Marama Davidson speaking at the Green Party conference (Radio NZ: Gia Garrick)
Marama Davidson speaking at the Green Party conference (Radio NZ: Gia Garrick)

The BulletinAugust 20, 2018

The Bulletin: Will Green wins be noticed?

Marama Davidson speaking at the Green Party conference (Radio NZ: Gia Garrick)
Marama Davidson speaking at the Green Party conference (Radio NZ: Gia Garrick)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Greens have their weekend in the spotlight, sharp rise in international visitor spending, and drums beating for Fonterra breakup. 

The Green Party have had their annual weekend in the spotlight, and have pushed out some new policy wins. They’re areas where the party has promised to make ground on now they’re in government, but the impact of them could be less than ardent supporters will have hoped for.

The first announcement was that the government would review the Overseas Investment Act rules around land sales involving bodies of water. That’s aimed at water bottlers and other water extractors, reports Stuff. It’s a key flashpoint that they campaigned on last year, so this is progress, but it’s also not a cast iron commitment that anything will come of it. That’s the view of a water campaigner that Radio NZ talked to.

The second announcement of note was that the government would make moves towards addressing the quantity of rubbish going to landfills, reports Radio NZ. Its another core environmental policy, in an area which has been thrown into focus by the refusal of China to continue taking certain types of plastic for recycling. Local government leaders are keen on the plan too, reports the NZ Herald.

If both policies make progress through government unscathed, the Greens will be justified in taking credit with the environmentalist base at the next election. They’ve had a tough time getting noticed as the confidence and supply partner, and as Newsroom’s Thomas Coughlan notes, there’s a fair bit of dead rat on their plates.

But so far their polling has held steady, and the number of moderate wins in core Green areas continues to grow – there’s the somewhat caveated oil and gas exploration ban, moves against single use plastic bags, and the Carbon Zero bill will likely come to fruition soon. The party’s success in what is now close to a year in government will be judged by whether those wins accumulate into a big enough picture of success to voters. And it could also help the party stave off the so-called ‘watermelon’ criticism – that they’re only Green on the outside.

Tourist spending in New Zealand is up sharply, reports the NZ Herald, driven in part by a sinking Kiwi Dollar giving visitors more purchasing power. Airlines have increased capacity, and it’s servicing an increasing number of visitors from the USA, China, and other Asian markets. However, the boom town of Queenstown is at risk over being overloaded with tourists, argues this opinion piece on Crux – it has been a thorny issue for the region, with a particular trigger for angst the proposed airport runway extension.

The drums are beating for Fonterra to be split up, but it’s still not clear how that would go. It comes on the back of a call from a farmer shareholder, who says he’s lost 666k on his Fonterra shares, which had he have spent on buying Synlait shares, he would’ve made millions, reports Stuff. It is reportedly becoming a more widespread view among farmer shareholders, angered at cooperative financial losses, a lower than expected dividend, and a trimmed milk price forecast.

There are concerns petrol companies might end up spreading the burden of Auckland’s fuel tax around other regions, reports Newstalk ZB. The AA says price spreading happened last time there was a regional fuel tax, though transport minister Phil Twyford says he’ll crack down on it if it is found to be happening.

It’s a big week for Andrew Little, who is hosting a justice reform summit. He spoke to Q and A last night, and said the current rates of imprisonment and reoffending shows that the system just isn’t working. Mr Little also spoke to The Spinoff about some of the areas the summit will be focused on, including Māori imprisonment and moves to address drug addiction. Corrections minister is also making his views known on Māori imprisonment, telling Radio NZ his Ngāpuhi iwi may be the most incarcerated in the world.

Former Pike River mine boss Peter Whittall has dismissed the idea that he should feel guilty about the disaster, reports Stuff. He made the comments from Australia, where he now lives, though he did also say he had some dark times after the tragedy. The comments have not been well received at all by families of the lost miners.

A West Auckland family that owes WINZ thousands after being forced to live in a motel is pleading for the debt to be wiped, reports Newshub. Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni promised in opposition to give those with emergency housing debt a clean slate, but now she says the government’s hands are tied by legislation. Total emergency housing debt is estimated to be in the millions.

Advocacy organisations are calling on New Zealand to intervene and rescue more than 100 children languishing in an immigration detention facility on Nauru. Writing on The Spinoff, World Vision’s James Harris compares the situation to the outrage that erupted when Donald Trump’s administration separated children from their parents at the border. Harris says PM Jacinda Ardern should push this issue at the Pacific Islands Forum early next month.

Finally, the best of wishes to minister Julie Anne Genter, who is in hospital to give birthStuff reports that she cycled herself to hospital, like, on a bike, which is pretty astonishing. She’ll take six weeks off from her ministerial duties, before her partner Peter takes over full time caregiving so she can return to work.

And one more thing in this section: Our Bulletin signup referral competition is off to a cracking start over the weekend. We’re going to be giving away a lot pens, put it like that – so if you want to win the Steven Adams book you’ll need to gather a few more than one signup. Here’s all the competition rules – entries are finalised on the 31st of August.

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Warwick Roger received the Insignia of an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit, for services to journalism on 25 September 2008

Right now on The Spinoff: Fresh off writing a critically acclaimed play, Sam Brooks has written a defence of dreadful TV show Family Guy, and it’s actually somewhat convincing. Max Harris has been in Portugal learning about what drug reform can teach New Zealand. And finally, rest in peace to pioneering founding Metro editor Warwick Roger, who died late last week, age 72. Sir Bob Harvey has written a fantastic tribute to his life, work, and their friendship.

Wellington is currently grappling with a thorny housing problem – how many more people can be accommodated within the natural limits of the city? The capital city’s house prices have surged up in the past decade, indicating demand is outstripping supply. But because of natural features like the town belt, and the ocean, it’s much more difficult for the city to sprawl.

A recent Wellington City Council release underlined this. It’s about the area called the Upper Stebbings Valley – look at google maps and see the streets for a new subdivision that have been carved out, but still without houses. But it’s also described as “one of the last remaining parts of Wellington identified for new housing” – to put it simply, once this spot is gone, that’s about it.

But in other areas where new housing could go, there are great concerns about the natural character of the area being lost. That’s the key theme of this Dominion Post opinion piece arguing against a big housing development at Shelley Bay. Anna Campion, who wrote the piece, cites Joni Mitchell to explain why she’s so opposed to the development – “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, they paved paradise to put up a parking lot.” Is it NIMBYism? Perhaps, but many will feel the same way.

But like it or not, Wellington faces a severe housing crisis – particularly in the rental market. This report from Radio NZ earlier this year outlines how tough the situation has become for renters to find anywhere decent in their budget, after sharp price rises.

Somehow city planners are going to have to find a way to square these circles, or else just like in Auckland, some people will simply be forced to make the choice to leave. The decisions they make will be fascinating to watch play out, though it’s unlikely everyone will be satisfied with the outcomes.

All Blacks midfielder Ryan Crotty has been concussed again – his 6th head knock in 15 monthsAll Blacks coach Steve Hansen has admitted he has his concerns, reports One News, but says Crotty has been cleared by a specialist. Still, Crotty himself says he’s considered retirement over the repeated injuries, and the science is pretty clear about the damage repeated head trauma can do later in life. Both the All Blacks and the Black Ferns beat Australia comfortably over the weekend.   

And in the magnificent cricket test series, India are back in a big way. Trailing 2-0, this was a must win match, and they’ve gone a long way towards that, rolling England for just 161 with a combination of nibble, swing, and beautiful slip catching. Here’s a wrap from EPSN Cricinfo, about the spell of bowling from Hardik Pandya that turned the match, and possibly started turning the series. At stumps on day 2, India have a second innings lead of almost 300, with eight wickets still in hand.

From our partners, Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha writes that sometimes looking back on the past can make you glad you’re alive today, particularly when it comes to the safety of lines workers. 

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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