Three prominent Kiwis are calling for an informed public discussion into reopening the country’s borders.
Sir Peter Gluckman, former Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe say open discussions are needed over the right time to reconnect New Zealand with the rest of the world – and how.
The trio have co-authored a paper encouraging a new approach to border control, with Ms Clark saying there are “huge implications” for New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing if borders remain closed indefinitely.
The paper offers possible solutions for increased border flow and adds the country needs to develop a much more effective automatic contact tracing system. Their full conversation paper can be found here.
Earlier this week, National Party leader Todd Muller called on the Government to share details around border openings with the public, saying keeping borders completely closed is “simply untenable”. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responded, saying it is“dangerous” to re-open the borders.
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Health Minister steps aside
It was a big morning in politics yesterday.
News of Todd Muller’s second National caucus reshuffle in as many months had barely reached the headlines before David Clark called a press conference at short notice to announce his resignation as Health Minister.
Following a series of gaffes during the Covid-19 response, Dr Clark says his position in the role is a distraction for the Government. He remains as MP for Dunedin North and will stand at September’s election.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins is taking over the health portfolio until the election.
Prime Minister Ardern says Dr Clark’s resignation was "his call and his judgement". She says he will still be considered for other ministerial roles – but not health – if Labour wins at the election.
Epstein's ex arrested
The former partner of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested by the FBI.
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is charged with recruiting and grooming victims known to be underage and will appear in a US federal court later today.
She has previously denied any involvement in the alleged sex trafficking.
Epstein died in prison last year while awaiting trial.
Kids’ viewing habits revealed
Nearly 90 per cent of New Zealand’s children have come across media content that’s distressed them over the past year, according to a new report into their viewing habits.
NZ on Air and the Broadcasting Standards Authority surveyed 1100 children on their media use prior to lockdown and found most kids over 10 had been exposed to “upsetting” content, including sex, violence and animal abuse.
The report also found services like Netflix and YouTube have overtaken traditional linear TV when it comes to kids’ viewing.
With rapid new developments in social media allowing kids to watch content from around the world, NZ on Air is now concerned with how to get children to view local content – and not come to school with American accents as some Kiwi kids have.
The full report can be found here.
Govt halts America’s Cup funding
America’s Cup funding has been frozen while the Government examines claims in relation to the event’s organisation.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is investigating Team NZ and its event-hosting company, America’s Cup Events Ltd (ACE).
The company has so far received $29 million in government funding but won’t receive further payments, pending the outcome of that investigation.
Team NZ say they support that move.
Bold font costs taxpayers $1m
More than two million enrolment packs and three million referendum brochures have been destroyed after a botch-up in a question around assisted dying.
The Ministry of Justice is having to reprint material as part of the referendum after one of the answers to the question “Do you support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force?” was printed in bold font.
Concerned that it could unduly influence voters, the affected enrolment packs and brochures have been scrapped.
The blunder is estimated to cost $1 million.
Other news of note this morning:
The Desert Road is closed again this morning due to heavy snow.
RNZ reports more than 40,000 people have received wage subsidy pay-outs from more than one employer.
The family of missing French teen Eloi Rolland say they’ll keep looking for him despite police calling off a physical search.
A proposed law change to explicitly make revenge porn illegal will go to Parliament after it was pulled from the ballot yesterday.
All Blacks star Beauden Barrett has reportedly agreed a deal to play in Japan.
Art and Matilda Green have removed an episode of their podcast starring controversial Australian chef Pete Evans following online backlash.
And after resisting wearing a mask in public, US President Donald Trump says he thinks it makes him look like the Lone Ranger – and he likes it. (Although given the Lone Ranger famously wears his mask over his eyes, an aide may want to check the president is using his mask correctly.)
With so many parents still working at home around the world, the opportunities for young children to interrupt live television interviews have never been so plentiful.
The UK saw two such instances in one night this week, with a young girl gate-crashing her mother’s interview on the BBC to query the positioning of a unicorn picture, while a little boy interrupted his mum’s Sky News appearance to ask for biscuits.
It’s not quite the sassy, chaotic perfection seen in Professor Robert Kelly’s famous BBC interview of three years ago, but we’ll take it.