Water treatment 'fundamental' to preventing contamination, say experts at Havelock North inquiry

The majority of a panel of international experts believe treatment of water is “fundamental” to preventing drinking water contamination.     

That’s the claim from four out of five of the panellists in the government inquiry into the Havelock North gastro outbreak.

Stage two of the inquiry begun this morning in the Hastings District Court with five international drinking water experts looking at lessons needing to be learned from the campylobacter outbreak which struck down Havelock North last year.

On the topic of compulsory drinking water treatment, all but one panellist thought treatment barriers, like chlorine, were fundamental to preventing future outbreaks.

The findings might provide information for potential legal action, but John Key says that’s not its purpose. Source: 1 NEWS

Iain Rabbits, a drinking water expert, believes we shouldn’t be asking the question why should we treat drinking water but why wouldn’t we?

A leading international water quality scientist, Dr Dan Deere, says chlorine is very easy to control and it's been shown to be cheaper for suppliers to put in place a treatment barrier then constant monitoring.

Only one panellist opposed compulsory treatment. Water scientist James Graham believes historical outbreaks have shown water treatment is not a silver bullet and can promote complacency.

He says comprehensive risk management is a better solution.

The idea of suppliers having the ability to apply for an exception to not treat their water was mooted with the panel, with the example of Christchurch’s water supply used.

The Christchurch City Council supplies untreated drinking water to over 250,000 households.

Some of the panel recommended the idea but Iain Rabbits was strongly opposed.

He believes good historical drinking water records shouldn't be taken into consideration, saying it's like using the example "I’ve been driving for 40 years and never had an accident why do I need to wear a seatbelt?"

He says chlorine has "saved more lives than seatbelts and penicillin put together" and was  "the biggest advancement in the 21st century".

On the subject of residents being upset at the taste of the water once chlorinated, the panel said most chlorination was overdone and when done properly there should not be any taste in the water.

The panel expressed a feeling that politics should be left out of the debate and often information about the dangers of treated water isn't factual.

This second stage of the inquiry is expected to take the rest of the week.

An inquiry into the contamination found authorities failed to adhere to high standards of care. Source: Breakfast

Jacinda Ardern defends New Zealand against sexism claims during CNN interview

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended New Zealand against claims that the nation is sexist during a CNN interview that took place overnight in New York.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour said she was amazed by “some of the incredible sexism” that Ms Ardern had received from the country’s media, saying it was particularly "extraordinary" given that NZ was the first county to give women the vote.

That series of questions prompted the Prime Minister to offer a passionate defence of New Zealand’s record with equality.

“I would absolutely classify as being incredibly progressive the fact that I am the third female Prime Minister, she said. “I never ever grew up as a young woman believing that my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted.

A CNN interviewer was amazed by “some of the incredible sexism” Ms Ardern had received. Source: 1 NEWS

“I credit New Zealand for that. I credit the environment. I credit those women who went before me and credit New Zealanders as well -the fact that they did welcome the fact that I had a child in office. The positivity far outweighed the negativity.

“I’m deeply proud of where we are as a nation.”

While she encouraged criticism and challenging questions as part of a “robust democracy”, Ms Ardern did say she found it tricky dealing with criticism that could be construed as sexist.

“We (politicians) should be open to criticism, we should be open to be challenged,” she said.

“It becomes tricky if you ever try to partition off what might be seen as sexist criticism. To be honest, I just don’t engage. The best way I can rebel against those notions is being competent, good at my job.”

From New York, the PM also announced a big funding boost for the Pacific. Source: 1 NEWS

The Prime Minister also explained during the interview that she wasn’t aware that baby Neve was on the floor of the UN General Assembly, but she hoped that she could normalise having children in the workplace.

“To find that she (Neve) was there on the general assembly floor, and there’s actually an image that captures the moment when I see her there and…it was just delightful to see her there,” she said.

“I think what it speaks to is that I am still breastfeeding, I have Neve near me most of the time. It’s not always obvious that she’s in close proximity to me most of the time.

“I want to normalise it. There are logistical challenges.”

The prime minister said she was proud of an "incredibly progressive" NZ as after the CNN interviewer suggested she’d faced "incredible sexism" at home since giving birth in office. Source: CNN


Kiwi retailer fined after selling children's pyjamas at risk of catching fire

A New Zealand clothing retailer has been fined after selling children's clothing that was more susceptible to catching fire than the Fair Trading Act allows.

Closeup of Children's Clothing on Hangers
Children's clothes (file picture). Source: istock.com

NZSALE was fined $74,000 yesterday in the North Shore District Court after pleading guilty to four charges for selling nightwear that failed to meet the applicable safety standards.

The issue was brought up by the Commerce Commission.

Under the FTA, all children's nightwear (and limited daywear) must be made of fabric that is less likely to burn and must have a fire hazard information label to reduce the risk of children being injured if their nightwear catches fire.

However, three types of kids' pyjamas and a sleep sack NZSALE were selling did not meet such requirements because material being used in the products were too flammable to be used, did not carry the right fire hazard label, or had no fire hazard labelling at all.

Despite the products being recalled in 2015, Commissioner Anna Rawlings said NZSALE's sentencing is just the latest in a string of safety issues.

"It is important that retailers understand and comply with safety standards - especially when babies and young children are concerned," she said.

"Parents should check the labelling of clothing so they are aware of the safety and suitability of children’s nightwear when using heaters or fires."


Beneficiaries' personal lives are being needlessly probed, says lawyer

Half the beneficiaries investigated for fraud by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) have to answer questions about their relationship status.

Being in a marriage-like relationship can mean changes to someone's benefit entitlements - and their payments may end up being reduced.

Figures from the ministry show that in the 2016/17 year, there were close to 6000 fraud investigations completed.

About half of the investigations closed in that same year involved questions about relationship status.

However, of the total number of investigations completed, overpayments were established in just 1800 cases.

And there were only 431 successful prosecutions.

Lawyer Frances Joychild QC said the figures suggested too many beneficiaries were being needlessly scrutinised.

There should be clear grounds before investigators asked people about their personal lives, she said.

"When you are in a vulnerable position of being on a benefit, it is very unpleasant and stressful to have a fraud investigator contact you and inquire about your relationships with other people.

"It shouldn't happen unless there is reason to believe that there is something amiss."

Beneficiary Advocacy and Information Services worker Karen Pattie said the biggest problem was people don't know what being in a marriage-like relationship means.

"Clients, especially single mothers, are too afraid to even date someone or go out for dinner because does this mean a relationship? Does this mean I'll be investigated? If I talk to my case manager, does this mean I have to continue this relationship because I've declared it? Do I ring them and say, 'oh, we're not dating anymore'."

But MSD deputy chief executive of service delivery Viv Rickard said no one's benefit should be affected by going on a couple of dates.

"Can I unequivocally say having a few dates is nothing to do with this organisation and shouldn't impact on anything to do with what people are entitled to."

When allegations were made without supporting evidence, Mr Rickard said it was more than likely no further action would be taken.

However, he said his staff do need to take suggestions of potential fraud seriously.

"Clearly there are a small number of people who will try things on, and the Ministry of Social Development, we administer $24 billion, so I'm not going to open up the gate to the king's gold.

"But we do need to ensure when there are allegations, we consider them appropriately and if there are matters to investigate we will."

The small number of prosecutions the ministry took showed that sort of action was only taken in the most serious cases, Mr Rickard said.

He said the vast majority of Work and Income's 276,000 clients were following the rules and do get in touch when their circumstances change.

By Sarah Robson


Happy mixed-race couple standing in front of house.
Generic. Source: istock.com