Cabinet decision on Covid-19 lockdown level today

Cabinet will be meeting from this morning to decide whether the Covid lockdown level should remain at 4 or lower to 3. The decision will be announced at 4 pm.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made it clear Government intends to be cautious in lowering the level, despite growing pressure to allow businesses who had to shut down to crank up again, albeit with limits as Level 3 is still quite restrictive. Under level 3 businesses will have to prove they are safe to operate, and most shops and all cafes, restaurants and bars will remain closed.

RNZ: Will we leave level 4 this week?

Ardern recognised the huge toll on business in particular, but said it was in everyone’s interest to stamp out the virus

She stood by the decision to put New Zealand into lockdown and said the success so far was due to having a plan, sticking to the plan and doing it together.

“We have stayed home, we have saved lives and we are breaking the chain of transmission.”

But the government would be moving “cautiously” as it considered what the next step should be, said Ardern.

“No one wants to lose the huge gains we’ve made as a country off the back of the hard work of every New Zealander.”

Cabinet would have to be satisfied it was “unlikely” the virus wasn’t spreading or going undetected, along with strong border and quarantine controls, and the ability to contact trace and test.

We will have to wait until this afternoon to find out what the Government decision is.

Serious consensus but no consensus

The NZ First meetings have completed with reports of serious consensus on some things (policies) but no consensus on a decision. The board has gone home and something else will now happen for an undetermined amount of time, after which consensus will be sought from the board.

I think the media have reached a consensus that the dicking around will continue indefinitely.

There’s no point in getting an idea of when a decision will be made because so far commitments have been vague except for the ones that haven’t been met.

NZ Herald:  Winston Peters emerges from talks: There’s still work to be done

The New Zealand First leader said they had got a lot of work done and the board’s engagement was complete and it was going home.

Peters said further discussions were needed with the leaders of both National and Labour.

The board had not reached a consensus on a final decision, but there was consensus on “the policies put to both sides and how far we’ve got”.

“We have two sets of policy arrangements, they’re obviously different because they’re different parties. The board knows precisely what they’ll both mean depending on what we do, if we take that choice.”

Stuff: ‘Serious consensus’ on policy in NZ First, but still no decision on Government

“We’ve spent a couple of days on very comprehensive discussions and preparations, for the party to make a final decision. The board’s engagement in terms of that work is complete, we’ve got things to finish off as urgently as we can.

“We’re sorting out differences of calculations and opinions and trying to make sure we’ve got, with both sides, a clear understanding so that when we do finalise it, we’ve already got the agreement rather than having to go away and write it again”.

Peters was unable to provide clarification on the detail of the deliberations, but said policy work inside NZ First had come to a completion.

“This is a case of policies that survived, and those are the ones that will be going into an agreement.”

When “every loose end” was wrapped up, and the two major parties had made clear what they wanted, then the NZ First caucus and Board would make a final decision.

If sense has to be made of what Peters has said here before any progress is made then it could take quite a while.


NZ First decision Monday, Tuesday, maybe

Inexplicably Winston Peters changed from a promise of a decision on the new Government by Thursday to deferring the decision to the NZ First board. And indicating this may have been an unexpected change of mind the board wasn’t anywhere near ready to meet and decide.

The current plan is for the NZ First board to assemble in Wellington on Monday and to meet all day, and then for the NZ First caucus to make a decision, and then announce it, maybe on Monday night, maybe on Tuesday, maybe.

This suggests that the negotiations have not gone to plan for Peters. It suggests that there has been more to discuss and work out than he anticipated, or that the decision is not as clear cut as he thought it would be. He claimed that he had no idea which way the decision should go.

This may mean that both National and Labour have given him heaps of policy concessions.

Or it may mean they have both played hardball, and offered NZ First policies in keeping with their 7.2% level of support.

Peters has said that now the offers are on the table there may be minor clarifications sought but no more meetings and no more negotiations.

“No. There will be clarification, but contrary to whatever is said we are not running a Dutch auction here.”

That suggests that both the deals may be good enough for him to go with as they are.

But can we take Peters at his word? Hardly. A fresh look at things by the board could feasibly raise overlooked issues.

And will that be the final word? Does anyone know?

It sounds like both National and Labour are waiting for Peters to announce the NZ First decision. We don’t know if that will be the final decision, or whether National or Labour can then choose to opt in or opt out.

And then there’s the Greens, but that’s worth a post on it’s own.

We have been assured of a NZ First decision by Monday or Tuesday or however long it takes, but that will be followed by public reaction, media reaction and possible reaction from National and Labour party members and supporters.

There is no real urgency, but there is no certainty either about what will happen next week.

Will Peters meet his 12 October deadline?

Winston Peters has made it clear he won’t start negotiating and governing arrangements with National or Labour until the final results are published on 7 October. Fair enough, the number of seats and the balance of power could change.

In July Peters made a commitment to make a decision on what he and NZ First will do by writ day, which is 12 October.

RNZ:  Peters lays out post-election coalition timeframe

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says if his party is in a position to negotiate with both major parties after the 23 September election, he’d be aiming to tell the country which party they would work with by 12 October.

That is the same date as the return of writs for the election, marking the delivery of the final results to the Governor-General.

Mr Peters made the same promise to communicate a decision by writ day on 2005, and said he would do the same this election.

“If you’re going on precedent, yeah, 2005 we had a decision by writ day and we expect the same would be the case if those circumstances arise in 2017.”

The belief he held the country up for weeks after the 1996 election while negotiating a deal was exaggerated, Mr Peters said.

“1996 was totally different, it was our first MMP election, the first time we were dealing with circumstances never dealt with before in this country’s history.

“Seven weeks in my view was the kind of period we needed to, when you’re negotiating earnestly and sincerely with both sides it seemed to be an exercise we had no precedent for, and no record for.”

Since then, he said, parties had become much more familiar with MMP and the way it works.

“So I fully expect, post the election, that every party would look at resolving this matter as fast as possible – that’s all I can say.”

Saturday 7 October to Thursday 12 October doesn’t leave NZ First, National, Labour (and Greens if they get included) long to work out and governing deals and then for NZ First to decide.

Peters has said the party will be consulted with beforehand but not on the actual decision.

I wouldn’t hold Peters to his 12 October deadline. He doesn’t always hold himself to apparent commitments.

If negotiations need longer then that date will be passed.

And it isn’t just Peters involved. He may decide what way he wants to go by the 12th, but either one or two other parties will be involved, and they may want to consult with party members before making their final decisions.

If Peters chooses to go with Labour-Greens I can imagine Jacinda Ardern making another ‘captain’s call’ fairly quickly, but I think that the Greens are committed to consulting with party members before making their decision.

So I won’t be surpised if we don’t know a decision until 12 October.



MacGregor v Craig [2016] NZHRRT 6

Most of the media attention on the Human Rights Review Tribunal decision (MacGregor v Craig [2016] NZHRRT 6) is on the findings made against Colin Craig, and the damages awarded  to MacGregor totalling $128,780. This was the highest amount awarded by the NZHRRT. The maximum they can award is $200,000.

See Craig demolished by Tribunal decision.

There were several other significant aspects of the review. These have been detailed in separate posts:

  1. No decision on sexual harassment
  2. MacGregor found not to have breached confidentiality agreement
  3. Williams breached trust and confidentiality agreement

Links to decisions:

Scoop summarises the decision as related to Craig from a press release from Kensington Swan: