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

The Insider: Oil rocks on

Photo / Bloomberg
Photo / Bloomberg


You don't hear much talk of "peak oil" - the point at which oil production will peak then go into terminal decline - now fracking has taken off. Latest estimates are the world has at least 10 years of supply in shale oil alone. The US Department of Energy estimates "technically recoverable" shale oil resources of 345 billion barrels in the 42 countries it surveyed. US shale reserves are now estimated to have increased from 32 billion barrels to 58 billion.


He runs one of the biggest, most modern airlines in the world but Emirates president Tim Clark (pictured) is clinging to his trusty old Nokia phone. He proudly held up the old dunga during a panel discussion of top execs at the aviation industry's annual meeting in Cape Town. And, horror of horrors, he also revealed he doesn't tweet, although few on the panel did. Clark, one of the industry's more engaging characters, did make a point of bringing an iPad to a breakfast with journalists the next day to prove his personal technology wasn't entirely stranded in the last decade.


Labour Minister Simon Bridges is in for a bit of culture shock when he goes to the 102nd session of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. If he thinks union leaders in New Zealand are hard line, his eyes will be opened up when he encounters some of their international counterparts in Switzerland. He will be accompanied by Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly, whom Bridges has taken to calling "my new best bestie".


Do the people who run the Superannuation Fund have higher moral standards than those who manage the Corrections Department? Cullen Fund managers declared this week that multi-national company Serco was on a list of banned unethical investments, because some arms of the corporate giant are involved in operating nuclear bases. Serco New Zealand is running the Auckland Central Remand Prison for the Department, and even managed to record a small profit on the contract. Serco is also part of the Fletcher Building-led group contracted to design, build and operate the new 960-bed Wiri prison in South Auckland. So who has gone too far? The fund or Corrections?


If there are any doubts about the sale of Meridian Energy going ahead, they don't appear to be shared by the state-owned enterprise. It has been tidying up its business, selling farms in the Waitaki region purchased as part of the now cancelled North Bank power project, and there has been talk that it is looking to sell its 50 per cent stake in the A$1 billion Macarthur wind farm in Victoria.


Some MPs are starting to wonder if the Office of the Auditor-General is starting to lose sight of its main work - making sure government agencies are sticking to the rules and their accounts are order. Recently it issued reports on child obesity and fundamental economic issues facing New Zealand. Both were interesting and well written, but one was similar to works by the Ministry of Health and others, and the second could have been pulled from any Treasury think piece on the economy. This follows the Auditor-General saying her resources were overstretched. There is also a growing focus by MPs on how auditors approved the Kaipara District Council's books and plans when things were going rapidly downhill, as Parliament looks at legislation to validate unlawfully set rates.


Apple is switching from its decade-long practice of naming updates to its Mac operating after big cats - Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion, etc - and calling the next one "Mavericks". Apple software head Craig Federighi had a logical explanation for the change: "We do not want to be the first software release in history to be delayed by a lack of cats."


Speaker David Carter has been having a rough ride in Parliament, with frequent clashes with Opposition MPs. It could be a sign of the pressure that he slipped up a few times, calling Winston Peters "Prime Minister", but even more mind-bogglingly mistaking Chris Hipkins for Metiria Turei.


Todd McClay not only gained Peter Dunne's ministerial portfolios after his political downfall, but a few other important assets as well. McClay swooped on Dunne's former chief of staff Rob Eaddy and Dunne's senior private secretary Anne Small. Both are vastly experienced; Eaddy is a former chief of staff to PM Jim Bolger and has extensive political and business links. Not a bad start for a new minister. John Key's office found a home for Dunne's press secretary, Mark Stewart.

- NZ Herald

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