This edition of NewsRoom_Digest contains 8 media release snippets and 5 links of the day from Wednesday 22nd April.
Top stories in the news cycle include Prime Minister John Key apologising to an Auckland waitress for grabbing her ponytail, figures from TradeMe Property show the national median rent is up 7.7% from last year, and a New Zealand citizen is killed fighting Islamic State militants in northern Iraq.
SNIPPETS OF THE DAY
PM’s Behaviour “Unacceptable: The union representing café and restaurant workers is shocked by Prime Minister John Key’s behaviour towards a worker at an Auckland café, and is calling for all politicians and public figures to be role-models when they interact with hospitality workers. An anonymous blog written by a worker at the café details a pattern of disrespect and inappropriate behaviour from Mr Key, who tugged on the worker’s ponytail multiple times on different occasions, starting during the election campaign last year. Service and Food Workers Union hospitality organiser Chas Muir said that the behaviour was completely unacceptable, and that Key’s apology didn’t address the wider issue.
Goff: Cabinet Papers Show Case For Iraq Deployment A heavily redacted copy of a Cabinet paper on New Zealand’s military deployment to Iraq reveals how weak the case is for military involvement in that conflict, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff. The paper warns that given the failure of US and NATO efforts to train the Iraqi Army, the deployment of New Zealand trainers ‘may not achieve the desired results’ while increasing the risk of New Zealand being targeted by IS.
Brownlee Leaves For Belgium: Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee leaves today for Belgium, where he will be New Zealand’s official representative at Anzac Day commemorations. Mr Brownlee will attend a number of commemorative services at key Western Front sites in Flanders.
More Schools Sign Up For Communities: Education Minister Hekia Parata says 129 schools from across the country have signed up for the second round of Communities of Schools. The schools, which together have more than 45,000 students, will form 18 new Communities of Schools dedicated to systematically lifting the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms. Communities of Schools are part of the Government’s $359 million Investing in Educational Success initiative announced in 2014. Schools in the programme receive additional funding to enable teachers and principals to share teaching and leadership expertise.
Battle For Our Birds: Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the success of the Battle For Our Birds programme is a welcome victory for endangered native species. The Department of Conservation today released preliminary monitoring results for the eight-month long anti-predator campaign. “There are thousands more native birds alive today than there would have been without the work done by DOC’s Battle For Our Birds last summer,” Ms Barry says. Last spring brought with it a once-in-15 year beech mast, with more than a million tonnes of seed dropped by beech trees in South Island forests.
NZ Dollar Near Parity With Aussie: The New Zealand dollar traded close to parity with the Australian dollar amid speculation weak Australian inflation data today could push it through the historic milestone. The kiwi touched a record against the euro on concern about whether Greece will exit the common currency. The kiwi hit 99.59 Australian cents overnight and was trading at 99.51 cents at 8am in Wellington, from 99.35 cents at 5pm yesterday. The local currency touched a fresh record of 72.02 euro cents and was trading at 71.42 cents at 8am from 71.28 cents yesterday. It advanced to 76.65 US cents from 76.51 cents yesterday.
NZ Easy Target For Overseas Property Speculators: Revelations that New Zealand is being marketed in Malaysia and other parts of Asia as an easy place to make a quick property buck show why we desperately need restrictions on non-resident foreign buyers in our overheated market, the Green Party said today. “These cashed-up non-resident buyers must think New Zealand and the National Government are easy marks,” said Green Party housing spokesperson Kevin Hague. “They can come here, score a bunch of properties, pay no capital gains tax and charge a premium for rent – and they know John Key and his Government will do nothing to stop them.
Corrections Land Bought By Iwi: The Tūwharetoa Settlement Trust and six other Tūwharetoa entities will buy about 8500ha of land from the Crown in the central North Island, Corrections Minister Peseta Sam-Lotu-Iiga has announced. The Central North Island Forest Collective Settlement deed which was signed by the Crown and eight central North Island iwi in 2008 granted the iwi collective the right to purchase Crown-owned land from Corrections. The Tongariro-Rangipo Corrections Facility sits on approximately 8500ha of land which includes the Hautu prison farm near Turangi. The iwi group paid about $20 million for the land and the price paid for the forestry crop on the land is subject to commercial confidentiality.
LINKS OF THE DAY
SOUTH ISLAND INDEX: After record gains in recent years the Deloitte South Island Index achieves modest 0.8% growth for year to 31 March 2015. South Island listed companies have collectively experienced the smallest year-on-year increase in market capitalisation over the past three years, according to the annual review of the Deloitte South Island Index presented this evening in Christchurch. The Index, which tracks the quarterly performance of listed companies with operations in the South Island, gained a modest $96.4 million (0.8%) in the year ended 31 March 2015. This comes after a 0.2% drop in the most recent quarter, the Index’s third quarterly decline in the past four quarters. To download the full report, go to:
RISING RENT PRICES: Rents across New Zealand continue to steam ahead of inflation with the median asking rent in March 2015 up 7.7 per cent compared with March 2014. By comparison, inflation across the wider economy is at a 16-year low and up just 0.1 per cent year-on-year. In March, the median rent being asked for by landlords bounced up to a record high of $420 per week, up from $390 per week a year ago. According to Trade Me Property’s Rental Price Index, median rents were up 6.5 per cent year-on-year in February and up 9.1 per cent year-on-year in January.More details here:
ONLINE VACANCY SURGE: The number of skilled vacancies advertised online in New Zealand rose 0.2 per cent for the month of March, and were up 5.8 per cent in the past year to March 2015, according to the latest Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Jobs Online report. The March increase in skilled vacancies was driven by the accounting, human resources, legal and administration industries (up 1.2 per cent), followed by the hospitality and tourism, and education and training industries (both up 0.9 per cent). The occupation group with the biggest month-on-month increase was managers (up 0.8 per cent). See the statistics:
TENANCY WEBSITE LAUNCHED: A new tenancy services website designed to be a one-stop shop for all tenancy-related advice, information and education has been launched today by Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith. “Good information for tenants and landlords on their legal responsibilities and how to resolve disputes is essential for the 450,000 homes that are let in New Zealand. This new website is about ensuring all the information is in one place and that it is as easy as possible to navigate,” Dr Smith says. The new website can be found at:
SEA GETTING WARMER: A fisheries expert believes warming sea temperatures will change the way the industry looks in years to come. Temperatures in the Tasman Sea have already risen 1.5 degrees in the past 70 years. An audio file of a RNZ interview on Nine to Noon on this topic can be listened to here:http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/201751455
And that’s our sampling of the day that was on Wednesday 22nd April 2015.
Brought to EveningReport by Newsroom Digest.