December 8, 2023

The Front Page weekly wrap: Beer and wine woes, housing changes under the National Party and a war journalist’s view on Israel

NZ's housing market is set for some changes. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Every weekday at 5am, the NZ Herald presents The Front Page, a daily news podcast covering the biggest stories of the day. Here’s a rundown of key stories that made headlines this week. We look into how the new Government will shift the power balance in housing, the struggles of the beer and wine sectors, a war journalist’s view on the war in Israel and an epic Kiwi road trip.

Housing flip

There will be winners and losers as the new Government starts to roll out changes to the rules that govern property.

NZ Herald property editor Anne Gibson tells The Front Page podcast the change in government will ultimately affect renters, first-home buyers, state house residents, property investors and foreign buyers. “Labour introduced what was seen as the biggest change in the tenancy area for about 35 years,” said Gibson.

“What they did was swing the balance away from landlords more towards tenants, giving them more surety of tenure and more rights.”

Act called Labour’s approach a war on landlords, while National also said it would make some significant changes.

So where will this leave renters and landlords? And what does this change in Government mean for the country’s state housing?

Beer and wine woes

Kiwis love to have a drink as much as any nation, but that doesn’t mean all is well in the business of booze.

In recent years, we’ve seen numerous iconic wine and beer brands fall on hard times.

So what’s going wrong? And does this mark the end of a golden era of gutsy Kiwi wine and beer makers?

This week, The Front Page spoke to Michael Donaldson, the publisher of the Pursuit of Hoppiness craft beer magazine, and Paul McBeth, a senior journalist at BusinessDesk.

Donaldson said: “Craft has turned from being a revolutionary subculture around 10 years ago to now becoming mainstream … The market share is up around 20 per cent and that means those kinds of beers are reaching more people.”

While we have seen growth, the market has since matured.

“We’re seeing a few smaller breweries being picked off in what you would call market churn. Not everyone’s going to survive in this current environment where we’ve got increased prices and people have less money in their pockets.”

Meanwhile, McBeth said the struggles of the wine industry are distinct in that we’ve seen established names like Sacred Hill and Villa Maria unravel amid financial struggles.

So what’s gone wrong for these companies?

War correspondent in Israel

Conflict journalist Tom Mutch joined The Front Page from Tel Aviv to report on the struggles of the people on the ground.

Having witnessed the carnage in Ukraine first-hand, Mutch warns there’s potential for this Israel-Hamas war to drag on, particularly if Lebanon-based Hezbollah becomes involved.

“It would really ratchet up the conflict,” said Mutch.

“Hezbollah is probably the most powerful non-state army in the world … I spoke to someone who had previously served in a very senior position in the Israel Defence Forces, and he said Hezbollah has 200,000 rockets in its arsenals hidden in tunnels throughout most of southern Lebanon. They also have thousands and thousands of well-trained fighters who fought in Syria in urban combat. If they got involved, seriously, it would be an absolute bloodbath bath in Israel and Lebanon.”

If the Israeli Defence Force and Hezbollah were to go toe-to-toe, this would see the conflict drag on for far longer and lead to a far greater loss of life.

An epic Kiwi road trip

As part of a special NZ Herald series, editor-at-large Shayne Currie is embarking on a two-week voyage across the country to take the pulse of the nation.

This comes after a tough three years, which have seen life restricted by Covid and numerous weather-related catastrophes.

Speaking to The Front Page, Currie says this trip has been designed to tell the stories of everyday New Zealanders.

“While there’ll be some notable names along the way as we trek north over two weeks, we’re visiting lots different regions and lots of different provinces,” says Currie.

“I’ve already had a wonderful response from readers and internally here at NZME, telling me of Kiwis doing some extraordinary things.”

Currie will also use this opportunity to identify some of the problems – and perhaps potholes – that have emerged across New Zealand over a tough three years.

What Seymour and Luxon want

In a special edition of The Front Page, we revisited our earlier interviews with National Party leader Christopher Luxon and Act’s David Seymour to reflect on comments they made on the campaign trail.

The wide-ranging interviews covered coalition negotiations, taxes and bipartisanship.

During the election campaign, Seymour caused a stir by suggesting Act would deliver confidence but not supply, which would mean throwing its support behind National but not joining in a formal government arrangement that would require being bound by collective responsibility.

“If they’re not prepared to make that agreement, we will make them Government, but we’ll also sit on the crossbenches and negotiate everything vote by vote,” said Seymour.

“That would be a painful situation for both parties, but we’re prepared to do it as a backstop to these guys thinking they can ignore us.”

The point here is that Luxon could face some tough discussions in coming to an agreement with his potential coalition partners – and this is before you even factor in the spectre of NZ First leader Winston Peters.

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