What's the value of a supermodel in a rugby jersey? About A$1 million, according to Qantas and Tourism NZ. In September, model Miranda Kerr slipped on a Wallabies jersey and joined John Eales to launch the "Great Crusade", using the Rugby World Cup to boost interest in New Zealand. According to a press release from the two organisations this week, "about 70 per cent of those who saw the campaign agreed that it increased their interest in visiting New Zealand within 12 months and some A$1 million in PR exposure was achieved." Now, if we could only persuade them to get out their wallets while they're here: figures out this week show that the decline in the number of big-spending Korean and Japanese tourists hasn't been offset by a rise in the number of more frugal Australians.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is gaining some powerful political enemies in his rise to the top of the party. The Insider doesn't mean his colleagues, or the various conspiracy theories around party activists. These enemies are much more fearsome: senior departmental staff. There are more and more rumblings around the civil service about the creation of the super department - the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise, or "MoBIE Dick" as it is being dubbed.
Chief executives of the departments being absorbed into the Ministry of Economic Development are still smarting, and the second and third tier of managers are coming to terms with the prospect of losing their jobs. Civil servants may keep to the background, but they have ways of getting their revenge, as Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has recently been reminded.
COLOUR ME ETHNIC
Wanted: "Ethnic businesspeople", to attend a conference being run by the Office Of Ethnic Affairs at SkyCity next Friday, aimed at boosting the success of such enterprises, and their connections with the wider world. Supporting material notes that many of our small and medium sized businesses "are run by ethnic people". All this leaves the Insider feeling a bit confused: aren't we all "ethnic people"?
There have been a lot of tetchy select committee hearings around Parliament in recent weeks. National MPs are tired of being carped at over legislation for the partial sale of the energy SOEs and have been snapping back. They argue that they have a mandate, but in a democracy, those who have the numbers to get their way are meant to listen politely to those who don't. The hearings on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill have been a bit more worrying for National. The overhaul of Fonterra's regulation regime is getting messy, with some people claiming that National's support base in the dairy industry is so angry some will quit the party. Labour MP Damien O'Connor said to farmers he saw little good in the bill, except for the damage it was doing to National.
In other select committee news, the bill proposing reform of the child support system has finally been sent to select committee after sitting for ages on the Order Paper. MPs on the committee are dreading it because the issue provokes such strong feelings and they will have to listen to very emotional arguments. But there's a more fundamental question: can IRD even implement the suggested changes considering that its computer systems can't cope with the present law?
Showing admirable restraint in these days of lavish executive salaries, Andrew Mason, the chief executive of US online-bargain site Groupon, had his 2011 base salary cut, at his request, to just US$756.72 ($964.97). The figure was revealed in a company filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which doesn't explain how this precise figure was arrived at. Mason, age 31, still owns about US$500 million worth of shares in the company, but given the way Groupon's share price has plunged, he may regret insisting on that pay cut.
Heathrow, recently voted the airport that Herald readers hate most, has been making headlines again. British papers report that the airport allows wealthy travellers to take a limousine from the plane to a VIP suite, where they can sip champagne as their passports are checked and their luggage is fetched, while the hoi polloi wait for hours. The price? A modest £1800, which covers up to six passengers.