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Nurses protesting at Middlemore hospital (Radio NZ: Jessie Chiang)
Nurses protesting at Middlemore hospital (Radio NZ: Jessie Chiang)

The BulletinJune 19, 2018

The Bulletin: Workers gear up for strike season

Nurses protesting at Middlemore hospital (Radio NZ: Jessie Chiang)
Nurses protesting at Middlemore hospital (Radio NZ: Jessie Chiang)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Workers prepare to walk off the job, Nicky Hager gives his account of police harassment, and a march in Tauranga against the proposed begging ban.

A wave of strikes are set to hit the public sector, while private sector workers are also taking action. The latest on the Nurses is that they’ve rejected the latest pay offer, but as the NZ Herald reports, are willing to go back to urgent mediation to avoid going on strike. They’ve seemingly got the DHBs they’re negotiating with over a barrel, with health boards vowing to do what they can to avert strikes.

As well as that, Newshub reports that teachers are currently holding meetings to decide whether to reject their pay offer, and also go on strike. And 4000 public servants in IRD and MBIE may also go on strike, as reported yesterday by Stuff, though this action will be relatively low level compared to other strikes.

What is going on here? There’s an argument being made that it’s because of the change of government. Politik says workers who put up with nine years of austerity under National now feel frustrated to be confronted by finance minister Grant Robertson’s Budget Responsibility Rules which limit spending – in other words, workers want their tickets to the so-called rockstar economy.  And National’s Simon Bridges says unions are “emboldened” by the new Labour government – he means in a bad way.

That’s not all the industrial action going on though. Burger King workers are also out on the pickets, reports the NZ Herald. And that’s just the latest action – in late March I wrote about how train and bus drivers, port workers, Silver Fern Farms workers, supermarket distribution workers, disability support workers and Fletcher Building workers had all also threatened or gone on strike in the last year – that’s not necessarily a complete list either. Workers across the board seem to be feeling like they’re not getting their share of growth.

But all the while, business confidence continues to slide, which reflects employer unease at the situation. The measurement itself is controversial – it was recently described by economic development minister David Parker as “junk.” There isn’t necessarily a correlation between business confidence and actual economic activity – here’s an explainer on the relationship between the two from Noted. And finance minister Grant Robertson made the point on Newstalk ZB that businesses are tending to say that their own outlook is positive.

Nicky Hager has given his own account of how police disrupted his life and work, both during and in the aftermath of their raid on his house. Hager wrote in Newsroom that 35 police officers were assigned to finding the hacker Rawshark, who provided material for his book Dirty Politics, using tactics which included secretly seizing the phone records of his daughter. Hager recently won a significant court decision against the police over the raid and subsequent investigation.

More than 50 people have taken part in a march against a proposed begging ban in Tauranga, reports the Bay of Plenty Times. The Council, who voted 6-2 for the bylaw, were warned by officials that it could prove to be un-enforcable. Local homeless advocate Tania Lewis-Rickard wrote about the reasons for the march on The Spinoff, saying it dehumanised vulnerable people.

Meanwhile on the front page of the Waikato Times today, there’s a story about the rise of the “working homeless,” people with jobs who are in temporary accomodation, but have to turn to night shelters when Hamilton fills up with people, as it did for Fieldays over the weekend. Hamilton Christian Night Shelter manager Peter Humphreys says the last two months have been the busiest the facility has ever seen, and rising rents are hurting those on low incomes.

Is Winston Peters now officially in charge? He hosted the post-cabinet press conference yesterday (streamed by the NZ Herald) but in his capacity as deputy Prime Minister. Having said that, much of the presser was dominated by comments from NZ First about Fonterra, rather than wider government policy. The NZ Herald reported on that, with Winston Peters saying the diary co-operative had cost the country billions in food and animal welfare scares. Toby Manhire wrote his take on the press conference too, saying the combativeness was likely a sign of things to come.

A university professor, the latest target of Sir Bob Jones’ legal threats, is refusing to back down, reports Māori TV. Dr Leonie Pihama says she will not be retracting, nor apologising, for a tweet relating to a petition calling for Sir Bob Jones’ knighthood to be stripped. The petition came after Jones wrote a column calling for a ‘Māori Gratitude Day’ to replace Waitangi Day.

Meanwhile a support fund has been set up in aid of Renae Maihi, the filmmaker who set up the 70,000 strong petition and who is now being sued by Jones, the NZ Herald reports. The fund, hosted on Givealittle, has so far raised close to $10,000 from around 250 donors. As yet there doesn’t appear to be any crowdfunding campaign in support of Sir Bob Jones.

A local electric vehicle maker has signed a big production deal with a Chinese local government agency, reports the NBR. HMI’s $20 million deal with Chinese city Heshan will allow them to produce more than 1000 AI powered electric shuttles, within 5 years. For a bit more about what exactly ‘AI powered electric shuttle’ means, read Jihee Junn’s description of the vehicles that will soon be rolled out at Christchurch airport.

One News has revealed that an independent investigation is underway into High Performance Sport and Cycling New Zealand. There’s an alleged culture of bullying and inappropriate behaviour at the organisations. The intended separation between HPSNZ and the investigation may have already been breached, with someone who thought they were submitting to the investigation confidentially being contacted by a HPSNZ staffer, with ties to the cycling programme.

Problems with Football World Cup streaming in Australia are being described as a warning for NZ ahead of the Rugby World Cup, reports Radio Sport. Streams put on by telco Optus have been diabolical, to the point where Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has got involved, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. In NZ, Sky Sports has the rights to the Football World Cup, but the rugby is going to be shared by TVNZ and Spark.

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Right now on The Spinoff: David Farrier writes about why Princess Chelsea has so many twitter followers who are into ‘financial domination’ – I probably can’t write anything else about that one without setting off spam filters. Stay at home dad Adam Mamo writes about being constantly told he’s losing his masculinity. And we’re live blogging the arrival of Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford’s baby – so far, still no baby but watch this space.

So I was selected to do jury duty this week, and came very very close to being on a trial. I won’t go into any of the details of that, except to say my name was called for the vacant 12th chair on the panel. But just as I was about to take my seat, I was challenged by one of the lawyers.

The introductory video mentioned the challenge system, but didn’t go into the reasons someone might be challenged. The narrator assured us all that a challenge shouldn’t be taken personally, but that didn’t stop us all having a laugh at the falling face of the actor roleplaying a challenged juror.

So why do lawyers challenge potential jurors? It remains an inexact science. Back in 2009, police accused defence lawyers of deliberately using their challenges to ‘dumb down’ the jury – here’s an archived story from the Dominion Post about that. I’d be astonished if anyone thought I looked clever on a first impression, so surely that wasn’t the reason in my case.

Stephen Iorns wrote a piece for the Law Society in 2015 which shed more light on the subject. Iorns was writing in the concept of jury vetting in the digital age, namely, doing a google search of names of potential jurors. Some examples he gave for who might immediately raise a red flag were:

“If we as defence counsel do not look at even the most basic information available regarding potential jurors, can we not be accused of failing our duties? What if our foreman turns out to be a vocal advocate for the Sensible Sentencing Trust? Or Father’s Rights? Or a staunch supporter of Women’s Refuge? What if this information is easily accessible and establishes to a very high level an inability to remain impartial as between the parties?”

Were the lawyers in this case doing such searches? I have no idea, and will probably never know. Suffice to say though, even if it had’ve been personal or ideological animosity that led to me being challenged, I wouldn’t have minded. After we rejected jurors filed out of court, we were told we wouldn’t be needed again for the rest of the week. We were free to go. As far as doing a civic duty goes, it’s not necessarily all that bad.

The red card in the All Blacks match over the weekend has been overturned, and Frenchman Benjamin Fall will not be banned after all, reports Rugby Pass. The red, for tackling Beauden Barrett in the air, was found to be unduly harsh as Fall was going for the ball, rather than the man. But it will be a disappointment regardless for the French, who have now found themselves on the receiving end of two match-defining cards in a row.

And in the Football World Cup, Harry Kane has knocked in England’s first goal of the tournament, to take a 1-0 lead against Tunisia. At the time of publication the game is still going on, with the score at 1-1, and the NZ Herald is doing live updates. Meanwhile Sweden have knocked over South Korea – clearly the Korean jersey swap ruse didn’t work. And Belgium have thrashed Panama, making them one of the few potential tournament winners to come through their first game unscathed.

From our partners, Vector’s Bridget McDonald has looked at the government’s deep dig into the energy sector. What will the review look at, why should there even be one, and does it mean you might pay less for power?

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