Today in politics: Monday, February 25

Last updated 05:00 25/02/2013

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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 Businesses on both sides of Easter Sunday trading law coin Cycle bridge plan endorsed by majority of aspiring councillors Opinion maker: Tony Holman QSO on his vision for a better Auckland post local body elections Nod for Easter Sunday trading law gives councils power to decide Arthur Anae resigns over DHB's plan to sell land to the Government

TOMATO TWEETS UNNERVE STAFF

Spin doctors usually worry about tomatoes only if rotten fruit is being thrown at their political charges.

But sources say a recent tweet from Health Minister Tony Ryall, about the home-grown tomatoes harvested by his wife, caused disquiet among communications staff in the upper floors of the Beehive.

National prefers its MPs to be rigorously on-message when using social media. Imagine the anxiety if he went public with leeks.

ROYALS' FIRST VISIT TO NEW ZEALAND

Tonga's King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau'u Tuku'aho attended a service at Wellington's Wesley Methodist Church on their first official visit to New Zealand.

They will receive a state welcome at Government House today and finish their trip in Auckland on Wednesday.

The service was attended by members of Tongan churches from the Wellington region. King Tupou VI took over after his brother, George Tupou V, died in Hong Kong last March.

NATIONAL'S 12TH MAN RUNNING FOR COVER

Newly returned National MP Aaron Gilmore continues to make an impact - on the sports field at least.

Playing cricket for a parliamentary XI against a team of diplomatic staff, the list MP quickly ran out TVNZ political editor Corin Dann.

Mr Gilmore was then hit for three sixes before leaving the ground on MP business.

The Parliament team still prevailed. Mr Gilmore returned to the backbenches last week to replace former Speaker Lockwood Smith.

LABOUR POOH-POOH'S ACT'S HOUSING POLICY

ACT's annual conference this weekend launched new policy to improve housing affordability.

Proposed changes to the Resource Management Act would make it easier for home owners to build on their own land and to subdivide properties, leader John Banks said.

However, Labour Party leader David Shearer said it would lead to more red-tape and legal battles. "Tinkering around with the RMA is simply not going to do it," he said.

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