As we say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in 2021, it's a good time to catch up on the very best of the Herald columnists we enjoyed reading over the last 12 months. From politics to sport, from business to entertainment and lifestyle, these are the voices and views our audience loved the most. Today it's the top three from Richard Prebble.
Politics and incompetence - the 1500 Kiwis who can't get home to say goodbye
I was in Canada when I heard my Dad had hours to live. I cancelled everything and boarded the next plane home. How unbearable it must be not to be able to say goodbye to those you love. In the three weeks since the booking system for managed isolation started, around 1500 Kiwis have had their application to return home on humanitarian grounds refused.
If they were "taking one for the team" to keep Covid out, it would be some comfort. We can take no such comfort. They were denied because of a mixture of politics and incompetence.
It is politically popular to be tough on Covid.
It is incompetent because if quarantine was run properly, we could find places for everyone.
China's threat to NZ - why aren't MPs asking the hard questions?
At the start of December the new Parliament was able to ask the Government 36 oral questions and numerous supplementary questions. The Government was scrutinised on vital matters such as: "What recent announcements has she made about the Milford Track?"
And last month, our biggest trading partner, China, cautioned New Zealand that we may have our eyes "plucked out". The threat did not produce a single parliamentary question. China's imposition of tariffs on Australian wine did not spark any MP to ask: "are we next?"
MPs know this is one the biggest foreign policy challenges the country has ever faced. Our strongest allies, Australia and the US, and our biggest trading partner, China, are asking us to make choices we do not want to make.
'Equally reckless' - National, Labour adopt Zimbabwean economics
This year's election campaign showed the importance of words.
The Finance Minister said the Government's programme was being financed by the "Covid Response and Recovery Fund". He said he had another $14 billion in reserve. It sounded very prudent.
National said it would fund tax cuts by taking $4.7b from the fund.
I feel like the boy who said the emperor has no clothes but there is no fund. The dictionary says that a fund "is a sum of money saved". There is no money saved.