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Parliament Today:

Werewolf: The Defence Pretence

Last year, the world began spending more money on weapons again, for the first time since 2011... New Zealand belongs to a region – Asia and Oceania – where military spending rose sharply in 2015, by 5.4 per cent. More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On Not Crying Foul, Argentina

So a couple of guys found to be criminally liable of environmental pollution in Argentina lodge an application with the Overseas Investment Office… in order to buy some prime New Zealand rural land. Seems that their factory back home had carelessly and/or intentionally discharged toxic waste into the Lujan river. Bummer... More>>

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Urban & Rural: $303m To Merge And Modernise New Zealand’s Fire Services

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne today announced funding of $303 million over five years to combine urban and rural fire services into one organisation from mid-2017. More>>

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High Trust Regime: What Did The PM Tell His Lawyer About Foreign Trusts?

The Government stopped the IRD from reviewing New Zealand foreign trusts shortly after the Prime Minister’s lawyer wrote to the Revenue Minister claiming John Key had promised him the regime would not be changed. More>>

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Road Crime: Wicked Campers Vans Classified As Objectionable

The definition of publication includes any "thing that has printed or impressed upon it, or otherwise shown upon it, 1 or more (or a combination of 1 or more) images, representations, signs, statements, or words", The Classification Office has previously classified such 'things' as billboards, t-shirts, and even a drink can. This is the first time the Classification Office has classified a vehicle. More>>

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'When New' Repairs: Landmark EQC Settlement

The Earthquake Commission has cut a deal with 98 Canterbury homeowners that affirms the government entity's responsibility to repair earthquake-damaged property to a 'when new' state, as well as covering repairs for undamaged parts of a property and clarifying its position on cash settlement calculations. More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On Kiwirail’s Latest Stint In The Dogbox

The denigration of Kiwirail continues. The latest review (based on a 2014 assessment) of the options facing the company have enabled Kiwirail to be hung out to dry once again as a liability and burden on the taxpayer. More>>

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Royal Society Report: Good Opportunities To Act Now On Climate Change

There are many actions New Zealand can and should take now to reduce the threat of climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy, a report released today by the Royal Society of New Zealand finds... More>>

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Paris Climate Deal Signed: Bennett 'Taking Advice' On Cancelling 'Dodgy' Credits
Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett is "taking advice" on whether to cancel some or all of the so-called 'dodgy' carbon credits bought mainly by power and petrol companies to cover New Zealand's future obligations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On Having An Extradition Treaty With China
Reportedly, an extradition treaty with China is now on the table, although – thankfully – Prime Minister John Key has also indicated that a lot of detailed work would be required before any such arrangement took final shape, much less came into force... More>>

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Fewer Beneficiaries: Social Development Stats Don’t Add Up - Labour
“It should be of significant concern to the Minister that there has been a decrease in the numbers of people who are going into employment or full-time study when they come off the benefit... A drop in beneficiary numbers can only be deemed a success if families are in fact better off." More>>

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Caring About Food: Community, Unions, Politicians Unites Against Hospital Slop
Community groups, workers’ unions and Opposition parties are all calling on Southern District Health Board to bring food services back in-house and release commercial provider Compass from their 15-year contract. More>>

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UN Policy Meeting: Dunne On World Drug Problem
The Outcome Document to be ratified at this meeting is broad, but New Zealand notes with strong regret the failure to achieve consensus on inclusion of reference to the death penalty... It has been a welcome development in recent years to see the shift away from treating drug issues as primarily a law and order responsibility, to a health focus, but let us not rest on our laurels. More>>

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Lyndon Hood Satire: Information Shearing
Finance Minister Bill English has highlighted his plan for expanded information sharing between government departments. Scoop was able to construct the following interview with Mr English based on a weighted neural multivariate analysis of publicly-available metadata. More>>

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Jane Kelsey: Government Seeking To Stymie Report On TPPA
"Why the government suddenly announced it is fast-tracking the report date for the select committee considering the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) from the end of May to 4 May is now clear. It gives the Waitangi Tribunal three rather than seven weeks to produce its urgent report..." More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On Our Fearless PM’s Foray Into China
Don’t mention the South China Sea dispute. Oh, but he will! Earlier this week, the image of dauntless Prime Minister John Key not backing down in the face of alleged Chinese intimidation would have done him no harm at all with the voters back home... More>>

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Labour Reshuffle: Kris Faafoi Promoted To Shadow Cabinet
Kris Faafoi has been promoted to Labour’s Shadow Cabinet and receives the Tourism portfolio while Clayton Cosgrove takes on a business outreach role – a move prompted by Mr Cosgrove’s decision to not stand at the next election, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little. More>>

Trials Concelled: Further Work Before Online Voting Proceeds
Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston has announced that the online voting trial proposed for this year’s local body elections will not proceed... “Public confidence in local elections is fundamentally important. Given real concerns about security and vote integrity, it is too early for a trial,” says Ms Upston. More>>

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Now Unbanned: Gordon Campbell On The Banning Of A Leading Iranian Film-Maker
Last month, Iran’s Foreign Minister visited here and discussed avenues for resuming trade with New Zealand. This week, New Zealand chose to ban a temporary visit by the distinguished Iranian film-maker Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, winner of 20 international film awards. More>>

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Labour: Auditor-General Must Investigate Niue Deal For Donor
John Key must come clean on how a donor who gave more than $100,000 to his party during a tender process, won a hotel management contract which led to a Government-funded, $7.5million upgrade to the resort, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On Political Rhetoric (And The Dark Triad)
New technology is wiping out the sort of jobs in the retail sector, white collar professions and transport industry that up until now, have sustained the middle class… Simultaneously, governments are watching the tax revenues that might enable them to respond to social need – assuming they felt inclined to do so – vanish into offshore tax havens. More>>

Controversial Maori Land Changes: Flavell Forges Ahead With Te Ture Whenua Act Reform
Maori Affairs Minister Te Uruora Flavell has surprised political opponents by introducing a Te Ture Whenua Act reform bill to Parliament, arguing that drafting changes and consultation in recent months meets the concerns of last year's Waitangi Tribunal report criticising the reform process. More>>

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UNICEF Report: Growing Inequality Among Children In Rich Countries
New Zealand is ranked 17th [in the OECD] for inequality in income... In education inequalities, the tables place New Zealand in 35th place with a drop in educational attainment for children at the bottom, in the period 2006-2012. More>>

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"Don’t Forget Foreshore And Seabed": Kermadec Sanctuary Legal Challenge
The lessons of foreshore and seabed must not be forgotten and the Crown should not by legislation run rough-shod over Māori interests... Labour supports Te Ohu Kaimoana’s legal challenge being determined before this legislation proceeds. The Crown must allow this to happen and honour the outcome, says David Parker. More>>

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Transparency: Pecuniary Interests Of MPs To 31 Jan 2016
Since 2006, members of Parliament have been required to register a range of pecuniary and certain specified personal interests as set out in clauses 5 to 8 of Appendix B of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives... More>>

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Price Near $1bn: Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Must Dump The Dam
The Green Party is calling on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and its investment arm HBRIC to stop pumping public money into the Ruataniwha Dam, and call the project off. More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On Political Tokenism Over The Panama Papers
Prime Minister John Key could have dealt with the clamour for an independent inquiry into the Panama Papers scandal in a variety of ways. He could have – for instance – set up a public inquiry, as was done in the mid 1990s, in the wake of the Winebox tax shelter revelations. Not a chance. More>> [Image by Grant Buist.]

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Public Health: Fluoridation Decision To Move To DHBs
DHBs rather than local authorities will decide on which community water supplies are fluoridated under proposed changes announced today by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne. More>>

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Wait Times Longer, Many Miss Out: Doctors Decry 'Dismal Situation'
“The latest survey findings are further dismal evidence that people are not getting the surgical treatment they need, and the Government needs to act to remedy this,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS). More>>

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"Serious Shortcomings": SIS Mishandles Info Collected For Security Vetting
The Inspector-General found strengths but also some significant shortcomings in NZSIS practice that did not meet standard data protection requirements. The report makes a number of recommendations to improve the way in which the NZSIS stores and uses vetting information. More>>

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