Today in politics: Tuesday, September 25

Last updated 05:00 25/09/2012

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Politics

Will English and Joyce ring the changes? Smiles, selfies and fitting Christchurch farewell for John Key National party heavy hitters throw their weight behind Paula Bennett for deputy Prime Minister Best of the west: Bridges or Bennett? Gibbston Valley Concert liquor licence approved Ultra-fast broadband rolled out on Waiheke Island A safe pair of hands - but can Bill English fill John Key's shoes? English hires Key's chief of staff Eagleson in sign of 'continuity' Legal cannabis in NZ? Green Party offers green light to pot smokers Below the Beltway: A week in politics

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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