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Nurses protesting at Middlemore hospital (Radio NZ: Jessie Chiang)
Nurses protesting at Middlemore hospital (Radio NZ: Jessie Chiang)

The BulletinJuly 11, 2018

The Bulletin: Can tomorrow’s nurses strike be averted?

Nurses protesting at Middlemore hospital (Radio NZ: Jessie Chiang)
Nurses protesting at Middlemore hospital (Radio NZ: Jessie Chiang)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Nurses strike set to take place tomorrow, China responds to Defence paper that names their country, and Auckland Council is being taken to court over two extremist speakers.

In what is arguably the most important story of the year so far, the nurses strike is back on, after the latest offer from DHBs was rejected. Stuff reports that it will take place on Thursday, starting at 7.00am, and lasting for 24 hours. Up to 30,000 may walk off the job. Expect negotiations, and possibly even a court injunction, to go right up to the moment that the strike begins.

Now, as an aside, one of the cool things about doing this publication is that you can assess how good a piece of reporting was well after the fact. A week ago, this report on Radio NZ was featured in The Bulletin. In it, journalist Nita Blake-Persen noted that nurses she had talked to still seemed eager to strike despite their union recommending they accept the offer. Funnily enough, that’s exactly what ended up happening.

However, it is ‘understood’ by One News that the vote on the strike was only narrowly in favour – close to a 50/50 split. Just to unpack the terminology a bit there – when a credible news organisation understands something, it’s almost certainly true. It’s just that they’ve come by the information in a way that they can’t report, in order to protect the source that gave it to them.

The political implications of the nurse vote are that somewhere, somehow, a little bit more money is going to have to be found. Acting PM Winston Peters was saying it simply wasn’t there – Interest reports that he said even dipping into the surplus wasn’t an option because that needed to be set aside for unexpected costs, like the fight against mycoplasma bovis. Politik reports that it also puts severe pressure on finance minister Grant Robertson’s Budget Responsibility Rules, which have become a bit of a lead weight for him to work with.

Interestingly, the political angles on the nurses strike also made the New York Times – which is perhaps an indication of how curious the rest of the world is about the Ardern-led government.

So what will the strike actually mean for patients? Radio NZ has some useful details about the contingency plans. Thousands of elective procedures are being deferred, and resources directed towards life-preserving services. Hospital staff who are working are looking at an incredibly stressful day, says Dr Vanessa Thornton, chief medical officer for Counties-Manukau DHB. However, if you find yourself in a car crash tomorrow and are concerned about there being nowhere to get treatment, don’t worry, there has been plenty of contingency planning around emergency services too.

China has responded to New Zealand’s strategic defence policy statement, and it’s fair to say they’re not all that pleased about it, reports Stuff. China was named as an emerging threat to the international community, in particular because of their authoritarian government coupled with rising economic power. However, China hit back, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying New Zealand’s position was wrong, and that “stern representations” had been lodged over it.

Here’s an interesting context article for the wider debate about military spending in New Zealand, from Incline. It argues that New Zealand completely lacks the capabilities to carry out every strategic task the government might want the military to do – quite simply, we don’t have the resources. The conclusion is that while the government is clearly aware of what threats may be out there, there is no such clarity around how any of the commitments will actually be met.

Campaigners are taking Auckland Council to court, over the banning of two Canadian political extremist speakers from using Council-connected venues. The Free Speech Coalition say they’ve raised $50,000 needed to take start judicial proceedings, with the ultimate goal of having the pair’s speaking engagement reinstated, reports Radio NZ.

Just a reminder here too – Lauren Southern, one of the speakers, is currently banned from entering Britain after distributing racist material in the city of Luton. She also participated in an attempt to stop rescue boats leaving port, to save the lives of migrants who frequently drown in the Mediterranean. The second example could have literally caused human life to be lost – Southern cannot really claim to be engaging in some sort of respectful contest of ideas after actions like that. This isn’t the high school debating club, this is real life.

The response rate for the ‘digital first’ Census has been much lower than expected, reports The Spinoff. The release of results will have to be delayed until March next year, and there will need to be more ‘imputation’ – that’s when data from other sources is used to plug gaps (I’m simplifying here, but it’s all explained in the article) But there are also concerns that some groups of people will now be under-counted, particularly at the more vulnerable end of society, and that could have implications for government spending and policy.

Tractor sales are up, and could hit a record high by the end of the year, reports The Country. It’s an interesting story economically, because it acknowledges that there’s a fair bit of caution among farmers about over-committing themselves to big ticket items, at a time when they could suddenly be hammered by a mycoplasma bovis outbreak, or a decline in the global milk price. But by the same token, it’s a sign that the outlook for the industry is relatively positive.

Another good win for Otago Uni magazine Critic, who have successfully campaigned for sanitary bins to be put in all campus female toilets. It had previously been falsely claimed by university staff that every toilet had one – a claim easily disproved by the magazine. But now, that’s been rectified.

To round out this section, here’s something worth smiling about this morning. Rescuers have saved all the Thai cave boys, and their football coach. And according to Newshub, there are already plans to turn their ordeal into a movie. I’d expect nothing less quite frankly.

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Right now on The Spinoff: We’ve got a brand new food podcast – it’s called Dietary Requirements, and features food editor Alice Neville, food entrepreneur Sophie Gilmour, and Simon Day, who sometimes makes the office really nice lunches. Guest writer Kermeth categorises upcoming game releases by which Grindr tribe they’d belong to. And Fricken Dangerous Bro continue their reviews of things white people like – today it’s kombucha.

Campaigners say the government should ban the controversial practice of ‘gay conversion therapy’. Radio NZ reports that Britain has recently decided to outlaw it, on the grounds that banning it will help improve the lives of LGBT+ people. So, what exactly is it? It’s basically a psychological assault with the aim of changing a person’s sexual or gender orientation. It is a wrong-headed practice, utterly useless at accomplishing its intended purpose, and more often than not will be actively harmful to wellbeing.

This article from The Cut is a first person account of a US woman’s experience of gay conversion therapy, and how it threw her life out of balance for years afterwards. Here’s an excerpt:

“When we got to the demon of perversion the pastor was praying, but this time he was so much more aggressive. He grabbed my head and put his hand above my eyebrows, staring into my eyes. He was about two inches away from my face screaming for the demon to get out. This went on for hours but that demon wouldn’t budge. The pastor got even more forceful and at this point two assistants were trying to hold me down, yelling and praying in tongues. This went on for six long hours.”

It might sound outlandish, but this also most definitely happens in New Zealand – three gay men spoke to TVNZ’s Sunday show about their experiences of conversion therapy.

In sport, Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf has made disparaging comments about his players to an Austrian magazine, reports Newshub. He reckons the players who have voiced concerns, now numbering 13, lack the professional ethos needed to succeed. There is an independent review being carried out into the currently suspended Heraf, and after comments like this, you’ve got to wonder – is he trying to get himself sacked?

Football World Cup results and spoilers

Nothing to spoil yet in the France vs Belgium semi-final! It’s halftime at the time of writing, with the score at nil all. (WEBSITE EXCLUSIVE UPDATE – FRANCE HAVE SCORED)

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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