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The Bulletin: Referendum results day, and a Green deal decision

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Referendum results day, problems abound for Air NZ, and what Labour’s manifesto included that wasn’t campaigned on.

We’re finally going to get the provisional results of the two referendums today, on cannabis legalisation and assisted dying respectively. They’ll be announced at 2pm, and we’ll have immediate coverage on The Spinoff when we know. A reminder – these results won’t include the special votes, which won’t be added to the tallies until next week. So what are we expecting to see today?

Toby Manhire has taken a long hard look at the likely outcome of the cannabis referendum, and published his thoughts here. In short, the polling has been volatile, but has tended to favour cannabis legalisation losing. Having said that, polling in the leadup to the election also showed the left underperforming on their actual election result, and given those voters tend to favour legalisation that could also mean the polls are out. If it’s close, the wait for the specials will be crucial.

And on assisted dying? That doesn’t look like it’s going to be close at all. The NZ Herald has published a poll (which for legal reasons, was technically not an exit poll) which shows a clear majority have backed the End of Life Choice Act coming into force. It might end up being closer on the actual results, but the gap is large enough that it seems certain to pass.

While that’s all going on, Labour and the Greens will be finalising their talks. At some stage either today or tomorrow, it will become clear what Labour has offered the Greens in exchange for some form of parliamentary support, and that deal will then be taken back to the Green membership to either ratify or reject. A final decision on that is expected to be announced on Sunday, so either way by the time Monday’s bulletin rolls around there’ll be plenty of news to update you on.


Air NZ has been ordered to refund a customer who had flights cancelled as a result of a decision to cut services, in a decision that could have big implications. The NZ Herald reports the Disputes Tribunal decision could mean thousands of other would-be travellers are also entitled to claim refunds. Meanwhile, even more job cuts at the airline have pushed the relationship with the union to breaking point, reports Stuff.


There were a few promises in Labour’s manifesto that weren’t really campaigned on at all, but might they be part of the government’s next term? Justin Giovannetti has looked closely at two that got basically no attention – the restarting of the refugee intake programme, and reforms around campaign finance. The latter will involve a review which could turn into a particularly big deal, given how many cases and stories around donations there were over the last term.


There’s something a bit grim about sharing this as a good news story, but business is great for wine exporters right now. Why? As Newshub reports, more people stuck in lockdowns overseas are drinking their way through it all. That has offset people not being able to drink in restaurants. As I said, grim.


An interesting aspect of the mariners in managed isolation getting Covid-19 is the question – why is the fishing industry importing workers at all? Radio NZ’s Tim Brown has looked into the perceptions of the industry, and found that it is one of many in which the big companies are accused of bringing in labour from overseas, because those people will be cheaper and willing to work in harsher conditions. Industry bosses say that isn’t true, and rather the labour pool of New Zealanders simply isn’t there.


Following on from Tuesday’s discussion of high costs around dental care, here’s a piece that puts some alternative numbers on the table. Stuff’s Thomas Coughlan has laid out what the theoretical costs of a modestly funded public dental system would be, excluding cosmetic dentistry. It comes out fiscally much more possible than what the protestations of senior Labour MPs would indicate, but it seems clear the political will isn’t strong enough.


A correction: I meant to send you towards this piece by Newsroom’s Marc Daalder yesterday, but put the wrong link in. Apologies for that, it’s still worth a read.


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

Anthony Adlam overseeing the hāngī pit preparations for the the Te Ahi Kōmau festival at Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae. (Photo: Saarah Gul)

Right now on The Spinoff: Justin Latif writes about the upcoming marae food festival, Te Ahi Kōmau.Jihee Junn reports on what a financial literacy survey really shows about the gender gap. I’ve got a cheat sheet on the state of play for the upcoming US election, and when we’ll get the results.Jonathan Cotton looks at where the government is getting all the money to pay for the Covid-19 recovery, and where that debt is taking us. Miriam Lancewood writes a letter from a hypothetical future in which things don’t turn out so bad after all. And Ben Fahy writes about how data sharing is making life easier.


One of the most interesting special vote tallies to wait on is Waiariki, where the Māori Party’s Rawiri Waititi currently holds a narrow lead. Regardless of whether he can hang on against Labour’s Tamati Coffey, it’s clear the wider election showed the Māori Party remains a force to be reckoned with, also coming close in two other seats. As political strategist Matt McCarten writes in E-Tangata, that should have big implications for how Labour goes about governing. Here’s an excerpt:

The other challenge will be the cabinet. Now that New Zealand First is out, there will be three fewer Māori in the room. The normal Labour caucus convention is that one out of every five ministers is Māori. The current Labour-led cabinet has just two — Kelvin and Nanaia Mahuta. Meka Whaitiri was sacked and wasn’t replaced.

Given the importance of the Māori Party threat and the power of the Māori caucus, Jacinda is surely going to have to select five. The obvious ones are Kelvin, Nanaia, Peeni Henare and Willie Jackson. The fifth is a choice between rehabilitating Meka Whaitiri, who deserves it, or promoting Kiri Allan, who is unquestionably a rising star.

Every Labour MP knows every misstep over Māori by their leadership will be amplified by the Māori Party. The Māori Party are laser-focused on winning their seats off them.


In sport, another major international event is off. The NZ Golf Open won’t be going ahead, because of health and financial risks around Covid-19, reports One News. 300 international participants would have been involved had it gone ahead (including caddies and coaches etc) so there would also have been quite significant quarantine requirements to get through. There are hopes that the tournament will be back again in 2022.

Meanwhile, Black Caps seamers are hitting some serious form ahead of the international summer, by bullying batsmen in the Plunket Shield. Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson both picked up 5-wicket hauls yesterday, with Neil Wagner taking a cheeky four too. Jamieson’s performance for Auckland was particularly special, and included this absolute missile to get a hattrick.


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