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Judith Collins at her first press conference as leader (Radio NZ, Samuel Rillstone)
Judith Collins at her first press conference as leader (Radio NZ, Samuel Rillstone)

The BulletinJuly 17, 2020

The Bulletin: Collins reshuffles caucus, will make major speech today

Judith Collins at her first press conference as leader (Radio NZ, Samuel Rillstone)
Judith Collins at her first press conference as leader (Radio NZ, Samuel Rillstone)

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Collins announces major reshuffle after two leading MPs quit, horror story of migrant worker abuse revealed, and Auckland’s emergency budget passes.

So, there was a bit of incorrect information in yesterday’s Bulletin about departures from National. It turns out Amy Adams will also be quitting, meaning both of former leader Todd Muller’s key lieutenants are gone. It precipitated a much wider reshuffle for new leader Judith Collins, the details of which can be found in our live blog. Nobody would deny that it has been an extraordinary political week for the party, but even so, there are a lot of questions to be asked about the ‘strong team’ part of what was their slogan on Monday – Toby Manhire has an excellent analysis of what it means for them.

On that reshuffle, Collins has kept both former leaders in the inner circle, and has promoted other liberals to replace Kaye and Adams. Simon Bridges has the justice portfolio to go with foreign affairs, and Muller will take trade. Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis – two strong supporters of the Muller coup – have both been moved up, and Bishop will become the shadow leader of the house. Dr Shane Reti is now all the way up to number five in the caucus after a remarkable run this term. And Harete Hipango will become shadow attorney general – she’s a first term MP from Whānganui, who came to parliament after a distinguished career in law.

Perhaps the only real loser in the reshuffle is former justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell. As Stuff’s Henry Cooke put it in a very useful analysis piece, Mitchell put his hand up for the leadership again this time around, forcing a contest at a time when party power-brokers wanted a coronation. But on Mitchell’s demotion, “many suggest this has more to do with work ethic than vindictiveness,” wrote Cooke. The reshuffle will perhaps bring an end to the months of chaos that have engulfed the party, and certainly National MPs are talking unity (they were talking unity last time too of course.) Bridges went on Newstalk ZB to make it clear that Collins had his support, though there was also a hint of off the record friction in this story by Newshub’s Tova O’Brien, in which MPs reflected on the fact that an MP who had been disloyal in the past was now demanding loyalty from them as leader.

Meanwhile, we’re expecting a major policy speech on infrastructure to be delivered today by Collins. A similar version was planned for earlier in the week by Muller, but had to be pushed back slightly for obvious reasons. One policy was pushed out yesterday by finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith – the NZ Herald’s (paywalled) Hamish Rutherford was at a speech in which he announced National would suspend contributions to the Super Fund, as a way of holding down debt. It was also a move taken by Bill English in 2008, before contributions were resumed by the current government’s Grant Robertson. There was no such policy clarity in an oddly combative interview given by deputy leader Gerry Brownlee to Checkpoint, in which he repeatedly refused to give answers because of which show was asking the questions.

The Spinoff would like to invite Bulletin readers to a special event with Breast Cancer Foundation NZ. 

The effects of Covid-19 are often hidden from every day view. Writing on The Spinoff, Breast Cancer NZ ambassador Stacey Morrison spoke to Chloe Irvine about her experience with breast cancer through lockdown.

To support Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s vital work The Spinoff is holding a Pink Ribbon Breakfast. Hosted by Stacey Morrison at Kind Cafe in Morningside, Auckland on July 28 from 730am the breakfast will hear from women about their breast cancer journeyand foundation advocates about the work they do.

Limited tickets are available here for a donation of $50 or more (and includes breakfast). If you live outside Auckland or are unable to join us for breakfast we still welcome your support for Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

A starkly confronting story about the situation of seasonal migrant workers in Hawkes Bay, by Newsroom’s Dileepa Fonseka. A covert recording made during a meeting between workers and their employers has revealed said employer threatening to withhold allowances and flights back to their home country. The way he talked to them implied a situation close to slavery. The story was followed up with another in which it is alleged the employer assaulted a worker. Complaints have been made to MBIE, but you have to wonder – if this was caught on tape once, how often are similar situations playing out?

Auckland’s emergency budget has passed with rates rises of 3.5%, staving off the harshest of service cuts. As Radio NZ reports, mayor Phil Goff says a lower rates rise would have resulted in things like library hours being cut, and rubbish bins being removed – “a whole lot of small but meaningful things”. There will also be no cuts to infrastructure spending, as it is likely to be a necessary part of economic recovery. As it is though, the Council’s finances will still be in a lot of pain for a while, and their workforce has been slashed to make up the shortfall.

Tens of thousands of sensitive identity documents have been accessible online after a Wellington property management company left them unsecured, reports CyberNews. The breach involves passports, drivers licenses and more, with the documents being held by LPM Property Management. Stuff picked up on one particularly troubling element – a security company based in Ireland spotted the security flaw in May and immediately informed the company, who either didn’t get the message, or just pissed around doing nothing about it for a month. For their part, LPM issued a statement saying “we promptly dealt with this issue once we were made aware of it. The data is fully protected after our external technical contractor acted to ensure it was safe.”

The effectiveness of the government’s Covid-tracing app has been called into serious question in a report given to DPMC, covered by Business Desk’s Pattrick Smellie. The key point is that it is seen as highly unlikely that the app could ever make enough of a dent in the population to be useful. New health minister has been spruiking the app in recent days, saying the current levels of uptake aren’t good enough. But even so, the current download figures are sitting at just over 600,000 users (with far fewer people actually using it regularly) so it isn’t really close to the necessary levels of saturation.

Inflation is down over the last quarter in large part because of the lower price of fuel, reports Interest. Along with the rise in unemployment, it is leading economists to suggest that the Reserve Bank will need to do more stimulus in the form of quantitative easing. Normally the target for inflation (basically, how much more things cost over time) is between 1-3% for any given year, but it is expected to bottom out below that by the end of the year, due to the various economic strains caused by Covid-19, and the loss of international tourism.

A hīkoi will be taking place today against plans for a proposed dump in the Dome Valley, north of Auckland. I’ve reported on the opposition campaign, which has drawn support from Ngāti Whātua, local residents and the Kaipara District Council, even though the dump is technically outside the latter’s area. Their big concern is for the prospect of a leak, which could pollute the Hōteo River and Kaipara Harbour – and as we’ve seen from dumps all over the country, it would still matter if that happened in 100 years time. A petition will also be handed over to Auckland Council, though much to the disappointment of organisers, mayor Phil Goff will not be there to receive it.

A bit of housekeeping: I won’t be doing Monday’s Bulletin, but I’m excited to tell you that it will be a first ever Bulletin for deputy editor Alice Neville, who has an excellent news brain, and will probably make far fewer typos than I do. I’ll be back on Tuesday, after a short weekend holiday before the election campaign really gets going.

Got some feedback about The Bulletin, or anything in the news? Drop us a line at

Right now on The Spinoff: Trevor McKewen is back in managed isolation in New Zealand after visiting a dying relative in Australia – he gives an update on our version. Sophie Handford calls on voters to force politicians to put climate change on the agenda for 2020. Kevin Dew writes about the ‘green fairies’, who get medicinal cannabis for those in need, and why they’re hoping for a yes vote in the upcoming referendum. Josie Adams writes about the remarkable work Wikipedia volunteers did to get accurate pandemic information up quickly. And Alice Webb-Liddall speaks to the operators of a physio studio, who somehow managed to take their practice digital over lockdown.

For a feature today, an argument about an important movement that lost itself in hypocrisy. The #MeToo movement took on some powerful and important people, but has since declined to address allegations against others who are considered too politically necessary. As Madeleine Holden writes in Mel Magazine, that has profound consequences for whether survivors will come forward. Here’s an excerpt:

In short, the position of liberals, when one of their guys is accused, has essentially been that a little bit of sexual assault needn’t be a dealbreaker. It’s important to note that this attitude persisted even among people who granted that Reade might be telling the truth, at a time when it was possible to insist on a different Democratic nominee for president. For example, New York Times columnist Linda Hirshman told readers she believed Reade but urged voters to “suck it up and make the utilitarian bargain” by voting for Biden anyway. Nation columnist Katha Pollitt said she would “vote for Joe Biden if he boiled babies and ate them.”

This is what it means to live in a post-#MeToo world when a man “too important” to lose is accused: Claimants are treated as presumptive liars, as ever, and sexual violence still isn’t considered a disqualifying factor for holding the highest office in America.

Don’t laugh, but… could the Phoenix actually win the A-League? Stuff’s Andrew Voerman has assessed their chances, with the season resuming tonight, and they’re actually pretty good for once. Wellington is in 3rd, and should be in a position to at least maintain a playoff spot. But if the winning run they took into the shutdown continues, then they could even secure a bye through the first round of finals matches. And from there – well, there’s never been a better time than now. Kick off against table-topping Sydney FC is at 9.30.

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