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Chirs Hipkins’ inbox (as imagined by a pre-internet brain)
Chirs Hipkins’ inbox (as imagined by a pre-internet brain)

The BulletinJanuary 27, 2023

Prime Minister, you’ve got mail

Chirs Hipkins’ inbox (as imagined by a pre-internet brain)
Chirs Hipkins’ inbox (as imagined by a pre-internet brain)

A lot of it is from Auckland as business leaders and a local MP make their requests. Further south, leading academics want plans for a new airport scratched, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.


Chris Hipkins chose Auckland’s CEO set for his first public audience as PM. Why?

This morning on The Spinoff, Duncan Greive writes that Chris Hipkins’ first port of call as prime minister was “intentionally symbolic”. Greive recaps a round of aggrieved business owners’ comments to RNZ yesterday morning and argues they perfectly encapsulated “a more profound echo” that goes beyond lockdowns and the pandemic response as the festering source of discontent. Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Simon Bridges hosted the event with the prime minister and Auckland’s business leaders, and recapped what was discussed. Top of the list? Addressing labour shortages and immigration settings.

Council of Trade Unions calling

Economist Shamubeel Eaqub has cautioned against loosening immigration settings too much in the current economy. Immigration is “not a panacea, because when people come, that also increases demand,” he said. As businesses struggle to attract and retain staff, the Council of Trade Unions is calling for the minimum wage to be increased. This year’s minimum wage hike, if there is one, has not yet been announced. National Party finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said it’s a “great shame” Labour had increased the minimum wage by so much, because it means they can’t do it now to help low-income Kiwis make ends meet without stoking inflation. Eaqub says minimum wage rises haven’t led to mass business closures or mass inflation in the past but that he would be “very surprised” if the government opted to push through an “inflation or inflation-plus increase in minimum wages” in the current economic environment.

Auckland also calling

Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick also made a bid for the prime minister’s ear yesterday, writing to him and mayor Wayne Brown. Swarbrick said the city is facing a number of challenges. These aren’t new but instead a combination of “poor planning and underinvestment crunching with a global pandemic, international economic headwinds, and mass construction”. Swarbrick called for support from both the new prime minister and mayor in tackling three areas: to focus on Auckland’s central city and not “just the CBD”, to ensure everyone has help when they need it – and to “set the rules to let the little guy shine”.

Call to scrap plans for new international airport in Central Otago

Finally, I’ve been following this story for a while thanks to Crux’s coverage and because I grew up in Hamilton when we sort of got a new international airport and it was novel. Lining up to make themselves heard by Hipkins is a group of leading academics calling for Christchurch airport’s plans to build a new international airport at Tarras in Central Otago to be scratched. They’ve written to the new prime minister, Christchurch city council, airport leaders and Otago local authorities to argue the plans run counter to New Zealand’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and the climate emergencies declared by councils.

Keep going!