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News of Zealand

News of Zealand: Homeless Numbers Grow in North

Plus the future of our prison policy, and a new chief scientist.

by 95 bFM and VICE Staff
12 June 2018, 10:51pm

Image via shutterstock.com

Everything you need to know about the world today, curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.

LOCAL NEWS

“New Homelessness” in Whangarei
Whangarei Mayor Cheryl Mai is appealing for help in the face of a growing number of homeless people around the city. Mai is hoping to set up a day shelter for people being forced out onto the street over soaring rent prices, adding people living in cars, cabins, tents and sheds need somewhere safe to spend their waking hours. A housing support worker, Carrie Kake, calls it the "new homelessness", blaming the increasing number on Aucklanders who have moved North or bought rental properties. The Ministry of Social Development has said it will put homeless people in motels or other accommodation if needed. The current waiting list for a state house in Whangarei stands at 213.

Future of Waikeria Prison Announced
The Coalition Government will today announce plans for any potential development of Waikeria Prison. The plan will come from the results of last year’s prison inspectorate report which unearthed evidence of overcrowding, double-bunking and keeping at-risk offenders in their cells for up to 22 hours a day. Nearly $200 million of the 2018 Budget has been allocated to the development of prisons and to house the influx of offenders, which has now reached nearly 11,000 people. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is not, however, continuing the prior government's proposal of increasing the prison capacity to meet the current prison muster. Opposition Leader Simon Bridges believes not continuing the mega-prison scheme is irresponsible and will cause danger to the general population. The announcement will be made at Waikeria today.

New Chief Science Advisor
Auckland University Professor Juliet Gerrard is the Prime Minister’s new Chief Science Advisor. The Oxford-educated Associate Dean of Research is the second ever person to fill the role and replaces Sir Peter Gluckman who served since 2009. Gerrard says she hopes to increase the accessibility of so-called dry science academia to the public and hopes her appointment encourages ambition in young female scientists. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern praised Gerrard's experience and expertise, suggesting climate change and the spread of Mycroplasma bovis as potential issues to investigate.

Legal Action Likely for NZ Buildings Similar to Grenfell
A leading building disputes lawyer says there is “no doubt” legal action will be taken for New Zealand building owners with similar cladding to the Grenfell Tower. Auckland Council has found 116 buildings with similar composite panels, 25 of which have the highly combustible cores which quickly burned through the Grenfell Tower killing 72 people. The council says that when fire systems like sprinklers and fire alarms are taken into account, the risk to occupants is low and worried building owners should seek advice. Building disputes lawyer Paul Grimshaw says he was surprised at the number of buildings affected, adding action would come to those who failed to put up the correct systems including councils, architects and developers.

NZ Police Apologise to Hager
The New Zealand Police have officially apologised for breaching Nicky Hager's journalistic privilege during a 2014 investigation into his book, Dirty Politics. The investigation involved raiding Hager's house under a search warrant which the High Court described as "fundamentally unlawful". Professor Andrew Geddis from the University of Otago's faculty of law says the apology is a big win for privacy rights for both journalists and the general population in New Zealand. During the investigation, the police attempted to access Hager's personal data through third party sources, which included his bank and phone carrier.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

No More War Games For US and North Korea
Talks between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un have concluded with both parties agreeing to begin a North Korean nuclear disarmament program. Trump has ordered the suspension of military exercises and training with South Korea, in a freeze-for-freeze concession to get Kim to commit to working towards denuclearisation. The lack of detail and ability to implement concrete change in the deal has attracted criticism. Seoul-based analyst Andrei Lankov says it "has zero practical value. The US could have extracted serious concessions, but it was not done. North Korea will be emboldened and the US got nothing". The summit will be followed next week by more negotiations between US and North Korean officials.

Brexit Rolls On
The British government has won a key Brexit bill vote 324 votes to 298 after a late concession put forward by MPs. The concessions are believed to include the offering of a new Parliamentary motion if the Brexit is voted down by MPs opposed to the bill. BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says no actual concessions have been agreed upon and the only agreement is to keep discussing the matter. Details on what the compromise will involve will be discussed later this week in the House of Lords.

Macedonia and Greece Agree on Name of Macedonia
After 25 years of disputes, Macedonia and Greece have reached an agreement on what to call Macedonia. What was officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will now go by The Republic of Northern Macedonia. The dispute was over potential confusion between the country 'Macedonia' and its southern regional neighbour within the Greek border by the same name. Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras believes the agreement is a "great diplomatic victory, but also a historic opportunity, a historic moment". The agreement will be put to popular vote in a referendum later this year according to Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

Aquarius Left Stranded
Human rights groups have denounced Italy and Malta's denial of the refugee rescue ship 'The Aquarius' to dock at their ports. Amnesty International accused the two governments of undermining the entire search and rescue system as 629 people, including 11 children and seven pregnant women were left stranded. Amnesty International's Italy researcher Elisa De Pieri says if unchallenged the incident will compromise lifesaving work done by NGOs leaving thousands adrift in the Mediterranean. The ship was at sea for an additional four days before Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he would give the vessel "safe harbour" at the eastern port of Valencia.

Ireland’s Social Liberalisation Continues
The Irish government has announced a referendum to remove the offence of blasphemy from the constitution. This comes after last month’s milestone abortion referendum in a wave of constitutional reforms for the social liberalisation of Ireland. Following the blasphemy referendum, a vote on a controversial reference in the constitution to 'a woman’s life within the home' is expected to take place. Charlie Flanagan, the justice and equality minister, says the reforms show these historic constitutional references no longer reflect Irish values. The referendum will probably be held in October on the same day as the presidential election.

Additional reporting by: Daniel Meech, Jenn Tamati, Tu Natanahira and Oscar Perress