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Live updates, May 13: Charges filed over donation to Labour Party

Published: (Updated: ) in New Zealand News by .

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for May 13, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at PM delivers pre-budget address from Eden ParkThe prime minister Jacinda Ardern is in Auckland today to give a pre-budget speech focused on reopening New Zealand.Titled “Reconnecting to the World”, the PM will […]

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for May 13, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at

12.00pm: PM delivers pre-budget address from Eden Park

The prime minister Jacinda Ardern is in Auckland today to give a pre-budget speech focused on reopening New Zealand.

Titled “Reconnecting to the World”, the PM will likely discuss issues such as trade, immigration and the ecomomy.

We’ll have more details soon but you can watch the speech here.

More to come.

11.30am: Charges filed over donation to Labour Party

The Serious Fraud Office has filed criminal charges against six people in relation to a donation to the Labour Party in 2017.

As there is name suppression in place, no further details are currently available about the six defendants.

In a statement, the SFO confirmed that “none of the defendants are sitting MPs or current or former officials of the Labour Party”.

Labour’s general secretary Rob Salmond said that the party has complied with the law. “Labour has not sought any suppression orders from the courts,” he said. “As the matter is before the Courts, we won’t be making any further comment.”

The SFO began its investigation in July last year. At the time, Labour said it had not received any specifics into the investigation and would fully co-operate with the SFO investigation.

10.05am: House prices rise… again

National house prices have once again risen, skyrocketing by almost 20% in the year to April.

Real Estate Institute figures, as the Herald reports, show Auckland has gone one step further: house prices in our biggest city are up by 21.6%.

That means the average house price nationwide is a whopping $810,000, and more than $1.1 million in Auckland.

Wendy Alexander from the Real Estate Institute said she was surprised to see Auckland reach yet another milestone.

“We were… surprised by the strength of some of the rises in places such as Gisborne, Manawatū-Wanganui, Marlborough and Otago which have all seen annual price rises in excess of 45%,” she added.

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9.20am: Worksafe called in to investigate unexplained absence of private school principal, deputy

Worksafe is investigating why the principal and deputy of a private school have been absent since the last school holidays.

No reason has been given for why Dale Burden and deputy principal Yevette Williams, a married couple, have not been back at St Peter’s School in Cambridge.

According to Stuff, WorkSafe has been “notified of concerns” about the wellbeing of some of St Peter’s staff and is making inquiries.

“Following a board representative meeting with WorkSafe, the board subsequently and immediately began an independent investigation which is ongoing. The school continues to work with WorkSafe,” said John Erkkila, the chairman of the St Peter’s Trust Board.

“Naturally, this matter will take time to work through and the board will do what it can to keep you informed. It is important that the board complies with its legal obligations and I would respectfully ask for your understanding in relation to this matter.”

8.00am: ‘Trumpish’ rhetoric by Judith Collins inciting hatred against Māori – Rawiri Waititi

Policies are allowed to called racist during debates in parliament – but not people.

That’s the ruling of speaker Trevor Mallard who was forced to intervene during a rowdy debate last night that saw Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi evicted from the house.

As I reported in yesterday’s live updates, Waititi had objected to Judith Collins’ questions about He Puapua and said that he was unhappy with the “barrage of insults to tangata whenua”.

After leaving the debate, Mallard clarified his reasons for booting Waititi out. “There is a difference between calling an individual a racist and criticising either a policy or a view as being racist,” he said. “Some people have the view that other members’ views are racist. In my opinion, ruling that out would be excluding the rights to free speech, which we value substantially.”

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Speaking on RNZ this morning, Watiti said that he believed Judith Collins has been “inciting” racists to come out on social media through her “Trumpish” political rhetoric around issues such as He Puapua, Māori wards and the Māori Health Authority.

“It feels like it has gone back to the Don Brash leadership days,” he said. “When [National] talked about Māori wards being apartheid, the Māori Health Authority being separatist… they can use words like that in parliament [and] when we question them we get kicked out.”

Collins herself, Waititi said, was not racist – but he believed her rhetoric was fuelling racist activity. “It is unacceptable and I think we need to have a mature conversation in this country around how we do politics because Māori are sick and tired of being political football,” he said.

If people want to have a national conversation around Te Tiriti, Waititi said, it must include Māori.

Yesterday in the house, both Act’s Nicole McKee and Labour’s Kelvin Davis expressed differing views to Waititi around what should be debated in the house. Waititi said he would not speak for Davis. “He is a Labour Party MP, he is not a Māori Party MP,” he said. “He represents Labour and everything Labour stands for.”

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

A high-powered international panel has castigated governments and supra-national organisations for allowing Covid-19 to become the pandemic it is today. The panel, co-chaired by former PM Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has been at work for the last eight months, and found significant failures in the early stages of Covid-19. You can read their full report here, after it was released overnight. In particular, the report highlighted the length of time it took from cases of an unknown pneumonia appearing until the World Health Organisation declared a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (this Bulletin from late January 2020 conveys a sense of that time, much of the science has changed since then) along with a description of February 2020 as a “lost month” for preventing a pandemic.

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What’s more, there are warnings that the same would happen again in a new virus outbreak. “The Panel finds that the system as it stands now is clearly unfit to prevent another novel and highly infectious pathogen, which could emerge at any time, from developing into a pandemic,” said a release accompanying the report.

Vaccines play a major role in the panel’s recommendations for bringing the pandemic to an end. One point in particular addresses a very relevant current topic of debate – who gets to control the science behind the vaccine. To quote:

“Major vaccine-producing countries and manufacturers should convene, under the joint auspices of the WHO and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to agree to voluntary licensing and technology transfer. If actions on this don’t occur within three months, a waiver of intellectual property rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights should come into force immediately.”

Individual countries have also been encouraged to invest heavily in making sure Covid-19 is knocked off, and future pandemics prevented. In perhaps an overly optimistic quote, Helen Clark said “the tools are available to put an end to the severe illnesses, deaths, and socio-economic damage caused by COVID-19. Leaders have no choice but to act and stop this happening again.” She’s right, but as her panel’s report shows, leaders can and in many cases have chosen not to act.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

Source: The Spinoff

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