Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: A huge sack of cash for Auckland’s transport, a damning new child poverty report, and jailhouse snitches in the spotlight.
The government and council will put $28 billion dollars towards a major plan to fix Auckland’s transport woes. Here’s a handy key facts story from Stuff, because there is rather a lot of detail. But the major top line of it is that massive investments will be made in public transport infrastructure, major new roads will be partly paid for by tolls, and the package will take a decade or more to complete.
So what are people saying about it? The NZ Herald‘s Simon Wilson is very keen on the package, saying it shows the government is thinking about transport networks, rather than simply routes or roads. It’s joined up thinking, Wilson says. He also notes the impact policy group Greater Auckland have had – they have also produced a review of the details of the plans. And Stuff‘s Henry Cooke says this is politically a huge win for Phil Twyford, who has ministerial portfolios that basically boil down to fixing Auckland’s greatest problems – transport and housing.
Now if that’s all you read about the transport plans, you’d get the impression everyone loves them. Not so. The NZ Herald reports National says motorists in the Rodney area will get hit with a triple-whammy if they use the Penlink toll road, when combined with a general fuel tax rise and the specific Auckland levy. Gordon Campbell is concerned about the use of a public-private partnership to build those roads, saying such projects have historically been marked by cost blowouts and risks for the government. And Radio NZ has talked to commuters in South Auckland, some of whom say the plans are too little, too late.
A report has confirmed what many will anecdotally already know about poverty in New Zealand – children living in poverty are more than three times more likely to die before adulthood than those living in affluent areas. Newshub reports on the findings of the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee, which make for grim reading: overcrowded and damp housing, preventable illnesses, and suicide are all listed as causes of the higher death rate.
Government changes to welfare are likely to be formally announced in the next month, reports Radio NZ. The government is yet to reveal just how wide ranging the changes will be.
Name suppression has been lifted on a jailhouse informant, who lied during the murder trial of David Tamihere. The NZ Herald reports Roberto Conchie Harris, himself a murderer, was convicted of perjury for his testimony in the 1990 Tamihere murder trial.
Tamihere, who maintains he did not commit the murders of two Swedish tourists that he spent 20 years behind bars for, spoke to Newstalk ZB after Harris was named, saying it shows the danger of using jailhouse snitches in prosecutions. And on the front page of the NZ Herald today, Andrew Little says there have no been a number of cases, in which jailhouse evidence has been proven to be false, and its time to review their use.
The government is considering suing Fletcher over botched Christchurch earthquake repairs that now need remedial work, reports Newshub. But Fletchers vehemently denies they are the liable party, in either a legal or moral sense. And meanwhile, job cuts loom for the embattled construction company, reports the NZ Herald, relating to extraordinarily heavy losses in the Building and Interiors unit, which suffered severe cost blowouts on projects like the Christchurch Justice Precinct
Vector has suffered a serious data breach through its app, reports Stuff. Names, email addresses, locations and phone numbers of as many as 35,000 customers were accessed by a member of the public through a proxy server, who then tipped off media. Vector disabled the app, and have taken steps recommended by the privacy commissioner to protect customer data.
This is yet another remarkable interactive long-form piece by Stuff‘s Charlie Mitchell, this time he’s covered the dramatic loss of ice on one of New Zealand’s iconic glaciers. Mitchell covers both the ecological and economic effects that will hit the Franz Jozef Glacier when (not if) the ice melts completely. And the story notes that the heavy volume of tourism is having an effect on the retreat of the glacier too.
And here’s a big investigative long-read to dive into over the weekend: Newsroom‘s David Williams reports an oyster-killing parasite, that has seriously affected the aquaculture industry, came out of the largest privately owned science organisation in the country. And moreover, there was a lot the public weren’t told for years. Here’s a teaser paragraph:
“So why was there two years of silence? MPI’s hush-hush approach to the 2015 discovery might be seen as prudent – a Government that didn’t want to unnecessarily spook offshore markets and protect the reputation of one of the country’s top research facilities. But a cynic’s view is it’s a sign of an uncomfortable intimacy between regulator and industry; that the ministry was too close to the industry it was funding and promoting.”
Right now on The Spinoff: Toby Morris has a new Side Eye, this time interviewing a supermarket worker stuck on minimum wage, and how it affects her life. Highly acclaimed TV show The Handmaid’s Tale is back, and Alex Casey has had a watch of it. And Madeleine Chapman investigates the long running war between the two Mt Albert BBQ Noodle House restaurants, which are next door to each other.
And now, a guest post from The Spinoff’s Jihee Junn, who has been in China recently.
In the last two or three decades, China has undergone the most rapid of transformations, going from being a largely rural, agrarian-based society to a global manufacturing powerhouse. In fact, the China of today prides itself for not only catching up to the rest of the world, but for actually inching ahead the rest of the pack when it comes to industries like tech and innovation. This Wired longread, for example, shows how China – which has long been accused as being chief peddlers of the copycat economy – has gone from being imitators to innovators; from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Designed in China’ as well.
No discussion about China would be complete without mentioning its favourite frenemy: the United States of America. For a long time, the US stood as the world’s lone superpower, but its grip on the world’s political and economic affairs has loosened over the years. The Economist’s March cover story looks at how the two nations now jostle for digital supremacy as America’s technological hegemony comes under serious threat.
Another way this rivalry has materialised is in the realm of healthcare. A New York Times article from earlier this year explains that as companies like Amazon seek to disrupt the healthcare system, it’s important to note that Chinese companies like Alibaba and Tencent already have. So far, it’s tested online medical advice and drug tracking systems, and it’s now looking to a more advanced tool to reach its goals: artificial intelligence.
Lastly, as we’ve learned with Facebook and Google, there’s always a flip side when it comes technological advancement. That’s because while things like facial recognition and voice command have made the everyday lives of Chinese citizens more efficient and convenient, it’s also enabled the Chinese government to evolve into one of the most complex surveillance states in the world. Most notably, as The Atlantic explains, it’s new ‘social credit’ scheme wants to use data collected by modern-day technology to help it examine both a citizen’s online and offline existence and assign with something called a ‘sincerity’ score. Yikes.
The problems the Silver Ferns are currently dealing with could be the tip of the iceberg for netball in New Zealand, if this outstanding column on Newsroom by Taylah Hodson–Tomokino is anything to go by. Once upon a time girls would have no option but to play netball, ensuring a steady production line of talent. But all of that is changing. Girls have plenty of sporting options now, many of which are a better pathway to being a professional athlete.
And Black Sticks star Pippa Hayward has retired from hockey, fresh from winning Commonwealth Games gold, reports Stuff. She says she’s going to focus on finishing her studies in law and arts. Hayward played 158 tests for New Zealand, and coach Mark Hagar says she’ll be missed.
And 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, have a great weekend, and if you’ve made it this far, congratulations on finishing what I’m pretty sure is the longest Bulletin ever.
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.