• These double standards around MIQ places has really get me riled.
    Covid is supposed to have levelled us all. Those in jobs that were previously considered glamorous - airline pilots, adventure tourism operators, entertainers - have been left reeling from the international lockdown of countries. Those who are among the most poorly paid have shown just how vital they are in keeping communities going - the security guards, the supermarket workers, those in aged care. So it galls me when I see the PM saying she will look at finding a practical solution to getting the bloody Wiggles into the country.
    The Wiggles - a hugely popular Australian group whose fan base comprises the 5 and unders - announced a series of 25 shows throughout New Zealand. Forty thousand tickets have been sold for the 'We're all Fruit Salad Tour' which is due to kick off on March 19.
    The PM yesterday said she empathised with those who had bought tickets and had lost out through no fault of their own, but promoters should not be promoting events until they have everything in place - including the booking of quarantine places. She says its up to officials to work through the issues and find a solution. Come on.
    What about the officials working through the issues and finding solutions for Kiwi citizens stranded overseas after their flights were cancelled and now they're left homeless because although they can book other flights, they can't get places in MIQ because they are told there is simply no space available.
    If the officials can suddenly, magically find places for the Wiggles and their entourage, why can't they magic up places for young people who have no jobs, no homes, no visa in other countries?They booked their flights home, they booked their place in MIQ - flights are cancelled and officials simply wash their hands of them. Or those who want to get home to visit ailing relatives - they're left helpless on the other side of the world refreshing time and time again the MIQ home page, praying that a Willie Wonker like golden ticket into MIQ will pop up before it's too late. It's not on.
    You cannot privilege one group over another - especially when that group was simply slack. When the prospect of a transTasman bubble was announced, the promoter simply went ahead with concert dates without doing any due diligence. It's entirely their stuff up. They're not the innocent party here.
    However, I agree with promoter and owner of Capital C Concerts, Phil Sprey, that there should be a process by which acts can be brought into New Zealand. He told Mike Hosking this morning that the entertainment industry has been trying to work with the government to bring in acts safely and they've come up against a brick wall.

  • An Auckland events company is hitting a brick wall seeking Health Ministry approval for an offshore conference.
    Promoters are finding applying for international acts more difficult.
    Fortis Events had planned a ship charter for a corporate client, to a replace a conference slated for Bali last year.
    Managing Director Joelle Talbot told Kerre McIvor the Ministry has suddenly limited them to 100 passengers, instead of the planned 174.
    "We haven't been given any reason to the 100 person limit, when there are other events around the country with up to 23,000 people attending."

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  • Sympathy from a New Zealand tennis tournament director, for the Australian Open tennis players facing quarantine across the ditch.
    Seventy-two players are now in hard quarantine and unable to train outside their hotel rooms for 14 days, after positive Covid-19 tests on tournament charter flights.
    Authorities have ruled out giving them an exemption from the strict isolation rules.
    But Karl Budge, the director of Auckland's ASB Tennis Tournament, told Kerre McIvor they're in a different situation from other incoming travellers.
    "Players are right to be concerned about going from two weeks confined in their hotel room, to playing a five-hour match in 40-plus temperatures."
    This year's ASB Classic in Auckland was cancelled, due to the uncertainty around Covid 19.
    Budge says he doesn't regret cancelling the tournament.
    "The volume of uncertainty, with the new strains would have made lot extremely challenging, along with not having the revenue of a Grand Slam tournament."

  • The happiest of New Years to you all - with all the nonsense in the States it looked like it was shaping up to be 2020 redux, but if we focused on what was happening in this country, things were rosy.
    Beautiful, beautiful weather - young and not so young Kiwis heading off to music festivals - swimming, fishing, travelling the country and making the most of exploring stunning locations.
    For many of us, it was a perfect summer made all the more glorious by watching and hearing stories of the lockdowns in other parts of the world.
    My own family in London had their flights cancelled by Singapore Airlines when the UK variant was wreaking havoc in the country. The cancellation of the flight wasn't a problem - Emirates and Qatar were still flying - it was trying to find a place in one of the isolation hotels that caused the angst.
    At one stage it looked as though they wouldn't be able to be back until April - leaving them homeless, jobless and visa-less as they'd arranged their affairs around their departure date - but in Christmas miracle, on Christmas Eve a place came up in managed isolation.
    Kate grabbed it, managed to book flights that synced and packed up the family in three days. And now they're in heaven and their friends back in London can't quite believe the lifestyle here.
    The managed isolation was brilliant according to my daughter. The team at the Stamford Plaza couldn't have been more professional but at the same time welcoming and kind. The entire family was swabbed including the two year old and three year old - the parents were happy to ensure the UK Covid strain wasn't brought into the country on their watch and now they're all at the grandparents farm feeding calves swimming in the pool running on the soft lawn - all luxuries they hadn't enjoyed for more than a year.
    We are in a very privileged position and obviously we want to keep it like that. Which is why the government is poised to extend compulsory pre-flight Covid tests - right now compulsory tests have just come into force for arrivals from the US and Britain, and why it’s inevitable that vaccinations will become a pre requisite for international travel once mass vaccinations are completed around the world.
    Nick Wilson Professor of Public Health at Otago University also believes it would be wise to move some of the isolation centres out of Auckland so that any community transmission can be contained.
    The Government, meanwhile, has stressed and stressed and stressed again that one of the tools we can use to ensure that, if there is a community transmission, the chain is broken quickly, we can sign in.
    I wanted to be good but you really do get lulled into a false sense of security when you're miles away in the Hokianga.
    Now I'm back to reading the news and seeing what's happening around the world, it's very, very real. We've seen how countries respond when there are outbreaks, we've seen how this country responds when there's a risk. Surely we should be doing everything we can to mitigate against any further outbreaks.

  • The New Zealand Foodbank Network is a new charity that opened in July in a bid to address food poverty from the Covid-19 pandemic.
    With a huge team behind them, The New Zealand Food Network will be delivering food to more than 650 frontline community groups across the country, feeding 15,000 people as this Christmas will be tougher than usual for a lot of New Zealanders
    NZ Food Network CEO Gavin Findlay told Kerre McIvor that food banks usually can't take big volumes of food donations, but they've set up a way to take large donations of surplus food.
    "When you've got hundreds of pallets or tens of tonnes of produce that just can't quite make it to market, we've been set up to ensure that doesn't go to landfill."
    He says they have really strong partners up and down the country that are able to store the food and then reach out and get the food out to the community.

  • The dairy sector says they are already cracking down on nitrogen use on farms.
    Earlier this week, Heather du Plessis-Allan spoke Nieve O'Flynn, the Greenpeace New Zealand Programme Director. Asked her what her top call to action for Climate Change was, O'Flynn says that there needs to be a phase out of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers.
    The very same day, Fonterra and Nestlé announced they are teaming up with DairyNZ to expand a plantain trial to help improve waterways and reduce on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
    Incorporating certain varieties of plantain into a cow’s diet has been shown to reduce the nitrogen concentration in their urine, which can leach through soil into groundwater.
    DairyNZ’s General Manager for New Systems and Competitiveness, Dr David McCall, says the dairy sector has a wide range of work underway to reduce nitrates entering waterways and reduce on-farm emissions.
    McCall told Kerre McIcvor that dairy is vital to our economic well-being, and is important to nutrition across the planet.
    "People do need a level of animal protein in their diet."
    He says for the last 10 years they've looked at reducing their surplus nitrogen into the environment from dairy farming.
    McCall says that these things do take time, and it's important that they are fully accepted.
    "We found the plant has some great properties in the sense that there's less surplus nitrogen. But then we're working on these co-developments with farmers to make those properties work in practice."

  • After months spent in lockdown, Kiwi musicians are getting back out and about around the country for the summer festival season.
    Amongst those heading on the road again is country star Marlon Williams. His latest album, Plastic Bouquet, came out last week, his first in two years, and he is heading on tour in February and March, with multiple dates already sold out.
    Williams joined Kerre McIvor to discuss adjusting to life under Covid-19, how a random Spotify discovery teamed him up with Canadian folk duo Kacy and Clayton, and performed his new song, Arahura.

    View this post on Instagram A post shared by marly Marly Marl (@marlonwilliamssings)

  • Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released a report after a surprise inspection of the Paremoremo facility, that claims there is a culture of containment, rather than rehabilitation.
    Just how we rehabilitate prisoners is the million dollar question. By the time you get to a prison like Paremoremo, is there an ability to change?
    Brain development educator Nathan Wallis joins Kerre McIvor to share his expertise on the issue.

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday the Government has agreed in principle to a travel bubble with Australia next year, subject to decisions by Australian ministers.
    As we gear up to travel again, many people are wondering how travel insurance will work in the post-Covid world.
    Emirates was the first airline to offer complimentary global Covid-19 cover for travellers back in July, - the cover is the first of its kind in the airline and travel industry.
    Emirates New Zealand Regional Manager Chris Lethbridge told Kerre McIvor they were the first to offer travel insurance post-Covid , and they are pleased with the result.
    "The response was very good. There were displaced families trying to get to events, so had no choice but to travel, so when we introduced the cover it was good to give assurance to people when they step on a plane."

  • I cannot go past Trevor Mallard's actions this morning. Maybe it's just me, but I find what he's done utterly appalling.
    It’s bad enough to call a man a rapist, when he is not one. I can’t think of many things worse than being called a rapist.
    Mallard than issues a personal apology on the very same day the inquiry into the mosque shootings are released.
    In effect, he was hiding under cover of the inquiry. He knew damn well what he was doing. It’s a time honoured parliamentary trick. Covering bad news under a big story, it’s cowardly and wrong.
    And at the same time Speaker Trevor Mallard was being sued for defamation, he changed the rules so other MPs could also be covered by the taxpayer without disclosing their dumb mistakes publicly.
    It has also now come to light that the rules for when MPs can claim legal costs when they're being sued were expanded by the Speaker in August so damages and settlements can come from the public purse.
    Those applications have to be signed off by the party leader, the Speaker and chief executive of Parliamentary Service.
    I find that absolutely appalling but I wonder if I'm one of the few. People aren't generally interested in the machinations of government - but surely you would be interested if you thought taxpayers would end up covering the costs of MPs lack of caution and carelessness and arrogance, and inability to get things right.
    For years lawyers have been saying MP’s need to be more responsible and accountable for what they say rather than hide behind parliamentary privilege and the taxpayers purse.

  • In the wake of the Government announcing a climate change emergency and a move to buying EV's, Genesis Energy has announced it's plans to replace its fossil-fueled electricity with renewables.
    Genesis wants to cut its annual emissions by 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2025.
    The plan will double the pace of Genesis’ earlier goals – and is equivalent to removing more than 272,000 petrol cars from the road for a year.
    CEO Marc England joins Kerre McIvor to talk about the announcement.

  • Finally, the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch mosque shootings was released yesterday and I don't think there was anything that was news to us was there.
    The intelligence agencies were focused on terrorism being solely the domain of Islamist extremist.
    The police stuffed up when it came to granting the terrorist a firearms licence. The officers didn't pay enough attention to the suitability of the terrorists referees.
    There will be a beefing up of the laws around hate crimes and hate speech - offences for inciting racial or religious disharmony will be added to the Crimes Act.
    The report advised that strong government leadership and direction is needed to build social cohesion including social inclusion.
    So tick to the team of five million slogan, but really, the report seemed to suggest that if a disaffected murderous loser wants to harm a whole lot of unarmed innocents, they can pretty much do that if they're living in a free society.
    In return for our freedoms, there is a mutual trust between one another that we won't do harm to each other. If we do want to live in a lockdown situation, there will be less likelihood of harm coming to you.
    Intelligence agencies, the report says, didn't know and probably couldn't have known that the attack was being planned.
    And while it’s easy to look back with the benefit of hindsight and say 'ahhhh, missed a trick there', with the hospital admission and the travel and dodgy referees for the gun licence, there plenty of people are admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds who aren't murderous terrorists or even criminals.
    Systems around gun licencing have been sloppy without people going on to commit atrocities.
    And Kiwis are an adventurous lot - we travel the world and most of us manage to visit exotic locales without becoming radicalised.
    It's all very easy to say 'this was missed, this was missed', ultimately, we live in a free and open society. You get someone with a sick and distorted view of the world who comes into our country and decides to take advantage of those freedoms and liberties, I don't think there is an intelligence agency in the world could have picked up on that.
    It’s where we go from there that's the real question. The Government's already said it's going to accept the findings of the report. Some of them are sensible. We don't want to go overboard and lose many, many, many of the hard won freedoms that we so enjoy just because of one sick loser.

  • The Prime Minister and the Police Commissioner have apologised for failings connected to the Christchurch terror attack.
    The Royal Commission of Inquiry found police didn't meet required standards when they granted Brenton Tarrant a firearms licence.
    Police Commissioner Andrew Coster accepts they could have done more.
    He unreservedly apologised and says that administration of the Arms Act has not always been at the level the public would expect.
    Police Association President Chris Cahill joins Kerre McIvor to talk about the findings.

  • If Santa's listening, I wouldn't mind a Tesla for Christmas.
    They're gorgeous looking cars, and by all accounts, go like stink. But I wouldn't be able to head up to the Hokianga in it. Wouldn't be much use on the metal roads or for actually doing any grunt work. You wouldn't see many of them with pigs tied to the bonnet outside the Opononi pub.
    Yesterday, while announcing a climate emergency, the PM also announced that The Government will require all its agencies and ministries to exclusively buy electric vehicles and will mandate all public sector buildings to be up to a "green standard".
    That should put an end to police chases then: the police will hardly be able to go after boy racers if they're putting along in their Noddy cars, will they?
    The commitments mean Government agencies will be required to measure, verify and report emissions annually.
    They will also need to set gross emissions reduction targets, as well as introducing a plan for how they will reduce emissions.
    When it comes to vehicles, Government agencies will be required to "optimise their car fleet" by purchasing electric vehicles or hybrids where EVs are not appropriate for the required use.
    That is unless their operational requirements or other circumstances require – such as military vehicles where there is no electric alternatives.
    As well as this, Ardern has announced that the Government has begun phasing out coal boilers in its ministries and agencies.
    There are roughly 200 coal-fired boilers currently heating water and buildings in the State Sector – the largest and most active will be phased out first.
    This, and the purchasing of a greener fleet, will be funded through the previously announced $200 million State Sector Decarbonisation Fund.
    There is no doubt that the creation of clean energy, the monitoring of waste, the drive to reduce emissions is a good thing - if only they would take that same energy to reduce waste in spending within the government departments.
    The government believes this is the way of the future, that the days of the bogan fanging round town in the gas guzzling V8s are numbered, that they will go the way of the dodo. But they've got a long way to go, as the top 10 new vehicles sold in this country were gas guzzlers.

  • What on earth does declaring a climate emergency actually mean?
    Is it any more than hot air - which as we all know is damaging for the environment? In the past that's all it has been.
    Jamie Morton from the NZ Herald has written an excellent piece on this - he points out that, as of this year, 28 countries have declared a climate emergency along with 1400 local governments.
    Nelson City Council declared an emergency in May last year, followed by Wellington and Auckland councils a month later. But declarations don't actually mean anything - it doesn't commit a body to any binding set of actions, there's no expectation of any specific plan.
    A declaration also means that there are no inherent statutory or legal implications - but will that stop insurance companies and the like from hiking up premiums around, for example, sea front properties?
    Tim Grafton, CEO of the Insurance Council, told Mike Hosking this morning that a combination of rising sea levels, which the insurers and the banks believe is inevitable, combined with the lack of decent drainage systems mean that ultimately coastal properties are going to become too risky for financial institutions to want a far of.
    So ultimately, it doesn't really matter whether you believe declaring a climate emergency is virtue signalling or not or whether it’s a whole lot of nonsense.
    The insurance companies and the banks are looking at these reports and they're taking them seriously and the decisions they make based on climate science reports will impact large numbers of us.
    We can debate ad\nauseum the benefits or otherwise of electric cars - but change is coming.
    The government might be dithering on an actual climate emergency plan - but the private sectors charging ahead and makings its own decisions accordingly - and that's what's going to affect us.

  • The MP who first proposed a climate emergency declaration, hopes it will result in real change.
    Jacinda Ardern will introduce a motion to Parliament today to declare a emergency, similar to those passed by many councils around New Zealand and governments around the world.
    Green MP Chloe Swarbrick proposed a similar motion last year.
    Swarbrick told Kerre McIvor she's glad Ardern has taken up the idea, as it will create a standard to hold the Government to in the years to come.
    She says it will put pressure on the Government to treat climate change as an emergency.
    National says it will vote against the motion.

  • The government has acted with alacrity and introduced legislation requiring employers to offer all their employees 10 days annual sick leave.
    A number of employers already do that – we have 10 days sick leave at this company, and I think half of the employers in New Zealand offer more than the legal limit.
    It has opted not to increase the maximum amount of sick leave that can be stockpiled by an employee however, keeping it at 20 days. The increase to the legal minimum will kick in from late 2021 – the Greens wanted it in before Christmas, but Labour said ‘no no, no need to rush things’ – and employers are adding up the cost of this new feature to employment law.
    Workplace relations and safety minister Michael Wood told Mike Hosking that this morning that while it might be an upfront cost for employers, it will cost the country a lot more if workers drag themselves and their germs into work because they've run out of sick days.
    There is a cost to the country if people become unwell and haul themselves in and spread their germs because they have no sick leave and need to put food on the table.
    I've said it before and I'll say it again - I don't think this financial burden should be solely born by business people.
    We all benefit when people stay home when they're sick – so therefore it should be a taxpayer funded cost. What happened to the team of five million?
    National says it’s the wrong time to extend sick leave - doubling sick leave just piles more costs onto businesses at a time when they can least afford it coming on top of minimum wage increases and the proposal for an extra public holiday.
    You’ve got all these extra stresses on business after a very very busy year. At the same time, you’ve got stresses on employees, especially those who work in slightly less paid jobs who do not have the luxury of 10 days sick leave, so they are going to haul themselves in as they simply cannot afford to come in.
    But surely if we as a country all benefit from this, don’t pile it all onto the shoulders and backs of business people. Let it be a taxpayer funded cost – put it on this magical tab that we’ve got, where we’re writing off everything.
    I really would love to see this spread across all of society.

  • Agri-Women’s Development Trust recently celebrated it's 10th birthday.
    The organisation came about as while women made up half of New Zealand’s primary sector, from farms to boardrooms, they had little involvement in decision-making but much to offer.
    AWDT has been quietly dismantling the idea of ‘the farmer’s wife’ - cultivating a new generation of female farmers and primary leaders one person and small town at a time.
    Agri-Women's Development Trust General Manager, Lisa Sims joins Kerre McIvor to talk about women in farming.

  • I'm sure the Helen Clark Foundation and the NZIER mean well with their calls for a big minimum wage boost.
    They say the fallout from Covid - the lack of skilled migrants coming into the country; the cheap money that's gushing from the money fountain in Wellington - means that we're in a unique position to build a more inclusive economy that shares the gains.
    NZIER deputy chief executive Todd Krebble
    says the impact of the Covid has not been felt equally - young people, women, people in particular sectors like tourism and hospitality, Maori and Pasifika are all doing it far tougher than the rest of the population.
    So he's calling for a shift to “predistribution” – backing people from the outset with good wages and investment in them, rather than the current benefit system of redistribution to those who fell behind.
    He also says that with money never having been cheaper, this is a brilliant time to invest in capital equipment and upskilling staff. He told Mike Hosking that increasing the
    Is it really that simple, though? Pay people more and they'll work harder? Invest in more modern plant equipment and you'll make more stuff that you can sell for more profit that you can then reinvest in your people?
    I'm not a business owner but I remember an old boss of mine saying he loved it when people had kids and got mortgages. It made them terrified and very grateful to have their jobs, he said.
    Which brings us back to housing affordability. At the moment all roads lead to housing affordability. If people have houses they are more settled. They're more invested in their jobs and their communities. I don't think it is as simple as pay them more, you'll get more out of them.
    I do believe in retraining and helping people who are economic casualties of Covid into new jobs. But is that the responsibility of business? Surely that's a government responsibility.
    Anyway, as I say I'm not a business owner, and Todd Krebble hasn't been either according to his CV. Undoubtedly a very clever man but seems to have only worked in government departments and UN institutions.
    Every single small and medium business owner I’ve heard ring this show understands the importance of looking after their staff.
    Many of them during those particularly difficult times in lockdown were more worried about their employees then they were about themselves.
    Every single one of them cares about their staff, and I find it hard to believe, given the attitudes I’ve heard, that they’d be paying them any worse than they thought they could get away with. They are investing in their people

  • Last week, the world saw some optimism in the Covid world.
    Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced final results from the late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine.
    Results showed it was 95 per cent effective, with Pfizer saying the efficacy of the vaccine was consistent across age and ethnicity demographics, and there were no major side effects, a sign that the immunisation could be employed broadly around the world.
    Another pharmaceutical company, Moderna, also released preliminary data for its vaccine, showing similar effectiveness.
    Dr Chris Smith, medical consultant of virology at Cambridge University and founder of the Naked Scientist podcast, joined Kerre McIvor to discuss what these latest developments mean, and what we need to keep in mind on the effectiveness of the vaccines.