David Seymour and his caucus
David Seymour and his caucus (Image / Getty)

The BulletinAugust 2, 2021

The Bulletin: Poll confirms steady rise for Act and David Seymour

David Seymour and his caucus
David Seymour and his caucus (Image / Getty)

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin: In today’s edition: Poll confirms steady rise for Act and David Seymour, formal apology for Dawn Raids takes place, and Human Rights Commission alleges housing breaches.

A major new poll has seen the gap closing between the parties of government and opposition – but not really because of National. The Newshub Reid Research poll shows Labour falling from above 50% down to 43%, and would require them to lean on the Greens to form a government. National still hasn’t cracked 30%, while Act has bounced up to 11%, which this poll hasn’t ever had them at.

For David Seymour and Act, this is another double digit score in a year that has seen the party solidify itself. The two previous Roy Morgan polls (which are seen as less reliable than Colmar-Brunton and Reid Research) both had Act above ten. And in last night’s poll, Seymour repeated a win over National leader Judith Collins in the preferred PM stakes – incredibly, even among National voters Seymour is seen as a “better leader” than Collins. It has even got to the point now where Seymour is being asked if he has aspirations to be PM – he gave a politician’s answer, which is that he’d be happy to serve in whatever role the voters choose for him. To put all this in context, it’s worth remembering that at this time of the last election cycle Act was lucky if it made it to 1% in a poll, and in the 2017 election just 0.5% of voters went their way.

For the governing Labour party, this poll is more of a warning that the good times won’t last forever. On these numbers, plenty of backbenchers would end up out of parliament. Jacinda Ardern remains the country’s overwhelmingly preferred PM, but her personal rating was ahead of her party’s in this poll. A report on Politik (paywalled) this morning indicated government ministers would be returning from a long parliamentary recess today with a heavy agenda, and an aim to broaden their political programme out beyond the Covid recovery.

At long last, the formal apology for the Dawn Raids has taken place. It was delayed by weeks as a result of Covid, and took place decades after the policy ended, even if the legacy of that era is still being felt. Justin Latif was there, and reports the apology was accepted by community leaders, but accompanied by a challenge to stamp out the racism that enabled it in the first place. Meanwhile in an echo of history, Newshub reported several days ago that there are calls to give several thousand Tongan overstayers a legal pathway to residency, or at least an amnesty.

The Human Rights Commission has alleged several successive governments have breached the human rights to housing for New Zealanders, reports Stuff. Commissioner Paul Hunt said the right to a decent home is enshrined in international law, and the commission will be holding a national inquiry into housing. A UN special rapporteur who visited recently found that the treatment of housing as a speculative asset has led to the current crisis in access and affordability.

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Intensive care clinicians tried to prevent the transfer of a seriously ill Covid patient from Fiji, reports Newshub’s Michael Morrah. The person is a senior official for Fiji’s United Nations Development Programme, and has the delta variant, which has smashed through the country’s health system. The rest of the story covered the internal wrangling between hospitals, the ministry and DHBs over the patient, with a suggestion that health workers were put under pressure to do something they had ethical concerns over.

Health minister Andrew Little has criticised nurses for rejecting an offer from the government that had been put by the nursing union, reports 1News. The way this process generally works is that unions act as bargaining agents between the two groups, taking feedback from members and negotiating an offer they can then recommend that members ratify. It’s a fascinating moment in the industrial dispute, in which over the years there have been rumblings from nurses that their union hasn’t gone far enough. In this instance, the concerns appear to be as much about short-staffing and working conditions as they are about pay.

Organisers have described the mass vaccination event in Auckland over the weekend as a “huge success”, with 15,500 people getting a jab. Radio NZ‘s Lui Chen reports that when she visited, queues were moving smoothly, with 15 vaccinators working across more than 200 booths. The event had some teething difficulties on the first morning, falling up to an hour behind schedule early on, but organiser Alex Pimm said lessons would be learned from that for future events.

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Right now on The Spinoff: High school student Nevada Wolfgramm writes about the improvements needed in consent education. Charlotte Muru-Lanning goes to the Wairarapa to meet Jannine Rickards, one of the few Māori women involved in winemaking. Maia Ingoe writes about the need for society to be more open to talking about vaginal injuries. Robert Reid writes about his political journey from young Nat to one of the country’s longest serving unionists. And Tara Ward runs down the list of who’s who on the next season of Celebrity Treasure Island.

A thought that came to me over the weekend: Supermarkets are to our economy what black holes are to galaxies. They exert such pull and force that they bend the fabric of society around them. They massively influence the way we live and the way cities are designed, and become all-important focal points for daily life. Just think about how important it was for community calm that supermarkets stayed open, even amid that not being extended to other food suppliers like butchers.

On that subject, three pieces to share: Writing on (paywalled) Business Desk, Dr Eric Crampton has taken a hard look at one barrier to competition – that it’s simply too hard for a potential challenger to the duopoly to find spaces to set up shop, which is an outcome actively pursued by the existing majors. On Q+A, Food and Grocery Council Katherine Rich said she’d been told by intermediaries between her and supermarkets that there would now be “war”, over comments made by Rich attacking the power supermarkets hold over suppliers. And on The Spinoff, Bernard Hickey writes about how brain-breakingly difficult it would be to actually break up one or both of the duopoly companies. Here’s an excerpt from the Hickey piece:

Just imagine having to disestablish Foodstuffs’ two cooperatives, which are owned by multiple family trusts in an opaque series of supply agreements, lease agreements, warehouses, logistics operations and stores that would be bone-achingly difficult to understand, let alone pick apart. Rebuilding the web of relationships between individual store owners and suppliers (because Foodstuffs allows store owners to deal direct with suppliers) would be a nightmare. Woolworths’ Countdown would be easier, given its more centralised structure, but it would require some sort of pseudo-nationalisation of a major foreign-owned asset. This would not please our Australian friends either.

There’s been a lot of Olympic success since Friday morning, with multiple medals shooting New Zealand up the rankings. A few particular highlights: Emma Twigg claiming a gold after a long career that she came very close to giving up on, Dame Valerie Adams winning shot-put bronze to reach the podium at four Olympics in a row, and trampolinist Dylan Schmidt becoming the first gymnast from New Zealand to win a medal. And as impressive as the on-field performances have been, the post-match interviews from the gold-winning Black Ferns (especially Ruby Tui) have been amazing. They’re explosions of passion and personality after the team was repeatedly forced to dig deep to win.

Meanwhile in a story breaking overnight, a Belarussian sprinter in Tokyo has refused to board a plane back home to live in a dictatorship.Reuters reports Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is now likely to request asylum in Germany or Austria, though other reports have suggested Poland and Czechia may also be options. Belarus is governed by a truly terrible regime, with protests over the last twelve months met with violent crackdowns, including the imprisonment of several athletes for participating in the protest.

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