Today in politics: Friday, March 8

Last updated 05:00 08/03/2013

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Politics

Govt should raise tobacco taxes by up to 50 per cent: smoking opponents Taranaki DHB may get smaller cut of health funding pie Housing NZ suing over alleged fraudulent invoices for state-housing work Ministry of Education boss says $19.5 million on office revamp couldn't be spent on teachers The political year has kicked off so here are 10 things to watch out for Police dismiss independent watchdog calls to change policy on fleeing drivers Te Puni Kokiri limited in monitoring government impact on Maori New hope for Hawaiki or Bluesky cable after Pacific Island leaders meet in Auckland No repeat of controversial NZ live sheep shipment to Mexico this season Metiria Turei returns with a surprise after a four-week sabbatical

KEY WARMS UP TO COFFEE CULTURE

Prime Minister John Key paid tribute to Colombia's other most famous export in Bogota yesterday. In a speech at the El Nogal club, Mr Key told an audience of Kiwi and Colombian business people that although the countries have a lot to learn about each other, "most New Zealanders would be familiar with your excellent coffee". He told them: "Our capital city, Wellington, is reputedly home to more cafes per head of population than New York City." 

WHEN A BONUS IS NOT A BONUS

It seems there are bonuses and "bonuses". Questions about the $23m paid to former Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder and his staff over the last two years saw new chairman Mark Ford attempt to draw the distinction. He said the "at risk" element of salary packages and incentive schemes were paid according to a formula and were part of individual or collective agreements. They were not bonuses. Bonuses were "discretionary", he said.

KIWIS TAKE A MIGHTY INTEREST IN POWER SHARES

The number of Kiwis who have pre-registered for Mighty River Power shares climbed past 200,000 yesterday afternoon. State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said the 200,000 mark was reached at 3.30pm. The bulk of pre-registrations - 89 per cent - were online, and the rest were divided between the call centre and smartphones. Those who pre-registered are first in line for Mighty River Power shares once they go on the market.

KELLY MAKES A POINT ON DROUGHT ASSISTANCE

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly has thrown support behind farmers getting drought assistance, but has made comparisons with how other "beneficiaries" are treated. Drought assistance "illustrates the importance of having a comprehensive social protection system that steps in when things go wrong, including the weather as in this case". But she noted farmers were working while they got the benefit, "presumably adding value to their assets"

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- Fairfax Media

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