Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Wild weather from the weekend isn’t over yet, government abandons police mental health funding plan, and a culture war at DOC is revealed.
Heavy flooding around the Upper North island has caused a significant amount of disruption over the weekend, and it’s not over yet. The NZTA’s Journey planner system shows that the Coromandel Peninsula is still effectively cut off from the West, after slips blocked key roads. Conditions on the roads were “terrifying,” reports Newstalk ZB. Over the course of the downpour yesterday important Auckland roads, such as Tamaki Drive and Oteha Valley Road were blocked by water. Stuff has updates on the flooding today, with more rain expected across the island.
For Tamaki Drive, part of the issue was caused by a big swell washing up from the sea. It’s not the first time that’s been an issue for the road – in fact it’s not the first time a King tide has caused flooding this year. And around the country, these sorts of issues are going to get worse and worse as sea levels rise – this excellent feature from the NZ Herald from last year goes into detail about why coastal areas are so vulnerable.
Now you can’t take any one individual weather incident and say it’s the result of climate change – that’s not how it works. But as climate change advances, one near-certain outcome is that these sorts of disruptions will become more likely, particularly when wilder and more unpredictable weather is combined with sea level rises. And the views that people have on climate change linked disaster are really interesting, and grim. The NZ Herald reports on a survey (commissioned by an insurance firm, which tells you a lot) that shows respondents still think people can still act to slow down rampant climate change, but probably won’t get around to doing anything until it’s too late.
The government has axed funding for a scheme that would have involved mental health officers accompanying police and paramedics on crisis calls, reports Stuff. The pilot programme could have made a significant dent in the number of mentally unwell people who ended up locked up in police cells. It was one of a set of initiatives that were part of the last government’s mental health plan, and never actually got underway, because the funding was assigned to other places before the programme started.
Meanwhile in Canterbury, the number of suicide-related callouts continues to rise year on year, reports Stuff. It’s being attributed in part to the ongoing mental stresses suffered by people in the earthquake and aftershock-hit region. Speaking of which, most of the major news websites were leading this morning with a 4.0 magnitude quake hitting Christchurch last night, which many people on twitter and facebook said felt a lot bigger.
Here’s an interesting insight into the Department of Conservation. Newsroom have revealed a “culture war” festering away at the organisation, between advocates of a more corporate culture, and those who are staunch conservationists. The story comes out of a mix of former employees who spoke out, and current ‘insiders’ who gave anonymous background.
The diplomatic fallout is quietly continuing after the NZDF’s strategic policy statement, that named China as a threat. Radio NZ reports that National’s Todd McClay that the government needs to be more careful to not offend the Chinese government in future, because of the importance of trade with China to New Zealand. But there could be consequences anyway – for example, Politik reports that shellfish imports from New Zealand are now being subjected to extra scrutiny. Which is all of course completely coincidental.
Local government leaders want a bigger slice of the pie, reports Radio NZ. In a project launched in collaboration with the NZ Initiative, Local Government NZ is arguing that too big a share of NZ’s tax money is spent by central government, and more should be devolved down.
If the buses are a bit chaotic in Wellington this morning, that will probably be because it’s the first rush hour for new service provider, reports the Dominion Post. Tranzit have taken over most of the contract, and altered some routes, fares and timetables, so make sure you check Metlink’s journey planner to see if you’ll be affected.
So a year ago, pretty much today give or take a few days, Metiria Turei made a speech that would completely upend politics in New Zealand. The former Green Party co-leader made an admission of benefit fraud at the party’s annual conference, and the chain of events that it sparked arguably led to Jacinda Ardern becoming PM. Henry Cooke at Stuff has written a great feature charting the progress of the party from that day to the present, and it’s well worth a read.
Incidentally, last year I produced Andrew Dickens Sunday Cafe on ZB, and we got James Shaw in to talk on the day of the conference, and preview the major announcement Metiria Turei was about to make. Unfortunately the audio doesn’t seem to be online anymore, but here’s the preview story. Shaw refused to confirm any of the rumours about what Turei’s announcement would be, but said it would be politically really significant. Well, he wasn’t wrong.
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Right now on The Spinoff: Did you know the drink Punch is kind of illegal in New Zealand? Neither did I, but Alice Neville has the details. Joel MacManus from Otago Uni magazine Critic describes his uni’s PR push on a Loch Ness monster hunt as “embarrassing and expensive.” And I went down to the Free Speech Coalition protest on Saturday, and quoted attendees on exactly what they had to say.
So I wanted to catch you all up on the latest on Brexit, because it’s been a wildly eventful weekend of news on it. I’ve been glued to the BBC World Service (810 AM in Auckland) and TalkRadio (the UK equivalent of Newstalk ZB) all weekend, because it has been so fascinating. To put it all in really simple terms, Britain is now absolutely cooked.
Why? You might have heard about it from the protests, but US President Donald Trump crossed the pond for a visit over the weekend. While he was there, he gave an interview to The Sun that because UK PM Theresa May was forcing through a ‘soft Brexit’ – which involves retaining reasonably close trade ties to the European Union, a free trade deal with the USA was now off the table. That completely and utterly destroys one of the planks Brexit was sold on during the referendum campaign – that it would make it easier for Britain to trade with the US.
The other major thing Trump said was that Boris Johnson would be a better PM. You know, the demonstrably proven liar who just resigned as Foreign Secretary, in a fit of toy-throwing after not getting his way on the Brexit plan. Johnson would have some support from Conservative Party backbenchers if he actually launched a leadership challenge (which he was too cowardly to do last time there was an opportunity) but probably not quite enough to win. That doesn’t mean May is safe though, because there’s no guarantee she’ll have the numbers to get her version of Brexit through the House of Commons.
All of this is making some people think maybe it would just be better to have a hard Brexit after all, and completely crash out of the EU. As this Economist article from June predicted (basically correctly) the compromise soft Brexit that May was leaning towards would basically please nobody. And advocates of a hard Brexit were saying on TalkRadio that Trump’s comments strengthens the case – after all, if they really need that US trade deal, it’s the only way it’ll happen. But it increasingly seems like their idea of a ‘Global Britain’ is a fantasy, because as this Guardian article shows, other countries (including NZ and Australia) will be more keen to trade with the larger and wealthier EU.
So what’s the solution? There isn’t one! Brexit has been a self-inflicted wound, which has now turned gangrenous. It is going to result in a Britain that is poorer and more diplomatically isolated, no matter how it all shakes out, and will make the lives of ordinary people more difficult. The chances of a second referendum don’t seem all that great either, though in recent weeks many have argued that is the best way forward from here, even before Trump’s intervention – here’s an example from the Independent.
NZer Michael Venus and his South African partner Raven Klaasen have fallen just short at Wimbledon, losing their doubles final in five sets. And in other finals, Serena Williams fell in the Women’s singles finals against Angelique Kerber, though the fact that she’s on her way back from having a baby, and had to overcome a pregnancy related low seeding for the tournament. And Novak Djokovic won in the men’s singles, to overcome a long form slump that had threatened to derail his career.
Remember the Warriors? That league team that used to be in the Bulletin every week? Their weird up and down season continues, with a big away win over the Broncos yesterday. The NZ Herald reports that it puts them firmly in top 4 contention, sitting just two wins off the table-topping Rabbitohs with seven more games to play.
And in that other oval ball code, the final eight have been determined for the Super Rugby quarterfinals. Four New New Zealand sides made it (not the Blues of course) and the weird seeding system that advantages conference winners hasn’t distorted the standings too much. It’s entirely plausible though that after the quarters, three out of the four remaining teams are from NZ – but one of the Chiefs or Hurricanes will miss out. But of course, none of this really matters in the grand scheme of the weekend’s sport because…
Football World Cup results and spoilers, for the final time
political & climate reportersFind Out More
France are the champions of the universe, after beating Croatia 4-2 in one of the better finals in recent years. In fact, one of the better tournaments all round. While a big beast might have won it in the end, the way it all shook down was thrilling. If only FIFA was powerful and corrupt enough to schedule a World Cup every year, that would be brilliant.
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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