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Morning Briefing July 23: A bruising day at the Beehive

Another dramatic day unfolded at the Beehive yesterday with questions once again being raised over New Zealand’s parliamentary culture and power imbalances.

New Zealand's Parliament buildings. Source: istock.com

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern dismissed Iain Lees-Galloway from Cabinet after revelations he had an affair with a public servant from one of his agencies for a year.

Ms Ardern says his lack of judgement and his job title as the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety left her no choice but to sack him.

1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch McKay says there will likely be some nervous MPs walking around the Beehive following yesterday’s developments.

She believes recent political scandals will also change the threshold for what party leaders accept as appropriate behaviour from their MPs.

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Peters on the attack once more

NZ First leader Winston Peters also had another eventful day at Parliament yesterday.

It began with claims he helped a wealthy businesswoman and her daughter get on to a taxpayer-funded trip to Antarctica.

Mr Peters later defended the move saying the two women were given the highly prized spots partly in the hopes they might donate private money towards the redevelopment of Scott Base. 

Mr Peters then got in another stoush with Act’s David Seymour after he used a speech in Parliament to allege Mr Seymour and his former partner were involved in the leak about his superannuation.

The Act leader angrily denied the allegations, labelling Mr Peters’ speech “disgraceful” and “sleazy”. He then alleged Mr Peters was attempting to deflect attention from the Antarctica story.

Mr Seymour was later kicked out of the House for his efforts.

Isolation hotels near capacity

Hotels are getting the ‘no vacancy’ signs ready with the news New Zealand is close to exhausting its nationwide capacity at suitable isolation facilities.

Thirty-two hotels across the country are currently being used to house returning Kiwis and they’re nearly full.

Minister Megan Woods says Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown have been ruled out as locations for housing those in isolation due to logistical challenges.

The Government says airlines will be given a passenger quota from next month so they can “match” seats on planes with capacity at hotels.

Compassionate exemptions to leave managed isolation have also started up again with seven people granted exemptions in the past week.

Exemptions were put on hold in June after two women tested positive for Covid-19 upon leaving their managed isolation facility after the death of a relative.

Ms Woods says there are now strict new guidelines for compassionate exemptions.

Referendums in spotlight

Both upcoming referendums are back under the microscope this week.

Firstly, a Massey University drug policy expert has pointed out what he says are a range of gaps in the proposed Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill. Dr Chris Wilkins told TVNZ's Breakfast those gaps include the minimum price for the drug and its potency.

Euthanasia campaigners are also at loggerheads with an Auckland research company over their recent poll on the End of Life Choice referendum.

Act leader David Seymour says some of the poll questions are misleading and results could be used to influence voters.

You can watch Nicole Bremner’s report into that issue here.

A new airport for Otago?

A small South Island town may soon be home to a new “sustainable” airport.

The Christchurch Airport company has purchased 750 hectares of land near Tarras, a town of just 230 people near Wanaka. 

Christchurch Airport CEO Malcolm Johns says the new airport concept would deliver widespread social and economic benefits to regions across the South Island.

And in other airport news, construction has been completed on a new starfish-shaped airport in China. Costing more than $8.7 billion to build, the airport is twice the size of London’s Heathrow.

Other news of note this morning: 

Figures obtained under the Official Information Act reveal the 20 Kiwi companies that have claimed the most in Covid-19 wage subsidies.

Victoria’s mandatory mask rule came into force overnight with the Australian state reporting nearly 500 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday.

Stuff reports GNS appears to have banned scientists from going within 590 metres of Whakaari/White Island’s volcanic vents a week before last year’s fatal eruption.

A karakia will take place at Ihumātao this morning to mark one year since protesters living at the long-disputed site were served eviction notices.

Parents in Nelson are demanding that all young people have the right to attend a co-ed school, as the Ministry forces the city's only one to be zoned for the first time.

And a hiker in Mexico has shown nerves of steel after a black bear got a little too close for comfort.

And finally...

Source: 1 NEWS

Do you know this cat?

She might just be the country’s most adventurous feline and the SPCA is keen to reunite her with her family.

The bundle of fur was discovered hitching a ride underneath a truck and could have stowed herself away anywhere between Palmerston North and Auckland.

Seven Sharp’s Michael Holland went along to the SPCA to meet the clearly well looked after furry runaway in the hopes her family can be found.