Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern (Getty Images)
Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern (Getty Images)

The BulletinJuly 16, 2019

The Bulletin: Delicate dances on the world stage

Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern (Getty Images)
Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern (Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Both PM and deputy PM in action on foreign relationships, major climate report being released today, and DOC staff facing escalating threats. 

Both the PM and deputy PM are in action on foreign relationships this week, with plenty of challenges to navigate. Later this week, PM Jacinda Ardern will be in Australia, reports Stuff. It will be the first formal meeting she’s had with PM Scott Morrison, since he was re-elected earlier in the year. And the topic of Australian deportations of New Zealanders will likely remain a prominent subtext beneath the discussions.

Over the weekend, deputy PM Winston Peters was questioned as to why he didn’t raise the matter with his counterpart Marissa Payne, when they met at the Indonesia expo. He told Radio NZ that it simply didn’t come up, but the government hasn’t given up on trying to convince Australia to relax the policy. Back in February, PM Ardern described the policy as having a “corrosive” impact on relations.

Where the two countries will stand shoulder to shoulder is on criticism of another country – China. The government joined 22 other countries, including Australia, in signing a letter of rebuke over China’s treatment and mass detention of Uyghurs. The reports out of the Xinjiang province indicate that Beijing is basically torturing the Uyghur culture out of existence, under the guise of fighting extremism. China disputes that characterisation, and have reacted angrily towards countries endorsing it. But while New Zealand signed the letter of rebuke, experts told the NZ Herald we’ll likely escape any retribution, because of the relative safety in numbers provided by having 21 other signatories.

Finally, Winston Peters himself will be in Washington this week, reports the NZ Herald, where he will give a speech on the importance of the relationship between NZ and the USA. While there he’ll also push for the US to get more involved in the Pacific, and for progress on the stalled potential free trade deal. Last time Mr Peters made a major speech in the USA, Politik reports he didn’t run it past the Beehive, and blindsided some of his colleagues in government with how he discussed China. This time around, it appears the Beehive is scrutinising what he’ll say much more closely.

Look out today for a major report from the Interim Climate Change Committee. That was an organisation set up by the government to make policy recommendations, outside of the progress of the Zero Carbon bill. In particular it will look at renewable energy and agricultural emissions. Climate change minister James Shaw was on Q+A last night, and while he didn’t say what the report would say or what the government’s response would be, he did insist that he wanted more speedy progress on climate change.

DOC staff are facing escalating threats from those against the use of 1080, reports Annabel Reid for the NZ Herald. In fact, between October 2017 and May of this year, there had been 69 reported instances of threatening language being used against DOC workers. Some of the threats veered towards violence and shooting, and in those cases DOC immediately reported them to the police. While the majority related to 1080, other topics of anger included concession compliance, whitebait control and campground fees.

Earthquake strengthening work on buildings is having a disproportionate impact on smaller towns, reports Radio NZ. It’s a “colossal challenge,” says Manawatū district deputy mayor Michael Ford, as there often aren’t even enough qualified workers in smaller towns to either strengthen or demolish. The government have made some moves to ease the burden, but over the length of several years buildings will have to be strengthened.

The European Union is raising concerns about provincial growth fund spending pushing a free trade agreement off the table, reports Newsroom. There are concerns in that bloc that NZ is currently going against the previous policy of not providing subsidies for the agricultural sector. There’s a fair bit of hypocrisy from the EU here of course, given many member states give farmers generous subsidies. But even so, the goal for NZ’s negotiators is to get those removed, so such scrutiny is probably counter-productive.

More strong coverage on the financial squeeze being put on the disability sector, this time from Radio NZ. While much more funding has been allocated in the Budget, that will go towards gender pay equity for staff and increasing demand, rather than new service contracts. CCS Disability Action say they’re having to cut back on services, and that the gap between funding levels and the real costs of services is growing. You may recall previous reports in similar areas from earlier in the year on the NZ Herald (paywalled.)

Population growth via migration appears to have settled at a number of about 50,000 people a year, reports Interest. The largest individual source countries of new long term migrants are China, India, Australia, South Africa, the Philippines and UK respectively. Among New Zealand citizens though, there was a net loss, with 12,347 more leaving the country compared to citizens coming back over the year.

Here’s a bizarre story about an MP launching a petition against something that isn’t actually happening, reports the Hawke’s Bay Today. Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule has launched a petition to “Save our EIT” (Eastern Institute of Technology) with regards to government reforms of the polytech sector. However, that has forced EIT chairperson Geraldine Travers to come out and say it doesn’t actually need saving, and there is no risk whatsoever of the Hawke’s Bay losing its polytech. Yule is standing by his petition.

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Māori Party founder and Whānau Ora architect, Dame Tariana Turia. (Photo: Kloser Photography)

Right now on The Spinoff: Founding HART chairperson Trevor Richards looks back at the movement against sporting contact with apartheid South Africa, that changed New Zealand forever. Thalia Kehoe Rowden has updated her piece about what New Zealanders horrified by concentration camps in the US can do, to reflect the new developments. Leonie Hayden reports from the hui into Oranga Tamariki, and found a unified Māori force that has decided enough is enough. Toby Manhire interviews Anna Fifield, an NZer and leading journalist who is among the world’s leading experts on North Korea. And I cast my mind back for ten things you might have forgotten about John Banks, amid suggestions he’ll run again for the mayoralty of Auckland.

Also, we have published a lot of pieces about the cricket. Firstly, Duncan Greive tried in the immediate aftermath to make sense of it all. Finance and sport minister Grant Robertson wrote about what it was like to watch the game at Lord’s, and the generous offer from UK PM Theresa May that perhaps the cup could be shared. If neither of those work for you, Don Rowe has some tips for boosting your serotonin and dopamine levels.

Finally, a range of exciting reasons are coming out as to why New Zealand didn’t actually lose. Just kidding, we absolutely still lost, but that’s not going to stop conversations over the next four years (probably decades, really) being dominated by a few key grievances, like whether so many runs should have come off the diving Stokes’ bat, or whether it’s dumb to decide a final on boundaries hit rather than wickets taken. Anyway, we recorded an episode of The Offspin yesterday morning in the immediate minutes after the game ended, so if you want to relive it, have a listen.

For a feature today, a look into one of the under-covered issues in global agriculture. The BBC reports that topsoil is being eroded at an alarming rate, which could have big implications for future productivity. Part of the reason is that soil isn’t being treated as enough of a living system. Here’s an excerpt that explains that a bit.

“Soil is largely made up of grains of weathered rock and the remains of dead, decayed plants. But it is far from an inert, lifeless substance. Soil is a living system bursting with microbes, fungi, insects, worms and other invertebrates. These all play important roles in breaking down material, delivering nutrients to plants and maintaining soil fertility.

Pump in pesticides or excessive amounts of inorganic fertilisers – which often contain heavy metals that can accumulate in the soil – and this living system begins to suffer.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been devastated in the NBA’s trade season, at least in the short term. But as this piece by The Ringer shows, they got back a whole lot of drift picks in future years, which means that in the regularly cyclical nature of the NBA means they could have a ridiculous team in a decade. A point of interest for many NZ basketball fans will be where Steven Adams fits into it all.

From our partners: A two-tier system of energy use is developing, with those on high incomes much more able to reduce their bills than households on lower incomes. Vector’s Chief Risk and Sustainability Officer Kate Beddoe outlines what the company plans to do about that.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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