Today in politics: Thursday, February 20

Last updated 05:00 20/02/2014

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Politics

Number of cycle helmet fines drops from 11,000 to 5500 in two years Labour leader Andrew Little makes Pike River re-entry bill an election promise Beggars reveal what life is like on the street Fair trade pants hard to come by for Oxfam trailwalkers Good times on the water, political storm to come MPs' hidden talents: Statistics Minister Mark Mitchell has a handle on police dogs North Taranaki iwi welcomes first Government Minister in almost 100 years Green lawyer hopes to be first refugee to win a seat in Parliament MPs' hidden talents: Kris Faafoi turns to guitar for 'a bit of an escape' The truth about inequality in New Zealand

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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