WINNING ON LOSERS
Legislation allowing the capital cost of unsuccessful software development to be tax-deductible will finally become law next week. This will complete the circle, in one of IRD's more interesting policy reversals. Last year, IRD announced that software snafus would no longer be tax-deductible, outraging many in the IT and tax industries. Now, not only will deductibility be restored, but MPs have agreed to extend the backdating of the new law to the 2006-07 tax year. This will be good news to IRD itself, which last year had to write off tens of millions of dollars worth of IT spending.
TOO MUCH SHARING
Once upon a time, ministers used to privately express concern that security and law enforcement agencies did not co-operate enough and share information. Well, the GCSB debacle shows people should be careful what they wish for. Diplomats are now starting to express concerns that the kerfuffle about the GSCB's competence may damage its reputation in the international security agency community, including the Echelon intelligence-gathering network, and more importantly, make others questions its ability to keep secrets secret. Though it is difficult to take the Americans too seriously on the issue - anyone remember Wikileaks?
If you're artistically inclined, now is the chance to enter a competition being organised by opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, who are looking for the best artworks satirising the deal. The event is designed to draw attention to the next round of TPP negotiations, scheduled for Auckland in December, and three $500 prizes are being offered. Overseas cartoonists can enter, but they aren't eligible for the prizes - a rule which will no doubt be considered a violation of free-trade principles if the TPP becomes a done deal
BALD IS BEAUT
Want to get ahead? Shave your head. That's the message from a study at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton business school, which asked people to rate pictures of men with a full head of hair, and the same pictures, digitally altered to make the men look bald. On average, the baldies were seen as taller, stronger, more dominant and with more leadership potential than men with a full head of hair, or those with a thinning thatch.
Treasury's latest release of gifts and other favours received by its staff caused barely a ripple as they were, to put it bluntly, pretty boring. Aside from the usual dinners, lunches and gifts (all unvalued), one lucky principal adviser got a gratis copy of the Public Law Toolbox book from Chen Palmer. And no doubt the Treasury solicitor is still treasuring the gift of a copy of the Legal Company & Securities Law Handbook 2012 from Chapman Tripp.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
It seems the end of the spring break has not cured ministers' travel bug. Justice Minister Judith Collins is off in the US discussing policy issues with her counterparts there. Jonathan Coleman is travelling to Egypt to attend the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of El Alamein in his role as Defence Minister. Tim Groser is visiting Indonesia and South Korea in an effort to keep trade talks alive, and Steven Joyce is in India wearing his tertiary education and science hats in an attempt to build links and entice more students to our shores. Joyce's visit comes hard on the heels of Julia Gillard's trip to India. The Aussie PM, though, had something to offer that New Zealand can't match - uranium. The Australian Labor Party's decision to reverse its position on not selling uranium to India has won her kudos on the subcontinent. Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has also been to India, but to talk about being kind to animals, which doesn't carry quite the same political clout.
The National Convention Centre project in Auckland has fallen off the political radar, as everyone awaits the Auditor-General's report on the way SkyCity was chosen to build the project. Meanwhile, the Christchurch Central Development Unit and Christchurch City Council have called for expressions of interest in a plan that would have their city's new convention facilities open for business by March 2017. What chance of Auckland beating that deadline?