3 Dec 2023

The Week in Detail: Smokefree, Judith Collins, and woke-washing

From The Detail, 2:00 pm on 3 December 2023

Every weekday, The Detail makes sense of the big news stories.

This week, a US court case claiming Google's overreaching on users' privacy, a look inside an Auckland start-up incubator wanting to shake up the future of carbon emissions, what the new government's rollback of the Smokefree 2025 legislation means, the return of battle-hardened Judith Collins to the halls of power, and how big brands are getting caught out for being faux-progressive.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed.


Google: The monopoly we don't want to live without

We use it to ask our most pressing questions about life and the universe.

We also give it a great many details about our personal life – where we live, what we buy, and where we browse.

FRANCE, PARIS, 2023-06-14. VivaTech, Vivatechnology 2023 is the global meeting place for start-ups and tech leaders. At the Porte de Versailles in Paris, the innovation fair. Business, but especially AI, artificial intelligence has all the sauces. About 2,400 start-ups, from around thirty countries and institutional investors and large groups.
FRANCE, PARIS, 2023-06-14. VivaTech, Viva Technology 2023 c est le rendez-vous mondial des start-up et leaders de la tech. A la Porte de Versailles de Paris le salon des innovations. Business, mais surtout l IA, de l’intelligence artificielle a toutes les sauces. Environ 2.400 start-up, originaires d’une trentaine de pays et des investisseurs institutionnels et de grands groupes. GOOGLE.
Photography by Riccardo Milani / Hans Lucas (Photo by Riccardo Milani / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP)

"Every time you're searching, Google is now showing you ads. Every time you click on an ad, Google earns money, and in turn, Google shares some of that revenue with the companies that provide Google," says Ananish Chaudhuri. Photo: AFP

And this year, in a landmark anti-trust trial, the US Department of Justice has claimed the search engine giant acts as a monopoly, illegally paying billions of dollars to Apple, Samsung, LG and others to make Google the default search engine on phones and computers.

Tom Kitchin talks to Auckland University professor of experimental economics Ananish Chaudhuri about the implications for New Zealand, and the online world at large.

The deep tech sector dreaming up ways to save the planet

In a nondescript concrete building in a backstreet of Parnell, some big brains are at work on projects that could help save the world from climatic and environmental meltdown.

Sean smiles at the camera. He is standing outside an office building. The window of the business says "OUTSET VENTURES - THE HOME OF DEEP TECHNOLOGY".

Sean Simpson is the founder of LanzaTech, the clean energy company now worth billions. He chairs Outset Ventures in Parnell. Photo: Sharon Brettkelly

The aptly named Future House is home to Outset Ventures, an incubator for more than 20 start-ups that are developing products that are better for the environment, including new types of concrete and pesticides.

Sharon Brettkelly pays a visit to the building, which houses over a hundred PhDs.

Disbelief as a smokefree generation slips away

The decision that's shocked the health sector was hidden away as the 16th bullet point on page eight of the 15-page New Zealand First coalition agreement, and also on page eight (as the 21st bullet point) on ACT's agreement. 

Labour's world-beating, globally-lauded amendments to our Smokefree legislation are set to be repealed


Approximately 9 percent of New Zealanders smoke tobacco, down from around 20 percent when Smokefree 2025 targets were put in place in 2011. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The amendments would have taken cigarettes out of most dairies, lowered the nicotine levels in ciggies, and denied sales to anyone born after January 1 2009. 

Health academics and researchers all reached for the same words to describe how they felt about the move – "unbelievable" and "beyond belief". 

Alexia Russell speaks to Professor Chris Bullen from the school of population health at the University of Auckland about what this regime change means.

Eight new hats for Judith Collins

Judith Collins returns to government with more than a handful of big ministerial jobs, from the spy agencies to space, to the hefty role of Attorney-General.

The formal swearing-in of the new coalition government by Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro on 27 November, 2023.

National's Judith Collins at the formal swearing-in of the new coalition government at Government House. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

In her more than 20 years in politics, "Crusher" Collins has been the justice minister, led the National Party when it was in Opposition ("worst job I ever had") from July 2020 to November 2021, and has been caught up in a number of controversies, including the Dirty Politics saga.

Sharon Brettkelly sits down with Collins to discuss her rising star and hears from former minister Peter Dunne about the complexities of operating in a coalition government.

The insincere marketing that goes from woke to woke-washed

Sustainability, inclusivity, gender equality and body positivity. They're the topics du jour that companies and brands have been quick to jump on.

Jockey's take on promoting body positivity

Jockey's take on promoting body positivity Photo: Jockey NZ

The Black Lives Matters movement sparked the rebrand of famous products like Eskimo Pies, Uncle Ben's Rice and Aunt Jemima's maple syrup, and body inclusivity saw brands like Victoria's Secret scrap its famous angels.  

Reading the room can be great for business, but Wilhelmina Shrimpton finds out what happens when a company or a marketing campaign goes from woke to woke-wash, and just how easy it is for a brand to be 'cancelled'. 

Long Read: The Crewe Murders

This is The Detail's Long Read  one in-depth story read by us every weekend.

Harvey and Jeannette Crewe on their wedding day.

Len Demler told the reporters what he had told the police: he had found the house empty except for baby Rochelle in her cot. “There were dinner dishes on the table,” he said. “There was blood on the carpet and on the chair. But the house was not in disorder. The car was in the garage. The three dogs were in their kennels. They couldn’t have been fed, but it was a mystery that they had survived for five days." Photo: SUPPLIED

This week, 'The Crewe Murders: Inside New Zealand's most infamous cold case', a new book from Massey University Press written by Kirsty Johnston and James Hollings.

Award-winning investigative journalist Kirsty Johnston joins the podcast to discuss the case and read an excerpt of the book herself.

The murder of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe in their Pukekawa farmhouse in 1970 remains New Zealand’s most infamous cold case. It spawned two trials, two appeals, several books, a film, and eventually a royal commission finding of police corruption – and, the only free pardon granted by the New Zealand giovernment in history.

And the case is still unsolved.

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