Newsroom Pro's 8 Things: NZ's trade policy spelled out before European meetings; No early elections for E-Can; Richard MacManus' column on a paid Facebook Inbox x

The news that matters this morning

Mission accomplished - America, Britain and France struck three chemical weapons sites in Syria with over 100 missiles in a one-off attack early on Saturday. The missile strikes avoided Russian and Iranian forces in Syria. Russia accused the attackers of an "act of aggression" against a sovereign state and a breach of the UN Charter, but has not responded with any military action. The strikes appear to have avoided starting a wider conflagration. Donald Trump declared "Mission accomplished" in a Tweet. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she preferred diplomatic and multilateral approaches, but accepted the reasons for the use of force. (New York Times)

CHOGM trip - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrived in Paris overnight for the beginning of a week-long trip to Europe that includes the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting and meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and British Prime Minister Theresa May in London. She is also scheduled to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace and will focus on trade talks with Europe and Britain as they both grapple with Brexit. Trade Minister David Parker released a cabinet paper on the Government's 'Trade for All' agenda ahead of the talks in Europe.

Heart episode - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is in Auckland Hospital this morning recovering from unplanned angioplasty surgery. He is not expected to return to work for a week. (RNZ)

Sky falls - In a key moment for the future of Sky TV, the streaming video market and New Zealand Rugby, Spark and TVNZ announced this morning their joint bid had won the rights to stream and free-to-air broadcast the the Rugby World Cup 2019, the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021, the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, and World Rugby U20 Championships for 2018 and 2019. They said anyone will be able to buy streaming packages (not just Spark customers) and TVNZ would show seven games live without ads during play.
Candidates picked - National yesterday chose Foodstuffs' Strategy Manager Dan Bidois and Labour yesterday chose Te Wananga o Aotearoa's Head of Relationships and Recruitment Shanan Halbert as their candidates for the Northcote by-election on June 9. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last week one reason June 9 was chosen was because June 17 was the due date for her baby.

2. The case for a paid version of Facebook

Newsroom's Technology columnist Richard MacManus has a look this week at why a paid version of Facebook might help users declutter and claw back their data privacy.

Supermarket and petrol chains here should also watch the 'data privacy for money swap' topic closely, he argues.

See Richard's full column here on Newsroom Pro, where it was published first this morning. Also see Victoria University's Kathleen Kuehn's analysis via Newsroom of Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica affair.

3. A Commerce Commission with teeth

The Commerce Commission is set for a shake-up with a new law that would give it new powers to protect consumers from anti-competitive practices, Thomas Coughlan reported on Friday for Newsroom Pro.

The Commerce Commission will soon have the power to initiate and conduct market studies. A market study is when the commission looks at a given sector or market to ascertain whether it functions in the best interests of consumers. Currently, the Commerce Commission is only allowed to conduct market studies in the telecommunications industry.

It was a legislated market study that eventually led to regulations allowing 2 Degrees to break into the mobile telecommunications market, creating a 26 percent fall in prices since 2008. The Reserve Bank describes this internally as the '2 Degrees effect' on inflation.

The proposed changes are part of Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi’s Commerce Amendment Bill , which had its first reading on Thursday night. Faafoi has indicated he would like the market studies powers in place by the end of the year.

New Zealand’s Commerce Commission is one of the few organisations of its kind without the ability to conduct market studies across all industries. A 2015 OECD survey of 62 competition authorities found that only New Zealand and Chile did not possess market study powers.

See Thomas' full article here on Newsroom Pro, where it was published first on Saturday.

4. Three office staff and one student

Newsroom's National Affairs Editor Shane Cowlishaw, who covers education, has taken a look behind the scenes at Hato Patera college on the North Shore of Auckland.

He found the troubled Maori Catholic school is spending less than one percent of its operating funding on student learning.

Hato Petera College on Auckland’s North Shore is facing closure after its owner, the Catholic Bishop of Auckland, announced a consultation into its future with the support of the Ministry of Education.

It follows a turbulent few years at the school, which now only has one student.

Infighting between the school’s trust and staff, a soured relationship with the church and cases of bullying and violence have stained its reputation.

Founded in 1928, Hato Petero has a rich history with past pupils including Dr Lance O’Sullivan, All Black Walter Little and the artist Ralph Hotere.

A briefing prepared by the ministry for Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis highlighted some of the severe financial pressures facing the school.

Only $1600 of its $200,000 operations grant was being spent on delivering the curriculum.

“By contrast, 81 percent of operations grant is spent on non-teaching personnel. In total, the three office personnel consume 53 percent of operations grant.”

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

5. Where are the E-Can elections?

Newsroom's David Williams is based in Christchurch and this morning has a close look at the delay in bringing democracy back to Environment Canterbury.

Despite making an election issue out of a return to full democracy at Canterbury’s regional council, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has confirmed to Newsroom it will follow the last Government’s timetable of waiting until next year’s scheduled local body elections.

See David's story here on Newsroom.

6. Coming up...

There is no cabinet meeting today as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters are in Europe for the CHOGM and other meetings with heads of Government.

Parliament is in a two week recess for school holidays and returns on May 1 for a four-week session leading up to and including the May 17 Budget and its enabling legislation.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford, Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter are hosting a summit today in Wellington on the draft Government Policy Statement on Transport. Thomas Coughlan will cover the public speeches for Newsroom. The rest of the conference is behind closed doors.

Statistics New Zealand is scheduled to report inflation figures for the March quarter on Thursday at 10.45 am. Food price data for the March quarter is due at 10.45 am today.

7. One fun thing...

I have sworn off cat videos and cat pictures over the last five years.

Today I relent. Here is a cat pic from You had one job:

"I’ve made a huge mistake."

8. This morning's political links

These are available in the morning subscriber email