(File photo: Radio NZ)

The Bulletin: Port study comes back, but will it move?

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Port study comes back saying Auckland operations should go north, EV sales finally ticking up, and NZ First loses party president for “moral reasons.”

A study into the structure of the upper North Island port system has come back recommending many aspects of Auckland’s port be closed. The NZ Herald reports the study has called for Northport up in Whangarei to be developed further, rail and road links between that city and Auckland improved dramatically, and a new inland freight hub be built in Auckland’s northwest. In particular, the car import business – which sees some of the most valuable real estate in Auckland used as a glorified carpark. Cruise ships would continue to dock in Auckland, and plenty of operations would continue at Tauranga. The total cost of all the proposals in the study wouldn’t be remotely cheap though, coming in at about $10 billion.

It would be popular with many Aucklanders, according to a survey attached to the study. Stuff reports a majority of those surveyed wanted the port to be moved, though there was a wide split on what should be done with the freed up space instead. Only a tiny share of people wanted it to be turned into commercial or residential space, with slightly more saying it should become public or green space. Some of those surveyed expressed concerns about the major job losses or relocations that would come with the study’s proposals.

Now, it might seem awfully convenient that the study has come back saying exactly what those who set it up wanted to hear. Moving port operations to Whangarei has been a major talking point for NZ First, and as Politik reports, the study’s authors including a few of MP Shane Jones’ mates. It’s not at all clear yet what will come of it. Auckland Council – who currently own Ports of Auckland – are very unlikely to back it. $10 billion is a lot of money, and the proposal would require a four lane highway to Whangarei – already ruled out by the transport minister Phil Twyford. So far the government has not committed to any course of action, and it is by no means a done deal that the study will be put into effect.


The number of electric vehicles being sold is finally starting to tick up, reports Radio NZ. Teslas have finally arrived in significant numbers, and overall 605 electric of plug-in hybrid vehicles were sold over September. There are also an increasing number of charging stations around the country. However, any sort of widespread decarbonisation of the vehicle fleet is still years or even decades away, with SUV sales still strong.


Ructions over a refusal to sign off on financial statements has cost NZ First their party President, reports StuffLester Gray announced his resignation of both that position and his party membership, after saying he morally couldn’t put his name to the statements, because he hadn’t been provided with enough information by the party. It raises the question of whether there has been any impropriety in the party’s finances – Gray said there was no other comment he could make. The resignation (without the reason why) was broken first by Politik, who outlined what it meant in the context of NZ First’s internal politics.


Either the NZ or Australian government may have responsibility for a three year old orphan in a Syrian refugee camp, reports Radio NZ. It is believed that the child’s mother was a New Zealand citizen, and while the Australian government has agreed to repatriate those with a claim to citizenship there, that doesn’t apply in this case. The boy’s grandmother is ready to come and live in New Zealand to look after him if that’s the only option.


The government has announced a plan to reform the electricity market, in the hope it will bring prices down. Jihee Junn has put together a cheat sheet on the plans for The Spinoff, which have been announced in the context of power prices creeping up in real terms for decades. A major focus of the plans, in terms of how they’d affect consumers, is by making it easier for people to switch their provider, to use competition better to drive price changes.


Full democracy has finally returned to Canterbury, and this piece is a really strong marker of that. Newsroom’s David Williams has written about the first ECan elections (the local regional council) since all elected members were summarily sacked in 2010, in what was widely seen by locals as a power-grab over water and irrigation. It’s a long piece, and heavy on detail, but it does put some difficult questions to David Caygill, one of the people appointed to take over as a commissioner after the elected members were dumped.


Some of the Pike River families have gone further into the mine than has ever been achieved, reports One News. Bunches of flowers were carried 170 metres into the mine, in an emotional moment for the families. It marks the end of the first phase of the recovery effort, and now only Worksafe’s signoff is needed to carry on further into the drift.


A comment from a journalist lamenting low voter turnout, which I found interesting. The NZ Herald’s (paywalled) Wellington reporter Georgina Campbell has given the voters themselves a serve over not bothering to turn out. It’s a harsh but fair point of view, and got me thinking – you all reading this will no doubt be well-informed, engaged people, so over this weekend, seek out a non voter and tell them why they should vote. After all, this weekend is the best time to vote to make sure your papers get in on time.


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Porirua, mayor Mike Tana, and the four councillors running for his job

Right now on The Spinoff: Maria Slade reports on a state of the art Fonterra cheese plant, which is barely being used because of lack of demand. Sehej Khurana has covered a climate change study with alarming conclusions for sea level rise. I’ve taken a look at the Porirua mayoral race, for my money the most interesting in the country, in a city that is facing severe growth challenges. Josie Adams has ranked Dunedin’s mayoral candidates on how snake-like they are. Madeleine Chapman reviews the Cabinet Manual, the book that governs conduct for ministers which Shane Jones has been assigned to read on holiday. And Stevie Kaye was at the Silver Scrolls (congrats Aldous Harding) and wrote about the music that was heard on the night.


For a feature today, a really interesting take on journalistic theory, and when and why journalists can express opinions. It’s something where I believe there are few hard and fast rules – it’s mostly up to publications and journalists themselves as to where they draw the line. This piece from Neiman Lab covers a recent controversy around a BBC journalist expressing anger at a racist Trump tweet, and explored what it meant for the concept of objectivity. Here’s an excerpt:

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The key thing to know about Hallin’s spheres is that ideas move between them over time.

“Chattel slavery is great” is waaaay out in the sphere of deviance today — but read some newspapers from the 1850s and you’ll find it squarely in the realm of legitimate controversy. It wasn’t that long ago that, for many news organisations, “Climate change is real” was also open for debate, with the claims of scientists “balanced” out by Big Oil-funded think tanks saying it’s no big deal. Thankfully, in the past decade, it’s moved much closer to consensus.


One of the notable talking points of the Rugby World Cup so far has been the refereeing, particularly around when collisions become foul play. Why players and coaches are so frustrated is outlined in this piece on the Guardian, which goes into some of the inconsistencies that have emerged so far. The intent behind the law changes is fine – that head injuries need to be avoided at all costs – but the way referees are going about it has left many confused.


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