Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: 1080 activism hits Parliamentary forecourt, concerns about NZ First’s influence over the government aired, and a long day looms at Fonterra.
All of a sudden, 1080 activism has become far more visible and prominent, using both legal challenges and direct action. Yesterday, protesters scattered fake pallets and dead birds all over Parliament’s forecourt, and confronted environment minister David Parker, in an interaction witnessed by Radio NZ. The minister and the protesters did not see eye to eye, and the debris was cleaned up by men in HAZMAT suits.
Other politicians were also asked about their views on the protest, and Green co-leader Marama Davidson said some of their concerns were valid, whereas National leader Simon Bridges only went as far as saying the right to protest was important. Green party policy is to minimise the use of poisons as part of pest control, but by and large they support the current use of 1080.
Which raises an interesting question: Do people opposed to 1080 have a legitimate electoral way forward? The Ban 1080 Party (try and guess the manifesto) did win 3000 party votes at the last election – for scale, Legalise Cannabis got 8000. It’s hard to define the level of support for a cause based on votes for a single issue party, but with no established parties really offering to pick up the cause, activists are much more likely to resort to more militant tactics, like threatening workers involved with 1080, or spamming internet comment threads.
For many though, the protests will be baffling, because a lot of scientists are more than willing to back 1080 use as a safe and efficient method of pest control. On The Spinoff, DOC threatened species ambassador Nicola Toki says the poison has been instrumental in keeping Kiwi populations alive. And the Science Media Centre’s expert panel are all pretty comfortable with it being used too. Seeing how the increased visibility of 1080 protests is received will be an interesting clue as to how politicians and parties will react to other similar debates in the future – like the looming debate on GMOs that was mentioned in yesterday’s Bulletin.
A union leader is voicing concerns about the influence of NZ First over the Labour-led government, reports Newshub. FIRST Union’s boss Robert Reid says there’s been a range of issues in which Winston Peters has seemingly been able to overrule PM Jacinda Ardern. The unions will be concerned that some of Labour’s industrial relations reforms will end up watered down through the Parliamentary process, with NZ First indicating they may vote with National on some aspects of the legislation. Robert Reid later clarified on twitter that he still backed Ardern as Prime Minister.
NZ First also pulled the pin on a planned announcement in the Crown/Māori relations portfolio, reports Radio NZ. As PM Ardern is putting it at the moment, hers is the most ‘pure MMP’ government. And it’s true – other major parties of government since 1996 haven’t been remotely as liable to have the rug pulled from under them by a coalition partner. One of the major attack lines opponents of the MMP system use is that the tail wags the dog. Labour’s caucus is five times larger than that of NZ First, but the partnership between the two parties appears rather more equal than that.
Today could be a long day for new interim Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell. The dairy cooperative’s annual results are being released today, and profits are expected to be way down on last year, reports the NZ Herald. There’s been a lot of turmoil at the top this year for Fonterra, with both their chairman and CEO stepping down.
Simply getting off the benefit often isn’t enough for getting into long term, stable employment, a new MSD report has found. Newshub has covered the report into what happened to the 133,000 who left the benefit in the year to June 2014, amid reforms implemented by the previous National-led government. It found that 46% of those people were back on the benefit within 18 months – a cohort that was more likely to be young, male, regional and Māori.
Wellingtonians are being warned that water use changes are going to have to happen to avoid future shortages, reports Radio NZ. A report has indicated that if current usage and population trends persist, demand will exceed supply by 2040. Wellington has faced water restrictions over previous summers, which are expected to get longer and hotter in the future due to climate change.
A veteran educator is calling for te reo teaching to be ramped up, despite a shortage of teachers and resources, reports Waatea News. Sir Toby Curtis says it starts with getting teachers to get their classes using correct pronunciation, and develops from there.
Concerns are being raised that New Zealanders are being priced out of the home insurance market, reports the NZ Herald. Premiums in disaster prone areas are going up, which means places at risk of an earthquake, or low lying coastal areas at risk from rising sea levels.
Whitireia, a school that has turned out a lot of fine journalists, will no longer do so after this year, reports Stuff. The year long diploma is being phased out, not long after the programmed moved to a new facility in Wellington, with a lack of demand being blamed. As far as I can tell, there haven’t been any reports on the closure on NewsWire, the course’s publication.
Right now on The Spinoff: We’ve got a book extract by Winston Peters, in which he explains why his party went with Labour in last year’s election negotiations. Amanda Hargreaves from Family Planning writes about what parents need to know about the new ERO sex education report. And The Spinoff has launched a campaign to get P!nk citizenship. If Peter Thiel can get it…
Today’s feature is a deep dive into where some of the fertiliser used on New Zealand’s farms comes from, and it’s not a pretty picture. Stuff’s Charlie Mitchell has delved into the use of phosphate fertiliser, mined in the Sahara, and shipped to New Zealand. Because New Zealand’s farming system is heavily pastoral, we rely on it. But the Western Sahara itself is brutally occupied by Morocco, who have been accused of numerous human rights violations in the area. Here’s an excerpt:
“If you are a farmer in New Zealand and you use Superphosphate fertiliser, it is likely the raw materials came from the western side of the world’s longest minefield, and made the long, slow journey to the sea on the world’s longest conveyor belt.
When it arrives in New Zealand, records will say the phosphate came from Morocco, but the many thousands of people in Algerian refugee camps would say it was stolen from them.
“New Zealand farmers are the only clients in the whole world of the Moroccan plunder of Western Sahara,” says Erik Hagen of Western Saharan Resource Watch, an NGO that monitors trade from the region.
“New Zealand stands alone now as the main funder of the illegal occupation… They are buying stolen goods.”
The story is part of a series – this story deals more directly with New Zealand’s complicity in the occupation, and this story talks about how New Zealand’s farming system is addicted to phosphate, and what would happen if the supply was to suddenly run out.
Age is no barrier in sport when you’ve got a bit of power behind you it would seem. Liberia’s President George Weah has laced up his boots for the national team in a friendly against Nigeria, reports Stuff, playing 80 minutes and getting a standing ovation as he left the field. Now, it’s not quite the same as Vladimir Putin playing ice hockey, or Kim Jong-Il playing golf – George Weah was a genuinely great footballer in his day, winning the World Player of the Year award in a career that took him to Monaco, PSG, AC Milan and Chelsea, among others. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to deliver his country a win – Liberia lost the match 2-1.
And in cricket, Suzie Bates has stood down as the captain of the White Ferns ahead of the T20 World Cup, reports Radio NZ. She’s skippered the side for six years, a period in which she’s also been one of the best batters in the world. Allrounder Amy Satterthwaite is stepping into the job.
From our partners, Vector’s Beth Johnson writes that if you get a cheque in the mail, no, it isn’t a scam. It’s just the Loss Rental Rebate system in action.
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The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.