Today in politics: Tuesday, September 25

Last updated 05:00 25/09/2012

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Politics

Taking a sledgehammer to homelessness Bill English attends Ratana for first time as Prime Minister - and a day earlier than expected Christchurch City Council opposes plan to give district health boards power to decide on fluoridation 'Labour has to step up' for Maori, Turia says ACT leader David Seymour calls for action on housing affordability US scrapping TPP bad for NZ - English Sugar content too high in nearly half the drinks Kiwis kids can buy, study finds American ex-pats show their colours as hundreds protest Donald Trump's inauguration in Wellington Sam Sachdeva: Greens take the lead as parties prepare candidates for 2017 election David Slack: No need to go overboard

HOLE APPEARS IN PLAN TO MONITOR BENEFICIARIES

After admitting the Government would not be able to monitor all beneficiaries under new rules, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett fhas conceded she also doesn't know how many are already failing drug tests, because the Social Development Ministry does not record details of those who have failed pre-employment drug tests. Under new rules, benefit payments could be cut when a person failed, or refused to take, a drug test.

MAYOR BROWN IN CAPITAL TO SUPERSIZE CITY FASTER

Auckland Mayor Len Brown will be at Parliament today hoping to rally ministerial support for the city's bid for a one-off exemption from the Resource Management Act. The council wants to expedite the process for its Auckland Unitary Plan - a strategy of the local and district town plans brought together when the super-city was formed. The exemption would allow a streamlined RMA approach with a longer submission period, but appeals restricted.

MORE HELP GIVEN TO EASE SYRIAN REFUGEE CRISIS

New Zealand will provide $500,000 through the International Committee of the Red Cross to help Syrian refugees and people affected by conflict in Lebanon. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said unrest in Lebanon was creating a deepening crisis.  ''With no clear end to this conflict in sight the refugee situation is likely to deteriorate further and international action is required.'' New Zealand has already given $1.5 million for refugees in Turkey and Jordan.

PSA PROMISES ENGLISH SOME STRAIGHT TALKING

Finance Minister Bill English will face the music at the Public Service Association's conference in Wellington today when he gives a speech to the 160 delegates. National secretary Brenda Pilott is promising some tough questions. She said the delegates wanted to give a clear message about the impact of state sector cuts - job losses, unsustainable workloads, loss of expertise, low morale and job security concerns.

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