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News Worthy - 24 March 2006

24 March 2006 - No. 66

Justices of the Peace - an ancient and honourable institution

The ability to recommend the appointment of a Justice of the Peace is the last bastion of a constituency MP's patronage.

There are approximately 10,000 Justices of the Peace in New Zealand. All undertake to provide ministerial duties, document processing, taking of statutory declarations etc (which is a free service to the community).

Some serve as judicial justices with a jurisdiction extending to cover more than 90 separate Acts of Parliament.

These Acts give jurisdiction over deposition hearings, bails, remands, summary offences, minor offences, local authority infringements and the swearing of search warrants.

In the year ended October 2005 the actual number of charges heard were:

12,731 Deposition (preliminary) hearings
35,603 Minor and Summary Offences including traffic
21,046 Bails and Remands

A total of 69,380 charges heard.

All this is done voluntarily with only lunch money ($16.00) and travel costs reimbursed. These Justices contributed approximately 26,000 voluntary hours.

Small wonder that the judicial justices can mount a compelling case for payment for their work. Disappointingly the Government shows little inclination to tackle the issue.

Gareth Morgan - Economist/motorbike rider and raconteur
Gareth Morgan last month noted a plea by Air NZ for Government assistance to protect the airline from competition from Arabs and Asians. Air New Zealand is 81% owned by the Government and at least $890 million has been pumped into the airline by the taxpayer.

Decision making in the airline business is fraught as many will know - so is profit making. Most MBA students will have encountered the sophisticated business model studies which show that minor changes to fuel costs and loading can produce draconian fiscal outcomes.

One of the first decisions of the Labour Government was to reject a proposal by Singapore Airlines to increase its investment in Air New Zealand. The company sought in 2001 to increase its stake to 49%. It was a compelling business case but the Labour Party Cabinet lacked any business acumen and could not see it.

In the absence of substantial further injection of public money, the flight path for Air New Zealand is at best turbulent.

The world continues to have a surplus of airline capacity. That is not likely to end whilst governments compete to keep their national flag carriers in the air.

A1 car race

We all know about Formula 1 racing. It stands in danger of being eclipsed by the A1 competition. New Zealand is a determined participator in the event. Colin Giltrap with other sponsors (Zespri and Fisher & Paykel Appliances Division) have committed to our involvement.

There are two key elements - unlike Formula 1, national teams participate. To date the participating countries include France, Switzerland, Great Britain, Brazil, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Ireland, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Italy, Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, USA, South Africa, Austria, Indonesia, Japan, China and Pakistan.

Second the racing cars are stock models (the Lola car of British design) with no modifications permitted. The engine is 3.4-litre V8 unit developing 520 bhp (550 bhp in PowerBoost mode). It has advanced electronic fuel injection, quad cams and four valves per cylinder to ensure fuel delivery under high lateral g-forces.

New Zealand currently lies sixth in the A1 competition with the next race in Shanghai on 2 April 2006.

Last man standing

In colourful language the Wellington newspaper earlier this week noted that cynics will be unsurprised by the Police decision not to take Labour to court for its election overspending, "When it comes to dodging legal bullets, Labour has the sort of luck normally associated with Lotto wins".

Maybe in fact not so lucky. The casualty list now numbers the following Ministerial players:

David Parker- resigned in March 2006
Taito Phillip Field - stood down in September 2005
David Benson Pope - stood down in May 2005 and reinstated
John Tamihere - resigned in November 2004
Lianne Dalziel - resigned in February 2004 and reinstated in October 2005
Harry Duynhoven - temporarily suspended in July 2003
Marion Hobbs - resigned in February 2001 and reinstated in March 2001
Phillida Bunkle - resigned in February 2001
Ruth Dyson - resigned in October 2000 and reinstated in June 2001
Dover Samuels - dismissed in June 2000 and partially reinstated in August 2002

Political Quote of the Week

"When ideas fail, words come in very handy." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - famous German writer 1749-1832.

Richard Worth

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