Political briefs - Friday, April 29

Last updated 05:00 29/04/2011

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Politics

Could Jacinda Ardern's star rise further on a Mt Albert by-election win? New 'swimmable' fresh water targets are also 100% pure politics New Government target to see 90 per cent of rivers and lakes 'swimmable' by 2040 Auckland central's new Labour candidate to take on Nikki Kaye Peter Dunne proposes Civil Defence merger with new fire service after recent problems Alison Franklin wants to give back to Tararua through new councillor role Stand-down for employers who exploit migrants not enough: unions Pattrick Smellie: Bill English struggles to offload a billion dollars On oldie but a goodie: Joyce is playing the election year tax-cut shuffle Labour leader Andrew Little's divide and conquer 'not kaupapa Maori'

WHEN KEY'S AWAY IT'S TIME TO ACT UP

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.

BRASH HASHES UP HIS HILARYS

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.

DUNNE SOUNDS THE WAR DRUMS ...

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.

... AND PETERS SINGS IN HARMONY

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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