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News Worthy - 3 March 2006 - No. 63

News Worthy - 3 March 2006 - No. 63

The curate’s egg
The Government is passing legislation in a number of occupational areas at the behest of professional groups.

The most recent illustration is the Lawyers & Conveyancers Bill which is somewhat like the curate’s egg – good in part and bad in part.

Among the changes are the dissolution of the 14 district law societies and a centralisation of the complaints and discipline function. That is undoubtedly a change for the better.

But other changes are less favourable. A fidelity fund is maintained. Never mind that other occupational groupings might be more “risky”. Fidelity funds have been abolished for most other occupations including chartered accountants, motor vehicle dealers and sharebrokers. The fidelity fund had a place when lawyers were actively involved in mortgage lending but the current range of banking products has meant that lending by lawyers is rare.

It is an unusual circumstance to subsidise one’s fraudulent competitors in business.

Queens Counsel are to be scrapped in favour of “Senior Counsel” and can be appointed from within firms. That is a controversial change. It is also a further step in the determined drive of the Government to advance the republican cause.

Policies for Epsom
My policies for Epsom include “redevelopment of the showgrounds site to include a technology driven exhibition centre”. After 53 years as the venue for the Easter Show, the newly named ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane are being redeveloped at the cost of $26 million.

The crimson threat of kinship
This line is from a comment by CER expert Sir Frank Holmes in his 1995 publication on the Trans-Tasman relationship.

Many New Zealanders do not know that the Australian constitution contains a specific provision for New Zealand to join Australia. That is contained in section 121 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1901.

The CER argument has now moved to a plan to link Australia and New Zealand to form a 24 million strong single economic market. It is a plan rich in rhetoric and aspiration which falls short in determined performance.

The issues range across mutual recognition of dividend imputation and franking credits.

Curiously New Zealand companies have to get Foreign Investment Review Board approval to buy shares or assets in businesses valued at A$50 million or more. US investors don’t need such approvals in general terms unless they plan to spend more than A$800 million. Why the difference?

Biting the hand that feeds
This line has its origins at least as far back as 1711 in Joseph Addison’s “The Spectator”.

The antics of the lobbying firm of Saunders & Unsworth have been unmasked with disclosure of their $800 publication providing claimed revealing insights of MPs. The publication goes back at least to the first 1996 MMP Parliament.

It contains, in addition to biographical detail, scandalous comment and unreliable gossip.

Surely the publication does the firm no good in a setting where relationships with Members of Parliament are critical for the business success of the firm.

Perhaps a wise lobbying firm would republish the current issue shorn of its incautious content.

Political Quote of the Week
"If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time--a tremendous whack." - Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

Richard Worth

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