A taste of Newsroom Pro

Newsroom Pro is Newsroom's twin publication - an online subscription news service based in Wellington, reporting on politics and business from around the Beehive.

The team, headed by Bernard Hickey, publishes news, analysis, commentary, and information throughout the working day for subscribers to the site.

Part of the daily offering is Newsroom Pro's 8 things at 8am email, a useful roundup from Bernard of what's in the news right now, what's coming up, and where the team may be setting their sights next.

Here's a sampler of 8 things at 8am morning mail alert:

Newsroom Pro's 8 things at 8: Auckland consents trend falling; Rubbish piles growing

In today's email we check out the latest building consent figures from Statistics New Zealand.

1. Auckland trend still falling

One of the Government's biggest themes at the moment is that Auckland is having a record building boom, and that the house building happening there is reducing the shortage partly responsible for the unaffordability of housing.

However, the scale of the building is far below the levels needed to keep up with population growth, let alone eat into the shortage estimated at 40,000 and growing.

Building consent figures published on Friday by Statistics New Zealand showed the trend for dwelling consents continued to fall in Auckland in May and has been falling since September last year.

The trend fell to 773 in the month of May from 792 in April and is down from 885 in September.

With Auckland's population growing at at close to 45,000 a year, at least 15,000 houses a year or 1,250 a month are needed to keep up with that growth, given average household size in Auckland of three people per household.

Seasonally adjusted dwelling consents rose 7.0 percent nationally in May to 2,599, bouncing back from a 7.4 percent month in April, which included both the Easter and Anzac weekends.

Auckland's unadjusted consents rose to 885 in May from 726 in April and were up 21 percent from a year ago. Those consents included 216 consents for townhouses and apartments. There were 10,379 consents issued in Auckland in the year to May, up 10 percent from the previous year.

2. 'It's not working'

The $10 per tonne waste disposal levy introduced in 2009 after the passing of a Green private member's bill is clearly not working to reduce waste or increase recycling.

A new statutory review of the levy released this morning by Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson shows the amount of rubbish sent to levied landfills increased by 16.4 percent since 2014, while the amount of waste "diverted" (removed, recycled or re-used) after being sent to landfill dropped by 6.3 percent.

Perhaps coincidentally, a report commissioned by a consortium of councils and recycling companies recommends a quadrupling of the revenues raised by the levy to $200 million a year to make it more effective. They said that could create 9,000 jobs and $500 million a year in economic benefits.

See more on the minister's review and the report from councils and recyclers in Lynn Grieveson's full report on Newsroom Pro.

3. A new Pacific Alliance

Newsroom's Foreign Affairs and Trade Editor Sam Sachdeva spoke to Trade Minister Todd McClay from Columbia over the weekend where McClay announced trade negotiations would begin with the Pacific Alliance, which includes Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia.

The four countries boast more than 221 million people and a combined GDP of US$3.85 trillion - equivalent to the world’s sixth largest economy.

The announcement of negotiations came at the Pacific Alliance Summit in Cali, where New Zealand was also made an associate member.

McClay said the launch of negotiations was an important step in improving access to the area.

“It’s significant, I wouldn’t say others [trade deals] are more important but what I think we need to recognise is this will be our first trade deal in the South American continent, and that in itself is significant.”

4. 'I'm sorry'

Green Co-Leader James Shaw apologised in a speech to the Federation of Multicultural Councils on Saturday for his migration policy announcement last year aimed at linking migrant numbers to a population growth target.

"Because the background terms of the debate are now so dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, when I dived into numbers and data, a lot of people interpreted that as pandering to the rhetoric, rather than trying to elevate the debate and pull it in a different direction," Shaw said in the speech.

"We were mortified by that, because, in fact, the Greens have the ambition of being the most migrant-friendly party in Parliament. And I am sorry for any effect it may have had on your communities," he said.

However, Shaw did not say in the speech the policy had been changed. See more on the policy of keeping population growth at 1 percent in this Newsroom Pro article from last year.

5. Notable numbers and names

Shane Jones - New Zealand First announced on Friday that the former Labour MP and former ambassador for Pacific economic development would be its candidate for Whangarei.

US$20,000 - The annual salary New Zealander Chris Liddell is receiving from the White House for his role as a "Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives," as declared in this public list of White House salaries. Liddell, a former GM and Microsoft CFO and Carter Holt, directs Trump's American Technology Council.

3.4 km - The length of the City Rail Link from the Britomart station at the foot of the Auckland CBD to the existing western line at Mt Eden station at the top of the CBD. Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff signed agreements on Friday transferring the project to City Rail Link Ltd, which will be chaired by Sir Brian Roche.

Lindsay Wright and Pip Dunphy - Joyce announced on Friday they had been reappointed to the Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

6. While you were sleeping

China's President Xi Jingping delivered a tough speech in Hong Kong over the weekend to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China.

He warned that "any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government” or to “use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line and is absolutely impermissible." (New York Times).

In further signs that tensions between America and China are ramping up as President Donald Trump loses faith in China's ability to contain North Korea, America agreed to sell US$1.42 billion worth of arms to Taiwan. Trump had initially delayed the deal after a early positive meeting with President Xi at Mar-a-Largo. (Reuters)

7. Coming up...

Prime Minister Bill English usually holds his weekly post-cabinet news conference on Monday afternoons.

Parliament resumes on Tuesday for a final week in a three-week session before a two-week break over the school holidays.

NZIER is scheduled to publish its June quarter Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion at 10 am on Tuesday.

8. One not-so-fun thing

I wish this is something I was making up, but it's not.

Last night Trump tweeted a video of himself repeatedly body-slamming a man to the mat with a CNN logo imposed on his head. The clip with the hashtag #FraudNewsCNN was a modified version of the 2007 clip of Trump tackling Vince McMahon at WrestleMania 23.

Non-subscribers can read up to five articles a month on Newsroom Pro for free. Individual Newsroom Pro subscriptions are available here for NZ$29.00 per month incl GST.
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