The Insider

What they're whispering about in Parliament...

The Insider: Spying an opportunity

Photo / APN
Photo / APN

Huawei's move to become the main sponsor of the Wellington Phoenix football club is an interesting move. US technology companies have been caught up - or are seen as having been caught up - in the NSA "back-door" cyber-spying controversy. So it seems now is the time for Huawei - the Chinese tech giant that is so often the subject of western suspicion about the security of its technology - to step in and build itself a positive profile with Kiwis. And what better place to start than by becoming the main sponsor of the Phoenix? When it comes to winning Kiwi hearts, there's nothing like backing the battling underdogs as they take on the Aussies.

Don't look now...

The Auditor-General has come out with a few hard-hitting reports in recent times, covering issues such as ACC's governance, the Government's negotiations with SkyCity over the Auckland convention centre deal, and the way in which former minister Shane Jones came to grant Yang Liu citizenship. These reports were sent to Parliament's finance and expenditure committee for consideration. It seems MPs on the committee decided it was best not to look too hard, as on all reports the select committee told Parliament it had no matters to bring to the House's attention.

Perhaps they decided to avoid mutual embarrassment and quietly move along.

Easing the pain

These are tough times in the lower ranks of the public service as wage restraint and restructuring take their toll. But the latest pay figures show the number of senior public servants - excluding chief executives - being paid more than $100,000 a year increased by 13 per cent in the last financial year, from 5652 to 6396. Among them was one person who was paid $600,000-plus. The assumption is that someone, somewhere, got a hefty termination payout.

Back from the dead?

John Key once told an Auckland business audience the Government did not know how to turn around Wellington's economy, which was in danger of "dying". He withdrew and apologised for that assessment, after much outrage from the capital, despite some Wellingtonians secretly worrying that Key's view wasn't a million miles from the truth. The PM is now scheduled to give a speech next month to the Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce, entitled "What role does Wellington play in delivering a successful economy for the country?" It is unlikely to be a negative speech, but the question mark does allow that opportunity.

Piggie-popping

The dangers of combining Twitter, mobile phones and children were highlighted when TVNZ political editor Corin Dann - usually one of the more straight-laced Twitter users - sent out a large number of tweets boasting of his prowess at the game Angry Birds (the Star Wars version). Sample message: "just finished popping the creepiest piggies ever." The most watched political reporter in the country claimed it was all the work of his 4-year-old, to colleagues' disbelief.

On the road again

Senior ministers and others are racking up the air miles. John Key is off to Europe and New York, and Finance Minister Bill English is on the road in Vietnam and Singapore. English's absence means Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman will go to the APEC finance ministers' annual meeting in Bali. Labour MP Trevor Mallard has had an extended stay in San Francisco to watch the America's Cup, where he will be able to share a beer or two with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, who winged out for the final stages. Foreign Minister Murray McCully will be joining the pair in San Francisco this weekend before a few days in the Caribbean (his second visit this year in the name of international diplomacy), then on to New York to meet Key for the UN General Assembly meeting.

One change, two views

Proposed cuts in ACC levies this week sparked contrasting - if predictable - reactions. BusinessNZ welcomed the idea of lower charges, firing out a release praising the move as proof that "better management of the ACC scheme, based on sound insurance principles, is starting to deliver lower premiums". The CTU's press release, on the other hand, saw lower levies as proof of something entirely different - that past cuts in entitlements and a hard line on claimants were unjustified, and should be reversed. It's hard pleasing all of the people all of the time.

- NZ Herald

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