Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: IPCA and police at odds over decision not to charge officer, Canterbury DHB in crisis, and Shane Jones job creation claims disputed.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has issued a call for charges for an officer who used excessive force in the course of a family harm arrest, reports the NZ Herald. The officer kicked the man repeatedly, as well as punching him in and placing his foot on the man’s head, in an incident that was captured on CCTV. The suspect had attempted to flee the scene in a vehicle, and narrowly missed hitting officers in his escape attempt. He subsequently drove for about 90 seconds, before crashing into a barrier, at which point the arrest took place.
The decision to charge an officer is one for the police to make, and in a statement a spokesperson said it was a carefully considered decision. Superintendent Karyn Malthus said “as the IPCA acknowledges, it was apparent the officer involved was in a heightened state of emotion after taking evasive action to avoid being hit by the offender’s vehicle, which undoubtedly impaired their judgement and affected their decision-making when effecting the arrest.” They also accepted that the officer’s decision-making was flawed, and “exercised poor judgment during the arrest.” The decision to not proceed with a prosecution was made on a range of factors, including low likelihood of a successful prosecution. The statement also said the incident had been the subject of a confidential internal employment process, however the officer remains a sworn member of the police force.
Some are questioning whether that is the right course of action. A post on the No Right Turn blog – which covers police matters extensively – has argued that it shows the IPCA should be given prosecutorial powers for incidents like this, on the grounds that “the police are clearly not willing to enforce the law impartially”.
Sound the alarm, we’ve got an election coming up, and The Spinoff will be covering every bit of it that we can. Here’s a guide to a whole lot of our projects, and a calendar of every major debate and milestone along the way. But just to pick out a few very cool bits:
Our daily live updates, by Stewart Sowman-Lund, will be morphing from today into being Election Live. He’s going to keep you up to speed all day on all the essential information, bringing clarity to the clutter.
We’re also very pleased to announce that as of next week, Policy will be back. At the last general election in 2017, and in 2019’s local elections, Policy was an essential tool for anyone wanting to compare parties and candidates with crisp, waffle-free summaries. The team behind it are brilliant, and have a mission to bring voters the crucial, non-partisan information they need. We’ll have more to say about what’s new with Policy when it is launched next week.
There’s also going to be a few very cool multimedia projects, including Youth Wings, a show about the possible leaders of tomorrow. We’re filming a debate for that this week, and episodes will be coming out soon. It’s directed by Eddy Fifield, and supported by NZ on Air. And of course, the Gone By Lunchtime podcast will be a regular weekly show over the next two months.
And what about the referendums? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered there too. We’ve put together exhaustive question and answer pieces that tell you everything you need to know about the cannabis legalisation referendum, and the assisted dying referendum. They’re going to be a hugely important pair of decisions for voters to make too, so familiarise yourself with the issues.
And finally, as mentioned yesterday, I’m going for a bit of a drive. Thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions for where in the country I should head to, and a reminder – if you’ve got an interesting election debate or public meeting coming up literally anywhere that isn’t Auckland, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Canterbury and West Coast DHBs have been rocked by a series of resignations. The Press’s Oliver Lewis and Tina Law report that chief executive David Meates has resigned, following hard on the heels of two other top executives leaving their posts. CDHB chairman Sir John Hansen refused to be interviewed by the paper about the resignation, and there has been speculation that the chief executive was forced out, and that there may be others to come. The backstory to the other resignations is well covered in this article by Newsroom’s David Williams, with the ministry and DHB understood to be at loggerheads, and the DHB being heavily in debt.
Medical professionals are concerned about what the resignations will mean for healthcare, reports Radio NZ. The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Sarah Dalton said senior clinicians had backed Meates, and that the board had made the wrong call in allegedly forcing him out. This long quote from her statement sets out pretty clearly her organisation’s view:
“The Board has repeatedly failed to listen to the advice of its senior management and clinical leaders and in my view has acted unethically. The chair should have the courage to stand up to the Government and speak up for Cantabrians instead of asking DHB management to force cuts to healthcare and facilities that will ultimately leave the health system unfit for purpose – and potentially unsafe”.
Provincial growth fund minister Shane Jones has claimed a milestone number of jobs have been created, but not everyone believes the figures. Radio NZ’s Yvette McCullough reports that Jones says MBIE has rang up every job creator in the fund, up to a grand total of 13,217 jobs created – which meant that he believed he could claim the 10,000 jobs figure. But a review of the stocktake by the NZEIR found a few shortcomings, including that the count included people working on projects, not just new jobs created. The National party also had doubts, saying the public was none the wiser about whether those were full time permanent jobs, or other categories like contractors or part-timers. In the hours after those figures were released, the auditor-general called for a “proper assessment” of job creation figures from the PGF, reports the NZ Herald’s Hamish Rutherford.
Rainfall records were broken in the Northland region over July, with extreme deluges also causing serious flooding, reports Stuff. Cleanup operations are ongoing, and the flooding was exacerbated by the drought that gripped the region earlier this year. About $17 million in damage was done, on top of private insurance claims, and part of State Highway 1 is still closed.
TVNZ has announced their schedule for election debates, and several of the parties not invited have spoken out in anger. I’ve reported on the criticism from TOP, the Māori Party and New Conservative about not even getting a spot on the multi-party debate stage, which will instead be shared by just NZ First, the Greens and Act. TVNZ’s head of newsgathering Phil O’Sullivan said they had criteria in place for invitations, and had no choice but to apply it fairly, and that those parties would continue to be covered in other news shows. Incidentally, there could still be a way onto the stage for excluded parties – they’d just have to crack 3% in the next Colmar Brunton poll.
In international news, the city of Beirut in Lebanon has been shattered by a massive explosion of as yet unknown cause. At this stage it is not believed to have been the result of either terrorism or a military attack. Al-Jazeera reports that it took place in the port area of the capital city, killing at least ten people and injuring hundreds more – both tolls are almost certain to rise sharply. The damage to buildings is extensive and widespread. Lebanon was already suffering heavily from an economic collapse caused in part by the outbreak of Covid-19, and the rebuild cost is likely to be extreme. Food shortages are also possible, as the explosion took place next to a crucial terminal for importing grain.
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Right now on The Spinoff: Luke Fitzmaurice writes about the Waitangi Tribunal urgent inquiry into Oranga Tamariki, and the importance of gathering both data and stories. Dr Siouxsie Wiles writes about the Melbourne lockdown, and whether it should be extended to the whole state of Victoria. Dan Heyworth takes an esoteric look at why feudalism continues to make it more difficult to get affordable housing. Michael Andrew meets a collective that turns surplus food into bread and beer. On the Rag returns to discuss the upcoming cannabis referendum. And here’s the first episode of the brand new Conversations that Count podcast, about the difference between equality and equity, and what role the education system needs to play in that.
The work of Ed Yong continues to be some of the most compelling and urgent coverage of the Covid-19 crisis in the US. His latest piece in The Atlantic is a hard-hitting piece outlining just how thoroughly the pandemic has humbled the country, which really should have had institutions capable of withstanding it. Here’s an excerpt:
The indoor spaces in which Americans spend 87 percent of their time became staging grounds for super-spreading events. One study showed that the odds of catching the virus from an infected person are roughly 19 times higher indoors than in open air. Shielded from the elements and among crowds clustered in prolonged proximity, the coronavirus ran rampant in the conference rooms of a Boston hotel, the cabins of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and a church hall in Washington State where a choir practiced for just a few hours.
The hardest-hit buildings were those that had been jammed with people for decades: prisons. Between harsher punishments doled out in the War on Drugs and a tough-on-crime mindset that prizes retribution over rehabilitation, America’s incarcerated population has swelled sevenfold since the 1970s, to about 2.3 million. The U.S. imprisons five to 18 times more people per capita than other Western democracies. Many American prisons are packed beyond capacity, making social distancing impossible. Soap is often scarce. Inevitably, the coronavirus ran amok. By June, two American prisons each accounted for more cases than all of New Zealand. One, Marion Correctional Institution, in Ohio, had more than 2,000 cases among inmates despite having a capacity of 1,500.
Another few days of tough news for Warriors fans (who must have had that thought about a dozen times this season.) The NZ Herald reports Blake Green has been released from his contract with immediate effect, not long after the new owners made it clear he wouldn’t be given another job at the end of the season. At the same time, interim coach Todd Payten has confirmed that he was offered the job permanently, but turned it down.
That’s it for The Bulletin. If you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme