Focus on Politics
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.
6:40 PM.Five years on from the devastating Christchurch earthquakes and there are still thousands of unresolved insurance claims and delays to the government's so-called anchor projects. The Government is adamant things are tracking as they should. But Labour says it's time for a deadline to be put in place for claims to be settled and for the local council to play a leadership role in rebuilding the city. Our political reporter, Demelza Leslie, investigates.
6:43 PM.The Government earmarked $2m for emergency housing in Auckland in September last year but that money still hasn't been spent. The funding is intended to provide an extra 120 emergency housing places a year for families and individuals. Opposition parties have questioned the delay in distributing the money, saying the Government needs to make emergency housing a priority. Political reporter, Amelia Langford, looks into what's stalling the process.
5:30 PM.The political sparring began in earnest this week, with the official start of Parliament.
5:10 PM.The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been signed in Auckland this week but not without controversy. Opponents of the 12-nation free trade deal argue it's a trojan horse that will undermine New Zealand's sovereignty and leave the country vulnerable to lawsuits from big international corporations. The Government will now hold roadshows around the country to try to sell the benefits of the TPP to the public but some say they've left it too late. Our political reporter Amelia Langford takes a look at why this particular trade deal has been so contentious.
6:43 PM.The political year's begun in earnest with party leaders including the Prime Minister delivering speeches this past week positioning themselves for the year ahead. It's already been a turbulent start to the year with international stock market volatility, and continued debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Our political editor Jane Patterson sat down with the Prime Minister John Key to discuss the year ahead and the Government's priorities.
6:43 PM.The Labour Party plans to set out most of its major policy this year ahead of the 2017 general election. It will also continue to work closely with the Greens as the two parties try to present what they think an alternative Government will look like. Our deputy political editor, Chris Bramwell, talked to Labour's leader Andrew Little about his plans for the year ahead.
5:33 PM.The former Climate Change and Trade Minister, Tim Groser, is leaving politics to replace Mike Moore as New Zealand's ambassador to the United States.
6:34 PM.The Government's ended the year cautiously optimistic about the state of the economy.
6:34 PM.New Zealand's dairy industry is touted as one of the best in the world, especially in terms of its treatment of animals - but is there a dark side?