Today in politics: Thursday, December 13

Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012

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Politics

MPs' hidden talents: Statistics Minister Mark Mitchell has a handle on police dogs Labour leader Andrew Little makes Pike River re-entry bill an election promise North Taranaki iwi welcomes first Government Minister in almost 100 years Fair trade pants hard to come by for Oxfam trailwalkers Green lawyer hopes to be first refugee to win a seat in Parliament MPs' hidden talents: Kris Faafoi turns to guitar for 'a bit of an escape' The truth about inequality in New Zealand Labour, Greens team up for joint 'state of the nation' event in Auckland Matt Lawrey competes against Nick Smith as Green Party candidate for Nelson MP Labour approaches former Police Association president Greg O'Connor about running in 2017

Smith hails success of changes to House rules 

In the final parliamentary speech of the year, Dr Smith said changes to the rules had improved the House's efficiency, with only 9.5 hours of urgency and 35.5 hours of extended hours out of a total 543 sitting hours. The year had seen 125 bills get the royal assent with three waiting.

In all, 1100 oral questions had been answered and 34 member's bills had been introduced. Only two members had been "yellow carded" or ejected from the chamber.

Report on SkyCity deal for convention centre drafted

The auditor-general has completed a draft report into the process the Economic Development Ministry followed when it chose SkyCity to develop a national convention in exchange for more pokies and an extension of its licence. Interested parties have the draft, but some have not received its conclusions.

It is understood only Prime Minister John Key and Gerry Brownlee have full copies. The AG wants to publish the final report before December 31.

Christmas spirit lacking for Bridges

National's Tauranga MP Simon Bridges raised eyebrows with an intemperate attack on Labour leader David Shearer in the final debate before the House rose for the summer break.

Mr Bridges at one point gestured towards his head and said Mr Shearer was "thick" and a "loser" and Labour should dump him. Clearly Mr Bridges lacked Christmas cheer after Mr Shearer's more humorous contribution in one of his best speeches of the year.

Speaker confirms he will quit to be London envoy

Speaker Lockwood Smith has confirmed he is leaving, saying yesterday was his last adjournment debate. He will be off to London as high commissioner next year. He thought he may be getting too old for the place when he did not pick up Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee's reference to The Simpsons in a question last week.

Meanwhile, Labour has made public its backing of Maurice Williamson for Speaker rather than John Key's choice, David Carter.

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- The Dominion Post

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