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The Bulletin: Public money used to spy on quake survivors

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Public money has been used to spy on earthquake victims, Amy Adams gets a top job in National, and marine protection network proposals in the South Island are disappointing to environmentalists. 

Patrick Gower returns to Newshub in his new job as national correspondent with an explosive story about taxpayer money being used to spy on Canterbury earthquake survivors. Over three years, Southern Response spent almost $180,000 on private investigators to keep tabs on Cantabrians trying to settle insurance claims. The firm, Thompson and Clark Investigators, were also keen to get the Police involved in one particular case, and they then turned up at claimant Cameron Preston’s house.

The Press front page this morning leads with the angle that Southern Response feared Cameron Preston might commit an “Ashburton WINZ incident,” referring to the fatal shooting of two workers in 2014. Mr Preston rejects such fears as ridiculous, and says the real threat he posed Southern Response was organising other frustrated claimants into a class action. He believes that’s the reason Thompson and Clark were brought in to spy on him.

And speaking of Thompson and Clark, Greenpeace boss Russel Norman says they’re the same outfit assisting the Crown in a case against Greenpeace’s protest activities.

National’s Amy Adams will square off against Grant Robertson in the finance portfolioStuff‘s Stacey Kirk writes that the appointment could be seen as an olive branch to Adams and her backers in the recent leadership race, won by Simon Bridges. But Bridges says Adams would have been his first choice anyway, and the job wasn’t offered to former finance spokesman Steven Joyce. Claire Trevett in the NZ Herald writes that Bridges is likely to put more women in top rankings in his upcoming reshuffle, in contrast to the Key and English governments which tended very male at the top.

Two very different proposals for a marine protection network on the South Island’s southern coast have been presented, but neither option is satisfying conservationists. The ODT has reported on the South-East Marine Protection Forum’s recommendations, which diverged because consensus between different groups couldn’t be reached. But Otago University zoologist Phil Seddon says even the recommendation designed to appeal more to environmentalists is inadequate, and the forum’s report acknowledges that the proposal that is more appealing to commercial interests doesn’t fulfil some of the group’s policy objective requirements.

Stuff has explored the conditions that have led to “modern slavery” in New Zealand – the exploitation of migrant workers. The feature details meaningless qualifications for international students, terrible and illegal working conditions, bonded labour and abuse, and contrasts it with a Labour Inspectorate working hard, but unable to keep up with the sheer volume of cases. Advocates are calling on the government to show more leniency for those caught up in such scams, so they are more likely to voluntarily come forward. The Herald has reported on a meeting yesterday between government and business leaders, to discuss how to tackle human trafficking.

The proportion of women in top jobs in New Zealand has fallen to the lowest level since 2004. The Herald reports on new research released today, shows women only make up 18% of senior leaders in the firms surveyed. And while New Zealanders tend to enjoy ranking ourselves per-capita compared to other countries, the results there were pretty dire too. Of the 35 countries covered in the survey on the measure of women in top jobs, New Zealand ranked 33rd.

The Hawke’s Bay Today has called it – Napier’s wall of wood has arrived. The so-called Wall of Wood refers to a huge increase in timber exports from Napier’s Port. Last year a record 1.6 million tonnes of wood was exported through the port, and this year it’s forecast to be 25% higher.

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Right now on The Spinoff, guest writer Victoria Crockford writes about how the #metoo movement has, or in some cases hasn’t, affected the NZ tech industryBranko Marketic gets into the nuts and bolts of how the revised (CP) TPP will affect environmental legislation. And Madeleine Chapman says the much maligned James Blunt has been hard done by – she reviews his recent Auckland show.

To celebrate International Women’s Day today, The Bulletin has crowdsourced ideas from around The Spinoff, for features that explore ideas surrounding the reception and marginalisation of women in culture. The first, from VQR, discusses the concept of the male glance – in which female work can be dismissed out of hand due to the overwhelmingly male context in which so much art is made and consumed. This essay on The Ringer explores the complex genius of Joni Mitchell, and how canonisation of art almost exclusively takes place on male terms. It’s a point also explored in this Creative Independent interview with author Maggie Nelson. To quote:

“Claudia Rankine has this little bit in her book, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely about talking with some guy who was saying Mahalia Jackson has genius but isn’t a genius. I think that distinction has long persisted, as if women were able to be touched by something but not actually embody it…”

Artforum has a harshly confronting feature covering the many ways contemporary women artists are making work about sexual violence – not to trivialise the images included in the story at all, but be warned they are probably NSFW. And the New Yorker‘s profile of Judy Blume perfectly captures the way she (I’m told) could communicate to teenage girls about the experiences of growing up they were going through.

In sport, Ross Taylor’s name will ring out at water-coolers around the country today. In case you haven’t yet heard, he cracked his best ever ODI score of 181 not out – and doing much of it with effectively one leg – to drag the Black Caps to an unlikely victory over England. Mark Geenty at Stuff described it as New Zealand’s greatest ever ODI innings, given the match context. Taylor’s knock, along with support from Tom Latham, obscured the fact that for much of the game New Zealand were awful, particularly fielding. The series is locked 2-2 and will go to a decider in Christchurch on Saturday.

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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