Steven Joyce's mega merger to create the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise was an audacious - and successful - bid to put his hands on the levers controlling a vast bureaucracy. Now he is casting his eyes even further afield in his role as Science and Innovation Minister. Officials are working on a "strategic refresh" of the Health Research Council, as it spends $80 million a year under the watch of the Minister of Health. Changes to the board are being undertaken and officials are working out how to better "align" its spending with the Government's "science investment" strategy, which has a heavy emphasis on economic development. The council's main funding agreement is already through the Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment (ie Joyce), however the council works under the Health Research Council Act and answers to the Minister of Health. As things stand, the law places a heavy emphasis on health research, not so much on economic returns. One wonders what the Prime Minister's Science Adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, a staunch defender of the council, thinks of this.

KEY'S CAMPAIGN

John Key is going ahead with plans to go to Japan and Korea next week to continue the pressure for a trade deal - individually, or as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Some in National fear his absence will not help in the Northland byelection. But there will be plenty of ministers spending the coming days in the North, with Key returning for the campaign's final days.

FOOD BAGGAGE

Advertisement

Those with long memories will enjoy the minor irony of Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts being appointed chairman of My Food Bag, which delivers recipes and ingredients. Back in 1999, a private dinner between Roberts and then-PM Jenny Shipley, at the home of one his public relations consultants, caused the pair all sorts of trouble, with accusations they talked about Tourism Board business Saatchi was interested in. No one asked if they ordered food in.

MP NO LOAFER

New Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey may not yet have made much of an impact on the national stage, but he proudly told MPs that in one area he's already number one. He won the Canterbury MP MasterChef Scone Bake-Off, judged by Jo Seagar. Doocey described his winning cheese, bacon and onion scone as a tribute to the agri-cultural sector. Pol-itical careers are built in small steps.

Matthew Doocey.
Matthew Doocey.

PLAYING SAFE

The annual report of the Abortion Supervisory Committee was tabled in Parliament this week and, as usual, will be quietly ignored by MPs because of the emotional debate the subject provokes. However it contains good news; despite some people raging about the youth of today, they appear to be more sensible than the youth of yesterday. The number of abortions has continued to decline, with a particularly dramatic drop among 15 to 19-year-olds.

PLUSH PARTY

Reclusive richlister Trevor Farmer had a significant birthday last weekend and a huge party was held in the Bay of Islands. "It was like a Vietnam assault landing," said one bystander in the area on a fishing trip, describing the helicopter activity as the rich and famous zoomed in from Auckland. Farmer, who evidently celebrated with a host of richlisters, has long had business links with fellow multi-millionaires Adrian Burr and Mark Wyborn.

NAMESAKES GETTING DUNNE

Advertisement

Twitter can be a useful way for people to express their views to those in the news, and those writing it. Unfortunately, when things get abusive, some people become innocent victims. Patrick Gower, a reporter for the Bloomberg news service in London, tends to get lots of hate messages whenever his namesake at TV3 stirs people up with one of his reports. Then there's Peter Dunne, an unfortunate film producer in rural Herefordshire, who gets lots of invective intended for the leader of the United Future party.

Patrick Gower - the NZ one. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Patrick Gower - the NZ one. Photo / Brett Phibbs

JUDGES RULE

The latest review of rules for media coverage of the courts is grinding along. Many judges seem to have a low opinion of journalists and their motives, the latest report noting: "there remains a tension between the goal of film in improving public understanding of the courts and objectively informing the public about court cases, and the commercially driven imperatives of the media."