Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Free trade with Britain moves closer, police and government at odds over drug driver testing, and EQC checks may be recalled.
The PM is in London reassuring Britain that New Zealand is very keen on a post-Brexit free trade deal. The meeting between Ardern and Britain’s Theresa May took place in the last few hours, with Newstalk ZB‘s 6am bulletin reporting that the EU has given Britain approval to start preliminary trade talks. That was important because Britain was barred from holding trade talks while the Brexit process was underway. The BBC reports Canada also wants a free trade deal “the day after Brexit,” which indicates the ongoing Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting will be more important for trade than most. Brexit is expected to take place in March, 2019.
Jacinda Ardern will be off to meet the Queen tonight, reports the NZ Herald, but the big one is the meeting between the heads of four of the five eyes countries, convened by Britain’s PM Theresa May. May, Malcolm Turnbull, Justin Trudeau and Jacinda Ardern discussed alleged Russian cyber-attacks, which was also discussed between Ardern and Germany’s Angela Merkel, reports Newshub.
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has also made some interesting comments, saying he’s concerned about restrictions on New Zealanders living and working in Britain, reports the NZ Herald. London remains the destination of choice for the traditional OE, but it is now harder for New Zealanders to stay on after two years unless they meet high income thresholds.
But speaking of trade and diplomatic relationships, here’s an interesting opinion piece from Stuff‘s Hamish Rutherford. He’s questioning why none of the new government’s ministers have yet been to China. Rutherford argues that China may feel slighted by the fact that nobody senior has popped in recently, especially at a time when New Zealand is trying to upgrade the FTA with China.
Police and the government are at odds over drug testing for drivers, reports Radio NZ. Police are keen on using saliva tests on suspected drug drivers, but road safety minister Julie Anne Genter says they should be focused more firmly on testing for alcohol, which is far more prevalent as a factor in crashes and road deaths.
The government is looking at recalling EQC checks on up to 140,000 homes in Christchurch, reports Newshub. It would be an extremely expensive addition to what has already been the costly job of fixing homes that had shoddy repairs after the earthquake. A report with options will be presented to minister Megan Woods at the end of April.
Air New Zealand planes are undergoing urgent maintenance until the middle of next week, and thousands of travellers will be affected, reports Radio NZ. The maintenance is being demanded by European regulators, who have asked to do earlier than expected checks on nine 787 Dreamliners. The maintenance comes at a bad time for the company, which is in the middle of a busy season. Air NZ says affected passengers will be contacted.
A rather bizarre case for the tenancy tribunal on the front page of the NZ Herald today – a landlord was left $20,000 out of pocket after an EU diplomat tenant skipped the country 8 months into a three year lease. But MFAT now appears to have intervened on behalf of said diplomat, and is seeking a re-hearing. The landlord is concerned he won’t get his money back at all, and says MFAT going in to bat for the diplomat sets a poor precedent. Barry Soper on Newstalk ZB says it’s by no means the first time diplomats have flagrantly ignored the law here.
The long running strike at Lyttelton Port appears to have come to and end, reports Newstalk ZB. Both RMTU workers and port management have agreed in principle to terms of settlement, the union has withdrawn the strike notice, and management has ended its lockout. About 200 workers were on strike, a majority of the port’s workforce.
And from our partners, Vector’s Karl Check analyses Australia’s progress when it comes to shifting away from coal and gas fired power plants and onto renewal energy sources.
Right now on The Spinoff: Sam Brooks ranks the dancing on the Dancing with the Stars promo videos. There’s a photo essay of the graves of famous NZ writers. We’re firmly backing controversial broadcaster Duncan Garner in his ruthless attack on controversial broadcaster Duncan Garner. And finally, Madeleine Chapman is biking down south today. How far will she make it? We’re not sure, but follow The Spinoff’s instagram story for updates.
Some people in media, their reputation just precedes them. A few years ago I was working at Newstalk ZB, and an email was sent around the newsroom that the highly regarded journo Kim Baker-Wilson was joining the station as a news director. It was seen as a real coup for ZB. He arrived, and was instantly fantastic. Not only is he outstanding at the day to day of getting news bulletins on air, he has this habit of always wandering over to the other teams when he had a spare moment, just to yarn about stories or catch up. In short, an awesome dude to have around the office, despite the horrendous dad-jokes that he’s fond of.
It was mentioned by others once or twice that years ago he had suffered an awful homophobic assault, but he didn’t really talk about it. And throughout the time I worked with him, I never had any reason to doubt he had made a full and swift recovery. What I had never realised was just how arduous that recovery really was.
He’s written about how the attack changed his life permanently on One News. He suffered brain damage, and had to spend years relearning how to speak and write properly. For a journalist and broadcaster, losing those skills is catastrophic. He could have easily lost his career forever. And that doesn’t even come close to the extent of the damage the attack caused.
The piece has been written in reaction to comments made by Australian rugby player, Israel Folau, that gay people are going to hell. For those who think Folau’s comments are merely an issue of free speech, read the following quote from Kim’s piece.
“What some people see as freedom of expression, I see as a vehicle for hate and prejudice. I see a sanctioned target put on people who are often already doing it tough and made to feel less. Freedom of speech doesn’t need to cross a line into speech that spreads hate and puts people in harm’s way.
High-profile people wouldn’t be able to talk like this about other groups. I don’t know why the LGBTQ+ community has to hear it. I don’t know why people are allowed to say it. But I do know what it does.”
One of the bigger stories from the Commonwealth Games was about netball, but a lot of New Zealanders possibly missed it because of how woeful the Silver Ferns were. But in a massive upset, England took down Australia for the gold medal. And former Australian player Liz Ellis – possibly the greatest netball player of all time – says that is fantastic for the sport in this piece on Players Voice.
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She does mention the Ferns as well, noting that New Zealand will struggle to close the gap with Australia, because our domestic players no longer compete against theirs. Ellis says the time has come for Netball NZ to change their eligibility rules, so that the likes of Laura Langman can be part of the Silver Ferns again.
And as for the Warriors, my beloved Warriors who I have passionately supported for the last month, their ownership saga has taken a rather strange turn. The NZ Herald‘s David Skipwith reports Richard Fale, behind the US-Tonga consortium’s bid, is accusing the Auckland Rugby League chairman of racism. Neither bid has yet secured final approval.
That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here. Thanks for joining us this morning.
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