"Research shows Kiwis want more than the 'boat, bach and Beemer'" was the headline on an ASB press release this week, trumpeting a survey which found Kiwi business people are becoming more ambitious, and no longer happy to settle for a new BMW, holiday home and a cabin cruiser. Asked what they hoped to achieve, 54 per cent of survey participants said they wanted double-digit revenue growth next year. Impressive stuff, but the Insider notes that even more people - 60 per cent - aimed to "do more with my family outside of work next year". And, when faced with the statement "I am more concerned with achieving a great lifestyle for my family than conquering the world", 79 per cent agreed. So, ambitious, but the good life still beckons.

In today's world of instant communication, the pressure is always on politicians to get their press releases into the news. An unfortunate illustration of this was Green co-leader Russel Norman's hastily sent press release on the Pre-election Economic And Fiscal Update. One version sent out declared: "In six years of National management, net debt per person has risen to $xxx, from $xx."

If people think the Government's projected surplus looks thin, they would be shocked at how the numbers can change. For example, with ACC, the Government's obligation for "work-related gradual process disease and infection" starts when a claim is made, and the cost is recognised from then on. If the system changes, in line with commercial accident and sickness insurance, Treasury says an initial adjustment to ACC's liability and an expense of about $1 billion would have to be reported on the Government's books. Surplus looking smaller now?

Photo /Mark Mitchell
A reminder of how close elections can be came this week when Finance Minister Bill English finished his briefing on the Pre-election Economic And Fiscal Update. His parting shot was: "We might see you for the [December] half-year update. We might not." Then again, given the challenging financial state of the media, he might have been referring to the chances of the assembled journalists keeping their jobs.

The National Party's first campaign advert has sparked talk, but at least it's not about how shockingly bad it is, as was the main topic in 2011. While some people have noted the musical similarities with an Eminem track, one literary-minded Nat was more worried about the use of rowing as a theme, fearing voters would equate it with the last lines of The Great Gatsby: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." Somehow, the Insider suspects most voters will just think it's about rowboats.


With MPs a long way from Parliament, internally the politics have turned to who will replace Clerk of the House Mary Harris, who retires next year. The hugely respected Harris replaced the equally respected David McGee. They are big shoes to fill and a calm head is needed to keep proceedings, and MPs, on track. The word is that Deputy Clerk Debbie Angus will get the job, but others are said to be pushing their cases.

Photo / Neville Marriner
If you think national politics is dirty, spare a thought for the two new people appointed to the innocuous-sounding Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board. Richard Merrifield and Colleen Upton join five re-appointments to deal with a sector which has been the scene of internecine warfare, litigation, legislation, an Auditor-General's inquiry, complaints to the Ombudsman and plain bitterness. Good luck to them.

Another milestone this week for Warren Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, as its share price tops US$200,000. That's US$200,000 for a single share. Berkshire Hathaway's share price has doubled in eight years. And yes, it is by far the costliest US share, more than 60 times the price of a share in the runner-up, Seaboard Corp.