News of Zealand

News of Zealand: Christchurch Water Supply May Be at Risk Due to Farming

Another death attributed to synthetic cannabis use, changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme and Australia cardinal pleads not guilty to sex crimes.
Waimakariri River, Canterbury. Image via Flickr user Phillip Capper. 

All you need to know about the world this morning, curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.

LOCAL NEWS

Authorities Warn Agriculture Could Contaminate Christchurch Water Supply
Christchurch authorities have discussed the possibility that aquifers supplying the city's drinking water may become contaminated with nitrates from intensive agriculture. The concerns have emerged after research by Environment Canterbury (ECan) uncovered deep groundwater in the Waimakariri farming district, which could be flowing towards Christchurch. This is the first time ECan's modelling has revealed water contamination as a serious possibility.

Changes to Emissions Trading Scheme
Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett has announced a series of changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme. The updates are designed to ensure the scheme is fit to guide New Zealand to meeting the targets stipulated by the Paris Agreement. Bennett said Cabinet made the decision to increase the $25 per tonne of CO2 emissions that companies are already compelled to pay.
However, many experts remain unconvinced. Professor Euan Mason of Canterbury University's School of Forestry told 95bFM the latest review provided few advancements towards reducing our carbon emissions. "I think it has got some of the flaws that our policies have in the past, perhaps with some different names and some slight variations, but I can't see that would keep us on track," said Mason.

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Synthetic Cannabis on the Rise
The death toll from the synthetic cannabis epidemic has reached eight this month alone. The easily accessible product is popular among vulnerable and lower socio-economic Aucklanders. Geoff Simmons, co-leader of The Opportunities Party, told 95bFM gangs are leveraging the illicit status of cannabis to sell the synthetic knockoff. "In many parts of the country what we're hearing is that gangs are restricting the supply of natural cannabis so that they push alternatives which have a greater profit margin and a greater addictive nature such as synthetic cannabis," said Simmons. There are no recorded deaths from natural cannabis use.

Unions Critical of Draft Pay Equity Bill
A draft Pay Equity Bill was announced yesterday, with the claim that it will make lodging a pay claim easier for women without going to court. However, the new bill would require a claim to be mediated within the workplace. Worker advocacy group, Coalition for Equal Value Equal Pay, said the bill would waste time and resources. The New Zealand Educational Institute is urging MPs to reject the bill. President Lynda Stuart said that it will draw out an already lengthy process for equity claims and discourage women from taking action. The revised bill will update the existing Equal Pay Act.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

North Korea Warns Against Regime Change with Nuclear Threat
The North Korean foreign ministry has warned it will "preemptively annihilate" any nation that threatens the sovereignty of its leadership, according to a state news report. A spokesman said North Korea "will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the US with our powerful nuclear hammer," should the US offer any indication of an attempt to get rid of Kim Jong Un.

Wildfires in France Force 10,000 to Evacuate
At least 10,000 people in France's Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region were evacuated from their homes Tuesday night to avoid rapidly spreading wildfires. A stretch of 15.4 square miles on the southern coast, nearby mountains, and on Corsica—the Mediterranean island where Napoleon was born—has been consumed by the blaze.

Libyan Rivals Agree to Ceasefire
Two rival sources of power in Libya have struck a ceasefire deal following talks in Paris. Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who helms a government in Tripoli in the west backed by the UN, and Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who controls the east, also committed to organizing national elections.

Vatican Cardinal to Plead Not Guilty to Sex Crimes
The Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell intends to plead not guilty to what are being called historical sexual abuse charges, his lawyer revealed at a brief court appearance with his client in Melbourne, Australia. The magistrate ruled the full list of charges would not be published at this stage. The next hearing will take place October 6.

Additional reporting by Ally Su'a, Katie Doyle, Leah Garcia-Purves.