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Morning Briefing July 30: Strikes back on table as nurses reject offer

Nurses take the DHBs by surprise in rejecting their latest offer, a report finds Kiwis are paying too much for groceries, and the door officially closes on the trans-Tasman bubble.

Nurses seen striking. Source: Getty

Nurses have rejected the latest District Health Boards pay offer, meaning an eight-hour strike next month and a 24-hour strike in September are back on the table.

The DHBs say they’re surprised by the move, adding nurses have turned down a package that included improvements to safe staffing levels and pay rises worth more than $400 million. 

But the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says the latest offer contains too many ambiguities over how safe staffing will be addressed. Lead advocate David Wait says while DHBs have made promising moves over pay, nurses are still being asked to trust an uncertain outcome.

“Members have been clear from the beginning that their safety at work and the safety of their patients is a priority, and that is where they most deserve certainty,” he says. “Nurses don’t want more vague promises that the problem will be fixed in the future - which is what we have received once again."

DHB spokesperson Dale Oliff says they will reach out to the union again today.

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Kiwis paying too much at supermarket

Competition between supermarket companies is "not working well" for consumers, a draft report into supermarket prices has found.

The Commerce Commission’s report says New Zealand’s grocery prices appear high by international standards and that those prices might come down if the current duopoly had better competition.

The report found Woolworths and Foodstuffs appear to avoid competing strongly with each other, particularly on price, and that competitors wanting to enter the market or expand face significant challenges, including a lack of suitable sites and difficulty securing supplies. 

The lack of competition is also hitting food producers hard.

Yesterday’s report found they have little power when bargaining the price of their products and fear retribution if they demand higher prices. One local cereal producer has described to Newsroom how the growth of her business has been halted by the tactics of large supermarkets. 

Both Woolworths and Foodstuffs say they will be taking time to read the full draft report before contributing their own feedback on the findings. 

NZ notches up first gold

Kiwi rowers Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler have claimed New Zealand's first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics, winning the women's pair final yesterday afternoon.

They say the win is “the icing on the cake” after five years of hard work, but they’re now focusing on a potential second gold when they take to the water as part of the women’s eight today.

Fellow rower Emma Twigg will also be chasing gold this afternoon in the final of the women’s single sculls after winning her semi-final yesterday by almost five seconds.

Elsewhere, the Black Ferns Sevens won both their pool games yesterday, although they had to dig especially deep to beat Great Britain after finding themselves down 21-0 at one stage.

Kiwi swimmer Lewis Clareburt is also in action again today after booking a spot in the 200-metre individual medley final.

And the Australian track and field team have been cleared to compete after being rushed into isolation yesterday following contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case. The New Zealand Olympic Committee says no Kiwi athletes had been in contact with the positive case so their campaigns can continue – including Valerie Adams, who will begin competing tonight.

You can find a rundown of all the Kiwi athletes in action today here.

Another jab gets the nod

New Zealand’s medicine regulator has given provisional approval for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for people aged 18 and over.

It’s the third Covid vaccine to gain such approval from Medsafe although Pfizer is still the only one to have been greenlit by the Government.

Acting Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall says Cabinet has not yet considered whether to use the AstraZeneca vaccine. But she says it’s an important step towards enabling New Zealand’s donation of vaccines to Pacific countries.

Half a million of those doses will soon be heading to Fiji, where Covid cases continue to spike. More than 1300 new cases and another nine deaths were recorded there yesterday. 

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s first mass vaccination event is set to get underway this morning in Auckland.

Taking place at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, it’s hoped more than 15,000 jabs will be administered over the next three days. 

Door to close on Australia

The trans-Tasman bubble will officially close from midnight tonight as the Government’s seven-day travel window for Kiwis to return ends.

Agencies say demand for travel back to New Zealand has dropped off over recent days with more than 3000 seats available.

A further 500 MIQ rooms have been made available for people coming back from New South Wales between August 9 and 22.

It comes as cases in NSW hit a daily record of 239 yesterday and authorities requested Defence Force assistance to enforce lockdown compliance

Other news of note this morning:

- There’s no tsunami threat to New Zealand following an 8.1 magnitude earthquake near Alaska, but coastal areas may experience strong and unusual currents today.

- A Covid-infected United Nations aid worker has also been flown to Auckland from Fiji for treatment.

- Kelvin Davis has called for an investigation into the treatment of a young child by Oranga Tamariki after revelations they spent more than nine weeks in a Waikato hospital when the agency failed to find them a suitable placement.

- Flood flows measured on the Buller River this month were the largest recorded in New Zealand in almost a century, according to NIWA.

- Documents show the Government considered asking churches to help pay for the Royal Commission into historic abuse in care.

- Far North farmers say they’re having to guard their stock from feral dogs – and they’re worried the dogs’ prey will shift from stock to humans when summer comes. 

- Airline operators to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi are fuming over the proposed removal of the airport in the scenic area.

- And good news... I guess? A new study has found New Zealand is the best place to be if and when the global collapse of society comes. 

And finally...

Source: 1 NEWS

Kiwi band Six60 are so successful, they’ve managed to become landlords after purchasing their old student flat on Dunedin’s Castle Street.

The band, which had its beginnings at 660 Castle Street, says it’s collaborating with Otago University to offer four $10,000 scholarships to performing arts students each year.

The successful candidates will get to take up residency at the famous flat as part of those scholarships.