Live updates, December 14: Ihumātao a ‘pandora’s box’ that should not be opened – Collins

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Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for December 14. Reach me at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

11.35am: Ihumātao a ‘pandora’s box’ that should not be opened – Judith Collins

Updated

The opposition has responded to news that a Ihumātao deal will reportedly be discussed during today’s cabinet meeting, labelling the issue a “pandora’s box”.

In a statement, National leader Judith Collins said the Ihumātao issue is “a problem of Jacinda Ardern’s own making” and the taxpayer shouldn’t be footing the bill.

“It’s difficult to fathom that with more than 20,000 Kiwi families currently waiting for a home the government is prepared to spend millions stopping 480 much-needed houses from being built,” Collins said.

“The prime minister needs to explain why she thinks it’s appropriate to meddle in private property rights with taxpayers’ money, because she will be setting an appalling precedent.”

Collins added: “The Ihumātao deal will place a question mark over all full and final treaty settlements, and the protestors at Shelly Bay will know they’ve only got to sit tight and wait for the Government to step in.”

Earlier today, Jacinda Ardern refused to comment on the possibility of an Ihumātao deal having been reached.

Cabinet is meeting today and the PM will front a media conference at 2pm, the first time she will possibly confirm the existence of the deal.

Ihumātao deal would be ‘Jacinda Ardern’s worst decision as PM’ – Act leader

David Seymour has rubbished reports that a deal at Ihumātao is imminent, saying it would be a terrible step toward “formalising Jacinda Ardern’s worst decision as prime minister”.

Seymour said: “If you own land and someone squats on it, the prime minister won’t defend your property rights, she’ll use taxpayers’ money to buy the land off you.”

Ardern has legitimised an illegal protest, said Seymour, and sent a message that the government is vulnerable to further illegal actions.

“What a terrible signal this sends agitators who decide to disregard the legally binding treaty settlement process,” he said. “The prime minister’s job is to uphold the law, and none more so than private property rights.

11.15am: More departures than arrivals in NZ since first lockdown

The number of people leaving New Zealand has exceeded the number of arrivals every month since the introduction of complete border restrictions in March, according to new Stats NZ figures.

From April (the first full month under border restrictions) to October this year, there were 119,400 departures and 65,900 arrivals. In the same period in 2019 there were slightly more departures – 3.86 million to 3.82 million arrivals.

9.50am: Greta Thunberg criticises NZ’s climate emergency

Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg has called New Zealand’s declaration of a climate emergency “nothing unique” in a tweet posted overnight.

Thunberg, who has previously shared photos from New Zealand climate change marches, shared a Newsroom article on Twitter that said the country “has just committed to reducing less than 1% of the country’s emissions by 2025”.

“Text explaining New Zealand’s so-called climate emergency declaration,” Thunberg wrote, with the hashtag #FightFor1Point5.

Responding to the tweet this morning, Green MP Chloe Swarbrick urged people to “keep fighting”

“Getting the government to commit to a #ClimateEmergency means they’ve weighed the scale of the problem and the support for doing something,” Swarbrick wrote. “It amplifies valid criticism if they don’t commit to the doing something.”

8.30am: Trevor Mallard to appear before select committee, says Ardern

Speaker of the house Trevor Mallard has “proactively” arranged to face questions in select committee over a costly legal dispute that arose after he wrongly claimed an accused rapist was working at parliament.

Earlier today, it was reported by RNZ that Labour would block any attempts by the opposition to see Mallard face a select committee. The PM seemingly rejected that possibility: “I expect that he will be appearing before a select committee this week,” she told Morning Report.

Jacinda Ardern said that it was clear Mallard had made a mistake by calling the parliamentary staffer a “rapist” but that she still backed him to do his job.

Both National and Act have declared they have lost confidence in the speaker and have called for his resignation as they believe he is no longer fit for the role.

7.45am: Ihumātao deal expected to go to cabinet today – report

A major development in the ongoing standoff over Ihumātao is expected today, with an initial deal reportedly making its way to the cabinet table.

RNZ reports the deal is for Fletcher Building to sell the land to the government with agreement from Fletchers and Kīingitanga, on behalf of mana whenua.

Last year, any attempts to make progress on the Ihumātao dispute were blocked by New Zealand First. With Labour now governing alone, the road to a resolution is far easier.

However, speaking on RNZ, Jacinda Ardern wouldn’t confirm whether a deal was to be discussed today, calling RNZ’s reporting “speculation”.

7.40am: Top stories from The Bulletin

Speaker Trevor Mallard is under pressure over the costs of paying out to end a defamation dispute. In the wake of the Francis report into the parliamentary bullying culture, Mallard falsely accused a staffer of rape. He apologised for that last week. But several days later, National revealed that the incident had cost taxpayers $330,000 to settle, and as Radio NZ reports, they also called for Mallard to resign as a result. Party leader Judith Collins said “it is the Speaker’s job to set the standard of behaviour for everyone at Parliament but he has been reckless with his words, resulting in taxpayers footing a bill of more than $330,000 to clean up this mess.”

Of course, National’s confidence in Mallard isn’t really relevant for him enjoying the continued confidence of parliament. And it’s not like the speaker and the opposition were on particularly friendly terms over the last term anyway, as a series of run-ins showed. And it looks like Labour are ready and willing to use their majority to protect their man – Radio NZ reports the party is likely to block any attempts by National to get Mallard in front of a select committee to answer questions.

However, it was noticeable reading the Herald website over the weekend the lineup of commentators calling him out for it – Barry SoperHeather du-Plessis AllenKerre McIvor. They’ve got their own views of course, but they’re not partisan operatives. McIvor in particular pointed to a story by the Herald’s Amelia Wade about Mallard being involved in a rule change, so that MPs could have legal costs covered by taxpayers without that necessarily being disclosed to the public.

There is a bigger picture here, and it doesn’t necessarily just concern Mallard. Stuff’s Alison Mau, who edits their #MeToo project, has written about how the whole story has been diverted to being around one man’s comments about another’s alleged actions, when really the Francis report was about so much more. She suggested Mallard has the responsibility of steering through changes to parliamentary culture, and if he goes, it isn’t clear that work will continue. All in all, it’s unlikely to be the last we hear about the issue, even if parliament has finished up for the year.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

7.30am: Yesterday’s key stories

An Air New Zealand crew member has tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in New Zealand on a flight from the United States on December 9. Early results from genome sequencing suggest they were infected in the US, not New Zealand.

New Zealand and the Cook Islands announced a travel bubble which is currently on track for the first quarter of 2021.

Three new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation were announced.

The US has authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for emergency use with the first vaccinations to begin in the next 24 hours.

Read all the key stories in yesterday’s live updates






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