News of Zealand

News of Zealand: MPs Urged to Extend New Medicinal Cannabis Law

Immigration NZ profiles on race, living wage rises and is your airbag safe?

Everything you need to know today curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.


Call for Great Protections for Medicinal Cannabis Users
MPs have been urged by advocacy groups to provide wider legal protection for medicinal cannabis use than is currently proposed. The current revision of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill before Parliament, would allow only the terminally ill and with a year left to live to have a legal defence against prosecution for illicit marijuana use. Drug Foundation director, Ross Bell, told MPs on the first day of hearings that the Bill should be extended to also cover those with severe and debilitating conditions. Shane Le Brun of the Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand charity, said those most at risk of being prosecuted for illicit cannabis use were not the terminally ill at all. A bill proposed by Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick would have allowed sick New Zealanders to use and grow marijuana, or have someone grow it for them. The bill was defeated in February.

Alpha Airbags Are Not Beta
The government announced a compulsory recall of 50,000 vehicles across New Zealand for faulty Alpha type Takata airbags. The Australian government made a similar move in February which affected two million vehicles. Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said there will be intensive monitoring of 257,000 vehicles fitted with non-Alpha Takata airbags. Faafoi says these airbags have been known to be a risk since 2013, but the previous government did not do anything. National Party leader Simon Bridges who was Transport Minister for the previous government did not think this was a controversial issue and thought it should be voluntary. All Alpha-type airbags will be replaced by December 2019.


Immigration Trials System That Profiles on Race, Age, Gender
Immigration New Zealand has been modelling new data to identify problem immigrants. Immigrants could be deported if they come from a demographic which is seen as a burden to the country. Immigrants could be deported faster for unpaid hospital debts or for committing crime. According to Alistair Murray of INZ compliance and investigations said this pilot has been operating for the past 18 months. Immigration Lawyer Alastair McClymont said this is a dangerous trend as it allows immigration officers to make race-based assumptions. Murray denies this is racial profiling. Some nationalities are already more susceptible to being targeted and this data increases their chances of being deported.

Living Wage Rises 35 Cents
The voluntary living wage is rising from $20.20 an hour to $20.55. More businesses are being encouraged to pay the rate to increase employees’ standard of living. Living Wage national convenor, Annie Newman, said more than 600,000 workers were living in poverty and did not earn enough to survive. The higher rate was calculated after a review bringing in data from the household economic survey with factors such as health and transport, to get a better picture of what New Zealanders need on a daily basis to survive. It is unlikely to be made compulsory but a rise in the minimum wage to $16.50, show the government working on a rate that better provide for New Zealand families.


Green Party Minister Changes Tune
Green MP Eugenie Sage is backtracking on reports that she met with Environmental Protection Agency Chief Executive, Allan Freeth. The associate environment minister forwarded a very critical article to the EPA about chief scientist, Jacqueline Rowarth. Dr Rowarth, resigned earlier this year after raising concerns about Sage's conduct with Dr Freeth. Sage has told parliament she met with Dr Freeth about Dr Rowarth. The national party has accused Sage of interfering with staff matters at the EPA. Dr Freeth is to appear before a select committee today to confirm he'd had no related discussions with Eugenie Sage.


Tension Between China and USA Escalates
Trade between China and the United States has escalated as China proposes to impose tariffs on imported products. American imported products will incur an additional 25 percent tariff in China. This follows as President Donald Trump threatened to tariff 25 percent on $50 billion worth of imports from China. Wang Shouwen, Chinese vice-minister of commerce said China does not want a trade war as it is a lose-lose situation for both nations. Trump threatened to tariff everything from industrial robots, electronics, vaccines, machines with the list extending to 1,333 items.

Austria to Ban Hijab for Girls
Austria has moved to ban hijab for girls in kindergarten and primary school. The announcement comes as part of Austria's government crackdown on Muslim and "political Islam" activity. Education Minister Heinz Fassmann said yesterday that the draft law on the hijab would be ready to be implemented in a few months. The announcement comes days after a member of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) Heinz-Christian Strache, proposed such a similar ban to "protect" girls under the age of 10, to allow them to supposedly "integrate" into Austrian society. Of Austria's population of 8.75 million people, an estimated 700,000 people identify as Muslims. Last year, the Austrian government introduced a ban on the face veil, punishable by a fine of $180.


The Commonwealth Games Have Begun
The commonwealth games have officially opened in the Gold Coast. 100 protesters were contained by the police 90 minutes before the start of the ceremony. Organisers rushed to get spectators in the stadium after delays in transport. An estimated 1 billion people viewed the ceremony, with 35,000 people in attendance.The competition starts today with the men's and women's triathlon.

Fiji Students Finally Getting Meningococcal C Vaccination
Medical teams will give Meningococcal C vaccinations to students at a Fiji High School today. With Cyclone Josie delaying the shipment, 300 students will receive the vaccination. Navesau Adventist High School had an outbreak last week, which saw five students admitted to hospitals. Ministry of Health teams have been at the school since mid-March giving regular checkups on students and staff. Authorities are telling people to keep their environment clean to stop Meningococcal C from spreading.

Facebook Admits Cambridge Analytica Spied On Millions More
Facebook has revealed an additional 37 million people have had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica. In total 87 million people have been affected by this breach of privacy. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will appear before Congress for questioning on the April 11. Facebook is making changes to how third party developers access and extract data of users. Facebook will be removing the tool which allows people to search for others using their phone numbers or email address.

Hot Springs Good for Stress
Japanese macaques are stressed out, according to Japanese scientists. The primates are generally used to cold weather and their physiology dictates they've been evolved to withstand in it. However, they congregate to hot spring pools anyway and scientists wanted to know why. Stress in humans is measured by the level of the hormone cortisol. So, in primates, it's measured by glucocortoids, which are found in their faeces. Scientist took samples from Macaques in Jigokudani Monkey Park where there is a set of purpose built hot springs. Within that park the scientists found there is a hierarchy of pools, divided amongst the primate's social hierarchy—the better pools are reserved for the better macaques, which are typically female. So, when it gets colder, they get more stressed, which means they spend more time in the pools.

Additional reporting: Darashpreet Johal, Lucy Austin.