Immigration minister Iain Lees Galloway (Image: Radio NZ)

The Bulletin: Govt makes business-friendly migrant worker changes

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Govt makes business-friendly migrant worker changes, PM off overseas to talk trade, and the cost of Christchurch water in China revealed.

A range of changes around the immigration system have been announced, reports Newshub. Among the biggest headline grabbers was the decision that low paid migrants will once again have more opportunity to bring their families to New Zealand. That announcement from immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway reverses a position adopted by the previous government.

But it was just one of the many changes, among the most significant being the simplification of the temporary work visa system. That has been praised by primary sector organisations, reports The Country, as a sector that would be shattered were it not for migrant labour. It was given plenty of praise by Fed Farmers, who congratulated the government on listening to the sector. And it was music to the ears of the horticulture industry, who have been crying out for simplified ways to hire migrant workers for peak harvest and packing periods. One News reports the minister is trumpeting a number of 30,000 businesses who will benefit from the changes.

But Anu Kaloti from the Migrant Workers Association says the changes will benefit everyone except those workers themselves – as they will still only be able to work for a single employer, she argues exploitation is likely to continue, reports Radio NZ. “Attaching a person’s visa to an employer is basically just modern day slavery.” And a migrant worker spoken to by Radio NZ said the changes were confusing, and left them no better off.


The PM is heading overseas, for what is likely to be a high profile series of meetings, reports the NZ Herald. They include a trip to Japan to see both PM Shinzo Abe and some rugby, and a trip to the US to meet tech executives and President Donald Trump. Jacinda Ardern says trade will be a major focus of the trip, with the USA still imposing tariffs on New Zealand steel and aluminium.


What’s the cost of a bottle of fine Christchurch water in China? 55 cents, reports Amanda Cropp for Stuff. It appears to be a strategy to undercut the bottled water market. Water exports have become something of an election issue in Christchurch, particularly for those running for the Regional Council equivalent Environment Canterbury.


Foresters are still feeling the pain of a slump in log prices in China, reports Radio NZ. It meant a serious downturn in harvesting here, affecting crews and jobs. As well as that, there are structural factors outlined in the story which make it hard to see how prices will recover to the highs they were at before.


For those following the Lakes District mayoralty race, these are some fascinating numbers. Crux has carried out a survey (online, but with controls against repeat voting) which shows a huge share of respondents are against the airport expansion. It could become something of an electoral millstone for mayor Jim Boult, who is widely seen as being a supporter of airport expansion and increased tourism.


Chemicals in foam used for fighting fires will continue to spread through groundwater for more than a century, reports Radio NZ’s Phil Pennington. That’s the conclusion of a report commissioned by the Defence Force, who used the foam on their bases – though they were by no means the only source of contamination. A deer farmer near Ohakea described the contamination as “intergenerational.” It’s another strong update in a story Radio NZ has now been working on for more than a year.


An important story from our diplomatic neighbourhood, with this from RNZ Pacific’s Mackenzie Smith a must read yesterday before being overtaken by events. The Solomon Islands have switched their diplomatic recognition for Taiwan, in favour of China. It reflects a long term dispute between Beijing and Taipei, which stretches back to the Chinese civil war. Through a combination of carrot and stick, Beijing has managed to whittle away the number of nations who recognise Taiwan – many of the remainder of those nations are in the Pacific.


If you’re worried about petrol prices rising out of control on the back of the attack on Saudi Arabian facilities, good news. The NZ Herald reports the price of crude oil has plunged back down after news that production would be restored faster than expected. I’m sure petrol retailers here will be happy to pass those savings on to customers, as well as the price rises earlier in the week. It’s not such good news for the climate of course, but oh well.


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Right now on The Spinoff: Mirjam Guesgen writes about the unique situation New Zealand is in with methane emissions, and ways to put a cork in cow burps. Thomas Nash calls for the existential threat of fossil fuels to be dealt with in the same way nuclear weapons were – a ban. Josie Adams previews the race to replace mayor Dave Cull in Dunedin. Josie Adams again reviews the odd new Netflix film Tall Girl, which seems to suggest that a woman can’t be both tall and attractive. And professional artist Ben Stenbeck sits down for a brand new episode of Two Sketches.


For a feature today, an oral history of a mobile phone innovation that arguably really did change the technology forever. Mel Magazine has spoken to the developers who first made the game Snake, for Nokia phones. It’s a really nice example of how the answers to questions about what consumers want are often really unexpected. Here’s an excerpt:

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MacNeill: There’s something retrospectively refreshing about having a game built into a cell phone. No need to download anything, no in-game fees, no updates, no data sapping. As long as you’ve got your Nokia to hand, you can get munching away.

Armanto: I never reached the champion level myself, even though I naturally spent some time testing it. But the best way to win is just practice. Nothing more. Practice makes the champion. Some people, I found out, were utilizing the pause/continue feature to reach very high points. But that is cheating, so it doesn’t count.


Could the Warriors end up with a new coach? It’s not beyond the realm of possibility, after the failed season under Stephan Kearney. If it does happen, Stuff’s Jackson Thomas has put together a shortlist of potential options – including potentially a pair of brothers who operate as something of a double act.


That’s it for The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, pass on this signup form to them. And if you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme.


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