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A photo released by the German government that about sums up the state of the US relationship to the rest of the world. (Photographer: Jesco Denzel)
A photo released by the German government that about sums up the state of the US relationship to the rest of the world. (Photographer: Jesco Denzel)

The BulletinJune 11, 2018

The Bulletin: Trump delights base, appalls allies on world tour

A photo released by the German government that about sums up the state of the US relationship to the rest of the world. (Photographer: Jesco Denzel)
A photo released by the German government that about sums up the state of the US relationship to the rest of the world. (Photographer: Jesco Denzel)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Donald Trump behaves like Donald Trump overseas, National wins Northcote by-election, and PM Ardern reassures nation about imminent reign of Lord Winston of Whananaki.  

It’s been a massive weekend of news for international politics, centred around the US President Donald Trump. The photo above of Trump crossing his arms and refusing to listen to German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G7, has gone around the world as a sort of political rorschach test. People are drawing the narratives they want out of it.

To much of the rest of the world, it symbolises American imperial arrogance and refusal to play by the rules that the rest of the world follows. Trump left the G7 early after bitter debates over tariffs, reports Al-Jazeera. His administration has imposed multiple rounds of trade tariffs on allies in recent weeks and months (including New Zealand) in an attempt to use brute economic force to renegotiate trade agreements. Other countries have retaliated with tariffs in turn, and France and Canada are being particularly open about being pissed off.

On the other hand, Trump’s base absolutely loves it. Pro-Trump outfit Breitbart put the photo out under the headline ‘G7 Summit: Trump Gives Masterclass in ‘America First’ to Globalists.’ And in fairness, he was elected on a deeply nationalistic policy platform, so blowing up the global free trade consensus was always going to be popular with his supporters.

Upon leaving the G7 early, Trump has now touched down in Singapore for the off-again, on-again summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Just two weeks ago, Trump cancelled that meeting, only to reinstate it at the urging of South Korea. The BBC reports that the likely outcome of Tuesday’s meeting is up in the air: a treaty to formally end the Korean war could be signed, or Trump could walk out early if he feels this one is going badly too.

National’s Dan Bidois has won the Northcote by-election, to replace former health minister Jonathan Coleman. Bidois beat Labour’s Shanan Halbert by about 1300 votes, a reduced majority compared to the 6000 Coleman beat Halbert by in 2017. Rebekah Jaung of the Greens picked up 579 votes, and ACT’s Stephen Berry got 157. None of the other four candidates cracked three figures.

Does the result mean anything? It’s generally bad analysis to read a by-election result as indicative of a nationwide mood. Having said that, the result shows that there hasn’t been a dramatic shift in support in any particular direction since the general election. It’s a business as usual result. That at least is the analysis from National-aligned pollster David Farrar at KiwiblogStuff’s political editor Tracy Watkins argues both party leaders can feel fairly comfortable with the outcome, while NZ Herald political editor Audrey Young says Simon Bridges had much more to lose from the contest than Jacinda Ardern, so the win will ease the pressure on him somewhat.

Sooner rather than later, the PM will be on maternity leave. Jacinda Ardern spoke to Q + A over the weekend about deputy PM Winston Peters stepping in for six weeks, and whether she had any concerns about that. She said she did not, and offered this rather pithy point about whether she’d still be reachable. “I’m not dead, I’ll just be in Sandringham.”

Water bottlers are misleading consumers about where in New Zealand their water comes from, reports Stuff. A Beverage Council spokesman says brands “leverage off New Zealand’s story,” and explained why by saying “the Southern Alps are sexier than a paddock in South Auckland”. There’s also no real evidence behind claims from bottled water companies that alkaline water was necessary for health, despite that being a key selling point for many bottled water brands.

Fishing boats are simply refusing to let inspectors on them when they go to sea, reports Newshub. Fifty skippers in the last 18 months have blocked access to inspectors, sometimes giving space on board the boat as a reason, and at other times simply flat out refusing. An industry spokesperson is backing the work of inspectors, but also points out that sometimes lack of space can be a legitimate safety concern on a boat.

Whanganui’s property market is booming, with first home buyers getting in, along with what appears to be speculative buyers, reports the Wanganui Chronicle. While the affordability is good for buyers, and rising prices are good for owners, none of it is good news for renters, who are facing rapidly rising costs as a result. What’s also clear from the story is that Whanganui is experiencing the ripple effect of other markets that are feeling the same effects.

Brokerage Forsyth Barr says the sharemarket is currently overvalued, reports the NZ Herald. It’s not a dramatically surprising conclusion for them to have come to, given the market is regularly hitting record marks.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi sat down with Rebecca Stevenson to talk about the dodgy practices he wants to crack down on with law changes. Hemma Vara profiles five fashion brands that say they make their clothes sustainably and ethically in NZ. And Ra Pomare chatted to the Warriors about an Auckland bar labelling league fans “criminals” and “scum.”

We haven’t checked in on the Brits for a whileso let’s see where everything’s at in the great festering sore of UK politics – Brexit negotiations.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who campaigned hard for Brexit and was potentially less than honest in his promises, has been covertly recorded saying the talks were heading for “meltdown,” reports Buzzfeed. Why? Mainly because of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which when Britain leaves the EU will likely have to be hardened, as the Republic will remain. Johnson says concerns that fresh conflict could break out in Ireland over a hardened border is “pure millennium bug stuff”.

Meanwhile, the government itself is in turmoil, over repeated threats from Brexit secretary David Davis to resign, reports the Independent. PM Theresa May is having a torrid time trying the shepherd her ministry through the negotiations, and hard-core Brexiteers like Davis aren’t helping. Of course, his threats may be hollow – The New Stateman has collected all the examples of him saying he was going to resign over Brexit, and then changing his mind.

Finally, the Leave campaign itself has just been rumbled for potential collusion with Russia, the Guardian reports. Arron Banks, the major fundraiser for Nigel Farage’s wing of the Brexit campaign, met Russian embassy officials multiple times in the lead up to the vote, as well as being offered a multi-million dollar opportunity to buy Russian goldmines.

The All Blacks have won their first test of the season, but it was a game ruined by a pivotal and unfair yellow card. The two teams were neck and neck when French lock Paul Gabrillagues was binned for a high tackle that wasn’t high – even ABs coach Steve Hansen said it shouldn’t have been a yellow, reports the NZ Herald. The All Blacks capitalised, scoring two tries during the sin-bin period, and then blowing the French away late. French winger Remy Grosso was also injured in a high tackle that was actually high, but was apparently only worth a penalty.

Meanwhile, Australia have held off Ireland in a gritty, low scoring contest, raising hopes that the Rugby Championship will actually be competitive this year. And in funny rugby news, England have blown a 21 point lead against South Africa, and then English coach Eddie Jones got in an argument with some Springboks fans, reports ESPN Scrum. Just to round out a really good weekend to be English, the cricket team lost to Scotland about an hour ago, a team that couldn’t qualify for the world cup.

The White Ferns have casually dropped 490 on Ireland in an ODI cricket match, a record score for the format. Suzie Bates also became NZ’s highest women’s ODI runscorer in the game, surpassing the mighty Debbie Hockley. They backed it up with another total of 418 in the next game. Unsurprisingly, the Ferns won both.

From our partners, Vector’s Bridget McDonald has looked at the government’s deep dig into the energy sector. What will the review look at, why should there even be one, and does it mean you might pay less for power?

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. Thanks for joining us this morning.

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The Football Ferns were disappointing in a 3-1 loss to Japan yesterday, playing negatively and trying to park the bus in front of goal, reports the NZ Herald. Questions were raised by Radio Sport football commentator Jason Pine on twitter after the match about the defensive tactics the coach had sent them in with, saying it was the wrong mindset to play with. The Football Ferns held just 27% of possession over the match

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