News of Zealand

News of Zealand: Kingmaker Winston Peters In No Rush After Election

Plus new hopes for Pike River mine re-entry, Puerto Rico without power after Hurricane Maria and Bali calls natural disaster before volcanic eruption.
September 24, 2017, 10:18pm
Winston Peters on Election Night, image via YouTube and RNZ.

Everything you need to know about the world this morning, curated by bFM and VICE NZ.


Waiting for Winston Peters
This weekend was the New Zealand election. Initial vote counts show National well out in front, with 46 percent of the vote compared to Labour's 35.8—but it could be a few more days before we know who our next government will be. Neither National nor a Labour/Greens coalition have a large enough chunk of the vote to govern alone, so both will be approaching Winston Peters, leader of the NZ First Party, to act as kingmaker. Peters has indicated he'll talk to the party with the largest chunk of the vote first, but both he and Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern have not ruled out the possibility of a three–party coalition. The next two weeks could also see the percentages shift a few points, as special votes come trickling in.
The other big shock of the election was the loss of the Māori Party from parliament—none of their MPs won their seats, and the party did not win a large enough percent of the vote to get over the threshold. This marks the first time MMP has delivered less than six parties to parliament.

New Hopes For Pike River Re-entry
Families of those lost in the Pike River Mine disaster believe re-entry into the mine will happen following the election results on Saturday night. The New Zealand First party is likely to determine whether Labour or National form a government and has previously stated they will re-enter the mine. Sonya Rockhouse who lost her son in the disaster is a member of the group 'Stand with Pike' and believes Winston Peters will deliver on this promise. Labour and Greens have also taken a similar stance on the issue.


Fight Against 'Bed Tax' Continues
Hotel owners and private objectors are continuing to fight the controversial "bed tax" after Auckland Council narrowly voted in favour of the plan. Mayor Phil Goff hopes to collect an additional 1 percent on the city's rate take by making accommodation owners pay the equivalent of half Auckland's tourism marketing spend. The bed tax is estimated to bring in $13.6 million dollars but more than half a million has already been sliced off the return as Auckland Council processes objections from many of the affected property owners. 182 claims have already been finalised with either partial or complete remission of the new rates.

Wage And Economic Growth in New Zealand Needs Fixing, Council of Trade Unions
The Council of Trade Unions says there are real problems with New Zealand's economic growth that needs to be solved. Recently released research on wages show working people are paid below the hourly average wage which means income is not shared fairly. CTU President Richard Wagstaff says we need to stop patting ourselves on the back and recognise the problems in our economy, adding that New Zealand needs a strategy to get the country out of this low wage rut.


Puerto Rico In Crisis Following Hurricane Maria
A growing crisis has hit Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. In the aftermath of the storm, the people of Puerto Rico are still without water, electricity and telephone services. Fallen trees are blocking main highways, many homes are without roofs and neighbourhoods are flooded. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello says the dam will be assessed by flying over the area. Rossello reiterates an earlier call from the authorities that local residents should leave their homes. Engineers state that it could take months for power to be restored in Puerto Rico.

600,000 Londoners Sign a Petition to Save Uber
More than 600,000 people have signed a petition to reserve a decision stripping Uber of its licence in London. The decision by Transport For London now to renew Uber's licence to operate has been supported by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Khan says it would be wrong for TFL to licence Uber if there was any way the ride-sharing service could pose a threat to Londoners safety. Khan sez frustration should be directed in uber for their failed to act as a proper and fit transport operation. Uber Chief Executive sent a global email to staff warning that the TFL decision could have negative consequences for the 40,000 drivers who depend on Uber for work and the 3.5 million Londoners who rely on Uber to get around.

Bali Declares Natural Disaster Before Volcano Erupts
The governor of Bali has declared a province-wide natural disaster as Mt Agung volcano looks set to erupt. Thousands are seeking shelter from the mountain after the alert was raised to Level 4 late Friday night. Officials say more than 35,000 people have fled the region around the volcano, more than double previous estimates. During the last eruption in 1963 the volcano hurled ash as high as 10km and remained active for a year. The governor of Bali says declaring a national disaster before the eruption means agencies across the island would have to take care of evacuees.

Reporting by Alessandra Nixon, Jean Bell and Lillian Hanly.