Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Housing market starts to get moving again, government reverses partnership visa decision, and man who assaulted James Shaw sentenced to prison.
By a few key metrics, the housing market is starting to lift again. First of all, new listings in Auckland are way up, reports the NZ Herald. That reverses a situation which had been seen earlier in the year, with few properties on the market, and analysts say it signals that the market has stabilised – there are now no real fears of a bubble bursting or a crash.
But according to the latest QV figures, reported on by Newshub, prices across the country are surging. Auckland and other cities were up a bit, though price rises were once again most pronounced by far in the regions – take this line from the Newshub story for example – “Otorohanga and Stratford Districts saw residential values increase 33.6 percent and 19.8 percent respectively over the last year.”
Why is it happening now? Radio NZ reports it is a function of both supply still being extremely limited, and interest rates being at record lows. Strangely given those underlying structural conditions, the NZ Herald reports this morning that investor confidence is currently low. It’s hard to fathom why investors feel this way, given that they’ve also this year dodged the possibility of a capital gains tax any time soon. Perhaps a tiny bit over-optimistically, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Bindi Norwell told One News that these were also good conditions for first home buyers to be taking advantage of.
The government is backing down on a controversial change to partnership visa rules, that had outraged some in the Indian community. One News reports PM Jacinda Ardern has said that Immigration will be directed to go back to the status quo – she also said they had made the original decision to change the rules. Ardern also said she didn’t share the inflammatory views expressed by cabinet minister Shane Jones over the matter, saying instead he was speaking in his capacity as an NZ First MP. For an example of how the original change was received, have a look at this update story from the Indian Weekender.
A nine month prison term looms for the man who attacked Green co-leader James Shaw, but he will likely apply for home detention, reports Radio NZ. That is a reversal of a previous request from Paul Raymond Harris, 47. He made repeated interjections on a range of topics during the sentencing, and attributed the attack to his extreme views on abortion, and grief at his wife’s recent miscarriage.
The latest figures on wages and unemployment present a mixed picture for workers. Interest reports the headline unemployment figure has ticked up to 4.2%, but that was coming off an 11 year low and in line with market expectations. Liam Dann in the NZ Herald (paywalled) quotes economists who say that job figures could continue to sink from here. However, the under-utilisation rate fell by a healthy amount, which can be a good sign for those in the gig economy.
Meanwhile wages are up 2.4% for the year, which is the largest annual rise in a decade. A large part of that was driven by the increase in the minimum wage, and major pay settlements for key occupations like nurses and teachers. Outside of that, wage growth was slower, and higher in the private sector.
Health experts have given an explanation as to why hospital staff are contracting measles, even if they’re immunised. Newsroom’s Eloise Gibson has looked into this, and it relates to how often they come into contact with a person who has it. Even with two jabs, the protection is 95-99%, so close to but not entirely foolproof. However, those staff members who haven’t been vaccinated and are coming into regular contact with people carrying measles are almost certain to get it.
This one could change rapidly in the next few days. Wellington mayor Andy Foster has challenged moves from ousted Justin Lester to get a recount, reports Stuff. It is currently being considered by a district court judge, and the nub of it all is the hundreds of voting papers deemed invalid because they were filled out incorrectly. If some or all of them are allowed, then Lester could well get back in.
A speedy and common sense decision from Auckland’s Tūpuna Maunga Authority: After the fires on the maunga on Tuesday night, people will simply be banned from going up them on Guy Fawkes night in the future, reports Radio NZ. You might think it would be easier to just ban shooting off fireworks on them, but no, that ban has actually already been in place for years. “These fires are serious – they cause significant harm to these iconic taonga and pose a real risk to people and property,” said authority chair Paul Majurey.
A reminder for those getting the Bulletin World Weekly: It now comes out on Thursday, rather than Friday. So if you’re part of The Spinoff Members, it’ll turn up some time this afternoon. There’s a fair bit going on this week too, what with a series of damaging state elections for US President Trump, the increasingly weird British election, and of course a lot of less immediately fun stories that matter quite a bit more.
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Right now on The Spinoff: Mandy Henk of open access advocacy group Tohatoha NZ speaks out about taxpayer funded research then being locked up behind paywalls. Alice Webb-Liddall writes about a book that covers New Zealand’s history of protests through 350 objects. James Shaw hits out at US President Trump for moves to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Anna Rankin speaks to sculptor Fiona Connor about books, inspiration and Los Angeles. And Emily Writes has a chill and restrained message for the person on her street who let off fireworks from 3.30am to 5.20am.
For a feature today, a couple of pieces about a viral video you’ve probably seen by now. In case you haven’t, I’ll describe it briefly – PM Jacinda Ardern tries to get through every government achievement of the last two years in two minutes. The original clip has been viewed many millions of times, and shared by tens of thousands of facebook pages, with many duplicate clips also floating around.
So, were the claims actually true? The NZ Herald’s (paywalled) Jason Walls went through and fact checked every single one of them, and found that they mostly were. Some of them require a bit of value-judgement to square the claim with the assessment. But the reason why the assessment was made is also given, so it ends up giving a pretty handy picture.
And what is the wider significance of it? Stuff’s Henry Cooke has taken this one on, and writes about how it sets up a fascinating social media battleground for the next election. National might have a lot more money to spend boosting posts, and highly skilled social media consultants to call on. But with Jacinda Ardern, Labour can go viral – though neither approach will necessarily result in more votes.
The new signing for the Breakers is a guy with a long record of violent incidents and run ins with the law, reports Madeleine Chapman for The Spinoff. Glen Rice Jnr has also played for a long list of teams, none of the tenures at each lasting very long. Coach Dan Shamir is confident Rice has turned his life around, and will be a good fit with the Breakers.
Finally, remember the name Rosemary Mair, if you haven’t come across it already. The recent White Ferns recruit has absolutely torn Taranaki to pieces in Central District’s inter-district Shrimpton Trophy, while playing for Hawke’s Bay. In just the third over of the chase, Mair took four consecutive top order wickets – which some consider to be a double-hattrick. She also scored a casual 33 off 16 balls, which heavily implies she might be more comfortable playing at a slightly higher level.
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