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Morning Briefing July 1: New initiatives kick in for cars, homes and benefits

July 1 marks a big day for benefits, healthy homes regulations and EVs, councils are divided over the Government's water plans, and the fallout over Oranga Tamariki's latest scandal continues. 

Rental property - stock image. Source: istock.com

Once again, July 1 sees a flood of new Government initiatives coming into effect, the most notable being an increase in benefits, the beginning of the new healthy homes standards, and the introduction of electric vehicle rebates. 

Those buying a new EV from today could receive an $8000 rebate, while those purchasing used EVs can get up to $3000 knocked off the price. The rebates will be funded by the introduction of levies on high-emission vehicles next year.

From today, private landlords must also ensure their properties comply with minimum standards within 90 days of a new or renewed tenancy. The Healthy Homes Act introduces specific regulations for heating, insulation, and ventilation in rental properties.

The NZ Herald reports one in five Auckland rentals is currently passing standards on first inspection.

The Government has two more years to ensure all state houses meet the same standards after Associate Housing Minister Poto Williams confirmed earlier this month less than 20 per cent of them currently do.

Benefits are also increasing by $20 per week today to help more than 300,000 Kiwis cover basic costs. Another increase is expected in April next year

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Councils divided on water reforms

Some councils are already revolting against the Government’s radical plans for the country’s water infrastructure.

The new proposals will see power over water supplies taken out of local council hands and given to four entities, divided geographically.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says the case for change is compelling and the system is in too many cases "ineffective, inefficient, and not fit for purpose".

The proposals have already been met with council resistance, including Auckland, with mayor Phil Goff saying they won’t work for the city. 

The proposals come as Auckland’s Watercare revealed its largest investment plan to date, with $18.5 billion earmarked for the next 20 years.

The funding is expected to cater for population growth and infrastructure improvements, with Aucklanders paying more for their water from today.

Oranga Tamariki fallout continues

The manager of the Oranga Tamariki unit at the centre of an abuse investigation knew that staff used excessive force against a child but failed to report it.

Several staff at Te Oranga facility in Christchurch have now been stood down, with the troubled agency revealing nearly a dozen children have been physically injured by their staff in recent years.

Oranga Tamariki’s acting chief executive Sir Wira Gardiner has acknowledged Care and Protection Residences are no longer fit for purpose.

And as the agency deals with this latest scandal, 1 NEWS reporter Corazon Miller has looked at New Zealand’s history of children in state care.

Most children taken into care last century were Māori, a cost that’s become apparent at this month’s Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

Stories of abuse shared at the inquiry detail how their trauma, alongside being disconnected from their culture, has left a mark that’s now being felt by their children and grandchildren.

Covid (and misinformation) spreads

Australia has again recorded new Covid-19 cases in several states, but most are linked to existing outbreaks.

The Northern Territory yesterday extended its lockdown to Alice Springs after a mine worker infected four others with the virus. Although no cases have been reported in Alice Springs itself, the miner spent seven hours at the town’s airport before flying to South Australia.

There’s also fresh concern in Sydney after a student nurse was diagnosed with Covid-19 after working with patients at two of the city’s hospitals.

Meanwhile, as Covid-19 continues its spread around the world, a survey has revealed how misinformation has also spread through New Zealand in the wake of the pandemic.

A survey of more than 2000 people has found it’s common for Kiwis to hold views that may have been influenced by misinformation

Dalziel calls time on mayoralty

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel says she’s standing down at next year’s local elections.

She’s been reflecting on her three terms as mayor, saying Christchurch has had its fair share of challenges, including the March 15 terror attacks.

Dalziel says it’s time for a new direction in her life following the death of her husband last year. 

Other news of note this morning:

- As dozens of people die in Canada and the US amid an unprecedented heatwave, officials are warning it’s just the beginning of a more permanent crisis caused by climate change.

- Bill Cosby is being released from prison after the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania overturned his sexual assault conviction.

- RNZ reports sick babies are being cared for in a playroom at Middlemore Hospital due to a lack of space in regular wards. 

- The Government will consult with Māori first about the controversial He Puapua report before they create a declaration plan that will go to the wider public next year, 1 NEWS understands.

- Medsafe is in the final stages of deciding on provisional approval of the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine, Chris Hipkins says. 

- A Government report has found the costs to strengthen earthquake-prone buildings may not be affordable for many.

- Ōwhiro Bay residents are once again calling on the council to further protect them from the threat of rising tides

- A woman who allegedly caused a major crash at the Tour de France has been arrested.

- And Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has joked the proposed hate speech law change won’t protect Judith Collins from being called a 'Karen'.

And finally...  

Jason Hoyte stars in Talkback. Source: 1 NEWS

TVNZ has just released a new comedy show based around talkback radio, a subject that’s ripe for ridicule.

Seven Sharp spoke to Talkback stars Jason Hoyte and Mike Minogue last night and discovered the show has a few outrageous cameos lined up, including an apparently distracting Hilary Barry and... a nasty Jason Gunn?