Pile of New Zealand currency which may or may not have been spent on MP flights to Southland (Supplied)

The Bulletin: Hey big spenders

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: MP expenses have been revealed – and they’re up, National hints towards RMA change bill, and protesters dressed as cows attempt accountant office invasion.  

MP travel expenses have been released. Here’s a full list, topped by National leader Simon Bridges, and followed up largely by MPs who represent rural areas, and National frontbenchers. Note – ministerial expenses haven’t yet been released, which explains why multiple Labour, Green and NZ First MPs are listed at zero. In total MP expenses for the quarter come out at about $2 million – which is a jump of about half a million from the last round, but over a busy sitting period.

Two of the MPs who have racked up large bills – National’s Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker and NZ First list MP Mark Patterson who is based in the same electorate, told the Southland Times that’s just the reality of travel in that part of the country. Clutha-Southland is massive too –  from Balclutha, to Queenstown, and down to Fiordland on the West Coast.

In some ways this is just the cost of doing democracy. It is, after all, quite good to have Parliamentarians actually being face to face with the people they’re representing once in a while. But there will be some rankles from the public about $2 million being spent in three months by MPs, in part because it’s a very relatable figure – you could hire, for example, 40 new primary teachers for that.

And meanwhile, the consequences for whoever leaked Simon Bridges expenses early look like they’ll be pretty dire. This report from Radio NZ’s political editor Jane Patterson outlined how likely a sacking will be if it turns out to have been leaked by a National MP. And if it’s a Parliamentary staffer, well, they’ll probably be down the road pretty quickly too.


A showdown over the Resource Management Act is looming next year, reports Interest, with the National Party working on a bill aimed at land supply. Spokesperson Judith Collins indicted the bill would be “pro-housing,” and the RMA may be taken out of the purview of the minister for the environment. Watch this space, it’s going to be a massive policy fight.


Protesters have attempted to storm the office of a Dunedin accountant who wants to develop a large dairy farm in the McKenzie Basin. The ODT has video of protesters dressed as cows trying to get into Murray Valentine’s office, but they were unsuccessful. The 4500ha farm has been controversial because of the strong conservation value of the area.


In the wake of teacher strikes, education minister Chris Hipkins says he needs two years to solve the shortage crisis, reports Newshub. Mr Hipkins also said he was disappointed by talk of future strikes before more negotiations could take place.

And, a typo from yesterday’s Bulletin that needs a correction – I incorrectly said PM Jacinda Ardern’s speech to teachers was booed – it was not booed. That sort of typo is what can happen when you swap around a sentence structure before having a coffee.


1080 drops on a massive South Island farm have been halted, after dozens (and perhaps hundreds) of red deer were found dead, reports the NZ Herald. The 1080 drop was intended to kill possums, which a spokesperson had significant conservation benefits in and of itself. 1080 has been in the news a bit recently, with a Wanganui Chronicle report on the death threats faced by workers at the Whanganui 1080 factory.


Loyalists for the Māori King are hitting back at his former advisor Tukoroirangi Morgan, who has been harshly critical in recent weeks, reports Māori TV. The coronation jubilee is taking place this week, but media have been banned from entering the marae – reportedly at the directive of King Tuheitia.


A win for conservationists is being celebrated – Tūī have been spotted around Lyttelton for the first time in decades, reports Radio NZ. The bird, which has spread back out among other parts of New Zealand, had largely disappeared from lowland Canterbury. The story reminds me of my favourite genre of Dominion Post letters to the editor – when locals complain that the bird sanctuaries are working too well, and now there are too many Tūī around.


Pioneering soul and gospel singer Aretha Franklin, has died age 76. Her life and work is being celebrated widely this morning, and as Sam Brooks writes on The Spinoff, her legacy goes far beyond being the Queen of Soul.


Finally, we’ve got a really cool referral competition running right now. If you can get people to sign up to The Bulletin (using your email address as their referral) then we’ll send you some awesome prizes. Here’s all the instructions. Important note – if you want your referrals to count, the people you sign up absolutely have to follow the instructions and use the form provided. Thanks in advance!


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Right now on The Spinoff: Don Rowe asks – if you wouldn’t eat a Kiwi, why is eating whitebait okay? There’s a new episode of The Real Pod out. And Dominic Hoey reviews the new Tom Scott (the rapper, not the cartoonist) album, under the new name Avantdale Bowling Club. I went to the album release last night, and there was a pretty special moment when Scott rapped a deeply autobiographical verse while holding his young son.


This is an absolutely must read feature from Australian publication The Monthly, about the impending death of the oceans, and their ability to sustain life. Does that sound hyperbolic? It isn’t, and it is the fault of humanity at large. We are dramatically overfishing species to extinction, drowning the ocean in plastic, and climate change is destroying coral ecosystems and acidifying the water. Here’s an excerpt:

“The depth of the Mariana Trench makes it impossibly hostile to surface-dwelling life. Water pressure is more than 1000 times that at sea level, and temperatures rarely rise above 4 degrees Celsius. Humans have been there only four times, yet in May of this year researchers from Japan’s Global Oceanographic Data Center found a plastic bag at its bottom.

This bag has the dubious distinction of being the deepest known piece of plastic waste. Yet it is only one of the thousands of pieces of rubbish catalogued in the centre’s Deep Sea Debris Database, which also includes fishing nets, tyres, washing machines, bottles, tins, sneakers … even a gym bag. Of these items, more than 33 per cent are plastic, and 89 per cent of those are single-use products such as plastic bottles and utensils, ratios that increase to 52 per cent and 92 per cent at depths of more than 6 kilometres.”


Hockey NZ is going to hold a crisis meeting to figure out how to halt the slide of the Women’s Black Sticks, reports the NZ Herald. Former goalkeeper Amelia Gibson has put out claims of a “negative environment” within the squad, which caused her to walk away from the game. And another simmering issue is a reply-all email coach Mark Hager sent to the whole team, which was critical of several players. Remember though, as recently as April, the Black Sticks lifted the Commonwealth Games trophy, so it has still been a year with some big successes.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has come up with a novel approach for how the Wallabies will prepare for their game at Eden Park next week. The NZ Herald reports they’ll be staying and preparing for the game on Waiheke Island. It might seem strange, but it makes a certain sort of sense if you look at it this way: They’ve got almost no chance of winning, so they may as well have a nice time and come away with good tourist memories of New Zealand. The Rugby Championship starts tomorrow night in Sydney.


From our partners, Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha writes that sometimes looking back on the past can make you glad you’re alive today, particularly when it comes to the safety of lines workers. 


That’s it for The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please get them to take part in our referral competition!


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