Today in politics: Wednesday, December 19

Last updated 05:00 19/12/2012

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Politics

The 'Mad Men' budget 'Fat people' to blame for tobacco tax: Winston Peters Schools will decide how to spend targeted funding for under-achieving kids Key gets tough on Auckland with new policy forcing councils to release land Below the beltway: The week in politics TPPA, housing and child poverty protesters greet John Key on Palmerston North visit Govt thinks about compulsory warranty to protect against building flaws Jeremy Elwood & Michele A'Court: Paying the rent DHBs still being shortchanged, says Labour - unveils health map to highlight regional shortfalls Budget 2016: Changing super will be super hard, which is why John Key should do it

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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