Morning Briefing Aug 5: Economy booming - but it could come with a price

Interest rates are likely to rise following a significant fall in the unemployment rate, and the Government battles against vaccine misinformation.


New Zealand’s unemployment rate is back at pre-pandemic levels after plunging from 4.6 per cent to 4 per cent in the last quarter.

Stats NZ says it’s the largest quarterly fall since the Household Labour Force Survey began 35 years ago.

The labour market is also moving in favour of workers, with average hourly wages rising 4 per cent in the past year to hit nearly $35 an hour. 

But while this good news for workers points to a booming economy, it also means interest rates are likely to rise, impacting first home buyers in a heated housing market.

ANZ and BNZ are now forecasting the official cash rate to rise to 1 per cent this year, while Kiwibank believes the unemployment rate “all but confirms” the Reserve Bank will hike the rate later this month. 

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Govt grapples with misinformation

As the Government celebrates administering two million doses of the Covid vaccine and brings forward vaccinations for Kiwis aged 55 and over, health officials are still battling with misinformation around the jab.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says such misinformation has kept 44 per cent of port workers from getting a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

He’s encouraging anyone hesitant about the vaccine to seek out information from health professionals

Meanwhile, across the Tasman, authorities are renewing appeals for young people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 following the death of a Sydney man in his 20s.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian says his death "demonstrates again how this disease is lethal, how it affects people of all ages".

It comes as NSW records another 233 cases of Covid-19, with nearly 50 of those in the community while infectious. Queensland also recorded another 16 new cases yesterday, while Victoria confirmed one new case, hours after celebrating a day of zero cases. 

The World Health Organization has also waded back into the Covid vaccine debate, today calling for wealthier countries to hold off on a third Covid booster shot.

They say a suspension on booster vaccines until at least the end of September should allow for at least 10 per cent of the populations in every country to be vaccinated. 

MediaWorks apologises after review

Radio company MediaWorks has apologised to current and former staff following an independent culture review that uncovered a raft of failings.

Amongst the serious concerns flagged are six allegations of sexual assault, as well as cases of bullying, racism, and pay inequity.

The review was ordered in March after anonymous claims appeared online, criticising the company’s culture and the behaviour of senior employees. The 45-page report can be found here.

MediaWorks says it will develop an action plan around implementing the report’s recommendations, however former staff say they’re worried about accountability.

One former MediaWorks employee told 1 NEWS the review has given her “no closure” because the alleged perpetrators of misconduct haven’t been named. 

Kiwis edge towards more medals

Kayak superstar Lisa Carrington has shown no signs of fatigue after winning two gold medals in Tokyo, booking a spot in today’s K1 500m semi-final.

She’s joined by fellow gold medallist Caitlin Regal, who finished third in her heat. Kiwi kayaking duo Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie have also qualified for the K2 1000m semi-finals.

Elsewhere at the Olympics, golfer Lydia Ko has had a solid opening round to stay in the hunt for a medal, while strong performances from track cyclists Sam Webster and Ellesse Andrews have seen them advance to the quarterfinal stage of the men's sprint and women's keirin.

But there was disaster for the New Zealand men’s pursuit team on the track last night, with Aaron Gate crashing during their bronze medal race against Australia. The Australians went on to win the race and the medal. 

But there are more medals up for grabs today – find out when here.

Months of recovery for Marlborough

Some communities in the Marlborough Sounds remain completely cut off almost three weeks after severe flooding in the area.

Authorities say it could take months for the region to recover from the floods with the roading network in ruins. Around 100 slips came down during the extreme rainfall, with 20 of those significant and many still not repaired.

The 71km Queen Charlotte track has also been closed by the Department of Conservation with a major amount of work required to get it reopened again ahead of the busy summer season.

It comes as Niwa’s latest climate summary confirms large areas of the country had well above normal rainfall in July.

Other news of note this morning:

- Thousands of people have gathered in Beirut to mark the first anniversary of the catastrophic port explosion in the Lebanese capital.

- US President Joe Biden is calling for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign after an investigation found he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women.

- RNZ reports some pensioners struggling to get home from Australia are having their superannuation payments stopped.

- A former Gloriavale man has pleaded guilty to 11 charges of sexual offending against children.

- National has released a plan it says will clear the current residency backlog and provide a pathway for skilled migrants already in New Zealand to gain residency.

- Those in the lower North Island have been shaken awake by an early morning quake after it struck near the Kāpiti Coast. 

- And official correspondence reveals Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern turned down an opportunity to appear in the local adaptation of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

And finally...

Source: Getty

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