Newsroom Pro's 8 things at 8 am

New Zealanders on the pathway to Australian citizenship have been given a boost. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

In today's email we catch up with the latest political and economic news, including the Pike River drift video, rising dwelling consents in Auckland and a drop in business confidence.

1. Winning in Australia

Our Foreign Affairs and Trade reporter Sam Sachdeva reports that New Zealanders on the pathway to Australian citizenship have been given a boost, with news they are exempt from immigration reforms announced by Malcolm Turnbull’s government.

The changes, including a four-year wait between permanent residency and citizenship instead of one year, had angered expats who have battled for years to receive the same rights as Australians.

The four-year waiting period was seen as undermining a new, streamlined “pathway to citizenship” for Kiwis living in Australia as announced by the two countries last year.

A spokeswoman for English clarified the situation on Friday.

“It remains in place and on track, and is separate from the citizenship changes which Australia announced last week," she said.

Here's more detail in Sam's explainer on the changes from earlier in the week.

2. Into the drift

The main topic of discussion this morning is a video leaked to Newshub showing rescue miners inside the drift of the Pike River mine three months after the explosion.

Representatives of the Pike River families said it disproved the Government's claims it was not safe to enter the drift and they asked why the footage had not been released previously.

New Zealand First accused the Government of a cover-up.

Prime Minister Bill English appeared on Newshub this morning and said he had only just seen the footage last night and said there was no reason why the families should not have seen the video.

But he said the video did not alter the decision about not entering the mine, which he said was a decision based on the safety issues involved rather than politics.

A Pike River widow, Anna Osborne, told Newshub there was was more revealing footage to come, possibly up to 30 hours worth.

"This will expose the Government for their cover ups and what it is," she said.

3. Auckland rising again

Dwelling consents in Auckland rose over 900 a month in March for the first time since August, Statistics NZ reported on Friday.

There were 942 consents issued in the month, up from 800 in February and up from 788 in March a year ago. The trend for Auckland consents, however, continued to fall in March and has been falling since August.

New dwellings completed, which stood at less than 8,000 last year, remained well below the 13,000 to 15,000 seen as needed to cope with record high net migration during the year, let alone catch up on the 40,000 shortage seen before the year started.

Total seasonally adjusted dwelling consents across the country fell 1.8 percent to 2,651 in March from February.

4. Confidence ebbs

Business confidence fell again slightly in April, according to ANZ's monthly Business Outlook survey published on Friday.

A net 11.0 percent of businesses were confident about the broader economy, down only marginally from 11.3 percent the previous month and down from over 20 percent in mid 2016 and a peak of 71 percent in February 2014.

Businesses were more confident about their own activity, with a net 37.7 percent expecting better times, although this was down marginally from 38.8 percent the previous month.

ANZ said the combined business and consumer confidence measures still suggested annual GDP growth was running around 3.5 to 4 percent.

5. McCully out

Murray McCully formally steps down as Foreign Minister at the cabinet meeting today.

Sam Sachdeva interviewed McCully on Friday about the legacy he leaves behind, and his plans after three terms leading New Zealand’s international agenda.

McCully said his most fulfilling and most challenging work has been building New Zealand’s role in the Pacific, redirecting more aid to the area and making every dollar work.

“I’ve put a lot of my personal effort into ensuring that we actually live up to the expectations our neighbours have of us and the responsibilities we should carry," he said.

McCully talked in the interview about the Saudi sheep affair, the Israel resolution and the MFAT restructure.

6. Finally, an admission on dairy

Our National Affairs Editor Shane Cowlishaw has also done an exit interview and a watchdog interview at the same time with Jan Wright, the outgoing Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Wright was particularly pleased with Agriculture Minister Nathan Guy's admission last week that the growth in cow numbers would have to end.

“I think there was a tipping point yesterday…I think the comments by Nathan Guy yesterday that we’ve got to focus on value not volume, now I’ve been waiting for that for quite a long time,"

“I didn’t see it coming but of course there has been a kind of crescendo building…so it’s not surprising, but it’s very welcome.”

Here's the full interview with Wright.

7. Coming up...

Prime Minister Bill English is scheduled to hold his weekly post-cabinet news conference this afternoon.

Labour is expected to announce its list for the September 23 election later today. Sue Moroney announced last night she would not stand again after being told she would not have a winnable position on the list.

Parliament resumes on Tuesday for a two week block after two weeks off over Easter and the shortened Anzac week.

The Commerce Commission is due to release its final decision on the NZME-Fairfax NZ merger application on Wednesday morning.

Statistics New Zealand is scheduled to report March quarter labour force figures at 10.45 am on Wednesday. The unemployment rate is expected to edge down to 5 percent from 5.2 percent after jobs growth of around 0.8 percent for the quarter.

8. One fun thing

The annual White House Correspondents' dinner speech where a comedian roasts a President sitting next to him or her is usually a highlight. But this year Donald Trump declined to attend. Instead, he held a campaign-style rally in Pennsylvania where he spent 11 minutes of his speech attacking the news media.

The Daily Show's Hasan Minaj roasted Trump anyway, which is a fun read or watch. Here's the anotated version via WaPo.