Morning Briefing Oct 20: Urgent review as new gap found in border testing

As 21 people on board the Ken Rei ship wait for clearance to dock in Napier following their contact with a Covid-19 case, questions are being raised over testing at ports and for ship workers.

Source: Getty

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed yesterday the new community case of the virus was likely a border incursion, given it’s a new strain not seen in New Zealand before.

Authorities say the man was likely infected on the Sofrana Surville ship, which arrived in Auckland and had eight crew join it from the Philippines. Those crew members weren’t tested before boarding the ship as transiting foreign workers are not routinely checked.

The Ministry of Health says this is because they have “no interaction with the community”, however one health expert told RNZ it clearly represents a gap in border testing.

Auckland University’s Collin Tukuitonga says such testing should be mandatory. 

Health officials are now urgently reviewing port procedures and the testing of transiting crew members. Dr Bloomfield will be on TVNZ’s Breakfast around 7.25am today to further discuss the issue.

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Ardern meets with Greens

Negotiations between Labour and the Green Party are expected to ramp up later this week after Jacinda Ardern met with Green co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw yesterday afternoon.

Stuff reports the meeting wasn’t a negotiation but instead a general conversation about processes and timeframes. 

Earlier in the day, Davidson and Shaw said policy gains, rather than job titles, would be their focus in any negotiation talks.

Shaw said Labour would still benefit from an arrangement with the Greens, while former Prime Minister Helen Clark said “politics needs long term relationships”.

Over at The Spinoff, Andrew Geddis has gone through the options Labour and the Greens will be looking at with regards to their working relationship over the next three years – and the likelihood of each. 

And as Labour welcomed many new MPs to Parliament yesterday, talk also turned to who Jacinda Ardern’s deputy Prime Minister might be.

The Herald reports Labour’s Kelvin Davis is getting strong backing for the job, however he wouldn’t discuss that decision when asked about it by media. 

National MPs bow out

National is preparing to farewell nearly a third of its caucus today after the election results left the party with just 35 seats in Parliament. Departing MPs will be given five minutes to say their goodbyes and air any concerns to caucus.

It comes as the party continues to lick its wounds following a bruising election night. Judith Collins says she’s “happy to continue” as National’s leader as they pause to reflect and refocus. 

The party is also welcoming five new MPs to its caucus today, including former Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon.

He’s been tipped to lead the party in the future but quickly dismissed any suggestions of rolling Collins as leader yesterday. 

Watson given jail sentence

New Zealand businessman Eric Watson has been sentenced to four months in prison by a High Court judge in London.

The jail term is for withholding information about his assets from philanthropist Sir Owen Glenn, who's pursuing the former rich-lister for $57 million.

Watson's defence counsel has requested to apply for an appeal.

Blame game over bubble

The new trans-Tasman travel bubble is at the centre of a political storm across the ditch just days after taking flight.

A blame game is underway in Australia as officials discover more than 100 Kiwis have travelled beyond the two states that don’t require them to quarantine, including to the cities of Hobart, Perth and Adelaide. 

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews says the state is now part of the bubble “whether Victorians liked it or not”.

However, one woman who travelled from New Zealand to Melbourne to attend her father’s funeral says she did so in “good faith”.

She told 9News she wasn’t sure if she was allowed to fly to Melbourne so booked the flights through a travel agent who checked with government officials and said she could.

She says the state made the Kiwi travellers “feel like we were criminals”, even though “we’ve done all the right things”.

Selling NZ to Kiwis

Meanwhile, domestic tourism is in the spotlight once again as the struggling industry looks for ways to keep operators afloat during the pandemic.

A $200 domestic travel card for every Kiwi is one idea that’s been put forward, however questions are being asked over how such a scheme would work.

And as more Kiwis prepare for a summer at home, surf lifeguards are bracing for a busy time. They say they’re expecting “huge crowds” on beaches while Kiwis are restricted from international travel. 

Other news of note this morning:

- Wales is being put into a two-week national lockdown as officials look to bring Covid-19 under control and give the NHS some breathing space before winter. 

- Stuff reports some of the biggest companies in the world have claimed millions of dollars in wage subsidies for their New Zealand operations.

- All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara has confirmed he’s heading overseas on a short-term rugby sabbatical. 

- An Auckland mum says she "felt awful" after claiming she was told to leave a public pool because of her swimwear choice.

- And Fair Go looks at how long a car's factory paint job should last.

And finally...

A scene from Dog Almighty. Source: 1 NEWS

Kiwis love to watch dogs on the telly.

From A Dog’s Show to Tux Wonder Dogs, the country has a long, proud history of canine antics on the small screen.

And now a new show is about to join that group with TVNZ’s Dog Almighty beginning its search for New Zealand’s most talented pooch. Seven Sharp’s Laura Daniel caught up with show hosts Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce last night - and found they’re more than happy their TV career has gone to the dogs.