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The Insider: NZ's own six million dollar man

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Former Telecom boss, Paul Reynolds. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Former Telecom boss, Paul Reynolds. Photo / Paul Estcourt

NON-BIONIC SUPERMAN
Lovers of vintage TV will be happy to know that New Zealand has created its own six million dollar man. He's ex-Telecom boss Paul Reynolds, thanks to his nearly-$30 million pay packet, spread over five years at the company. Reynolds may not have been granted Lee Majors' bionic powers, but then again, the original six million dollar man didn't get the company to keep paying his phone bills and accommodation costs even after he quit.

SAY WHAT?
Jargon watch: Auckland Airport's profit result, out yesterday, includes the news that the "spatial masterplanning inception process" is in progress.

OUT OF STEP
National has not had the best of luck with timing and the economic cycle. Now, just as it starts to rev up the local minerals sector, the brakes go on internationally. State-owned coal company Solid Energy's decision to trim operations is not only an attempt to tidy its books, but a move which mirrors mining companies around the world.

BHP Billiton has called a halt on A$50 billion in planned Australian projects as costs rise and commodity prices run out of steam. There is still plenty of money to be dug out of the ground, but National's encouragement for miners may be starting to bear fruit a few years too late.

UNDER-DEVELOPED
Kiwi businesses are always being exhorted to spend more on research and development. It's a noble goal, but the scale of the challenge is made clear in the latest Economist. While New Zealand's R&D spending - government and private - is in the region of $2.5 billion, the news magazine reports that three companies alone - Microsoft, Toyota and drugmaker Roche - spend a combined US$27 billion ($33.4 billion) a year on R&D ... which rather puts things into perspective.

PLAYING MONOPOLY
Wheels grind slowly in the world of monopoly regulation, but by the usual standards, things are now building to a fever pitch. Commerce Commission officials are ready for a Supreme Court hearing in October on Vector's appeal against the starting prices the Commission used in assessing the lines company's charges. Monopolies ranging from Auckland Airport to Transpower are watching with interest as they contend with regulators. Some are doing it in the courts and some are thumping on the doors of politicians, complaining that they are not getting enough revenue to cover costs and the need to invest in infrastructure.

BUY A LEAK
If you're worried about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and the behind-closed-doors nature of the negotiations, here's a chance to put your money where your mouth is. Just Foreign Policy, a US pressure group, is raising cash to offer a reward to encourage WikiLeaks to obtain and publish a copy of the negotiating text. At last check the bounty stood at US$23,000 ($28,700). On the web: www.freetpp.org.

HAIR-RESTORER
Kordia Group, the state-owned communications company, was once one of those SOEs that had ministers tearing out what little hair they had left. But after three years of not paying a dividend, it has now made a profit, transforming itself "from broadcast to broadband." Some in the Cabinet are still wondering why the Government should own a telecommunications company, but they're rather pleased it is finally returning a dividend.

THE BIG GAME
Things haven't been easy for Air NZ, and the tourism industry in general, but at least they have 2015 to look forward to. It may not be headline news in this rugby-mad nation, but that's when FIFA is bringing the Under-20 World Cup to our shores. Officials estimate the event will attract about 1000 official visitors (players, officials and FIFA staff), 2000 volunteers and up to 15,000 international visitors. This is only about a sixth of the scale of last year's Rugby World Cup, but an event of this size, spread across several cities and gaining significant international coverage, clearly presents opportunities.

QUALITY EQUALITY
There was some confusion around Parliament about the same-sex marriage bill, and not only over how MPs would vote. Parliamentary security sent out an advisory solemnly detailing how it would be handling the "Rally for Marriage Quality." If only Parliament was able to influence conjugal contentment.

CODE WARS
Is New Zealand heading down the path towards the "patent wars" which are consuming the information technology sector internationally? An update of patent law has been languishing around Parliament for some time, but this week Commerce Minister Craig Foss revealed his plans for the way forward. The law as it is stands does not make software code patentable, but the new amendments make that possible, opening the door to long legal arguments over who owns a particular line of code.

- NZ Herald

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