Bernard’s ‘8 Things’ morning briefing

In the political economy this morning, Jacinda Ardern will face her first cabinet meeting and full press gallery news conference after the full ministerial resignation on Friday of Clare Curran.

Overseas, Donald Trump threatened to further escalate his trade war with China. He said he was thinking of imposing tariffs on all US$500 billion of Chinese imports and told Apple to bring all its iPhone manufacturing back home.

The New Zealand dollar fell to a fresh two-and-a-half year low of 65.2 USc late on Saturday morning after US jobs growth was higher than expected in August and annual wage growth there rose to a nine year high of 2.9 percent. That firmed up expectations of future US rate hikes at the same time as New Zealand interest rates may fall, making the New Zealand dollar less attractive.

1. MacManus: Fixing a broken internet

Technology columnist Richard MacManus argues in his column for Newsroom Pro this week that the internet was broken by the 'move fast and break things' brigade of unicorns.

He points to Artificial Intelligence and blockchain as the tools that may help fix it.

See his full column published first here on Newsroom Pro this morning.

2. Coughlan: Our landed parliament

Newsroom's Thomas Coughlan argues in this column published first on Newsroom Pro over the weekend that our electoral laws are stacked against renters and our Parliament is stacked with property owners.

He starts with a discussion of the Putney debates of 1647. I learnt some things, including this:

"In the 19th century landowners were allowed to vote in every electorate where they owned property. As elections lasted several days, landowners could tour their properties casting ballots to inflate the power of their vote."

He rightly points to the extraordinary electoral and legal power of the NIMBYs in New Zealand's housing debate. See Thomas' full column here.

3. People are dying as the working groups work

Newsroom's Laura Walters has taken a closer look at the problem of synthetic cannabis. She finds 45 people have died after using the substance since the middle of last year, but the various authorities are still in a working group on the issue.

She found the mandatory review into the law aimed at controlling these substances is more than a month late. The law stipulates the review would take place no later than five years after the Act came into effect. That date was July 17.

Health Minister David Clark said the review of the act was not well-advanced under the previous government. “I’m advised that work is now nearing completion and I expect advice and a draft report from the Ministry in coming weeks.”

This is the same statement he gave to another media outlet four weeks ago.

See Laura's full article published here first on Newsroom Pro.

4. A rearguard action to save the WTO

The World Trade Organisation, which is the cornerstone of rules-based globalised trade, is on death's door because America is refusing to appoint new members to its appeal court.

It is now down to just three members, the minimum for it to operate. Donald Trump also threatened two weeks ago to pull out of the WTO "if they don't shape up."

Paul McBeth from BusinessDesk reports for Newsroom Pro New Zealand will host a meeting this week in Geneva of Commonwealth members of the World Trade Organisation to discuss what they can do to support a multilateral system under threat.

It's worth watching the WTO. Its collapse and America's pullout would signal a major worsening of the trade wars breaking out around the world, which would slow economic growth.

5. Invasion of the e-scooters

Newsroom's Alexia Russell writes about Auckland issues and has taken a closer look at an oncoming flood of bright lime green e-scooters onto the streets of our biggest cities.

Lime Bikes aims to have its e-scooters in place by the end of this month - 700 in Christchurch and 1000 in Auckland. Christchurch City Council has approved them and permit processes are being gone through now; in Auckland there are already rules in place thanks to the Onzo bike-sharing scheme and the company is working with Auckland Transport to get them introduced "soon". Wellington is further down the track, Alexia reports.

The bikes cost $1 to unlock and 30c per minute to hire. They have a top speed of 27 kilometres an hour and you don't have to wear a helmet with them, although in New Zealand that will be strongly encouraged. They get left near places people are likely to pick them up - generally around transport hubs. The difference between the scooters and the bikes is that the scooters are all collected at the end of the day to be cleaned and re-charged. Data collected on their trips is used to decide where they're left the next morning.

See Alexia's full report on Newsroom this morning.

6. Coming up this week...

Jacinda Ardern is set to chair her weekly cabinet meeting later on Monday.

Her post-cabinet news conference is due around 4 pm.




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