Today in politics: Monday 18 March, 2013

Last updated 05:00 18/03/2013
Tony Ryal
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
PLAIN ENGLISH: Finance Minister Bill English.

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No extra security for Solid’s creditors
The banks are likely to feel some of the heat over the collapse of state coalminer Solid Energy in a sea of debt. English yesterday offered little comfort that lending to a government-owned business offered the banks extra protection. He said banks took a risk lending money to a company affected by a sharp downturn in coal prices. ‘‘They’ve got the same risks as banks who lent to resource companies all around the world that have got in trouble.’’

Waste minimisation given $4m boost
More than $4 million has been awarded to ‘‘innovative’’ waste minimisation projects around New Zealand, including one using recycled potato starch to produce more than 17 million compostable packaging trays. The Project Litefoot Trust has been awarded $197,000 to establish a recycling programme for sports clubs. So far the project has encouraged 60 clubs in the Wellington region to recycle paper, cardboard, plastics and food waste.

Japan’s trade talks decision hailed
Groups including Federated Farmers have welcomed Japan’s formal announcement it will join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks stretching across the Asia Pacific region. New Zealand is one of the founding members of the TPP talks which encompass 11 nations. Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said Japan was New Zealand’s fourth-biggest export market, worth $3 billion a year, so its entry to the TPP was a boost. 

English’s Budget  free of surprises
Finance Minister Bill English says there will be no big surprises in his May Budget. Speaking on TVNZ’s  Q+A he said the Government would stick  to a ‘‘fairly predictable’’ direction and  major tax reform was unlikely. There would be no change to programmes like Working for Families or student loans, which National pledged to leave largely intact. ‘‘There’s some ongoing tidying up been going on, particularly in the tertiary education sector.

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