Jacinda Ardern says Budget 'factored in' upcoming pay negotiations with teachers, nurses and police

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the government factored in looming pay negotiations with teachers, police and nurses into the Budget.

In her first media engagement since the Budget was unveiled yesterday, Ms Ardern was asked about what will likely be tough pay negotiations and the Government's ability to fund wage increases.

"Of course we know that we are facing those incredibly important pay negotiations and we've had to factor that in when we've crafted the budget," she said.

"For obvious reasons we don't make it particularly obvious where we've placed that contingency," she said.

Pressed on the issue, Ms Ardern said further details of the allocation would remain confidential, ahead of what looked to be tough negotiations.

"Yes, of course you'll understand why we don't put a clear headline in the Budget as to where that contingency is kept because of course we do need to go through a negotiation for each but we have factored that in as we have formulated the budget."

During coalition negotiations last year, the cost from collective bargaining and pay equity for nurses over three years was estimated at $750 million.

Pay talks for primary teachers began earlier this month, with the New Zealand Educational Institute union seeking a 16 percent pay rise and improved working conditions, especially with regard to support with special education needs.

Ms Ardern said teachers' expectations about Budget funding were not too high.

“I think they probably understand that we have a huge amount of pressure in the education sector, 17,000 students that there wasn’t funding set aside for, both for teacher needs and infrastructure that we had to make sure we were funding in this budget.”

“I think when you have a 46 per cent increase in funding in the education sector and still, there is that need, that goes to show just the amount of work that we’re having to put to rebuild that sector,” she said.

Ms Ardern said special education was prioritised in the budget because the need in that area was so great.

She added that it was a priority of Education Minister Chris Hipkins to attract people into the teaching profession.

The PM says the government has “factored in” looming pay negotiations with teachers, police and nurses in the Budget. Source: 1 NEWS

Auckland Council's plan to classify unchipped cats as pests results in death threats

An Auckland Council staffer at the helm of its new pest management strategy has received death threats.

A kitten, aged six to eight weeks, looks upward.
A kitten, aged six to eight weeks, looks upward. Source: istock.com

Animal rights activists met with the council yesterday afternoon to air their concerns about the city's plan to classify any cat without a microchip as a pest.

The strategy - due to be finalised by March next year - means any cat without a microchip found in council-branded biodiverse areas will be euthanised.

Councillors Penny Hulse and Cathy Casey met interest groups, including the SPCA and Paw Justice, this afternoon following death threats.

Ms Hulse said threats were made against Auckland Council's principal biosecurity advisor via social media and official council channels.

"[The advocacy groups] have actually been really good; they're been helpful and supportive. This is in no way linking them to any of that negative behaviour. We did, however, touch on the fact that some of our fringe members of groups or individuals are making these kinds of threats to staff and we all agree that that is completely unacceptable."

Ms Hulse said the threats have been reported to the police, and the staffer was receiving support.

She said the strong sentiment behind the issue was what led the council to meet with advocacy groups.

"We weren't under any legal obligation to go through a formal submission process but it just seemed to me that when you're dealing with something that is as personal and as passionately held as people's pets, that it was a really important thing to do."

Feral cats are already classified as pests under the council's existing regional pest management strategy, but the new one will mean any un-microchipped cat found at at specific sites of ecological significance will be considered a pest.

These cats will be the targets of cat-trappings and may be euthanised, like rats and possums.

Anne Batley-Burton, president of the New Zealand Cat Foundation, said pets are at risk in the new strategy.

"If that's the case you would end up with people's pets getting killed, you would end up with the poor strays being wiped out and that would be a terrible situation. These are all sentient beings and their lives should not be taken lightly."

Andrea Midgen, Auckland SPCA's chief executive, said the plan is just too broad.

"They've mapped and said these areas are ecologically sensitive but they haven't actually got down to whether they're ecologically sensitive to flora or fauna or both. So lets target the ones that are really critical, maybe like the regional parks, rather than the bush reserve that's at the back of a residential area."

The public needed time to transition, she said.

"In New Zealand we've had a situation where cats roam pretty freely...so we need to transition people to be able to manage that and put strategies in place to bring that about. Doing something next month or next year is going to be too much of a big ask, we need to give people time to get used to it."

Ms Batley-Burton said she knew nothing about those sending death threats.

This afternoon's meeting ended with councillors asking advocacy groups to use their influence to stop the culprits, she said.

"I find that rather strange actually because I can't imagine anyone doing that but that's what she said... if that's the truth, obviously these people need to be stopped."

Ms Hulse said the council's proposed plan would be finalised by March next year, after councillors have had time to consider the feedback they're received.

Following that the council would contact local communities affected by the pest management strategy, to ensure all cat owners have reasonable time to microchip their feline companions, she said.

- Reporting by RNZ's Anneke Smith 


Readers' photo gallery: Early spring snow continues to wreak havoc in South Island

Snow warnings are in place, a section of State Highway 94 has been closed and households across central Otago remain without power as wild weather continues to batter the South Island this morning.

Fox Peak Ski Area near Fairlie was looking at a season without much snow, until last night. Source: 1 NEWS

Arrowtown saw an early spring snowfall overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Sophia Purdon

Around 500 households also remain without power across central Otago, including all of Glenorchy, Lower Shotover, Speargrass Flat, Arthurs Point, Alexandra, Tarras, Dalefield and Frankton.

Aurora is working to have power restored to the affected homes as soon as possible but it will take time to due to damaged power lines.

Usually snow is a good thing for a ski field, but it couldn’t clear the roads fast enough to open this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

Arrowtown. Source: Jesse Van Grinsven

Meanwhile, SH94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound has been closed this morning due to a high avalanche risk.

Queenstown. Source: Thomas Martin

An early spring dump of snow fell on Te Anau overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Alana Pullar

Arrowtown saw an early spring snowfall overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Sophia Purdon

Arrowtown. Source: Jess Van Grinsven

A heavy snow warning is in place on the Lindis Pass (SH8 Tarras to Omarama).

A snow warning remains in place for Crown Range Road, where up to an extra 3 centimetres of snow was expected overnight.

The Ministry of Education said they are unaware of any early childhood centres or school closures today.

Arrowtown saw an early spring snowfall overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Sophia Purdon

Source: James Penwell

Bridesdale Queenstown. Source: Kate Tonks

Te Anau. Source: Phillip Robertson

Snow on the Crown Range. Source: NZTA

View readers' photos from this week's big white out:

In many places power was cut, schools were closed and flights cancelled. Source: 1 NEWS


Ridesharing service Ola to begin operating in New Zealand early next month

An alternative to ridesharing app Uber is expected to launch in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in the coming weeks.

Ola, which was founded in India in 2011, is looking for drivers from Tuesday, where they hope to begin taking on customers in two to three weeks, Stuff reports.

Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal says he is "excited to build a local team and business in New Zealand and provide a healthy contribution to the nation's local transport infrastructure".

Currently operating in India, Australia and the UK, the company claims to have more than 125 million users taking around 1 billion rides per year.

The app has safety features in place, including an emergency button which sends ride details to friends, family and emergency services, as well as real-time tracking of the car's location.

The company launched in Australia in February, where it employs more than 50,000 drivers in seven major cities. It began operating in the UK last month.

Ola will join Uber, New Zealand-based company Zoomy and female-only service DriveHer in the ridesharing market.

Research presented at a sleep conference includes results from an Australian survey
Research presented at a sleep conference includes results from an Australian survey Source: Photos.com

'What do you want to be?' is not the right question to ask young people - career counsellor

A career counsellor says she's had parents asking her to see their intermediate-age children for career counselling, but her message to them is they should let them play.

Hana Lambert told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp the pressure on school students to decide on a career can be ridiculous.

"I've had Year Eight, intermediate students, their parents wanting me to see them for career counselling. Now it's a little bit like 'let them play!'" she said.

A group of Albany Senior High School students said the pressure is on them to choose.

"You're expected to make a choice about whether or not you're going to go to uni, or if you want to take a gap year, or if you want to travel? What do I do?" one student said.

Another said: "People do say, 'You don't have to choose right away.' But the subjects you choose in Year 11 set you up for Year 12. And the ones you choose in Year 12 ones set you up for year 13."

Ms Lambert said 'What do you want to be?' is not the right question to ask young people.

"That's the quintessential question that every young person dreads. I think that when young people say, 'Yes, yes, I've got it all sorted', it's a bit of a deflection to keep people off their backs."

Some Albany Senior High School students have had enough with the mixed messages they receive.

"We're told, 'You're going to work so many careers in your life because machines are doing jobs now.' But then we're also being asked to decide what we want to do for the rest of our lives. Those are two very different messages," one said.

Ms Lambert says many parents are not up to speed on how the workforce has changed. 

"A while ago, to have a portfolio that said you were only somewhere for two years was a bit of a flag - 'why are they chopping and changing?' Whereas now, having a long time in one industry or one job can sometimes be seen as, 'Oh, why have they been there that long. Are they afraid to tackle change?'

"It's not a career for life now, it is a starting point," she said.

A career expert says the question is putting a lot of pressure on young people. Source: Seven Sharp