Today in politics: Friday, January 31

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014

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Politics

Stacey Kirk: Long knives being sharpened, but can Helen Clark stay clear of the blades? Below the Beltway: The week in politics Jo Moir: The Maori King has nailed his colours to the mast by shunning Labour Key washes hands of soap 'joke' but has he learned his lesson? PM on prison rape joke: 'It's nothing to do with me' Nick Smith is 'Milllion-dollar Minister' as average Auckland house passes $1m mark Jonathan Milne: There's only one answer to the housing bubble – gently deflate it Oscar Kightley: 'Unfairness at work continues, thanks to one u-turn' Jacinda v David: Put kids at the centre of the school funding debate Alice Wylie: The nonagenarian with a lifetime of political tales to tell

Fast-tracking process for rent disputes

Rent disputes before the Tenancy Tribunal will be rushed through under a new ''Fasttrack'' process announced by Housing Minister Nick Smith. It would cut the time taken to process most disputes from 12 days to two by removing the need for mediation when landlords and former tenants could reach an agreement. Rent arrears disputes made up 76 per cent of the 43,000 tribunal applications received each year, he said. Fasttrack starts next month.

Anzac award rebranded - now open to anyone

The Anzac of the Year Award now has the governor-general's backing in a move organisers hope will throw open the gong to ordinary Kiwis who may have thought it was an exclusively military accolade. The rebranded award is now known as the Governor-General's Anzac of the Year Award. It was launched yesterday by Sir Jerry Mateparae and Sam Johnson, organiser of Student Volunteer Army, who were made Anzacs of the Year in 2012.

Final day for Gallipoli centenary ballot entries

Today is the last day for Kiwis who want to attend the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landings to enter the ballot. Veterans Affairs Minister Michael Woodhouse said interest had been huge, with nearly 8000 people applying for the 2000 spaces open to New Zealanders. Spaces in Gallipoli have been limited due to the expected interest and the ballot passes are the only way to gain entry. The ballot will be drawn in late February, with successful applicants notified in March.

Unanimous support for gay rights in Russia

Parliament yesterday unanimously passed a motion in support of gay rights in Russia. The motion was from Green Party MP Jan Logie in response to new anti-gay legislation in Russia banning the distribution of information about homosexuality to children. With the eyes of the world on Russia ahead of the Winter Olympics, Ms Logie said she wanted to support the gay community and show New Zealand's disapproval of gay human rights abuses.

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