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Winston Peters and Julie Anne Genter. (Images: Getty, design: Anna Rawhiti-Connell)
Winston Peters and Julie Anne Genter. (Images: Getty, design: Anna Rawhiti-Connell)

The BulletinMay 3, 2024

Legal action and bullying allegations: Peters and Genter knock government agenda off its perch

Winston Peters and Julie Anne Genter. (Images: Getty, design: Anna Rawhiti-Connell)
Winston Peters and Julie Anne Genter. (Images: Getty, design: Anna Rawhiti-Connell)

Bob Carr intends to launch legal action against Winston Peters and Julie Anne Genter is facing a second allegation of bullying. Both sucked the air out of an announcement on education, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

Kids will learn to read differently

If politics and coalition government were as easy as ABC, by rights, yesterday should have been about the government’s announcement that a new way of teaching kids to read will be introduced next year. Education reform is a key plank for the government; the sweeping reforms, if pulled off, are described by Danyl McLauchlan as “more significant than the reforms of the early 2000s.” Data quoted by education minister Erica Stanford yesterday shows that just 56% of Year 8 students are at the expected level for reading and just 35% for writing. Commentary about this week’s 1News Verian poll suggests people aren’t digging the darker-toned programme of cuts and repeals and might be keen on a bit more mojo and forward momentum, something future-focused. Yesterday’s announcement impacts the future of hundreds or thousands of kids. Instead, this perfunctory headline on the homepage of the Herald yesterday became an apt signifier for what actually happened.

Source: NZ Herald

Bob Carr confirms intention to take legal action against Winston Peters

As covered on Wednesday and Thursday this week, foreign minister Winston Peters gave what was previewed as a major speech on foreign policy on Wednesday night. Politik’s Richard Harman has the most clear-eyed analysis of it (paywalled), saying it was “a work of two halves.” The first half was standard foreign policy stuff, but the second? As Harman reports, it was described by one senior Ambassador as aimed as much at a domestic political audience as it was the invited diplomatic heads of mission. Harmna concludes Helen Clark and her criticism of Pillar II of Aukus has gotten under Peters’ skin. Peters then went on RNZ’s Morning Report yesterday and made comments about former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr’s (also a critic) relationship with China. Those comments have been removed from RNZ’s website archive of the interview and Carr confirmed last night to RNZ that his lawyers have written to Peters, informing him they intend to launch legal action against him. Carr considers the comments to be “entirely defamatory”. In response to questions about Peters’ comments, prime minister, Christopher Luxon, who is the first guest on a new news show (paywalled) on Rupert Murdoch-owned Sky Australia, where he discussed foreign policy, Australia and China, said he’s sure Carr “appreciates the rough and tumble of politics”. Labour leader Chris Hipkins has called for Peters to be stood down as foreign minister.


Genter accused of bullying and intimidation by member of the public

Meanwhile, after Julie Anne Genter’s behaviour in the House on Wednesday night, where she aggressively waved a book in the face of National minister Matt Doocey in the House, Newshub’s Jenna Lynch reported last night that another allegation of bullying has emerged from a member of the public. A Wellington florist who is upset about a cycleway outside her shop says she and Genter had a confrontation in her shop. According to the florist, Genter “was very intimidating. She pulled out her phone, she put the phone camera right in my face and I was like ‘Okay, you need to leave now’ and then she started yelling and screaming over me that I didn’t care about her kids cycling.” Green co-leader Marama Davidson confirmed Genter has taken out her phone and started filming and said that was “completely unacceptable.”

Will the coalition implode? Former MPs weigh in

Stanford, meanwhile, was speaking glowingly on RNZ about the results kura kaupapa has had in using structured literacy and the importance of lifting literacy rates for tamariki Māori. Good stuff, but the whole announcement was knocked a bit sideways by the consequences of Peters’ comments, once again highlighting the challenges Luxon and National have in not losing airtime to things their coalition partners are saying and doing. Hard to get things back on track when things keep knocking you off it. Peters will deliver a speech to the New Zealand China Council today and front media after, ensuring it stays in the news cycle. Tova O’Brien rounded up former National MPs Chris Finlayson and Tau Henare, and former Act MP Heather Roy for her podcast. She asked them all whether they thought the coalition would implode before 2026. She’d have fair reason to side-eye me for the spoiler here, but they all said yes.

Lots to agree with in Tara Ward’s suggestion that the next phone ban should be instituted in the most unruly classroom of all.

Finally, today is my last day as editor of The Bulletin. Subscribers have had the full, overly long farewell, and I’ve shared my reflections on the job and my thoughts on trust in media on site this morning. Thanks to all for having me. I’m sticking around as head of audience and a senior writer at The Spinoff, so it’s not farewell, but mā te wā.

Keep going!