Today in politics: Wednesday, February 20

Last updated 05:00 20/02/2013

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Politics

Maori Party co-leaders warn the Labour Party's grip on the Maori seats is loosening Taking a sledgehammer to homelessness Bill English attends Ratana for first time as Prime Minister - and a day earlier than expected '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

Chauvel's departure a Dunne deal

Ohariu MP and UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne was clearly buoyed by news his old rival Charles Chauvel was quitting and heading to a job at the United Nations. Mr Dunne tweeted from Dubai airport: "Ready to board Melb/Auck flight. After what's been happening in NZ today certainly seems time to come home to join the fun."

In 2011, he won the seat with 14,357 votes but was pushed close by Labour's shadow attorney-general who got 12,965 votes.

McCully celebrates turning 60

How time flies. It was a mere 26 years ago, in 1987, that a fresh-faced Murray McCully, the former enfant terrible of the National Party, first entered Parliament.

Yesterday – no longer an enfant – Mr McCully celebrated his 60th birthday surrounded by staffers, some of whom were barely born when he was first elected as a 34-year-old MP for East Coast Bays. In the interim he was the MP for the renamed seat of Albany before it reverted to East Coast Bays.

Little likely to step up to Chauvel's spot

Mr Chauvel's exit had the rumour mill churning about who would pick up the shadow attorney-general job in Labour leader David Shearer's looming reshuffle. The job normally goes to a lawyer, though former finance minister Sir Michael Cullen has held the role.

Lawyers are not that thick on the ground in Labour's ranks, with the most prominent being former attorney-general David Parker, Lianne Dalziel and the most likely candidate, Andrew Little.

Where there's smoke, there's Winston

Winston Peters had plenty to say on plans to introduce plain packaging for tobacco. "If it's so clever why not have plain alcohol packaging?" He was more coy on his own smoking habits, refusing to clarify if he still indulged.

"Listening to tawdry, prying, snooping questions from you is not what I'm going to do," he said.

Reporters drew their own conclusions from the waft of cigarette smoke and breath mints.

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- The Dominion Post

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