Everything you need to know this morning curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.
Don Brash Restates Opposition to Te Reo on Radio, Faces Criticism
Former National Partyleader Don Brash has criticised the use of te reo by presenters on Radio New Zealand, saying it has no value. In February last year, RNZ introduced a Māori strategy which included language plans for presenters. Speaking live on RNZ's 'Saturday Morning' show with Kim Hill, Brash said te reo shouldn't be "forced" on New Zealanders, saying those wanting to listen to the language can tune into Māori radio or television stations. Brash went on to criticise 'Morning Report' presenter Guyon Espiner's use of te reo, saying "we're being forced to listen to these sentences by Guyon Espiner without any trace of translation provided." Brash added he has no interest in learning te reo as "it has no value to me at all." Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said last month that te reo has been an official language for 30 years and objectors should "get used to it." There has also been criticism in the media and in response by commentators who have challenged the lack of Māori voices in this debate, and why it is still a debate at all.
Rental Homes to Get Warmer, Drier
The Labour government's Healthy Homes Guarantee Act passed in parliament last Thursday. The Act requires all rental homes to have basic standards of heating and insulation. Minister for housing and urban development Phil Twyford says inadequate living conditions are responsible for many social and health problems that renters face, “Half of New Zealanders these days rent, and we have this ridiculous situation where 40,000 young kids are hospitalised each year with infectious and respiratory diseases, largely because they are living in a cold damp home.” The Act will affect any new tenancies from July 1st, 2019, and all rentals must comply with the Act from July 1st 2024.
Scientist Urges Auckland Council to Address Diseased Kauri Forest
An environmental scientist is calling for Auckland Council to address Kauri dieback in the Waitakere ranges. Dr Mel Barton explains that the monitoring of Kauri trees in the forest indicates 58 percent are showing symptoms of Kauri dieback. Barton warns Auckland Council, saying it urgently needs to restrict access, in order to fix mud with spores being spread, “Its got to the point now where the iwi have said enough is enough, we have got to get the people out of this heavily infected forest so that we can upgrade the tracks and the cleaning stations, and we will not let people back in until that work is done and we can be confident that they are not going to be moving mud around and infecting more healthy trees and other forest”. Auckland Council is set to vote on potentially banning people from the Waitakere Ranges this week.
Forest & Bird Appeals Westport Mine Resource Consent
Forest & Bird is appealing the decision to grant resource consent to the proposed Te Kuha coal mine near Westport. The environmental organisation is taking their appeal to the Environment Court, saying the area is too special to dig up a coal mine. Forest & Bird dismisses claims that the economic benefits will outweigh the environmental costs. The proposed mine site is home to species threatened by extinction, and part of it would also be located within the Buller Gorge's outstanding landscape. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last month that no new mines would be dug up on conservation land. However Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage clarified the government's position, saying this did not apply to existing applications.
Unions Back Work-For-Dole Proposal Under Conditions
Unions are supporting a cabinet minister's call for beneficiaries to work for the dole, as long as minimum employment conditions are met. Regional economic development minister Shane Jones asked the government to give beneficiaries work and top up their dole payment to reach minimum wage levels. Unions are backing up the proposal, as long as beneficiaries get minimum wage, and don't end up working to get the same amount as on the doll. First Union president, Robert Reid, says it could be a good way of getting people off the dole, and into jobs. The details of the scheme remain largely unknown, and Jones wouldn't say what would happen to people who refused to work.
Greens Still Unsure about Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill Support
National's plans to create the controversial Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary may be jepordised after signs the bill may not have Green party support. National lodged the bill that would ban all fishing and mining within 620,000 sqkm of the Kermadec Islands. MP Nick Smith says he is confident the bill will pass given the Greens have indicated their support. However, a Green party spokesperson says members are committed to a confidence and supply deal with the Labour government and are yet to decide how they would vote. The government has previously suspended any plans to put through legislation until a resolution satisfactory to all parties is achieved. The proposal has previously faced opposition from New Zealand First who says it conflicts with Maori fishing rights, along with Maori and the fishing sector generally.
Polytechs Face Financial Strain
Many Polytechnic institutions are finding themselves under financial strain as the year closes. Charles Finny, chairperson of the New Zealand Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics, representing the 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics, claims that enrolments are down due to a strong economy. Finny explains that enrolment goes up when employment rates were lower, but New Zealand’s employment rates are currently high. There is also a push for more international students in institutions, as school leaver enrolment is also down, resulting in low domestic enrolment. Institution bosses are due to meet with Education Minister Chris Hipkins tomorrow.
Bali’s Volcanic Ash Cloud Causes More Flights Cancellations
A volcanic ash cloud is causing the cancellation of several flights from Bali, stranding thousands of Australians. All flights to the island from Australia have also been cancelled by Virgin, Qantas and Jetstar. Mount Agung's ash cloud cleared Wednesday, allowing passengers to go home, but conditions started deteriorating on Saturday, and the volcano's activity level remains listed as high, despite no major irruption occurring. Airlines linking Bali to Australia announced they will continue to operate relief flights, but have yet to make a decision on today's trips.
Trump’s Flynn Tweets Could Be Considered Obstruction of Justice
Analysts are saying Donald Trump’s latest tweets on Michael Flynn could point to an obstruction of Justice. The US president said in a tweet on Saturday that he had fired the then national security advisor because he had lied to the vice-president and the FBI about discussions with Russia last december. Flynn pleaded guilty in court on Friday of lying to FBI agents. According to former FBI director James Comey, the president requested a halt to an FBI investigation into Flynn. Something Donald Trump denied. Legal analysts are saying Trump's tweet is the clearest indication so far that he has tried to obstruct various inquiries into collusion between Russia and his election campaign.
The United States Pull Out of UN Global Migration Plan
Donald Trump has pulled out of a plan led by the United Nation to foster a more humane global strategy on migration. The UN aimed to produce a non-binding compact outlining procedures for safe and regulated migration in order to accommodate increasing migration movement This was due to be adopted by the UN general assembly by September next year. The Trump Administration has however said a global approach conflicts with US immigration policies and American sovereignty.
Tony Blair Pushing to Reverse Brexit
Tony Blair has spoken out against Britain Leaving the EU. Blair has said what is happening to the NHS is a national tragedy, and that it is becoming apparent the Vote Leave promise to increase NHS funding will not occur. He said the British public will be paying less money to the health service, not more as promised. The former UK Prime Minister believes there should be a second referendum, and says the will of the people is not something immutable. He adds that people can change their mind if the circumstances change, and they have changed.
Reporting by Lisa Boudet, Jean Bell, Harry Willis.