Today in politics: Tuesday, February 26

Last updated 05:00 26/02/2013

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Politics

Scholarship exam fees a barrier for low decile schools - Labour NZ First leader Winston Peters keeps mum on deputy coup rumours Transport Minister Simon Bridges stands by Northland promise Auckland to get a third of $13.9bn national transport fund MPs have better access than most when it comes to getting a rugby ticket Chris Laidlaw elected new GWRC chairman, rates set at 9.8 per cent New Zealand plans to focus on Mid-East on the security council Northland leader Sonny Tau forced to step down as Nga Puhi negotiator New Zealand not immune to Greek crisis fallout: John Key Editorial: Digital communications statute a threat to free speech

ARTFUL LOADING IN LABOUR RANKS

National was quick to mock Labour’s reshuffle for its many-headed arts and culture roles led by deputy leader Grant Robertson with associates Jacinda Ardern and Darien Fenton all in the top 20.

Minister Christopher Finlayson tweeted: ‘‘Surprised to see Labour appoint 3 Arts spokespeople. More surprised to learn 2 of them have been in that job for over a year now.’’  

He then noted Mr Robertson and Ms Ardern ‘‘are actually back in the portfolio after a year’s break, following Herculean efforts in 2011’’.

KEY ON COLLEGIATE: PARATA DID THE RIGHT THING

Not surprisingly, Prime Minister John Key says Education Minister Hekia Parata ‘‘did the right thing’’ by agreeing to integrate Wanganui Collegiate into the state system.

Despite recommending against it, she eventually used her ‘‘sole discretion’’ to give it the go-ahead after her cabinet colleagues made it clear what they wanted. Mr Key said it was a difficult decision and a ‘‘line-ball call’’ on the basis of the school’s long history, good record and strong support in the community.

PM HEADS TRADE VISIT TO LATIN AMERICA

Mr Key is to lead a trade delegation to Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Brazil next week. On the 10-day trip, he will hold talks with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos Calderon; Chilean president Sebastian Pinera; and President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff.

He will be the first foreign leader hosted by the new President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, and the first New Zealand leader to make an official visit to Colombia. His wife Bronagh and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy will travel with him.

HIPKINS TO BE SHEARERED FOR CHARITY

Newly promoted Labour MP Chris Hipkins is losing his flame-haired locks for charity. The Rimutaka MP has agreed to allow leader David Shearer to shave his head on the steps of Parliament for the Shave for Cure event, which raises money to fight leukaemia and blood cancer. ‘‘I will be shorn by a Shearer,’’ he joked.

Mr Hipkins hope to raise $1000. His breakfast TV co-star National’s Jami Lee Ross was also invited to take part, but declined.

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