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Morning Briefing May 21: All eyes on new poll in Nats' leadership scrap

All eyes will be on tonight’s 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll as the National Party prepares for its leadership showdown tomorrow.

Simon Bridges speaks in the House Source: Getty

Simon Bridges manoeuvred to keep his job yesterday morning when he publicly called out his challengers, triggering tomorrow’s emergency caucus meeting to vote on National’s leadership team.

While previous contenders Judith Collins and Mark Mitchell say they’re not challenging Mr Bridges, Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller has emailed his colleagues to say he wants the job.

“It is essential National wins this election,” he writes. “I share the view of a majority of colleagues that this is not possible under the current leadership."

1 NEWS understands Mr Muller wants Nikki Kaye to be his deputy. 

Mr Bridges says he’s “very confident” he’ll win the leadership vote.

The scrap began after National’s disastrous showing in a poll earlier in the week, which means he’ll be nervously awaiting tonight’s Colmar Brunton poll. Those results will be revealed at 6pm on TVNZ 1 and 1NEWS.co.nz.

And if you’re one of the many Kiwis who likely said “Who?” when learning Mr Muller is attempting to roll his party leader, Stuff has put together this background piece on “the man who could be prime minister”.

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Tough times ahead for regions

The first signs of New Zealand’s economic slowdown in the wake of Covid-19 have emerged in Infometrics’ latest monitor.

Senior Economist Brad Olsen says the early impacts are starting to show in regional indicators, with New Zealand set to “experience the greatest economic shock in a century”. Infometrics says 250,000 jobs could be lost in the next year or two.

That grim forecast comes as one of the country’s biggest companies, Fletcher Building, says it’s cutting 1000 jobs across its entire business, with the possibility of more job losses on the horizon.

The company says it made no money in New Zealand in April. Fletchers received $67 million during the first round of the Government’s wage subsidy scheme for its nearly 10,000 New Zealand employees, but it won’t be applying for the second round.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand also confirmed major job losses last night, saying it’s laying off 3500 staff

Level 2 here for a while yet

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has poured cold water on any suggestions the country could make a quick move to Alert Level 1.

While New Zealand has had another day of no new Covid-19 cases and three full transmission cycles of the virus with no community transmission registered, Ms Ardern says “our journey is far from over”. 

Cautioning that the virus is still present, Ms Ardern says there will be an incremental relaxing of the Level 2 rules, with Cabinet deciding on Monday whether to increase the size of gatherings.

Private gatherings are currently limited to 10 people, with 50 people allowed at funerals and tangi, and 100 people allowed to gather in public places.

Bars back in business

People can once again grab a drink at their local watering hole, as bars and clubs finally reopen their doors following lockdown.

Under Level 2 rules, no dancing or mingling is allowed, with bars forced to set up socially distanced tables and implement one server for each group. 

With bars and clubs now open, Wellington’s Courtenay Place will be closed to traffic this Friday and Saturday nights as authorities worry about a potential influx of people in the area.

However, as the NZ Herald reports, some bars are still choosing to stay closed at Level 2, because they don’t believe opening their doors is financially worth it yet.

Teething issues for tracing app

Some technology issues have surfaced since the launch of the Government’s official Covid-19 contact tracing app yesterday morning.

While some Android users have reported not being able to download the app at all, others are having issues scanning the requisite QR codes because they’ve already used previous apps to do the same thing. 

Meanwhile, Australia is having trouble with its own Covid-19 app. Some medical staff say they’ve been unable to use data to trace contacts – which is the sole purpose of the app.

Other news of note this morning:

The search for two trampers missing in the Kahurangi National Park continues this morning. Police say the pair didn’t leave clear plans for their hike, which is complicating search efforts.

The police dive squad have recovered a body after a vehicle plunged into the Kawarau River on State Highway 6 near Queenstown.

An Auckland man facing three charges of threatening to kill Jacinda Ardern has elected to have a trial by jury.

Dozens of tourists are being turned away from Cape Reinga by local iwi, despite tourism and hospitality in the region trying to encourage visitors to the area.

Millions are evacuated as the worst cyclone in decades makes landfall in India and Bangladesh.

ANZ slashes its fixed home loan rates to 'well beyond historic lows'.

And Kiwi singer Lorde has penned a rare update to fans, informing them her next album will be delayed due to Covid-19.

And finally...

Noel Edmonds Source: Seven Sharp

If you’re old enough to remember the ‘90s, chances are you remember Noel Edmonds.

His British TV shows, including Noel’s House Party, were seen by tens of millions - and were responsible for unleashing the terrifying Mr Blobby into the world.

Now, Edmonds is living with his partner in Matakana and launching a community radio project for Kiwis – so Seven Sharp decided to pay him a visit. (No sign of Mr Blobby though.)