Sad about Health Minister Tony Ryall. Just at the peak of his form and he's going. No-one will really replace him. With his ties, that is.
To say nothing of the shirts he's worn around Parliament and in Cabinet over the years.
Nothing will ever match his mismatches.
Few would have the guts to wear some of his wonderful ties.
Hospital doctors apparently ban ties these days - something about a drooping tie picking up germs at the stage a stethoscope is on your bare skin.
How much will it cost to get charges dropped when, or if, police get a lead on the designer of the Christchurch CTV broadcasting building and charge him with false qualifications?
The money will, of course, go to survivors and the next-of-kin of the 115 who died when the building collapsed in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
That question follows confirmation by Fairfax Media, owner of this newspaper, that 12 health and safety charges against the Pike River mine manager Peter Whittall were dropped on December 12, and that $3.41 million is going to close family of the 29 miners who died in the mine explosion.
No question that those grants are absolutely justified.
At something like $110,000, they actually seem too little.
Surprise, surprise! ACT party spokesmen didn't like my column on education overseas and Partnership schools.
From David Seymour, ACT party candidate for Epsom and ministerial adviser to John Banks in 2012 responsible for Partnership School policy:
"Your ominous sounding string of anecdotal overseas failures is a poor way to argue that reaches weak conclusions.
"If you looked at the hard data you might see that New Zealand faces a real challenge. Economists' consensus is that inequality has grown in developed countries mainly because the value of education is growing and educational achievement is very unequal.
"Therefore, education is the key to a more equal society.
A reader's marking of my homework:
"When I read your column about charter schools I thought - like I frequently do about your columns - that you have it absolutely right.
"Like everything in this country, right wing politicians and lobbyists capture the conversation and seed a lot of nonsense jargon in the public discourse, especially around education.
"The work of Pasi Sahlberg gives even more reason to hold grave concerns about the way education in this country is going.
"Unfortunately, few governments ever give the education portfolio to anyone truly innovative or even effective, particularly at present.
The controversial and much-vaunted tactic of turning schools over to private enterprise - touted by ACT in New Zealand in its charter school policy - is in trouble in northern hemisphere countries.
Trends there should worry party tacticians who hammered out the deal that put John Banks into Parliament to push that charter system through. In return, the Key-lead coalition got an all-important majority of one.
But did the elected Cabinet buy a pup? One charter school is apparently already asking local schools to teach some subjects for it - meaning it can't do the job it's getting government money for.
Worrying northern developments include:
British taxpayer-funded academy chains have paid millions to private businesses of directors, trustees and their relatives. These facts were in documents obtained by The Guardian newspaper through freedom of information requests.
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