(Image: Generation Zero)

The Bulletin: Environmentalists win first major Zero Carbon battle

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Environmentalists stack submissions up on Zero Carbon bill, courier driver conditions laid bare, and refugee quota increase on hold.

Here’s an important update on the Zero Carbon bill – methane is almost certain to be included, reports the NBR. Climate change minister James Shaw says that’s the clear message after consultation on the bill, which has just closed after more than 10,000 submissions. Methane is of course one of the gases produced by farming (particularly burping cows) and the question will be how big a reduction, or stabilisation, will be targeted. The name Zero Carbon is slightly misleading by the way – carbon is just one of the gases being considered in the consultation.

10,000 submissions might sound like a big number, and it absolutely is. Earlier reports about it hitting 9000 were described by Radio NZ as “about 17 times more than usual.” This has been partly because of the depth of feeling on climate change, but also partly because of canny organising from climate action group Generation Zero. One of their organisers, Laura Somerset, wrote for The Spinoff about how the group came to basically draft the bill in the first place.

You need to cast your mind back about a year to get a sense of how quickly a consensus has formed on the basic facts of climate change in New Zealand – that temperatures and sea levels are rising, and human emissions are a major reason why. But now every party in Parliament basically backs that as a fact to varying degrees, and even businesses who will be economically hurt by emissions reductions are pledging to do their bit. But the debate about whether it is happening is over. Now the only question is what to do about it.

And that brings us back to methane. What does this mean for farming? That all depends on what the final verdict on methane (and nitrous oxide, for that matter) reductions is in the legislation. It won’t be the end of farming by any stretch, but there are likely to be costs applied. And if the strongest target is set – net zero emissions across all types of gases by 2050 – it seems likely that some herd reduction would be needed too. Federated Farmers have been making some noise on this – here’s a Newshub report in which their President Andrew Hoggard argues that different gases should be treated very differently in the law.


The tough working conditions of courier drivers were laid bare in an extraordinary interview on Radio NZ with NZ Post executive Mark Taylor. The company calls their couriers ‘business partners,’ and they operate under conditions similar to contracting, but have to work exclusively for NZ Post. There have also been claims some effectively make less than the minimum wage. The interview itself is 16 minutes long, but it’s such an incredibly searching examination there’s almost no doubt it was extended on the fly.

As John Campbell pointed out, NZ Post had actually fronted up for an interview. Private courier companies, under which workers have similar conditions and upkeep costs, refused to put spokespeople up.


Widely trumpeted government plans to double the refugee quota are on hold, because of the housing crisis, reports Newshub. It’s really quite difficult to capture the cynicism that supporters of an increased refugee quota will feel about this. There will literally always be an economic reason why we can’t give people in extreme need a hand. But that’s not the point of refugee intakes – the point is that each time someone is given the chance to start a new life, it makes the world a slightly better place. The Red Cross is calling on the government to reopen refugee resettlement in Christchurch.


Pharmac is looking at ways to open up drug buying access to five Pacific nations, reports Radio NZ. The Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Tonga and Samoa are considered in a feasibility study, to help combat high prices and long delays. Cook Islands PM Henry Puna has been outspoken on this, and he met directly with health minister David Clark to lobby him on it.


Trade minister David Parker is welcoming UK authorisation to prepare for free trade negotiations, including with New Zealand, reports the NZ Herald. Interestingly, the UK may also try and join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Any deals though will be contingent on how they leave the EU, with standalone FTAs more likely with a harder Brexit.


It’s not quite ‘Penthouse and a pie‘ but it’s close. Sensitive security agency documents were left in a cafe bathroom, in one of dozens of recent public sector breaches. The NZ Herald‘s front page carries this story today, which includes details of other recent document security lapses.


Former minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell has formally resigned the Māori Party co-leadership, to take up a position in charge of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, reports Stuff. Flavell was knocked out of Parliament along with his party at the last election, and signalled at the time that he was unlikely to have another crack. It leaves just Marama Fox at the head of the party, which according to Newshub is considering a model without leaders while the party is out of Parliament.


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An image depicting a Plesiosaurus, often thought to be the forefather of the Loch Ness Monster, from a book on “Extinct monsters” (London :Chapman & Hall,1896) biodiversitylibrary.org/page/14893427

Right now on The Spinoff: Aaron Hendry writes that more money won’t solve the problems of our mental health system – it needs complete rebuilding. Jihee Junn writes about an Auckland initiative to deal with organic waste – particularly aimed at coffee drinkers. I wrote about the BSA’s latest survey of what words audiences find offensive on the airwaves (content warning – sweary) And Ellen Rykers writes in defence of Otago University’s Loch Ness monster project, saying it was a fine example of science communication.


This one was published on Noted earlier in the week, but I haven’t really been able to find a place for it until now. It’s a great read though, about a religious sect (some would say cult) that is picking up converts around schools and universities around New Zealand. The feature talks to various people who have come out the other side of it, and how they ended up in in the first place. Here’s an excerpt:

“Providence’s entry-level doctrine was “deliberately vague”, says Mark, and it was only after a number of lessons that the group started exposing him to their core beliefs. “Ten to 15 Bible studies in, you learn how Jeong was persecuted and jailed. At that point your mentality is that this guy could do no wrong… You’re encouraged not to Google. You’re told everything online is posted by people who are against [the church]… You go on what they tell you as gospel.”

Mark says that Jeong’s personal backstory – poor, disowned by his family, wrongfully accused – was used to further the teaching and make him appear more Christ-like. “They’d say, ‘Look, Jesus brought the truth and they didn’t believe him: they beat him, put him in prison. Jeong went through what Jesus went through. Can you see this is the truth?’”


There are reports that Ma’a Nonu could return to New Zealand – for example, this Newshub piece about Colin Cooper hosing down speculation he could come to the Chiefs. The NZ Herald are going hundies on the idea he could end up at the Blues. Now, a lot of players go overseas when they’ve done all there is to do in New Zealand, and many more leave much earlier. Nonu is definitely the former – he’s won two World Cup finals after all. But the New Zealand game has sped up a lot since he left. Could he keep pace at 36?

Speaking of rugby, this is one of my favourite hardy annuals: Radio Sport commentator Nigel Yalden’s Super Rugby Team of the Season. The series rewards consistency over flashes of brilliance, as shown by the likes of Richie Mo’unga at first five – he might not start for the All Blacks, but week in week out he’s been most valuable. There are big exclusions too – it’s a bit tough for the likes of Ben Lam, who’s sitting on 14 tries for the year, but his form has really fallen away late in the season.

And finally, shout out to Newsroom for calling a story about Eden Park boss Nick Sautner having a chequered history an exclusive, when it had been mentioned on the mighty Sportsfreak blog months earlier. As well as being heavily reported in Australia when the wrongdoing actually happened. But as of mid-afternoon yesterday, Newsroom was the only site running a story on it that day. So, it is therefore an exclusive I suppose.


From our partners, Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha writes that while making and selling electricity from the comfort of home might sound like some dodgy online scam, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.


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. Have a thoroughly excellent weekend.


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