Watch: Jacinda Ardern says Simon Bridges is being 'alarmist and dramatic' over union reps entering workplaces

Jacinda Ardern says Simon Bridges is being "alarmist and dramatic" over law changes that may allow union representatives to enter workplaces without the consent of the business owner.

Mr Bridges raised the issue in Question Time today, stating the power given to union representatives appears to be greater than that of the police.

"Why will union representatives not be required to gain consent from an employer before entering the premises of their workplace when even a police officer has to ask a judge for a warrant?" Mr Bridges asked the Prime Minister.

Ms Ardern replied that it may not be the case that all union representatives will be allowed into a workplace without knowledge of the business owner.

"If there are health and safety regulations that require the representative to do so then they will have to ask permission," Ms Ardern said.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters then stepped into the fray with a supplementary question for Mr Bridges.

"Using the members previous question, does a policeman in hot pursuit of a suspected murderer inside a office situation have to spend all the time for a warrant to go and pick that person up?" Mr Peters asked.

The reply from the National Party leader had even Mr Peters laughing.

 "Can the Minister confirm that we are giving unions the same powers that we give to police officers when they are in hot pursuit of murderers?"

Ms Ardern then tried to clarify Mr Peters' argument, saying: "The point that the Deputy Prime Minister was making is that the member is being alarmist and dramatic."



Versions of synthetic cannabis in New Zealand up to 10 times stronger than strain that saw US 'zombie outbreak'

Experts are warning there are deadlier versions of synthetic cannabis available in New Zealand which are much more potent than the one which caused the so-called zombie outbreaks in the US.

The Government's been told two deadly types of synthetic cannabis are so potent they should be classified as class A drugs.

One of these drugs has been linked to a well-known case that rocked the United States in 2016.

"The concentrations we're seeing in New Zealand are much more potent than what we saw in the Zombie outbreak in New York," Health Minister David Clark says.

In some instances, the drugs found here were 10 times stronger.

The news comes after synthetic cannabis was linked to the deaths of at least 45 people since June 2017.

"I don't think we ever anticipated we'd get new synthetic drugs that would lead to so much harm," Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told 1 NEWS.

Synthetic cannabis is already illegal - but the maximum punishment for dealers is two years in prison.

Making synthetic cannabis a class A drug would put it alongside methamphetamine, cocaine, magic mushrooms and lsd.

This would mean the police would have more power and the penalties would be significantly tougher for dealers and users.

The Government says it will make a decision on synthetic drugs in the coming weeks.

They're calling for the drug to be classified as Class A – the most harmful and dangerous. Source: 1 NEWS


Rihanna asks for Jacinda Ardern's help in tweet - 'Its been a big year for you'

Popstar and fashionista Rihanna has reached out on Twitter to try and enlist the help of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for one of the singer's charitable causes.

Rihanna started out by congratulating the PM before asking for help. 

"Kia ora @jacindaardern! It's been a big year for you & NZ - congrats!

"I hope you & @MFATgovtNZ agree that educating every child can change the world!" the singer wrote before linking to the Clara Lionel Foundation which she started in 2012.

The tweet also contained a link to a piece Rihanna wrote for The Guardian yesterday, calling for more support for young students in developing countries. 

Rihanna and Jacinda Ardern. Source: Associated Press

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Wellington bus network changes to be reviewed after council bombarded with complaints

Wellington's new bus network will be independently reviewed after ongoing complaints of buses being late, too full to board or not showing up at all.

The regional council today voted today to have the system reviewed and the results reported back by December.

Since the system was changed in July the council has been bombarded with complaints.

Councillors have also asked officers to change a route so that it began and ended in Kilbirnie, as it previously did, and for feedback on whether some other routes can be changed.

Regional council chief executive Greg Campbell said he took full responsibility for fixing the network's problems.

He said the review needed to be done quickly.

"Any commuter that is left stranded, or a bus that is late, that is of extreme concern. We have to get a clear view of what is happening. What an independent review can really do - particularly for management and council - is give a view of what has happened and articulate that well."

At the beginning of the meeting several Wellington residents addressed the council to let it know they were still unhappy with the new bus routes.

A Wellington principal said the recent re-jig of the routes was making his students late for class and putting them in danger.

St Patrick's College, Kilbirnie's rector Neal Swindells told this morning's meeting about 100-150 boys were using the new service.

"Currently our two 753 buses from the station in the afternoon are significantly overloaded and are unsafe. On Monday this week, they were both loaded to the gunnels and there were 30-odd students who couldn't get on. So what they do is they cross the road to catch the new 24 bus, which by the time it leaves St Pat's now is also overfull."

rnz.co.nz

Commuters at a bus stop in Newtown. Source: rnz.co.nz


Serious crash leaves one person in critical condition, closes section of SH2 near Upper Hutt

A serious crash has left one person in critical condition and a section of State Highway 2 closed in both directions near Kaitoke, Upper Hutt.

Police say there are likely to be lengthy delays and motorists are asked to avoid the area if possible.


A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS