A member of the NZ Air Force leaning out the side of a helicopter (Getty Images)

The Bulletin: What is the Defence Force so worried about?

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Defence Force outlines what they say are complex and emerging threats, cochlear implant funding effectively cut, and there’s a public service strike today.

The Defence Force is warning about increasingly complex threats, including from Russia and China, in their strategic policy statement released on FridayNewshub reports that both those countries are named, and in particular the increasing economic assertiveness of China is being noted. Their ‘alternative model’ of government – of a liberalising economy, but an authoritarian state – is being seen as in competition with New Zealand’s democratic system. Accusations of Russian meddling in the elections of other nations (a hobby of most countries that aspire to be major powers) are also noted.

Regarding the China comments in the statement, Politik has delved into what that might signal. There have been subtle shifts in language that indicate a new willingness to criticise China. Defence minister Ron Mark says none of this will come out of the blue for the Chinese – he says he’s been upfront with their military leaders. On The Spinoff, David Capie writes that much of the language and positioning towards China is aimed at an international audience, particularly our allies across the ditch in Australia.

There’s a pretty important bit of context for all this though – funding. Defence spending could be in trouble with a review under way, Newsroom reports, and the statement only really goes into what Defence believes the threats are, not how the government is meant to find the money to address them. That could mean the end of deployments to places like Iraq. In June the decision on whether to finally leave that conflict was delayed by another three months – here’s a refresher from Stuff 

So in terms of meeting the threats described in the statement, which also include climate change, and the need to protect borders, lines of communication and trade, what does the Defence Force need? New planes, said Ron Mark on One News. A costly air-force upgrade is currently being considered, and Mr Mark said relationships and compatibility with Australia would play a role in that.


The government has effectively cut funding for cochlear implants, which can give those who are born deaf the ability to hear, reports Stuff. The implants are expensive – about $50,000 for a pair – and require maintenance worth about $10,000 every seven years. A $6.5 million dollar funding boost had been planned by the last government, which will now not be implemented.


Around 4000 public servants will be on strike today, and will be out and about between 1-3 in the main centres, reports the NZ Herald. The PSA’s Glenn Barclay wrote a column in today’s Herald outlining the reasoning for the strike, and his views on the current context of industrial action. And in the other major strike that could erupt, nurses are coming to the end of voting on their latest offer from DHBs, and the results will be known this week.


Green party co-leader Marama Davidson has received violent threats after applauding a decision to block two extremist speakers from using Auckland Council venues, reports Stuff. Auckland mayor Phil Goff told Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux that they would most certainly not be using the Bruce Mason Centre. Ms Davidson supported that, and was then threatened on social media.

Just a quick point on this whole saga, which has been royally blowing up on twitter all weekend. They could have easily found private venues to host them – if, of course, ticket sales allowed. The fact that this wasn’t possible and the tour was just cancelled, even with this storm of publicity, suggests there wasn’t ever all that much of an audience for these two.


How many people will actually be able to afford a Kiwibuild house? According to a conservative MBIE estimate, not particularly many, reports Stuff – two thirds of first home buyers wouldn’t be able to comfortably afford one. Calculations from banks say the picture is more optimistic than that. But the price points of these houses, many of which will be in the half-million range, will be daunting for many.


New Zealand is being warned that it’s missing out on the chance for a ‘digital goldrush’ in the gaming industry. This whole piece from Newshub Nation was interesting, but the comparison was fascinating. They have a similar population and GDP to NZ, but after a period of direct government investment the industry is now worth $4.2 billion. New Zealand’s, by contrast, is worth about half a billion.


If you ever want to explain to someone that there’s no such thing as a single ‘Māori perspective,’ this video from Marae would go a long way. The four panellists – Tau Henare, Donna Awatere Huata, Ella Henry and Russell Smith – gave the appointment of Wally Haumaha to the role of Deputy Police Commissioner a thorough and robust airing. Kudos for Marae for setting up a panel that actually gave the audience information, and showed them perspectives, that they might not otherwise have seen.


From our partners, Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha writes that while making and selling electricity from the comfort of home might sound like some dodgy online scam, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.


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Image: YouTube.

Right now on The Spinoff: New food editor Alice Neville writes about a Wellington cafe that is giving former female prisoners opportunities as baristas. Don Rowe casts his mind back to the shuffling craze of the late 2000s, and when people said words like ‘skux’. And Sam Stubbs has written a hard hitting piece about Australian banks making more money while contributing less to the New Zealand economy, and what can be done about it.


Perhaps paywalls work, because I came very close to instantly buying a subscription to the Greymouth Star yesterday after seeing this headline: Boats stuck at sea due to silted up port. Basically the way their digital model works is that a headline and top line will be free, and the rest is subscriber only. I imagine it works quite well too – one problem that paywalled websites often have is that they don’t sell their stories well enough – the information provided doesn’t give readers more questions than answers. Because of that, there’s little reason to pony up with any money. No doubt this will be a presentation model the NZ Herald looks at, as they develop a strategy to get people to pay for their best journalism.

As to the story itself: Fishing industry leaders in Greymouth are furious over the state of the Port, which is slowing down the turnaround time for boats coming into the Harbour. That has long been a problem for the area, as this Star story republished on the Otago Daily Times shows. The sand bar around the Harbour has long been a danger for boats – it’s one of the many river mouth ports with notorious bars, detailed in this brilliant NZ Geographic feature.

A dredging machine only just started working last year, two years after it was purchased second hand from Tasmania. Reading between the lines of mayor Tony Kokshoorn comments that it showed the machine was “not a lemon,” there must have been a fair bit of frustration in the town about the issue.

And fair enough, too. Data from Infometrics shows the economy of the West Coast is contracting. Job growth is going backwards too. Between the two of them, fishing and seafood processing is worth a bit under 2% of the regional economy, a small share, but given the context one that would hurt a lot if it went backwards. In short, exactly what local media are good at reporting on.

Anyway, if you want to know more about this story, which I absolutely did, don’t fear. I later discovered the issue had been reported by Stuff too, by journalist Joanne Carroll who is based on the West Coast. It’s really heartening to see too, for the state of journalism. Both a local media powerhouse and a nationwide platform are keeping track of important stories in a place outside the main centres. That’s really healthy, and should be supported. And the best way to support journalism is with money.


Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker is talking tough after his 4th UFC win in a row, reports the NZ Herald. Hooker told the UFC they need to find him tougher opponents, because he’s hurting his current matchups too easily. Israel Adesanya also won over the weekend, and both NZ fighters will likely to be ranked in the top 15 of their respective classes when the results are all shaken down.

Football World Cup

Surely everyone knows the result of the England game now, and that it’s coming home? If not, England comfortably dispatched Sweden, raising the hopes of a nation to stratospheric levels. They will play Croatia in the semi-finals, and France will play Belgium. There are still two people in the informal Bulletin bragging rights sweepstake to pick the finalists, but unfortunately, they both picked the same option, so if either of their picks loses, there will be no winner.


That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here.


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