Former PM Mike Moore, pictured during his tenure as Director General of the World Trade Organisation (via Radio NZ)
Former PM Mike Moore, pictured during his tenure as Director General of the World Trade Organisation (via Radio NZ)

The BulletinFebruary 3, 2020

The Bulletin: Mourning Mike Moore

Former PM Mike Moore, pictured during his tenure as Director General of the World Trade Organisation (via Radio NZ)
Former PM Mike Moore, pictured during his tenure as Director General of the World Trade Organisation (via Radio NZ)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Former PM Mike Moore mourned, travel ban put in place in attempt to prevent Coronavirus, and Greens break government ranks over transport spending.

Former PM Mike Moore has passed away at the age of 71, a few days after his birthday. A wide range of tributes are being made, in memory of a hugely important parliamentarian, unionist, and diplomat. The first of those is that of his wife Yvonne, who released a statement remembering his life, noting his blue-collar roots and belief in the power of government to improve collective welfare, and his great affection for his fellow human beings.

Tributes from current and former PMs, and other significant figures in the Labour Party and parliament, were collected by the NZ Herald. PM Jacinda Ardern described him as “a man with a huge intellect, and huge heart.” A significant chapter in his life was his career as the head of the World Trade Organisation, which was noted by business leaders who thanked him for his free trade advocacy. Former PM Jim Bolger, who replaced Moore in the job, highlighted his “enthusiasm and compassion in whatever he was doing.” The E tū Union also remembered one of their own, with National Secretary Bill Newson saying he was a leader who stepped up in times of adversity.

His tenure as PM was one of the shortest in the country’s history, at just 60 days. Moore was elevated to the top job in an attempt to save Labour from being totally swept aside in the 1990 election. The party still lost, but not by nearly as much as they might have, and Moore came much closer to winning in 1993, before being replaced by Helen Clark. The politics of the time are brilliantly captured in Guyon Espiner’s 9th Floor interview.

A travel ban has been put in place in an attempt to prevent the arrival of coronavirus in New Zealand. From today, any foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through mainland China, will be denied entry to New Zealand as of today. Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles has covered that and other pertinent pieces of news about the virus recently, including the claim that it may have infected far more people than the current official tally, which stands at more than 14,000 confirmed cases, and more than 300 deaths. Over the weekend in Auckland, a suspected case ended up testing negative for the virus, meaning there are still no confirmed cases in New Zealand.

The Greens have broken their silence over unhappiness with elements of the new infrastructure package, reports Toby Manhire for The Spinoff. The central problem is the heavy emphasis placed on roads, which will have the effect of locking in a lot of emissions for decades to come. Associate transport minister Julie Anne Genter has written an op-ed, saying that criticism to that effect from groups like Generation Zero is “absolutely right. It is nowhere near what we need.” Genter also noted that more than a billion is being spent on rail, and says she’ll be keeping pressure on roading projects, to ensure they include cycling and rapid transit options.

Speaking of the transport though, how’s this for a bit of ideological balance? In an op-ed for Stuff, National’s former infrastructure supremo Steven Joyce has hailed a shift in the government’s direction away from Green Party transport priorities. He too warned that the recent announcement was by no means the end of the policy battle.

National leader Simon Bridges has put a line in the sand on who the party will work with after the election. Stuff’s Henry Cooke reports that NZ First are out in terms of negotiations, and that stands regardless of whether Winston Peters is leading them. It’s the most forceful approach under the scenarios open to Bridges outlined here, and is aimed at sending a message to voters who want a National government supported by NZ First. Peters in turn brushed it off, saying he’d still be happy to work with National – just not with Bridges as leader.

Bridges also indicated that he was comfortable with National voters in Epsom continuing to back ACT leader David Seymour. And in an echo of the last National government, a willingness to work with the Māori Party was also given.

A damning new report into the practice of Oranga Tamariki ‘uplifts’ has been released, reports the NZ Herald’s Michael Neilson. It details hundreds of incidents, some incredibly heavy handed and involving armed police taking children from parents. Dame Naida Glavish, who oversaw the group writing the report, says it shows “systemic failure, discrimination and inexplicable breaches of human rights towards Māori”, and has called for a complete overhaul of the system.

Heavy weather has smashed into the West Coast, causing damage and disrupting infrastructure, reports Radio NZ. Right now State Highway 6 south of the Fox Glacier is closed, and power is out in the town. Much more rain is expected to fall in the next day or two, and people in the area are being advised to keep an eye on the forecasts.

A clarification from Friday’s bit about school donations: I used the phrase “many with kids at schools up to decile 7 will now no longer have to pay donations,” which is a bit of sloppy wording that now needs clearing up. No parent ‘needs’ to pay a voluntary school donation, and never has. The actual change is that those schools will no longer be able to ask for donations. Some would argue that the extreme social pressure put on parents by schools made donations compulsory by proxy, but these things are good to get correct.

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The four leading contenders in the race for the Democratic party presidential nomination – Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg (Getty Images)

Right now on The Spinoff: The Iowa caucuses are on tonight, and Korey Te Hira has an essential guide to why they matter, and what to watch out for. Cat McLennan argues that New Zealand’s MPs need to stand up for West Papua, like they once did for Timor-Leste. Novelist JP Pomare has put together a beautiful essay on living with the Australian fires. Sam Brooks pays tribute to the exquisite Japanese anime films of Studio Ghibli. Alice Neville writes the definitive history of the Sawmill Brewery, the iconic spot in Leigh. And Brannavan Gnanalingam reviews Rose Lu’s All Who Live on Islands, which was a surprise omission from the Ockham Book Awards finalists.

Just quickly on The Bachelorette too: I just want to point out that Alex Casey was 100% correct with this scoop about one of the personalities on the show months ago. There was a big reveal about it all last night.

For a feature today, a long piece that fascinated me in part because it’s about a place I have visited, but didn’t really understand. Texas Monthly has profiled a long struggle currently underway in the small West Texas town of Marfa, which is internationally renowned as being an unlikely centre of modernist culture. But it’s also about the influence of the rich guy Tim Crowley who made a lot of that possible, and how many of the townsfolk have started to chafe against it. The characters will be different of course, but I can think of a few New Zealand towns that are facing similar questions about their identity since the advent of mass tourism. Here’s an excerpt:

The farmers’ market every Saturday parks itself rent-free on Crowley’s land next door to the Saint George. For a few hours a day, any adult in town can swim free of charge in the hotel’s sprawling pool. (Kids get the privilege on Tuesdays only.) Crowley happily paid for new carpet in the Catholic church. He has also served, unpaid, as an assistant county attorney.

“Do you know how lucky a town of this size is to have this rebirth?” Crowley asks me, his voice low, taking me into his confidence. “It’s every small town’s dream that you could have this. I just don’t know how much more you could want.”

Well, if you ask quietly—very quietly—around Marfa, some folks will tell you exactly what more they want. They want their town back from Tim Crowley. They won’t tell you this in public or on the record, because they are afraid of Crowley. He is a rich, big-city litigator in a small town full of residents who were once unfamiliar with the type. “He will make your life miserable” is a refrain among those who either have had firsthand experience with his ire or have gone to great lengths to avoid it.

Super Rugby has sweated into life with an early start to the season. The Blues gave a vision of another crushing year to come, losing both a lead and the game against the Chiefs, not even getting close enough to win a bonus point. The Crusaders shattered the Waratahs to get another possible march to the title underway, while the Hurricanes were totally outplayed by the Stormers in South Africa – not even putting a point on the board. The Highlanders had by far the best weekend of the lot, with a bye.

New Zealand’s cricketers have finally won a game this summer. The White Ferns have put a run of poor results behind them to thrash the South African Women in the first game of their T20 series. The damage was done with spin, as both Leigh Kasperek and Amelia Kerr finished with very handy figures of 2-17. And as for the men, they’ve lost again. In fact, they got swept away 5-0 by India, and last night was another example of getting into a good position to win, and then throwing it away.

And the season is over for the Auckland Tuatara. The country’s only pro baseball team had a short run in their first playoff appearance, losing their series against the Melbourne Aces in two games. Still, the crowd was relatively huge and vocal, so on that level it caps off a very successful second season for the Tuatara.

From our partners: Josie Adams writes about the Graeme Dingle Foundation, and the life-changing work they do in providing mentors for kids. Over more than two decades, they’ve helped tens of thousands of people grow up, and get on a path to a better future.

That’s it for The Bulletin. If you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme.

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