pandemic began.

Otago Polytechnic postponed the day’s graduation ceremonies due to a security threat, a day after the University of Otago was forced to do the same.

Finance minister Grant Robertson ruled out any commercial rent relief unless the country returns to lockdown.

Read all the key stories in yesterday’s live updates




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