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Former triathlete Hamish Carter has resigned from High Performance Sport NZ after leaking confidential athlete information (Getty Images)
Former triathlete Hamish Carter has resigned from High Performance Sport NZ after leaking confidential athlete information (Getty Images)

The BulletinOctober 26, 2018

The Bulletin: Resignation after yet another sport culture found wanting

Former triathlete Hamish Carter has resigned from High Performance Sport NZ after leaking confidential athlete information (Getty Images)
Former triathlete Hamish Carter has resigned from High Performance Sport NZ after leaking confidential athlete information (Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: High profile resignation at yet another sports organisation, primary teachers vote for rolling strikes in November, and Colin Craig could have another crack at politics.

Former champion triathlete Hamish Carter has offered up his resignation from High Performance Sport NZ, after leaking confidential athlete information. Newshub reports that the leak was of confidential survey responses from athletes to former cycling spring coach Anthony Peden, who has also recently resigned from the organisation over bullying and behaviour complaints. Carter had been with the organisation since 2013, and said what he had done was a mistake.

What’s the backstory? It’s one of the outcomes of the Heron Report into cycling, which is one of a few in recent months into sports organisations that has gone well beyond what has been happening on the field. Radio NZ reported last week that it found a toxic, dysfunctional culture in the High Performance programme. Mr Peden had an “inappropriate relationship” with one of his athletes, and the report found cases of bullying. Management and governance also came in for criticism for allowing the culture to exist in the first place. However, Carter giving up supposedly confidential information in the circumstances would have made his position nigh on untenable.

In the last couple of years, a lot of sports organisations have been forced to take good long hard looks at themselves. There was the well publicised internal blowout at NZ Football over the poor performance of former Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf, and former CEO Andy Martin. Rugby had a culture review last year. Rowing NZ’s former high performance manager Alan Cotter resigned after an independent review into how his programme was treating athletes. One revelation that came out from rower Eric Murray’s book about that programme was an incident in which a selection panel (that included Cotter) put pressure on him to prioritise his career over his kids, and asking him if he’d like them to sack his teammate Hamish Bond.

Earlier this year it led to Sport NZ getting involved, who instigated a stocktake of the sector, reports Stuff. And with the world changing as it is, towards more emphasis being put on organisational culture as something that actually matters, a lot of sports have been looking badly out of date. In particular, this has been an issue in women’s sports teams, with primarily male coaches and management found to be lacking. That was one of the points made when the government announced a $10 million boost for women’s sports earlier this month. Simply put, the old Boys Club ways of doing things aren’t good enough any more.

Primary teachers have voted “overwhelmingly” for rolling strikes, starting from November 12, reports One News. Teachers will strike on different days in different regions over the course of a week. On top of the demands for better pay, they also want smaller class sizes and better staffing levels, including support staff.

Former Conservative party leader Colin Craig has won a points victory over blogger Cameron Slater in their latest round of mutual defamation action. But Mr Craig was also found by the judge to have sexually harassed his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor. He isn’t ruling out a return to politics one day either, as he made clear in this Checkpoint interview with new host Lisa Owen. He also isn’t ruling out further legal action, though he admits people around him are telling him to cut his losses.

There’s been a few very different perspectives coming out in the wake of PM Jacinda Ardern’s announcement of no new regional fuel taxes under her leadership. Infrastructure NZ support it, with their boss Stephen Selwood telling Newshub revenue for infrastructure is better raised through borrowing and road tolls. The AA says there wasn’t really a democratic mandate for regional fuel taxes outside of Auckland, reports Stuff. But Local Government NZ is a bit concerned about a potential revenue source being taken off the table, when many regions need infrastructure renewal, reports Radio NZ.

Just to clarify something too – some readers may have been confused yesterday by what exactly had been ruled out by the PM, based on how I worded it. It was new regional fuel taxes that were specifically ruled out, rather than new fuel excise tax increases generally. Thanks very much to the journo who got in touch to point that out.

Justice minister Andrew Little is directing his officials to look into changing the law to allow people to enrol and vote on election day, reports the NZ Herald. Currently you can do so at the polling station if you’re advance voting, but not on the Saturday itself. It’s one thing that has come out of a fascinating day at the Justice Select Committee, which you can watch a full video of here (I promise it really is interesting)

One really fascinating submission (about 1 hour 46 minutes in) came from former Labour candidate Anna Lorck and Hastings District Councillor Geraldine Travers, who said “the Flaxmere community was denied access to an early polling booth for the equivalent of a full working day – 9 hours – compared to the Havelock North community.” They wanted standardised early voting hours across the country, because the poorer and more Māori Flaxmere area had poorer resourcing, which they said raised questions around voter suppression. It provoked very robust debate in response, particularly from National MP Nick Smith. Seriously, why aren’t all of these Select Committees broadcast?

A new activist group aimed at pushing New Zealand’s foreign policy towards more pro-peace positions has launched, reports Newsroom. Calling themselves the New Zealand Alternative, the group includes a few prominent activists, and they’ve just put out their first publication, and are planning a series of workshops and other publications to finish this year and start the next. Gesturing broadly at the current state of the world, they’re likely to be involved in the debates NZ will have to have on where our foreign policy stands in the next few years.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (sorry, Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership) has been formally ratified by New Zealand. The NZ Herald reports it passed through parliament with the support of all parties except the Greens. 11 countries feature in this version after the US pulled out under Donald Trump, with a few other countries having expressed cautious interest in signing on.

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Winston Peters and Bill English with Dame Patsy Reddy at the signing in ceremony, Government House, October 26 2018

Right now on The Spinoff: Toby Manhire casts his eye over what the state of politics would be if Winston Peters had chosen National on that fateful day one year ago. David Farrier has hunted down another troubling website on that most strange of places – the internet. And Elle Hunt writes from London about the drama and difficulty of keeping in touch with friends on the other side of the world.

One of the more disturbing stories happening in the world right now comes from the northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang. There is a network of internment camps there, in which hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the Uighur minority are being held. The Chinese government characterises as educational facilities. But documents uncovered by the BBC paint a very different picture of the purpose of them, which they report show tendering for the equipment needed for heavy surveillance and control.

That’s not all that is happening in the area. Around a million pro-government citizens – mostly from the Han Chinese ethnicity – have been mobilised to move into the area. That’s outlined in this feature from Chinafile, which discusses how new arrivals are even moving into the homes of Uighur people, to teach the locals what sort of cultural practices they should be observing, and how they should be behaving. The new arrivals describe themselves as relatives coming to visit, and keep an eye out for signs the Muslim hosts are observing secularism, for example by offering a beer and seeing if they’ll take it. Many of the hosts later end up in the camps.

The future of the Auckland Tuatara baseball team is a little more secure, after signing a deal with QBE Stadium in Albany, reports the NZ Herald. They’ll play there for 9 years starting from November next year, while their home games this season will take place at McLeod Park in Te Atatu. QBE will be reshaped slightly to allow for a full sized diamond, which will be installed at the start of each summer.

And speaking of sport in Auckland, make sure you get along to Eden Park this Saturday around 4pm for the Mitre-10 Cup final. You might think it’s a third tier competition, so big deal. But it promises to be a lot more than that, with free entry into the ground, and an All Blacks game on the big screen afterwards. It will also be an interesting test case for how well supported rugby still is – if the sport can’t literally give away tickets to an Auckland-Canterbury cup final, then what future is there?

From our partners, World Energy Day has put a spotlight on New Zealand’s sluggish progress towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Vector’s Beth Johnson explains why the time is right to accelerate.

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