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Climate change minister James Shaw, PM Jacinda Ardern and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor (Radio NZ)
Climate change minister James Shaw, PM Jacinda Ardern and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor (Radio NZ)

The BulletinOctober 25, 2019

The Bulletin: Shaw, farmers now own agriculture emissions deal 

Climate change minister James Shaw, PM Jacinda Ardern and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor (Radio NZ)
Climate change minister James Shaw, PM Jacinda Ardern and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor (Radio NZ)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Reaction to the government’s agriculture emissions deal, formal apology made for Parihaka, and union fuming over unpunished trucking abuses.

Agricultural organisations and the government have agreed on a plan for the industry to self-regulate on emissions reduction. Here’s a cheat sheet on the agreement, which gives farmers until 2025 to design a system of emissions pricing – and if they don’t meet interim targets, the government will have the option to decree that agriculture simply becomes part of the ETS. Almost a dozen farming organisations were involved, and they’ve both got what they wanted, and will now have to own it and deliver it.

For the government, it is not facing a significant amount of criticism from National on the matter. In fact, as Stuff reports, they’re “stumped” by it. For the likes of climate change minister and Green co-leader James Shaw, it’s a moment of consensus that basically his entire political career has been building towards. As this piece on Politik outlines, he too is now in a position where he has to own whatever comes of the agreement. If farmers take this extra time and do nothing with it, Shaw and the government will have to share the blame.

Greenpeace on the other hand are incensed, saying the government have once again let agriculture off the hook. Their executive director Russel Norman expanded on those criticisms here. “To be clear, this polluters pact between the reactionary farming lobby groups and the Government is the opposite of climate action”, said Norman. The School Strike for Climate group also appeared unimpressed on twitter with what had been agreed. The PM responded to that on Radio NZ, saying that it was necessary to build a workable consensus.

Finally, these are always worth reading when it comes to scientific agreements like this: The fine folks at the Science Media Centre have published a range of expert reactions, with varied points made. To finish this section, I’d like to quote at length from Dr Ivan Diaz-Rainey, the director of the Climate and Energy Finance Group at the University of Otago, who commented on how such a tasty carrot had been offered to farmers, rather than a big stick:

In some senses, it would be a clever approach were this day one of all this. But we have been talking about agricultural emissions for two decades. Will agriculture itself come up with a scheme with real teeth? It seems improbable, especially when agriculture knows a future National government would probably not pursue the policy.”

The government has formally apologised for the violent invasion of Parihaka nearly 140 years ago, reports One News. The Parihaka Reconciliation Bill acknowledges significant abuses by the Crown, including theft of land, detention without trial, and for the first time an admission of rape against women. The bill also paid tribute to the dignity and courage of the people of Parihaka’s pacifist response.

Another big story in the ongoing saga around working conditions in the trucking industry: Radio NZ’s Emma Hatton reports a union is furious that a firm won’t be punished at all for falsifying log books and making drivers work up to 12 hours without a break. One of the people investigating the matter described it as “offending of a pretty serious and extensive nature”. For more on working conditions in this industry, go back and read The Spinoff’s business editor Maria Slade on it.

The future of the massive Tiwai Point aluminium smelter in Southland is up in the air, reports Stuff. A strategic review is underway on the part of owner NZ Aluminium Services, whose major shareholder is international mining giant Rio Tinto. The government has been pretty clear that they won’t put money in to subsidise Tiwai Pt again, leading to suggestions that it could be reevaluated, as it were.

The smelter is currently the largest single user of electricity in the country, and closure would have a potential impact on both prices and non-renewable use. But it would also be a serious blow to the Southland economy. The ODT reports that up to 1000 jobs could be directly affected, along with the flow-on effects that would have for other parts of the economy.

Keep an eye on water safety alerts if you want to swim around Auckland harbour this weekend. As a result of the SkyCity Convention Centre fire, millions of litres of contaminated water had to be pumped out of the basement, and into the ocean. The Safeswim site has indications of where it is and isn’t safe to go in. In the longer term, Stuff reports there could be environmental damage, and authorities are working to get further water that needs to be drained into the wastewater system.

Meanwhile on the fire itself, flames have been brought under control. On Business Desk, Pattrick Smellie outlines a list of questions that now need to be asked, including around insurance, demolition and remediation, and those that will be asked by WorkSafe. As well as that, there is the question of the APEC summit, which compared to the last time Auckland hosted it has seen massively inflated costs and hoopla. The Convention Centre would have been able to withstand such pomp – will another venue now be needed?

A couple of extraordinary pieces about light rail to share. In the first one, NZ Herald (paywalled) columnist Matthew Hooton alleges that transport minister Phil Twyford has misled the public, over how the SuperFund bid to build it came about. The Beehive denies the allegation that in fact Twyford secretly began a dialogue with the SuperFund well before their “unsolicited” bid – we’ll wait and see where this one goes.

And the other one tells the story of how light rail all went wrong, starting with decisions made by governments now long gone. Thomas Coughlan at Stuff has looked at the sweep of New Zealand political history to explain the situation Auckland is in now, and it’s both compelling and comprehensive.

Got some feedback about The Bulletin, or anything in the news? Drop us a line at

Right now on The Spinoff: Alex Casey reports on the rhetoric and reality of body positivity in the Lonely lingerie range. Alex Casey again talks to Wellington-born Thomasin McKenzie, a young actor who is making huge waves in Hollywood. Business is Boring talks about ethical fashion and celebrity endorsements with Outland Denim founder James Bartle. Madeleine Chapman writes about good corporate citizenry, and how to audit and certify whether a company is having a positive impact. And another piece from Madeleine Chapman, who wrongly states that we’re all James Blunt fans – we just don’t know it yet.

For a feature today, a terrifying glimpse into a publication that has been hollowed out by cavalier and unthinking management. This Colombia Journalism Review piece on the decline of legacy publication Newsweek goes into detail on a particular path that struggling organisations can choose to take. Now the publication has lost its purpose, along with the workforce that could have helped retain it. Here’s an excerpt:

Numerous current and former reporters told me that when interviewing for a job at Newsweek, editors told them not to worry about salaries between $35,000 and $45,000—about $10,000 less than the average entry-level reporter position in New York City—because their bonuses would earn them an additional $24,000 per year.

But the reality is that if you aren’t writing clickbait, the bonuses can be hard to get. And failing to get a traffic bonus, some said, puts a target on your back.

“The way the bonus was presented during my job interview was as a goal. It’s called a ‘bonus,’ after all. But as soon as I started, it became very clear that it was a minimum,” says Pereira.

The All Blacks play England this weekend, in a match that will alter the course of world affairs. Or at the very least decide who gets to play in the final next week. Sam Cane has been moved to the bench, and replaced with Scott Barrett, in the only change to the team that thumped Ireland. In the other game South Africa play Wales.

It’s cricket time again already, praise be. The Plunket Shield is underway, and on Sportsfreak there’s a wrap of a fairly interesting first week of games. Many Black Caps were in action ahead of the England tour, and not just playing for Northern Districts. Meanwhile in cricket, White Ferns legspinner Amelia Kerr has been in excellent form so far in Australia’s WBBL, reports 7News. It bodes well for the Women’s T20 World Cup early next year.

Finally, a cool sports story from earlier in the week out of Australia. The ABC has reported on a remarkable performance in the FFA Cup final, by teenager Al Hassan Toure. He was named best on ground, and there’s video highlights of the game he had – it’s clear it meant a lot too. Toure’s Melbourne City ended up thrashing Adelaide United 4-0 to win the cup.

That’s it for The Bulletin. If you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme.

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