The Bulletin: Clayton Mitchell's big night ahead of NZ First's big weekend
Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin for Friday 18 October, by Alex Braae for The Spinoff.
|The Spinoff||Oct 17, 2019|| 7|
In today’s edition: MP Clayton Mitchell denies accusations around a night out, food insecurity on the rise, and UK PM Boris Johnson secures deal with dubious prospects
Image: NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell (Radio NZ, Alexander Robertson)
NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell has got himself in a spot of late night bother in a Tauranga pub. Newshub's Tova O'Brien reports he was kicked out, after repeatedly refusing to move out of a thoroughfare, and allegedly accidentally knocking a bar staffer on the head with a glass. Weirdest of all, a security guard alleges that either Mitchell or his companion responded to a threat to call the police by answering "we are the law."
Mitchell says it's all a "storm in a teacup," and denied witness reports that there had been a scuffle, or any of the other allegations. And what's more, as Mitchell told the NZ Herald, he had in fact been stitched up by the Young Nats. Quite how this had happened wasn't explained in the Herald story, and Young Nats president Sam Stead claimed those in the group hadn't even heard of Mitchell – perhaps just to add to the shades of Aaron Gilmore surrounding the episode. NZ First leader Winston Peters says there's a video which exonerates Mitchell fully, and that while he hasn't seen it, the video has been described to him by a trusted source.
It's not the first political mishap Clayton Mitchell has had involving a bar. Stuff reported last year that he was for a period declared not a 'fit and proper' person to run a bar, because of his criminal record. He got it back again, and there's a rather lengthy description in the story of various incidents across his hospitality career.
It comes on the eve of the NZ First party conference, which is to be held this weekend. It also follows the party president quitting for "moral reasons" after refusing to sign off on financial documents, and senior MP Shane Jones getting in trouble yet again for overly aggressive sales tactics as a retail politician. Politically, it's a hugely important conference, with the party never having made the five percent threshold after a term in government – Stuff's Thomas Coughlan unpacked that challenge in a useful piece about what the party can still pitch to the electorate.
And for the party faithful, it's entirely possible that this whole episode really will just be seen as a storm in a teacup. That assessment comes from some of the details in this insightful journey through the 2017 party conference, by Branko Marcetic on The Spinoff. In particular, there was an overwhelming distrust of the media. It may well be that the members and supporters who matter most for NZ First agree with Mitchell's assessment – that it is in fact he who is owed an apology.
Around one in ten New Zealanders lives with some form of food insecurity, reports Sarah Robson for Radio NZ. That comes from research conducted by the Auckland City Mission, and is defined by not having access to enough appropriate food. It is closely linked with poverty, along with rising food prices, and housing costs cutting into budgets. Meanwhile, the number of people on benefits has also risen sharply, reports Newshub, so combined with low levels of unemployment, that implies both that more people who need help have access, and that costs of living are rising beyond the reach of many.
UK PM Boris Johnson has forged a Brexit deal with the EU, but there's significant doubt it will pass through the UK's parliament. Toby Manhire of The Spinoff filed this piece overnight, and it outlines how many hurdles are still to come in the effort to get it over the line. The crucial Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Island don't like it, the opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says it's a worse deal than what former PM Theresa May could come up with, and even Nigel Farage isn't a fan. For those among you who love parliamentary drama, keep an eye out on Saturday night NZ time.
A major new ocean report has been released, showing the dire effects that the activities of humans are having. Here's a cheat sheet from me on some of the findings, including the concerns over how long the ocean will continue to act as a carbon sink. The government responded to the report by welcoming it, and pointing out their efforts in reducing pollution, plastic and carbon emissions.
The Ihumātao talks are going ahead, but those occupying the land have been shut out, reports Radio NZ's Te Aniwa Hurihanganui and Meriana Johnsen. They say they're in the dark about progress, and have accused the government of treading overly cautiously around the issue to find the most politically palatable outcome. Of the government MPs asked about it, only Grant Robertson had anything to say, and that was that the government was "focused on resolution." Three of Labour's most senior Māori MPs refused to comment, as did Fletcher Building.
An update to the anti-terrorism laws which the Greens say go too far: Stuff's Collette Devlin reports Labour and National are now also at odds over it, after it previously looked like National might back it. The dispute relates to proposed changes from National, which justice minister Andrew Little dismissed. Then National threatened to pull support, so now Little will meet with National leader Simon Bridges on Monday to thrash it all out.
A correction: Yesterday I said I saw a few good articles being tweeted out by Jeremy Rose from Mediawatch. Well, it was someone from RNZ who was tweeting them, but it was in fact Jeremy Rees. He was very gracious about it too – apparently he gets a lot of the other Jeremy's mail. Apologies all the same.
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Right now on The Spinoff: First, in serious stuff: Outgoing Wellington mayor Justin Lester has penned something of a valedictory speech, and it is thoughtful and insightful. Vivian Hutchinson writes about the New Zealand wars, and what our sense of citizenship means if it is shaped through conflict. An anonymous writer details the brutal and cruel treatment she received in the mental health system.
And in less serious stuff: Alex Casey, a self described "notorious prude", goes to a sex toy party. Eloise Callister-Baker opens the door on a cluster of small Auckland art spaces finding creative ways to survive the CBD property squeeze. And I review how I spent Monday night – riding the Intercity Sleeper bus from Wellington to Auckland. I'm a huge fan of long haul bus travel and this one was... not great.
For a feature today, a really thoughtful and engaging post about the concept of dialect in te reo. Writing on E-Tangata, Quinton Hita has explored what the translation of books means for language standardisation, and loss of dialect. There's one particular well known series in his sights – the soon to be translated Harry Potter books. Here's an excerpt:
I have no knowledge of any negotiations, past or ongoing, to secure the rights to translate these hot properties. But I sincerely hope that part of those rights includes the right to translate into dialects. I don’t think that’s difficult to negotiate. International and local publishers want to be seen on the right side of supporting endeavours to revive indigenous languages.
Because, if organisations that have the clout to make these deals happen haven’t included the simple explanation that te reo Māori includes myriad dialects as part of the legal definition of the language in any contracts, then aren’t we just talking about Muggles and losing the wondrous magic that makes Hogwarts special?
For All Blacks fans, the serious part of the Rugby World Cup starts this weekend. They'll potentially be a little underdone coming into the quarterfinal against Ireland, as the game against Italy was washed out. That's probably most apparent for Brodie Retallick, who has only had a bit of rugby so far in the tournament. But he's at lock in the team against an Irish team with enough problems of their own right now.
The Phoenix have started their season with a loss balanced by a potentially big signing out of England. They failed to score in their A-League season opening defeat against new team Western United. But that could be put right by their new striker Gary Hooper, who was released by Championship club Sheffield Wednesday. A fan site reported in the last few days that he was also in talks with Iranian club Esteghlal, but it fell through. Hooper has been plagued by injuries in recent years, but has also scored goals in a ridiculous number of competitions, including a profitable three years with Celtic in Scotland.
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