Today in politics: Saturday, September 14

Last updated 05:00 14/09/2013

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Politics

Stacey Kirk: Surprise, it's austerity! How the Govt kept its budget secrets Grant Robertson, Bill English square off in housing debate The 'Mad Men' budget Oscar Kightley: When is a housing crisis not a housing crisis? When it's a passive-aggressive political row ... Rod Oram: Invest more in the economy, not less Climate change: NZ to pass important milestone within weeks TPPA, housing and child poverty protesters greet John Key on Palmerston North visit 'Fat people' to blame for tobacco tax: Winston Peters Schools will decide how to spend targeted funding for under-achieving kids Govt thinks about compulsory warranty to protect against building flaws

Dunne's agenda extends to Syrian humanitarian crisis

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne baffled journalists yesterday with a midnight embargo on a press release marking his "100 days in exile" – a list of the things he's achieved.

It might be he wanted to keep a lid on a tasteless quip that achieving a successful solution to the Syrian crisis was on his next 100 days agenda. "That might be easier than bringing the warring factions of the Labour Party together after the leadership vote," he wrote.

Takes more than turbulence to rattle finance minister

With brutal winds lashing one of the last aircraft to land at Wellington Airport before several flights were cancelled on Wednesday, one passenger kept his cool better than the rest.

Whether the state of the economy is a greater distraction or whether he simply has nerves of steel, Finance Minister Bill English barely flinched as the plane lurched through the fierce northwesterlies. He just kept on reading as many other passengers fought to stay calm.

McCully on mission to gain support for UN seat

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has left for the United States and the Caribbean to try to secure support for New Zealand's tilt at a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

He will attend the opening week of the UN General Assembly in New York along with Prime Minister John Key. He will also visit Caribbean leaders and stop in San Francisco to support Team New Zealand. Mr McCully said the trip was also an opportunity to debate issues such as Syria.

Welfare state in NZ chalks up 75 years

Today marks the 75th birthday of the welfare state in New Zealand. The Social Security Act, introduced by Michael Joseph Savage's Labour government, was passed by Parliament in 1938, ushering in free healthcare and a broader array of benefits.

Before the act, benefits were available only to widows, invalids, miners, the elderly and the blind. The NZ History website reports that the number of people then receiving a benefit rose from 42,600 to 230,000.

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