New Zealand Parliament Buildings, Wellington, New Zealand.
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Editor’s Note: Here below is a list of the main issues currently under discussion in New Zealand and links to media coverage. You can sign up to NZ Politics Daily as well as New Zealand Political Roundup columns for free here.

Today’s content

Covid
Michael Morrah (Newshub): Covid-19 warning: Omicron will overwhelm us within a week if it takes hold in New Zealand, experts say
Miriam Burrell (Herald): Expert modeller predicts Omicron outbreak could occur in ’18 days not 180′
Troels Sommerville (Stuff): NZ has likely dodged an Omicron bullet, but experts warn it can’t be kept out forever
Matthew Hooton (Herald): NZ Covid defences no more ready for Omicron than we were for Delta  (paywalled)
RNZ: NZ must stock up on rapid antigen tests, ‘boost like crazy’ before Omicron spreads – epidemiologist
Hamish MaClean (ODT): Warning: things will get ‘ugly’
Jean Edwards (RNZ): Call for govt to clearly communicate Covid-19 Omicron outbreak plan
RNZ: Omicron variant: Concern over workforce crisis if EDs see patient influx
Rachel Thomas (Stuff): ‘Be very, very careful’: Emergency departments already dealing with overload brace for Omicron 
RNZ: Rapid response Covid-19 teams grapple with shortage of nurses
Reuters: ‘It is killing people’: Stop calling Omicron ‘mild’, says WHO
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Susan Heydon (Newsroom): Making vaccination programmes work
RNZ: Covid-19 vaccine boosters shortage at some Wellington sites after high demand
Rachel Thomas, Cate Broughton and Esther Ashby-Coventry (Stuff): Hot demand as walk-in booster shots become available
Janine Rankin (Stuff): Booster queues form as more people become eligible
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Stuff:  Mask exception should be rigorously controlled to stop exploitation, says health expert
Riley Kennedy (ODT): 50 breaches reported
University of Otago: A Covid future free from stigma
Tina Law (Stuff): Christchurch City Council makes vaccine mandatory for all staff
Steven Walton and Tina Law (Stuff): Jobs on the line for unvaccinated Christchurch City Council staff
RNZ: Christchurch City Council introduces Covid-19 vaccine mandate for staff
Megan Wilson (Herald): Twenty-five Lakes DHB staff terminated (paywalled)
Esther Ashby-Coventry (Stuff): Fonterra workers at Clandeboye factory protest against proposed vaccine mandate
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RNZ: Covid-19 update: 19 new community cases reported in New Zealand today, 43 cases at the border
Vanessa Phillips (Stuff): Nelson stamps out Covid-19 outbreak, with no active cases
Hawkes Bay Today: Auckland link to Napier infection found

Border, MIQ
Georgia Forrester (Stuff): Another day, another increase in MIQ Covid-19 cases. Here’s a look at the risks involved
RNZ: Changes to pre-departure testing to come into effect from tomorrow
Gill Bonnett (RNZ): Uncertainty over trans-Tasman travel, dismay about MIQ rooms
Craig Kapitan (Herald): Covid-19 Omicron scare: Interest in MIQ lottery triples, but most lose out
Piers Fuller (Stuff): More than 16,000 people vie for 1250 rooms in MIQ facilities
1 News: Couple’s 3 week Australia trip turns into 6 month ordeal
Alexa Cook (Newshub): Kiwis stranded in Australia losing hope after being locked out of MIQ room release
1 News: Kiwis stranded in Aus owed apology over MIQ exclusion – ACT
Herald: Christchurch Airport’s Malcolm Johns on how NZ’s world could open up (paywalled)
Ruwani Perera (Newshub): #HotelPredictions: Online tool helps you find out how good your MIQ stay will be
James Nokise (Stuff): Out of touch with our feelings, so we’re lashing out
Adam Jacobson (Stuff): Experts warn ‘brain drain’ may return as border rules set to ease
Tom Hunt (Stuff): Mercy mission aboard NZ Navy ship for couple with dwindling funds in Singapore
Laura Walters (Stuff): DJ Dimension ‘minor breach’ only rule-breaking during self-isolation programme

Parliament, government, 2021
Stuff Editorial: How will history recall this time?
Heather du Plessis-Allan (Herald): PM, your opponents aren’t racist (paywalled)
Jennifer Eder (Stuff): National MP Stuart Smith rejects retirement prophecy
Bridie Witton (Stuff): Summer off politics: Jetty jumping and sweetcorn for National’s Shane Reti

Housing
RNZ: More signs of a cooldown in country’s hot housing market – expert
Richard Prebble (Herald): Will we have a property price correction in 2022? (paywalled)
Don Brash (Bassett, Brash & Hide): Are we really among the wealthiest people on the planet?
RNZ: Kiwibank backs off from avocado on toast references
RNZ: First home buyers ‘hellbent’ despite need for compromise, lending difficulties
Devon Bolger (Herald): Kāinga Ora spends almost $2b buying state homes in five years
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Yet another horror story from NZ’s worst landlord
Matthew Scott (Newsroom): Post-lockdown freedoms don’t do much for young and homeless
Anne Gibson (Herald): Power list: NZ’s seven busiest house builders ranked by number of places completed annually (paywalled)

Environment, conservation
Jamie Morton (Herald): Climate changed: Why scientists are redefining ‘normal’ in NZ (paywalled)
Michael Daly (Stuff): NZ swelters through more extreme temperatures than expected, Niwa says
RNZ: Kaimaumau fire putting cultural, ecological sites at risk
Keiller MacDuff (Stuff): The Timaru Report: Little things boost environmentally conscious mum’s beliefs

Transport
Simon Wilson (Herald): Safer roads: Making city streets safer – by making driving harder (paywalled)
Frances Chin (Stuff): Zero deaths following speed lowering on Blenheim to Nelson highway 
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Officials cold on $85m train workshop
Newshub: Clown protest at Auckland Harbour Bridge demands cyclist and pedestrian access

Health
Nicholas Jones (Herald): Vaccination against meningococcal disease could save your child’s life. But in New Zealand it costs hundreds of dollars
Adam Pearse (Herald): ‘We are human’ – Behind the phones at Healthline (paywalled)
Michael Barnett (Herald): Attention on Covid-19 recovery must turn to our children (paywalled)
Cate Broughton (Stuff): Australian recruiters try to poach Kiwi nurses as Omicron drives staffing crisis

Economy & Business
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Auckland’s volcanoes among reasons not to mess with supermarkets, says Countdown
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Supermarket Duopoly so frightened of regulation they conjure up Auckland Volcanos
Karen Coltman (Stuff): Supermarket shortages: ‘Lumpy’ supply chain likely in 2022
Ben Strang (Stuff): Government officials expect NZ moon launch to create huge opportunities in space sector
Rahul Bhattarai (Herald): No sign of slowing down, Kiwis spend millions in New Year sales

Education
Dubby Henry (Herald): Chris Hipkins wants kids back in school fulltime – but expert warns Omicron could force rethink
Liu Chen (RNZ): International PhD students call for longer student visas
Gerrard Eckhoff (ODT): Wealth disparity can only be ameliorated by education

Local government
Chris Tobin (Stuff): The Timaru Report: Local body governance faces major shake up
Emma Turton (Newshub): ‘It smells’: Timaru resident fed up with brown water coming out their taps
RNZ: New Plymouth fire damage could cost ratepayers thousands

Water safety
Leah Tebbutt (RNZ): Drownings in New Zealand: A ‘horrific, unprecedented loss of lives’
1 News: Drowning deaths over holiday period climb to unprecedented 14

Other
Chris Trotter (Bowalley Road): Majority Overruled
Juliet Speedy (Newshub): Christmas Island chaos: Kiwi detainee says rioters tired of being treated like animals
Rebecca Moore (1 News): Riot at Christmas Island after inmates denied knives, forks
Jon Stephenson (Stuff): Former Afghan vice president ‘given safe haven’ in New Zealand 
Lorna Thornber (Stuff): New Zealand not such a star on new passport index
Frances Chin (Stuff): Director to capture activist’s dawn raids experience in her own words
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): NZ Antifa Swatting tactics against Islamophobic Paster generates counterproductive propaganda
Karl du Fresne: On Thomas Nash and the hundreds of other troughers embedded in the public sector

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