Proposed new Auckland electorate boundaries, with changes overlaid in purple (via Electoral Commission)
Proposed new Auckland electorate boundaries, with changes overlaid in purple (via Electoral Commission)

The BulletinNovember 21, 2019

The Bulletin: How electorate changes could change parliament

Proposed new Auckland electorate boundaries, with changes overlaid in purple (via Electoral Commission)
Proposed new Auckland electorate boundaries, with changes overlaid in purple (via Electoral Commission)

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Dozens of electorates will have boundary changes, Zespri launches legal action over special kiwifruit, and more tumbles out of NZ First Foundation.

Dozens of electorates will see their boundaries change, and a whole new electorate will be created in Auckland, if new proposals go ahead. The Representation Commission has released their plan for changes to reflect new census information. Because the area around Flat Bush has had a lot of population growth, it is where the new seat will be, taking from Hunua, Manurewa and Papakura. A full map of the changes can be found here, and you can check to see if you could now be in a new one.

It can be tempting to search through altered electorates and try to figure out if they make swings more likely. Party strategists will no doubt be doing that right now. Top of the list of new swing seats is Dunedin South, held by outgoing Labour MP Clare Curran, which Mike Houlahan at the ODT writes is now very much in play for National. It now takes in South Otago as well, which is either rural or small towns like Milton and Balclutha. There will be flow on effects from that to the other electorates around the lower South Island, but they are unlikely to change much from being safe National seats.

Christchurch will also see significant changes. The Press reports Port Hills will be renamed as Banks Peninsula, because that part of the region will be absorbed from Selwyn. That electorate, held by outgoing National MP Amy Adams, has seen an absolutely massive increase in population. That too will have ripple effects on other seats.

As for the new Flat Bush seat, that is more likely to lean towards National. That is calculated by Stuff’s Henry Cooke on the basis that it takes much more from Hunua and Papakura (held by Andrew Bayly and Judith Collins of National respectively) than the new seat will take from Manurewa, held by Labour’s Louisa Wall.

There’s a wider underlying concern in simply adding new electorates – that is, the proportionality of parliament. Since MMP was adopted, the number of list places has steadily been eroded, in part because there’s a guaranteed minimum of South Island seats. But with the North Island’s population increasing faster, that means new electorates have to keep being created, within an overall parliament capped at 120 outside of overhangs. It’s all explained very well in this Politik piece, which also goes seat by seat and analyses in broad terms how the moving areas might affect the politics of each electorate.

Finally, one MP in particular is over the moon his seat didn’t change. ACT leader and Epsom MP David Seymour put out a press release, heralding the decision to keep the electorate boundaries “almost identical to the boundaries of its cherished state secondary schools, reflecting a highly educated and aspirational community.” He also called for the Representation Commission to “resist any and all proposals to amend the currently proposed boundaries” – a sentiment many other electorate MPs right now might be weighing up, given how the cards have fallen for them. Objections can be made by any member of the public up until the 20th of December.

Zespri is ratcheting up legal action to stop their trademark infringements against their special variety of kiwifruit, reports the NZ Herald (paywalled.) The SunGold variety, which Zespri owns the trademark over for another 18 years, is being grown illegally in China on an increasing scale. Zespri does also license production of growing overseas, and in fact Rural News Group reports they have just come off a record haul for a season from their European orchards.

There’s conjecture over who exactly should be investigating allegations against the NZ First Foundation. Radio NZ reports the disagreement between Labour and National is over whether it should be the electoral commission – PM Ardern says they are an appropriately independent body, while National leader Simon Bridges says it should be escalated. It blew up in parliament yesterday, and the NZ Herald’s (paywalled) Audrey Young has outlined how Ardern was put under pressure in the house by Bridges, over whether she was confident the law had been followed by her coalition partners. Meanwhile, the names of donors to the NZ First Foundation have started to come out, reports Stuff, with MP Clayton Mitchell understood to be one of the key fundraisers for the foundation.

Another strange Kiwibuild story, this time about unsellable houses, from Newshub’s Jenna Lynch. A collection of unsold properties in Te Kauwhata, Wanaka and Canterbury are now on the open market, and initially it was thought that they might be able to go to Housing NZ – but no, they didn’t meet design standards. In fairness, as minister Megan Woods pointed out, there simply isn’t much demand for social housing in a place like Wanaka either.

A new system will be set up by telcos and the government in an attempt to shut down phone scammers, The Spinoff’s Maria Slade reports. Basically the plan is to work together, so that information about particular scam numbers can be centralised and shared, which then allows the industry to take action. A note in case you weren’t aware – cold calls offering investment advice are illegal in New Zealand.

A Māori health provider is calling out a deal for Sky City to get more pokies into their Hamilton casino. Te Ao News has reported on the proposal, which would see 60 new pokie machines exchanged for three Blackjack tables. But Te Kohao Health say it will increase the harm done, and is being put through without adequate public oversight.

If you recall those rats that washed up on the West Coast: Radio NZ reports toxicology results have come back on them, and there is no evidence of 1080, which had been one theory. It isn’t necessarily any clearer how the rats did die, along with various other animals, though some of the marine animals may have been victims of stormy weather.

A correction: I led you astray and sent you to read the wrong article on Interest yesterday. I meant to link to this one by Jenée Tibshraeny, but instead sent you to this (also very readable!) one by Gareth Vaughan.

A brief message from Toby Morris, editorial cartoonist and illustrator at The Spinoff:

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Right now on The Spinoff: Alex Casey busts US talk show host Stephen Colbert, who was recently in New Zealand and committed a number of very very serious crimes while here. David Farrier updates his odyssey through the Bashford Antiques clamping saga, with the news that the government has taken action. The Spinoff followed a series of Unitec architecture students through their journey towards being part of Glow@Artweek, and produced a lush video out of it. And Kahu Kutia is back with the latest episode of He Kākano Ahau, along with a fascinating short written piece about the iwi with mana whenua over land that Auckland now sits on.

For a feature today, a deep look into the flooding issues plaguing Venice. As this Rolling Stone piece explains, climate change is part of it. But what it’s really about it the fact that a whole lot of decisions were made that didn’t take climate change into account – and that should be a lesson for all coastal cities. Here’s an excerpt, focused on a series of water barriers built to protect the city:

The project has also been plagued by corruption and cost overruns. In 2014, 35 politicians, entrepreneurs, and civil servants were arrested on various corruption and bribery-related charges, including the former regional president Giancarlo Galan. Not surprisingly, the cost of the barrier system ballooned from $1.7 billion to more than $6 billion. It was scheduled to be completed in 2011. Now, due to all the design and engineering problems, it won’t be operational until at least 2022.

But the biggest problem with MOSE is that the barriers were planned for a world that no longer exists. For one thing, even as sea levels rise, the locks will have to be closed more and more frequently. And that is a problem, because the lagoon needs continuous exchange with the sea, otherwise it degenerates to a sewer (most septic systems in Venice dump right into the lagoon). Worse, the barrier was only engineered to protect the city from about two feet of sea level rise, which some scientists believe could happen as early as 2050. After that, the $6 billion dollar Ferrari on the sea floor will be useless. If it ever works at all, that is.

The home summer of Test Cricket will begin with the same three pronged pace attack that has dominated the unit for years. Lockie Ferguson, who played really well at the World Cup, has been released from the squad, meaning Wagner, Southee and Boult will share the frontline bowling load. The test series against England is only be two games long, and results won’t go towards the World Test Championship. Still, the two teams are fairly well matched and the games could get exciting.

And here’s a highly insightful take to read about the All Blacks coaching appointment process, from Spinoff contributor Jamie Wall. He wonders if in fact the farcical late process of it all was actually deliberate, and done so in a way to leave basically just one candidate in play – current assistant coach Andy Foster. If that were the case (unfortunately you can’t OIA NZ Rugby to find out) then it would imply an organisation totally unwilling to take in new ideas from those outside the tent. Meanwhile Dave Rennie has confirmed that he has signed on as Australia’s new coach, replacing Michael Cheika.

That’s it for The Bulletin. If you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme.

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