The Insider

What they're whispering about in Parliament...

The Insider: Flight path to nowhere

The idea is that a longer runway will bring bigger planes and more visitors to Wellington.
The idea is that a longer runway will bring bigger planes and more visitors to Wellington.

While some people in Wellington are pushing for Government and council assistance to pay for an extension to the capital city's airport runway, officials crunching the numbers say the business case does not stack up. The idea is that a longer runway will open up Wellington to bigger planes, and new airlines will be beating a path to the capital in no time - a real case of "if we build it, they will come". The plan's backers are keeping quiet about Air New Zealand cutting some transtasman flights because of lack of demand. Wellington does not have the appeal to draw lots more inbound tourists, like Auckland and Christchurch, or the population to produce a growing number of outbound passengers.

TPP reality check

Despite all the brave spin about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks after the Apec meeting, diplomats say the deal is not even close to being done. "Politicians setting a deadline does not make things happen," one told the Insider. Trade and political realities are making the megadeal seem as far away as ever, and some observers are now wishing the political and diplomatic capital had been expended on a more achievable goal than the "trade deal to end all trade deals".

Which is perhaps why new Australian PM Tony Abbott is making stalled trade talks with China a priority. The poor old Aussies started talks with Beijing before New Zealand, in 2005, but unlike us, still have nothing to show for it, in part because of Australian rules on foreign investment. Similar trade talks with Korea and Japan have also been stalled. Abbott's move to revive them signals that he is not banking on the TPP talks succeeding.

Dotcom's pitch

Orcon's decision to cash in on Kim Dotcom's proven attention-grabbing capacity by using him in its latest ads has ruffled a few feathers in the business community. While some shrug it off as tongue-in-cheek, some businesses think Orcon's move to associate itself with Dotcom is risky at best, and at worst a fairly embarrassing ploy to denigrate their own industry as below "first world" standard. One said he couldn't imagine a niche player in New Zealand's dairy industry publicly describing the entire sector as third-world to try selling more product. Said another: "When Silicon Valley watches Team New Zealand they think innovation. When Silicon Valley watches Kim Dotcom's Orcon ads they think 'why would I invest there?"'

No interest

A prominent front-bench minister has PR hacks pitching to lifestyle magazines for personal profiles next year. It might be seen as a leadership bid, but for the fact that the minister concerned is regarded as too boring for a feature article. The other contenders are chortling.

Wordpower

Next time you're buying online, remember this word: "shopability". That's what e-tailing is all about, according to a release this week from outdoor gear retailer Kathmandu, touting its moves to "improve convenience and shopability for its growing mobile customer base ..." The Insider thinks it means making the website easier to use.

Comrade Winston

NZ First Leader Winston Peters gave a speech to the Council of Trade Unions conference this week. A typical engagement for a politician, one might think, but Peters described it as "red letter day", as despite being a former Labourer's Union delegate, and having a long political career, it was the first time he had been invited to the CTU gathering. As Peters said, it "must surely be a sign of something, but I'm not sure of what".

It's funny... no bull

Who says economists have no sense of humour? The title of a research paper mentioned in the Economist proves it isn't so: "Continued Existence of Cows Disproves Central Tenets of Capitalism?" Never mind the content - something to do with the economics of livestock ownership in India - the name is entertainment enough.

Safe-phone

Great news for anxious smartphone owners - a just-granted American patent for an "emergency personal protection system integrated with mobile devices" promises to give future phones a host of anti-theft features, such as the ability to spray a stench, foaming agent or dye to identify an attacker. It also incorporates a panic button that uses the phone's camera to record images and audio of any assailant, then automatically sends those files to the police, with location information and a time stamp.

- NZ Herald

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