As the nation held its breath in the closing moments of last year's Rugby World Cup final, praying that one-point lead would hold, it was all too much for Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard. In the updated edition of his book on the global financial meltdown (Crisis, released this week), Bollard reveals that he couldn't take the tension and had to walk away from the TV. True rugby fandom? Not exactly - Bollard's only concern was "what a loss might do to fragile economic confidence".
IDEA LOSES CURRENCY
The euro crisis appears to have killed off the idea of a transtasman currency. A report this week on strengthening New Zealand-Australia economic ties, by the productivity commissions of both countries, concludes that any increase in trade from monetary union would be "generally small". More to the point, the report notes that a common currency would reduce sovereignty, and "following the recent euro area experience, such proposals have little support today".
There is talk that the draft paper on options for modernising the Inland Revenue computer system is more than 1400 pages. Surely that can't be right? The problem is big, with the $1 billion figure being thrown around with abandon, and it has to be solved as the system is preventing policy being implemented. But 1400 pages for an options paper? Surely, that must be referring to the manual? There will be have to be a very good executive summary for ministers, because no one will read all that. Or perhaps the plan is to hide any problems in the very fine print.
If you like the sound of an outing with 40 friends aboard Owen Glenn's gin palace Ubiquitous, that's one of the items up for auction at the 2nd annual Westpac Mayoress' Masquerade Ball. The event is on at the Viaduct Events centre tomorrow evening, to raise funds for charity.
Smiling broadly, Kim Dotcom watched from Parliament's public gallery on Wednesday as Prime Minister John Key twisted, turned and tied himself in knots defending John Banks - and his own majority. All those Key contortions could have been dangerous- as he watched, Dotcom looked like a man thinking: "He looks exactly like a pretzel. I could murder a pretzel right now."
Labour's Red Alert blog site was once full of the musings and observations of Trevor Mallard, but he has been silent for some time in that medium. Is this a sign of new discipline, or is Mallard just enjoying his time as shadow Leader of the House, which he does seem to be relishing?
PETERS LOCKED DOWN
Winston Peters is getting increasingly cranky around the House. The changes in standing orders and the way Speaker Lockwood Smith runs the place have meant many of his old grandstanding tactics don't work anymore. He has become infuriated about the way MPs' microphones are turned off when the Speaker rises to his feet, which neutralises the old Peters tactic of trying to enter into a running debate with Speakers. Another not having a happy time is Bill English; Smith does not seem to like the way English answers questions and English certainly does not like his interpretations.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser are having some interesting meetings as they tour North America this week. They are lobbying and being lobbied by major businesses over trade and intellectual property issues, among other things. With the TPP talks moving to New Zealand in the near future, things are starting to come to a head. However there is little agreement within countries' interest groups, let alone among governments. The fact that the talks have expanded is making it harder to get agreement, not easier, and when hundreds of negotiators from around the Asia-Pacific region descend on Auckland there seems little chance of much movement after the planned nine days of meetings.
Interesting email coincidence: the Insider's email recently included a message from the Employers and Manufacturers Association, declaring that the Auckland Council's 131-page draft economic development strategy "is commendable and seems achievable". The very next email came from Business NZ, and took a rather more cautious approach to the place of local government, declaring its role needs to be properly established in new legislation, and noting that current legislation is too permissive, "and has resulted in a number of councils taking on, or investing in, too many non-essential activities exposing ratepayers to unnecessary risk and cost".