The Insider
What they're whispering about in Parliament...

The Insider: Little intruder, massive panic

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A lone Queensland fruit-fly brought panic to the quiet suburb of Avondale. Photo / Supplied
A lone Queensland fruit-fly brought panic to the quiet suburb of Avondale. Photo / Supplied

Now that the Avondale fruit-fly has been found to have been a lonely bachelor, some of the heated rhetoric about border security has eased off. Interestingly, the Insider has heard suggestions that preliminary monitoring shows risk-based biosecurity screening is proving more effective than the old approach, in terms of the amount of material being intercepted at airports.

Economic ammunition for republicans - the extra bank holiday Britons received last month, to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, has been blamed for keeping the country in recession. The National Institute for Economic and Social Research says Britain's economy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the second quarter, the third quarterly fall in a row. Underlying growth was about 0.2 per cent, the organisation said, but the national knees-up wiped 0.4 percentage points off that figure and turned the resultnegative.

When Labour MPs gathered in Waitangi for their caucus retreat, there was much talk about poor dress sense and even more about how much power MPs should hand over to the party in selecting leaders. But there was also debate about the party's relationship with the Greens. Much of this stems from events across the Tasman, where senior Labor figures are starting to vent their frustration, accusing the Greens of being a protest movement which undermines jobs and sensible policy. The subtext in Australia is also that the Greens are "stealing" votes which Labor desperately needs. In New Zealand, such talk doesn't go down well with voters as it hints at arrogance. MP Phil Twyford has made a few tentative attempts at criticism of the Greens on the Resource Management Act, saying "being an environmentalist is not just about stopping stuff". Some have argued Labour should hand over its environmental mantle, because it will be impossible to take votes off the Greens on such issues, and instead talk more about jobs and the threats Green policies present to working class livelihoods. The strategy is risky, so it will be interesting to see if there are more broadsides at the Greens from Labour MPs.

Last week's Insider item about the new super-Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment - and bureaucrats' insistence that it be pronounced "Embee", not "Mobie" - reminded correspondent Murray Hunter of an unfortunate Australian name choice. In 1979 the NSW Department of Labour and Industry was replaced with the much more snazzy Department of Industrial Relations and Technology, apparently without anyone noticing the unfortunate acronym: yes, DIRT. The "and Technology" bit was dropped soon afterwards but, proving that some people never learn, a few years later they came up with Department of Industrial Relations and Employment, or DIRE.

The bosses of the Auckland Council's business arms are finding the public spotlight an uncomfortable part of the job. A few weeks back, the Insider reported Regional Facilities Auckland chief Robert Domm being left alone to face a press conference on reorganising the city's under-used and financially shaky stadiums. Last week, the new boss of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Brett O'Riley, showed a clean pair of heels to escape media questions about a secret report on the V8 Supercars.

The Government prides itself on getting things done, rather than holding endless reviews and inquiries. But reviews are still holding back progress in some areas. When it came into office in 2008, National was scathing of many industry training organisations. With some justification: some seemed designed more to soak up money than to train anyone. Four years on there have been some improvements, but further change is being stalled by, yes, a review of industry training. This has stopped three organisations - the Aviation, Tourism and Travel Training Organisation, the Hospitality Standards Institute and the Retail Institute - from merging and getting on with the job while spending less to do it. Those involved can't even start consulting their sectors to get support for the changes until the review is completed, decisions are taken and any necessary law changes made. It could all take some time.

NZ Trade and Enterprise has been in state of upheaval for a few years now as new bosses came to terms with the fact that it hasn't come close to doing as good a job as it should. Now a new "customer-centric" model is being worked through in parts of the organisation (with the help of the ever-present consultants), in the hope that that it will eventually work throughout NZTE. Ministers will want to start seeing results because they have plenty of other calls on the money.

- NZ Herald

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