The Insider

What they're whispering about in Parliament...

The Insider: Royals rule, ok

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Few people around Wellington believe the release of the Constitutional Advisory Panel's engagement document - out this week, in case you missed it - is likely to result in any substantial change in New Zealand's constitutional arrangements. There appears to be no burning desire for change among political leaders, nor any groundswell among the hoi polloi. But even a dim hope is still a hope for some, most notably the Republican Movement, led by Lewis Holden (not to be confused with the senior civil servant of the same name). The republicans promptly fired out a press release claiming that the "republic debate won't go away". For now, though, Kiwis seem more entranced by the Royal Jubilee and last year's wedding.

BLANK SCREEN
The Screen Sector Review being led by the Ministry of Economic Development has been worrying some in the industry. They are nervous about who was invited (and who was not) and the secrecy in which new policy is being debated. Those attending one meeting were told the issues were so sensitive that documents would have to be left behind when they departed. The ministry backed down on that when it was pointed out that much of the material is in the public domain, including in the Budget. It is hard to tell who is more paranoid - the officials developing the policy or those who fear what they will come up with.

OVER-CROWDED
Trade negotiation officials have been publicly applauding the rush of nations wanting to join the Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks, but privately they are less welcoming.

The TPP strategy was originally a simple, but clever one: get a few like-minded countries to agree on a broad, clean and fair trade deal, then let other countries join up as it stood, instead of haggling over every item. The latest country wanting to join is Canada, following hard on the heels of Mexico, and there is talk that Korea and Japan will also want to get in on the action. The other countries negotiating the trade pact are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam. Once upon a time the deal was going to be among three countries, including NZ. This may have been less ambitious than the current glut, but the growing number of countries makes the chances of getting a good trade deal much more difficult. Nor will it speed up the process - even optimistic observers say it will be impossible to get close to a deal before late next year. But how does one diplomatically say "no thanks" to countries such as Japan and the US, when good trade deals with them would be gold?

CASH CRASH
Last year was a mixed bag for the world's wealthy, says a report out this week - there were more of them, but they just didn't have as much money. The Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management study counts people with US$1 million or more in financial assets, and says the number of people in that fortunate position grew to a record 11 million last year. The downside was that their collective wealth fell 1.7 per cent to US$42 trillion. The decline covered every region except the Middle East, and was the first global drop in millionaire wealth since the 2008 financial crisis. Things were especially tough in India and Hong Kong, where the millionaire ranks fell by almost 20 per cent.

CHARITY-WATCH
Officials are starting to prepare advice saying that charities spending more than $200,000 a year should be forced to have their financial statements independently assessed. Some will not enjoy the additional cost, but the changes are to go ahead.

GRANDSTANDING ALONE
After crossing the Tasman from Sydney six months ago to give Auckland's various facilities - the art gallery, museum, zoo and stadiums - a boot up the pants, Regional Facilities boss Robert Domm must be wondering if life mightn't be more comfortable back home. After having to make a swift retreat from stripping art gallery director Chris Saines of his title and mana, Domm seems to be faring no better with his "transformational change" of the city's sports stadiums. Why else would his chairman, Sir Don McKinnon, and political master Len Brown leave Domm to front the media on his own at last week's press conference to unveil the stadium plan?

- NZ Herald

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