Live updates, November 26: Six Pakistan cricketers test positive for Covid-19 in Christchurch

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 26. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

7.30pm: The day in sum

The Air NZ worker who tested positive on arrival in China most likely caught Covid-19 overseas, said the Ministry of Health in a statement that also announced one new imported case.

Six members of the Pakistan men’s cricket team tested positive in managed isolation in Christchurch. The team as a whole has been issued with a final warning after repeatedly breaking MIQ rules.

The 53rd parliament commenced with a speech from the throne by governor general Patsy Reddy setting out the government’s agenda, and maiden speeches from Labour MPs Ibrahim Omer and Arena Williams.

Māori Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer walked out of the debating chamber after clashing with speaker Trevor Mallard.

Jacinda Ardern will officially declare a climate emergency next Wednesday, it was reported.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings handed over its findings. The report will be released to the public on December 8.

After a wet few weeks, Auckland water restrictions will be eased for summer, the council announced.

Another person has died from injuries sustained in the Whakaari/White Island disaster in December last year, police confirmed. 64-year-old Horst Westenfelder died on July 2 at a hospital overseas.

5.45pm: Six Pakistan cricketers return positive Covid tests in Christchurch MIQ, team issued with final warning for rule breaches

Six members of the Pakistan men’s cricket team have tested positive for Covid-19 at their managed isolation facility at the Chateau on the Park in Christchurch, the Ministry of Health has announced.

“All members of the team returned a negative Covid-19 test and passed a symptom check before departing Lahore,” said the ministry in a statement.

Fifty-three members of the squad arrived in Christchurch on Tuesday this week and were tested on day one. These cases are the results of those tests.

The statement said since the team’s arrival, several team members have been seen on CCTV at the facility breaching managed isolation rules, “despite clear, consistent and detailed communication of expected behaviours while in the facility”. The team as a whole has been issued with a final warning.

”The three cases are being moved to quarantine rooms within the facility. Members of the team will be tested a minimum of four times while in managed isolation, says the ministry. Pakistan is scheduled to play the Black Caps in three T20s starting on December 18, a Boxing Day test and a second test starting on January 3.

“As a result of these positive tests, members of the team will not be able to leave the facility to train,” said the statement. The squad’s management has been told that all team members must stay in their rooms until advised otherwise.

The Pakistani team is not the first to fall foul of New Zealand’s MIQ rules: earlier in the month, the West Indies men’s squad had training privileges revoked after several players were caught on CCTV mingling in hallways at the same MIQ facility in Christchurch.

5.35pm: Māori Party co-leaders go on offensive after parliament walkout

The Māori Party has released correspondence between the parliamentary clerk and Māori Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer following the MPs’ decision to walk out of the debating chamber today (see 2.50pm update). The pair left after Waititi attempted to raise a point of order but was told to stop by speaker of the house Trevor Mallard.

Following the walkout, clerk of the house of representatives David Wilson wrote to Waititi and Ngarewa-Packer to explain the decision.

“I thought I’d email you about the motion you moved today to try and speak in the Address in Reply debate. When there is a motion already being debated (the one Arena Williams moved), a second motion can’t be moved until the first one is dealt with. That’s why the Speaker didn’t put it to the House to vote on.”

Waititi replied: “Respectfully, the presumptions made in your email are clearly misguided. The speaker and everyone else for that matter has no idea about what I was trying to say because the speaker prematurely ruled on my point of order before I could make it. The Speaker should not have ruled on a point of order he did not understand.”

The speaker “must keep in his mind discrimination and prejudice against a minority party” continued Waititi, noting also that Mallard had not employed translation services in the debating chamber.

“We would be grateful if you could convey to the Speaker that our Reo is an official language of Aotearoa,” he wrote

3.15pm: 22nd death from Whakaari/White Island disaster confirmed

Police have confirmed another person has died from injuries sustained in the Whakaari/White Island disaster in December last year.

64-year-old Horst Westenfelder died on July 2 at a hospital overseas, bringing the overall death toll from the tragedy to 22.

Westenfelder died due to medical complications while receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the eruption, police said.

A statement from Westenfelder’s wife Angelika released by police said he had been fighting for his life.

“He lost this battle and started his last journey in July. It is an irreplaceable loss for our family, his friends and of course for myself.”

2.50pm: Collins, Ardern speak; Māori Party co-leaders walk out

Judith Collins is giving her address in reply to the prime minister’s speech from the throne.

Collins has pledged to hold the government to account over the next term, but congratulated Ardern for achieving an impressive election result. Grant Robertson was also singled out by Collins, who congratulated him on becoming deputy prime minister – a job Collins said he had already been doing for the past three years.

Indicating her party’s priorities for the next three years, Collins said the government should be focusing on reforming planning laws and lashed out at Labour for previously blaming foreigners for skyrocketing house prices.

Of course, light rail was also in Collins’ targets, as was the lack of infrastructure developed over the past term, and the rising number of children in material hardship.

There were also at least two jokes about KiwiBuild – as if Collins would ever pass up an opportunity to gloat about that.

Māori Party co-leaders leave the house after clashing with speaker

Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer – the co-leaders of the Māori Party – have walked out of the debating chamber. Waititi attempted to raise a point of order ahead of Judith Collins’ speech, but was told to stop by speaker of the house Trevor Mallard.

“We were shocked and deeply disturbed to learn that we would not have an opportunity, as all other party leaders had, to speak in the address in reply debate in response to the prime minister’s agenda,” Waititi said in a statement.

“Our Māori people clearly expressed a view that their liberated, unapologetic voice should be heard, not suppressed. These rulings are offensive to us because they represent oppression of the tangata whenua voice.”

‘We will be a government for all New Zealanders’ – Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern has rejected criticism from the National Party that her government has not made positive changes on child poverty.

But, Ardern said she accepts that there is still work to do. The prime minister said she stood proudly on her government’s record, but that “these are some of the harshest times for this country”.

Her government would continue working to address house prices, public housing, Ardern said, and called it a “national shame” that not everyone has access to clear drinking water.

“The job is not done,” Ardern said about climate change.

This government was the most diverse in history, she said, and they will act for the entire country. “We will be a government for all New Zealanders.”

New MPs Arena Williams and Ibrahim Omer give maiden speeches

Two of Labour’s new cohort of MPs – Manurewa’s Arena Williams and list MP Ibrahim Omer – have given their maiden speeches to a loud round of applause from the parliament.

2.00pm: Ministry of Health updates mask guidance for MIQ workers

The Ministry of Health has updated its mask guidance for those working in managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

N95/P2 masks are now recommended when two metre physical distancing cannot be maintained from a confirmed or probable case, such as in a confined space.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said protecting frontline MIQ staff is a “top priority” in the ongoing fight against Covid-19.

1.10pm: Air NZ worker ‘most likely’ caught Covid-19 overseas; one new imported case

Updated

The Air New Zealand worker who was reported to have contracted Covid-19 this week “most likely” caught the coronavirus while working overseas, the Ministry of Health has announced.

Results of genome sequencing show that the lineage of this infection is not associated with any New Zealand cases that have been sequenced.

The crew – all wearing PPE – returned from Shanghai on a cargo-only flight yesterday morning. They are being monitored, isolated and tested, a ministry spokesperson said.

Further test samples from close contacts of the staff member have been processed rapidly and nine results have been returned, all of which are negative.

“Because this case was first reported in China, it is officially a case in China, not New Zealand – so while we are reporting on it, it does not enter into our official count of Covid-19 cases,” the ministry said.

The Ministry of Health will continue to investigate how the case was contracted. “Although the source of the infection is still unknown, we are continuing to take precautionary actions within New Zealand.”

Auckland Regional Public Health Service is continuing to identify any locations of interest the case may have visited and any associated close contacts. Twelve close contacts have so far been identified.

One new imported case of Covid-19

There is one new case of Covid-19 today, detected in a recent returnee in managed isolation.

Today’s case arrived on November 14 from the United Kingdom via the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. They tested positive at routine testing around day 12 of their stay in managed isolation and have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

It takes the total number of active cases in the country up to 60, with 1,684 confirmed cases overall.

Yesterday, 9,083 tests for Covid-19 were completed, bringing the total number of tests to date up to 1,252,601.

12.30pm: Government set to declare climate emergency

Jacinda Ardern has made moves to officially declare a climate emergency, after a similar motion was blocked by New Zealand First last parliamentary term.

As Stuff reports, the motion itself would have no practical effect on laws or the running of the country, but instead acts as a symbol of the government’s dedication to combatting climate change.

Green Party co-leader and climate change minister James Shaw said he hoped the symbolic gesture would be accompanied by action.

Ardern will introduce the government motion next Wednesday.

11.45am: Water restrictions eased in Auckland

A brief diversion from the proceedings in Wellington to focus on a new development here in Auckland.

Auckland Council has agreed to ease water restrictions for summer, RNZ reports. Locals will be able to use a hand-held hose at home, provided it is attended and has a trigger nozzle.

It ends months of limitations in the supercity following a drought that started at the tail end of last summer.

10.50am: Speech from the throne – a photo essay

Courtesy of Parliament TV, we are able to witness the festivities surrounding the “speech from the throne”, delivered by the governor-general Patsy Reddy.

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy looks on during the opening of New Zealand’s 53rd Parliament (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The “Usher of the Black Rod” is responsible for summoning MPs to the chamber for the throne speech. Henceforth, they will be referred to in these updates as “roddo”.

Acting usher is Sandra McKie, appointed at the start of this month.

(Image : Parliament TV)

Here comes roddo!

(Parliament TV)

Err… Apparently the captions are done in Australia, so, go figure.

(Parliament TV)

Roddo versus Patsy Reddy.

(Parliament TV)

Acting Usher of the Black Rod is bashing the door of parliament as tradition dictates.

(Parliament TV)

The caption is all you need. I have no further thoughts.

(Parliament TV)

The sergeant of arms and roddo have now walked out of the house, followed by the MPs, and are off to hear the governor-general deliver the speech.

(Parliament tv)

(Parliament TV)

10.35am: The day ahead – MPs prepare for biggest day of parliamentary calendar

It’s the first day of school (the new parliament). Our political editor Justin Giovannetti previews the day ahead in the Beehive:

It’s one of the biggest occasions Parliament can throw. The governor-general will be visiting with a throne speech in her pocket today, set for delivery some time before 11am.

But before that, looked on by fidgeting new MPs and a lot of gold braid, Dame Patsy Reddy will be delving into a side of New Zealand that is rarely seen around Parliament. With the symbols of monarchy comes the military.

First, there will be a 21 gun salute across Wellington harbour. Following all the booming from large artillery pieces parked below a school (really), the governor-general will inspect an honour guard with dozens of soldiers, sailors and airmen. Some will be toting rifles. There will be a band with martial music. They’ve been practicing on the forecourt all week.

Then things move inside and reflect more traditions borrowed from Westminster. The governor-general won’t enter the house to deliver her speech. The last time a monarch entered the commons in the UK was 1642. It ended quite poorly for King Charles I. Since then, there’s a whole ceremony, banged doors and someone called black rod.

The house will show that it’s boss and the governor-general will just need to deliver her speech in the nearby red chamber, which is more opulent anyways. This afternoon, there will be hours of speeches as the prime minister, leader of the opposition and all the other main political leaders argue about the speech.

The throne speech itself sets out the government’s agenda. While big surprises are unlikely, the speech is the foundation on which the next three years, or some significant part of them, will rest.

10.15am: New rules in place for Defence Force staff working in MIQ

After the recent outbreak of Covid-19 stemmed from a Defence Force worker, new rules have been put in place to try and curb any further spread of the virus.

Newshub revealed last night that the new rules include a curfew and alcohol restrictions, stopping Defence Force workers from drinking at bars. There are also risk assessments for meetings between NZDF Covid-19 staff and other Defence Force staff, along with risk assessments when staff are off-duty and leave MIQ facilities.

Masks are also compulsory when travelling between facilities.

Read more on Newshub

9.30am: Royal Commission into Christchurch shooting handed to government today

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 2019 Christchurch mosque shooting is handing over its findings today – but the public won’t get to see just yet.

As RNZ reports, the Royal Commission will offer insight into how the shooting was able to take place. The gunman’s guilty plea stopped any dissection of this matter at a formal court trial.

The inquiry was led by Sir William Young and Jacqui Caine who have investigated the gunman’s activities ahead of March 15, what security agencies knew about him, and if those agencies could’ve prevented the shootings.

The governor-general Patsy Reddy and internal affairs minister Jan Tinetti today will receive copies of the report today, with an expectation that it will be made public before Christmas.

“We’re anticipating that this report is going to be quite lengthy, so there is going to be a lot of working through in that process,” Tinetti told RNZ. It’s up to the prime minister how much of the report is made public, and whether the victims’ families will receive copies early – but the Royal Commission has ensured that no redactions were needed.

Delayed public release ‘unacceptable’ – Act Party 

In a press release this week, the Act Party’s firearms reform spokesperson Nicole McKee said the government’s decision to delay the release of the Royal Commission report into the Christchurch terror attacks is “unacceptable”.

“Given no redactions are necessary, there’s no good reason why it can’t be released 24 or 48 hours after the government receives it,” McKee said.

8.00am: Corrections Association defends pepper spray bombing prisoners

The Corrections Association has defended the actions of staff described in an investigative piece by Guyon Espiner this week.

In the RNZ article, an asthmatic prisoner at Auckland Women’s prisoner said she was repeatedly pepper sprayed by guards, and felt humiliated in front of male prison guards.

Alan Whitley from the Corrections Association told RNZ using pepper spray is better than grappling with prisoners.

“You don’t spray it directly on the prisoner, they start to inhale that, they feel the effect of it and you can then bring the prisoner out into fresh air,” he said.

Whitley said the technique – known as “cell busting” – is used in situations where prisoners are either being aggressive or harmful to themselves.  “It’s used to get somebody out of a cell, sometimes for their own safety,” he said.

“No one goes to work with the intent of having to use any level of force on a prisoner… But once you’ve got a volatile prisoner you do need to do something about it.”

Asked whether cell busting should be stopped, Whitley said “no”, saying the alternative method of getting a prisoner out of their cell is also quite “barbaric”. He said shields are used to push a prisoner up against a wall while they are restrained, often leading to injuries.

7.40am: Top stories from The Bulletin

A soldier with strong ties to the far right fringe has been charged with multiple counts of espionage. As Florence Kerr and Thomas Manch report for Stuff, he is believed to be the first person charged with espionage in New Zealand. The soldier is alleged to have improperly accessed information, and then shared it with an entity or foreign government which has not been publicly named. He was arrested in December, and faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted.

The far right ties are worth covering further. They relate to a now defunct group, called the Dominion Movement, which the soldier led. After the March 15 attacks, the group shut down. However as Newsroom’s Marc Daalder reports, there are strong connections between that group, and the still existing Action Zealandia, suggesting more of a reorganisation than anything else. The soldier is understood to have continued participating in far right political activities following the March 15 attacks. For clarity, his holding of objectionable views is not why he’s up on charges – the alleged espionage is why he’s up on charges.

Regardless, there is nervousness around whether such views are widely held by Defence Force personnel. In this story from Newsroom this morning, that issue is discussed. So far two soldiers with active links to such groups have been uncovered, the second of which was part of Action Zealandia while serving, and is now no longer an army reservist. Is the NZDF concerned? Here’s part of a statement they gave on the matter:

“There have been robust policies and procedures in place within NZDF that highlight potential threats from a wide range of groups for years preceding March 15 2019.”

“The NZDF has confidence in its security measures, which include the threat posed by those belonging to, or who sympathise with, groups that may threaten the security of the Defence Force and wider public. The Defence Force is a community of people who look out for each other, and there are robust systems in place to hold people to account.”

7.30am: Yesterday’s headlines

A New Zealand soldier was charged with four counts of espionage after being arrested at Linton Military camp late last year.

The Bloomberg review ranked New Zealand top in the best places to be in the era of Covid-19.

There were eight new cases of Covid-19, all in managed isolation.

Parliament returned, with newly elected MPs taking their seats together for the first time and Trevor Mallard being re-elected as speaker.

Siouxsie Wiles was given a prestigious placing in the BBC’s 100 most inspiring and influential women of the year.

The recent flood of money into the property market is a long-term risk facing the economy, the Reserve Bank warned in its financial stability report.

Despite rumours she was set to resign, Oranga Tamariki’s chief executive Grainne Moss dug in in the face of another scathing report being released this week.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service announced further information about Auckland sites visited by the Air NZ crew member who tested positive for Covid-19 in China.

Read all the key stories in yesterday’s live updates




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