Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Nervous wait for Northland and Auckland, trade minister annoys Aussies with China comments, and long-awaited clean car standards finally on the way.
At the moment it looks like the top of the country might have got away with a very lucky escape, in the latest Covid scare. But we’re by no means out of the woods yet, despite no cases of community transmission yet being announced. As our live updates reports, the ministry yesterday confirmed that the two latest cases from the Pullman hotel to end up in the community are a father and daughter, and that there was a single chain of transmission between them and the Northland case. This means basically that one got it from the other, rather than the virus passing through other, unfound people first.
Still, there are plenty of questions hanging in the air from this incident. Toby Manhire wrapped them yesterday morning – some have now been addressed, others we’re still waiting on answers. For example – what exactly happened at the Pullman, and could it end up happening at other managed isolation facilities too? “While the Northland case was on the same floor as the person from whom it was contracted, this new pair were on another floor, leading experts to ask whether the infection might have spread via ventilation systems or water pipes,” wrote Manhire. Radio NZ reports this morning on calls to do a full audit of the managed isolation system.
It has also resulted in the lengthening of travel restrictions on New Zealanders by Australia. Yesterday the country announced it was putting another 72 hours on the suspension of quarantine-free travel from New Zealand, meaning at this stage it will recommence on Sunday night. But, will it really? If more cases are in fact found in the community, that will be deeply unlikely.
Meanwhile, the Northland case has resulted in a decision from the Māori Party to avoid travelling up to Waitangi Day this year, reports One News. They said their decision was based on standing by iwi who are concerned about travel into the Northland region right now, offering support as well to the community checkpoints in the area. More information on whether the PM and other government MPs will attend is expected in the coming days.
New Zealand’s trade minister has been saying the quiet bit out loud regarding the relationship with China. Radio NZ reports Damien O’Connor suggested that Australia would have a better and more mature relationship with China if they followed New Zealand’s example “and show respect, I guess a little more diplomacy from time to time and be cautious with wording”. It’s the latest little nudge in a long-term story about New Zealand’s diplomatic position slowly drifting closer to China, and subsequently further away from the likes of Australia and the UK. Reportedly the comments were not exactly welcomed in Canberra.
Long-awaited government action on cleaning up the country’s vehicle fleet emissions is likely to be passed this year, reports Stuff. The mechanism that has been confirmed is improved standards for vehicles being imported, but there were also hints about a return of the feebate scheme – floated and then killed off during the last term. A biofuels mandate was also discussed, and more is expected on that later this year, reports Newshub.
For it to be effective at reducing emissions, changes will probably also have to be made to the emissions trading scheme. However, in general terms transport emissions are one of those rare areas where progress could actually be made relatively painlessly. Meanwhile, Justin Giovannetti looks ahead to Sunday, on which the Climate Change Commission will release their first draft emissions budget.
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The two leading women of NZ First have quit at the same time, reports Newshub’s Jenna Lynch. Former MPs Tracey Martin and Jenny Marcroft are gone, with former minister Martin saying her values no longer matched with those of the party, which was described as a “boys club”. There has been a bit of behind the scenes movement for NZ First since being dumped out of parliament at the election – former MP Darroch Ball has been particularly busy, picking up both the presidency, and taking up a position as the co-leader of the Sensible Sentencing Trust. Meanwhile, the Serious Fraud Office case against two NZ First Foundation linked people who definitely are not party members has been moved to the High Court, reports Stuff.
A week of water woes for Wellington: Dramatic footage emerged yesterday afternoon of an erupting water main on Aro St, with a geyser shooting up into the sky. As the NZ Herald reports, it immediately follows a wastewater pipe bursting and spilling sewage out into the central city. So really, things are improving by the day.
It’s not often that I’d put a letter to the editor in the news section, but this one is fascinating. NZ Recreational Fishing Council board member Alain Jorion has written to the Gisborne Herald bemoaning how difficult it is to find legal-sized crayfish right now. It would appear numbers in the fishery are low, and not moving in the right direction, which could put the whole fishery at risk. I’d be interested to know how widespread this all is – if you know first hand, hit me up on email@example.com.
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Right now on The Spinoff: Justin Latif reports on community outrage over Auckland Council giving the green light to rip up trees planted by local kids. Alex Casey looks at the long history of New Zealanders going gaga over supermarket promotions. Duncan Greive writes about how John Banks is a symptom of a wider problem in talkback radio. Business is Boring speaks to Hongi Luo, a New Zealander helping drive TikTok’s massive growth. Catherine McGregor has an essential guide to making the most of a trip to Dunedin. Janaye Henry has written and performed a thoroughly delightful song about scanning the damn Covid app.
For a feature today, an explainer on an exceptionally strange story in the world of finance. The Verge has covered how bored and mischievous Reddit users took on some of the biggest players in the US stock market, and took them to the cleaners. How? It’s a bit complicated, but this piece lays it out. Here’s an excerpt:
Options were once a fairly sophisticated thing to trade — something ordinary people didn’t really do. But Robinhood makes the option trades easy and free. Plus, there’s a social aspect to the trades — which is where r/WallStreetBets come in. Stocks are memes now, and you trade them to show off to your friends.
Day traders, such as the ones on r/WallStreetBets, are typically held in contempt by professional traders, and they are acutely aware of this. The professional short-sellers who created the possibility of a short squeeze underestimated the day traders’ sophistication, and r/WallStreetBets pounced. Time to troll Wall Street out of a fuckload of money!
Remarkable league player Roger Tuivasa-Sheck could be an All Black within a couple of years, if the reports of him considering a code switch are true. NRL.com reports he’s likely to leave the Warriors at the end of this year, to give himself enough time to get match-fit in XVs to make the 2023 Rugby World Cup squad. He’s currently captaining the Warriors, and is generally their best player on the park, so it’ll be a huge blow to the club if it happens. Incidentally, their season gets underway soon, with the team based in Australia for the foreseeable future.
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