Today in politics: Tuesday, February 4

Last updated 05:00 04/02/2014

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Politics

New social housing accord Benefit figures at five-year low Labour auctions Tongan king's wine 'New low' for Prime Minister John Key- Greens Trevor Mallard loses in boundary reshuffle Adviser steps forward in defence of Collins Genesis shares list at a premium Stonewalling builds rumours Business backs Labour's manufacturing plan Inquiry call over farming and water quality rules

Key coy on minimum wage rise expected in April

Prime Minister John Key has all but confirmed the $13.75 an hour minimum wage will increase in April. But he would not be drawn yesterday on how much it would rise, other than to suggest Labour's pledge to increase the payment to $15 was only possible "one day". He said about 90,000 people were on the minimum wage now.

The Government's decision on how much to increase it would take into account what the market can pay without having to cut jobs.

PM refuses to be drawn on election date

John Key is still sending mixed messages about the likely election date, while vowing to name it soon. The November 15-16 G20 talks in Australia are crucial and he indicated the election should be held well in advance to ensure the prime minister could go - and that may only be known after vote counting and negotiations.

So the smart money is split between September 20 or 27 and October 11, but Mr Key teased he could also go to the polls well after the G20. 

Parliamentary Service does it again

The banking details of nine MPs were passed to Vodafone without their knowledge, in another privacy blunder by the Parliamentary Service last year.

A financial review by the government administration select committee has revealed the breach was caused by ''an electronically generated system error, but it is not known which MPs were affected''.  A manual system was being used to stop it happening again, the review  said.

Treasury predicts 'things are likely to be better'

The Treasury says a March interest  hike by the Reserve Bank is ''seemingly settled'' after it left the official rate at 2.5 per cent last week. Treasury boffins said attention would turn to how high rates would go and how they interacted with mortgage limits introduced in October.

The economy  picked  up in the second half of 2013, posing ''near term upside risks'' to its December half-year forecast. Rough translation? ''Things are likely to be better than we said.''

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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