Today in politics: April 1

Last updated 02:33 02/04/2013

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Politics

New social housing accord Benefit figures at five-year low Labour auctions Tongan king's wine 'New low' for Prime Minister John Key- Greens Trevor Mallard loses in boundary reshuffle Adviser steps forward in defence of Collins Genesis shares list at a premium Stonewalling builds rumours Business backs Labour's manufacturing plan Inquiry call over farming and water quality rules

'Honourable bloke' former MP Freer dies

Former Labour MP Warren Freer died on Friday. Born in 1921, he became an MP at 26 and spent 34 years in Parliament. Mr Freer served as a minister in the third Labour government. In 1955 he became the first Western politician to visit communist China.  He held the Mt Albert seat, also the electorate of former prime minister Helen Clark and now Labour Party leader David Shearer. Mr Shearer said Mr Freer was an ''honourable bloke who stuck to his guns''.

Basic rules have to apply, Labour tells new Speaker

After  the expulsion of two Labour MPs from the House this week, new speaker David Carter is still under pressure from the Opposition. Labour's chief whip Chris Hipkins says Mr Carter doesn't have to be like former Speaker Lockwood Smith ''but some basic rules have to apply''. ''He said right from the outset he was going to find it very difficult to move from being a very political actor ... and certainly ... that's been the case.''

Workers on adult minimum wage get 25c an hour more

The adult minimum wage rises today by 25 cents to $13.75 an hour. Labour MP Darien Fenton says it will be swallowed up by an increase in KiwiSaver contributions and student loan repayments, which also come into effect today. ACC levies are also  going up.  About 17,000 people on the War Disablement Pension and Surviving Spouse Pension will also get  a 5 per cent boost from today - an extra $11.43 a week for veterans or $8.43 for surviving spouses.

Minister looks at feasibility of reopening crossing

The Government is looking at whether it should reopen the full Tongariro Alpine Crossing next summer, or re-route the track. The popular tramping track was closed after Mt Tongariro exploded in November and an exclusion zone remains near the  craters. Conservation Minister Nick Smith said he was exploring options with the Department of Conservation, GNS  and local residents.  A decision will be made by the middle of the year, Dr Smith said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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