Today in politics: Wednesday, Feb 12

Last updated 05:00 12/02/2014

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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

Parata perfecting the art of political obfuscation

Education Minister Hekia Parata is shaping up as a worthy successor to the late Parekura Horomia as a master of opaque language.

Asked by Labour's Chris Hipkins what baseline cuts would be made to fund $30 million of property development, she replied: "None.

The ministry is reprioritising existing resources, informed by condition assessment data, to accelerate progress for specific schools identified as experiencing complex property issues."

Abbott keen to follow in Key's fiscal footsteps

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to follow New Zealand's lead by careful management and saying "no" to unwarranted spending proposals.

He believes his government's job is to make the economy more productive by bringing down taxes and reducing regulation. He noted that the New Zealand Government was on track to cut spending from 35 per cent of GDP to 30 per cent.

"They didn't do that through savage cuts," Abbott said.

Staying fighting fit crosses party lines

There was cross-party fitness harmony at Parliament yesterday. National MP and Minister of Labour Simon Bridges and Labour's primary industries spokesman, West Coast MP Damien O'Connor, were spotted together returning from a run on the Wellington waterfront.

When asked who was the faster of the two, Bridges was diplomatic, saying both were faster than National list MP Paul Goldsmith, who was trailing a long way behind.

Key gets his own back on Labour over expat Kiwis

John Key has been under fire all week from Labour for not taking a tougher line over Australia's treatment of expat Kiwis, including refusing them welfare payments and other benefits.

But Key returned the fire yesterday and had some fun at Labour's expense.

He quoted from a paper written by then foreign minister Phil Goff supporting Australia's right to make the 2001 changes foisted on New Zealand and hailing it as a breakthrough in the relationship.

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- The Dominion Post

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