Today in politics: Monday, August 13

Last updated 05:00 13/08/2012

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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'

SIO'S COMMENTS MAY COME BACK TO BITE HIM

Mangere MP Su'a William Sio, who got himself into hot water for saying Labour could lose the 2014 election over Louisa Wall's gay marriage bill, faces a stern telling-off in caucus tomorrow.

He may also face flak for "throwing stones in glasshouses" with his comments that the party had more important things to concentrate on.

Such as jobs, perhaps?

On Thursday, Labour made much of the rise in official unemployment to 6.8 per cent. But from its employment spokesman – none other than Mr Sio – not a peep or a press release.

CROWN SOLICITORS LEARN TO LIVE WITH FUNDING CUTS

Crown solicitors are more than a month into a new regime "to ensure ... services can be delivered within a reduced level of funding".

Aka "how to live with cuts".

Under the interim plan, effective from July 1, individual lawyers have been given a "billing cap" based on their previous billing and relative efficiency.

Meanwhile, Crown Law is also considering other ways to cut costs, including fewer having managers.

Other projects include looking at the nature and extent of legal work undertaken by Crown Law and the extent to which it should "brief out" work.

PETERS ATTEMPTS AGAIN TO ORCHESTRATE MEDIA FOCUS

Winston Peters reprised yesterday his lecture to the media not to concentrate on the race between National and Labour.

Instead, he wants media to focus on the wider MMP battle, and to look at the makeup of the whole of Parliament.

Of course, most commentators do already assess the sizes of the Left and Right blocs, so it is something of a straw man for the NZ First leader to attack.

And would it be churlish to suggest that Mr Peters could make the whole exercise more precise by signalling clearly which bloc he should be counted in?

LABOUR TAKES KIWIRAIL TO TASK OVER STAFF LAYOFFS

Labour transport spokesman Phil Twyford is questioning why KiwiRail is laying off 181 workers despite boosting its freight business by 25 per cent in two years.

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn has also said it is cutting spending by $200 million through reprioritisation.

Mr Twyford said it was absurd that KiwiRail was cutting spending to help fund the Government-imposed target of $4.75 billion extra capital expenditure.

"If the Government can find $12 billion for uneconomic roads it can provide support for our embattled railways."

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