Morning Briefing August 4: PM bursts Auckland Airport's bubble

Auckland Airport might be pushing ahead with its preparations for quarantine-free travel, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says any future travel bubbles need to be worked through with “absolute caution”.


Auckland Airport revealed yesterday that it’s planning to separate its international terminal into two different zones to segregate travellers from “bubble” regions and those arriving from other parts of the world. Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown airports are also putting their own systems in place.

Ms Ardern says Auckland Airport’s move is just “one part of many elements that need to be worked through” before quarantine-free travel can go ahead.

RNZ reports the Government’s cautious stance on travel bubbles is frustrating specialist workers who take their expertise to the Pacific islands.

The NZ Pacific Business Council says many islands are coronavirus-free and are struggling without regular access to New Zealand’s tourists and specialists. 

And any travel bubble preparations likely won’t include Australia any time soon. Victoria recorded another 429 cases of Covid-19 yesterday, as well as 13 more deaths from the virus. Ms Ardern says it’s “obvious” a trans-Tasman bubble is now some way off.

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Covid cases cause unease

New Zealand’s health authorities are still following up on any potential community transmission of Covid-19 following last week’s positive results for a handful of passengers flying out of the country.

A community testing blitz is taking place in Queenstown with a free drive-through testing clinic operating today.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult says residents have been rattled by news a visitor to the town later tested positive for Covid-19 in South Korea. Locals are being encouraged to get a test, regardless of their symptoms.

A south Auckland clinic has also seen a flurry of tests given the man spent time in Manurewa and Takanini.

The Ministry of Health also gave an update on its investigations into two Kiwi travellers who tested positive for the virus in Australia.

One of the cases hasn’t required testing of close contacts yet, while close contacts in the other case have all returned negative results.

Meanwhile, pine pollen season is underway in New Zealand and with some Kiwis often experiencing cold and flu-like symptoms as they inhale the pollen grains during that time, one expert says it’s “more important than usual” for people to get tested to make sure they aren’t sick with anything else, including Covid-19.

'Extreme' climate risk for Kiwis

The Government released its first climate change risk assessment yesterday – and the report’s projections make for grim reading.

Based on emissions rising at current rates and a resulting sea level rise of more than half a metre, the country’s buildings, water supplies and population in general are all at “extreme risk” of climate change impacts this century.

The report covers both the physical risks to New Zealand, including stronger storms, more acidic oceans, more droughts and more wildfires, as well as how these changes will affect society i.e. health impacts, stress, and financial pressure on government and councils from rising clean-up costs.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Police ready to test their own

New Zealand’s police officers and recruits could soon be subject to more drug testing.

It comes after 1 NEWS revealed just six officers were tested in the first three months of this year, despite police announcing in 2015 that 500 officers would be tested every year to improve safety.

Figures show just seven officers were tested in 2018, while 33 were tested in 2019. 

Police Minister Stuart Nash wouldn't be interviewed about the issue, but police gave 1 NEWS a statement saying they will increase the amount of drug testing they're doing - including on all recruits.

Stand by for the campaign selfies

Politicians are spending their last week at Parliament before hitting the campaign trail – so what do we need to know about the election this time around?

This explainer details advance voting dates and looks at what will be different about voting in 2020, including BYO pens and arrangements for Kiwis who will be in managed isolation come election day. 

And if you’re already grumbling about all those political billboards on your street – and the graffiti that plagues them every time – one expert has defended them, telling Seven Sharp they still play a vital role in our elections.

Other news of note this morning: 

China has announced it's suspending Hong Kong's extradition treaty with New Zealand in response to the same move by the New Zealand Government last week.

New research has found Māori and Pasifika scientists have been severely underrepresented in New Zealand’s universities and Crown Research Institutes.

Sports Minister Grant Robertson is “deeply concerned” by allegations of abuse in New Zealand gymnastics and is asking others to come forward

A woman who returned to New Zealand from Sydney after hearing her mother had terminal cancer says she was left with no option but to watch her die over FaceTime from her isolation hotel room.

Judith Collins has called people sharing a fitness image of potential National party candidate Nuwanthie Samarakone "distasteful".

A GP has been asked to apologise to a wife and family after failing to maintain "professional boundaries" with a male patient.

And the Herald reports a man who attended the Elton John concert that was cut short by the singer's illness has received a partial refund after taking the issue to the Disputes Tribunal.

And finally...

Forward Slash by Poppy Lekner, the winner of the Parkin Drawing Prize. Source: Seven Sharp

When is a drawing a drawing?

It’s a question being asked following the revelation of this year’s winner of the Parkin Drawing Prize.

Wellington artist Poppy Lekner scooped this year’s award with an A4 piece of paper featuring hundreds of forward slashes made with a typewriter.

Ms Lekner told Seven Sharp she understands how it might be a leap of faith for some people to recognise her work as a drawing but “once you start investigating what drawing is and look at contemporary art, you’ll see it’s part of a bigger exploration into what art can be”.

Arts patron Chris Parkin, who funds the prize, says the winning artworks no longer surprise him given the 2017 award went to a slashed carpet installation.