News of Zealand

News of Zealand: Climate Change is “My Generation’s Nuclear-Free Moment” - Ardern

National's plan for more big roads, candlelight vigils for anniversary of Hawkes Bay water crisis and Elon Musk vs the killer robots.

by VICE Staff and 95 bFM
20 August 2017, 11:01pm

Image via New Zealand Labour Twitter.

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


Climate Change is "My Generation's Nuclear-Free Moment": Jacinda Ardern
Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern told crowds at her party's campagn launch in Auckland yesterday that climate change is her generation's "nuclear-free moment", and that Labour is determined to "tackle it head on". Crowds at the campaign launch were estimated at about 2200, packing out the Auckland Town Hall and several overflow rooms. Speaking on 95bFM Breakfast this morning, Ardern told Mikey Havoc that addressing climate change is a crucial step towards preserving New Zealand's clean, green image. "We trade on our brand; our brand is incredibly important to us. It won't take long before somewhere we will start lagging behind, it will be internationally known, and that then has a reputational effect for us. So my view is that actually getting on top of this—for our agricultural industry, for our dairy industry, for all those who export—it will enhance our place in the world."
Ardern also addressed inequality, poverty, and cleaning up dirty rivers. After the speech, she denied she was encroaching on traditional Green Party territory.

National Promises Billions in New Roads
The National Party has promised to invest $10.5 billion in new roads if it is returned to power following the September 23 election. The Roads of National Significance plan will add 10 new roads, as far north as Whangarei and as far south as Ashburton. The price tag comes on top of the estimated $12 billion already spent on the plan's initial seven roads. Prime Minister Bill English told reporters that the new infrastructure would allow progress in other areas, allowing the government to "get ahead of the curve on growth".

Auckland Teachers Miss Out on $17,500
Hundreds of new teachers in low-decile Auckland schools have missed out on an incentive payment that could have wiped $17,500 off their student loans. NZEI Te Riu Roa, the primary school teachers union, said the majority of Auckland principles they contacted this month were not aware of the payment and were annoyed their teachers had missed out. The voluntary bonding incentive, which was launched in 2009, pays new teachers $3500 a year for up to five years if they teach in a decile 1 or isolated school for the first three years after graduation. Education Minister Nikki Kaye said only 283 beginner teachers had received the payment in 2012 and that the number had dwindled every year since.

Tougher English-Language Rules for Foreign Students
A group representing private tertiary institutions has warned that tougher English-language testing rules for foreign students will not stop some education providers from rorting the system. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority now requires all institutions to get approval if they want to run their own English testing for students from low-risk countries. However, Independent Tertiary Education chairperson Christine Clark said they would prefer if no institutions were allowed to offer their own English tests. Immigration New Zealand has shared similar concerns, saying students who fail tests could pose an immigration risk as they have limited options for further visas.

Gastro Crisis Remembered
Kiwis held twilight vigils across New Zealand last night to mark one year since the Havelock North water contamination crisis. Residents of Havelock North, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin gathered to raise awareness of the environmental issues that led to around 5500 cases of gastric illness. Organisers said Havelock North residents wanted to send a message to government authorities that changes needed to happen to ensure such a crisis never happened again.


Trump's Chief Strategist Returns To Ultra-right Wing Media Routes
Donald Trump's former chief strategist has pledged to wage war against the president's opponents following his departure from the White House. Steve Bannon was reportedly fired from his job in the White House late last week. He has since returned to the helm of the ultra-right wing news website Breitbart, promising to use the media outlet to continue fighting for the ideology that won Trump the election.
Commentators say Bannon will use his media influence to target officials within the Trump administration who didn't see eye to eye with the president's populist ideals. The timing of his departure has triggered speculation that Trump was pressured into firing him, following the violence at Charlottesville last weekend. However, Bannon told media he voluntarily left his position, and that he planned for it to coincide with the one-year anniversary of his involvement with the Trump campaign as chief executive. It's been reported that Bannon is also considering starting his own television network.

Iraqi Forces Launch An Operation To Retake Tal Afar
Iraq ground forces began an operation to take back Tel Afar, one of the last cities in the country still under Islamic State control. Prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced the offensive in a televised speech last night, telling Jihadists they could either "surrender or die". Hours before the prime-minister's statement, the Iraqi air force dropped leaflets over the city of Tel Afar, warning citizen to prepare for the latest assault. Tel Afar, which has a mostly Shia-Muslim population, fell to IS in 2014. The city sits between Mosul and the Syrian border, on a major road that was used by the Jihadist group as a key supply route.

Elon Musk Calls For Ban On Killer Robots
Elon Musk is leading a call for the United Nations to ban the development and use of killer robots. Musk and a group of over 100 leading robotics and artificial intelligence specialists from across 26 countries wrote an open letter to the UN, calling for a halt to an arms race they believe will usher in the third age of war.
The group wants the UN to block the use of lethal autonomous weapons including drones, tanks and automated machine guns. Experts have previously warned that although AI can be used to make the battlefield a safer place, offensive weapons that operate on their own could lower the threshold for going to war and result in a greater loss of human life.

Boy From Sydney Confirmed Dead Following Barcelona Attack
A seven-year-old boy from Sydney has been confirmed as one of 14 people killed in a terrorist attack in Barcelona last week. Julian Cadman was one of three deceased children identified by the Civil Safety Agency of Catalan using DNA identification techniques. Julian and his mother, Jom, were reportedly walking along Las Ramblas Street in the Spanish city just before 5pm when they were struck. This is the first news of Julian since the attack. People from Italy, Belgium, the US, Portugal, and Canada have also been confirmed among the dead. A further 50 victims remain in hospitals around Barcelona while 12 remain in critical condition.

Reporting by Alessandra Nixon, James Borrowdale and Ximena Smith.

Bill English
Jacinda Ardern