Everything you need to know about the world today, curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.
Sexual Orientation: a Question for Future Censuses
Statistics Minister James Shaw wants sexual orientation to be included in future New Zealand censuses. The census this year will not include this question but Shaw wants it to be included in the next census due to be held in 2023. Shaw says he is disappointed that this year’s census will not take into account New Zealand's diverse gender and sexual identities. He adds that the country needs a better idea of the size of these different communities in order to better address issues such as gender reassignment surgeries.
Big Gay Out Spirits Dampened by Weather
Big Gay Out was cancelled yesterday due to heavy rain, disappointing punters. Organisers were forced to make the call after pools of surface water made electrical connections unsafe. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Auckland mayor Phil Goff were due to deliver speeches at the event, which celebrates the Rainbow community and encourages safe sex practices. While the festival was cancelled, the Pride Parade on Ponsonby Road is next Saturday and Wellington's Pride festival starts in two weeks.
Government Set to Unveil Housing Report
The government will present the findings of its housing crisis report in parliament this morning. In November, the government commissioned three experts to provide an update on the housing market through a housing stocktake. At the time, the Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the report was necessary after years of denial and spin by the former government. National responded by saying the report was smoke and mirrors. It appears the report will use the latest government data to present findings about the New Zealand housing market, homelessness and the decline in home ownership.
Environmental Organisation Calls for Ban on Crayfish Fisheries
Environmental organisation the Environmental Defence Society wants a two-year ban on the commercial fishing of crayfish in the Hauraki Gulf and the Bay of Plenty. The Minister of Fisheries should make a decision by April on a proposal to halve the amount of crayfish taken in those areas. The Environmental Defence Society says this is not enough, as crayfish stocks have dropped by an estimated 95 percent in some areas within the last 60 years. The society says anything short of a total ban will risk losing crayfish stocks altogether, and the industry needs time to gather data on how the stocks can recover over time. Head of the Rock Lobster Industry Council, Mark Edwards, says a total ban is unnecessary and would have a significant impact on small, family–run fishery operations.
Child Poverty and Gambling Connected
A New Zealand doctor believes there is a connection between gambling and child poverty. Dr Lance O'Sullivan is speaking today at the International Gambling Conference in Auckland. O'Sullivan says gambling adds stress in low income houses putting children at a higher risk of abuse. O'Sullivan believes controlling problematic gambling facilities and behaviours is easy and more regulation is needed now. Independent Chair of the Gaming Machine Association Bruce Robertson argued that only 0.4 percent of the population have a gambling issue, so the machines should not be restricted. The Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand has found pokie machines are more prevalent in poor neighbourhoods.
KiwiSaver Funds Reducing Fees
Two default KiwiSaver funds have reduced their fees following a government review of fees being charged to savers. Business columnist Rod Oram says this shows people should take a more active approach to assessing their KiwiSaver schemes. Oram told 95bFM, “The Financial Markets Authority has a KiwiSaver tracker section on its website. So you look at your Kiwisaver plan there and you can see how it’s performing. The other thing people can do is go to the sorted.org.nz website, there’s a KiwiSaver fees calculator there”. Oram adds that the government could take more steps to oversee KiwiSaver schemes, including on their ethical choices.
Russian Plane Crash Leaves No Survivors
This weekend a passenger plane carrying 71 people crashed soon after taking off from a Russian airport. The plane was flying from Moscow to Orsk city and crashed about six minutes after take off. Witnesses claim they saw a "burning plane falling out of the sky. "While debris has been found, emergency services say there are no survivors and authorities are yet to determine the cause of the crash.
11 Countries Most Likely to be Run out of Drinking Water
Cape Town is likely to become the first major city in the modern world to run out of drinking water. Experts have been long warning about water scarcity, with over one billion people lacking access to water. Only 3 percent of Earth's water is fresh, and according to UN estimates, global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40 percent in 2030. Aside from Cape Town, 11 other cities are likely to run out of water including Beijing, Moscow, London, Istanbul, Tokyo and Miami.
Oxfam to Lose Funding over Haiti Sex Claims
Oxfam may lose funding from ministers if it cannot explain how it handled claims of sexual misconduct by aid workers. The allegations relate to claims of aid workers using prostitutes during the aftermath of the 2011 Haiti earthquakes. British international development secretary Penny Mordaunt calls the alleged behaviour "a complete betrayal of both the people Oxfam were there to help and also the people that sent them there to do that job." Mordaunt says Oxfam has failed in its "moral leadership" by not reporting the claims to the government. Meanwhile, Oxfam is conducting a review of the organisation and will be introducing tougher vetting and training of staff.
Cyclone Gita Forecast to Hit Highest Level Category Five
Over the next 24 hours Tropical cyclone Gita is expected to be upgraded to a highest category storm as it heads towards Tonga. At the moment, a massive clean up is taking place in Samoa and American Samoa, with some parts still underwater following the storm. Tongan MetService says Tonga should experience the worst of the cyclone at around midnight and the winds of over 200km/h are expected to intensify. Tonga MetService Director Ofa Fa’anunu says authorities are worried about structural damage from the wind as the island is low lying, particularly on the northern shores. Tonga is on high alert and Red Cross worker Hannah Butler says Tongans are taking extra precautions.
Additional reporting: Jemima Huston, Jean Bell, Lillian Hanley