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The Bulletin: Stuff shows the way on climate coverage

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Shift in media mindset shown by Stuff’s climate change coverage, GCSB blocks Chinese telco tech company, and Greens push for prisoner voting rights.

We’re going to lead off today with something a bit different to the usual – we wouldn’t normally start with a story about media coverage of a story. I like to think that this publication is generally pretty positive about the quality of NZ journalism. But today I want to talk about a series that in my opinion surpasses everything else published in this country over the past year.

It comes from Stuff, and it’s about climate change. So far you might be thinking it all sounds a bit dry, but it’s anything but. The series has the urgency and clarity of the best factual writing, but more importantly, it is deeply humane in how it addresses what will be social, economic and political problems. And it’s not just a one and done thing either – it’s going to be a major thing they keep following from here on in. That represents a real shift in media mindset around climate change that I’ll unpack a bit further down.

I shared the story yesterday about Lower Hutt and Petone being within decades of going beneath the sea, but that was before I had a chance to read the rest of the series. And that’s a great piece of work for sure, but the highlight by far is this one about Beach Road.

Which Beach Rd, you might ask? All of them. In every coastal town, city and suburb around the country. The rising sea levels are coming, and in some parts of the country entire communities will have to leave. As the journalist Charlie Mitchell points out, we have absolutely no framework currently for how we’re going to deal with the consequences of that. Where will those people go? And how could these disruptions further divide us? These are questions that we absolutely must be asking, so that real plans can be made.

Here’s another thing they’ve got going – Stuff are calling for submissions from people who are already making plans for how they’re changing their lifestyles to lower their carbon footprint, and adapt to a changing climate. It’s a great idea, and will be a valuable resource of ideas to keep checking back in with.

Finally, what about the misinformation that gets put out about climate change? Bookmark this article to deploy in any of those situations. They’ve compiled a selection of experts to bust myths that are entirely within their expertise. You or I might not necessarily be able to know the exact scientific details to rebut a particular climate change denying argument. But with this, you won’t really need to – just refer back to it as necessary.

There are legitimate debates to be had around climate change policy. But the science is entirely settled on two very simple points: The climate is changing, and the cause is largely greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity. We have some idea about what a changing climate will mean, but a lot of the full horrors won’t reveal themselves until its too late to do anything about it. Therefore, emissions simply have to be cut now, and cut hard, unless we want to find out what it’s like to live on a planet becoming steadily less liveable. I really don’t want to find out what that’s like – do you?

That’s why this Stuff series is so important. A few might accuse them of abandoning impartiality, or pushing an agenda. But the idealised version of balance in reporting on climate change so often ends up simply putting misinformation out there. What Stuff have really done here is demonstrate the highest possible principle of journalism. They have told the truth, without fear or favour, even if that truth is hard to read. It is long past time for all media to do the same.

The GCSB have told Spark that they can’t use Huawei technology for the 5G network upgrade, reports the NZ Herald. It’s considered to “raise significant national security risks” and under a law passed in 2013, telcos have to run technology past security agencies. It follows recommendations from the US and Australia that New Zealand steers clear of Huawei, which the US has long suspected as a potential trojan horse for communications interception by the Chinese government. Over on Politik, it’s being seen as a win for Five Eyes nations in keeping New Zealand part of that club.

The Greens have launched a push to renew the voting rights of prisoners, reports The Spinoff. Golriz Ghahraman used one of the party’s parliamentary questions to put pressure on the government, using statements from across the political spectrum to point out the arguments in favour, but the minister (Stuart Nash filling in for Andrew Little) insisted it wasn’t a priority for the government. A petition has been launched with the intention of making it a priority.

Writing on The Spinoff, former prisoner Awatea Mita says along with the daily indignities and humiliations of prison life, not being able to vote is dehumanising. She says that to restore the right to vote would send a message to prisoners that they aren’t worthless, and are capable of being part of society again. It’s a powerful argument from someone who knows full well what they’re talking about.

Imprisoned Czech drug smuggler Karel Sroubek will now be liable for deportation, reports the NZ Herald. It’s a reversal of the previous decision made by immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway, and is based on new information that was not known by Immigration NZ when they briefed the minister on the case. Mr Sroubek has the right to appeal the decision.

Mr Lees-Galloway says he has apologised to the PM about how the case was handled, which has been politically very messy for the government. Should he resign over the debacle? Toby Manhire has done a for and against piece outlining both cases.

The Māori Council is considering setting up a Māori owned bank, aimed at bridging financial iniquities, reports Radio NZ. Some believe Māori people are poorly served by the big four Australian owned banks, and there is a space for a bank that focuses on building on Māori owned land and small business lending. It would also mean profits of any such venture would stay in NZ.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the Auckland Pride Parade stories but missed a few details along the way, this piece will catch you up. Radio NZ digital journalist Sarah Murphy has compiled a comprehensive wrap of the issues that have been debated over the past few weeks. But the important part about it is that it also captures the history and context as to why this debate is happening at all – the decision to ban uniformed police didn’t just come out of nowhere after all.

You might remember the settlement of Henley being cut off during the recent South Island floods. As the ODT reports on their front page today, a regional councillor has floated the suggestion that rather than invest heavily in more flood protection, it would be better for the town to be moved. Flooding is projected to continue hitting Henley into the future, but the community says all they’re asking for is small improvements to be made.

For those who think vertical farming could be a great option for New Zealand to pursue, a new report won’t make for pleasant reading. Covered by Radio NZ, the report has found that vertical farming (where layers of crops are basically stacked on top of each other) is economically unviable in New Zealand. The report argued a much better option than continuing to investigate vertical farming would be to make sure that productive farmland is protected from urban sprawl.

The exit date from Parliament of Chris Finlayson has been confirmed. The NZ Herald reports he will deliver his valedictory speech on the 18th of December, and he will leave parliament early in the new year. Mr Finlayson held a range of important ministerial portfolios (and by all accounts did them extremely well) in the last government, and will return to his previous career in law.

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Temperance. Photo: Ness Patea

Right now on The Spinoff: The second part of our video series on why women aren’t voting is out, focusing on the complex reasons some women choose not to. Leonie Hayden recounts a bizarre and frankly creepy account from 125 years ago of the first Māori women voting. We ask the experts some practical tips on how to match beer and food. And Sam Brooks reviews the Hitman 2 game mission that supposedly takes place in the Hawke’s Bay – does it really look like little old New Zealand?

I have been thoroughly put in my place about my lack of knowledge of competitive ploughing. What can I say, I grew up in a city. Here’s some feedback from reader Jan which outlines just how negligent I have been in my knowledge of this great nation:

“I have to admit that your claim about competitive ploughing was “totally obscure” as a sport in New Zealand has shaken your credibility and your standing as a New Zealander!! The Golden Plough competitions were an important part of my childhood on the Taieri Plains, and as a farmer’s daughter ploughing a straight, well-turned furrow was a skill (along with shearing – both by blade and machine) which I learned as a teenager long before it was ‘fashionable’ to do so as a liberated female.”

“I think as a penance you should research former New Zealand winners of this international competition – there have been quite a significant number – and write an article for The Spinoff so that more people may be informed about an important facet of our agricultural past, present, and who knows – future.”   
Well Jan, I’m afraid I probably won’t be able to get around to writing an article about it, much as I would love to. However, what I can do is pass on this tip from Kathryn at NZ on Screen. One of the many wonderful pieces they’ve got in their archive is the documentary Pictorial Parade No.91 from 1959, which features the National Ploughing Championship in Hastings. At the time, it was the 4th National Championship, “with the standard rising every year,” according to the narrator. So there you go, I was wrong, competitive ploughing isn’t obscure at all. But that’s one of the best things about this job – I learn stuff from you readers all the time.

Shaun Johnson is gone, with the Warriors agreeing to prematurely release him from his contract. If this all seems like a wild ride that has come out of nowhere, let the NZ Herald’s David Skipwith catch you up on how the events unfolded (it absolutely is a wild ride of a piece too, from arguably NZ’s best League journo) As for how we should be looking back on Johnson’s career, Jarret Filmer wrote on The Spinoff that it was a classic story of talent unfulfilled – and while big questions hang over Johnson’s work ethic, the Warriors have to wear a lot of the blame for never getting the best out of him.

Meanwhile, in one of the coolest sports stories this year, keep an eye on the U17 Football Ferns this morning. They’re about to play a World Cup semifinal against Spain, and while they’re definitely not the favourites, they’ve taken down a few big teams in the last few weeks. A win would mean the first ever Football World Cup final for a New Zealand side, at any level. The game starts at 7.30am on Sky Sport 4.

From our partners: Lithium-ion batteries are magnificent feats of engineering and vital for renewable energy. But if we’re not careful with them, they’ll create enormous environmental problems, writes Vector Senior Sustainability Advisor Juhi Shareef.

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