Today in politics: April 1

Last updated 02:33 02/04/2013

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'Australia has no greater friend' - what Julie Bishop really thinks of New Zealand Greens call on Government to 'call in' major gas-fired power plant under RMA Auckland businessman William Yan set to head back to China for questioning Stacey Kirk: Grim prospects for suicide, as conversation goes quiet Security threats focus of Australian foreign minister's visit Stacey Kirk: tension still boils below the surface but cooler heads prevailing between New Zealand and Fiji Fiji Prime Minister extends personal invitation to banned TV journo Barbara Dreaver Cambridge locals barking mad at MP's response to dog breed law questions Fiji's Frank Bainimarama and Prime Minister John Key 'let bygones be byones' after diplomatic talks Government denies report NZ SAS in combat in Iraq

'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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- The Dominion Post

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