Ron Mark (Photo: RNZ)

The Bulletin: Ron Mark flies into controversy

Good morning, happy Friday, and welcome to The Bulletin. The Defence Minister is defending the use of Air Force for travel, the Police get pinged for checkpoint targeting activists, and the latest on the diplomatic saga over the spy attacked with a nerve agent.

Defence minister Ron Mark has been accused of abusing the Air Force for travel. One News got him on the record first, and he emphasised none of the travel was for personal use. And John Campbell put Ron Mark under pressure on Radio NZ, particularly over the use of a helicopter for two round trips in a day between Masterton and Waiouru.

Former defence minister Mark Mitchell’s been leading the charge for National on this, and he went on Newstalk ZB to outline his concerns. On NewshubRon Mark then threatened to release Defence Force flight records for the last ten years. “Let’s put it out in the media, and let’s hope Mr Mitchell isn’t embarrassed.”


The IPCA has ruled that a Lower Hutt Police checkpoint used in 2016 to target euthanasia advocates was unlawful, reports Radio NZ. Those stopped were mostly elderly women, who were part of Exit International. For a legal analysis of why this matters, and what it means to the wider euthanasia debate, law professor Andrew Geddis has helpfully re-upped this piece he wrote for Pundit at the time of the incident. Mr Geddis has also been quoted in this Stuff story, advising those targeted to take a class action lawsuit against the Police.


Winston Peters is insisting the pursuit of a free trade deal with Russia won’t hinder European Union trade negotiations, reports Radio NZ. The comments come after Britain called on New Zealand to join diplomatic action against Russia, following the poisoning of a spy on British soil. The latest this morning is that the leaders of the USA, France and Germany have joined Britain in describing the event as “an assault on UK sovereignty,” reports The Guardian. The Russians are describing the UK claims as “insane,” reports Newshub.


Christchurch water activists are furious after a water export company drilled a bore, despite warnings the action could contaminate the public supply, reports Newshub. The story is likely to reignite debate over whether water should be an export commodity, similar to that which happened in nearby Ashburton last year.


Hundreds of Wellington students have protested workplace sexual misconduct outside law firm Russell McVeaghNewsroom reports. Universities have cut ties with the firm while an internal investigation is carried out, and the protesters called on the government to also suspend contracts with the firm. The NZ Herald‘s front page today reports letters sent by law school deans to Russell McVeagh, accusing the firm of putting clients and reputation ahead of student and intern safety.


An issue close to my heart, or at least, close to my lungs. Radio NZ reports the government is going to review increased taxes on cigarettes. Dairy owners are concerned high taxes are fuelling dairy robberies, and a black market in cigarettes. Massey University researcher Marewa Glover told Newstalk ZB, in their 6.00am bulletin this morning, that smoking taxes were hurting those on the lowest incomes the most.

Of course, higher taxes have incentivised increasing numbers of smokers to quit, with obvious public health benefits. This story from Newshub perhaps confirms the greatest fear of smokers – that it’s no longer cool. Teenagers aren’t taking it up any more.


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Right now on The Spinoff: Madeleine Chapman takes a forensic look at the swinging technique of an activist arrested for smashing an Auckland road with a sledgehammer. Guest writer Horiana Henderson is disappointed Hamilton mayor Andrew King has abandoned his bid to rename the city council after Kirikiriroa Pā. And New Zealand music has a lot of one-hit wonders. But do you remember the songs those artists followed up with? Calum Henderson remembers.


If you’ve got a bit of time this weekend, use it to dive into this beautiful feature on the Antipodes Islands. The Stuff interactive by Charlie Mitchell covers the history, ecology and current conservation efforts on one of the most remote places in the world. The visuals are breathtaking, and the concern for endangered species is urgent. It’s well worth the quarter of an hour it will take to get through it.


In sport, the NZ Herald reports a deal for a Tongan-American consortium to buy the Warriors almost collapsed yesterday, but could still make it over the line. Current owner Eric Watson says the club is worth $24 million, but the consortium refuse to go higher than $22 million. Consortium frontman, Hawaiian politician Richard Fale, will watch the Warriors play their first home game of the season tomorrow, against the Gold Coast Titans. Who knows what effect a vintage Warriors performance could have on the final sale price.


And in partnership with Vector, a reality check: while EVs are taking over the world, in the same way that cars left the horse and cart floundering in their petrol guzzling wake this will come with unforeseen consequences. Vector’s Steve Heinen discusses why that might be a brilliant, planet-saving, massive headache.


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


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