Morning Briefing May 12: How safe are our supermarkets?

There are concerns over escalating aggression towards supermarket staff, and quarantine-free travel continues from Victoria despite a new Covid case in Melbourne. 

A police car blocks an entrance to the Dunedin Central Countdown. Source: Getty

There are calls to help make supermarkets safer following this week’s multiple stabbing at a Dunedin Countdown. Four people remain in hospital following the attack, with a “long road” to recovery ahead of them.

The stabbing comes amid a tough year for supermarkets with the pandemic leading to an increase in customer abuse towards staff.

1 NEWS has learned Countdown was so concerned with the escalating aggression prior to this week’s stabbing, they wrote to the Police Minister about the problem. However, Poto Williams declined to meet with Countdown executives, suggesting they meet with police instead. 

Meanwhile, a trauma centre has been set up in Dunedin to help those who need it following Monday afternoon’s harrowing incident.

Countdown’s GM for corporate affairs, Kiri Hannifin, says it will take people a “long time” to recover. Hannifin herself became overwhelmed discussing the incident on Breakfast yesterday, saying, “it feels pretty bad when your people aren’t safe.”

She says Countdown is looking at providing staff with body cameras following trials in Australia.

Police say the actions of the first responders “almost certainly” saved lives on Monday afternoon. A woman inside the supermarket at the time of the attack also praised her fellow shoppers, saying she doesn’t think the alleged offender would have stopped if bystanders hadn’t restrained him.

A 42-year-old man has since appeared in court, charged with four counts of attempted murder. He’s been remanded in custody without plea. 

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Officials eye Melbourne case

Quarantine-free travel from Victoria will continue despite a new community case of Covid-19 being discovered in Melbourne.

The case is a recent returnee from India who completed managed isolation in Adelaide, before testing positive some days later. It’s Victoria’s first case in more than two months.

Several locations of interest have been identified but New Zealand’s Ministry of Health says the risk to the public is low and isn’t recommending a travel bubble pause

Meanwhile, 12 new Covid cases have been recorded in Fiji, all linked to a woman who tested positive for the virus earlier this week.

Contact tracing is underway, but there’s no indication of tougher lockdown restrictions yet.  

And more children are set to get the Covid vaccine after approval was granted in the US for those as young as 12 to get the Pfizer jab.

New Zealand’s current policy is to only vaccinate those over the age of 16, however Medsafe says it will now consider Pfizer’s clinical data.

New Zealand officials are also reportedly planning a trial mass vaccination event next month. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told RNZ it will serve as a test run for when the vaccination programme is rolled out to the general population.

Cracking down on gangs and guns

The Government says it’s introducing Firearm Protection Orders, meaning specific "high risk" people cannot own, use, or access a firearm, in a move targeting gangs and organised crime.

A new law will also enable the seizure of assets from people associated with organised crime. Justice Minister Kris Faafoi says this will hit gangs where it hurts – their pockets.

Māori Party co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi plan to fight the incoming laws, saying they have “grave concerns” about them.

National leader Judith Collins says the proposed laws are a “good start” but “lack teeth”. She says police should be able to conduct warrantless searches.

When asked if such powers might be misused given claims of systemic racism within the police, Collins said she’d seen “no evidence” of systemic racism in the force. 

MIQ plans upset farmers

Farmers say they feel shunned by the Government after being excluded from a plan to boost the number of workers coming into the country.

Around 500 managed isolation rooms a fortnight will soon be made available for some sectors, with very limited spots for farming.

The dairy industry has been fighting to get more foreign staff for months and is devastated to be excluded from the new MIQ plans.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the door remains open for farm workers, but the industry needs to do more to recruit locally. 

Meanwhile, refugee advocates have welcomed the Government’s move to allocate refugees 100 MIQ spots every six weeks.

Green Party spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman says it’s a good “first step” but is calling on the Government to urgently reinstate New Zealand’s full quota, saying the refugee crisis has “accelerated” due to the Covid pandemic.

Disabled feeling "defeated"

A new survey has revealed disabled Kiwis feel exhausted and defeated about their living situations.

With a lack of housing that caters to their needs, a community housing collective has found one in five disabled people are unhappy with their homes.

Disability Connect's Colleen Brown says she’s detected “a real element of despair” over the ongoing problems. 

Researchers have made a list of recommendations to address the issue, which they’ve sent to both the Government and the United Nations.

Those recommendations include having one Government agency to take responsibility for planning the way forward and ensuring 100 per cent of public housing new builds meet universal design standards. 

New Pike River proposal

An $8 million plan to go deeper into the Pike River mine has been delivered to the Government.

Twenty-three of the 29 Pike families support the call, which puts greater focus on an underground fan thought to have ignited the first explosion at the mine.

The plan, which has been put together by international mining experts, would require moving beyond the rockfall, which is the Government’s current finish line.

Other news of note this morning:

- Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has called on Israel to "cease demolitions and evictions" as violence between Palestinian militants and Israel's military continues.

- New Zealand hospitals are being hit by shortages of drugs like anaesthetics and other key surgical equipment as disruptions to global supply chains continue. 

- Banks are starting to clamp down on lending to investors, ahead of controversial planned changes by the Government.

- Unions are claiming progress in the dispute over the Government's pay freeze after crisis talks at the Beehive.

- The owner of a US lab that tested sunscreen products sold in New Zealand has pleaded guilty to falsifying results.

- It’s been a bad night on the roads, with seven people injured in a multi-vehicle crash in Auckland and a "significant number" of headstones damaged in a Gisborne cemetery following an accident there. 

- An Australian study has found that rice, particularly the instant variety, has high levels of microplastics in it.

- Plans for an All Blacks fixture against Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium could be confirmed as early as today.

- And Tom Cruise has reportedly handed back his three Golden Globes as the organisation behind the awards faces allegations of corruption and a lack of diversity. 

And finally...

Source: 1 NEWS

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