News of Zealand

Labour Ahead For The First Time in a Decade, As Political Leaders Face Off

Plus: Ngāti Ruanui have proposed seabed mining in their sights, and Fonterra stands down two overweight drivers after safety concerns.

by 95 bFM and VICE Staff
31 August 2017, 11:38pm

Photo: GETTY


Shockwave Poll Precedes Leaders Debate
The latest Colmar Brunton poll has sent shockwaves throughout New Zealand, with Labour in the lead by two percent. At 43 percent they've almost doubled their share of the vote since polls just a month ago, which had Labour at 24 percent. It's the highest level of support Labour has since 2006: breaking a decade-long streak of trailing after the winning National Party. This was a key talking point at last night's leaders debate, with moderator Mike Hosking kicking things off with one simple question to Prime Minister Bill English: "Why is National losing?"
English replied that the party was not losing, and that the poll painted a very different picture to what he saw in New Zealand: "It's not what we are seeing but it does show that it is a drag race with the two big parties and anyone who was unclear about that, I think it's now really clear about it so they will get to choose now." However, he later admitted the poll result would most likely mobilise National Party activists to campaign even harder: "We've had great energy in the last couple of weeks with the campaign launch, with some very successful long-term policy plans that we've been rolling out, so, yes, we'll expect our activists will look at that poll and they'll say, well it's possible the government will change.
While Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was quietly celebrating the poll, she stated it would not be taken be for granted: "We've seen such a dramatic change in the polls in the last three to four weeks, that that drama could go in either direction so we've got make sure we maintain our discipline, our focus, and just keep working hard," she said.
The next leaders debate will take place on September 4 at 8.30pm on TV3.

Local Iwi Challenging South Taranaki Seabed Mining
A local iwi has challenged the claims of economic benefits from seabed mining in the South Taranaki sea. Trans-Tasman Resources, which has been granted permission to carry out the mining, said this would create 300 jobs and increase export earning by $400 million. The chief executive of Ngāti Ruanui, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, disputed this claim, telling 95 bFM that "the decision-making committee didn't test the evidence that the economic impact analysis provided in the hearing". Ngāti Ruanui has plans to appeal the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency, which granted the permission.

Industry Responds to New Zealand First Shipping Policy
Representatives of the commercial freight industry have criticised a proposed relocation of Auckland Port. This comes after New Zealand First announced yesterday that it wanted car deliveries redirected to Whangarei by 2019, with the entire port joining it by 2027. Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley told 95bFM that the plan didn't make sense: "If you just took the cars alone to Northport, you'd have to have a truck and trailer car transporter about every one or two minutes around the clock, to actually move the quantity of cars." Shirley added the vast majority of cars shipped to the existing port were for the greater Auckland region and that the efforts would be counter productive to New Zealand Transport's environmental goals.

Fonterra Drivers Too Heavy to Drive
Two Fonterra truck drivers have been stood down for being overweight due to health and safety concerns regarding the seats on two models of trucks. Fonterra spokesperson Barry McColl said there is a weight rating limit on the drivers' seats and if one was beyond that weight, the safety functions may not perform to standard. Union delegate Mark Holmes said the company had given them no alternate work and, up until recently, there was no plan on going forward. Holmes added that Fonterra now plans to put the men either into a weight-loss or gym programme.


At Least 21 People Dead After Building Collapses in Mumbai
At least 21 people were killed after a building crumbled in the Indian city of Mumbai Thursday morning. Rescue teams pulled another 21 people alive from the ruins of a six-story building in the Bhendi Bazaar district, and continued to search for others believed to be under the rubble.

Japan May Ramp Up Missile Program
The Japanese Defense Ministry has asked lawmakers to approve an extra $160 million for its annual budget to advance the country's missile program. Members of the Liberal Democratic Party are apparently keen on Japan being more capable of striking North Korea's missile own capacity directly.

Brazilian Judge Halts Government Plan to Mine Nature Reserve
A federal court in Brazil has at least temporarily halted the government's plan to scrap allow an area of preserved forest in the Amazon to be mined. Judge Rolando Valcir Spanholo ruled President Michel Temer did not have the power to eliminate protections on Renca, an area of almost 18,000 square miles, and said Congress would have to approve the move, though the administration can appeal.

Two Killed in Car Bomb Attack in Benghazi
At least two soldiers were killed in a car bomb attack on a security checkpoint Thursday in the Libyan city of Benghazi. The soldiers were part of the Libyan National Army, which controls much of the country's east.

Reporting by Reuben McLaren, Conor Mercer, Ollie Powell, and Katie Doyle.

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