Judith Collins speaks to media on Sunday following a defeat in the general election. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images

The Bulletin: Tough week looms for National

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Tough week looms for National, PM congratulates president-elect Joe Biden, and community case acts as another reminder to use the Covid app.

Not an awful lot of attention has been paid to them since the election defeat, but National is about to be back in the spotlight this week. As Radio NZ reports, there has already been one casualty of the defeat – deputy leader Gerry Brownlee has announced that he does not intend to contest the position again. National MPs will be meeting on Tuesday, and the caucus lineup will be discussed, along with a confidence vote being held on the leadership of Judith Collins. Collins is expecting to stay on, but if a challenger comes out into the open the balance could shift very quickly. Stuff’s Thomas Coughlan reports Michael Woodhouse is considering putting his hand up for the deputy role, and health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti could also end up in the mix.

For the party as a whole, there are plenty of issues to thrash out around future directions. That was covered in this excellent and well-researched piece from Politik last week, which canvassed the views of a range of people connected to the party willing to write on the record about what’s next. Among the big issues is the status of members, and the influence they hold over the wider direction of the party. In recent decades it has been reduced significantly, along with the actual numbers, moving National from a more widely representative mass-membership party to something more corporatised and professional – arguably at the expense of the grassroots. And it’s fair to say some in the grassroots aren’t at all happy, if this Stuff story is anything to go by.  Later in the month the party presidency of Peter Goodfellow will also come up for a vote.

When caucus meets tomorrow, there will be several MPs departing after the special votes went against them. Justin Giovannetti reports no fewer than three electorates flipped – all of them traditionally pretty blue – and as a result Northland MP Matt King and Maungakiekie MP Denise Lee will be leaving parliament. Maureen Pugh, who traditionally loses her list seat on the special votes, will survive as a result of the electorates falling. Questions will also swirl around the future of several grandees, including Brownlee and veteran Nick Smith. The caucus as a whole is down to just 33 MPs, the smallest the party has been since 2002-05.

Speaking of those special votes, they delivered some surprises alongside the electorate swings. The Māori Party won an extra MP, with co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer coming in off the list to join Waiariki MP Rawiri Waititi. Ngarewa-Packer told Newshub Nation the party did not plan on repeating the strategic mistakes that saw them bundled out of parliament in 2017. I’ve picked out a few buzzy details and trivia about what the final results showed.

But it was a case of close but no cigar for cannabis legalisation, which fell agonisingly short. In the final accounting, only 50.7% of the population voted against legalisation – it’s a majority, but wow it’s a slim one. As for the future of drug policy and harm reduction, I’d highly encourage reading this piece by Benedikt Fischer, from the faculty of medical and health sciences at the University of Auckland.


PM Ardern has congratulated Joe Biden on winning the US presidential election. One News reports she talked up the prospect of working more closely with the US on climate change and Covid-19 issues. Ardern did not take the opportunity to put the boot into the defeated Donald Trump, saying the two nations had worked together well over the last term on Pacific issues.

As for the election itself, the result was declared overnight between Saturday and Sunday. The tipping point state, as many had predicted in advance, was Pennsylvania, a state carried by Trump by a narrow margin in 2016. NBC News reports that major US cities erupted in jubilation on the result being declared. It is expected that the outgoing president’s team will attempt to overturn the result through the courts, but so far every effort has been given little credence. As The Hill reports, half of all contributions to Trump’s legal defense fund will be used to pay down campaign debt. In my opinion, it shows the grift will never end with these crooks, and outrage will continue to be stoked for financial reasons.

However, notes of caution are being sounded about what the next president will inherit. This analysis from the New York Times notes correctly that Trumpism didn’t come from nowhere – it was the product of decades of institutional and democratic decline, and rebuilding the country will take much more than just a change in the guy at the top. I’d also encourage reading this panel post on what a Biden win will mean for various important US issues, and Catherine McGregor’s explainer on why the win wasn’t nearly as total as the Democrats were hoping for.


Another reminder to use the Covid-19 app, because a range of locations of interest have been linked to a solitary community case. Our live updates has the details, with the person visiting five locations around Auckland airport, and a restaurant on The Terrace on Friday afternoon. The community case is a close contact of the quarantine worker reported from the Auckland facility on Friday. Both cases are Defence Force employees, not health workers.

Meanwhile, a Covid-infected nurse at an Auckland quarantine facility is being praised for “doing everything right”, reports Radio NZ’s Rowan Quinn. The call comes from a report into the September case by Auckland region DHBs. In particular, the report has highlighted how the nurse didn’t pass on the infection to anyone else. It also discussed how hotels aren’t ideal quarantine facilities, amid ongoing criticism from the nursing union relating to fears among staff.


Water metering in Wellington has resulted in the discovery of a massive leak, amid rising per capita consumption, reports the NZ Herald’s Georgina Campbell. Currently demand is projected to outstrip supply within six years, and fixing that involves a huge amount of work to fix leaks. Further leaks are suspected because of an uptick in flow at night.


The horticulture workforce crisis is growing, and pickers say there is a simple solution – better pay and conditions. Kristin Hall from One News reports the message from industry veterans is that the industry has relied for too long on migrant labour to keep pay low, and it hasn’t risen in line with inflation. The story also discusses another reason why local workers aren’t taking up the jobs – people who have lost work this year are largely urbanised, but that’s not where the orchards are, so more needs to be done to make moving for work an attractive prospect.


Got some feedback about The Bulletin, or anything in the news? Drop us a line at thebulletin@thespinoff.co.nz

Colin Craig, Mike Lee and Gareth Morgan (Image : Tina Tiller)

Right now on The Spinoff: Stewart Sowman-Lund speaks to insiders on some of the most chaotic campaigns of recent political history. Christopher Tremewan writes about the history of Labour governments, and how quickly they can turn conservative. Don Rowe investigates how chips with weird flavours are actually produced (rather than asking why, which everyone else quite rightly does.) Josie Adams picks out some classic dystopian texts that could be adopted by the real estate industry. Ruby Clavey speaks to the organiser of a strip club night that prioritises safety for queer people of colour performers. Maia Hall meets some of the campaign managers behind Bird of the Year candidates. And the Phoenix Summit looks at the lessons of 2020 for the creative industries.


For a feature today, a piece about a TV show that was hugely influential on how New Zealanders perceived local music. We’ve republished a retrospective by Fiona Rae about the show Ready to Roll, or RTR as it later became, which included local bands covering “the hits of the day”. It also became increasingly a driver of record sales, and allowed local bands to record some of the earliest music videos – an increasingly important format. Here’s an excerpt:

“Unfortunately few local artist clips were produced by their respective New Zealand record companies, which is why we got involved,” says Blake. Clips made by the rock unit occasionally fitted both programmes, RTR and RWP. “Those in this category were generally played on cutting edge RWP first as it was felt that inclusion on RTR might pigeonhole them in the pop category.”

Bands were filmed in the studio, or Blake would commission videos. Simon Morris, who was working for RWP, directed classics such as Sharon O’Neill’s ‘Maxine’, the Dance Exponents’ ‘Victoria’ and The Screaming Meemees’ ‘See Me Go’, the first local single to enter the charts at No. 1. In Dunedin, cinematographer Peter Janes worked with many of the emerging Flying Nun bands.

Other local clips on RTR that are (now) classics include Th’ Dudes’ ‘Be Mine Tonight’; Hello Sailor’s ‘Blue Lady’; Deane Waretini’s ‘The Bridge’; Netherworld Dancing Toys’ ‘For Today’; The Chills’ ‘Pink Frost’; and the Pātea Māori Club’s mega-hit ‘Poi E’, which spent a month at No. 1 in 1984.


In sport, the Bledisloe Cup has ended fairly evenly poised, with the All Blacks losing the final game of four to Australia. The match was marked by ill-disciplined tacking, with both teams earning red cards for bad hits. As Marc Hinton writes on Stuff, the referee’s calls were exactly right if rugby is serious about eliminating contact with the head. Meanwhile, the Black Ferns have held a trial, and the Possibles managed to take down the Probables. As the highlights show, Possibles halfback Kendra Cocksedge was utterly brilliant in setting up one try with a quick tap, and scoring another with a brilliant solo run.


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