The key events in our political economy this week included still-low inflation figures keeping interest rates on hold for at least another year, house price inflation bubbling along outside of Auckland and Christchurch and worsening a productivity problem, the re-emergence of a debate over whether councils should collect and spend income and consumption taxes, and Donald Trump's tearing up of the American-led post-war order that is forcing Europe and others, including ourselves, to look for alternative trade and security partners.


This week marks the 25th anniversary of New Zealand First, a party which has had three stints in power under Winston Peters. The party has survived personality clashes, sackings and a stint in the political wilderness - but where does it go next? Sam Sachdeva takes a closer look.

The Government's recent public media funding announcement has been called into question by some, including Newsroom columnist Bryce Edwards . In a response to Edwards, NZ On Air chief executive Jane Wrightson argues the "twin pillar" approach with her organisation and RNZ makes more sense than has been suggested.

KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy is moving to head Fletcher Building's troubled construction division and Trevor Janes is stepping down as KiwiRail chair. MBIE's James Stevenson-Wallace is replacing Carl Hansen as the Electricity Authority's CEO. Hamilton's former mayor Julie Hardaker will become the new chair of the Environmental Protection Authority to replace Kerry Prendergast and Simon Botherway is joining the board of the Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. Transparency International appointed Julie Haggie to a newly created CEO role.

Here's a few longer reads on political, economic and social issues from around the world for your weekend.

Fitch Ratings flagged a downgrade for New Zealand-based Credit Union Insurance Ltd, trading as Co-op Insurance NZ, citing uncertainty about the proposed sale of the company's entire business book to Provident Insurance Corporation.

Crown research institute GNS Science almost hired controversial private investigators Thompson & Clark to provide security for an offshore research project - only to pull the pin over fears of bad media coverage. Sam Sachdeva reports.


Former MP Peter Dunne asks why the Foreign Minister and Defence Minister have chosen to provoke China and Russia in their latest Defence Review. He sees it as a spurious, vainglorious and risky move for a small trading nation.

Funds from the sale of Hawkins Construction to Downer EDI were recycled back into the leftover businesses to settle a claim on a major project, wind down the remaining projects, and prepare for a growing number of legal disputes, the receiver says. Paul McBeth reports on company wind-ups after quake rebuild and leaky building claims that means almost 1,000 contractors are owed about $44 million.

The Financial Markets Authority may take regulatory action against three financial services firms after its latest probe into replacement life insurance. BusinessDesk's Paul McBeth reports.

New Zealand's banking minnows loaned more aggressively in the first three months of the year, a period advisory firm KPMG noted as showing a deterioration in asset quality which contributed to smaller sector profit. Paul McBeth from BusinessDesk reports.


Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters says Donald Trump’s latest comments about Russia are “horribly confusing”. But Peters himself appears to be confusing matters regarding allegations of Russian interference in US politics, as Sam Sachdeva writes.

Annual inflation continues to run low, suggesting there’s still some capacity in the economy that will help the Reserve Bank keep interest rates at record lows well into next year, writes Thomas Coughlan.

The Labour Party came into office promising great things for public broadcasting, for radio, television and new media. So far, the signs are they aren’t going to deliver. Part of the problem, according to Dr Bryce Edwards of Victoria University, is that the debate often centres around technology, such as formats, rather than how public good media should be funded and produced.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has addressed the annual gathering of mayors and councillors, calling for improvements in water quality, but shying away from full council amalgamations, as David Williams reports.

The Russian operative charged with trying to form relationships with people high up in US politics, Mariia Butina, was pictured in this photo of a meeting between Russian officials and Donald Trump.


Two groups charged by the last government with finding a solution to the freshwater management problem have been put on pause as the Labour-led coalition forges its own way ahead. Sam Sachdeva spoke to the groups’ chairs about their work, and the challenges in finding a way to resolve freshwater issues.

The architect of a bill designed to impose mandatory country of origin labelling on food says he's disappointed with how the bill has been "gutted" by the select committee considering it. BusinessDesk Sophie Boot reports.

Fletcher Building has picked up KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy to head the company's construction division, which oversees the problematic Buildings + Interiors unit.

New Zealand's services sector activity, which accounts for about two-thirds of the economy, slowed to its smallest expansion in June since December 2012, according to the BNZ-BusinessNZ performance of services index (PSI). BusinessDesk's Rebecca Howard reports.

Councils want the power to collect or receive GST and income taxes so they can pay for expensive infrastructure needed for population and tourism growth. Bernard Hickey argues they would need to improve their governance and accountability first.

New Zealand's online retailers are doing surprisingly well against global gorillas such as Amazon. Newsroom technology columnist Richard MacManus finds local distribution centres and the rise of online grocery sales are helping.