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New Zealand is a country with naturally high rates of erosion (Radio NZ/Robin Martin)
New Zealand is a country with naturally high rates of erosion (Radio NZ/Robin Martin)

The BulletinApril 20, 2018

The Bulletin: NZ’s land in a bad way

New Zealand is a country with naturally high rates of erosion (Radio NZ/Robin Martin)
New Zealand is a country with naturally high rates of erosion (Radio NZ/Robin Martin)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: New Zealand’s land is in bad shape, medicinal cannabis submitters warned, and a symbolic day for Pike River families. 

New Zealand is losing 192 million tonnes of soil every year, according to a new environmental report. Radio NZ reports a bit under half of that soil loss is from pasture land. The Our Land 2018 report notes that New Zealand already has relatively high rates of soil erosion, but that land use, particularly the loss of trees, can accelerate the process.

The report also says New Zealand’s productive land is being eaten by urban sprawl. This Stuff story quotes environment minister David Parker as being particularly concerned about areas like Pukekohe, on the southern fringe of Auckland. That’s something that could have a significant impact on New Zealand’s future food security, depending on how the effects of climate change play out.
It’s noted in the report that New Zealand’s two most important export earners – agriculture and tourism – are both entirely dependant on land and ecosystems.

And by the way, here’s a story not connected to the Our Land 2018 report which seems relevant to include. The NZ Herald‘s Jamie Morton says a new ice melting process has been discovered to be taking place in Antarcticawhich will likely accelerate sea level rises. 

To round out this thoroughly bleak report, ecosystems in general tend to be in decline, and many species are threatened or endangered. The one bright spot is that 20 bird species populations are recovering, though half of those are due to intensive conservation efforts.

Submissions on the medicinal cannabis bill are about to be made public, and some people may have made incriminating statements, reports Radio NZ. Those who may have admitted to breaking the law have been asked if they’d like to change their statements before publication. While the statements are protected by Parliamentary privilege, so cannot be used in court, there have in the past been social and employment consequences for people who have made submissions to select committees.

Representatives of families of the Pike River miners have finally had the chance to enter the mine. The walk, accompanied by Pike River minister Andrew Little, was a symbolic gesture, reports Newshub. They went 30 metres into the mine, with recovery of the bodies of the men killed in 2010 still considered to be months away. National argues their position in government – that going deep into the mine drift would put further lives at risk – still applies.

Tax credit incentives for are being proposed for companies that invest in research and development, reports Stuff. Under the proposal, businesses that spend more than $100,000 on R&D to get 12.5 cents back on dollars in that area. New Zealand’s businesses on average spend far less on R&D compared to the rest of the OECD. The tax credits would replace the existing Callaghan Innovation growth grants, reports the NBR. And manufacturers are cautiously optimistic about the proposals, reports the ODT, though tax accountants aren’t yet sure.

A survey commissioned by teachers has found strong public support for teacher pay rises, reports the NZ Herald. It comes amid a wider campaign for a pay rise of up to 16%, after a decade of pay rises roughly in line with inflation. Here’s an interesting account of the launch of the union’s campaign last month on Newsroom.

And it’s a big day for PM Jacinda Ardern on the world stage. Not only is she meeting the Queen, she’s also been named as TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people. Her bio was written by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg.

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What is Fortnite: Battle Royale?

Right now on The Spinoff: Freshwater scientist Troy Baisden explores six ways to improve water quality in New Zealand’s lakes and rivers. Alex Casey reviews the crushing awkwardness of First Dates NZ, which started last night. And for those of you who have been baffled by hearing about some game called Fortnite, don’t worry, Sam Brooks has you covered with a cheat sheet.

Also, let’s have a round of applause Madeleine Chapman, who picked up one of those OnzO bikes in Auckland yesterday morning, and rode it all the way to the Huntly DEKA sign. It was an absolutely remarkable feat of endurance, marred only by the fact that Don Rowe won the work sweepstake for how far she’d get.

This is a high impact piece of investigative reporting from Reveal News, into safety concerns at Tesla’s electric car factory. The long running investigation found a chaotic factory floor, with high rates of injuries, as Tesla struggled with production targets that were far too onerous. It also found a culture in which Elon Musk’s word was law, even to the point where it is alleged standard yellow safety markers were missing, because Musk didn’t like the colour.

In the process of the investigation, Tesla accused Reveal of mounting a “highly ideological attack,” and being a tool of a union that was trying to organise workers. Reveal responded by saying they had reviewed hundreds of documents, and spoken to more than three dozen current and former employees, managers and technicians, many of whom had no involvement whatsoever with the union.

The California health and safety regulator has opened an investigation into Tesla, reports Bloomberg, but the regulator won’t confirm whether or not the story was the catalyst. Tesla says the will cooperate fully with the investigation.

A tussle is developing between England and NZ Rugby over how soon Brad Shields can join the English setup, reports Rugby Pass. England want the Hurricanes captain for their games against South Africa in June, but NZR are blocking it. Shields will soon leave NZ to join English club Wasps, and qualifies for England through his parents.

And I quite like this one from the Southland Times – a small group of Colombian refugees have put together a team to play in a charity football tournament this weekend. The Colombians are part of a programme, that will see about 140 people who fled the fighting in their country, eventually call Invercargill home.

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.

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, have a great weekend.

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