Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton (Image: Radio NZ)

The Bulletin: How will Lucky Country chaos affect NZ?

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Something major is going down in Australia today, two stories of troubling inaction on sexual assault, and m. bovis fears at massive feedlot.

In Australian politics today, something will happen. Sorry, I can’t really be any more specific than that, because the events of yesterday were so bizarre, and the possibilities today are endless. Here’s a wrap of the day from the Guardian – in short, Malcolm Turnbull survived another 24 hours as Prime Minister, but only through audacious manoeuvring and sheer bloody-mindedness. That was despite a massive swath of his ministers resigning over the course of the day, each of them saying Turnbull had lost the confidence of the party room.

So what could happen today? There will be a vote on whether the Liberal Party leadership should be vacated, which if that happens, Turnbull has indicated he won’t stand again. From there, it’s anyone’s game. It could be the plotter Peter Dutton, though there are questions about his eligibility to even be in Parliament. It could be Treasurer Scott Morrison, who is unpopular. It could be foreign minister Julie Bishop, who is unpopular with colleagues. There are even rumours it could be former PM Tony Abbott, who is, well, Tony Abbott.

We’ve got some analysis from a New Zealander who has had a front row seat to it all. Green MP Gareth Hughes is currently in Canberra, and wrote this for The Spinoff. He argues that part of the reason that Australia goes through this, and New Zealand doesn’t, is because the MMP electoral system forces politicians to learn how to talk and compromise with each other.

Why does this all matter to us? Australia remains on of NZ’s biggest trading partner, and regional security partner too – their decisions in this area has a big impact on how our government acts. The NZ government has seemed to enjoy better personal relationships with some senior Australian politicians, like Julie Bishop, compared to others, like Peter Dutton. As Politik puts it, Dutton is (in policy, if not style) Australia’s Donald Trump, and that could have a serious impact on trans-Tasman relationships. As well as all this, around 650,000 (at last count) New Zealand citizens live in Australia, and huge numbers of people move between the two countries each year.

Here’s an interesting media angle that has come out of all of it. Channel Nine’s Chris Uhlmann has accused other sections of the media of engineering the coup to drag the Liberal Party to the right. There’s a video of those accusations being made on the Sydney Morning Herald. It’s a fascinating, and potentially troubling idea, that something like that could happen in a relatively comparable country to New Zealand. Then again, politics is politics, and we’d be naive to think that people in the media aren’t ever part of the game.

And after it’s all said and done? An early election is a strong possibility if the Prime Ministership changes hands. The Australian government had to adjourn Parliament yesterday, so they could sort out their dramas. And at least an election would give the voters – you know, the people governments are meant to work for – a chance to have their say. Whatever happens, like everything in Australian politics over the last week, it’s likely to be chaotic, unedifying and messy.


A sexual assault victim was advised by police that taking her case to trial “wasn’t worth the stress,” despite believing a prosecution would be successful, reports the NZ Herald. The alleged offender – a superior at her work who she accused of attacking her – was let off with a warning. In turn, the young woman ended up being ‘restructured’ out of her media job, an industry that she still works in. She has sought a police review of the 2012 case.

And in a similarly troubling story, nurses at the Canterbury DHB say their complaints of sexual harassment by patients are being ignored by their bosses. Radio NZ reports concerns from nurses that their complaints are being covered up, and the DHB has changed their story. Initially, they said they hadn’t received any such complaints from staff in the last five years. They later changed that, to say there had actually been 137 complaints – explaining the discrepancy as a staff member misinterpreting the question.


Cows at a massive feedlot in the South Island have been quarantined, amid fears they may have mycoplasma bovis, reports Stuff. Notice has been served at the Five Star Beef feedlot by MPI, which has been in the news this week after animal rights group SAFE released aerial photos of the 16,000 cow facility. The company involved insists that they care well for their animals, reports Radio NZ.

However, as Don Rowe writes for The Spinoff, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about this type of farming – not least because it cuts against the image that New Zealand promotes to the world.


This story breaking this morning on Radio NZ is a major twist in a political story that dominated the news last week. A text message has been sent to National leader Simon Bridges, and speaker Trevor Mallard, pleading with them to call off the investigation into the expenses leak. The sender provided evidence that added weight to their claim that they were a National MP, and RNZ verified the existence of the text. The author was making the plea, as they said they had suffered from mental health problems in the past, and being publicly exposed could push them over the edge.


Auckland’s Skypath across the harbour bridge has been given $67 million in government funding to proceed, reports Radio NZ. That will fully fund the walkway and cycleway, and is part of a wider $390 million investment in infrastructure for walkers and cyclists across the country.


Corrections minister Kelvin Davis has renewed calls for prisoners to have the right to vote, saying it could reduce reoffending, reports the NZ Herald. Inmates haven’t been able to vote since a law change in 2010, but there is currently a case before the Supreme Court arguing over that right. Mr Davis says allowing prisoners the right to vote would help keep them connected to the outside world, which could help with rehabilitation.


The coastal fire risk around Otago is skyrocketing because of climate change, reports the ODT. The number of extreme fire risk days – hot, dry and windy – is expected to triple from just under 6 days a year now, to 18 days a year by 2040. Fire and Emergency in the region say they’ve recently started taking a more proactive approach in the area, stationing teams in spots near where fires might break out.


NZME has expanded on plans to put up a digital paywall around some of its premium content, reports the NZ Herald, which is owned by NZME. The news came amid the company’s half yearly EBITDA results. CEO Michael Boggs said day to day news would stay free, while in-depth analysis and opinion will require a subscription.


Finally, if you’re out and about this weekend, a great topic of conversation with strangers would be about why they sign up for The Bulletin. And remember, if you get them to put your email address in the referral box, you could some cool prizes in our referral competition.


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Right now on The Spinoff: Youth worker Aaron Hendry pleas for more openness in talking about suicide. Asher Emanuel has been at the justice summit, and says media coverage of the event didn’t do it justice. And Sam Brooks has been digging up the most iconic moments of the early years of Drag Race.


Here’s a cool science story for Friday, about the evolutionary origins of humanity itself. From Nature, the TL/DR version is that scientists have discovered first generation offspring from two evolutionary forerunners to homo sapiens – in this case, a match between Neanderthals and an early type of humans, called Denisovans. It’s a significant piece of evidence towards the ‘tangled tree’ theory of human evolution. Here’s an excerpt:

“Denisovans have so far been discovered only in their eponymous Siberian cave. Although the two groups’ home turf overlapped in the Altai Mountains and possibly elsewhere, these areas would have been sparsely populated. “I think any Neanderthal that lived west of the Urals would never ever meet a Denisovan in their life,” Pääbo says, referring to the mountain range that slices through western Russia and Kazakhstan.

But sometimes, Neanderthal populations might have travelled from western Eurasia to Siberia, or vice-versa. On the basis of the variation in the specimen’s genome, the team deduced that Denny’s Neanderthal mother was more closely related to a Neanderthal specimen found thousands of kilometres away, in Croatia, than to another found less than 1 metre away in the same cave.”


Maria Folau won’t be coming back to New Zealand, but has been granted an exemption to play for the Silver Ferns. She gave Newsroom an in-depth interview about the toll travelling between Sydney, where she lives with her husband Israel, and Auckland to play for the Northern Mystics. It’s an interesting exemption from NZ Netball – and they’re keen to stress that the circumstances are unique. Either way, it’s another promising sign that the Ferns will once again be able to compete with the best in the world, along with the return of Laura Langman and Casey Kopua.

And finally, if you’re heading along to Eden Park for the All Blacks this week, please make the effort to go early to watch the Black Ferns play Australia. That’s not to patronise them or give token support – it’s just a fact that you could see the two best rugby teams in the world play in a single evening, rather than just the one. Surely it’s an easy choice!


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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