Simon Bridges making his big keynote speech at the National Party conference (Radio NZ: Jane Patterson)

The Bulletin: Simon says, but says what exactly?

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: National party tries to both change and stay the same at conference, meth-scare Housing NZ properties reopened, and could The Opportunities Party be saved?

The National Party have had their weekend in the spotlight, holding their first conference in opposition in a decade. But who, or what, does the party stand for? So far this year Simon Bridges and the National Party have been listening more than they’ve been talking when it comes to new ideas – there have actually been very few new policies that they’ve made new bottom lines.

That changed somewhat at the conference, with Simon Bridges announcing that under a National government, primary school class sizes would be reduced by a yet to be determined amount. But as the NZ Herald reports, that’s an old Labour policy, and in fact National’s 2012 policy was to increase class sizes (it never went through, but then again, neither has Labour’s yet.) Bridges also wants more primary school teachers to teach said smaller classes, but there was absolutely no detail on how many more, how big the classes would be, or how much it would all cost. “There’s nothing vague about this,” Newshub reported him as saying.

This morning on Newstalk ZB, it was pretty clear that there’s scepticism about the plans. Helen Varney from the Auckland Primary Principals Association told Kate Hawkesby that while she liked the policy, she had no confidence in the National party to actually deliver it, given their recent government history.

Other senior Nats also had their moments over the weekend too: Deputy leader Paula Bennett criticised gender quotas and doth protested that government attacks were intended to divide the National Party, Mark Mitchell had a crack at gang patches, National Party President Peter Goodfellow erroneously described acting PM Winston Peters as a smoker (he quit last year) and former PM Sir John Key predicted an economic downturn.

So what did it all mean? There’s a slogan from the satirical TV show Veep that seems somewhat applicable here: “Continuity with change.” As political commentator Ben Thomas noted on The Spinoff, “the bulk of Bridges’ speech was recognisable from the past ten years.”  Simon Wilson from the NZ Herald was talking to people on the conference floor, and found many people who believed National had absolutely no reason to change – a view shared by former Australian PM John Howard. And on Politik, there was an interesting report which really did indicate a big shift was underway, with details about National’s farming base coming to terms with the need to act on emissions and climate change.

But maybe none of this matters anyway. Because later that day, PM Jacinda Ardern put out a video update on facebook, reminding all and sundry that soon she’d be back at work, and that there wouldn’t be an awful lot Simon Bridges would be able to do to get cut-through then.


About 100 Housing NZ properties, in which the tenants were evicted during the meth-contamination panic, have been reopened to tenantsStuff reports that advocates are calling on tenants who were removed to not agree to any “grubby little deals” from the government over compensation, which could happen when an overdue report into the issue is released.


The Opportunities Party maybe isn’t dead after all, reports Newshub, a reverse of the previous plan to de-register. Gareth Morgan says he’s been flooded with support for some sort of political venture since calling time on the party, and is willing to fund a new leader taking the reins.


Police are charging far fewer people with cannabis offences than they were 10 years ago, reports Stuff. But methamphetamine offences are up by about twice as much over the same period, and the substance now accounts for almost half of drug offending across the country.


There’s been a huge rise in ACC claims relating to rape an sexual violence over the last five years, reports the NZ Herald. It’s being partly attributed to the #MeToo movement, as well as higher levels of awareness and reporting of sexual violence. ACC have also been trying over the last few years to make their system more accessible to survivors.


Here’s an update on something I hadn’t actually known about – Venture Southland has made a bid for Stewart Island to become a ‘dark sky’ sanctuary, reports One News. Locals are hopeful the bid will get over the line, and if successful it would mean New Zealand would have two such sanctuaries, the other one being on Great Barrier Island.


It happened pretty early on Friday morning, but just late enough to miss The Bulletin’s deadline. But anyway, Fonterra chairman John Wilson has decided to stand down, at the same time that the company is looking for a new CEO. Now MP Shane Jones is ominously hoping that the right replacement will be found, reports the NZ Herald, after Jones himself heaped criticism on Wilson over the year so far.


TVNZ’s flagship political show Q+A is now on at the incredibly painful (for me) time of 9.30 on a Sunday. And it’s a great show, but do I stay up late and watch it, thus getting less sleep? Or should I wake up early, thus getting less sleep? It’s a tough decision, but congrats to them for now being in primetime I suppose.


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Right now on The Spinoff: Hayden Donnell looks into the various horrors of renting. Zoë Lawton and Hayden Wilson discuss why exactly sexual misconduct was so rife in the legal profession. And theologian Aaron Hendry writes about tithing, and how the ‘Sunday morning stickup’ exploits the poor.


There’s three radio interviews I want to share today in this slot. All of them involve some of our best people being interviewed about the work they do outside of the Good Ship Spinoff, and they’re all really cool and varied projects.

First up, last week Sam Brooks spoke to Noelle McCarthy about his upcoming play Burn Her, which I for one am very excited to see. There were also interesting bit about writing a fearsome political operative as one’s mother, and the nature of competitiveness in journalism.

Then on Saturday Madeleine Chapman spoke to (again) Noelle McCarthy about the book she’s co-written with basketballer Steven Adams. The story that Steven Adams has had is a remarkable one, and the interview features several fascinating meditations on the nature of opportunities, and what could have been.

And finally, just yesterday, Emily Writes spoke to Wallace Chapman about her new book, Is it Bedtime Yet, a collaboration with other writers that she’s led. And this book is all about the nature of sleep for parents, and the interview is honest and personal and thoughtful, particularly about how parents relate to other parents and people around them.


The Super Rugby dream is over for the Hurricanes, who were blown away by the Crusaders in their semi-final on Saturday. Rugby Pass reports that it brings the curtain down on the Chris Boyd era, which by any measurement was amazingly successful. I mean, I lived in Wellington in the 90s and 2000s and the idea that the Canes would ever win a title was ludicrous. But the Crusaders over the last two years would probably have a shot at winning the Rugby World Cup if they got to host it in Christchurch, let alone Super Rugby. They get the chance to go back to back if they can tame the Lions in the final next week.

And boxer Joseph Parker has some big decisions to make, after losing what was meant to be a comeback fight against Britain’s Dillian Whyte. That’s a question Duncan Johnstone at Stuff tries to unravel, noting that whatever happens, Parker’s pulling power is much diminished after two high-profile losses in a row. The possibility of a fight with Tyson Fury is floated in the piece too, which if nothing else would be a lot of fun in the pre-fight hype.


From our partners, Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha writes that while making and selling electricity from the comfort of home might sound like some dodgy online scam, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.


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