Top cop candidate Mike Clement (Radio NZ, Elliott Childs)
Top cop candidate Mike Clement (Radio NZ, Elliott Childs)

The BulletinMarch 5, 2020

The Bulletin: Another story puts police culture under scrutiny

Top cop candidate Mike Clement (Radio NZ, Elliott Childs)
Top cop candidate Mike Clement (Radio NZ, Elliott Childs)

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Top cop candidate reportedly under investigation, second person confirmed to have Covid-19, and a critical and corroded Wellington pipe in the spotlight.

The IPCA is currently investigating one of the frontrunners for the top policing job in the country, reports Newshub’s Tova O’Brien. They’re looking into an allegation, understood to be that Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement interfered the block the appointment of a Superintendent, a decision which was subsequently reversed after a complaint. Clement has had a particularly high profile recently, fronting the Whakaari eruption response, and helping steer the police involvement in gun law reforms. Police minister Stuart Nash said he’s not aware of all of the details of the allegations, and that the delays in appointing a new Commissioner are about following a good process. The IPCA report will not be released publicly.

It’s another report that puts the top ranks of police culture under scrutiny. There was obviously a lot of that across 2018 around Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha, whose appointment was challenged over accusations that he bullied two female staffers. But there has been a lot of reporting that indicates that a bullying culture is rife within police, particularly by Radio NZ’s Ben Strang. His latest report is on a review into police culture conducted by consultant Debbie Francis, which “did not find evidence of systemic bullying,” but did find plenty of recommendations to make around how the complaints system operated. There has subsequently been some conjecture about the value of the review at all, with organisational culture expert Alan Halse telling Newstalk ZB that the terms of reference made it very difficult for any answers to be found.

A second person has been confirmed to have the Covid-19 coronavirus. Toby Manhire has outlined what is known about it in this explainer on The Spinoff, but in brief: The woman had been in Northern Italy where there has been a large outbreak, and only started showing symptoms when back in New Zealand. Her husband is also showing symptoms and is being tested. A range of contact tracing operations are now taking place, and the MOH says that with continued vigilance, the risk of a widespread community outbreak is expected to stay low. As Siouxsie Wiles writes, there is no strong evidence that people with the virus but without symptoms are likely to be passing it on. I’ll quote Dr Wiles here at length because it’s quite an important point:

“There is currently a lot of confusion about whether this coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic people – that is, people who are not displaying symptoms of illness. It can’t be ruled out for certain, but there doesn’t seem much strong evidence. The original paper that started this ball rolling turned out to be based on people assuming the original person didn’t have symptoms. Only it turns out they did.”

Meanwhile the government is expected to remove the stand-down period for people seeking the benefit, reports Radio NZ. The move has been agreed in principle amid wider efforts to manage economic disruption, with the details to be hammered out and announced next week. And in the retail world, Michael Andrew has looked into whether supply chain disruption has had an impact yet – it largely hasn’t, but there could be a major crunch coming in the next few months.

For those following Wellington’s ongoing water debacle, Georgina Campbell at the NZ Herald is among the top journalists to read. Her latest is about a severely corroded section of a critical piece of pipe, which would have catastrophic effects if it failed. The story also goes back into the history of Wellington’s sewage, and how a system built up over more than a century is struggling to stand up to the massively increasing pressures of population growth and wear and tear.

The battle over quad-biking on an important Marlborough beach has reached the stage or barricades being erected, reports Radio NZ. Basically, it’s an attempt to force vehicle users to stay below the high tide line, so they don’t smash up already damaged ecosystems. Previous proposals around new rules have proven to be unpopular with committed vehicle users, and those putting up the barricades say it’s about educating people about better behaviour.

The Auckland suburb of Waterview is divided over potential new housing, versus an extension to the primary school. The NZ Herald’s Simon Collins reports a big new Ockham development is at the heart of it, amid a wider boom in apartment blocks near Waterview school. Some parents are angry about that, saying the land should be used instead for extra play space for kids. Regardless, Waterview School itself will be expanding to fit up to 900 students, and a new school might also be built on the nearby Unitec site.

A media story out of Australia that has implications for New Zealand: Newswire service AAP will be closing down, with the loss of around 180 jobs. They are basically the backbone of independent and impartial news reporting in that country, and have previously had an operation in New Zealand, which closed in 2018. This piece on The Conversation outlines why it’s such a blow for the news.

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Simon Bridges at Parliament Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Right now on The Spinoff: Elisha Watson continues our donations week coverage by proposing how a public voucher concept called ‘Democracy Dollars’ could work. Max Rashbrooke looks back on the history of some of our biggest donations scandals. Alex Casey and Tara Ward discuss the reality show Love is Blind, which some see as an instant classic of the genre. And Catherine McGregor has a wonderful piece about how a piece of music can grab you at just the right time, in the context of the first ever A-ha visit to New Zealand.

In Covid-19 news, Siouxsie Wiles writes about the spread of the virus beyond China, and what it shows about international containment approaches. Siouxsie Wiles again also has some words for National leader Simon Bridges, and how his party is responding to it. And Leonie Hayden has come up with some alternatives for people who don’t want to shake hands right now.

For a feature today, an alternative look at the recent debate around RNZ Concert. Māori musician Ruby Solly has walked in several worlds that don’t often have much to do with each other, and in this E-Tangata article she attempts to reconcile how those worlds can be brought closer together. For those who consider themselves strong supporters of cultural arts, it’s an important read. Here’s an excerpt:

Many members of the community were eager to voice their opinions on the concept of a new station and how they were being victimised as lovers of culture. A lot of these comments focused on trying to whakaiti or belittle Māori and Pasifika communities, instead of working to whakamana or raise up the classical community.

Māori commenters were, very soon, having their own culture explained to them and having the “numerous handouts” they receive highlighted by a group that doesn’t walk with us or attempt to see life from our perspective, or why those services may be there to create a more equal playing field and better society for all.

I found myself in the centre of a Venn diagram where one circle had significantly more resources and power than the other, and seemed to be able to say whatever they deemed appropriate within that circle.

The NZ Herald’s sports team has been on a remarkable run recently with good stories focused off the field. And here’s another (paywalled) one, this time from reporter Joel Kulasingham, who has looked at what the arrival of new streaming platform DAZN could mean for broadcast rights in this country. They’ve largely been ignored so far because their launch product is boxing, and admittedly their big drawcard – Mexican boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez – is hardly a household name here. But they’ve got very deep pockets, and an aim to basically take over the world. So who knows – they might make a big play for some more locally important sports.

And finally, the Breakers have named their first ever woman to a coaching job. Newstalk ZB reports Chanel Pompallier will be an assistant coach, replacing the departing Zico Coronel. Pompallier is a former Tall Fern, and was described by Breakers guard Corey Webster as having a “great basketball IQ and knows the game very well.”

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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