Today in politics: Friday, March 21

Last updated 05:00 21/03/2014

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Politics

Ella Lawton hopes to fulfil mother's dying wish to take her place on Otago Regional Council Chinese Premier Li rejects steel dumping claim, cites larger NZ dairy exports Bill English says SAS inquiry unlikely after Defence Force attacks Hit and Run 'inaccuracies' Damning Afghanistan war report criticises lack of planning for NZ deployment Defence Force chief slams 'major inaccuracies' in SAS Afghanistan allegations Dave Armstrong: Where was the caution at time of raid? Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives in New Zealand for visit and trade talks ACT leader David Seymour says party can't afford any 'screw-ups' Labour accuses Government of planning to 'asset-strip' state houses from regions Ratings agency Moody's gives NZ economy highest possible rating

Robertson pours more milk on Collins' visit

Labour's Grant Robertson continues to snipe at Justice Minister Judith Collins over her visit to Oravida in China – a company run by her close friends and of which her husband is a director. "Judith Collins didn't just 'pop in on the way to the airport' as she has tried to claim," he said pointing to confirmation her visit to the milk exporter's Shanghai office was added to her official programme on October 11, 12 days beforehand.

Solid Energy was too optimistic on markets

The auditor-general has advised state agencies to adopt a "sceptical mindset" after reviewing lessons from the failure of coal miner Solid Energy. It said the company did not give sufficient attention to downside risk. "Nor did it think about a worst-case scenario and develop a contingency plan for dealing with the unlikely." Solid Energy took an optimistic view of the market for its wood pellets and also about coal prices.

Metal interests hammer Labour's pro-wood policy

Labour's "pro-wood" policy has drawn fire, with Metals NZ chief executive Gary Hook describing it as unfair for disadvantaging other building materials. "Labour's policy is picking winners, rather than letting the market decide on the best solution." But Rotorua mill owner Red Stag confirmed it would invest $120 million in a plant upgrade on the basis of the policy to force government-funded buildings of up to four storeys to consider wood as an option.

Barry gives advice on pruning Mallard

When Labour MP Trevor Mallard had a dig at gardeners, who better than National's gardening guru, Maggie Barry, to get out the rake? During the first reading of the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Amendment Bill, Ms Barry hit back, calling him "the ultimate dead wood". She advised that the best way to prune a plant was to cut the dead wood at its base. The bill passed its first reading.

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- The Dominion Post

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