'We're sorry, but we're staying'
Housing NZ CEO Andrew McKenzie apologised this morning to tenants evicted under Housing NZ's flawed meth testing regime, but said no one at Housing NZ would lose their jobs over the episode. McKenzie, who started as CEO in September 2016 well after the policy was bought in, gave the apology in his first interview with RNZ's Guyon Espiner.
"This is stuff running back many years - the organisation had an approach based on making sure homes were safe, using the best advice they had and then having done that, working out what the most appropriate thing to do was with those tenants," McKenzie said.
"That has changed, we are now not following the processes of the past."
McKenzie also said Housing NZ had wiped clean its blacklist of tenants linked to meth properties and had stopped pursuing evicted tenants for costs. He said Housing NZ spent $100 million fixing homes that were deemed affected by meth under the previous policy.
Commentators on the left and right criticised Housing NZ's apologies without sackings.
"When Housing New Zealand was dealing with the very poor, vulnerable people they were evicting for alleged meth contamination those people didn't get to say 'We apologise for the contamination and regret what happened," Green Party activist Danyl Mclauchlan tweeted.
"Instead they got evicted and fined and blacklisted with Housing NZ citing 'zero tolerance' and 'personal responsibility'. But for the public servants and Ministers implementing these policies who are extremely well paid and extremely well resourced there's no consequences, no accountability and no responsibility whatsoever. So dire consequences, zero tolerance and personal responsibility for people who have very little agency over their own lives, and none of that for very privileged, very powerful people."
Right wing columnist and PR man Matthew Hooton was also scathing.
"I think Guyon Espiner is a bit naive thinking anyone in the bureaucracy will lose their job over meth testing. Needlessly evicting families from homes is one thing; but a bureaucrat getting the sack is unthinkable," Hooton tweeted.
'Don't scare the horses'
Days after another weak business confidence survey, the Government has moved again to reassure employers about its plans for industry-wide employment agreements. It ruled out strike action during negotiation of the agreements and included both business leaders and unions in the group creating them.
Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees Galloway also presented Former National Prime Minister Jim Bolger at a news conference in the Beehive as the leader of a working group to design these 'Fair Pay Agreements' to apply right across and industry or sector once a particular threshold of support is met.
"Industrial action is not permitted as part of bargaining over a Fair Pay Agreement," was the key element of the Terms of Reference released yesterday with the make-up of the working group, which includes BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope and Hospitality NZ CEO Vicki Lee.
National MP Scott Simpson said the agreements would take New Zealand back to the days of constant strikes of the 1970s, and took a swipe at Bolger in the process.
"Jim was actually the Minister of Labour back in the 1970s, so I guess he's particularly well-placed to lead an initiative that will take us back there," Simpson said.
National pledged to scrap the system if it was re-elected. See Shane Cowlishaw's report lower down in the email and here on Newsroom Pro for more.
Against official advice
Energy Minister Megan Woods released official documents showing the Government has not officially decided through a cabinet process to stop issuing new offshore drilling permits for oil and gas, and that MBIE advised against the move on the grounds it was likely to increase net emissions as coal was substituted for gas.
The revelations are likely to make the decision even less popular in Taranaki and spark a useful debate about unintended consequences of apparently obvious moves to reduce emissions. See Thomas Coughlan's piece lower down in the email and here on Newsroom Pro for more.
Low wage growth
The Reserve Bank of Australia decided yesterday afternoon to leave its official cash rate on hold at a record low 1.5 percent for a record consecutive 20th time. That's despite the bank expecting GDP to average slightly above three percent this year and next year. It said it could leave the rates there because wage growth remained so weak, although it was expected to pick up.
Will he run?
Starbucks founder and executive chairman Howard Schultz announced overnight he would leave the company at the end of the month, sparking speculation he would run for President as the Democratic candidate in 2020. ( New York Times )
The White House tweeted overnight that the June 12 summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un would take place on June 12 at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island.