Editorial: Worries? One lot's gone but there's more

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Judith Collins said a decision on compensation for David Bain would now await his High Court review of her response to the Binnie report. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Judith Collins said a decision on compensation for David Bain would now await his High Court review of her response to the Binnie report. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A year always seems longer when we recall what we were worrying about when it began. Novopay was still in the news in January and the Government sent in Steven Joyce. Labour was promising to build 100,000 state houses in 10 years. Judith Collins said a decision on compensation for David Bain would now await his High Court review of her response to the Binnie report. The Supreme Court rejected the Maori Council's case against the Mighty River Power float. It seems so long ago.

The asset sales were not a financial success. Rio Tinto, the owner of Southland's aluminium smelter, warned that recessionary metal prices might mean its closure, which would leave the electricity market grossly oversupplied. The smelter got a subsidy for another four years, but Mighty River share buyers took a bath and the second float, Meridian Energy, was a bargain.

On other fronts, John Key had a better year than his previous one, though the Dotcom distractions of 2012 were not resolved.

They were amplified in April by former Cabinet secretary Rebecca Kitteridge's report that the Government Communications Security Bureau had collected phone records of about 80 New Zealand residents besides Kim Dotcom.

A bill to legalise the GCSB's access to such "metadata" was earnestly opposed in the name of civil liberties, but an unconcerned Mr Key said he was getting more angry mail against a reduction in the permitted recreational bag of snapper.

Meanwhile, the Kitteridge report was overwhelmed by a subsequent inquiry to find out who had leaked it. Peter Dunne became the prime suspect when he refused to give the inquiry access to voluminous email he had exchanged with a female reporter. Mr Dunne was dismissed from the ministry, contributing to a bad year for National's partners in power.

The Maori Party polled a dismal third in a byelection arising from the death of Labour's popular Parekura Horomia, and John Banks lost his ministerial warrant when he was committed for trial on charges arising from the "anonymous" Dotcom contribution to his 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign.

By that time, the 2013 mayoral campaign had produced the year's greatest scandal. Two days after Len Brown's re-election, Aucklanders learned their high-minded mayor had been having an extramarital affair for two years.

Sadly for Mr Brown, his beau, Bevan Chuang, also gave her heart to a rival campaign worker, Luigi Wewege. Some found his conduct equally distasteful, but advisedly the mayor blamed nobody else.

Labour, the party that backed Mr Brown, was doing better in national politics. David Shearer gave up the leadership days after flourishing two dead snapper in Parliament, an act that prompted Ms Collins to quip, "Which of those three will last longest?"

Three Labour MPs vied for the leadership under new rules giving the wider membership and affiliated unions more votes than the parliamentary team. David Cunliffe won a well-conducted contest that gave Labour good publicity and a lift in the polls.

Labour and the Greens together edged ahead of National in some surveys, but not all.

The Government comes to the end of its fifth year still the preferred party by a large margin, but probably in need of new partners next year. Conservative Colin Craig could be helped into a seat if he is more sensible than some of his recent comments. A new party of market liberalism might emerge from Act. Expect the unexpected in a new year.

- NZ Herald

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