Today in Politics: Saturday, February 22

Last updated 05:00 22/02/2014

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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 Explainer: What is the Government doing about child abuse? Dr Patrick Kelly: The health system can help on child abuse 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

From Ukraine to McCully, Ashton covers a lot of ground

European Union Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton is in New Zealand next week for talks with Murray McCully. Last month she attempted to broker peace talks in Ukraine and yesterday announced the EU had imposed sanctions on the troubled state after deadly clashes. Baroness Ashton has also been involved in diplomacy over Iran's nuclear programme. She is a former leader of the House of Lords and trade commissioner for the European Commission.

Peters' claims have Nats all atwitter

What did politicians do before Twitter? Winston Peters' state-of-the-nation address had National ministers tapping away angrily on their smartphones. Judith Collins, Steven Joyce and Maurice Williamson hopped online to scotch his claims about the economy, immigration and Huka Lodge ownership. Tweet of the day, however, went to backbencher Paul Foster-Bell who wrote simply: ''Time to stop making stuff up Winston.''

Joyce suggests students should get part-time work

Steven Joyce also had cause to be grumpy with Victoria University students' association, which challenged the tertiary education minister to live on $173 for a week after he claimed that the amount students can borrow to live on has risen with inflation. The students said he was ''out of touch''. Mr Joyce responded that many of those on student allowances or student loans (which are about the same amount) could ''top that up with part-time work''.

Bennett:  Benefit for staff in young Sabin's speech

Darryl Sabin, son of Northland MP Mike Sabin, has a big fan in Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. After a catastrophic brain injury in 2009 cut short a promising professional rugby career, Darryl launched a motivational speaking company. Mrs Bennett was urging her staff to hear him deliver his ''Shit Happens'' speech at the Ministry of Social Development in Wellington on Monday. She was ''blown away'' by the 23-year-old's presentation. 

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