Today in politics: Thursday, July 19

Last updated 05:00 19/07/2012

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Politics

Michael Woodhouse 'happy' with treatment of Chinese rail engineers NZ concerned over Bali Nine executions John Banks wants acquittal due to Dotcom now having two lunches One Kiwi dead after Nepal earthquake Borrows defends two week Speaker's European trip as money well spent Labour won't let acting PM off the hook over ponytail Handful of Kiwis unaccounted for after Nepal earthquake McCready takes aim at John Key over ponytail saga Q&A: John Key's Middle East trip Beehive Live: MPs return

MINISTER'S BUILDERS JOKES TICKLE MPS' HUMOUR

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson says having identical homes could bring down the costs of building new houses but he told the social services select committee that New Zealanders might not be ready for such a culture change.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern said the concept already existed in New Zealand. "It's called Hamilton."

Mr Williamson had MPs laughing for much of his appearance, particularly when he explained that before licences were introduced, all you needed to be a builder was "a cellphone, a dog and a ute".

ALL-OFFICE EMAIL MAY BE ENDURING LEGACY

It’s always wise to re-read your emails before you send a message to the entire department. Deputy Solicitor-General Matthew Palmer – son of former prime minister Sir Geoffrey – raised eyebrows with a pointed missive this week, explaining he was leaving after not scoring the top job.

He told Crown Law staff he was persuaded to stay on last year until the new solicitor-general was appointed. ‘‘I did apply for that position but was advised this week that I have been unsuccessful.’’ An announcement from Attorney-General Chris Finlayson is imminent.

GOVERNMENT BACKED INTO BUDGET-VETO CORNER

The Greens have accused the Government of abusing its power after it used its financial veto to block a proposed law change by MP Holly Walker. The amendment would have stopped Work and Income from cutting a parent’s benefit if the child would be left cold, hungry or homeless as a result.

“The Government says it can’t afford to let my amendment pass because it has already budgeted on saving $128 million by slashing the benefits of parents who won’t be able to comply with its new work-testing obligations,” Ms Walker said.

'DECLUTTERING' MAY COVERSOME OF $114M SHORTFALL

The headache from the $114m hole in the books created by the class-size backdown is not getting much better. Education Minister Hekia Parata yesterday told a marathon select committee hearing that 90 per cent of spending in the portfolio was nailed down, leaving only a small amount to plug the hole. Ms Parata suggested some cash could be found by stripping away compliance-driven activities.

‘‘There is potential through some of that decluttering for there to be some savings but it will not be to the extent of the $114m,’’ she said.

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- The Dominion Post

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