Today in politics: Friday, February 22

Last updated 05:00 22/02/2013

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Politics

Beggars reveal what life is like on the street Fair trade pants hard to come by for Oxfam trailwalkers Good times on the water, political storm to come MPs' hidden talents: Statistics Minister Mark Mitchell has a handle on police dogs North Taranaki iwi welcomes first Government Minister in almost 100 years 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

Agency rises from coalmining tragedy

A stand-alone health-and-safety agency is to be set up in the wake of the Pike River mining tragedy. It was a key recommendation of the royal commission on Pike River, Labour Minister Simon Bridges said.

It would set a target of a 25 per cent reduction in workplace fatality and serious injury rates by 2020. Legislation was due to be introduced to Parliament in June and the agency would be in place by December.

Don't bet on it: Key backs down on SkyCity claim

Prime Minister John Key has been forced to back away from comments he made to Parliament that SkyCity approached TVNZ about acquiring land for the controversial convention centre. He said yesterday he had assumed the approach had been made – but that was not the case.

Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson said Mr Key's story was "shifting like quicksand". The TVNZ link appeared in an Office of the Auditor-General report published earlier this week.

Digital radio has air of colonial trading - Turia

The Government has rejected giving Maori a share of the valuable 700MHz digital-radio spectrum, suitable for 4G mobile networks.

Communications Minister Amy Adams said the spectrum, freed up in the switch to analogue television broadcasting in December, would be auctioned in the third quarter. will be freed up when country switches from analogue televison broadcasting in December.

A new $30 million tech fund will instead be targeted at Maori. Said Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia: "We're back to the beads-and-blankets days."

King: Political ping-pong over housing priorities

Labour housing spokeswoman Annette King says she is caught up in "a game of ministerial ping-pong without a ball – the ball being an answer" after asking Associate Housing Minister Paula Bennett to outline her goals and priorities.

The questions were bounced off to Housing Minister Nick Smith, back to Mrs Bennett and then back to Dr Smith where they are again overdue.

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- The Dominion Post

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