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International arrivals at Auckland Airport, June 2020 (Photo: Radio NZ, Liu Chen)
International arrivals at Auckland Airport, June 2020 (Photo: Radio NZ, Liu Chen)

The BulletinApril 7, 2021

The Bulletin: How the trans-Tasman bubble will work

International arrivals at Auckland Airport, June 2020 (Photo: Radio NZ, Liu Chen)
International arrivals at Auckland Airport, June 2020 (Photo: Radio NZ, Liu Chen)

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: How the trans-Tasman bubble will work, MP Kiri Allan urges smear tests after cancer diagnosis, and officials exposed trying to prevent mental health data being released.

A traffic light system will govern New Zealand’s travel bubble with Australia, with a green light indicating unencumbered journeys between the two countries are safe. On the Australian side, it will operate on a state by state basis. Our live updates reports it will open on April 19, with a range of criteria set out as to what would cause it to stay open or close, in the case of community transmission on either side. To quote:

A case well contained and connected to a border worker would result in “continue”, while a case not clearly connected to the border that might lead to a state lockdown would result in a “pause” on flights from that state. Multiple cases with no known origin, meanwhile, would result in flights being suspended for a period of time.

Flyers will, of course, be going at their own risk. There was a story several weeks ago about how it would be impossible to get travel insurance to pay out in the event of getting stuck on the wrong side. Nothing would indicate that has changed, and the government has continued to reiterate this point.

What will it mean for the managed isolation system? Not necessarily all that much, and New Zealanders trying to get home might still struggle for spots. Justin Giovannetti reports that while it will free up some of the rooms in MIQ, the government doesn’t intend to make them widely available – his story explains more. That will be of particular concern to both potential returnees in higher risk countries, and also to the migrant families who have been separated by Covid – some of whom were rallying at parliament yesterday.

There has been a bit of political reaction to it all, following reasonably predictable lines. Australian PM Scott Morrison that it was an important first step of many in opening up to the world again, reports the SMH. National leader Judith Collins made the heroic suggestion that the party’s petition on the issue put so much pressure on the government that they had to get it done, while Act’s David Seymour said the announcement came “six months late”. Seymour also pointed out that the ideas underpinning the system had been in the public domain for a long time – though as we’ve seen with this government and plenty before it too, there’s a big difference between having a good idea and actually putting it into effect.

East Coast MP and minister Kiri Allan has called for women to get regular smear tests, after a diagnosis of cervical cancer. The news was released yesterday morning, and prompted an outpouring of support for Allan. She will now go on medical leave, and in the interim Kris Faafoi will become emergency management minister, and Ayesha Verrall will become conservation minister.

Public service officials have been exposed battling for more than a year to avoid releasing a routine report into the state of mental health services. Stuff’s Henry Cooke reports officials apparently sought to bury some of the data that would have otherwise come out, in a piece that is as much about the processes that were used as to what the report actually showed. Health ministry officials have denied trying to hide information – rather they were trying to “modernise” the way the data was presented.

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The fine wine market is booming, with wealthy people looking to purchase expensive bottles to hold onto, rather than necessarily drink. Newsroom’s Jonothan Milne has looked into the record sums being spent in this area, along with on the art auction market and on other so-called ‘tangible assets’. Part of the piece delves into why this is happening at a time of looming recession, and as one auctioneer told the publication, “we dodged a bullet with Covid. So we’re celebrating now!” Another reading on it would be that the recession is only taking place if you’re poor, and that the wealthy have more money than ever to spend on fripperies.

Packs of feral dogs are causing problems on DOC land around the far North, reports Radio NZ. While locals say feral dogs aren’t uncommon for the area, the risk is caused both by the pack behaviour being seen, and the risk that they might be carriers of disease. Access to several recreation areas has been suspended as a result. The dogs are also considered a danger to vulnerable kiwi populations, with the birds not exactly known for their abilities to evade predators.

Calls are being made to beef up truancy services in West Auckland, reports the NZ Herald. It comes from a report that shows year on year truancy is on the rise, with just one officer covering eighty schools. Truancy services are likely to be reviewed this year. While it happens for a complex range of reasons, the stats show truancy doesn’t help with achievement in school.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Alex Casey finally figures out the secret behind the green buttons on the Auckland train doors. Emily Writes discusses the difficulties of familial distance created by the closed Tasman border. Amanda Peart writes about how returning to study can change your career path. Tara Ward lovingly watches John Campbell explode with excitement at riding a train on breakfast telly. And check out the trailer for a brand new video series – The Single Object will look at five everyday objects with five incredible stories behind them.

For a feature today, a remarkable exercise in bridge-burning through a newspaper editorial. The Orlando Sentinel in Florida is facing being taken over by a vulture firm called Alden Capital. This kind of ownership has been uniformly terrible for journalism, and the paper made no bones about not wanting to be bought, in a wider plea for other investors to step forward. Here’s an excerpt:

When Alden assumed control of the MediaNews Group newspaper chain in 2010, one of its premier properties was the Denver Post with a newsroom of some 230 reporters, editors and photographers. Today, the Post has diminished to about 70 journalists in its newsroom. This to cover a metro area of nearly 3 million people. Other papers in the Alden-owned chain have seen bone-deep staff cuts, too.

The Sentinel has hardly been immune to downsizing cuts under Tribune Publishing ownership. The 170-person newsroom in 2010 now numbers just under 80. Like other papers, we’ve closed bureaus, and narrowed our areas of coverage. Our eyes are wide open about what we are able to do today versus 10 years ago. With Alden as our owner, however, it could get much, much worse.

 The announcement of a travel bubble has been welcome news for the various sports teams playing in trans-Tasman competitions. Stuff reports the Phoenix will try and get two A-League games played in New Zealand this season – not many at all, but given logistical challenges will still be in play it isn’t nothing. Radio NZ reports the Warriors are going to take their time, and plan to host five home games from July onwards. Meanwhile the Breakers may not play in New Zealand this season, but they will at least get to see their families.

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