Morning Briefing Aug 9: Nats promise unity but cracks still plain to see

Anna Murray
Source: 1News

A board resignation upends National's promise of party unity, the Tokyo Olympics come to a close, and winter wreaks havoc on many morning commutes.

Judith Collins

Judith Collins has spent the weekend pushing a message of unity at National’s annual conference, but division within the party was still evident.

Former long-serving National MP David Carter quit the party’s board in disgust following the re-election of party president Peter Goodfellow yesterday. Carter says he has “no confidence” in Goodfellow’s leadership.

While Goodfellow is seen as an excellent fundraiser for the party, Carter says National will struggle to get the donations it needs while he remains president. 

But Collins says she has confidence in Goodfellow and brushed off questions about whether Carter was damaging her party’s message of unity at the AGM.

Collins insisted there is “zero tolerance to disunity” within the party and says they’re now focusing on seven “big issues” facing New Zealanders. However, no new policy announcements were made at the conference, with Collins instead promising National will continue its “demand the debate” campaign.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political spectrum, the Greens also held their AGM at the weekend.

Co-leader James Shaw easily fought off a challenge to his leadership and says the party is "stable and united" - but the co-leaders admit there's been debate about whether the party is too close to Labour.

Shaw told party members the caucus is doing what it can to push Labour on important issues, including housing and climate change. 

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Tokyo Games come to a close

The Olympic flame has been extinguished in Tokyo as last night’s closing ceremony brought an end to the pandemic-interrupted 2020 Games.

Dame Valerie Adams carried the New Zealand flag at the ceremony before a spectacular light show lit up the Japanese capital. The Olympic flag was also handed over to Paris, who will host the Games in 2024. 

The Tokyo Olympics have been New Zealand’s most successful Games, with the team winning 20 medals, including seven gold.

That tally saw New Zealand finish 13th on the medal table , with Lisa Carrington’s personal haul good enough to rank her 33rd if she were her own nation. 

1 NEWS reporter Kimberlee Downs, who’s been in Tokyo for the Games, says the event was always going to be one for the history books. She’s written about the experience of an Olympics held under a state of emergency here

Weather causing travel headaches

A wintery blast is crossing the country this morning, with many regions waking up to gales and snow.

In the central North Island, Waka Kotahi has closed the Desert Road between Rangipo all the way down to Taihape, while Bluebridge and Interislander ferries have been cancelled in Wellington because of high winds.

A strong wind warning is also in place for coastal Marlborough and the Wairarapa.

There are several road closures across the South Island too, with heavy snow causing significant travel delays last night.

One motorist told 1 NEWS she had been stuck in queues on the Hundalee Hills for four hours in "zero-degree temperatures" .

Drivers are being told to keep up to date with the latest weather reports before travelling. 

Key slams MIQ system

The MIQ booking system has again come under fire, this time from former Prime Minister John Key, who’s called it a “failure” .

Speaking at National’s AGM, Key said the Government has “completely failed to provide a system that works” and called for different solutions for managing returnees. 

His comments come as the Government prepares this week to outline its plan to relax the borders. But there’s also a warning not to rush those plans.

Epidemiologist Dr Amanda Kvalsvig says any relaxing of the border “will have to be managed very carefully”. She’s concerned external pressure will “drive a decision to open up the border before everything is in place”.

Meanwhile, another public health expert has weighed in on the current dangers of the highly transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19, saying e ven one community case of it in New Zealand could prompt a lockdown . Otago University Professor Nick Wilson says Delta “has really changed the situation quite substantially". 

Meanwhile, Delta continues to cause headaches in Australia, with Cairns the latest city to go into a snap lockdown .

The decision for the three-day lockdown was made after a taxi driver tested positive for the virus. It’s believed he was infectious in the community for 10 days before getting a test. 

Timaru reeling after tragedy

The South Canterbury community of Timaru is reeling from the aftermath of Saturday night’s fatal car accident which killed five teenagers.

A sixth teenager, who was the driver, is also in hospital.

The overloaded sedan crashed into a power pole at the intersection of Seadown Road and Meadows Road in Washdyke, north of Timaru. Police say five passengers, aged 15 and 16, were found dead on arrival with one having been riding in the car boot. 

Other news of note this morning:

- The Delta variant continues to wreak havoc in other nations, with the US again crossing the 100,000 daily cases mark , and Fiji’s crisis showing few signs of improvement

- Hundreds of people in Greece continue to flee as a wildfire described as “a biblical catastrophe” rages. 

- The Taliban have captured the Afghan city of Kunduz, the third provincial capital they’ve seized in a day .

- Hundreds of thousands of MMR vaccines worth around $10 million are at risk of being dumped , as health providers struggle to maintain momentum alongside the Covid-19 response.

- A Rangiora police officer who lost her entire family in a rail crash nearly 50 years ago is sharing her personal tragedy as Rail Safety Week begins. 

- The Northern Mystics have won the national netball premiership title for the first time.

- And 1 NEWS’ Good Sorts series celebrates a Blenheim woman who teaches disabled toddlers how to ride horses.

And finally...

The TVNZ broadcaster had mere minutes to make his way between programmes before the cameras started rolling.

As Jack Tame joined the final morning of Olympics coverage yesterday, fellow presenter Toni Street joked he was the "hardest working man in television".

Just a minute or two earlier, Tame had been finishing up hosting Q+A, before switching gears and bouncing from one studio to the next to discuss the final day of competition in Tokyo. He even managed to change his uniform from “serious current affairs presenter” to “sports presenter” (i.e. remove his tie) while dashing between studios.

You can watch Tame run that Olympic race of his own right here .