There has been a big jump in the number of complaints about the Supreme Court, but it isn't setting off alarm bells among the judiciary or politicians. The Judicial Conduct Commission has noted complaints from an increasing number of dissatisfied litigants. They are making separate but thematically linked complaints about judges. A significant proportion of complaints come from individuals who have been declared by a court to be vexatious litigants - and sometimes from their supporters. The sudden lift in complaints is happening now because the litigants' gripes have risen from the lower courts to reach the Supreme Court. The complainants are now busy appealing refusals to allow appeals, as well as other unsuccessful pleas to lower courts.
Good, not great
"Good news for Wellington's economy in Infometrics report" declared a Wellington City Council press release this week, noting the 2.6 per cent rise in the region's GDP in the year to June. Unfortunately for the capital, a quick look at the accompanying Infometrics analysis reveals that was less than the national average growth rate (3.1 per cent), and of the dozen economic indicators monitored, the capital lagged the national average on half of them.
Easy come, easy go
John Key's electorate chairman, Stephen McElrea, seems to be slipping away from the NZ on Air board as quietly as he came in. His December 2009 appointment to the board was disclosed in the NZ Gazette, but otherwise went unpublicised. In July, Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams announced the appointment of two new members, the reappointment of the chair and two others. But who do the new members replace? Although the press release about the changes says incoming board member Helen Grattan will have a three-year term, only the NZ Gazette notice reveals it doesn't start until January 1 next year, the day after McElrea's appointment is due to expire. So it appears McElrea will leave as he came in, unheralded.
Order in the house
The idea will drive some in the Opposition nuts, but rumour has it that John Key is thinking about Gerry Brownlee as a replacement for Speaker David Carter, when he takes the retirement path to replace Lockwood Smith as our man in London. This, combined with Tim Groser becoming our next man in Washington, will free up some places for mid- and low-ranked ministers to move up and for ambitious backbenchers to be brought into ministerial roles.
Passing the buck
An MP involved in a bitter dispute with his local council was once consoled by a colleague with these words: "Don't worry - they are here to make us look good." While MPs vary in their competence, the comment was an observation on the even greater variation in the abilities of local body councillors. This National Government has had an inconsistent approach to local government, taking away decision making in some places, such as through greater use of National Policy Statements and Environmental Standards through the RMA. In other areas it's heading in the opposite direction. For example, the decision to legislate so councils can decide what shops can open on Easter Monday gets rid of a long-standing political headache. There is intense lobbying from some regions to allow such trading, and intense opposition elsewhere. The Government's approach to local government may not be consistent policy-wise, but it washes MPs' hands of a messy problem.
Here's a franchise idea with a difference. Canterbury University business student Faith Jeremiah this week announced plans for her Pet Poo Crew - a business that promises to remove what your dog leaves behind. Starting in the Bay of Plenty, she aims to expand the service and eventually offer to clean up cities around the country.
Is this the next big thing, or an idea ahead of its time?
A few eyebrows have been raised in financial circles, and in the Beehive, at the Reserve Bank's planned schedule for Official Cash Rate announcements and Monetary Policy Statements. Currently, the bank releases a Monetary Policy Statement in December and a briefer Official Cash Rate announcement in January. Next year the bank is planning a Monetary Policy Statement in early November, then nothing until another Monetary Policy Statement in February 2017. It looks as though some in the Bank are planning to extend New Zealand's long summer break tradition.