NZ First leader Winston Peters. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

The Bulletin: Waka jumping bill close to becoming law

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Waka jumping bill could become law tonight, internal report into Meka Whaitiri’s conduct leaked, and sports doping testing system under scrutiny.

The Electoral Integrity amendment bill is making its way through Parliament, and could well become law tonight. Commonly known as the waka-jumping bill, it would mean that if an MP left or was kicked out of their party, they would also have to leave Parliament, with the party holding the power to replace them. It has been a really big deal for academics and legal experts following the debate, with a wide range of voices coming out against it. Parliament sat under urgency last night to get through various amendments on the bill that needed to be debated.

One such group of voices against the bill is the National Party, who say they will repeal the law if they win the next election. But as Stuff reports, National also won’t commit to not using it in the meantime. Leader Simon Bridges says he finds it hard to envision that it will be used, but it underlines the point – for people at the top of party hierarchies, this will be an incredibly valuable tool to have in the back pocket. Situations like that of Brendan Horan – the NZ First MP who was expelled from his party but hung around for the rest of the term as an independent – could be avoided completely.

Analysing the bill, Politik’s Richard Harman argued that it represents a final death of the first past the post electoral system. His point is that FPP is a system in which effectively individual members of Parliament are elected who happen to be part of a party, as opposed to MMP, in which members are elected only because they are part of the party (at least for list MPs) And as the author of the Point of Order blog argued, perhaps it would have been better to give more powers to voters to get rid of MPs through a recall process, rather than concentrating it in the hands of parties.


The internal report into former minister Meka Whaitiri’s conduct has been leaked to the NZ Herald, who have splashed it across their front page this morning. It alleges that Ms Whaitiri left her staffer with bruising after blaming them for missing a photo opportunity. Ms Whaitiri disputes some aspects of the allegations.


We probably all agree that cheating through doping in sport needs to be stamped out, but there are serious questions being raised around how effective the current testing regime is at doing that. This fascinating series from Stuff’s Dana Johannsen reveals that of all the New Zealand athletes who have been found to have committed drug violations, only a tiny proportion were actually trying to cheat. The rest were for things like smoking the wacky baccy or inadvertently testing positive after taking the wrong medication.


Deputy PM Winston Peters has strongly denied an allegation that he phoned deputy police commissioner Wally Haumaha to offer support. The NZ Herald reports that the accusation was made under parliamentary privilege by National MP Chris Bishop, who said it was “deeply, wildly inappropriate”. But Mr Peters said in a statement that his office has checked all his phone records, no such call was made, and that there was no basis to Mr Bishop’s claim.


MSD is being accused of unnecessarily invading the private lives of beneficiaries, and penalising people who form healthy relationships, reports Radio NZ. The comments from the Child Poverty Action Group come in relation to figures released about how many beneficiaries are investigated over their relationships, and whether that means they’re then entitled to less money. MSD say they are required to take potential fraud seriously, and only prosecute in the most serious of cases.


Another pay offer has been rejected by primary teachers, and next month there will be another vote on further strike action, reports Radio NZ. Their union says members have overwhelmingly decided that three successive 3% pay rises isn’t sufficient. Associate education minister says that has come as a bit of a surprise to her, as it “is a larger offer than all three offers put together that were accepted by the NZEI under the previous government.”


A new reason is being put forward for Fonterra’s woes with their disastrous Beingmate investment – a key detail got lost in translation. Stuff reports that the question is over retail outlets – Fonterra appeared to be under the impression that Beingmate had a network that could reach 80,000 stores. But a dairy industry analyst says that has been based on a mistranslation, and what Beingmate were actually claiming is that they knew the sales data of 80,000 retail outlets.


The tiny North Otago town of Omarama is buzzing because of a live action version of Mulan being shot nearby, reports One News. The $300 million production is being shot in the Ahuriri Valley, and is injecting serious money into the local economy. Whether it can be for the area what hobbit tourism has been for Matamata long term remains to be seen.


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A gas rig off the Taranaki Coast (Radio NZ)

Right now on The Spinoff: Hayden Donnell writes about the international media hoopla of PM Jacinda Ardern’s trip to the US. Liam Hehir writes about the oil and gas exploration ban, and argues that it should be admitted that it’s little more than a feelgood measure. And Dr Hirini Kaa writes about the historical significance of Te Paipera Tapu – the Māori translation of the Holy Bible – which is turning 150.


David Fisher is a journalist with a reputation for writing things worth reading about military matters, and this is another good entry into that catalogue. Published on the NZ Herald, it’s a deep dive into the history, training and use of SAS troopers – the small elite force which has become New Zealand’s major military contribution to the various post-9/11 wars. Regardless of your position on New Zealand deploying troops overseas, the feature paints a very interesting picture of just how difficult it is to get soldiers up to this level. Here’s an excerpt:

Each trooper needs to know “how they can perform at their best without having any sense of comfort” – under physical strain, without sleep, without enough food, without social support, without enough information while craving more so as to make good decisions and, without it, still making good decisions.

Chris talks of mental preparedness and mental wellbeing as essential.

“I think a useful analogy might be one of a pack of wolves versus a racehorse. And what I mean by that is a racehorse has just got to prepare for one race and perform particularly well on that particular day or event.

“A wolf or a pack of wolves for example, need to hunt and work together to achieve their particular mission or their result, and they need to be ready to do that whenever.”


The Football Ferns have been recognised in the gold standard of player ratings – the FIFA series of video games. In fact, Stuff reports the Ferns are rated far better than their male counterparts in the All Whites. That’s probably a fair reflection of their respective world rankings – the Football Ferns are 99 places higher than the All Whites.

And congratulations to Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who has just been award the Dally M Medal for best NRL player of the season. The NZ Herald reports it’s the first time a Warrior has won the Dally M. Teammate Jazz Tevaga also picked up the ‘interchange of the year’ award, and David Fusitu’a was also confirmed as the season’s top try scorer in the competition.


From our partners, Vector’s Beth Johnson writes that if you get a cheque in the mail, no, it isn’t a scam. It’s just the Loss Rental Rebate system in action.


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