Political briefs - Friday, April 29

Last updated 05:00 29/04/2011

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Minister welcomes NZ's first three way kidney exchange 'Australia has no greater friend' - what Julie Bishop really thinks of New Zealand Greens call on Government to 'call in' major gas-fired power plant under RMA Auckland businessman William Yan set to head back to China for questioning Stacey Kirk: Grim prospects for suicide, as conversation goes quiet Security threats focus of Australian foreign minister's visit Stacey Kirk: tension still boils below the surface but cooler heads prevailing between New Zealand and Fiji Fiji Prime Minister extends personal invitation to banned TV journo Barbara Dreaver Cambridge locals barking mad at MP's response to dog breed law questions Fiji's Frank Bainimarama and Prime Minister John Key 'let bygones be byones' after diplomatic talks


Has the curse of John Key claimed another victim? It seems whenever the prime minister plans or takes an overseas trip a problem occurs at home. During the Apec leaders' meeting in Japan last year, the Pansy Wong affair, which eventually led to her political demise, blew up. Then Mr Key was forced to abandon two planned trips to Europe after the September 4 and the February 22 earthquakes in Christchurch. This week he finally made it to London to see the Queen, only to watch from afar as his support party, ACT, had a leadership meltdown.


ACT leader-in-waiting Don Brash has made a few verbal gaffes and memorable comments over the years, including his infamous reminder to Tauranga MP Bob Clarkson not to mention his testicles on the campaign trail. There was also the less-than-reassuring "No, I'm not completely baffled" reply to a reporter's question. Yesterday he briefly forgot the name of ACT MP Hilary Calvert, calling her Hilary MacLeod. We are not sure whom he was thinking of, but a search revealed a Canadian writer who penned the book, The Revenge of the Lobster Lover.


UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne was quick to attack after Don Brash's takeover of the ACT leadership. Mr Dunne may have been thinking back to 2002, when National was dog tucker and he benefited from centrist voters who wanted to give Labour an alternative to the Greens. Perhaps he thinks middle-of-the-road Labour voters will act in a similar way on November 26. He said 19 out of 20 voters would be horrified at the thought of a Brash-led ACT forcing National to the right. But he ducked a question about whether he would rule out backing a coalition if ACT was in it.


NZ First leader Winston Peters joined the chorus attacking ACT and Don Brash yesterday. He said the change of leader was "simply National completing its takeover of the ACT party in time to organise its election campaign". John Key, Don Brash and Rodney Hide had staged "a political soap opera" because National's polling showed it could not govern alone. Dr Brash had emerged "from the dust of National's archives" to tell ACT it was headed for oblivion unless he was leader. "It is very obvious that ACT knew he was coming and had the door open," he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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