3.30pm: Seymour unhappy with lack of Janssen roll-out plan

Act’s David Seymour is questioning the lack of a vaccine roll-out plan for the Janssen jab.

The one-dose shot has just been given provisional approval from Medsafe, but Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said it won’t be formally approved by cabinet until next month.

Speaking in parliament, PM Jacinda Ardern said she did not yet know when the roll-out of the Janssen vaccine would begin.

But David Seymour thought the government should have been more prepared. “In the world we live in, the prime minister and her government make it up as they go, have no forward planning or sequencing, and still vacillate for weeks if not months waiting for the vaccine to arrive in New Zealand, then working out how to distribute it,” he said.

“New Zealand deserves a Government that can walk and chew gum, or specifically to order and distribute the vaccine upon approval.”

2.45pm: Legality of lockdown being tested in appeals court

The legality of last year’s level four lockdown is being tested in the Court of Appeal.

The Crown has been forced to defend its decision to plunge the country into lockdown at an appeal centring on the emergency powers used by the director general of health.

As Stuff reports, Wellington lawyer Andrew Borrowdale​​ took the government to court last year after arguing that the first lockdown was illegal. He was partially vindicated when the High Court declared that nine days of the lockdown, between March 26 and April 3 last year, were in fact unlawful.

Borrowdale has appealed the remaining parts of his case. Solicitor-General Una Jagose​ QC told the court that the decision to “go hard, go early” soon became “go right now”.

1.00pm: ‘Vaccine roll-out ramping up’ – 500,000 NZers fully vaccinated


Half a million New Zealanders are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The minister in charge of the response to the virus, Chris Hipkins, said it was a significant milestone in the roll-out of the vaccine. “I am confident, the government is confident, and New Zealanders can be confident that our vaccine roll-out is ramping up and gaining pace,” he said.

As of midnight last night, more than 1.27 million doses of the vaccine have been administered nationwide. More than 760,000 New Zealanders have received at least one dose. “We’re making good progress in group three,” Hipkins said. Over the last week, 49,000 group three vaccinations have been given out.

Just half an hour ago, the government confirmed Medsafe had given provisional approval to the Janssen vaccine. Hipkins said cabinet will make a final “decision to use” for that jab next month. However, the plan remained to use the Pfizer vaccine predominantly in our roll-out, said Hipkins. The Janssen jab – which only required one dose – would be useful in some circumstances, such as in hard to access areas or for people who could not have the Pfizer vaccine.

No new community cases; latest on Covid-positive mariners

There are three new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation and two cases self-isolating in a ship offshore after testing positive. No cases have been reported in the community.

The pair of mariners were part of a crew of nine who arrive in Auckland on Monday before being transferred onto a deep sea fishing vessel in New Plymouth.

Ashley Bloomfield said all three close contacts of the pair of mariners have all been fully vaccinated. They are a bus driver who drove the crew from Auckland to New Plymouth, a port pilot and a customs officer. All three were wearing PPE when they interacted with the crew and have now entered either managed or self isolation.

The mariners arrived on a “red flight” and all passengers were automatically moved into managed isolation. All passengers, including the additional seven mariners, have so far tested negative.

The mariners’ vessel has now left New Plymouth and is in international waters off the coast of Taranaki. All nine mariners are still onboard and isolating.

12.55pm: Hipkins, Bloomfield, to give vaccine update

After announcing the provisional approval of a second Covid-19 vaccine (see below), minister Chris Hipkins and the director general of health Ashley Bloomfield will soon give a press conference.

We’re expecting the latest vaccine numbers along with an update on any new cases of Covid-19 (hopefully just in MIQ).

Watch below:

12.40pm: Single dose Janssen jab ‘provisionally’ approved by Medsafe

Drug regulator Medsafe has “provisionally approved” the one-dose Janssen vaccine for people over the age of 18. But, cabinet has still not decided whether to roll the jab out.

At this stage, just the two-dose Pfizer vaccine is being used in New Zealand with a million doses set to arrive throughout July.

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said two million doses of the Janssen vaccine – known in some countries under the Johnson & Johnson name – have been secured through an advance purchase agreement. “The medical evidence shows Janssen is a very safe and effective vaccine. It is a great addition to our vaccine options,” Hipkins said.

Unlike Pfizer, the Janssen jab requires just one dose. “As a single dose vaccine, it may be useful in hard to reach locations or emergencies, or for those who cannot get the Pfizer vaccine,” Hipkins added.

The Janssen vaccine has also received emergency or provisional approval in Canada, the USA and Australia.

“Provisional approval is the first step in the process. Cabinet will weigh up the options on the best use of the Janssen vaccine following advice from officials. A cabinet ‘decision to use’ can be expected sometime in August,” said Hipkins.

Hipkins, alongside Ashley Bloomfield, will front a 1pm vaccine update. We’ll have a livestream for you momentarily.

12.00pm: The government’s climate plan will focus on working people, Māori and convincing business

Political editor Justin Giovannetti reports:

The government legally has until December to write an emissions reduction plan for the country.

Now that the climate change commission has released its final recommendations for a low-carbon future, the clock is ticking for the Beehive. Speaking in Wellington today, climate change minister James Shaw laid out the five principles the government will be following as it maps out the first five-year programme.

While there’s no firm details yet, beyond Shaw saying there will be a need for more working from home to cut emissions from commuters, his climate plan looks far beyond the environment and also includes changes to business structures, warm homes and Māori schooling. According to Shaw, every minister is now a climate change minister, and his plan will impact all of them.

Here are his five principles:

Principle one: Help working people.

“Leave no community, no family and no person behind,” said Shaw. Instead of the “corrosive inequality” of past economic changes, he’s said this one will provide warm homes and secure incomes. Partly that’ll be achieved through lower energy bills, as well as changes to governance and business structures to make them more inclusive and better for working people. It’s still a work-in-progress.

Principle two: Limit warming to 1.5C

Write a plan to limit global warming to 1.5C. “This is a limit that simply cannot be met without every country, every city, and every community playing a game-changing leadership role,” he said. The global report calling for limiting warming to that level was released three years ago, leaving nine years to substantially cut emissions. There’s been no emissions reduction in New Zealand yet.

Principle three: Focus on nature-based solutions

Shaw said the government needed to include climate change and nature in all its big upcoming legislation, from the resource management act changes to the its big water infrastructure programme. “We can restore carbon and species-rich ecosystems, a cost effective step that will also improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and enhance pollination,” he said.

Principle four: Mend the broken promises of Māori authority over land

To ensure Māori aren’t left behind by the climate programme, Shaw said that the policies need to work for Māori and ensure they have equitable access to education and training. There also needs to be a voice from Iwi in the policies, “to apply a tikanga Māori lens to the transition to a low emissions economy,” he said.

Principle five: Involve business in the plan

A low-carbon economy won’t happen without businesses making long-term investments in new technology, according to Shaw. To make that happen, he says the government needs “to provide business with a policy environment that is predictable and stable over the long term.”

11.40am: Collins calls for ‘adult conversation’ on superannuation

Judith Collins has called for a cross-party conversation about superannuation.

Treasury this week warned that the cost of super was driving government debt on an “unsustainable trajectory” thanks to New Zealand’s ageing population.

Jacinda Ardern – like John Key – has ruled out an increase to the retirement age during her tenure. Bill English said in 2017 that, under National, the age would gradually increase to 67. Now, Judith Collins wants the public to have certainty under either Labour or National.

“Nobody wants to be the person who has to say ‘we have to change some of these things’, and that’s because it is considered the third rail in politics – you know, you touch it and you die,” Collins said.

“But Bill English had the courage to raise, if we raised it at the last election, and it is something we have to think about.”

New Zealand needed to have an “adult conversation” on the subject, Collins said. “It’s clear from Treasury – we’re constantly looking at how unsustainable superannuation is in its current format – that we do need to look at these alternatives. It would save around $4 billion a year, which is an awful lot of money to be able to put into things like health,” Collins told Stuff.

11.20am: Pax Assadi gets destroyed by a heckler

Just, watch this.

10.50am: TVNZ announces massive influx of NBCUniversal content

The Spinoff’s TV editor Sam Brooks explains:

Today, TVNZ has announced an extensive multi-year content deal with NBCUniversal (NBCU) for the rights to air premium international content from the leading media and entertainment company on TVNZ OnDemand and TVNZ’s free-to-air channels. Through this agreement, TVNZ has acquired hundreds of scripted series produced by NBCU, which includes shows for NBC, USA Network, SYFY, Oxygen, Dreamworks Animations, and NBCU’s relatively new streaming service Peacock.

So what shows will we get out of this deal?

The deal commences in July, and will include old favourites like Downton Abbey, 30 Rock, and The Office, but also new series which have not been available here, like Brave New World, Rutherford Falls, and Girls 5eva.

Movies are also included in the deal, with a range of Universal titles like The Fast and the Furious series, The Bourne series, and the Jurassic Parks. Belinda Menendez from NBCU said: “We have had a longstanding relationship with TVNZ and are delighted to expand upon our partnership with them through this multi-faceted agreement.”

What about all the other streaming services out there?

This comes (loosely) on the heels of ViacomCBS announcing in May that its flagship streaming service, Paramount+, will be launching in New Zealand and Australia in August. The service is currently slated to be priced at $8.99 AUD (which is $9.63 NZD) and include “20,000 movies and TV episodes” from brands spanning Paramount Pictures, Showtime, BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Smithsonian Channel and Sony Pictures Television. A glance at their movie and TV slate shows that they might fill a quite crucial niche in the current streaming market: Good ol’ classic films like The Terminator, Roman Holiday and To Catch a Thief, which are a huge gap for most of the (non-Disney+) streaming services.

What will it mean for the shows that are already available?

It’s unclear what these new deals mean for the rest of the streaming market in New Zealand at this point, where a lot of these movies and TV shows are available on other services like Netflix, Neon, Amazon Prime and Disney+. For example, Star Trek Discovery, one of the hero titles for Paramount+, is readily available on Netflix, while 30 Rock is currently available to stream in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video.

At any rate, what we’ve got in store is content to scroll through before inevitably settling on watching your favourite episode of Kath and Kim again.

9.50am: Cost of Wellington’s level two week revealed

Wellington’s six days in alert level two cost about $8 million in lost spending, compared to the same days last year.

Paymark data, as published by the Herald, saw a 9.1% drop over the six days. Spending was up across the rest of June by 2.4%.

Meanwhile, almost 2000 businesses around the Wellington region applied for the Covid-19 resurgence payment, totalling over $5 million. Of that, $2.6 million has already been paid out with an average of about $2700 applied for by each business.

9.15am: Twitter account ‘live tweets’ Springbok tour for 40th anniversary

A new Twitter account is “live tweeting” the events of the Springbok tour 40 years on.

Using news clippings and photos from the tour, Wellington City Libraries and City Archives will be tweeting as things happen four decades earlier.

Wellington mayor Andy Foster said reliving the events of the tour will be engaging, insightful and confronting. “Many Wellingtonians will remember the events of the time as a dark stain in our history – no matter what side of the debate they were on,” he said.

The account will tweet for 56 days and aim to “spark a conversation” about the impact of the tour. “Anniversaries are useful, but they have a side-effect: they tend to make things tidy,” said Paul Veart from Wellington City Libraries. “And it doesn’t take much research – or thinking back – to realise the Springbok Tour was a lot of things, but tidy wasn’t one of them.”

People can follow along with the hashtag #TweetTheTour1981 or by following the official account. 

8.00am: Purpose-built MIQ facilities deemed ‘unfeasible’ by officials

Government officials in charge of our managed isolation regime have, as recently as last month, rejected the possibility of developing purpose-built facilities to house returnees. But the minister in charge of our Covid-19 response, Chris Hipkins, would not rule it out to media yesterday.

A statement released to RNZ on June 14 from MBIE claimed that building brand new facilities was not a suitable option. “MBIE has determined that the time required to plan, fund and construct a purpose-built MIQ facility means that this is an unfeasible option,” the letter said.

MBIE’s Kara Isaac confirmed to RNZ that the government had rejected “numerous proposals” due to the cost, planning issues and time constraints. “Significant uncertainties remain about how long such a facility would be needed, and whether the benefits of constructing such a facility would justify the cost,” said Isaac.

What has the government said?

Speaking yesterday, Chris Hipkins said building new facilities remained an option, along with long-term leases or even buying existing facilities. “When we’re thinking about longer-term planning… then obviously we can think about things that perhaps weren’t so feasible for short-term options,” he said.

The opposition has long called for purpose-built facilities, outside of our major cities, in order to reduce the possibility of Covid-19 spread. National’s Chris Bishop told RNZ that the government should listen to health experts rather than just officials. “A lot of people recognise it would be in the public interest to have a purpose-built facility, not just for Covid-19, but also for future pandemics,” Bishop said. “I don’t understand why the government has been so reluctant… the more planning you do for the future, the better off you will be.

In Australia, the Victoria government is starting build dedicated facilities to house returnees while the Howard Springs quarantine facility is being expanded.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

Interest rates could be moving sooner than expected, according to bank economists. Interest reports the prediction has been made that rates could rise in November, as opposed to previous picks of some time in 2022. One of the reasons for this is labour market tightness, with ASB senior economist Jane Turner saying the metrics suggested firms were now hiring more from each other than the wider but small pool of unemployed people, and as such the Reserve Bank’s emergency settings are quickly becoming too low. This tightness was discussed in yesterday’s Bulletin, and on the topic generally, a new labour shortage has just dropped: Politik (paywalled) reports New Zealand currently has a shortage of auditors.

The impacts of a rate rise could be significant through much of the economy. One area is inflation – the cost of things going up – which is within the Reserve Bank’s remit to try and control. Right now it is within the target range, but it’s rising, and the effects of that are disproportionately more negative for those with less. It would also have an impact on the housing market, reports Newshub, with prices currently being driven in part by the cheap money low interest rates enable.

On the other major setting that is affecting the country, we got more news on that yesterday: Justin Giovannetti has reported on the latest comments from the PM about the border, which she says is still too risky to open, and will be for some time yet. These moves are currently starting to happen around the world, and Jacinda Ardern said the “experiments” of other countries will be watched closely. If you want to hear more on this topic as discussed by well-informed political commentators, listen to the latest episode of Gone By Lunchtime.

An outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is hitting infants at the moment, with 20 currently in hospital in Wellington. Radio NZ’s Rowan Quinn reports hospitals all over the country are seeing cases, with fears the number is yet to peak. RSV causes severe breathing difficulties, can be fatal, and affects infants worst. It is believed that some of the cases are more severe this year because little RSV spread last year, so more potentially vulnerable kids have no immunity. The NZ Herald reports daycare centres – where a lot of spread happens – are being warned to be hyper-careful with sanitation.