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Morning Briefing Sept 30: Charges laid in NZ First Foundation investigation

Two people have been charged with “Obtaining by Deception” in the New Zealand First Foundation electoral funding case, the Serious Fraud Office announced yesterday.

Winston Peters. Source: 1 NEWS

While the defendants cannot be named or identified at this time, we know that neither is a Minister, sitting MP, candidate in the upcoming election, a member of their staff, or a current member of the New Zealand First party.  

NZ First leader Winston Peters told media the party "always knew we were innocent", however he criticised the SFO for the timing of the release and said the party will be taking the SFO to the High Court.

The NZ Herald reported New Zealand First tried to gag the Serious Fraud Office from announcing charges in the New Zealand First Foundation case until after next month's election. 

On the day the SFO laid charges in relation to political donations, National promised millions more in funding to bolster the agency, vowing to crack down on corruption in New Zealand if they are voted in at the election. 

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Cold snap continues

The spring cold snap is rolling on with more snowfall expected down south.

It comes after a good dumping saw 15-centimetres of snow in some areas of Southland and Otago yesterday.

Weather-related chaos yesterday also forced roads to close, planes were grounded, driving was treacherous and strong gusts closed Auckland’s Harbour Bridge for a time.

The frosty weather is expected to move northwards today. 

Greens eye ministerial roles with Labour

The Green Party launched a bold $13.6 billion “climate-focused” transport plan yesterday.

Party co-leader James Shaw was tight-lipped on demands post-election, with the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll suggesting the Greens would play pivotal role in forming a new government with Labour. Shaw said all ministerial roles including that of deputy prime minister would be up for discussion.

Meanwhile, National Party leader Judith Collins yesterday said she was unfazed by stagnant polling and was eagerly awaiting the election result.

She instead took aim at the Greens, saying most New Zealanders do not want “a far left Government dictated by people who think that tax is love”. 

Labour promises health boost

National and Greens weren’t the only ones throwing out policy yesterday, with Labour promising investment in dental services, mental health and endometriosis if elected.  

Labour is promising to increase the emergency dental grant from $300 to $1000 and make mental health support available to all primary and intermediate school students.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern also said girls and women shouldn’t have to live “a life of pain”, promising $200 million to reduce wait times for those waiting for endometriosis care.

Meanwhile, the party is also pledging another $200 million for Pharmac to increase the range of new medicines. 

Escapee roams Auckland streets

A man who escaped managed isolation in Auckland on Monday spent the day roaming the streets for eight hours before returning to the Ramada Hotel on Federal Street.

More details yesterday revealed how the Australian deportee tied bedsheets together to escape from his fourth floor window and what he got up to when out and about. 

Meanwhile, yesterday New Zealand reported two new cases of Covid-19, both of which were imported and are in managed isolation at an Auckland quarantine facility.

One of the cases arrived on a flight from Ukraine on 23 September via the United Arab Emirates. The other person was on the same flight from the UAE but was travelling back from Pakistan. 

Other news of note this morning:

Sir David Attenborough. Source: 1 NEWS

And finally...

Sir David Attenborough is everywhere this week, gearing up for the release of a new book and film: A Life on Our Planet.

He controversially handed out a giant shark tooth to royalty, he recently joined Instagram – which at last check he has 4.7 million followers - but last night the 94-year-old sat down with TVNZ1’s Seven Sharp.

To hear his urgent conservation message and learn about his favourite New Zealand bird check out his interview here