Winston Peters. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Winston swings away on the radio

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Winston Peters goes at it on the radio, nurses go back to the bargaining table, and Trump and Putin agree that the FBI is wrong. 

Acting PM Winston Peters went on Newstalk ZB for a long form interview with Leighton Smith yesterday, and there was no shortage of news angles out of it. Strangely, the full audio doesn’t appear to be online, but it’s a fantastic and revealing interview format, that the show does with the PM of the day about four times a year. An extended clip has been published by the NZ Herald on the subjects of the nurses strike, foreign affairs, climate change and multiculturalism.

One angle in particular was picked out by competitor Newshub – that of multiculturalism. In a piece that studiously avoided using the term ‘Newstalk ZB’ in the article text (the company name NZME or the phrase ‘talkback radio’ was used instead) Mr Peters was quoted as saying he wants a ‘New Zealand culture’ rather than a plethora of cultures “rising up like mushrooms.” Newshub linked that to Mr Peters’ past comments railing against mass immigration, of which he’s done rather a lot less of since becoming deputy PM. It’s still a pretty remarkable statement for an acting PM to make, leaving off whether it’s a desirable or even possible cultural outcome.

It all comes at a rather interesting time for Winston Peters. PM Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave is only scheduled to last a few more weeks, which will mean he’ll go back to being deputy PM. He hasn’t been shy at all during his tenure as acting PM, and as Barry Soper argued earlier in the month, Mr Peters isn’t likely to just wrap things up and be done with politics at the end of this term. He intends to stay on much longer.

His party NZ First has slumped in more polls since the election – though of course they tend to do that between elections anyway. But is Mr Peters more powerful than it would appear behind the scenes anyway? That’s the speculation that Politik is reporting on this morning, with regards to the Defence Policy Statement on China, which includes thinking more in line with what NZ First has pushed in the past than Labour.


The nurses union and DHBs go back to the bargaining table today, after last week’s strike. As per this Radio NZ report, the only confirmed fact at this stage is that talks will go ahead, though the union says a revised offer has been made and is up for discussion. It’s still no clearer if there will be more strikes down the line.

But finance minister Grant Robertson insisted last night that there was simply no more money to work with, to Newstalk ZB. He is insisting the offer on the table is a good one.

There have also been concerns expressed by other health workers that if nurses get more money, other areas of workers will be sidelined. Radio NZ reports the comments of mental health service provider representative Marion Blake, who said there was effectively competition between different health sectors.


In world news overnight, US President Donald Trump has sided with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, against the FBI, over alleged interference in the 2016 election. Radio NZ. There was however movement on a possible deal to allow US authorities to question 12 Russian military intelligence officers, indicted on hacking charges, provided that Russia was then allowed to get access to Russian suspects living in the USA.


Stories like these should always ring alarm bells, not least at the moment in the climate of pay negotiations and threatened strikes. A teacher who moved to Auckland to help out with the teacher shortage is considering moving back to Palmerston North if pay and conditions don’t drastically improve, reports Stuff. She says it’s not possible to manage rent on a single income, while also managing the demands of the job. The current starting salary for teachers is $47,980 if they’re university trained, and the Ministry is proposing to bump that to $55,030. It’s really not a lot of money for Auckland.


Far North iwi Te Rarawa are planning on building fences along Ninety Mile Beach to protect the dunes, reports StuffIt’s not to prevent access though, as some people might fear when reading that headline – it’s to stop idiots from driving motorbikes and four-wheelers around on them, a dramatically damaging activity for the ecosystem.


Filmmaker Renae Maihi’s statement of defence has been released to the NZ Herald, regarding the defamation suit brought against her by Sir Bob Jones. In it, she denies defaming Jones by calling him a racist, on the grounds of his decades of making comments of a similar nature to his now infamous “Māori gratitude day” column.


NZ First’s Shane Jones isn’t a fan at all of a proposed statue of Papatūānuku at Bastion Point, and in particular, the use of ratepayer money for it. The story was broken by the NZ Herald who likened the concept to the Statue of Liberty. But in an interview yesterday with Stuff, Jones said it was “pretentious gesture,” and that Ngāti Whātua should pay for it themselves.


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Right now on The Spinoff: This one’s actually from Sunday, but it’s a good one – PM Jacinda Ardern speaks to Noelle McCarthy for the podcast Venus Envy, about what comes next after the #MeToo movement. Dr Lance O’Sullivan makes a brief but powerful challenge to housing minister Phil Twyford, over poor quality housing making kids sick. And Leonie Hayden questions whether Māori or Pacific people can or should use the n-word (no I’m not going to write it out, I’m Pākehā, we definitely shouldn’t be using it)


Have you ever noticed how the legacies of radical figures are sanitised if they turn out to be on the right side of history?  For example, the anti-war activism and socialism of Martin Luther King Jr being ignored, in favour of exclusive celebrations of his (obviously still extremely important) fight against racism. This is a really interesting opinion piece from Al-Jazeera writer Demola Olarewaju on that very subject.

It concerns the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, persecuted and jailed for speaking truth to power during his life, and now feted by those same forces in death. Is it a sign of progress that now his work is recognised? Or is it more like a suppression of what he stood for? I don’t really have a fully formed opinion to give, but did find this piece very useful in clarifying my thinking. Here’s an excerpt.

“In 1963, Fela moved back to Nigeria. On a tour of the United States in 1969, Fela met Sandra Smith (also known as Sandra Izsadore) a member of the Black Panther Party. Smith’s ideas had a significant influence on Fela. After meeting her, his music moved away from the feel-good rhythm and spirit of highlife and evolved into a new, politically conscious and rebellious Afrobeat genre, which he pioneered on his return to Nigeria. As the themes of his lyrics changed from love to social issues, Fela renamed his band The Afrika ’70.

Fela soon dropped “Ransome” from his surname and replaced it with “Anikulapo”, a Yoruba phrase meaning “one who has captured death and put it in his pouch”, to convey a sense of invincibility.

At that moment, the legendary Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was born.”

Incidentally, most mornings after I hit send I put this Fela Kuti song on, as a change of pace after Morning Report or the Mike Hosking Breakfast. If you choose to have a listen, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Former cricketer Sir Richard Hadlee has been diagnosed with a secondary cancer, and will undergo surgery, reports the NZ Herald. Sir Richard has suffered a few health problems in recent years, but a surgeon the Herald spoke to said that under the right conditions, his chances of recovery would be good.

Sanzaar has finally admitted that its rules on the TMO and foul play aren’t really working, reports One News. Part of the problem seems to be that things generally look much worse in slo-mo, meaning innocuous looking incidents can end up looking very sinister. Beauden Barrett spoke out about this on Radio Sport over the weekend, and to be honest his comments were pretty mild – he was basically just calling for common sense from referees. But a playing All Black making a statement like this is a pretty big deal – they tend to be advised to keep their thoughts on referees to themselves.


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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