The deal is done
After last-minute wrangling delayed yesterday's plans, the coalition agreement will finally be signed today.
Mōrena, and welcome to The Bulletin for Friday, November 24, by Catherine McGregor. Presented in partnership with Z Energy.
In today’s edition: Gaza ceasefire to begin later today; Leaky Wellington prepares for summer water restrictions; party leaders to sign coalition deal at 11am. But first, a special announcement from Bulletin editor Anna Rawhiti-Connell.
A message from the author of yesterday’s accidental second Bulletin
To level with you, I forgot I’d asked Catherine to do yesterday’s Bulletin so I could help launch our new fundraising campaign for our 2024 editorial project, What’s eating Aotearoa. That’s why you got two.
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Coalition agreement to be signed today
The relief was obvious. Appearing before media just before 5pm yesterday, Chris Luxon looked like the weight of a thousand cabinet manuals had lifted as he announced a deal had been struck and the government was ready to be formed. While remaining tight-lipped about appointments, including the much-discussed role of deputy prime minister, Luxon said the deal was currently being ratified by the three parties and he would soon go to the governor general to inform her he had the backing to form a government. The official signing ceremony takes place at 11am this morning and ministerial positions will be announced this afternoon – time tbd. New ministers will spend the weekend moving into their new Beehive digs before being sworn in on Monday at Government House; a ceremonial meeting of the new cabinet will take place later that day. Luxon confirmed Parliament will resume on Tuesday week "and we intend to work pretty hard from 5 December right up to Christmas”.
The final sticking points
As the clock ticks down to this afternoon’s ministerial announcement, rumours continue to swirl about who has snagged the most important roles. The Post’s Luke Malpass (paywalled) reports that one of the hardest fought portfolios has been agriculture. The rural vote is hugely important to all three parties, Malpass writes, “however, it is understood that National has refused to let the plum position go to a minor party”. The issue of who would be attorney-general also caused some debate, Malpass adds, with NZ First being particularly keen on the job. Over on Stuff, Tova O’Brien suggests Winston Peters’ desire for the AG role – not a haggle over who would be deputy PM – may have been the last stumbling block. Whatever the issue, it caused a delay that “deeply frustrated” National, according to reporting by 1 News. O’Brien says the deal signing had been set for 3.30pm yesterday, before being derailed at the last minute.
MPs, coalition partners kept in the dark until now
On Luxon’s to-do list for this morning is telling his MPs which portfolios they’ve been given and delivering the bad news to those who have been relegated to the back benches. Somewhat surprisingly, Luxon said yesterday that Act and NZ First also remained none the wiser about the exact roles the other has been given, but they understood their counterparts’ ministerial responsibilities "in terms of macro". It’s an indication that in their later stages, the negotiations “moved away from trilateral ‘we’re all in this together’ style talks and became far more secretive”, writes O’Brien. Still, now that the deal is done, the three main players seem pretty happy. Let’s see how long the honeymoon period lasts.
Labour’s Beehive staffers impatient to move out, and on
While the focus today is on the new set of ministers, it’s also a notable event for another group of political insiders. Labour ministers are about to finally be released from their holding pattern, and for many of their staffers it’s not a moment too soon. The Post’s Thomas Manch (paywalled) spoke to current Beehive employees about what life has been like in the weeks since the election and found they were bored, impatient, or both. One noted the irony of having “all these Labour-Greens staff who are just absolutely desperate for a National government to take power”. Manch writes that urgent decisions were being directed to Chris Hipkins’ office, and from there onto Luxon’s staff to decide what should be done. “But if it’s not too urgent, it’s put aside to wait for the new Government – and the pile has been growing.”
Gaza ceasefire to begin later today
A pause in fighting in Gaza will begin at 7am local time on Friday (6pm NZT) and the first hostages will be released that afternoon, Hamas has confirmed. The four-day ceasefire will commence a day later than originally announced, after last-minute negotiations over the details of the deal. Thirteen hostages are expected to be released by Hamas today, with dozens more people set to be released by militants during the ceasefire along with some Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. A Hamas statement says Israeli “prisoners, women and children under the age of 19, will be released”, with an agreement that three Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, would be released for every Israeli. In addition, 200 trucks containing medical supplies would be brought into Gaza on a daily basis, along with four trucks containing fuel and cooking gas, the Guardian reports.
Leaky Wellington prepares for summer water restrictions, but without meters just yet
Wellington households may avoid having to install smart water meters for at least five years after the council told Wellington Water it wouldn’t include them in its draft Long Term Plan without a more developed business case, Andrea Vance reports for The Post (paywalled). Porirua mayor Anita Baker says she’s disappointed the city isn’t more quickly following its neighbour’s example. “Kāpiti proved what happens when you put water meters in. They found all the leaks within about six months on private and public land. It makes a huge difference.” The news comes as the council considers how it will fund the fixing of 1000 leaks in the capital this financial year – a job estimated to cost $2m to $2.5m. Potentially critically low water levels this summer will add to Wellington Water’s challenges, RNZ reports. The capital is currently under level 1 water restrictions, but hot weather and widespread leaks could mean level 3 restrictions are brought in sometime this summer – which would mean all outdoor residential use of water would be banned.
The budget benefits of going electric
Could a South Island cherry farm set the standard for an electric future? On this week’s episode of When the Facts Change, Mike Casey from Rewiring Aotearoa joins Bernard Hickey to discuss what it took to make the switch from running his cherry farm on fossil fuels to renewable electricity. He also explains the ways in which going electric will save our homes, farms and small businesses thousands each year.
Click and Collect
Police are continuing to investigate the source of a number of online threats made to institutions around the country. A spokesperson says they “don’t believe there is any actual threat to those that received the email”.
The EU parliament has voted through the NZ-EU free trade agreement, meaning it will come into force once it’s ratified by NZ's parliament. (Businessdesk, paywalled).
An Auckland Council meeting “erupted in anger” during debate on the sale of the Downtown Car Park, reports Simon Wilson (paywalled).
The deadly explosion on the Canada-US border at Nigara Falls does not appear to have been terrorist-related but rather the result of driver error.
Alex Casey ranks every item mentioned in the original Thin Lizzy jingle. Gabi Lardies interviews the creative mastermind behind the iconic Farmers Santa Parade costumes. Kiki Van Newtown reflects on isolation and connection when parenting a medically fragile child through the pandemic. Hera Lindsay Bird advises a reader who desperately wants kids, but whose partner is stalling.
Richie Mo’unga says he can imagine playing in Japan “until I retire” and doesn’t foresee a return to the All Blacks.
NZ boxing champion Mea Motu has lost her world number one ranking.
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