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Jacinda Ardern has spoken emotively about her party having let young people down. Now that it has done so again, it is on her to decide what the consequences should be (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images
Jacinda Ardern has spoken emotively about her party having let young people down. Now that it has done so again, it is on her to decide what the consequences should be (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images

The BulletinSeptember 24, 2018

The Bulletin: PM faces tough tests in New York

Jacinda Ardern has spoken emotively about her party having let young people down. Now that it has done so again, it is on her to decide what the consequences should be (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images
Jacinda Ardern has spoken emotively about her party having let young people down. Now that it has done so again, it is on her to decide what the consequences should be (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: PM Jacinda Ardern touches down for UN meetings, gloom falls over mining, and that idiotic strawberry needle trend has made it to New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern has arrived in the USA for her first visit as Prime Minister, and there’s no shortage of issues on the agenda. She’ll be attending the UN General Assembly, and as she told Newshub Nation, she will be talking about reform of that ossified institution. Among the key issues PM Ardern will be arguing for is the abolition of the Security Council veto system, in which any of five big countries can block resolutions at will. It won’t be the first time a NZ PM has made this point, and it won’t be the last.

But there’s a pretty significant obstacle standing in the way of any progress of this issue – US President Donald Trump. As Stuff reports, Mr Trump is planning on running an ‘America First’ line over the week (as he does pretty much every week) That would mean the chances of getting any progress on UN reform are likely to be non-existent – at the moment, the USA seems more likely to leave the UN altogether than to agree to give up their veto.

Speaking of Trump, there may be chances for Jacinda Ardern to get some movement on tariffs that he brought in. Steel from New Zealand is affected by the tariffs, and Ardern was quoted in the NZ Herald as saying it is her top priority to talk about if she gets some time with Donald Trump. There are no formal meetings scheduled, but who knows, if she says his hotels look classy or something Trump may just decide to lift the tariffs on a whim.

Climate change is also being discussed ahead of the visit, as it is ‘Climate Week’ at the UN. Ardern will deliver the keynote speech ahead of the Climate Week summit, and NZ is convening the first meeting of the Carbon Neutrality Conference at the end of the week. Again, it’s a tough time to be bringing these sorts of issues up at the UN, given the US has gone backwards on its commitment to fighting climate change.

In terms of the news coverage that the visit will bring, the strong perception is that Jacinda Ardern gets better press overseas than she does in NZ. That’s the theme of this Dr Bryce Edwards roundup published by the NZ Herald, and it’s also a point developed by Claire Trevett in her NZ Herald column this morning. So to offset the potentially intractable obstacles that Ardern will come up against in New York, at least she’ll get some good yarns in the news. And as New Zealanders tend to have an outsize interest in what the rest of the world thinks of us, that can’t be a bad thing at all for Ardern politically.

Mining in New Zealand is going through a particularly gloomy period right now, reports the ODT, with serious doubts about the future viability of the industry. Mining was the only sector to shrink in the latest quarterly GDP figures, and there’s another cloud on the horizon – a government review of the Crown Minerals Act. The key point there is how the declaration that there’ll be “no new mining on conservation land” is interpreted.

It’s probably best to cut into your strawberries before just biting them, as the bizarre needle trend has now reached New Zealand. Newshub reports that a punnet was found at an Auckland supermarket with a needle in one of the berries. The brand in question, Australian Choice, has been withdrawn from the shelves, and anyone who has bought them can take them back for a refund. There had been no previous reports of this happening in New Zealand.

A bill that aims to stiffen sentences for synthetic drugs has left a select committee unable to agree on whether it should proceed, reports Radio NZ. The member’s bill, from recent National MP Simeon Brown, will now go back to Parliament for debate. The disagreement is over whether harsher sentences will actually have any effect, and cut against other sentencing reforms the government is currently trying to bring in.

Two academics are claiming a subset of New Zealand teachers are refusing to teach the country’s colonial history, reports Stuff. They’re calling on the government to audit schools, and to survey schools on what exactly is in the history curriculum. The University of Canterbury academics say to not teach topics like the New Zealand wars is a dereliction of professional standards.

The value of Kiwibuild in bringing broad benefits is being questioned in this piece on Stuff, with experts saying it will instead be like winning lotto for a few. They’re saying that rather than changing anything systemic about house prices, it’ll just be a blip in which a lucky few get a good new house on the cheap. Housing minister Phil Twyford rejects the argument, saying the houses are not subsidised, by the government had to step in to get more affordable housing built.

Ngāpuhi iwi members living in Australia are hoping any treaty settlement will involve them too, reports Radio NZ. There are around 25,000 Ngāpuhi across the ditch, and the iwi is currently engaged in a protracted battle over who their representatives should be in negotiations with the Crown.

Rachel MacGregor, the former press secretary who has been dragged into various aspects of Colin Craig’s ongoing legal roadshow, is speaking out. She gave an interview to Stuff about the tremendously damaging effect the various defamation lawsuits have had on her life, both against her, and between Craig and others. There are quite strict parameters on what she’s allowed to say because of various confidentiality agreements, but what she can say is tragic.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Livia Esterhazy writes that New Zealand is lying to itself over how much of the ocean we really protect. PSA boss Erin Polaczuk says public servants want real tax system reform. And Sam Brooks has a rundown on Comedy Pilot Week which started on Three last night.

What to do with Eden Park? You might recall I asked for your feedback at the end of last week, to talk about whether Auckland’s biggest stadium has a future, and if not, what should be done with the prime real estate it sits on. Here’s a selection of the reckons that came back.

Perhaps making a nod to the rather powerful Eden Park Residents Association, who are generally against expansion of late nights and loud noises at the stadium, Alan suggested Eden Park be bowled. He rather sardonically added that the land be made available for “new exclusive villas, with a retro look” that can then be bought by “wealthy folk, and retired Prime Ministers.”

Speaking of which, Jonathan noted that the stadium was there before most of the residents – “if you don’t like people or stadiums don’t buy a house there.” The counter-argument was put by Stephen, who has lived in the area 25 years. He said that he accepted the stadium was there, but the purposes for which people want to use it keeps changing, along with the various executives that run the stadium, who Stephen says haven’t kept faith with what their predecessors agreed with residents.

The ‘Waterfront option’ also came up quite a bit. I should note that building a new stadium on another prime piece of real estate would be hellishly expensive, and logistically speaking would almost certainly be beyond Auckland’s capabilities at any time before hosting the America’s Cup and APEC in 2021. But about half the feedback that came in was positive on this option, in particular arguing that the chance to build it should have been taken back before the Rugby World Cup.

My own personal view on it all – I’m agnostic about whether Eden Park stays or goes, but I’m dead against a new stadium being built regardless. In my view Auckland has been living beyond its means for a long time, other infrastructure priorities are far more urgent, and the economics of using stadiums and events for growth don’t really stack up. A flash new stadium would be a luxury, and when things like targeted rates to fund stormwater upgrades are being talked about, it’s a luxury our city just can’t afford.

The Women’s Warriors have proven they’re every bit the equal of the men, starting the competition brilliantly and then crashing out of finals contention. In the short and sharp Women’s Premiership, they lost a must-win to the Broncos, and finished third out of four. All in all, not a bad start to their existence, but could have done more – where have we heard that before? 

And the Silver Ferns have been defeated by Australia, to finish the Quad Series with one win from three. Two years ago, a 60-55 loss to the old enemy would’ve been considered a bad result, but given the context, it’s actually a pretty good scoreline in 2018, argues Ravinder Hunia at Radio NZ.

And finally, if you’re incredibly obsessed with golf, keep up with the NZ Herald’s live blog of Tiger Woods trying to win a tournament. It’s really quite astonishing that Woods could have even come back to being in contention after the slump he had, but as of the time of writing he had a four shot lead at the Tour Championship.

From our partners, Vector’s Beth Johnson writes that if you get a cheque in the mail, no, it isn’t a scam. It’s just the Loss Rental Rebate system in action.

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