Would showing a little empathy have hurt?

MIKE YARDLEY
Last updated 10:21 23/02/2013

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With so many thousands of spare spaces in the Christchurch schooling network, a degree of rationalisation, while never welcome, was unavoidable.

But did anyone seriously anticipate the minister of education would reverse so many of the proposed school closures? That, in itself, has blunted the potential storm of outrage.

I am stoked for the likes of Ouruhia and Yaldhurst Model Schools, who should never have been placed on death row.

Most of Tuesday's decisions appear to be well-founded, although the Phillipstown- Woolston merger strikes me as the most contestable. Both schools have healthy, growing rolls. And Phillipstown, which operates in one of our toughest neighbourhoods, has an exemplary record of achievement.

Last month, Prime Minister John Key reaffirmed his confidence in Hekia Parata, dubbing her a very "smooth communicator". And Tuesday's performance was as smooth as an oil slick.

Parata could not have been more polished, with her tightly spun, surgically crafted talking points. In the court of public opinion, demeanour speaks volumes. Parata delivered Tuesday's verdict as a calm, composed smiling assassin. It did not carry a tincture of raw empathy.

There was to be no emoting. Despite all the upheaval and mounting evidence of broken assurances, Parata was unable or unwilling to show a trace of remorse, let alone an apology. To have done so would not have been a sign of weakness. A little bit of humility takes courage - and would have gone a long way.

Timecheck

After pausing yesterday to reflect on 2011's fateful day, the quest for normality marches on. Yes, the road to recovery can seem endless, but a slew of Christchurch favourites are about to roar back into life. The gondola should reopen next month, as will New Regent St, restored to its pastel- hued 1931 pristine glory. Johnny Schwass opens his new Salisbury St restaurant in April and the sumptuous Heritage Hotel rolls out the welcome mat in May.

Plus, the city's signature trams should be back on the track in June. Slowly but surely, normality is within reach.

Power raid

As we bask in the bosom of big blue skies and summer's golden glow, which could well become Indian in tenure, power prices are probably the furthest thought from your mind.

But Mercury Energy has fired a shot across the bows, revealing it will ratchet up average prices this year, by 7.7 per cent. When Mercury first breezed into town, it vacuumed up thousands of customers with spectacular tariffs.

Oh, how the mighty has fallen. Consumer New Zealand states Christchurch's price leaders are Contact and Genesis (Genesis has a 12-month price freeze). Shop around. I did this week, effortlessly. Compared to a decade ago, switching suppliers is faster than a ferret up your trouser leg.

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