Most consumers are happy with their power companies, says a Consumer magazine survey , but the bigger the company the less likely they are to be satisfied.

This is only to be expected. In any industry or endeavour, the bigger the target you make of yourself the more likely you are to have people taking shots at you.

When people talk about their power companies in surveys, they probably mean the name on the bill. But power comes to you thanks to so many entities between river and toaster that I suspect the responses were at best ill-informed.

Our power supply arrangements, because of "deregulation", are preposterously complicated. What could be a simple system is organised so no one of average intelligence could be expected to understand it.


But even the dimmest wits among us can get our heads around a few anomalies.

First, most of our power is generated by renewable resources in the form of hydro-electricity, so it comes to us cheaply from nature. Second, we have an adequate infrastructure for the whole country. Third, the distances between generation and consumption are not large.

That makes one big inconsistency even more heinous. I get two power bills. In June my Far North variable rate was 37c a kilowatt hour; my Auckland rate was 22c. The Far North is home to some of the country's poorest people and they are paying some of the country's highest power prices.

These people need to be able to afford to heat their homes in winter, have hot water and cook food. These are all activities that should be regarded as basic rights for every New Zealander. And all are activities that are essential if we are to have a healthy population.

Furthermore, people in the Far North, and other regions where power comes at a premium, need jobs and industries to provide those jobs. But if you were planning on setting up a business would you choose the location where power costs you more or less?

The Far North doesn't need double-lane bridges so much as it needs a single-lane power price. In the interests of regional development and social equality the power supply system should be re-regulated so all New Zealanders are charged at the same rate.

Auckland Council is lifting a ban from 1200 areas where alcohol may not be consumed. For the ban to stay, area boards must show harm will result if it is lifted. How many hours that could have been used usefully by board members have been wasted doing the paperwork required for this?

The real problem is not where it can be consumed but where it can be bought, which is everywhere. However, anything that discourages drinking is worth doing as it will inevitably reduce consumption and thereby the harm that comes from excess consumption. The bans should stay.


Another child has met a violent death - a 14-month-old boy in Christchurch. The most chilling sentence in the media this week came from an officer involved in the case. Detective Inspector Greg Murton "would not comment on what caused the injuries, but said he had never seen an attack on a child as serious", reported the Press. Murton seems a very compassionate and capable officer. The chilling part is that he obviously has a substantial database from which to draw his comparison.

Disgraced X Factor judge Natalia Kills has changed her name to something entirely different. I won't bother telling you what it is, because you'll never need to know it.