FOOD FOR THOUGHT
It is more than symbolic that the controversial Food Bill is now buried at the bottom of the Government's Order Paper. The bill's progress has been fraught with controversy and has become stalled since it was reported back from a select committee last year. It has been subject to all sorts of shroud-waving and lobbying about everything from its impact on sausage sizzles to GM food labelling, and there has been some criticism from within the Beehive at Food Minister Kate Wilkinson's hands-off approach to the process. The select committee cut some of the nonsense from the bill, but senior ministers who had not been paying attention were shocked at the amount of bureaucratic red tape it would still create for small businesses. Negotiations about further changes to the bill are continuing.
NO TEA FOR TWO
Organisers of tomorrow's Parnell Waiters' Race asked PM John Key, a regular at Antoine's, and one-time hospitality magnate John Banks if they would like to race with teapots and cups. Unfortunately, Key was unavailable. Banks however, as the local MP, will fire the gun at the starting line for the annual event.
Burgerfuel's disclosure this week that it was moving into the Libyan market was given a suitably caring, sensitive headline: "Libya Celebrates Freedom, Liberty & Burgerfuel" - accompanied by a shot of a celebrating Libyan throng, complete with photoshopped-in Burgerfuel banner. So, overthrowing tyranny was a costly struggle, but worth it for the burgers.
Ministers are coming to the end of the Budget process, with about 90 per cent of the work locked down ahead of a final Cabinet paper. Treasury officials have described it as a fairly painless process for them, with most departments having received the message that it was pointless to ask for money even before they faced the gatekeeping ministers.
There has been plenty of lobbying around Parliament from Auckland interests over the Ngati Whatua Orakei Claims Settlement Bill, in particular about handing over land in Narrow Neck, Devonport, as part of the deal. The bill is before a select committee and many people are pushing MPs on the committee for amendments to take the land out of the deal. This is easier said than done, as amending a Treaty settlement bill would unstitch years of negotiation. It is unlikely that Treaty Settlements Minister Chris Finlayson would authorise any such changes, as it would mean going back almost to square one in what was a very complex set of negotiations.
The Mana Party held its annual conference last weekend and it was noticeable that there was lots of crossover with activists from the Unite union and the Alliance party. Could Hone Harawira's political vehicle be hijacked by the cunning old political Machiavellians seeking a voice in Parliament?
Once upon a time, both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its ministers were known for their sense of discretion, and for taking the need for confidentiality way too far. But as senior staff and politicians battle over the future of the ministry and their jobs, it is clear that the leaking war has become particularly nasty. It may take years before the dust settles and ministers and senior diplomats are able to trust each other again - not a good thing for the ministry, or for NZ.
While many Kiwis fulminate about business people earning a paltry few million, some British bosses last year got packages of about £10 million ($19.4 million), reports the Guardian. Examples include Shell chief executive Peter Voser, Marjorie Scardino, the chief executive of publisher Pearson, and David Brennan, of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Even they pale in comparison with Barclays bank boss Bob Diamond, who last year pulled in £17m in pay, shares and perks.
IN THE WASH
British private bank Coutts, which counts the Queen among its clientele, has been fined £8.75 million ($17 million) for breaching money-laundering rules. The Financial Services Authority punished the bank for not correctly handling the affairs of "politically exposed persons" - foreigners with political connections - to make sure their money was legitimate.