Some state-owned enterprises really don't appreciate the scrutiny they get from the media or politicians, and Solid Energy is probably more sensitive than others. However, it has gone over the top in its latest - and overdue - statement of intent by declaring "The content of this document including text, graphics and layout is protected by New Zealand and international copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd." Perhaps they didn't want anyone publishing the latest valuation of the company, which puts its net value at $92 million, a considerable distance from the $3.5 billion at which it valued itself a few years ago.

Hot time at Key's place

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall during John Key's summer barbies. There is strong speculation Key will reshuffle his cabinet again in the new year, and in the past he hasn't been shy about demoting those he felt were underperforming. Questions include whether Peter Dunne should be given a boost with a return to the Cabinet. And should the retiring Chris Tremain give up a ministerial post despite performing pretty well? Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith are both knocking on the Cabinet door, and a few others are also hopeful, but unlikely to get alook-in.

Friends together


Parliament has finished for the year, and while most publicity is about party differences and political attacks, the remarkable untold story is how bipartisan MPs have become in dealing with legislation on which there is general agreement. The House sat for three fewer days this year than last, but there was a 45 per cent increase in Government bills becoming law - 145 bills passed, up from 99 last year. Whether this spirit will persist in election year remains to be seen. Another trend is the rise in written questions to ministers from MPs. These increased yet again - 41 per cent more written questions were asked this year, to 16,946, from 11,899 last year. There is a need for scrutiny, but some departments are feeling the strain of dealing with questions that are trawling exercises.

Dead letters

If you're upset about NZ Post's plan for three-days-a-week delivery, spare a thought for Canadians. Canada Post plans to stop home deliveries within the next five years, forcing householders to tramp through the snow to pick up any deliveries from "community mailboxes".

It's Winston time

It is surely a sign that election year is on the way when Winston Peters starts putting out press releases with headlines such as "New Zealand Lurching Further into Apartheid State". (For the record, it was to do with some Maori being able to seek "total property rights over the foreshore and seabed".)

Sweat session

More worrying news for drinkers: Michael Carney's latest Marketing Monitor Newsletter, on the trends to watch out for in the year ahead, reckons the after-work happy hour is being replaced. Apparently, the new way to bond with colleagues or entertain clients is over a group exercise session, says Carney, quoting disturbing reports from the US.

Speakers on show

If you're in the capital next month and spot some oddly-attired people, don't be alarmed - it's just the 50 or so speakers (of the parliamentary variety) who will be attending the Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers Conference from January 21 to 24. The event opens with a procession of speakers, all wearing their ceremonial robes. Former New Zealand Speaker Lockwood Smith would have been in his element with all this fancy dress, but the event will be hosted by his more down-to-earth successor, David Carter.

Breaking news

Each year, journalists in the Parliamentary Press Gallery gather for a photograph, to record their existence for posterity. This year's shoot was disrupted by an angry member of the public who loudly declared they looked like "scumbags" out to ruin the country. It remains unclear whether the woman really holds the fourth estate in such low regard, or mistook them for MPs.

Filling the coffers

The National Party has completed moving its headquarters into the former ministerial residence near Parliament, which it bought for $2.15 million in June. Some in the party are wondering why, if they are so awash with cash, is the party hierarchy urging even greater fundraising efforts and tithes for election year.

Military manoeuvres

It seems a few in the Defence Force are a bit miffed with the appointment of former SAS boss Major-General Tim Keating to be the new Chief of the Defence Force. Once the position was rotated among the navy, air force and army, but Keating will be the third army man in a row to get the job, which carries promotion to the rank of Lieutenant-General.