Focus on Politics
6:45 PM.The Children's Commissioner has used his last State of Care report to warn that tens of thousands of vulnerable children could be in danger as the Government plans a massive overhaul of Child Youth and Family. Dr Russell Wills will finish up as Commissioner next week, after 5 years in the job. Political reporter Mei Heron spoke to him about what the future holds and asked him whether children are better off now, than when he took office.
6:42 PM.The numbers of refugees New Zealand will accept was boosted this week to one thousand people, to take effect from 2018 - the first increase in 30 years. The annual quota of 750 has not been raised since 1987. Emergency placements of refugees will also be doubled to 100, for each year in the next three years. There's been a strong campaign to double the annual quota to 1500, but the government says it still has to make sure those people moving to New Zealand have the support and services they need.
6:45 PM.The long term plan for the Defence Force was unveiled this week. It includes a major infrastructure upgrade, and a new focus on cyber security, in a world political leaders say is increasingly unstable and volatile.
6:45 PM.Labour and the Greens have made it official, signalling a formal working relationship, 18 months out from next year's general election. The agreement, represented by a memorandum of understanding, means they will work more closely on policy and campaign announcements - however they'll have their own distinct manifestos going into the election. The MOU also includes a "no surprises" policy which means the two parties will give each other prior notice of any major announcements and speeches. With political editor, Jane Patterson.
6:40 PM.The Finance Minister, Bill English, has delivered his eight Budget which he says delivers money to sectors under pressure - health, education and housing. But critics say the Budget has failed to provide basic levels of funding for schools and hospitals, and to address the Auckland housing crisis. With Deputy Political Editor, Chris Bramwell.
6:40 PM.The Director of the Security Intelligence Service has spoken out this week about her agency's role in the jihadi brides controversy. Rebecca Kitteridge has also addressed a Privacy Act exemption, that allows the SIS and the Government Communications Bureau to request or obtain personal data from both government departments and private companies. Here's our political editor, Jane Patterson.
6:40 PM.The depth of New Zealand's involvement in the global network of secretive trusts was laid bare this week by further revelations in the Panama Papers. The new information may have created big waves in Parliament, but the Government emerged unscathed.
6:38 PM.The fallout from the Panama Papers has continued to dog the Government this week. It's been just over a month now since the millions of documents from a Panamanian law firm showed how the world's rich and famous, including world leaders, hide their money offshore.
6:38 PM.As New Zealanders waistlines continue to expand, the lists of measures politicians say they are taking to combat obesity also grows. But there is fierce resistance to putting in place a tax on fizzy drinks, despite medical experts saying it would make a difference.
6:38 PM.New Zealand has made it clear to China during the Prime Minister's visit there this week that dairy access must be improved, as both parties negotiate an upgrade to the existing free trade agreement. While two-way trade has increased substantially since the agreement was signed between New Zealand and China eight years ago, many New Zealand businesses still face barriers in the Chinese market.
6:38 PM.The controversy over the use of foreign trusts to dodge tax has continued to dominate Parliament this week. The government bowed to pressure and announced a review of the rules governing foreign trusts. But opposition parties have persisted with their efforts to discredit the Prime Minister, and the man appointed to carry out the review, tax expert John Shewan.
6:38 PM.The government remains stubborn in its refusal to acknowledge New Zealand is acting as tax haven for wealthy foreigners, and possibly criminals. And senior ministers continue to insist there's no need to change the law to block people from overseas jurisdictions taking advantage of the disclosure requirements for foreign trusts, or the tax free status of income earned overseas.
6:38 PM.This week a major international study concluded that the War on Drugs has been a failure. It found that rather than stopping the trade and use of drugs, the so-called war had created parallel economies, increased the spread of disease and discrimination, and contributed to lethal violence. In New Zealand, drug law reform is a political hot potato, but as our Deputy Political Editor Chris Bramwell reports, change may be on the horizon.
6:40 PM.The financial squeeze on farmers is moving further into the political spotlight after dairy prices fell and Fonterra again cut its forecast payout. But the political debate around dairy broadened as the week rolled on, including a suggestion that a Labour future Government could intervene to force banks to pass on cuts in the Official Cash Rate. Here's our Deputy Political Editor, Chris Bramwell.
6:38 PM.A review of New Zealand's intelligence agencies has found the laws governing the SIS and the GCSB are clunky, inconsistent and preventing those agencies from properly carrying out their jobs. It recommends a single piece of legislation to govern both agencies, but alongside that is a recommendation to allow the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders, which it is explicitly forbidden to do under its current legislation. Here's our political editor, Jane Patterson.
6:45 PM.Gang members and their families are now in the Government's sights, with the release of a multi-pronged anti-gang initiative. The Police Minister, and the Minister of Social Development have announced a plan to gather more information, tackle illegal drugs and firearms, and to break up gang membership that has continued from one generation to the next.