Today in politics: Friday June 28, 2013

Last updated 05:00 28/06/2013

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Politics

Death follows birth and passports online as NZ's digital transformation continues Government 'very keen' for stronger trade ties with Iran Peter Dunne's Ohariu seat could be crucial if the election is close Bill English says employers are regularly telling him that Kiwis can't pass drug tests Labour won't win a 'change' election by looking the same Labour's David Parker calls for 'swimmable' test to reflect when and where you take a dip KiwiRail says 'Kaikoura effect' cuts surplus Bill English downplays high demand for emergency housing grants Chris Trotter: Labour's future has a single name National MP Paul Foster-Bell to stand down at election

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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