Today in politics: Thursday, December 12

Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013

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Government plays up cuts to back office staff, despite Treasury blow-out 'No eureka moment' from Australian govt on deportation rules - Andrew Little Public watchdogs need to bare their teeth over misuse of OIA, taxpayer events Andrew Little given 'good hearing' on Kiwi rights in Australia despite pushback Greenpeace protesters charged over boat boarding Runway extension: Mayors excited but Joyce not ready to loosen purse strings Philippa Howden-Chapman highlights NZ's increasingly embarrassing housing crisis Faces of Innocents: Promises, promises TPP deal sits in the hands of the weakest link Christmas Island deportee too ashamed to tell family he's back in New Zealand

An international man of mystery

Prime Minister John Key may have been one of the many dignitaries at Nelson Mandela's memorial service, but he was clearly not as well known as some.

A caption with a New York Daily News photograph managed to identify his British counterpart, David Cameron, but called Mr Key "an unidentified guest". The photo gallery identified Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, even though he has been in the top job for only a few months.

Three more cities named as targets for housing law

Housing Minister Nick Smith has announced that Christchurch, Wellington and Tauranga will be added to its legislation aimed at addressing home affordability.

They will be added to the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act, which could allow the Government to take steps to fast-track development. Dr Smith said meetings with mayors and councils revealed ''broad agreement that homes have got too costly in these areas''.

Lawmakers change rules of succession

New Zealand is now able to have a Queen regardless of whether she has younger brothers, after Parliament passed a new law changing the rules of royal succession.

Changes to the rules mean the order of succession will no longer be based on gender and will allow an elder daughter to precede a younger son as heir to the throne. The Royal Succession Bill puts in place changes agreed in 2011 by the 16 realms sharing the Queen as head of state.

Plan to clarify rules of parliamentary privilege

New legislation has been introduced to change the rules of parliamentary privilege, including defining ''the proceedings of Parliament'' to include official advice to ministers answering parliamentary questions.

It follows an adverse Supreme Court case. The change wille also ensure that statements made outside the House that endorse or affirm words said inside the chamber are protected.

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- The Dominion Post

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