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Morning Briefing July 27: Why NZ is investigating a Covid case in South Korea

There were no new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand yesterday, however the Ministry of Health is speaking to its South Korean counterparts over reports a person travelling from New Zealand tested positive for the virus after landing there late last week.

Source: istock.com

It comes amid a spike in cases in South Korea. 

North Korea is also reporting its first suspected case of the virus. 

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National dismisses poll 

It was Jacinda Ardern’s 40th birthday yesterday and the Prime Minister received a present in the form of a new poll placing her Labour party streets ahead of National. 

The latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll has Labour sitting at 60.9 per cent support, compared to National’s 25.1 per cent. The poll was taken during Judith Collins’ first week as party leader. 

National’s campaign chairperson Gerry Brownlee took the unusual step of issuing a press release as soon as last night’s numbers were revealed, saying the poll is “rogue” and “[not] even in the same ballpark as our internal polls”.

How pure is NZ’s honey?

Traces of the controversial weed-killer glyphosate have been found in New Zealand honey, prompting concern for the country’s high-value mānuka honey industry.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) found the chemical, which is the active ingredient in products like Round Up, in more than 20 per cent of honey sampled across the country. 

While officials stress the traces are small and the products are still safe to eat, it’s a problem for exporters who sell mānuka honey for hundreds of dollars a jar overseas.

Glyphosate is one of the world's most controversial chemicals, with the World Health Organisation's cancer research arm finding it to be a probable carcinogen.

New Zealand officials say there’s no food safety risk but admit in a ministerial briefing document obtained by 1 NEWS that the contamination is a “possible trade risk”. Many trading partners have a strict no residue limit. 

Apiculture New Zealand CEO Karin Kos will be on TVNZ’s Breakfast around 7.20am today to discuss the problem – and what can be done to mitigate it.

Turning NZ’s electricity grid green

The Government’s goal of 100 per cent renewable energy generation by 2035 could be a step closer with an ambitious plan revealed yesterday.

The Government has announced $30 million will be spent investigating greener energy storage solutions, including a pumped hydro scheme which uses water to manage peak demand. 

Minister of Energy and Resources Megan Woods says pumped hydro could be a game-changer if its business case stacks up.

She says it would create thousands of jobs, make wholesale electricity cheaper in the long run, and ensure New Zealand’s electricity grid wouldn’t have to rely on fossil fuels like coal.

A flurry of campaign launches

The Green Party launched their election campaign over the weekend, with a policy platform covering its vision for fairer communities, a healthier environment and a cleaner economy.

Co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw told TVNZ’s Q+A they’re proud of the work they’ve done in the past three years – and that they’d rather return to Government without NZ First in the mix. 

Meanwhile, former National MP Jami-Lee Ross used his own campaign launch to reveal his new Advance NZ party is merging with the New Zealand Public Party, headed by Billy Te Kahika.

The combined parties say they plan to repeal the Covid-19 Public Health Response Bill should they be elected into Parliament.

According to policies detailed on their website, the New Zealand Public Party appears to be sceptical of vaccines, 5G technology, fluoridation and electromagnetics.

Hand sanitisers in spotlight

Consumers are being told to be careful about where they purchase their hand sanitiser from after the US recalled dozens of brands due to the methanol found in them, a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin.

The public sale of sanitisers with methanol is banned in New Zealand, however authorities are reminding people to be cautious about where they buy sanitiser from and to check product labels. 

Other news of note this morning: 

The parents of a girl sexually assaulted by a paedophile are angry he's been granted compassionate leave from prison and released back into their Northland community.

Labour has chosen a new face to stand in the Palmerston North electorate, replacing Iain Lees-Galloway at this year’s election.

The Australian state of Victoria has recorded another 10 deaths from Covid-19, while a second wave of the virus in Spain has seen it removed from Britain’s list of safe places to visit

And a new study has found we have just as strong a reaction to a robot being abused as a human.

And finally...

Royal watchers are all atwitter over a new book about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Finding Freedom describes frosty scenes in the House of Windsor with claims Prince Harry, Prince William and their wives, Meghan and Kate, are barely on speaking terms.

Ahead of Finding Freedom’s release, the Sussexes have denied any part in its publication.

If they had been involved, they’d probably have chosen a different title. Other events over the weekend suggest the couple still haven’t found much in the way of freedom with a lawsuit alleging paparazzi are repeatedly flying drones over their California home.