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PM Jacinda Ardern and finance minister Grant Robertson (Getty Images)
PM Jacinda Ardern and finance minister Grant Robertson (Getty Images)

The BulletinSeptember 12, 2019

The Bulletin: Questions remain after Haworth’s resignation

PM Jacinda Ardern and finance minister Grant Robertson (Getty Images)
PM Jacinda Ardern and finance minister Grant Robertson (Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Haworth resigns but questions remain, motels for emergency accommodation in spotlight, and avocado growers confident about season ahead.

Despite the resignation of the Labour party president, it is unlikely the scandal around allegations of sexual assault against a staffer will end any time soon. Nigel Haworth has stepped down from the job, after a week in which his position became increasingly untenable. He consistently denied that the panel investigating the alleged incident were aware that it was of a sexual nature, though as The Spinoff reported yesterday, documents were clearly sent to those investigators by the complainant. PM Jacinda Ardern has also apologised, saying “on behalf of the Labour Party I apologise to the complainants for the way this matter has been dealt with.” Ardern has also ordered the QC investigating the matter to deliver their report directly to her.

However, as Radio NZ’s political editor Jane Patterson writes, the PM remains at the centre of the storm. There are effectively two competing scenarios. Either the contention that the PM didn’t know the nature of the complaints is not true. Or, she has been badly let down – the conclusion drawn by Patterson. National party deputy leader Paula Bennett has discussed many of those people in a speech made under parliamentary privilege, accusing both senior staff and a senior minister of knowing the nature of the complaints, and saying it goes “right to the top.”

The investigative panel itself has also come in for heavy scrutiny. They were the focus of this strong extended package from Checkpoint, which included an interview with one of the panel members, Honey Heemi. The story also includes details on emails between Labour party members, with the names of MPs who were allegedly aware of the allegations, however, the accuracy of that is heavily disputed.

As for the alleged perpetrator, a complaint has now been made to his employer, Parliamentary Services, reports One News. However, because the complaint was made by someone who doesn’t work at parliament, it cannot be acted on. Many people connected to the Labour party made complaints to the party about the staffer’s alleged actions, however it is understood that he remains employed. A reminder, a full timeline of events can be found here.

As a symbol of the ongoing housing crisis, it’s hard to go past the use of motels for emergency accommodation. It’s the subject of this excellent feature by the NZ Herald’s (paywalled) Isaac Davidson, who has profiled the policy that was meant to be a temporary fix, and three years on is now costing $100 million a year. It’s overly expensive for the government, insecure and disruptive for those who need somewhere safe and decent to stay, and there isn’t any resolution on the horizon.

Avocado growers are confident of a good season ahead, reports Farmers Weekly. Fruit volumes are up, and what’s more it’s likely exports to China are likely to grow, after a first entry into that market last season. Having said that, fruit volumes still won’t be as high as they were during the beautiful glut of three years ago.

Transport in the Hutt City, just north of Wellington, has been dealt a blow. The Dominion Post reports NZTA has pulled out of funding a cycleway that would have circled the harbour, from Petone to Eastbourne, as part of a region-wide route. Currently it’s difficult and dangerous for cyclists to get around that bit of the coast, and now that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

Big tobacco is on tinder. That’s a conclusion of this interesting and granular story from Pete McKenzie on Newsroom, which discusses the advertising for vaping products on the dating app. The advertising doesn’t necessarily breach the Smokefree Environments Act, but it also isn’t a long way away from breaching the spirit of the law. If you’re interested in the topic, this piece from Jenesa Jeram on The Spinoff is worth a read – she argues that heavy handed regulation of vaping products will only help big tobacco companies monopolise the market.

Measles vaccines are being moved around the country to where they’re most needed, with some Auckland clinics running out, reports the NZ Herald. There has been a huge increase in the number of vaccinations being administered since the outbreak started, which continues to be largely concentrated in the Auckland region. A shipment of more than 50,000 doses is on the way to New Zealand, and they’re expected to arrive later in the week.

For those in Christchurch, watching this would be a good way to get your head around the race for mayor. Radio NZ hosted the three leading candidates – incumbent Lianne Dalziel, activist John Minto, and businessman Darryll Park – for a live studio debate which starts about 6 minutes into the video on the site. At times it gets a bit heated, particularly around the issue of social housing.

I’m hugely excited about this announcement today. Policy Local has launched, just in time for the local elections. What is that? It’s a tool for finding what basically every candidate, in every race around the country, is standing on. It doesn’t matter if they’re in Auckland or Arrowtown. Here’s an explainer from Toby Manhire about how it came to be, and having had a play around with it, I can tell you it’s incredibly impressive and cool. Please share it far and wide, so that people can cast an informed vote.

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The first episode of Paddy Gower’s Weed documentary premieres on Three tonight.

Right now on The Spinoff: Ayelet Zoran-Rosen writes about the need for history to be given a place of prominence in New Zealand schools. Women in Urbanism have put forward a local election manifesto for inclusive cities they want candidates to sign up for. Drug reform campaigner and MP Chlöe Swarbrick reviews the new Patrick Gower documentary that everyone is talking about. Reuben Friend, director of Pātaka Art+Museum in Porirua, discusses an exhibition that confronts the complexities of Tuia250. And Amy Russell responds to a recent article about being sober at the stereotypically hard-drinking Otago University.

I cannot say I enjoy thinking about the very deep sea, because to be honest it creeps me out. But this fascinating piece from Atlas Obscura, about scientific efforts to understand the space, is really worth a read. At the moment, it is one of the only ecosystems on the planet that humanity hasn’t trashed, and there’s a bit of a chance to keep it that way, as this excerpt highlights:

Previous attempts to tap the twilight zone’s commercial fishing potential have never led to any measurable economic success. “Most historic examples of fishing in the twilight zone have been unprofitable and fleeting, attempted for a year or so and then abandoned,” Hoagland says. The most sustained effort occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Soviet Union caught lanternfish to use as livestock feed.

The tiny crustaceans known as krill are also beginning to be exploited around Antarctica, even as they have been in decline due to climate change, according to the Greenpeace study License to Krill. In addition to twilight zone fishing for farmed fish food, krill and other open-water crustaceans such as copepods be present a valuable source of omega-3 fatty acids, a common ingredient in pet foods or nutraceuticals.

Para-swimmer Sophie Pascoe is winning gold medals for fun right now. One News reports she bagged two in two days at the World Champs in London, and came close to setting a new world record as well. There will be further chances this to add to her career tally of golds, which is now into double figures.

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