Today in politics: Wednesday, December 19

Last updated 05:00 19/12/2012

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Politics

Key washes hands of soap 'joke' but has he learned his lesson? PM on prison rape joke: 'It's nothing to do with me' Another minor National bill drawn from ballot amid Opposition complaints International media batter New Zealand's progressive social welfare legacy Parliament's public entrance goes smokefree, but total ban stubbed out Opinion maker: Tony Holman QSO on his vision for a better Auckland post local body elections Alexandra shows Prime Minister rural heart of New Zealand Petition calls for change to allow children to ride on footpaths Superannuatants form political party to stop Government taking their pensions Government urged to tear up surplus carbon credits, not use them to meet target

Maori water rights appeal cuts out middleman

The Supreme Court has granted an application to leapfrog the Court of Appeal to hear an appeal against the High Court ruling in the Maori water rights claim.

The Government was keen to fast-track the court case to clear the way for the partial privatisation of state assets, starting with Mighty River Power. Maori Council lawyer Donna Hall said yesterday that the council, which lost in the High Court, was pleased the application was approved.

Flat house prices tipped to keep spending down

The Treasury is downbeat on house prices. After a 6.5 per cent rise in the year to last March, mainly because of the buoyant Auckland market, it is picking that increased supply and rising interest rates will lead to house prices rising at less than the pace of inflation.

That would make households reluctant to take on more debt, and there would be a weakening of "wealth effects", the tendency for consumers to spend more when real estate values rise.

Greens grill frontrunner for Speaker's job

As always, the Greens are taking the processes of Parliament deadly seriously. Although rivals for the Speaker's chair, pending Lockwood Smith's resignation, have been talking up their credentials and lobbying all and sundry, the Greens have taken the business-like step of "interviewing" John Key's favourite for the job, Primary Industries Minister David Carter. Metiria Turei would not disclose his answers, but seemed satisfied with them.

SkyCity convention centre report delayed till new year

The Auditor-General's Office has put on the backburner the publication of a report into the process that led to SkyCity winning the right to build a convention centre. Last week it sent a draft to "relevant interested parties" for consultation and said it hoped to publish the final version this year.

But yesterday it said it had postponed it until next year, prompting speculation it included adverse findings that had caused one party to "push back".

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- The Dominion Post

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