Phoenxi outdo Hurricanes and Black Caps

Want excitement?  The Stadium is the home of excitement in Wellington, but you wouldn't know that when the Hurricanes play there. Why? Not enough people is one reason. Poor play and a very predictable season outcome are others.

Cricket can be different. The first 20/20 against Australai went down to the last over and so did a couple of the one dayers. Tension, excitement and an uncertain outcome. That's what the fans want.

Michael Clarke and the blonde

It's fascinating how the media and public opinion can work to create a mess of people's reputations. Mind you the celebs contribute a fair bit to their own difficulties.

Take the Michael Clarke business. He's a professional sportsperson on tour with his national side and he flies home to be with his distraught girlfriend.

Is this appropriate behaviour given his position as vice captain? Ricky Pointing has apparently sanctioned it saying he can take the time he needs to sort matters out.

If he were going home to comfort his fiancée of two years, the underwear and fashion model, Lara Bingle, that would be one thing. But now reports are emerging that he is about to dump her. Why can't he just text her like a normal bloke would, asks one on line comment.

It's Kerry again, but be warned

Kerry Prendergast has now confirmed the city's worst kept secret; she is going to run for a fourth term as mayor, and no doubt she will win. There is no one among the list of candidates announced so far who can see her off.

I confidently expect that based on what we know so far she will sweep in for a fourth term, and no doubt a damehood towards the end of that term - if not sooner. However her expected victory should not blind us to three other important factors about the council she has led for the last nine years.

Axe Concert FM

Radio New Zealand is having a right big stoush with the government over its funding, which the government wants to cap at $38 million a year, and it wants to know how the board of the state owned business will operate within that budget. The board is twisting and turning like a nappy on the washing line on a windy day.

Fortunately for them I have the solution: axe Concert FM. Ditch it or at least threaten to ditch it, or propose that it has sponsorship or even worse advertising.

Then sit back and watch the cultured classes leap to its defence. They'll  have a petition up and running before you can say Shostakovich and Rimsky-Korsakov. 

The kindness of random strangers

There are times and situations when technology cannot help. Salvation comes down to the kindness of random strangers. I have just such an experience lately.

My wife and I planned to return to Wellington from a beach holiday in the Coromandel via Rotorua and Napier and we decided to take the route through the Ureweras to Waikaremoana and Wairoa and then to Napier. The Ureweras is Tuhoe country, remote, misty and we had been impressed by the silence one can "hear" - it's almost a physical presence.

We set off from Rotorua in our VW Golf, (never buy one by the way - the worst car I have ever owned and that includes British models) upwards into the hills and the mist, and until eventually the seal runs out.

Parking needs new regime

The hills were alive with the sound of laughter at the revelations about Wellington City's parking wardens. First we had the claim from the City Council's parking services manager Colleen Thessman that issuing tickets is about parking behaviour not revenue - 745 tickets a day and $10 million a year, but not about revenue. How thick does she think we are!

And then it emerged that there were quotas or targets set for the wardens - a hundred tickets per warden per day.  Talk about laugh, I just about cried. Good on the DomPost for revealing this legalized theft.

Departing EQC head defends performance

New Zealand needs a better system for handling recovery from natural disasters says the retiring head of EQC, the government's earthquake and natural disaster insurer.

David Middleton says local authorities have the power to stop people living in unsafe or unsanitary houses following a natural disaster, "but there are no provisions for looking after these people or for ensuring that their houses are restored to safe and sanitary conditions again."

Mr Middleton has headed EQC - the former Earthquake and War Damages Commission - since its separation from the old State Insurance Office in 1993, when that office was sold to private interests.

Study finds problems in commercialising innovation -

A study of how New Zealand's research and tertiary institutions are handling the commercialisation of scientific and technological innovation has raised serious questions about the effectiveness of the current system.

The study concluded that the wide variety of approaches and different levels of expertise found in the various universities and Crown Research Institutes raised transaction costs for companies trying to commercialise the innovations developed by universities and research institutes.

The findings of the study by academics Mark Ahn, Brendan Gray, Alan Collier, and Rebecca Bednarek from Victoria and  Otago Universities was presented to a small business conference in Wellington recently.

Back the republic Bill

Green MP Keith Locke has got lucky with his private member's bill on New Zealand becoming a republic being drawn in the ballot for discussion in Parliament. At least the bill will get an hour of air time in Parliament. It deserves more. It's time that we had a debate about becoming a republic and it's time we had a vote on whether we want to be a republic or not.

Here's my take on the matter. We should become a republic within the Commonwealth and elect, not appoint, our own head of state. There it is. Nothing momentous; nothing very earth shattering. The monarchists - both of them - will be upset but most of the rest of us wouldn't even notice the difference.

Strong political colours for Brash taskforce

The government's 2025 taskforce appointed to work out how to close the income gap with Australia has an interesting political composition.

It's headed by Dr Don Brash, the former leader of the National Party, who, when he was in Parliament was described by then ACT Party leader Richard Prebble as "ACT's ninth MP", because his views on economic and social policy were so close to ACT's positions.

The taskforce also includes Dr Bryce Wilkinson, an economist who has served with the Treasury and with investment advisors CS First Boston. He has worked closely with the Business Roundtable over the last few years.  He has also been active in the ACT party and has previously chaired the party's policy council.