Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Phil Goff puts CCOs on notice, PM Ardern in Bangkok for crucial summit, and Greenpeace criticises continued fracking amid UK moratorium.
Auckland mayor Phil Goff starts his second term facing a range of challenges, particularly around Council Controlled Organisations. CCO unaccountability appeared to be one of the themes of the John Tamihere campaign that really landed, and now they’re going to be shaken up, as it were. The NZ Herald reports that in a speech to mark his inauguration, Goff outlined how he intended to bring CCOs back into line. This would particularly come through the addition of an elected councillor to their board, and the warning that unresponsive organisations could find themselves abolished or downsized.
One of the CCO bosses has got the message already. Panuku Development boss Roger MacDonald has resigned, reports the NZ Herald’s Bernard Orsman, after a period of leave. MacDonald had also reportedly lost the confidence of Goff. He had been in the news over bonuses in his pay packet, which Goff said was both very high and wasn’t known about by elected officials. Salaries in the high hundreds of thousands are almost always a bad look for public servants, creating the impression of creaming it at the expense of ratepayers, even if they can also be defended on the grounds of needing to be competitive with the private sector.
CCO Auckland Transport has also been in the mayor’s sights since re-election, Nick Truebridge of Stuff reported last month. During the campaign, Goff said AT needed to ensure “maximum accountability and public responsiveness”, and adding that they needed to do more to get out and talk to communities. As well as that, with climate change in Goff’s focus for this term, accomplishing any goals there will require significant cooperation from AT.
For a big picture on the next three years, this feature from Stephen Forbes on Interest goes into great depth about what will dominate discussions around the Council table. It has been almost ten years now since the formation of the Super City, and it is clear there will be hard looks about what has worked, and what hasn’t.
The PM is currently in Bangkok, for a summit that has now taken on a magnified importance. The East Asia Summit will discuss the situation in the South China sea, climate change, and whether there is any chance of momentum being picked up again on the RCEP trade deal – expect to see more on this in tomorrow’s Bulletin. It has been a tough year for the government diplomatically, in ways that are largely out of their control.They’ve had to manage slow trade deal progress, balance the respective relationships between China and the USA, and seen a continued general drift away from international co-operation in some of NZ’s foreign policy priorities.
International attention has been focused on the cancellation of the APEC summit over the last few days. But the subsequent UN Climate Summit – now to be held in Madrid after Santiago pulled out – is also important. It’s another step along the interminably long road to getting some sort of binding emissions reduction framework. Heavy pressure is on from activists to speed those discussions up, but on a global scale the politics of climate change are swinging wildly at the moment. To see that you only have to look as far as Australia, where PM Scott Morrison has threatened to outlaw climate change boycotts. The East Asia summit represents the best chance for leaders to have discussions with each other ahead of Madrid.
Greenpeace has criticised the government for not putting a moratorium on fracking in place, reports Newshub. Britain has recently paused all fracking operations, largely because the oil extraction technique can cause earthquakes. Greenpeace’s ED Russel Norman says it is shameful our government hasn’t done the same, also citing the need to move away from fossil fuels.
Previous studies into fracking in New Zealand have found a complex picture. This PCE report from 2014 is an example of that. It found that while New Zealand operations tended to follow best practices, oversight wasn’t strong enough to ensure they were always followed. It also noted that the fracking process itself was just one of many steps that could cause environmental damage, including the emissions created through using the product, and the byproducts created through the life cycle of an operation. The economic case for fracking is however politically compelling, as this NZ Herald report from early in the government’s term in 2017 shows.
Fears are growing of justice being available only to those who can afford it, reports the NZ Herald’s (paywalled) Nicholas Jones. People are now going through a majority of civil cases in the court system without the assistance of a lawyer, and every year the number of people doing so is increasing. That is being seen as a warning that legal services aren’t being priced in a way that makes them accessible to all.
The lid has been lifted on one of hospitality’s open secrets. The Spinoff’s Alice Webb-Liddall has spoken to a range of people who have confirmed the perception that large swathes of the industry incentivise smoking. In some businesses it can be the only way workers get a break. It’s an interesting story in part because there isn’t really a lot of formal research on it, but anecdotally, ask anyone who has done hospo for any length of time and they’ll probably tell you it’s true.
This Guy Fawkes night, don’t be an idiot with fireworks. That’s a paraphrased version of the message being pushed by Fire and Emergency, who are concerned about the high rate of fireworks related blunders over November, reports One News. “I hate to say it but in a lot of those cases it is people up to mischief,” said spokesperson Todd O’Donoghue.
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Right now on The Spinoff: Kiran Dass meets a record-cutter who has been pressing vinyl for decades, and gets their insights on the community of music. The Dietary Requirements food podcast is joined by the blogger behind runaway Instagram success Eat Lit Food. Toby Morris pays tribute to Terry Teo, the great underappreciated NZ comic. Nadine Anne Hura talks to climate activist Haylee Koroi about what ‘centering indigenous voices’ means in practice.
And the must read piece of the weekend: Madeleine Chapman got herself checked out by an online private investigator, and the results that came back were terrifyingly comprehensive. The service markets itself as a place for people to check out potential dates, but it would also have a dangerous amount of usefulness for stalkers.
The Sensible Sentencing Trust has been through a changing of the guard, and this feature from Stuff’s Kelly Dennett is a really interesting look at it all. It’s easy to forget now, but the SST was once hugely influential, an influence which has waned dramatically since Andrew Little became justice minister, and arguably before that too. Now it is being run by Jess McVicar (daughter of Garth) and it appears the tone will be different – though whether they’ll ever be able to recapture the lost momentum remains to be seen. Here’s an excerpt:
Garth McVicar was prepared for the trust to fold after deciding to step down to spend time with family – the deaths of his parents sparking some soul searching – and admits the group’s vigorous launch mellowed over the years.
So did the public’s eye-for-an-eye appetite. In 2001 newspaper letter writers cried they were “fed up” with crime. (In 2001, Timaru trust organiser Lynette Karton remonstrated, “In 1952 there were two murders in New Zealand, and 99 in 1999.”) Now, experts say a government bent on lowering the prison muster through rehabilitation causes less of a public feeding frenzy.
Congratulations to South Africa and Siya Kolisi on winning the Rugby World Cup. The Springboks were grim and brutal on defence against England in the first half, and then opened up beautifully in the final quarter to run away with a 32-12 win. The team has turned around dramatically since coach Rassie Erasmus got involved in 2017, coming from as low as 6th on the World Rugby rankings to now be at the top. A shout out as well to Scotty Stevenson and the Spark Sport team – the early tournament broadcast problems quickly faded away, and the calls themselves were excellent.
Meanwhile, a massive result in international league: A Tongan Invitational XIII has beaten the Kangaroos for the first time. Radio NZ reports the win required Tonga to come from behind, and they kept the Australians scoreless in the second half to claim the historic 16-12 upset. The Kiwis also had a handy win over Great Britain in the Eden Park triple header, with Fiji thumping Samoa to round out the programme.
Finally, congratulations to Sarah Wong, this year’s new New Zealand Spelling Bee champion. There’s a story from the Dominion Post about her exploits, winning with ‘Stalactite’. Along with the trophy, she’ll earn $5000 to be put towards her future studies. There’s also a very cool video feature in the story, with two Newlands College students explaining how they figure words out.
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