Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Early interest rate move tipped by banks, outbreak of RSV hitting infants, and nurses vote for more strikes.
Interest rates could be moving sooner than expected, according to bank economists. Interest reports the prediction has been made that rates could rise in November, as opposed to previous picks of some time in 2022. One of the reasons for this is labour market tightness, with ASB senior economist Jane Turner saying the metrics suggested firms were now hiring more from each other than the wider but small pool of unemployed people, and as such the Reserve Bank’s emergency settings are quickly becoming too low. This tightness was discussed in yesterday’s Bulletin, and on the topic generally, a new labour shortage has just dropped: Politik (paywalled) reports New Zealand currently has a shortage of auditors.
The impacts of a rate rise could be significant through much of the economy. One area is inflation – the cost of things going up – which is within the Reserve Bank’s remit to try and control. Right now it is within the target range, but it’s rising, and the effects of that are disproportionately more negative for those with less. It would also have an impact on the housing market, reports Newshub, with prices currently being driven in part by the cheap money low interest rates enable.
On the other major setting that is affecting the country, we got more news on that yesterday: Justin Giovannetti has reported on the latest comments from the PM about the border, which she says is still too risky to open, and will be for some time yet. These moves are currently starting to happen around the world, and Jacinda Ardern said the “experiments” of other countries will be watched closely. If you want to hear more on this topic as discussed by well-informed political commentators, listen to the latest episode of Gone By Lunchtime.
An outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is hitting infants at the moment, with 20 currently in hospital in Wellington. Radio NZ’s Rowan Quinn reports hospitals all over the country are seeing cases, with fears the number is yet to peak. RSV causes severe breathing difficulties, can be fatal, and affects infants worst. It is believed that some of the cases are more severe this year because little RSV spread last year, so more potentially vulnerable kids have no immunity. The NZ Herald reports daycare centres – where a lot of spread happens – are being warned to be hyper-careful with sanitation.
Nurses have voted for more strikes, scheduling three 24-hour bouts over the coming months, reports One News. The first of them is scheduled for the end of July, and in the meantime the NZNO said they will be continuing talks with DHBs. The union said those talks are promising, and a spokesperson for the DHBs agreed with the hope that an agreement can be reached before the strikes take place.
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Pasifika people face a significant number of barriers and iniquities in the health system, according to a new report covered by Stuff’s Torika Tokalau. Two areas this becomes particularly evident is in maternity care and life expectancy, with poorer stats on both for Pasifika. “These shortcomings reflect systematic bias and racism in the New Zealand health and disability system and the lack of diversity in the health workforce,” said Pacific health expert Dr Collin Tukuitonga.
A group of mariners is isolating off the Taranaki coast, after two of their number tested positive for Covid-19. Our live updates reports they came from Auckland down, and several identified contacts (including the bus driver) are now also isolating. There is believed to be a low risk to the wider public.
A significant vote for New Zealand’s oil and gas sector will be taking place in August: Shareholders in Refining NZ will be deciding whether to wind down the Marsden Point refinery, and in the process switching to imports of pre-refined fuels, reports Stuff’s Tom Pullar-Strecker. That will have significant economic consequences, with 240 jobs likely to go. There have previously also been resiliency issues raised with the plan – after all, the country would stop moving pretty quickly without refined fuel. But the chief executive is backing a shutdown vote, and it looks highly likely to pass.
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Right now on The Spinoff: George Driver does a deep dive on claims the Chinese government harvests the organs of dissidents. Bernard Walker of the University of Canterbury questions why the vaccine rollout appears to be going so badly in the region. Charlotte Muru-Lanning writes about the structural problems in hospitality staffing, drawing on her own experience. Justin Latif reports on what light rail could do for Māngere’s ailing town centre. I report on a leadership challenge to James Shaw coming from the Green Party membership. And Sam Brooks has a wonderful feature about the five years since Pokemon Go was released, a massive gaming phenomenon and cultural moment that for some people has continued to this day.
Speaking of Sam, for our regular Wednesday feature on Spinoff writers, today’s comes from our culture editor Sam Brooks:
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In sport, South Africa’s test rugby season is in turmoil after more positive Covid tests within the Springboks squad came out. Irish sport website The 42 reports the game this weekend against Georgia is now in doubt, with the positive test the second time cases had emerged in the space of a week, and cases also turning up in the Georgian camp. The whole Springbok squad is currently in isolation, and on the horizon, the British and Irish Lions loom. Whether that tour goes ahead is anyone’s guess, but the Lions vs Bulls tour match has been postponed from this weekend due to positive cases within the Bulls.
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