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Morning Briefing Feb 23: List of Shame reveals reality of NZ's animal abuse

The SPCA reveals its annual List of Shame, the Government signals an overhaul of the Holidays Act, and England's PM details his lockdown exit plan.

Source: istock.com

The stark reality of animal abuse in New Zealand has once again been detailed in the SPCA’s annual List of Shame. (And just a warning – if you click through on this story, some of the footage in it may be distressing.)

The list details 10 of the worst cases of animal abuse, neglect and abandonment seen by the SPCA over the past 12 months.

One case details how Bolo the dog was seriously injured after his owner beat him with a plank of wood. The Canterbury man was captured on video abusing the bullmastiff.

Fortunately for Bolo, his story has a happy ending in that he’s since found a new, loving home - but the news has not been good for many others. Other stories on the SPCA’s list this year include an emaciated dog, a duffle bag of puppies being dumped in a river, and several horses and sheep being left to starve. 

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen says the list is a reminder of the work still needed to prevent animal abuse in New Zealand. 

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Auckland returns to Level 1

Auckland joined the rest of the country at Alert Level 1 overnight despite a new community case of Covid-19 being announced yesterday.

The Ministry of Health says the new case presents a low risk to public health, given they’re a household contact of an existing case and already in a quarantine facility. Because they’ve been in isolation while infectious, there are no additional contacts or locations of interest to report.

In shifting Auckland back to Level 1, the Government also confirmed the new rule that requires all New Zealanders to wear masks while on public transport. You can find the requirements around face coverings here

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she is “ready and willing” to receive a Covid vaccine and will do so live on camera – but not yet.

She says Kiwis at greatest risk from the virus should get the jab first.

Her comments follow her trans-Tasman counterpart, Scott Morrison, being among the first Australians to receive the vaccine there. Several world leaders have been vaccinated on camera to help ease any concerns about the safety of the newly developed vaccines.  

And as vaccination programmes on both sides of the Tasman get underway, Air New Zealand has revealed it’s trialling a new digital health passport for when international travel picks up again.

The Travel Pass app stores health information, including Covid-19 test results and vaccinations, and will be trialled on the Auckland to Sydney route first, starting in April. 

England looks to exit lockdown

There's light at the end of the long, dark Covid-19 tunnel for England with Prime Minister Boris Johnson detailing his plan to lift the country out of its third lockdown.

The four-step process will see schools reopen in two weeks, with people in groups of two also allowed to socialise outside then.

Larger groups will be able to gather in parks and private gardens by the end of March. Shops, hairdressers, and gyms are due to open by April. All going well, all limits on social contact will be gone in four months’ time.

Johnson says it’s “crucial that this roadmap should be cautious but also irreversible”.

“We’re setting out what I hope is a one-way road to freedom,” he says.

Quake's long shadow acknowledged

An emotional service has been held in Christchurch, marking the 10th anniversary of the 2011 earthquake that devastated the city.

Jacinda Ardern spoke to those gathered about the “long shadow of that day”, acknowledging the toll the quake continues to have on many residents.

The names of the 185 people killed during the tragedy were read yesterday afternoon, with tributes also paid to the foreign nationals who died, including 28 Japanese students. The full video of yesterday’s service can be found here

Yesterday’s anniversary prompted even more stories of survival in the aftermath of the quake.

Ann Bodkin spoke about how lucky she feels to be alive after being pulled from a damaged building 26 hours after the quake. Kendyll Mitchell also described the “little miracle” of surviving the collapse of the CTV building alongside her two young children. 

Of course, the commemorations raised plenty of painful memories, too.

CTV Families Group spokesman Maan Alkaisi, whose wife Maysoon was one of 115 killed in the CTV building, says “the bitterness of 10 years of injustice” still churns for them.

Holidays Act set for overhaul

The Government is signalling new changes to leave entitlements, including expanding the criteria of bereavement leave to include more family members and giving employees a sick day from the first day of employment.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood says all recommendations from the Holidays Act Taskforce have been accepted by the Government.

Legislation is expected to be introduced early next year to give businesses time to prepare for the changes.

Other news of note this morning:

- Prince William says his grandfather, Prince Philip, is "OK" as the 99-year-old royal consort remains in a London hospital for rest and observation.

- Federal aviation regulators are ordering United Airlines to step up inspections of all Boeing 777s equipped with the type of engine that suffered a catastrophic failure over Denver at the weekend.

- The Government says its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a "faster than expected economic recovery", which has been acknowledged in a credit rating upgrade.

- Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis wants more information following a judge's ruling that inmates at Auckland Women's Prison were treated in a "degrading" and "inhumane" way.

- Jacinda Ardern has walked away from her ambition of a trans-Tasman bubble within the first quarter of 2021, saying "it's more important to get it right".

- The Government says it’s aiming to have conversion therapy banned by February next year

- An Auckland woman who was rushed to hospital, violently ill after taking a weight loss supplement sold by a Utah-based pyramid scheme, says she's concerned at how common the products are in New Zealand.

- And John Travolta is selling the 20-bedroom island mansion he shared with late wife, Kelly Preston.

And finally...

It was a tough day for Christchurch yesterday, but the Black Caps delivered some much-needed joy for locals at Hagley Oval last night.

The team crushed Australia in their T20 series opener, with Devon Conway smashing an unbeaten 99 to set the visitors 185 to win.

The Aussies made an awful start to their run chase and eventually crashed to a 53-run defeat. (You love to see it.)

The second T20 will take place in Dunedin on Thursday.