The Bulletin: Historic Trump–Kim Korea summit cancelled

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Historic Trump–Kim summit cancelled overnight, nurses disappointed with pay recommendations, and transport minister Twyford gets snapped.

The historic summit between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong–un has been cancelled overnight, reports Radio NZIt follows a series of events that ratcheted up tension on both sides, such as the US and South Korea holding military drills (described by the North as a “provocative military ruckus”) and North Korea sending a series of insults in the direction of US Vice President Mike Pence (including calling him a “political dummy.”) You can read the full text of the cancellation letter sent by Trump here on CNN.

The US cancellation comes despite North Korea following through on a goodwill measure, and blowing up a nuclear testing facility in front of journalists from around the world. According to this other Radio NZ story though, it’s possible the facility was unusably damaged by a test in 2017 anyway, and nuclear inspectors weren’t allowed to attend the demolition.

It was just a month ago that the leaders of North and South Korea were meeting and holding hands, with true peace seemingly within reach for the first time in decades. South Korean president Moon Jae–in is urging direct talks between Trump and Kim to get the wider summit back on track, reports the Yonhap news agency. He described the cancellation as perplexing and regrettable.

What does it mean for NZ? Foreign minister Winston Peters is currently flying to China for trade talks, but North Korean issues were also expected to be on the agenda. A bit over a week ago, Canterbury University politics academic Anne–Marie Brady told Newstalk ZB that Winston Peters has North Korean contacts, after a visit in 2007, and could make a contribution towards bringing peace talks to the table. In general terms though, it likely just means a return to the status quo of a few months ago, with the chances of the world ending in nuclear annihilation slightly higher than anyone should be comfortable with.


A panel formed to mediate between nurses and DHBs over pay and conditions appears to have failed, reports Stuff. The recommendation of a 3% payrise, and a lump sum payment of $2000, as well as condition changes, was met with immediate disappointment from the nurses union.

The general size of the workforce is also up for debate, as nurses say understaffing is chronic. It follows the rejection of a smaller offer earlier in the year, and nurses say they want pay parity with teachers, who are also in negotiations this year.

Radio NZ have published the full report and recommendations if you feel like charging through all 16 pages. They report that an updated offer from DHBs will be made next Monday. At that point, the nurses will decide whether or not to go ahead with strike action in July. It is understood that the government is very keen to avoid strikes in the middle of flu season.


In politics, it really can be the small things that catch you out. Transport minister Phil Twyford has found that out first hand, apologising for being caught making a call on a flight after the doors had closed. He’s been stripped of the civil aviations responsibilities in the portfolio, which will now go to Julie Anne Genter, and to be honest that may be a blessing given Twyford also holds the hefty housing portfolio. The PM declined his offer to resign over the matter.

And speaking of small things, the opposition have carried out the time honoured practice of launching a campaign of complaints against Parliament’s speaker. In this instance, it’s the National Party against Labour’s Trevor Mallard, but in the past it’s been vice versa. Danyl McLaughlan has written us a fantastic essay outlining the fundamental brokenness of Parliamentary procedures like Question Time, but also why it’s really unlikely to change, despite National’s protestations.

Can I ask for some feedback on this? Email me – thebulletin@thespinoff.co.nz. Who is winning, if anyone? Is the stuff that goes on in Parliament important to you? Does the behaviour of MPs in the debating chamber have an effect on your vote? Responses can be anonymous, but I’d really just love to know what people think about it all.


Forget colony collapse, it turns out the North Island is actually overpopulated with bees, reports Stuff. That’s not the fault of the bees themselves of course, but rather of commercial operators who are putting too many hives in too small an area, to try and cash in on the manuka honey boom. The story is a fascinating glimpse into the changing culture around beekeeping, and of how bees themselves behave when there’s competition nearby.


Air NZ is taking fuel companies BP and Z to court over supply disruptions when the Marsden Point fuel pipeline was ruptured last year, reports the NZ Herald. The airline is seeking millions from each of them, but neither side is commenting now that proceedings are before the courts.

This from the NBR last year “counted the cost of one digger’s damage,” and that cost stretched well into the millions. Refining NZ, who owned the pipeline, lost about $13 million alone, the NBR estimates. And that was just Refining NZ – the overall cost to customers and the wider economy would have been much higher.


MPI is defending the decision to not pursue prosecutions against companies who illegally overfished hoki, reports the NZ Herald. Greenpeace are calling for a full inquiry, but an MPI spokesperson said that the report that the information was leaked in was an “outdated snapshot of just a few vessels in the industry.” Fisheries minister Stuart Nash is considering releasing all reports on fisheries conducted in the last 10 years, which would determine whether or not the leaked overfishing report was indicative of a wider trend.


A Kiwifruit packhouse has admitted that packing is “shit work,” but still have no plans to raise pay to attract more workers, reports Radio NZ. Almost all of the workers in the packhouse visited by Checkpoint were foreign or transient, and the industry is crying out for more workers. This report follows a previous story from Checkpoint’s Zac Fleming, who put his body on the line to try Kiwifruit picking, and hated it.


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Heaps of really good stuff on The Spinoff right now: First up, this remarkable documentary co–directed by Kim Vinnell called The Hookers of Hawera, about a small town brothel, is a must watch. Don Rowe’s follow up on his investigation into offshore online gambling dens exploiting our legal loopholes is a must read. And the latest Side Eye from Toby Morris, about the differing coverage of two schools put in lockdown recently, is a must look. On days like today, all I can say is what a cool website to work for.


The New Zealand Centre for Investigative Journalism has announced the finalists in their first ever set of awards – dubbed the CIJJIES. There are a mere two awards on offer, one for the best investigative story, and the other for promising investigative journalists – those in the first five years of their career. The list of finalists comes entirely from either the NZ Herald or Stuff, which doesn’t really reflect the breadth of strong investigative reporting around the country (and they can only work with what has been entered) but does reflect that both newsrooms have plenty of incredibly talented reporters at them.

Without any further ado, please send some clicks the way of these stories that made the cut for the overall awards:

The misery of Marie, by Jared Savage. An in–depth look at the tragedy of domestic violence, and the killing of a young mother.

Our rest home shame, by Nicholas Jones, covering the prevantable deaths and abuses of vulnerable elderly people in care homes.

The Valley, by the Stuff Circuit team. A brilliantly presented investigation into the New Zealand Defence Force deployment to Afghanistan.

Waikato DHB spending, by Natalie Akoorie. The story that started the scandal of misspending of former Waikato DHB boss Nigel Murray.


In sport, the All Whites football team being named today is expected to be one of the most inexperienced in history, reports the NZ Herald. The team is off to play a four nations tournament featuring fellow international minnows Kenya, India and Chinese Taipei, and the vast majority of senior players will sit it out. Plenty of Phoenix players will be on the plane, including Sarpreet Singh, arguably the most exciting young player to emerge in the country all year.

Looking ahead to weekend watching: The Warriors play the Rabbitohs tomorrow night, in what could be a season defining clash for the club. Both teams are in the top 4 of the NRL ladder, and despite the largely excellent start to the season for the Warriors, it still feels like it could go pear shaped at any moment. And in Super Rugby, the Crusaders host the Hurricanes tonight, with the Crusaders missing most of their front rowers through recent acts of filthy cheating.


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.


That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here. Thanks for joining us this morning.


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