Key tops Listener power list


John Key is number one on The Listener’s 2008  power list, up two places from 3 last year.

He’s followed by Bill English, who was at 5 last year, Alan Bollard (6), Steven Joyce (new), Tumu Te Heuheu (13), Pita Sharples (9), Rodney Hide (new), Helen Clark (1), Michael Cullen (2) and another newcomer to the list Gareth Morgan.

For the past four years the list has been a comprehensive one ranking 50 people in a variety of fields, this year’s list has the top 10 with 11 different lists of five for other categories.

They are: heroes topped by Willie Apiata VC; business & economy where Graeme Hart is number 1; Maoridom led by Federation of Maori Authorities chief executive Paul Morgan; the law where Sir Geoffrey Palmer is at number 1; agriculture topped by Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly; health & medicine led by Health & Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson; arts, culture and entertainment with Flight of the Conchords in the top spot; science and technology where science entrpreneur Jim Watson is number 1; the media led by Dominion Post editorTim Pankhurst; environment with David Parker in the top spot; and sport topped by Sparc chair John Wells.

Some observations on the list:

*  The only woman in the top 10 is Helen Clark who’s slipped from 1 to 8 and as there’s usually nothing so ex as an ex-Prime Minister she is unlikely to be in the list at all next year.

* There are only seven women among the 55 people on the other lists.

* The environment list is led by a former minister followed by Jeanette Fitszimons and Russel Norman, all of whome are now in Opposition.

* David Farrar of Kiwiblog is in the So close but missed the list  category under media which reflects the growing influence of the blogosphere.

UPDATE: The list isn’t yet on line but the print edition says:

And yes, the panel did consider the bloggers, but was not convinced that any of those opinionated voices were yet having a marked influence on Main Street.

It also notes:

A total of 55 people have appeared in the Power List in the five years it has been published by The Listener. Only four people have been on all five lists: Helen Clark, Michael Cullen, Alan Bollard and Graeme Hart. Ths is the first year neith Labour supremo Heather Simpson nor All Blacks coach Graham Henry has appeared on the list.

Of the total, just 27 (17.4%) have been women. And only 16 of the total (10.3%) live in or are strongly associated with the South Island.

Domestic affairs



None of us is an island


It’s easy when you’re busy to let the news pass over you and forget the real people and the pain behind the headlines.

So it was last week that the announcements of terror attacks in India and a plane crash off the coast of France registered as tragic but in a distant way because I had things to do and got on with doing them without thinking much about the tragedies and their impact on the people involved.

Then an email arrived from a friend saying one of those who died in the plane crash was a friend of hers and suddenly it wasn’t just a news item, it’s real person who has died, somone I’ve met, someone who leaves behind a wife my age, children a similar age to mine and a gap in a circle of friends which intersects with mine.

 John Dunne was right:

  No Man Is An Island

No man is an island, entire of itself 
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea, 
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, 
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee. 
                              - John Donne - 

NZ needs economic realism


The ODT says New Zealand needs to get real about the economy.

Rationing credit is rapidly becoming a reality for people without the cash or savings to complete purchases, . . .  But we need also to remember that only 35% of New Zealanders have mortgages.

In essence, conditions are returning to much as they were before so many New Zealanders jumped on the credit express, hoping that price inflation would make them rich.

The need for realism should be catching, not least by the Government which, with an economy by no means as endangered as some around the world, right now still must provide the direction and stimulus so that even under the credit restraints, momentum continues.

There has been some criticism that the New Zealand response should have taken place sooner, but this is hardly well founded.

The general election was bound to influence decision-making and at any event, both Labour and National parties had signalled a “mini-budget” would be required before Christmas.

It is quite right for the Minister of Finance, Bill English, to seek to bring people’s attention to the state of the economy and what is now being forecast for it.

Too many have been living in a fool’s paradise for far too long.

The Government, he said this week, would be putting a heavy emphasis on the economy and expected the public to start paying more attention to it.

As a start, attention should be paid to OECD forecasts of a decline in our gross domestic product this year and next year; the fact that we have entered recession ahead of other OECD countries; that the outlook for the economy is not good because of imbalances built up over the past decade including inflation, housing overvaluation, high household debt and a huge current account deficit; and an unemployment rate likely to climb to 6% from 4.2% now.

Balancing this bad news is the fact the Government is well placed to ease the burden of the downturn, with monetary policy being relaxed and fiscal expansion stimulated from a position of significant surplus and low debt.

. . .  World-wide, the torrent of bad news about the financial crisis just keeps getting worse, and nobody seems to be convinced that the various solutions being imposed necessarily will delay or avoid a global depression.

The vast public debts being built up in Britain and the United States as efforts accelerate to prevent catastrophe will also haunt governments – and taxpayers – for years to come.

Yet New Zealand, according to the best estimates, is more financially stable than most.

The Reserve Bank’s recent financial stability report is reassuring, and a good deal more transparency – such as mandatory credit ratings for finance companies – should improve investors’ confidence.

There is reason for cautious – and realistic – optimism, and Mr English’s financial package should help sustain it.

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