Jacinda Ardern is in labour so Winston Peters is now Acting Prime Minister.
Winston Peters now acting PM
The Prime Minister's office announced just after 6 am that Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford arrived at Auckland Hospital this morning to have her baby and that Winston Peters is now Acting Prime Minister for at least the next six weeks.
"The Prime Minister’s Office can confirm that Jacinda Ardern has arrived at Auckland hospital, with her partner Clarke Gayford, to have her baby," the office said in an emailed news release. "Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is now Acting Prime Minister," the office said.
"There will be no further formal announcements from the Prime Minister’s office till Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford announce the birth of their baby."
An urgent tax hike
Late last night the leader of the House Chris Hipkins put Parliament into urgency to pass legislation needed for Auckland's 11.5c/litre regional fuel tax and to pass legislation to help the IRD deal with Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS). Both need to be in place before their July 1 start dates.
"The use of urgency today will prevent the disruption of the third readings of the Treaty settlement bills that are planned tomorrow and next Thursday, and it will stop the Government having to interrupt members' day next Wednesday, which is an undertaking that I have given to members opposite—that we would avoid interrupting members' days wherever possible," Hipkins told the house last night.
"Urgency will be used very rarely by this Government, as we showed last month when we became the first Government not to seek post-Budget urgency," he said.
The move outraged the Opposition leader of the house Gerry Brownlee, who described it as an "unprecedented abuse of power.
"This is not only undemocratic – and potentially unprecedented in the 165 years of New Zealand’s Parliamentary democracy - it is arrogant. The Government is saying to New Zealand that they will be passing new taxes through Parliament by any means possible," Brownlee said.
China intervenes to stop rout
The People's Bank of China intervened in financial markets overnight, injecting $6.2 billion of cash and calling for calm after sharp falls on Chinese stock markets and downward pressure on the currency.
The market falls followed US President Donald Trump's announcement of plans to impose tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese exports to America, and a further US$200 billion if China does not give in to American demands.
Yi Gang, governor of the People’s Bank of China, pledged that the central bank would “ensure liquidity and reasonable stability” after the Shanghai stock market fell to near a two year low. Dozens of Chinese Government controlled companies also pledged share buy-backs to stabilise stock prices. Markets rose slightly overnight in China after the intervention.