Australia 'quite possibly' pushing back against NZ's refugee offer through the media, Kelvin Davis admits

Acting PM Kelvin Davis has said Australia is "quite possibly" pushing back in the media against New Zealand's offers to take 150 refugees from their offshore detention centre at Manus Island.

The comments from Mr Davis were in reference to the origin of reports out of Australia today that four boats of asylum seekers were turned back from New Zealand shores. 

An article from the Queensland News Corp paper, the Courier Mail, says that "crime syndicates have tried to bypass Australia's tough immigration measures and attempted to send four boats, carrying 164 asylum seekers, to NZ".

Today in Wellington Mr Davis admitted the report could be a direct response to the Labour-led Government's persistent offer to resettle 150 refugees from Australia's offshore detention centres.

"Quite possibly but we're not responsible for Australia and the decisions they make," Mr Davis said.

It was unclear whether Mr Davis was referring to the Australian Government revealing security information about asylum seeker boats they had intercepted.

The acting PM also evaded questions over whether New Zealand's offer to resettle Australia's asylum seekers had encouraged new crossings to Kiwi shores by people smugglers.

"Look the big concern is the people on those islands and that's really where our focus is at the moment," he said.

"It's not very easy crossing the Tasman Sea so I don't think we are an easy target."

Mr Davis would also not comment on whether the Labour-led Government would process refugees seeking asylum in New Zealand that arrived by boat.

"Again that's just speculation, there's a lot of water to be sailed over before we get to that situation," he said. 

"We need to work through the Australian government, because the issue is over there, it's not here.

"That's our first priority and anything else is speculation at this stage."

The acting PM weighed into the origin of reports four boats of refugees were turned back from heading to NZ shores. Source: 1 NEWS

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Rising cost of fuel taking its toll on Far North communities

For those in our most remote communities, prices at the pump are hitting pretty hard.

For those living in the Far North like Bridget, it can cost up to $111.52 for half a tank of petrol

Bridget lives in New Zealand’s most northerly settlement of Te Hapua.

Every day she spends $50 on petrol to get to her job as a bus driver.

“It takes me about an hour to get to Kaitaia so that's about an hour each way and with the price of petrol it is putting a lot of pressure on myself.”

She works 30 hours a week and is the main provider for her four teenage children and her disabled husband.

“For my family it would actually go across the board it’ll affect me with my food my grocery shopping, my clothing even come down to medical costs for my husband.”

In the Far North, the average income is less than $30,000 a year. The rising price of petrol, just another pressure.

“We got a definite problem up here and it's power petrol and poverty,” says Ricky Houghton, chief executive of He Korowai Trust.

Unlike the main cities, public transport isn’t an option, because there isn’t any in the Far North.

“The families that we work with live in rural isolated communities it's really hitting them in the pocket and they're telling us they can't afford to buy basic food,” says Mr Houghton.

“They can't afford to pay for basic energy costs or power and now they can't afford to pay for petrol.”

It’s not just petrol prices, a four per cent increase in the cost of freight for Far North businesses means customers will have to pay more for their groceries and other house hold goods.

“We’ve had quite a lot of price increases from transport and other companies,” says Bells Produce owner Jeff Moore.

“So were going to have to add those price increases on.”

People in the Far North says they simply want the government to get rid of taxes on petrol.

“We’re asking for their help and saying, ‘hey take the petrol tax off please’,” says Mr Houghton.

Bridget is now looking to leave the family homestead in Te Hapua and is among dozens of others trying to find a home in Kaitaia.  

For many, the price increase means they aren’t able to put as much food on the table. Source: 1 NEWS

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Two seriously injured after car is hit by wave on Auckland beach

A teenage girl has been seriously injured after a car rolled on Auckland's Muriwai Beach this afternoon.

The vehicle involved in the incident on Auckland's Muriwai Beach. Source: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

It's believed the car, which had seven people inside, was hit by a wave after it rolled with the passengers still inside at 4.20pm.

Emergency services attend the scene on Muriwai Beach after a car rolled with seven people inside. Source: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

The teenage girl was flown to Auckland City Hospital after receiving injuries to her chest.

Six others, ranging in age from teens to 20s, are said to have minor to moderate injuries.

Emergency services attend the scene on Muriwai Beach after the incident. Source: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

Emergency services, including a helicopter, are still at the scene.

Three people were seriously injured after the incident on Muriwai Beach this afternoon.

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Social agencies may be forced to shut their doors as wage gap sees social workers leave for government jobs

Social agencies working with the country's most vulnerable are warning they may be forced to shut as social workers leave for better-paid jobs with the Government.

They say a recent pay equity settlement will fuel the crisis, widening the wage gap by up to 50 per cent.

One of Auckland's oldest charities, Anglican Trust for Women and Children (ATWC), offers support like parenting classes to 3,000 families.

One mother told 1 NEWS she wouldn't have had her child without the support of ATWC. But in the last year, the organisation has lost 47 staff - over one third of their team.

ATWC general manager Judy Mati'a said, "The staff turnover has taken a hit. I had one colleague, she described it as 'haemorrhaging.'"

Her organisation is not alone, with larger social agencies like Barnardos also feeling the pinch.

Barnardos CEO Jeff Sanders said, "We are in a situation where turnover is higher than what we'd like, and attracting new staff in the market is harder than what we hope for."

Social workers are mainly leaving for higher-paid jobs at ministries like Oranga Tamariki.

Social Services Providers Association (SSPA) national manager Brenda Pilott said there is a massive pay gap.

Currently, Oranga Tamariki social workers are paid around 20 per cent more than their counterparts at other social agencies. That gap is set to widen even further - up to 50 per cent - after a pay equity settlement offer last month.

"That's within a single occupational group, essentially doing the same work, working in many cases with the same families. Simply, it's not a sustainable picture," Ms Pilott said.

Oranga Tamariki CEO Grianne Moss agrees the entire sector needs more funding.

"There are cost pressures and challenges coming up both for the core public sector and also the NGO sector," Ms Moss said.

But those affected say the solution is simple – ensure 30 per cent pay rises for all social workers. Otherwise, social agencies will struggle to stay afloat.

Social workers are mainly leaving for higher paid jobs at ministries like Oranga Tamariki. Source: 1 NEWS


Herbicides contributing to antibiotic resistance - study finds

The prolific use of herbicides is contributing to antibiotic resistance at rates faster than first thought, a new study shows.

A University of Canterbury study found repeated exposure of antibiotics and bacteria to herbicides was causing bacteria to develop a resistance to antibiotics up to 100,000 times faster than if the herbicide was not there.

Study author Professor Jack Heinemann said there were many places the three could come together.

"If your neighbour treats their lawn with a herbicide and your cat walks through that lawn it can come into your home with application rate exposures on its fur which can influence your household as you pet the cat and then touch your mouth.

"They're covered in bacteria and you might have someone in the house who's on antibiotics.

"Most of the antibiotics that people and animals take isn't metabolised so it comes out in their faeces and urine which means that in many different places herbicides and antibiotics come together, like a cow pat on a field which is then later covered in herbicide."

The study focused on three herbicides, RoundUp, Kamba and 2,4-D and the bacteria Escherichia coli (E-coli).

Mr Heinemann said low-level exposure allowed for a resistance build-up over time.

"So we get this magic mix of bacteria, antibiotics and herbicides, and if the herbicides are helping those bacteria to develop into populations that have higher levels of tolerance for antibiotics, then those bacteria become more difficult to treat if they're causing an infection.

"This could be driving up higher uses of antibiotics in those situations as we add more and more antibiotic to try and kill the bacteria who are becoming more and more resistant."

He said this could mean people stayed sick or were infectious for longer.

Exposure between all three could have the reverse effect and make some antibiotics stronger, he said.

"We are inclined to think that when a drug or other chemical makes antibiotics more potent, that should be a good thing.

"But it also makes the antibiotic more effective at promoting resistance when the antibiotic is at lower concentrations, as we more often find in the environment."

He said this meant higher levels of antibiotics would be needed to combat the resistant bacteria, but eventually something would have to give.

"Antibiotics are effectively a non-renewable global resource and once bacteria become resistant to them it's very hard, if not impossible to purge the earth of those resistant forms.

"If we misuse those antibiotics or use them in ways in which they become neutralised we've taken away this resource not just from people now but for future generations."

He said an outright ban of chemicals might not be the answer but minimising opportunities for bacteria, antibiotics and herbicides to be exposed to each other was important.

"We may very well have to use less of a whole host of chemicals in our normal routine environment."

While the immediate impacts of herbicides were being taken seriously, more work was needed on their sub-lethal impacts.

"When chemicals are tested for their safety for use in different kinds of environments - we should be including in those safety assessments their impact on bacteria, other than just their lethal impact on bacteria."

- By Emma Hatton
rnz.co.nz

Source: News