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Today in politics: Friday June 28, 2013

Last updated 05:00 28/06/2013

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Politics

Helen Clark's chances at the UN take a hit after a late entry in the race Jury retires in Colin Craig defamation trial NZ race relations: new start or new low? Massey racism provokes call for university name change Productivity Commission says interest should be put back on student loans Greens reshuffle their lineup: New MP and new finance and health spokespeople 'Liquidate your business and then we can help' - injury cripples couple, but it could be worse Presidential election hype follows US expats to Marlborough Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown signs off after 20 years on council The race debate - will it rise again?

Defence tributes set in stone

Plaques commemorating New Zealand's overseas deployments will be unveiled in Parliament's debating chamber on Tuesday alongside plaques marking major battles of the past. Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said one would mark the completion of the 10-year provincial reconstruction team in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, in April. Families of those killed and wounded in Afghanistan would be present. Other plaques would honour peace missions back to 1948 and the end of the mission to East Timor.

Key touches base

Prime Minister John Key planned to speak to both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd to share commiserations and congratulations about the events across the Tasman. Mr Rudd was sworn in yesterday as prime minister. Mr Key was warm in his praise for Ms Gillard, for whom he had ''enormous respect''. 

Work and Income kiosks back online

New self-service kiosks are being trialled at Work and Income's Willis St, Wellington, site. The kiosks were closed after a blogger revealed they could be used to access private information. Work and Income deputy chief executive Debbie Power said if the new kiosks were successful they would be progressively rolled out nationwide from next week. She said the kiosks had been rigorously tested by independent security experts.

Open skies agreement a done deal

Agreement has been reached liberalising air services agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. The Qatar deal is awaiting Cabinet approval but the Kuwait and UAE agreements have been authorised and are awaiting signing. Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said they were cornerdhstones of the NZ Inc Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Strategy. ''These open skies agreements pave the way for more direct flights to and from the GCC region.''

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