As Winston Peters manoeuvres himself into the kingmaker's role, people of a military disposition are holding their breath. Part of NZ First's policy manifesto is to restore New Zealand's strike capability, with a small but advanced force of jet trainer and combat aircraft. This would work alongside a new Coast Guard and a "marine-focused, professionally-orientated military, with a sufficient breadth of capabilities to provide operational independence, including air combat and blue-water naval elements". Labour scrapped the Skyhawks, and replacing them wouldn't be cheap.
DES RES FOR DIPLOMATS
Without much fanfare, New Zealand has opened its new Paris embassy after moving from what diplomats say is a less fashionable arrondissement (the posh word for Paris' inner districts). The new embassy opened at 103 rue de Grenelle in the 7th arrondissement, long home of the French aristocracy and ruling classes. It's a desirable location, close to the French Parliament, Foreign Ministry and many top tourist spots. The new quarters replace the old embassy in the neighbouring 16th arrondissement, which diplomats declared an undesirable area to live because of the "change in demographics". The old townhouse was a bit rundown, but the "undesirable" property is still likely to sell for $30 million. This shows how expensive real estate is in Paris, and raises questions about the cost of the move, as the new embassy does not include a residence, which will have to be acquired in a nearby boulevard.
TUNE IN, BID UP ...
The upcoming auction of AM and FM broadcasting licences is to be held online, on the Turners Auctions website and Trade Me. About 180 fully commercial licences with tenure to 2031 go on the block on November 27. It will be interesting to see whether any members of the public are tempted into a bidding war.
CASH, THEN APOCALYPSE
Waikato University's marketing team knows how to write a headline. The announcement that the faculty of computing and mathematical studies had received $12 million to fund a six-year cyber security project was titled "MBIE funding ahead of zombie apocalypse". Happily, the academics didn't have advance warning of a zombie invasion. Instead, the announcement came days before New Zealand's first university-initiated cyber security challenge. This pitted cyber security experts against a staged apocalypse, in which the zombies tried to access secure networks in search of a cure for their condition.
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SIGNS OF THE TIMES
One feature of the election campaign has been the push from the Electoral Commission and others for people to vote early. And yes, early voting has risen sharply. But the law, policed by the Electoral Commission, makes it a crime to try to influence someone's voting choice on election day. Billboards must come down and anyone in the media -- mainstream or social -- is liable for prosecution if they say anything which might be seen as influencing a voter. Does this mean those casting votes before election day have been influenced and their votes should mean less? Or is the law an archaic ass?
UNDER THE ANGER
The election campaign has been nasty at times, and many politicians and journalists have been surprised by the vitriol thrown their way on social media. But there have also been reminders that New Zealand remains one of the most open and egalitarian societies in the world. Case in point: the former head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, Bruce Ferguson, and one of the protesters from the Waihopai Ploughshares group were seen drinking together at the filming of the pub politics show Back Benches. It was a nice reminder that most New Zealanders are civilised, polite people, despite all the anger on the net.
Is this the coming trend in job titles? New Talisman Gold Mines (formerly Heritage Gold) this week said it had appointed a "virtual CFO". But it isn't some sort of ghostly accountant -- the gold explorer has contracted out the job (to Ash Clarke, of Auckland accounting/advisory firm Bellingham Wallace), rather than having an in-house chief financial officer. Now, let's hope New Talisman can finally change its luck and deliver some profits -- of the non-virtual kind.