A member of the NZ Air Force leaning out the side of a helicopter (Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Changing threats to Pacific in Defence report

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Defence report outlines changing nature of Pacific threats, DHBs unaware of staff vaccination, and visitors desecrate Lake Waikaremoana.

The Defence Force has released a report which outlines their views on the most important threats currently facing the Pacific. As Politik reports, it hasn’t necessarily been about singling out particular countries as bad actors or aggressors. Rather, it steps back somewhat from the competition and increasing tension taking place between China and the USA in the Pacific, and identifies other phenomenon that require more of the Defence Forces’ attention. It also re-confirms the Pacific Reset as the future of New Zealand’s foreign policy, with the redeployment of resources away from places like the Middle East.

Chief among those threats is climate change. Stuff’s Luke Malpass has gone into this, with the report talking about how the ‘Pacific Reset’ diplomatic strategy will be put into action. The Stuff report indicates that New Zealand has more credibility here than neighbouring Australia among Pacific nations, because of the current Australian government’s dismissal of calls for more climate action. As well as that, the NZDF will prioritise helping Pacific nations protect their natural resources like fisheries, and will aim to have humanitarian support on the scene quickly in the event of a disaster.

China hasn’t gone entirely unnoticed in the report, despite not being named. But Newshub reports defence minister Ron Mark spoke about the emerging superpower as more of a potential partner than a threat. Again, he returned to climate change as an area in which there could be “collaboration and cooperation” with China. This report from the NZ Herald includes Massey University expert Professor Rouben Azizian saying that even without China being named specifically, the wider Pacific Reset is aimed at countering Chinese influence in the Pacific. Strengthening Pacific nations is seen as being within NZ’s interests, because it could help them better ward off so-called ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ from China. And Newsroom’s Sam Sachdeva suggests that not naming China explicitly could be down to wariness of a similar backlash to what happened the last time the NZDF mentioned them in a report.

Almost no DHBs are aware of how vaccinated their workforce is, reports Eloise Gibson for Newsroom. Of the scant numbers that are available on this, some of them are frightening, particularly around immunity to whooping cough. There are even gaps in immunity to measles, and a case of an infected staff member working at a Christchurch hospital last month.

Visitors have repeatedly desecrated Ngāi Tūhoe lands at Lake Waikaremoana, and more was discovered over the weekend, reports Anusha Bradley for Radio NZ. That included the dumping of rubbish, felling of native trees for firewood, and the delivery of alcohol against Tūhoe rules. One of the camps was inside a Kiwi sanctuary, and had a wall made of beer bottles.

It is being reported that a teenager left a blowtorch unattended, leading to the SkyCity Convention Centre fire. The NZ Herald got that from a “well placed source”, with the torch being used to install a waterproof membrane on the roof. It is also understood that the investigation will involve questions over “supervision and experience of the workers on the roof.” It’s probably fair to say that if it is an apprentice, then questions about responsibility will move further up the chain. SkyCity’s boss has made assurances that there won’t be a ‘witch hunt’ against anyone who may have been accidentally involved.

Census data has shown the extent of damp housing around the country, reports Radio NZ. Around one in five houses are affected by dampness, tens of thousands of those being damp all the time. Rentals are overwhelmingly more likely to be constantly damp. The health and social outcomes of poor quality housing are well understood, and entirely negative.

There may be a lesson in this for Wellingtonians who want integrated Snapper ticketing rolled out across the region. Nikki Preston of the NZ Herald reports that the budget for an integrated system being pursued by nine regions has blown out, from $11 million to more than $14 million. It is also looking like being two years late. Meanwhile a nationwide integrated ticketing system is expected to begin being rolled out, starting in Wellington in 2021.

Economists are suggesting an increased milk price forecast should allow dairy farmers to cut debt, reports Farmers Weekly. The heavy debt loads many dairy farmers are under is one of the less widely covered aspects of why it is a difficult business. In response, Chris Lewis from the Feds says a higher forecast is a relief, but that farmers won’t be spending that money until they actually get it. Meanwhile in dairy news, the sector is being seen as one of the major holdups in getting the RCEP trade deal over the line, with Newsroom reporting that India in particular are worried about their market being flooded with New Zealand product.

Correction: An incorrect date was given yesterday as to when all schools will teach NZ history – it will in fact begin in 2022.

Got some feedback about The Bulletin, or anything in the news? Drop us a line at thebulletin@thespinoff.co.nz

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Right now on The Spinoff: Jannah Dennison argues that it would be impossible to make euthanasia laws totally safe and free from coercion. I assess the arguments for and against transport minister Phil Twyford getting the sack. Māori Language Commissioner Rawinia Higgins writes about Newstalk ZB’s Marcus Lush arguing with callers for accurate Māori pronunciation. And Ti Lamusse writes about the racism embedded in New Zealand’s remand system.

For a feature today, a bold step on climate action from Belgium. You might recall the NZ government recently turned down the idea of banning imports of diesel and petrol cars, even a long way into the future. Well, Brussels has gone the other way on a similar decision – from 2035 they simply won’t allow petrol and diesel cars to drive in the city. Here’s an excerpt from a report on Flanders Today.

The government plans major investments in public transport, cycling infrastructure and pedestrian access. Along with additional metro and train stations, several cycle networks are planned, as are pedestrian tunnels. Tram and bus routes will also be increased.

The government is also working to reform vehicle tax laws so that drivers would be taxed according to their use rather than ownership. In other words, the more you drive, the higher the tax.

A soccer football special in sport today: Football Fern Abby Erceg has just captained the North Carolina Courage to a second straight title in the USA’s premier domestic competition, reports Stuff. The Courage have been basically unstoppable since Erceg has been involved, with titles across competitions. This win has to rank near the top of any list of New Zealanders in overseas leagues.

This morning the U17 All Whites are in action at their World Cup. Radio NZ reports they’re up against a country rather well known for footballing prowess in Brazil, and all things being equal it is likely that there campaign will come to an end today. So far the team has lost to Angola, and faces another tough game against Nigeria this weekend.

There’s not a lot to say about the Wellington Phoenix right now. They’re currently in last place, after three consecutive losses to open the season. Don’t be too surprised if this year ends up pretty miserable as the roster gets rebuilt.

And in the English Premier League, a clear set of divisions are emerging. Liverpool is way out in front, and Manchester City, Chelsea and Leicester City are clumped together to round out the top four. This article from Deadspin covers the team falling away – Arsenal. They’re still within touching distance, but recent results have been ugly, and the fans are starting to get restless. It could however be worse for a big team – Manchester United are in 7th. And in the only contest that really matters for Arsenal, they’re six places ahead of Tottenham.

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