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Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern in cabinet (Getty Images)
Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern in cabinet (Getty Images)

The BulletinSeptember 6, 2018

The Bulletin: Refugee quota rise in doubt

Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern in cabinet (Getty Images)
Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern in cabinet (Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: PM put on the back foot over refugee quota, police reject pay offer, and some juicy local government drama unfolds in Cromwell.

Plans to increase the refugee quota appear to be in jeopardy, after a public intervention from deputy PM Winston Peters, reports Newshub. Mr Peters set events in motion by saying his party had never agreed to an increase, and at a press conference on Nauru PM Jacinda Ardern admitted that it was something that was yet to go through cabinet.

National have accused the Labour-led government of once again caving to the demands of NZ First, reports Radio NZ. And analysing the situation, Guyon Espiner writes that it’s another example of NZ First being able to clip Ardern’s wings whenever they feel like it. They appear to be far more willing to stare down Labour, than vice-versa. Writing on Stuff, Tracy Watkins says it’s interesting that it has played out in public, as it could have easily been handled behind closed doors.

PM Ardern said they had “always been very clear” about the coalition governing arrangement, about what’s in the confidence and supply agreement, and what isn’t. There’s a video of that in this NZ Herald story (which is by Claire Trevett and well worth reading anyway) But just how clear the government has been about this particular issue of raising the refugee quota is dubious – the rhetoric has always been that the quota would be increased if Labour held power.

The Press’s editorial this morning carries a sense of disappointment about the whole Pacific Islands Forum. Philip Matthews argues that throughout all of the political wranglings, the awareness of actual human suffering has been lost. And on Nauru, they sure are suffering – an SBS report indicated that the psychological state of children in the detention camps was far worse than advocates had feared it would be.

The police have rejected their first pay offer from the government, just as nurses and primary teachers did before them, reports Newshub. However, unlike teachers and nurses, police are barred by law from striking. The Police Association say they want a range of issues addressed alongside pay, including potentially an allowance for officers working in places with high costs of living, like Auckland and Queenstown. And while the risk of a police strike isn’t there, there is a risk that police will simply start leaving the job, reports the NZ Herald.

There’s some amazing local government drama going down in Central Otago at the moment, and Crux has a handy explainer outlining it all. It centres around a group of Cromwell Community Board members, who felt they weren’t being represented properly by their chair Neil Gillespie, and so launched a coup. But it failed when matters escalated up to the Central Otago District Council, and mayor Tim Cadogan got amongst to support Mr Gillespie – also the deputy mayor of that council. And it could just be the first shot in a much longer battle.

One bit of subtext behind it all is the changes between Cromwell, and the town of Alexandra where the Council sits. Newer arrivals are changing the character of Cromwell, and they reportedly feel they’re not being well represented in the more traditional town of Alexandra.

In Parliament watch, broadcasting minister Clare Curran has been put under huge pressure over use of a Gmail account for government business, reports Stuff. The minister floundered in response to questioning from National’s Melissa Lee. That clip has gone viral, but when Ms Lee tried to push the point, Speaker Trevor Mallard intervened (1.45ish) by saying there were no restrictions on using other email accounts. “I think all of us know that a large amount of the foreign affairs business of the previous government was carried out by Gmail,” he said.

A range of people have been arrested and charged in relation to allegations of harness race fixing, reports Radio NZ. A second round of charges were drug-related, and the police haven’t ruled out widening their investigation further.

This story from Stuff is a horrifying account of sexual violence that wasn’t prosecuted. There are heavy name suppressions around the reporting, but both victim and alleged perpetrator were teachers, and the alleged attack took place in a classroom. Another woman also came forward to police, with a similar story about the alleged rapist, but that case collapsed at trial. Police chose not to prosecute the teacher’s case, and in short order, the alleged attacker was back at work.

NZ First has supported the first reading of a bill that would entrench the Māori seats, and it will now proceed to select committee, reports the NZ Herald. It’s being reported as a surprise (and I for one am most certainly surprised) but it was actually tipped by Māui Street’s Morgan Godfery back in July. NZ First’s position is that the Māori seats should be put up for a binding referendum on either entrenchment or abolition, and reworking the bill would be a chance to do that.

Here’s a take on why the government is setting up so many working groups – they can’t have confidence in the ability of the public service to do heavy lifting on policy. Writing in the NZ Herald, Victoria University’s Dr Simon Chapple says policy expertise has been run down in favour of professional managerialism. Dr Chapple blames decades of accumulated neglect from governments of all stripes for the situation. Note – it is a comment piece, so if you disagree, feel free to get in touch and say so.

Be nice to your Uber driver, or you might get banned. Well, you should always be nice to your Uber driver anyway, but under a new system, users who repeatedly drop below a 4 star rating on the app will get hit with a 6 month ban, reports Newshub. A major irritant for drivers is being asked to pick people up in places where there is no safe space to stop, so if your small talk game is bad, that’s something to keep in mind.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Asher Emanuel has filed a report from the Supreme Court, where Colin Craig and Jordan Williams have taken the latest round of their political featherweight title fight. Danyl McLaughlan has cast his eye over some bizarre data released by the Book Council. Madeleine Chapman has met some of the few women studying for a job in the trades. And the Silver Scrolls finalists say nice things about each other’s work in this piece.

Anglican reverend Helen Jacobi got in touch about yesterday’s story on the split in the church over same-sex marriage, and it was a very interesting response. First of all, she disputed John Stringer’s assertion that the decision to allow blessings of same-sex marriage was a minority decision – Rev Jacobi said all three tikanga branches of the Anglican church voted in favour – here’s the church’s official account of how the vote proceeded. One important point to note is that the Anglican church in NZ and the Pacific has three distinct tikanga – Māori, Pakeha and Pasifika.

She also recommended some further reading for those who are interested. She suggested those who want to learn more about liberal thinking in the church should read Liturgy, and on the more conservative side, Anglican Down Under. And Reverend Jacobi keeps a blog herself – it’s called Spirited Edge, and the post in question argues that the church’s leadership has been too cautious on the issue. Here’s an excerpt:

“Archbishop Philip Richardson, the Primate of the tikanga pakeha dioceses, was interviewed on Checkpoint by John Campbell. Rarely does the church get an opportunity to talk in the media. So what did our Archbishop say? Listen here

Did he use the opportunity to send a message of welcome and inclusion to LGBT members, inquirers and their families? Did he use the opportunity to seek forgiveness for past exclusion? Did he use the opportunity to preach the good news? Did he use the opportunity to welcome those who would like their marriages blessed? He did not.

He praised those who are leaving. He spoke of his respect for them “individually and collectively” and said “he wanted to pay tribute to those who cannot accept this decision” and that he respects the integrity of that view and that belief.

I am speechless, astounded and totally perplexed. Why spend valuable air time assuaging those who are already leaving and have always intended to leave? And why pile on the “respect” for such an exclusionary position?”

Now here’s a League game that will be something to behold. The Kangaroos will play Tonga in Auckland, at Mt Smart on October 20, reports Radio NZ. That’s the week after the Kiwis play the Kangaroos, and dare I say it, it’s an even bet on which team is more likely to upset the Aussies.

And the prayers of Cantabrians have been answered, with Richie Mo’unga getting his first All Blacks start this weekend. Beauden Barrett won’t play at all against Argentina (fair to say he’s been rested, not dropped) and Nehe Milner-Skudder has also returned. The full team is here.

From our partners, Vector’s Beth Johnson writes that if you get a cheque in the mail, no, it isn’t a scam. It’s just the Loss Rental Rebate system in action.

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