Finance Minister Steven Joyce speaks to media while Transport Minister Simon Bridges looks on, April 27, 2017 (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Another National heavyweight bows out

Good morning and welcome to the first ever edition of The Bulletin, a round up the best and most important NZ news of the day. Sign up here to get The Bulletin direct to your inbox every single morning. 

Another National heavyweight is bowing out, a report into referrals of kids to protection services is causing alarm, and Ōpōtiki thinks big on sea farming.

Just a week after losing the race for the National Party leadership, former finance minister Steven Joyce has quit politics. RNZ has a handy rundown on his career and achievements, and the NZ Herald‘s Audrey Young analyses how the immense power he wielded as a minister and backroom fixer for National didn’t translate into support for the leadership. Richard Harman on Politik notes that Joyce has suffered a “constructive dismissal” by new leader Simon Bridges, who wants someone else in the finance role.

The next MP to come into Parliament from National’s list is former Wellington Central candidate Nicola Willis. About a month ago Newshub‘s Lloyd Burr potentially put a political kiss of death on her, saying she’d be an ideal choice for National’s next leader provided Bill English stuck around a while longer. To give a sense of how quickly things are moving in the National Party at the moment, Bill English pulled the pin a few days after that piece was published. Over on Pundit, Tim Watkin says the departure of Steven Joyce is the real harbinger of generational change within the Nats.


A new report has found almost a quarter of kids born in 1998 were reported to child protection services. The NZ Herald story on the report notes that almost 10% of kids in that cohort had been neglected or abused, and 3% had been put into foster care. The AUT report concludes that both notifications and substantiated cases of abuse and neglect of kids is far higher than generally recognised.


The government is being asked for tens of millions of dollars in regional development money for sea farming in Ōpōtiki. The report from Noted highlights the severe deprivation in the Bay of Plenty town, and the urgent need for jobs. Access in and out of Ōpōtiki harbour is hindered by a sandbar, which restricts the number of boats that can come and go, preventing expansion of the commercial sea farming developed by local iwi Whakatōhe. Mayor John Forbes admits the contribution being asked of the government is significant, but compared to the amount of money spent on roads, it’s “chump change.”


Former Fletcher Building boss Mark Binns has rubbished suggestions EQC could sue over botched Canterbury earthquake repairs. Checkpoint on Radio NZ obtained a copy of the contract signed in 2011 between Fletcher’s and EQC for home repairs, which contained an indemnity clause exempting Fletcher’s from claims against it’s work. Mr Binns also painted a picture of EQC being out of it’s depth with the scale of the disaster, and facing political pressure to unrealistically accelerate the rebuild. The Press reports there are still 2600 outstanding claims, and understands all are re-repairs.


Two important council stories from the Otago Daily Times this morning, albeit about two different councils. Their front page carries a report on Queenstown District Council plans to spend almost a billion dollars on infrastructure upgrades over ten years.Mayor Jim Boult says it means rates rises are “inevitable.” Some property owners could see their rates increase by up to 30%. Queenstown is in a tricky position, given the overwhelmingly unbalanced ratio of visitors to residents. Boult says it’s a realistic plan, which tells central government it must contribute more to the cost of hosting visitors.

And in Dunedin, the City Council has released a list of investment properties earmarked for sale. The Council wants to raise at least $63 million to fund investments, and aren’t ruling out selling operational assets either.


In a story that could change dramatically in the time it takes to send a tweet, NZ steel and aluminium producers are concerned by Donald Trump’s plans to introduce import tariffs. Stuff reports the fears are not so much for direct exports to the USA, which are minimal, but the wider effects such a move could have on the global market. Stephen Jacobi, from the New Zealand International Business Forum, says it’s time to sound the alarm on Trump’s trade actions. At the time of publication of The Bulletin, most of Trump’s recent tweets had been about North Korea or the Oscars.


And in partnership with Vector, a reality check: while EVs are taking over the world, in the same way that cars left the horse and cart floundering in their petrol guzzling wake this will come with unforeseen consequences. Vector’s Steve Heinen discusses why that might be a brilliant, planet-saving, massive headache.

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Right now on The Spinoff, editor Toby Manhire outlines what this whole Bulletin thing is all about – tell your friends. Toby Morris critiques how the ranks of NZ’s cartoonists have barely changed in decades, and why that sometimes leaves publications looking out of touch. David Farrier dives down the rabbit hole of some AI technology that seems too good to be true. And Madeleine Chapman ponders the explosive societal changes unleashed by Dan Carter asking the crowds at Auckland City Limits to make some noise for Peking Duk.


This week the Prime Minister has been in the Pacific, prompting plenty of good reporting and analysis. Stuff has details of a new funding plan for Niue, particularly aimed at helping the island generate renewable energy. It comes amid Niue’s push for greater economic self reliance, reports RNZ. And amid New Zealand’s support, Newshub reports that China is also spending big on infrastructure in the Pacific.

Underpinning much of the tour through the Pacific is the looming threat of rising sea levels and climate change. RNZ‘s Mei Heron wrote about a visit to a seaside village in Samoa that is now regularly swamped with water. Gia Garrick, for Newstalk ZB, links Ardern’s urgent campaign rhetoric on climate change to the reality facing Pacific Island nations. 

“If she’s truly going to stand by her words, she must smell the emissions on the deniers’ breath and truly change the way New Zealanders view this issue. She must stand by her statements in the Pacific this week.”

And what is the view from the Pacific? The Samoa Observer editorialises that New Zealand is an excellent role model on curbing corruption and gender equality, but asks that our immigration laws be changed so that Samoan arrivals are not treated like second class citizens. And there’s some probably well deserved cynicism from Samoa Planet‘s Lani Wendt Young, over just how generous New Zealand’s aid package really is, and how calls for the Pacific to join New Zealand in acting on climate change are condescending.


In sport, the NZ Herald had a scoop yesterday about the likely departure of NZ Rugby League CEO Alex Hayton, in the wake of the horrific World Cup campaign. It also chronicled the well-publicised scandals League has faced in the last 18 months, that the organisation has seemed ill-equipped to deal with. Expect more to come on this story soon, either in the form of a cast iron denial, or a departure.


That’s it for the first ever edition of The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please tell them to sign up here.


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