Morning Briefing July 28: No remorse in NZ's first slavery case

A man convicted in New Zealand’s first ever slavery case still doesn’t understand what he did wrong, his lawyer says.

Joseph Matamata Source: 1 NEWS

Joseph Matamata was yesterday sentenced to 11 years in prison for his convictions in slavery and human trafficking.

For more than 20 years, he lured vulnerable people to New Zealand from Samoa with the promise of work and then mistreated them, assaulted them and took away their freedom. 

Defence lawyer Roger Philip says Matamata “remains very stoic that he feels he hasn’t actually done anything wrong” and cited cultural complexities in the case

Immigration NZ says this type of offending isn’t seen in court very often and hopes Matamata’s sentence acts as a deterrent to anyone else who might treat workers in the same way.

AUT senior law lecturer Natalia Szablewska is on TVNZ’s Breakfast just after 7am today to discuss how difficult such cases are to prosecute – and how modern slavery is much more widespread than we suspect. 

Meanwhile, the fight against the exploitation of migrant workers is getting a $50 million boost from the Government.

Migrants whose visas are tied to exploitative employers will be granted a new temporary visa to help them find another job. Three new immigration offences will also be created.

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Was NZ’s lockdown legal?

The High Court in Wellington is currently hearing a case over the legality of New Zealand’s Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown.

Lawyer Andrew Borrowdale has brought the case against Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, saying he exceeded his powers under the law when issuing a series of orders under the Health Act.

Mr Borrowdale’s lawyer Tiho Mijatov says his client isn’t challenging the wisdom of putting the country into lockdown, but says it was unlawful to do so.

Acting for the Crown, lawyer Victoria Casey told the court the actions taken by the Government and officials were lawful.

"They relied on available powers under the Health Act and the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act to deal with an extraordinary problem.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand recorded no new cases of Covid-19 again yesterday.

The Ministry of Health is also investigating the case of a New Zealand traveller who tested positive for the virus after arriving in South Korea last week.

It’s believed the person was likely infected during transit in Singapore, however, contact tracing is underway for people on a domestic flight in New Zealand. 

PM rejects Covid conspiracies

And Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has rejected suggestions Covid-19 is part of a conspiracy.

She was asked about the theory following the merger of two minor political parties, Advance NZ and the New Zealand Public Party, who are linked to the views.

Ms Ardern says she would “push hard against” any suggestions that the coronavirus was somehow part of a conspiracy. She says the Government makes decisions based on research, science and evidence.

Cash injection for schools

The Government has told schools not to expect international students this year as it announced a $51.6 million bailout for the international education sector.

The money will be spent on schools struggling without new international students, but the cash injection doesn’t extend to higher education providers.

Universities NZ CEO Chris Whelan says they’ll need help if the border doesn’t open soon.

Latest figures show international students are worth $5 billion a year to New Zealand’s economy.

Beekeepers in uphill battle

Beekeepers are struggling to prevent bees picking up traces of a controversial weedkiller that’s been found in more than 20 per cent of New Zealand’s honey.

The second part of 1 NEWS’ investigation into the issue facing New Zealand’s honey has found it’s all but impossible to stop bees picking up traces of glyphosate, the active ingredient found in weedkillers like Round Up. 

While the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) stresses New Zealand’s honey is still safe to eat, they admit beekeepers have "little practical means of excluding bees from foraging on plants treated with glyphosate", saying the only way to be sure is to place a hive in the centre of a 28 square kilometre spray-free area.

Other news of note this morning: 

Four people have been injured in a police pursuit in west Auckland this morning.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says travel bans can’t stay in place forever in the fight against Covid-19 and that countries need to do more to reduce the spread of the virus within their borders.

National leader Judith Collins is releasing the party's internal polling to her own MPs today as she attempts to prove a disastrous poll on Sunday night was “rogue”.

Meanwhile, disgraced National MP Hamish Walker has resurfaced after releasing the private details of Covid-19 patients to media and is going on a road trip to thank people in his Clutha-Southland electorate for their support over the past three years.

Fiordland is facing up to 40 per cent unemployment as the region struggles with the fallout from severe flooding and Covid-19. 

Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck has defended the company’s work for the US Intelligence Community after questions surrounding its launch of spy satellites into space.

And should you put down that coffee? A University of Auckland School of Population Health survey has found caffeine may be doing Kiwis more harm than good

And finally...

Source: Seven Sharp

Already working at both ends of the day with a radio show in the morning and Seven Sharp duties in the evening, Jeremy Wells has landed himself yet another broadcasting gig.

With a New Zealand version of hit UK comedy Taskmaster coming to our screens, Wells has been revealed as The Taskmaster himself and will be judging the efforts of five Kiwi comedians as they complete a series of very strange tasks.

Wells’ Seven Sharp co-host Hilary Barry was not pleased to hear he’s cheating on her with another TV series, but considering they were happily posing with his-and-hers nose warmers by the end of last night’s show, I think they’ll weather this storm.