The red-lit Dunedin Town Hall, the venue for the 2018 Labour party conference. (Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell)

The Bulletin: Complainants respond to QC report

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Complainants respond to report on former Labour staffer allegations, prominent businessman arrested in Australia, and worrying new report into tourism’s environmental impacts.

Complainants in the fresh inquiry into the conduct of a former Labour staffer have responded to the QC findings. The Spinoff reports that the inquiry conducted by Maria Dew found that the most serious allegations, of sexual assault and harassment, were “not established”. The report did establish that there had been “overbearing and aggressive conduct”, says party president Claire Szabo. The former staffer has always strenuously denied the allegations.

However, the main complainant stressed that she stood by her account as shared with The Spinoff and published in September. Another complainant described the experience as the “worst nightmare” for anyone considering speaking up about sexual violence or harassment. Stuff’s Alison Mau reports that the PMs office was warned that the release of the report “posed an immediate suicide risk to some of the complainants.”

It’s important to note that this inquiry did not focus on the process by which the allegations were handled by the party: a different report on that will be released early next year. This report concluded the main complainant had misled the investigation regarding the sending of an email containing the allegations. However, other emails discussed in the account have not been addressed. The full report will not be released publicly, so the above is based on an eight page executive summary, released yesterday afternoon. PM Jacinda Ardern says “no one had been well served by this process”.

Prominent businessman Sir Ron Brierley has been arrested in Australia on charges of possession of child pornography. The story was originally broken by the paywalled Daily Telegraph, who reported that he was detained trying to leave the country. Sir Ron was knighted in 1988, after a career of corporate raiding, effectively enriching himself by buying companies and then flogging them off for parts. For more on this story, or if you simply weren’t born long enough ago to know who Sir Ron Brierley is, read business editor Maria Slade’s cheat sheet.

The tourism industry is putting increasing strain on the environment, according to a new PCE report. Here’s a cheat sheet on the report. It takes in the direct effects of high volume tourism on the physical environment – more waste gets produced, and it puts pressure on freshwater systems, for example. But looming over it all is the fact that to get tourists to New Zealand at all, a huge load of carbon emissions are created by the flights.

There’s a bit of controversy in Christchurch over donations to mayor Lianne Dalziel’s reelection campaign, reports Anan Zaki for Radio NZ. Dalziel only just released the names of donors who made a contribution through an auction fundraiser, which her opponent John Minto says was an “insult to ratepayers”. As the auction purchases were over $1500, the donors must be identified under electoral law. Dalziel has previously said she is confident her actions have been within the law.

There’s conjecture over the meaning of new stats on who is taking up fees free tertiary study. Radio NZ’s John Gerritson reports that fewer that one in three students taking up the scheme have come from schools that have deciles of 1-5, with deciles 9-10 accounting for a quarter of the total intake. It’s worth noting that this isn’t just university study – it also includes polytechs and institutes of technology. Education minister Chris Hipkins said generalisations couldn’t easily be drawn from the data, and a strong job market would also be pulling young people away from study.

Another rise in the minimum wage has been confirmed for April 1 next year. Newshub reports it will go up to $18.90 an hour, with training rates also rising to $15.12. It’s part of a process of getting it up to $20 an hour, as per the coalition agreement between NZ First and Labour.

A correction from yesterday’s Bulletin: Lyndon got in touch to say this about the ongoing RMA review, and how that will impact decisions like the one on OMV: “That will not affect, at least not directly, decisions made under the EEZ-CS Act, as this one was. The latter Act, which deals with waters and seabed offshore of 12 nautical miles, would also need to be changed to allow consideration of climate change.” Thank you Lyndon for that note.

Say Something Nice about a Journalist 2019: Crikey, we’re ripping through them now. Today, a couple of nominations for people at Newshub. The first comes from Hilary, who had the following to say about Mike Wesley-Smith:

“He has doggedly covered (unpopular and usually sidelined) disability issues over the last few years such as the farcical Funded Family Care policy and the need for an inquiry into historic abuse. But his full report last month on the abuse and ECT torture suffered by young people at Lake Alice psychiatric hospital in the 1970s and 80s is exceptional reporting and gave voice to many who have been seeking justice for decades.”

And the second nod comes from someone in the industry himself – Stuff journo Henry Cooke had this to say about Newshub’s press gallery team, saying they have “broken more stories than I care to really detail as part of their competition.” But it’s not just about the hard news – he said “what really makes them for me is the way they can make bog standard political stories actually fun to watch with rapid-editing and an intense desire to mock all politicians. Things like this.”

I’ll also just note that a few of you wanted a shout out for Henry Cooke himself, so I’ll say I very much enjoyed his opinion column this year. For example – this one about the tensions within the coalition, and how actually the parties sort of need them to keep their supporters active, was a really insightful look at one of this government’s macro-trends. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Bulletin, when we’ll say even more nice things about journalists.

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Graffiti on the benches of an Auckland school where Polynesian students hid from the police (Image: Haru Sameshima).

Right now on The Spinoff: Toby Morris returns with a delightful Side Eye comic about the Y2K bug, and how it all looks 20 years on. Alice Webb-Liddall explains how GST system changes will affect online shopping. Madeleine Chapman looks back at ten years of global migration from the real world to the online world. Madeleine Chapman again learns how to sell on Sir Michael Hill’s superyacht. Tara Ward grapples with the development of the title character in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. A group of us sum up the year in a sentence.

The absolute piece of the day is this remarkable story from Nina Tonga, looking back at the era of Dawn Raids. It focuses on the floorboards of a school – the very same floorboards that Pacific Islander kids hid under when immigration officers turned up without warning to try and round them up for deportation. And it brings that whole, terrible period of our really quite recent history into sharp relief.

For a feature today, a piece about absurd and troubling credulity on social media. There’s a lot of backstory to this, which will be instantly to anyone who has followed the Democratic party primary in the USA, but might be mystifying and weird to those who haven’t. Fortunately, Vulture have done a good job of unpacking the viral ‘Moves Like Bloomberg’ meme, and in an interview with the creators, unpacked why it’s so worrying that people thought it was real. Here’s an excerpt from the intro, which explains more:

When Brad Evans and Nick Ciarelli took the stage at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles last Thursday for their live comedy show Atlantic City, they intended to do something they already do fairly often: create a very silly comedy bit, share the video on Twitter, and watch as their friends and fans kept the joke alive for a day or two. But this time, things took a very different turn:

Before their live show was even over, the video they posted of their audience dancing — a 23-second parody of the corny and relentlessly mocked Pete Buttigieg campaign dance video, only this time for candidate Mike Bloomberg and set to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” — had gone viral, and over the next 24 hours, everyone from Donald Trump Jr. to Sebastian Gorka to New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman shared or otherwise engaged with the video, igniting a wildfire of confusion and assumptions about whether or not the people in the video were, or were not, real Bloomberg supporters.

In sport today, a piece about the future of cricket, which is really about the future of the world. The Guardian have covered the immense heat in Australia right now, and how climate change will increasingly affect a sport in which the weather is a key player. It’s getting worse every year, and the Black Caps are a few weeks away from playing a match in Sydney, a city that has been constantly shrouded in smoke from raging bushfires for several weeks now. It’s really not something the sport has any idea how to deal with either, which is perhaps understandable, because nobody else has any idea how to deal with it either.

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