Australian leadership aspirant Peter Dutton after his failed challenge (Getty Images)

The Bulletin: How deep is the ditch?

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: NZ MPs have ringside seats to Australian chaos, Catholic Bishop of Dunedin apologises to city, and red zone ‘quake outcasts’ to be paid out. 

It’s all going off in Australian politics right now, and in a weird coincidence, some New Zealand MPs have had ringside seats. Deputy PM and foreign minister Winston Peters has flown over for a catch-up with Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, with One News reporting that deportation of New Zealanders on character grounds could be on the agenda.

National leader Simon Bridges warned Winston Peters that he should keep his thoughts to himself about the recent Australian leadership drama, reports the NZ Herald. That might just sound like politicking, but it’s actually a fair bit of advice – Mr Peters did after all (incorrectly) pick a coup to get underway in Britain, while their PM Theresa May was facing a revolt.

Just how is everything in Australian politics right now? Well, Peter Dutton, who lost friends and influenced nobody on this side of the Tasman, is now no longer the immigration and home affairs minister, after a spill in the governing Liberal Party forced him to challenge for the leadership. There’s a good rundown on The Spinoff as to why Australia is so prone to coups. Dutton lost to incumbent PM Malcolm Turnbull. But it was a narrow loss, and he didn’t rule out future challenges, which means sooner rather than later our government might have to deal with Dutton as PM.

Writing on One Newsveteran columnist John Armstrong says that would be a terrible outcome for the Ardern-led government. Because of the detention and deportation of New Zealanders, and New Zealand’s offers to take asylum seekers Australia has locked up in Pacific prison camps, Dutton’s personal relationship with New Zealand has been marked by hostility. There are currently calls for Australia to allow New Zealand to take asylum seekers housed on Nauru, and Sky News reports that PM Jacinda Ardern kept the pressure on Australia, by saying she wanted to meet with asylum seekers when she next visits the country, for the Pacific Islands Forum.

What about New Zealanders in Australian detention? On Radio NZ’s news bulletins this morning, Australian lawyer Greg Barns, who has advocated for asylum seekers, says New Zealanders might now get a fairer shake now if Dutton stays on the backbench. Then again, Dutton may not be on the backbench for long at all.

Meanwhile, expect to see these issues to come into sharper focus in future months and years, because migration is starting to move back towards Australia again. The NZ Herald reports that the traditional flow of New Zealanders to Australia is increasing – a trend that slowed and even occasionally reversed over the last decade.

And lastly, if you’re ever concerned about the calibre of our political representatives in New Zealand, spare a thought for our cousins in Australia. A poll reported by the Guardian shows 85% of Australians believe most, or all of their Federal politicians are corrupt.


The Catholic Bishop of Dunedin has apologised to the city, after admitting the church failed to protect children from paedophile priests, reports the ODT. A wide range of offending has been revealed by the ODT in recent days. The Bishop also added his voice to calls for churches to be included in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into historic child abuse in state care.


Christchurch uninsured red zone ‘quake outcasts’ will be paid out by the government, to the tune of the 2007/08 rateable value of their homes. Stuff reports there are around 100 homeowners remaining who were uninsured when the quake hit, and taking the buyout will be voluntary.

What was the view on this from Christchurch? Andrew Dickens on Newstalk ZB took calls on the subject from locals. The listeners weren’t happy at all – there were a range of views, but the dominant one expressed was that homeowners should have taken personal responsibility.


Environment minister David Parker has spoken out with concerns about feedlots, in response to a story broken by Radio NZMr Parker said he ‘struggles to see how some of them are legal” – referring to the giant pens crammed with beef cows.

The story came about after animal rights group SAFE shared aerial photos with Radio NZ, that show the country’s largest feedlot, which has raised concerns both for animal welfare, and from nutrient runoff. Federated Farmers responded to the SAFE complaints by calling them “vegan fundamentalists”, and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor also attacked the group, saying the country would be crippled if it listened to everything SAFE said, reports Radio NZ.


The Māori King has hit out at critics, in an address under the shadow of a harsh assessment from former advisor Tukoroirangi Morgan, reports Māori TV. King Tuheitia said the critics were undermining the Kingitanga movement. There is currently a Serious Fraud Office investigation into a trust closely connected to the King’s office.


The Rangitikei Council is putting up a challenge to earthquake strengthening rules being pushed by central government, reports Radio NZ. They say small towns like Marton are facing “death by legislation,” and are calling for tax exemptions for earthquake strengthening, and more time to meet the requirements of the legislation. (Note – it’s a video story, not text)


I was alerted to this topic by a reader: 550 Learning support specialists employed by the ministry of education have gone on strike. Newshub reports that it was in relation to a pay offer of 2% more now, and 2% again on top of that in March next year. But a representative said there were vacancies all over the country, because the pay is low and work conditions are tough.


Congratulations to minister for women’s affairs, associate transport minister and associate health minister Julie Anne Genter, who has just had a baby. Her post about biking to hospital to be induced went around the world, and late last night she gave birth to a big lad weighing 4.3kg. All the best from all of us at The Spinoff to her and her partner Peter.


And finally, we’ve had quite a few new subscribers recently, so to all of you, welcome! We’re currently running a Bulletin signup referral competition, and you’re more than welcome to take part too – here’s all the competition instructions and prizes.


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The current state of the NZ media Royal Rumble (illustration: Tina Tiller)

Right now on The Spinoff: I’m going to do a monster sized plug for this piece from Duncan Greive. Yes, I’m biased because he’s our managing editor, but it’s also the most comprehensive and incisive unpacking of how media organisations measure success in 2018 you could possibly read. I know a lot of Bulletin readers are really interested in this field, and where it’s going in the future – this piece gives a lot of answers.

Also: Uther Dean writes about World of Warcraft still having a fanbase, 14 years on. Emily Writes meditates on how personal experiences have taught her to trust the wisdom of children. And we included a story on Monday about how former Pike River boss Peter Whittall feels no guilt – Hayden Donnell has come up with a few things Mr Whittall might consider feeling guilty about.


This is an interesting feature from Noted about the concept of patient choice in medicine, and why it seems to break down when it comes to cancer treatment. A study has found that cancer doctors could do more to discuss options with patients, and that the field is out of step with medicine in other areas. Here’s an excerpt:

“In most situations, doctors either explicitly recommended a particular treatment or provided information about different possibilities, but made it clear which one they favoured – effectively giving patients little or no choice in the matter.

Although Dew supports shared decision-making in principle, he thinks that cancer treatment should possibly be an exception.

“I think there’s something about the fact that this is potentially a terminal illness, which means it does play out differently. The study suggests that when your life is dependent on it, people feel happier not having to make decisions.”


Football fans: Lock in the 15th of December this year as a day to keep free. Why? It might be your chance to see the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt, play in a titanic clash against the Wellington Phoenix. Bolt trained with the Central Coast Mariners yesterday in his bid to win an A-League contract, and he got through unscathed and unembarrassed, reports the NZ Herald. Having said that, Bolt still has a long way to go before he gets signed by a team so bad, they finished lower than the Nix last season.


From our partners: The chair of Vector’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Teina Teariki Mana, ponders the state of gender equity in an industry that still lags behind, and we hear about three women working in the male dominated work of energy generation and maintenance.


That’s it for The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, get them amongst our signup referral competition.


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