The start of consultation for a new defence white paper, announced this week, could be well timed. The Air Force's long-serving Iroquois helicopters are to retire at the end of the month and there have been mutterings in the service's ranks that the NH90 replacements are not up to scratch. Though they are big, they are also expensive to run, and some wonder if they will end up like the Army's light armoured vehicles " little used, then sold at a loss. Defence spending is always costly and controversial, and many people enjoying playing the armchair general, but if the NH90 turns into another white elephant, perhaps a white paper process might cast some light on what keeps going wrong.

Wrong number?
The New Zealand Business Number - 13 digits which uniquely identify each company - is the Government's latest attempt to cut red tape, and "enable service integration and innovative time-saving administration solutions between businesses, their suppliers, and the Government." But a few alarm bells are ringing. Big chunks were blacked out in the long regulatory impact statement looking at the Business Number - even parts which set out the benefits were censored. Perhaps officials have warned ministers the business number will work only if people and departments use it. Perhaps officials fear it will be yet another system for business to deal with, rather than replacing the others now in use. Or even, perhaps, the expense of departments all changing their systems to allow centralised registration and maintenance of business details may be too much to bear.

No secrets
The "secret" marriage of Justice Minister Amy Adams' movie actor namesake provided the latest headlines to amuse political junkies. Adams - the minister - dryly thanked all the commenters who noted that she wasn't the Amy concerned.

What I mean...
New-age English, from Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo, as reported by the Financial Times: "As we iterate on the logged out experience and curate topics, events, moments that unfold on the platform, you should absolutely expect us to deliver those experiences across the total audience and that includes logged in users and users in syndication." Absolutely.


Local focus
Once again, people are gossiping about who might stand in next year's local body elections. Everyone seems certain Phil Goff will have a tilt at the Auckland mayoralty, except Goff, likewise with Annette King in Wellington. National might look to offload some longer-serving MPs by encouraging them into new careers in local government. One name cropping up is former National and NZ First MP Tau Henare, who seems to be missing life in politics and might covet a seat on the Auckland Council.

They may or may not reflect wider New Zealand society, but Parliament's inhabitants are tending more towards the republican end of the spectrum. The parliamentary motion congratulating the Royal Family on the birth of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge was a rather tepid affair compared to past outpourings of monarchist fervour. Labour Leader Andrew Little spoke about being a "committed republican". Act's David Seymour got the name wrong, calling the new baby Catherine. United Future's Peter Dunne, a staunch republican, stayed quiet.

The parliamentary motion congratulating the Royal Family on the birth of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge was a rather tepid affair. Photo / AP
The parliamentary motion congratulating the Royal Family on the birth of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge was a rather tepid affair. Photo / AP

Acute antennae

Labour isn't doing well in the polls, but some wider political indicators are a little brighter. The party hosted drinks for the media, lobbyists and other political types this week. Lobbyists were there in numbers not seen at a Labour Party function since the Helen Clark was at her peak. Maybe they were just hedging their bets - four-term governments are a rarity - but lobbyists also have highly tuned political antennae, which they rely on in their quest to make money from access to politicians.

Buy a new one
Australia's crackdown on overseas property buyers has scored its highest-profile victory, after a Chinese-controlled company was forced to sell the Sydney mansion it bought for A$39 million in 2014. In Australia, overseas buyers can buy only newly built homes. Golden Fast Foods, owned by billionaire Hui Ka Yan's Evergrande Real Estate Group, was last month given 90 days to sell Villa del Mare in Point Piper. Treasurer Joe Hockey said the Government was investigating another 100 or so cases of illegal home-buying by foreigners.