Today in politics: Saturday, March 1

Last updated 05:00 01/03/2014

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Steven Joyce backs down on changes to student loan borrowing John Key commits $20 million to help reduce agriculture emissions Resource management reforms win initial Labour backing Japanese whaling fleet departs for hunt despite international outrage Palmerston North to consider time limits for letting off fireworks Kiwi detainee allowed to be with partner as she dies from cancer Bill English brushes off Treasury report into anchor project viability More NZ retirees will become homeless without action on housing - Salvation Army Andrew Little dismisses impact of Nanaia Mahuta demotion on Maori support High flying costs New Zealand tax payers

Key joking defence of ACT's Whyte falls flat

Prime Minister John Key's attempt to make light of a blunder by ACT leader Jamie Whyte fell flat during a visit to Queenstown yesterday. Whyte raised eyebrows this week after comments suggesting the state should butt out of cases of incest involving consenting adults. During a speech Key joked that the usual question was "does your sister play golf", to which the response was "no she doesn't and I don't want to marry her either".

Key waves the banner for national flag debate

Meanwhile, Key continues to talk up the prospect of changing the New Zealand flag. He reiterated yesterday that a change was "certainly worthy of consideration" but it wouldn't happen without a referendum. The proposal has run into opposition from those who say it should remain unchanged from the flag Kiwi soldiers died under. But Key said the gravestones of soldiers on the Western Front bore the silver fern, not the New Zealand flag.

Commentators discuss Cunliffe's chief of staff

The appointment of working class warrior Matt McCarten as Labour leader David Cunliffe's chief of staff has sparked a rash of commentary, but it seems those on the Left such as commentator Chris Trotter can find the cloud in every silver lining. Blogger Bryce Edwards summed up Trotter's view: "This perceived shift to the Left could produce a crushing defeat for Labour, with severe ramifications for the ability of Labour to shift to the Left in the future."

No comment on sending webcam videos to spies

Prime Minister John Key is refusing to say whether New Zealanders have had images from their private webcam videos passed to international spy agencies. Documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed British spies intercepted and stored millions of Yahoo users' webcam images between 2008 and 2010. Mr Key said he "wouldn't want to offer a view" on whether it was legal to collect data from webcams.

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- The Dominion Post

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