Good morning, and welcome back to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: The minimum wage has gone up, a rāhui on the Waitakere ranges is being violated, and New Zealand’s future food security is in focus.
More money for those with less from this weekend, with the minimum wage rising, and the accommodation supplement being boosted. The minimum wage has gone up 75c an hour, and there is plenty of debate over what the wider economic effects of that will be. Mike Treen from Unite Union, which represents thousands of fast food workers, told Radio NZ the increase will largely be put towards rent and basic necessities. Workplace minister Iain Lees-Galloway told Stuff the increase will flow through the economy, and the plan is to raise it to $20 an hour by 2020.
Some businesses are concerned that the rise could cost jobs. Newshub reports the comments of Business NZ’s Kirk Hope says some businesses won’t have the ability to absorb extra costs, and the rise will flow through pay scales generally. The Newshub story also notes that the last Labour government presided over a sharp increase in the minumum wage, and a sharp drop in unemployment. Of course, correlation doesn’t equal causation, but it is an interesting detail.
Incremental rises in the minimum wage may not have much effect on the recent spate of industrial action in New Zealand. Unions are being increasingly assertive in their demands, and are seemingly more willing to go on strike if they’re not met. I covered this for The Spinoff a few days ago.
Meanwhile an accommodation supplement boost for many beneficiaries is likely to be absorbed by rising food costs, reports Stuff. The increase, which came in on the 1st of April, will give some beneficiaries an extra $3-$10 a week, which beneficiaries say will have little effect on budgets.
A rāhui on the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland was largely ignored by walkers over Easter weekend, reports Newstalk ZB this morning. The rāhui is in place to prevent the spread of kauri dieback, which has so far affected about 20% of kauri in the forest. The Council will start enforcing closures on the 1st of May, but in the meantime, have a look at the Epic Little Missions website. They’ve got an up to date guide on where you can still walk without doing further damage to the trees.
An absolute must-read in the NZ Herald over the weekend, about what New Zealand needs to do to secure food production in the face of climate change. Drought and extreme weather events are already having an impact on both availability and prices of staple crops, and that’s likely to get worse. And with a rapidly rising population, demand could suddenly outstrip supply. It’s a sobering prospect that has been ignored for too long, and the story addresses what measures are being recommended to avoid a crisis.
A record number of children are now in state care, Radio NZ is reporting this morning. Oranga Tamariki is struggling to recruit enough caregivers to provide for the 6100 kids. Some of the increase is due to the age limit of state care rising from 17 to 18 last year. Oranga Tamariki says caregivers are currently recruited locally, to meet local demand, but a wider campaign is planned for later in the year.
Firefighters are under mental health strain from attending more medical callouts, reports Newshub. The Firefighters Union says ambulance staff can now request support from firefighters, but such events can be completely different to what firefighters would normally deal with, including suicides. Fire and Emergency are now attending more than 10,000 medical callouts a year around the country.
A historic wrong will be righted in Parliament tonight, with a bill allowing convictions for pre-law reform homosexual sex to be expunged from criminal records set to pass unanimously. The ODT reports the comments of Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who said convictions ruined lives, and the illegality of homosexuality effectively killed people. Compensation will not be available for men who successfully have their convictions expunged.
South African anti-apartheid activist Winnie Mandela has died. Once known as the Mother of the Nation, she was a complex and controversial figure in the struggle to overthrow the apartheid regime, and the rebuilding of democracy in the aftermath, reports the BBC. At the time of publication, the story was prominent on all local NZ news sites, and has been reported around the world, giving an indication of how important a figure Winnie Mandela was.
Right now on The Spinoff: Is masculinity under attack? Toby Morris asks what men are so afraid of in his latest edition of The Side Eye. Middlemore hospital doctor David Gallerslams the ‘crisis in values’ which allowed his hospital’s walls to rot, describing it as a systematic betrayal. And with a defunct Chinese space station crashing back to Earth, guest writer and astrophysicist Brad Tucker explains just how bad the problem of space junk is.
If you’re afraid of bugs, skip this remarkable New Yorker feature about the invasion of America by the brown marmorated stinkbug. It’s an incredible piece of writing, and should also terrify the living daylights out of anyone who works in biosecurity. Here’s a sample that left me screaming internally:
“Smaller cities, towns, suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas all strike stinkbugs as prime real estate, because they enable the bugs to do what they do best. In the fall, winter, and spring, brown marmorated stinkbugs take up residence in private homes, sometimes by the tens of thousands. Then, in the summer, they quietly let themselves back outside, into nearby gardens, orchards, woods, and farms, and steadily set about destroying them.”
New Zealand has recently had “a spate of stinkbug scares,” reports the NZ Herald. Let us all pray for the enduring vigilance of customs officers, so that the dangerous and invasive pest never makes it off a cargo ship.
In sport, a consortium of bidders may have just bought the Warriors right when they’re about to win their first ever NRL championship, reports Radio NZ. The consortium has reportedly made a “verbal agreement” to buy the Auckland club, who are four wins from four and will definitely win the competition this year. If the deal goes through, it would be the second biggest Warriors story of the year, behind them winning the Championship. Which will definitely happen.
And coming up today, keep refreshing that browser tab with the cricket score. It’s the final day of the international summer, and the Black Caps need to bat out the day to secure a rare test series win over England. ESPN Cricinfo reports that England are still confident of taking all ten 4th innings wickets, but bad light and rain might rob them of time to do so.
From our partners, Vector’s new technology engineer Kate Murphy writes about the humble LED, and shines a light on the history and impact little things can make on energy reduction at scale.
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.