Today in politics: Tuesday, March 18

Last updated 05:00 18/03/2014

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Motorcades and high level security are the perks of travelling with the PM: Brendon McCullum US Secretary of State tipped for NZ visit Methamphetamine contamination guidelines 'misused' to evict tenants Mental health workers clock up big hours PM Paula Bennett? What the Westie warrior could do while she's in the hot seat New Zealand's as close as it's ever got to a free trade deal with India - John Key Prime Minister John Key would have attended Helen Kelly's memorial service if he could John Key officially welcomed in New Delhi ahead of meeting with Indian counterpart Former GNS Science chief executive was highest-earning CRI boss on $800,000 India cranks up security a notch for Prime Minister John Key's visit

Extra border recruits to beef up 'front line'

Another 26 border staff have begun training as part of efforts to beef up frontline resources, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says. "Close to 125 new quarantine inspectors have joined MPI in the last 18 months and this is another big boost in resources."

Graduating mid-year, the recruits will be posted around the country. "While there is increasing use of technology and intelligence to protect our border, we still need people on the front line." 

Cunliffe: Insurance move a timebomb

Labour leader David Cunliffe says the insurance industry is overseeing ''a ticking timebomb'' by moving to sum-insured policies, leaving thousands underinsured. The insurance ombudsman had made it clear insurers often failed to give homeowners  an accurate idea of how much to insure.

It showed the need for a locally owned firm to raise standards, he said. But Labour has given no guarantee its KiwiAssure would eschew sum-insured policies

Parata 'shying away' from schools shake-up

NZ First deputy Tracey Martin has taken a swipe at Education Minister Hekia Parata, who has ruled out - pre-election - performance-based school funding.

''She is now shying away from comments that suggest a big shake-up in education if National wins the election,'' Ms Martin said. She called on boards and parent-teacher groups to join teachers opposing such moves

Parliament cuts power use but bills still mount

The seat of power has cut its energy use, but its bills keep rising. Between 2012 and 2013, Parliament's usage fell from 10.55 million kilowatt hours to 10.47 million kW,  but its bill rose from $1.38 million to $1.46m.

Green MP Gareth Hughes said his party's policy would slice 8 per cent off commercial bills, saving Parliament $120,000 a year. He said current prices meant efforts to cut usage were not being sufficiently rewarded.

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- The Dominion Post

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