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Morning Briefing July 7: Govt sounds warning over wage subsidy claims

The Government has a clear message for businesses that don’t need their wage subsidy – give it back.

Source: istock.com

More than 400 businesses are currently being audited after complaints were made about them receiving the subsidy through the Covid-19 crisis.

The Government says it expects those who claimed the subsidy, but didn’t experience the requisite 30 per cent decline in business, to return the handout.

While some companies have done exactly that, many others have not – and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni is warning prosecutions can take place in such instances.

The wage subsidy scheme is due to end three weeks out from the election. 

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Australia seals off Victoria 

The 4600km border between Victoria and New South Wales will be closed for the first time in a century later today as Victoria grapples with its new surge in Covid-19 cases.

With the state recording another 127 new cases yesterday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says, “now is the right time for Victoria to isolate itself from the country”. 

The border will be enforced from the NSW side, with a permit system used for people with unavoidable travel between the two states.

Migrant families stranded

When New Zealand made the decision to close its borders to keep Covid-19 out, it also shut the door on people who have lived in the country for years but happened to be overseas at the wrong time.

Fair Go’s Gill Higgins has been investigating the plight faced by many people who live and work in New Zealand but can’t get back to their homes here due to the new border rules.  

She’s spoken to the Badenhorst family, who are on temporary visas but working towards residency while they live, work and study in Northern Otago. They’re currently stuck in South Africa after New Zealand’s borders closed during their two-week dash overseas to renew their passports.

And the news is not looking good for the Badenhorsts and others in the same predicament – Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has told Fair Go there’s no plan at this stage to bring people on temporary visas back to New Zealand in large numbers. 

Number of isolating Kiwis swells

Meanwhile, those who can head back to New Zealand are doing so in increasing numbers, with Stuff reporting hotels are cancelling bookings to make way for a large influx of returning Kiwis this week.

Around 3500 New Zealanders are expected to enter managed isolation facilities over the next few days. 

And as one new case of Covid-19 was reported from managed isolation yesterday, Health Minister Chris Hipkins outlined an investigation into the leaking of Covid patients’ details to some media outlets last week.

Mr Hipkins says it will be a quick investigation with a report due by the end of the month. 

ACC levies steady

The Government has decided to keep ACC levies at their current rate through to 2022.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the move will allow more time to assess the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.

ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says ACC is in a solid position and all claims will be able to be assessed for the foreseeable future. 

Stuff quits Facebook

Media company Stuff is joining an international backlash against Facebook and trialling a separation from the social media giant.

The move applies to all Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts across the Stuff network. 

Stuff editor-in-chief Patrick Crewdson says he’d also like to see New Zealand’s politicians and government agencies support local media more than they currently support large social media companies. 

Other news of note this morning: 

Cantabrians have been shaken awake this morning as a light but shallow quake rocked the area. 

A teenage murderer and his fellow inmate are still on the run nearly three days after they escaped from a youth justice facility in south Auckland. 

Thousands of New Zealand’s nurses and healthcare workers will be striking this month after mediation to settle their multi-employer agreement negotiations failed.

A High Court judge has reserved his decision on whether a draft audit report on America’s Cup finances should be made public. 

Broadway star Nick Cordero has died in Los Angeles after suffering severe medical complications after contracting Covid-19.

A farmer has been convicted and fined more than $3000 for "violently" hitting cows on a Northland farm, while the SPCA says it’s disappointed to learn of a group of people throwing a dead possum around at a Coromandel park. 

And two golf carts have been recovered and a person arrested by police in the Waikato town of Ngāruawāhia after a low-speed chase.

And finally...

Laura Daniel channels a European holiday Source: Seven Sharp

Are you taunted by those open borders in Europe that you can't take advantage of while New Zealand still has its own quarantine restrictions?

Fear not. Seven Sharp’s Laura Daniel has the solution.

So, slap on your best beret, grab a breakfast of cured meats and cigarettes and check out her top tips for a European holiday (that’s not in Europe).