The State Services Commission has issued instructions to agencies on how to handle the new ban on gang patches in properties owned by the Government, Crown entities and schools. It has made available a nice poster to point out to gang members that their patches are contrary to the dress code. The SSC's advice to staff is to "use discretion", and ask firmly but politely for the gang insignia to be removed. A refusal should be followed by two warnings to leave the premises, and failure to do so would mean the person asking would be "entitled to seek assistance from the police to remove them if necessary". But there could be some interesting times ahead - the SSC gives no advice on how to deal with irate gang members while anxiously awaiting the arrival of the police.

Newmarket Business Association chief executive Ashley Church has had a busy few days, firing out three press releases: 1) Newmarket seeks Government support to keep Team New Zealand going; 2) Church steps up calls for immediate Government support to Team New Zealand; 3) Church calls on Government to save Team New Zealand. Nothing like making your position clear, even if Newmarket isn't exactly harbourside.



It's pass-the-hat time again for the National Party, which has opened its annual President's Fighting Fund Appeal. Party president Peter Goodfellow is exhorting members to give what they can, to defeat the "coalition of the hard left who want to turn back the clock, nationalise industries, plunge us back into debt with reckless spending, introduce new taxes and raise existing ones." Last year's campaign, says Goodfellow, attracted more than 4000 donations.


Government moves to more closely align tertiary education with the business world continue to upset some academics, who believe universities could lose a lot if they are seen as just another driver of the economy. Despite those concerns, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce shows no sign of changing direction, appointing Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly and businesswoman Vanessa Stoddart to the Tertiary Education Commission, and noting that their commercial links will continue "our drive to ensure the relevance of tertiary education to industry skill needs".


A leaked poll by research company UMR caused a stir last week by showing National on 39 per cent, only three points ahead of a seemingly rejuvenated Labour Party. It's the lowest result for National since 2007, and any polling result for the Government that starts with the number three does not bode well for it. The even bigger news buried in the results was that a majority of the public now say it's time for a change of Government, as compared with those who believe the Key Administration deserves to be re-elected. On the other hand, a majority still expect the Nats to win, so public discourse obviously hasn't kept up with public polling.


Even the tireless crime-fighters in the FBI have been stymied by the US Government shutdown. A call this week to the Department of Justice in Washington, to find out more about an FBI probe involving New Zealand, resulted only in a recorded voice saying "... this message will be listened to and responded to upon a funding resolution." Translation: for now, the money's run out. What would Eliot Ness and the Untouchables have thought?


John Key, Steven Joyce and Amy Adams reacted with venom over the "axe the copper tax" campaign against Adams' review of the Telecommunications Act. National Party sympathisers Matthew Hooton, the campaign's spin doctor, and David Farrar, a public supporter, came in for particular criticism from their party "friends". But realpolitik has kicked in. The Prime Minister has now said the Government will wait to see what the Commerce Commission has to say about the issue before doing anything more - which was one of the campaign's demands. Industry insiders are starting to wonder what the Government's endgame on this issue will be.


A recent US court decision offers a handy tip for lawyers: keep your star witnesses awake. The decision upheld a US$1.17 billion penalty against Marvell Technology Group, for deliberately infringing patents for hard-disk drives. Amid all the legal and technical jargon, the judge offered this gem: "At one point in trial, the court observed two out of Marvell's three experts sound asleep for a period of time ... In all likelihood, the jury made the same observation." Obviously not a winning tactic.