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The Bulletin: Backlash to Brash ban, protester denies violent intent

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Don Brash ban backlash intensifies, nurses and DHBs finally come to an agreement, and Queenstown residents concerned about airport expansion. 

Former National leader and Hobson’s Pledge founder Don Brash has been prevented from speaking at an event on Massey University’s campus, after a decision from the vice-chancellor. We’ve published a range of views on the decision over on The Spinoff, but it’s fair to say the call has been fairly controversial.

Various people from across the political spectrum have either criticised or condemned the decision – here’s PM Jacinda ArdernSimon Bridges, and David Seymour is quoted at length in our article. Don Brash himself told Radio NZ he was appalled at the decision, and the Massey University Students Association weren’t happy about it either.

Dr Brash’s speech notes were provided to the NZ Herald, and they were pretty much entirely about his early career, Reserve Bank governorship, and leadership of the National Party. His later work with Hobson’s Pledge, which has been pretty convincingly debunked as rubbish, wasn’t a part of the speech. Nor was Brash’s role in the Free Speech Coalition – the group that raised money to challenge the decision to stop the racist Canadians from speaking at a Council venue – part of the Massey speech.

So why was the speech stopped? Here’s Massey University VC Professor Jan Thomas talking to Newstalk ZB, and the reasons were based on “threats of violence made on social media” and security concerns – but in the media release she also said in her opinion “the views expressed by members of Hobson’s Pledge come dangerously close to hate speech. They are certainly not conducive with the University’ strategy of recognising the values of a Tiriti o Waitangi-led organisation.” There was also a letter the VC said prompted her to cancel the event.

But the man who wrote the VC the letter, Palmerston North activist Karl Pearce, told Stuff that while he supported the ban, he had no intention of getting violent, and merely intended to protest peacefully. He says the letter has been misinterpreted – when he said “free speech does not come free of consequences,” he was meaning hurt and backlash, not violence. It’s huge news on the front page of the Manawatū Standard, who have put a Massey sticker over Dr Brash’s mouth.


The long battle between the nurses and the DHBs is finally over, after the fifth offer was accepted. Radio NZ has a very tidy breakdown on what exactly was agreed to – it includes double digit pay-rises by this time next year, a commitment to safe staffing levels, a commitment to pay equity, and a one-off payment of $2000 to DHB employed nurses.

This story has been incredibly significant in terms of the wider context of the health sector, as nurses have been saying for many years they are underpaid. It’s also been a significant one for industrial relations, because it has shown quite clearly that for workers with resolve and leverage, strikes work. Food for thought for the teachers at least. And food for thought for the NZ Nurses Organisation too, who called off a strike so they could recommend an offer to the nurses, only to have their members knock it back.   


Here’s an interesting story from Crux about the views of Queenstonians (Queenstowners? Queens?) on the further expansion of the airport. 84% of just under 500% surveyed by the publication were opposed to expansion, with many of their comments indicating a reluctance to increase the flow of tourists, without also improving infrastructure that makes tourism possible. It’s another interesting insight into the tensions of a town that relies very heavily on tourists economically, but perhaps at the expense of liveability for locals.


The NZ Herald has reported on a ridiculous situation involving a Malysian born teacher, who has lived in NZ for 20 years, and graduated from an NZ tertiary institute, who cannot get registered with the Education Council until she proves she is proficient in English. There’s a video attached to the story too, and her English is probably better than mine. She says she refuses to sit the exam, and the Education Council say that some aspects of the English proficiency requirements are being renewed.


Here’s a useful bit of analysis on an underreported issue from PolitikCleaning up waterways will require the government to do a deal with Māori. Because a lot of Māori land is underdeveloped, and fertilising it would result in nitrate runoff, that would have an impact on waterway quality. It’s a pressing issue for minister David Parker, who counts waterway improvement as a top priority.


Bunnings has agreed to pay all staff a living wage of at least $20.55 an hour, reports One News. It’s another win in the retail sector for FIRST Union, who have been running a campaign to get businesses to sign up to paying the living wage. It also marks a warming in the relationship between Bunnings and their workers, who went on strike a few years ago.


Oncologists are warning that cancer is becoming ‘survival of the richest,’ with Pharmac accused of not keeping up with the latest cancer treatments, reports Radio NZ. High-ranking Australian oncologist John Zalcberg says Pharmac’s long lag times to approve funding means New Zealand is falling behind other countries, apart from wealthy people who can access them in other ways. But health minister David Clark rejects that, saying Professor Zalcberg is a representative of “Big Pharma,” and that the Pharmac model works.


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THE FUTURE(S) OF PROTEIN?

Right now on The Spinoff: Farmer and environmentalist John Hart writes about the effect alternative proteins will have on primary industries. Ayla Hoeta introduces her new monthly column on the Māori lunar cycle – this month it’s Aponga, so get planting. And Haimona Gray argues in favour of the academic and social value of multiculturalism.


So, organ donation. I asked for your views, and it’s fair to say the general mood of the responses is for a change in the law, but there was a lot of nuance to that debate. Currently, consent must be given for organs to be donated (generally on a drivers license or in a will) but next of kin can rescind that consent. It’s effectively an ‘opt-in’ system at present.

Annie believed that it should be changed to an ‘opt-out’ system, in which consent is presumed unless stated otherwise. That was a view shared by Frankie, Tessa Loretta and Jenn. Nicole was in favour of bodily autonomy, so was against automatic donation, but also against the ability of family to overrule wishes. And Mark Hanna went even further with his comments, sending through a blog post on the laws around organ donation, and how he believes they should change – you can read it here.

Jonathan had a potentially harsh but fair view on it all – “Opting out, should also opt you out of receiving an organ, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as organ disease or something meaning harvesting organs would be a bad idea.” You only get what you give and all that. And Moz said that as there was “no shortage of people” at the moment, organ donation was a waste of time! Crikey Moz, remind me to never ask you to call me an ambulance.

Alison made an interesting comment about cultural factors – she said she’d “like to see it become the cultural norm – that when you die, some physical parts of you will live on in others, improving (and sometimes saving) the lives of fellow Kiwis.” Daniel sounded a note of caution, saying “we could be accused of forcing our cultural beliefs onto others with this. Parts of the body are sacred in both many cultures and religions. So I would worry about the overstepping there.” And Ian said that “as a Māori I make the decision on what happens to my body when I die, and as a Māori my beliefs mean I will always be buried as my body was in death. To have any part separated from me will not rest easy with my spirits.”

For the record, I am personally in favour of being an organ donor, but for those cultural reasons I’m uneasy about it becoming automatic for others. But having said that, I don’t think there’s much chance anyone would want my lungs in all but the most dire of circumstances.


This is a fantastic first person piece from Devereaux Peters, who is a professional WNBA player, on the Washington PostIt’s about men challenging her to a one on one game of basketball, and why she will never accept the bad-faith nature of it. “I had made it. I was a paid professional. I. Do. This. But men still didn’t see it that way: Why can’t a man respect a woman at the top of her field? That was a question I didn’t care to try to answer anymore.”


From our partners, Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha writes that sometimes looking back on the past can make you glad you’re alive today, particularly when it comes to the safety of lines workers. 


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