Today in politics: Thursday, February 20

Last updated 05:00 20/02/2014

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Once flea-covered student flat one of the first inspected in Government crackdown Hekia Parata's trials and tribulations as Education Minister Why the selfie election has given way to the Facebook campaign Government moves to make dairy industry more competitive Shamubeel Eaqub: Immigration an emotionally charged topic John Key heads to India as Indian students face deportation from NZ over visa fraud Long-term infrastructure spending jumps $15b, but leans heavily on local govt Labour leader Andrew Little visits Marlborough for party's 100th anniversary Duncan Garner: A surplus of cash and a deficit of concern for people Government denies report NZ SAS in combat in Iraq

Thinned Labour ranks draw comment from Key

So notable were the empty Labour front benches yesterday that Prime Minister John Key broke Parliament's rules to mention it. Leader David Cunliffe was in Auckland, his No 2 David Parker was delivering a speech, and Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson was at Otago University's Orientation Week.

''At least we have actually got a government... because none of them is here today. Goodness knows where they are,''  Key said in answering an MP's question.

The eyes have it: Key fronts with new glasses

Meanwhile, Key was making a spectacle of himself  by sporting new trendy eyewear. The thick, black-rimmed glasses are from Californian surfer brand Salt. One wag joked he was more ''four eyes'' than ''Five Eyes''.

Another wondered if the glasses were selected by a focus group. Cabinet colleague Paula Bennett correctly picked that the stylish specs were chosen by his wife, Bronagh.

Peters hints at desire for foreign affairs role

NZ First leader Winston Peters returned to his happy hunting ground yesterday with a speech on foreign affairs.

In a blatant pitch for the portfolio post-election, Peters said: ''When we are influential after this election, we intend to give foreign affairs a high and immediate priority.''

He floated more aid to support democratic institutions in the South Pacific and better resourcing of Radio New Zealand.

Televisions channelled into recycling programme

More than  200,000 televisions were collected for recycling under a Government programme, Environment Minister Amy Adams says.

The TV TakeBack scheme aims to divert televisions from going to landfills.

''Hundreds of tonnes of recyclable material has been kept out of landfills,'' she said.

Orautoha School in Ohakune and Russell School in the Bay of Islands won a smart television and a home theatre system in a contest to increase participation rates.

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