Newsroom Pro's 8 things at 8am: Egg scandal escalates; New BPS targets; Housing and transience

Palace "free range" eggs. Photo: Newsroom

In today's email, we detail how Newsroom's scoop has shocked the egg and supermarket industries, look at a loophole for DNA testing for criminals, look at Bill English's new targets, pick a number of the day and point to one of the implications of the housing crisis.

1. Cracked right open

Newsroom.co.nz's scoop yesterday about Palace Poultry selling caged eggs as free range eggs through Countdown has shocked the egg production and supermarket industries and raised serious questions about the regulatory framework for food quality and labelling.

The SFO confirmed it was investigating and then Countdown pulled the Palace Poultry range from its shelves nationwide.

Now Mainland Poultry's Woodland brand, which is owned by Egg Producers Federation chairman Michael Guthrie, has revealed in this morning's Newsroom story it stopped buying eggs from the supplier to Palace Poultry after learning of the SFO investigation in January.

"The allegations made against Palace Poultry strike at the heart of the free range egg industry and Mainland will cooperate fully with all investigations into those allegations," Guthrie told Newsroom.

2. Light touch regulation

The Greens called for a government inquiry into animal welfare labelling claims following Newsroom’s investigation.

The Government, meanwhile, ducked (or should that be clucked) for cover.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy told Newsroom food labeling was a consumer protection issue. Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean said couldn't comment.

The incident has rocked confidence in the egg supply industry and again challenges the light-touch regulation in parts of the economy.

3. Closing a DNA loophole

Newsroom's National Affairs Editor Shane Cowlishaw, who is based in the Parliamentary Press Gallery, has the story today on how a loophole is about to be closed that has allowed military staff to be exempt from a law on the collection of DNA from convicted criminals.

Shane's OIA request revealed Lieutenant General Tim Keating had proposed a partnership regime with Police last year to rectify the exemption.

4. A new PM's new targets

Yesterday's post-cabinet news conference was focused on Prime Minister Bill English's announcement his cabinet would come up with a new set of Better Public Services (BPS) targets for the next five years.

The BPS targets (as they are fondly known around the bureaucracies) have been a central focus in the Education, Social Development, Justice and Corrections Ministries over the last five years.

English touted most of the results, particularly around long term welfare dependency, early childhood education and immunisation rates. The missing link, however, was reduction in violent crime rates by 25%. That didn't happen and was conspicuous in its absence in the release.

5. Number of the day

Labour commissioned analysis from the Parliamentary Library that it released yesterday showing that households spent $3 billion more on housing in 2016 than in 2015.

The analysis found the average household income rose $32 a week, while average housing costs rose $30 a week. Other costs rose $4 a week, which meant average household income after housing costs and inflation fell $2 a week.

The housing supply crisis continues to reverberate throughout the economy and society in all sorts of ways, and looks set to be the major topic in the election debate.

Labour Leader Andrew Little was certainly keen to focus on it yesterday and give a preview of his campaign lines.

"Kiwi families can’t get ahead when the housing crisis is eating a hole in their wallets. This is the price that Kiwi families are paying for Bill English’s failure to fix the housing crisis," he said.

6. The housing crisis and transience

The Housing Crisis certainly reverberates in a range of ways.

Newsroom's social issues reporter in Auckland, Teuila Fuatai, goes into depth in her piece on how the housing crisis is affecting the ability of children to find and keep stable schooling.

It's the issue of transience.

She went to Onehunga's Te Papapa Primary to find out more.

"According to the school’s data, three of every four students who left before completing year six last year moved out of Onehunga because their families found cheaper rental accommodation elsewhere, or had been relocated by Housing New Zealand," Fuatai writes.

7. Coming up...

Thursday is a big day for the economy.

Keep an eye out for the US Federal Reserve's big decision on Thursday morning at 8am, where it is expected to put up its official cash rate by 25 basis points to around 1 percent.

Later that morning Statistics New Zealand will release the December quarter GDP data. Economists broadly expect a slight slowdown in the quarter to growth of around 0.7 percent, but that means annual growth is still a robust 3.2 percent.

8. While you were sleeping...

Brexit just won't go away in a hurry.

Overnight British Prime Minister Theresa May delayed her decision to trigger article 50 and set the clock ticking on exiting the EU within two years. There was talk she could pull the trigger on Thursday, but she said overnight it would more likely be the last week of March.

Meanwhile, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would push for a fresh Scottish Independence referendum by the spring of 2019.

Have a great day.

cheers

Bernard