The Insider

What they're whispering about in Parliament...

The Insider: Labour, before and after

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The famous Herald photo from 1980 (above) shows the 'Fish and Chip Brigade'. The 2012 equivalent shows Labour MPs with healthier food options. Photo / NZ Herald/Supplied
The famous Herald photo from 1980 (above) shows the 'Fish and Chip Brigade'. The 2012 equivalent shows Labour MPs with healthier food options. Photo / NZ Herald/Supplied

LEFT EATS RIGHT
How time has changed the Labour party - and the dietary habits of its MPs. The famous Herald photo from 1980 shows the "Fish and Chip Brigade" (David Lange, Michael Bassett, Roger Douglas and Mike Moore) no doubt plotting as they ate. The 2012 equivalent - taken from Labour's Red Alert blog site - shows Labour MPs Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, Annette King, David Parker and Phil Twyford eating a much healthier potato and spinach curry as they try to live on $2.25 a day for charity. Four years after the 1980 photo was taken, one of those pictured was Prime Minister, another was Minister of Finance and the others were senior ministers. Will the "Spinach and Potato Brigade" photo be as predictive?

EMPTY AISLES
Jargon for our times: "dark stores" - that's what British supermarket giant Tesco calls the chain of shops it is expanding to cash in on the growth of online shopping. Rather than catering to flesh-and-blood customers, the stores exist only to help nearby shops keep up with web orders.

DOWN THE DRAIN
It didn't make the headlines, but the petition by plumbers to a parliamentary select committee calling for a royal commission of inquiry into their industry fell on deaf ears. The MPs have suggested that those engaged in the internecine warfare over plumbing issues wait and see if the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board makes improvements to the way it operates. Peace in our time? Not if past events are a guide.

LOBBY DOUBTS
The Greens' bill to regulate lobbyists received its first airing in select committee this week and the body language of MPs from the main parties suggests they will take some convincing that there is any way to make it workable. Even those in favour of more transparency feel the bill will drive New Zealand towards the United States model, where professional lobbyists become the conduit which the public and pressure groups have to use to get access to politicians.

RMA ... AGAIN
Talk about the next Resource Management Act reforms is starting in Wellington as the government's plans become concrete. Most debate seems to be on changes to the factors that have to be taken into account when considering resource consent applications. There is also some thought going into creating another class of projects - less important than "projects of national significance" but of "regional significance". Like their bigger cousins, these would have a streamlined consent process.

HIGH-LIVING CHOOKS
The age of excess isn't quite dead yet, says the Telegraph. The paper reports that British hedge fund tycoon Crispin Odey has won planning permission for a new chicken house. Nothing unusual about that, but this poultry mansion will cover 72sq m, has been architect-designed in the Palladian style and will be fashioned from stone and oak. The stonework alone will cost £130,000 ($256,000).

BACK TO THE QUEEN
After a year hibernating on Parliament's order paper, the Lawyers and Conveyancers Amendment Bill has moved back up the government's agenda. This may be of no consequence to the vast majority of people, but a select few are terribly excited, as the legislation will reinstate the lawyerly title of QC. The Queen's Counsel designation was scrapped by the previous Labour Government and replaced with the title of Senior Counsel. The return of QC status will be accompanied by a return to the murky, highly political, process of deciding which barristers get to use the new initials (and with them, the chance to charge more). It is expected the lobbying of Attorney-General Chris Finlayson and his ministerial colleagues will be scholarly but intense, because there will be limited opportunities to become a QC, as Labour has pledged to reverse the changes when it eventually returns to office.

INSECURE
New Zealand's chances of winning a place on the UN Security Council in 2014 are diminishing. Spain and Turkey are proving formidable in garnering support. Also, while the closer ties between New Zealand and the US are welcomed by many, nonaligned nations may eye them with suspicion. But probably worst of all is Australia's bid for a seat next year. If it succeeds, there seems little chance the rest of the world would back New Zealand's bid, given the closeness of our Tasman neighbours.

- NZ Herald

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