The Insider

What they're whispering about in Parliament...

The Insider: Living on High Street

Photo / ThinkStock
Photo / ThinkStock

If Auckland real estate seems overpriced, the latest UK figures from property website Zoopla put things into perspective. They reveal Britain has 12 streets where the average - yes, average - property value is more than -10 million pounds ($19.8 million). Unsurprisingly, all 12 are in London, from the bargain-priced Chester Square, SW1W, where the average property value is -10.2 million, to the stratospheric Kensington Palace Gardens, W8, average 42.7 million pounds. More than 10,000 streets in Britain have an average property price of -1 million pounds-plus.


THE OTHER GAME
The Electoral Commission continues to be a whipping boy for politicians. This week it took a thrashing over TVNZ running the parties' opening political broadcasts to coincide with the Bledisloe Cup test. Act's Richard Prebble even accused the commission of using "fascist" rules. But under the law, TVNZ could have run the opening addresses on Friday or Saturday. Was the broadcaster making a point to its masters - if you demand that a public broadcaster meet a commercial imperative, then broadcasting the very long adverts during the rugby made absolute sense.



WINSTON-SPEAK
Politicians like using famous literary quotes to make their point, and add a certain gravitas. But Winston Peters got it all wrong this week when he poked fun at John Key's use of words, on his office's involvement in releasing SIS documents. Peters quoted The Queen in Alice in Wonderland as saying "The words mean what I say they mean." But it was Humpty Dumpty, and the quote reads: "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said ... 'it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.'" Humpty Dumpty also had words of wisdom for Peters, who has sometimes had to revise the meaning of his words. "'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.' 'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master -- that's all ... however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'"


IN THE MONEY
Good news for anyone worried about the plight of long-suffering non-executive company directors - a survey of directors' fees shows that after only small rises in recent years, the median fee jumped from $36,000 to $40,000 in the past 12 months. The Institute of Directors believes that is "partly a correction", making up for small rises in the past. Hopefully, it's also a sign that companies are in a position to afford higher fees, though some workers might wonder why there isn't a closer correlation between their pay and directors' fees.



Photo / Thinkstock
SAME OLD SAME OLD
As thousands of United Nations delegates gather in Samoa to discuss the future of small island states, the New Zealand Aid Programme is hiring consultants who might have a bigger effect on our Pacific Island neighbours. Aid officials want to "identify lessons and examples of good practice from past infrastructure investments" in the Pacific. They are particularly interested in renewable energy, and how such schemes should be monitored and evaluated. The latest review of aid programmes will be viewed with some suspicion by those who have found such exercises achieve little but changes in funding to meet the objectives of the minister of the day.


SPACE RACE
While politicians concentrate on getting into Parliament, officials are working on accommodating them. It isn't the mad panic of deciding where to put everyone once they are elected, but longer term issues. The lease on Bowen House expires in December 2018. Bowen House, across the road from the Beehive, houses many MPs and ministers, and has an underground connection to the Parliamentary complex. That includes a travelator, which, according to legend, was built when it became clear that one MP would need mechanical assistance to reach the House in time to vote. No one really envisages Parliament losing Bowen House, but it is always a possibility. In wealthier times, some MPs contemplated moving the Beehive and finishing the old Parliament buildings, but such ideas seem unlikely to get an airing these days. Officials say options for future office space may require spending anywhere between $40 million and $130 million.

- NZ Herald

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