Jacinda Ardern and Angela Merkel address the press. Photo: Getty
Jacinda Ardern and Angela Merkel address the press. Photo: Getty

The BulletinMay 23, 2018

The Bulletin: Prized European trade talks to go ahead

Jacinda Ardern and Angela Merkel address the press. Photo: Getty
Jacinda Ardern and Angela Merkel address the press. Photo: Getty

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: EU gives go ahead for trade talks with NZ, marijuana referendum could be held next year, and Auckland’s mayor is under scrutiny over report secrecy.

The European Union has given the go–ahead for free trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. The story was broken by SBS yesterday across the Tasman, and then picked up widely in New Zealand. Radio NZ yesterday reported trade minister David Parker saying European markets would be hugely significant for exporters, as they are large and wealthy countries. Talks will start in July. Two–way free trade between NZ and Europe would represent about $15 billion by most estimates.

David Parker praised the work of PM Jacinda Ardern today, (also on Radio NZ) who has recently been meeting and greeting in Europe – here’s an account on The Spinoff of her visit to Germany. But the reality is this has been a bipartisan goal for years, even decades. The last trade minister Todd McClay pushed for it (NBR report) and it’s likely the National Party will be fully supportive of this effort too.

The likely sticking points are outlined in this very useful analysis from Stuff’s Stacey Kirk, who was part of the media contingent on last month’s trip. Agriculture is the biggest one, as European governments – especially France – could end up undercutting their own farmers. How that is navigated at the negotiating table will have a major bearing on how successful talks are. The EU will likely want access to our markets for foreign investment, which could also have political implications.

Meanwhile, it’s being reported by the Guardian in the UK as a blow for Brexiteering Britain. The EU may end up having better terms of trade with NZ and Australia than with their former member, and Britain will not be able to start negotiations until the middle of 2019.

New Zealand could vote on marijuana legalisation in a referendum next year, but it’s not yet clear how exactly the issue will be framed, reports Radio NZ. It’ll be a complex question to boil down to a yes or no – and what a legalised marijuana system would look like will be a point of contention. But a referendum is part of the confidence and supply agreement between Labour and the Greens, so will take place either next year, or as part of a general election in 2020.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff will be under scrutiny from the ombudsman over a report into a potential Auckland downtown stadium, reports the NZ Herald. Complaints were raised first by media over access to the report, and then councillors themselves. The report cost almost $1 million, and councillors were only given access to a redacted version – if they wanted to read the full version, they were welcome to do so in the mayor’s office, with mayoral staff watching.

Radio NZ’s Auckland correspondent Todd Niall has written about the Goff’s style, saying it is ministerial, rather than mayoral. And it’s a very different game – Niall notes the mayor is just one vote among 21 on the Council, and needs to govern accordingly. Councillors now feel blindsided, as the report was ordered (and the money spent on it) without their knowledge.

The owners of the farm who first reported mycoplasma bovis have hammered MPI over how they’ve been treated since. Aad van Leeuwen spoke to Newshub say they now regret saying anything, have been threatened with jail for refusing to let MPI conduct further testing on their property, and it’s destroying their business, which employs 85 people.

Meanwhile National leader Simon Bridges is calling for a political ceasefire on mycoplasma bovis, reports Interest. Both Labour and National have tried to score points on the issue, but Bridges now says he wants to work with the government to address the crisis.

New Zealand won’t provide assistance for teens living rough in Australia, who have been denied welfare there, reports Newstalk ZB. The PM ruled it out, on the grounds that no country would ever fund another’s welfare payments. Advocates say more New Zealanders are falling through the cracks in Australia, because of their harsh system against welfare for NZers.

Job losses are likely at Māori TV, reports Radio NZ. Māori development minister Nanaia Mahuta says it’s not yet clear how many as the organisation grapples with a funding squeeze, but the decision will be an operational matter.

Otago University is under fire after removing all copies of the student magazine Critic from shelves, and throwing them in a skip. Why? The cover depicted a nude menstruating woman, and it was deemed objectionable by the Proctor. The decision has not been well received at all, and Critics editors hit out at the university in this piece on Stuff.

One quick note here – student media is mostly pretty bad (and yes, it was in your day too) But Critic seems to be having a really strong journalistic year. Take for example this story from the same edition, headlined University Lies About Sanitary Bin Numbers in Female Toilets. Or this one, about the NZUSA suddenly finding themselves in a nightmare financial situation. It’s very good beat reporting, and this controversy will likely have a ‘Streisand effect,’ amplifying Critic’s presence on campus.

A bit of news you can use: Who has the cheapest and most expensive petrol around the country? The NZ Herald reports that if you can make it to Levin, you can still get a bargain – under $2 a litre. The prices change day to day, and even hour to hour, but at the time of publication, it appeared Gull generally had the best deals.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Just Speak’s Tania Sawicki–Mead is celebrating the cancellation of the mega prison at Waikeria, but also looking ahead at what comes next. Spinoff editor Toby Manhire has hammered misinformation on NZ homelessness being put about by the likes of Reuters. And the Papercuts podcast wraps up the Auckland Writers Festival.

New Zealand has been mentioned in influential international science journal Nature, but we shouldn’t necessarily be proud of what has been said. The article concerns the suffering of poor and marginalised when natural disasters strike, and in the subsequent recovery and rebuilding efforts. The experience of Christchurch after the quakes is one of the examples cited.

It is a brief mention, but concerns the way governance was consolidated under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Ministry. “Here, disaster recovery interfered with due process and procedural justice. Community officials and residents were excluded from decision-making processes over the status of their homes when a central-government authority was granted power to acquire and dispose of property and suspend laws and regulations.”

The article also concerns itself with other experiences of disasters, and gives useful context about the nature of New Zealand’s performance. After Hurricane Katrina in the USA for example, private companies captured huge swathes of public housing, environmental protection laws were relaxed and pollution became more concentrated around non–white communities.

White Fern Suzie Bates has starred in an exhibition IPL Women’s match, though her side lost the game on the final ball. Bates top scored for the Trailblazers, and almost managed to defend three runs bowling the final over. But the Supernovas snuck home with three wickets in hand. The match was deemed a success by ESPN Cricinfo’s Annesha Ghosh, as the IPL looks towards setting up a Women’s competition in the next couple of years. Sophie Devine and Lea Tahuhu were also involved, with Devine chipping a useful cameo in the Supernovas’ chase.

And remember Anthony Hudson? The former coach of the All Whites is now at the Colorado Rapids in the USA, and has taken a crop of coaches and players from the New Zealand system with him, reports Newshub. He’s hinting that he might try and lure more over too. Alas, it’s not quite working so far, with the Rapids on a four game losing streak, to continue a poor run of results over the last year and half.

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 renewable energy sources.

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