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Playing politics with petrol, Leading law faculty in ‘crisis,’ say insiders, Secret deal on finance firm lawsuits

In NBR today...

Staff reporter
Fri, 17 Feb 2017

In NBR today:

Tim Hunter writes that new Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins’ market study of fuel retailing “to determine how fair petrol and diesel prices are at the pump” is a faultless political strategy. “It looks like action on an issue of public concern, namely rising fuel margins, while avoiding any dangerous commitment to do anything about it.”

Meanwhile, Rodney Hide argues the problems with the recently announced inquiry into petrol pricing are deep and devastating. “The government has no clue what the petrol price should be and no way of knowing the correct margin. And if the price is somehow wrong, is it seriously suggesting regulating it?” That would be even stupider than the inquiry, he writes

Jason Walls says the University of Auckland has denied staff claims that its law school is in “crisis mode.” Just weeks before the start of the university year, faculty members are fuming over an increase in student numbers and a string of recent resignations by key academics.

Morale is said to be at an all-time low, and further resignations are predicted, he writes.The controversial boost to the student roll has also copped criticism from senior members of the legal fraternity.

Nathan Smith writes that the use of unmanned aerial vehicles – aka drones – in New Zealand’s primary industries is picked to grow rapidly in the next few years. “By giving farmers access to near-real-time imagery of crops and stock, the technology will help improve profitability by assisting them to fix basic, hitherto intractable problems.” Meanwhile, Sally Lindsay explains how robots and drones will revolutionise the construction industry.

Airline technology company Phitek was sold to US-based Amphenol for $60 million last month, Campbell Gibson writes. It was a good outcome for the company’s three main shareholders, who rescued it in 2011. Others are far from happy, however, with accusations of poor governance, an unfair share revaluation and “alternative facts” flying thick and fast.

Tim Hunter says a High Court claim against litigation funder LPF Group has drawn attention to the exit agreement for two of its former directors. When Paul Lindholm and Trevor Janes left LPF in 2012, their deal saw a restraint agreed to prevent the funder from becoming involved in litigation against failed lender Capital + Merchant Finance. The claim relates to a $7.8 million settlement in litigation against Capital + Merchant’s trustee and legal adviser, which LPF subsequently supported.

Fiona Rotherham writes that Brett O’Riley has been accused of recklessly spending millions of ratepayers’ money during his five years running Ateed, Auckland Council’s economic development agency. The Ateed CEO says he’s all for accountability and transparency. But, as he anticipates his September departure, he also insists Ateed needs to “get on and get things done” if the council’s serious about economic transformation and making Auckland one of the world’s leading cities.

All this and more in today's NBR Print edition. Out now

Staff reporter
Fri, 17 Feb 2017
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Playing politics with petrol, Leading law faculty in ‘crisis,’ say insiders, Secret deal on finance firm lawsuits