Wellington holding its own on economic growth

Economically the Wellington region is holding its own, but it's a struggle.

Wellington's economy declined by 1.2% in the last year, slightly under the national average of minus 1.3%.  A growth rate that hovers about or below the national average has dogged the region for years.

Manufacturing has declined as a source of employment, but the region has successfully pumped up its tourist efforts and Wellington has sold itself as the cultural capital of New Zealand.

Looking forward, Westpac says the Wellington region stands to suffer disproportionately from the public sector cost-saving directives.

"Employment in the capital over the past year has outperformed the national average," Markets Economist Sharon Zöllner says.

Wellington airports plans to double passengers and hold charges

Wellington International Airport's new draft master plan for the next twenty years sees passenger numbers doubling while charges remain steady.

It's based around "maintaining international connectivity with long haul mid sized aircraft like the B787 and the A350," the company's chief executive Steven Fitzgerald said.

"Passenger movements will double to 10 million per year by 2030, but there'll be only 10% more aircraft movements as the airlines use bigger planes, but we'd not expect (our charges) to move very much. Real prices will have dropped by 14% when the current contract period ends in 2014," he said.

It's not so pay here - Wellington businesses

Wellington is talking itself up as a region with data showing that it is in reasonable shape economically.

Regulate executive pay says new Labour President

Labour's new president is calling for government intervention to regulate executive pay and bonuses.

Andrew Little, who is also secretary of the Engineers, Printing and Manufacturing Union, wants the state to intervene "to avert excessive and extreme rewards."

He cited cases of multi-million dollar payouts to bank CEOs and others in the USA even after the bank had been bailed out by taxpayers.

"While the excesses apparent overseas have not been replicated in New Zealand the culture in many companies here is for excessive and disproportionate rewards unrelated to performance to be paid to a small group of executives," Mr Little said.

Reforming the RMA

The government places its proposed changes to the Resource Management Act explicitly in the context of "raising New Zealand's rate of productivity and economic growth".

Prime Minister John Key describes the current Act as "a handbrake on growth". The Bill introduced into Parliament last week is about simplifying and streamlining the current processes.

The Bill sets up an Environmental Protection Authority which will make recommendations to the Minister for the Environment on whether to designate certain projects as having "national significance." A Board of Inquiry, not the local authority would then hear the resource consent applications and appeals would be limited.

Effectiveness measures lacking

A study of internal communications practices in New Zealand organisations has found that the communicators rely on anecdotal evidence rather than scientifically gathered data to show the value of their work.

Under these circumstances, the study's authors say," it is difficult to prove that the communications activities are making any real contribution to organisational goals."

The findings of the study by Massey University communications students Kate McDavitt and Bruce Faull were presented to communicators in Wellington last night.

Three quarters of the 78 communications professionals who completed the online survey were from central and local government.

Feminist viral celebrates technology pioneers

A viral marketing campaign to celebrate the work of women in science, engineering and technology sectors is working a treat. It's already passed its goal of getting a thousand people around the world to pledge to blog on a woman in the sector that they admire.

Ada Lovelace day is set for 24 March. It's the brainchild of British tech activist Suw * Charman-Anderson who began the campaign in October 2008.

She blogged in the Huffington Post on 15 January this year.

She said: "I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same."

Failing firm cases expected to increase

The Commerce Commission is gearing itself to receive an increase in companies applying for clearance to merge on the basis of a "failing firm" argument.

"In the current economic climate the Commission expects more firms to put forward an argument that they are failing and that the only option is to sell to a competitor that already has a substantial degree of market power", commission competition branch director Deb Battell says.

She made it clear to a business audience in Wellington last week that while failing firm arguments would be appropriate in certain circumstances, firms would still be expected to put a robust case to the Commission.

Where's the plan for productivity? It's not in the briefing papers for Ministers - Part one

The first of a two part series on what
officials are advising the government to do to promote growth.

Boosting New Zealand's prosperity and our living standards are
all about improving productivity, officials have told ministers in the new

The current economic situation - international and domestic -
complicates matters, but the advice the government is getting is essentially
what we have all heard before. Productivity is a problem, but there are things
that can be done, and things that can be done better.

Problem with wind

Published in the National Business Review of 27 July 2007

Greater use of wind power is likely to mean more uncertainty in the electricity system, an issues paper from the Electricity Commission says.

Ironically for advocates of green electricity and those seeking to reduce greenhouse gases more wind turbines could result in more use of thermal stations.

The Electricity Commission and Transpower modeled four scenarios with the amount of wind power ranging from 420 MW to 2 250 MW. Increasing use of wind power would increase "the variability and unpredictability" in the system, according to the commission's paper.