Latest updates: On the campaign trail, Oct 22

3.40pm: Maori Party wants Maori seats entrenched
The Maori Party has left National in no doubt that the retention of the Maori seats in Parliament is the bottom line for any coalition deal. National has signalled it wants to abolish the seats. The Maori Party today released a policy priority statement saying the seats will stay as long as Maori want them to and that they want them entrenched. Entrenchment means that it would take 75 percent of Parliament to vote for their abolition.

2.25pm: Woolerton fails to toe party line
New Zealand First MP Doug Woolerton has admitted he was "hugely embarrassed" by the Owen Glenn donation scandal and its fallout.

The Waikato Times today reported the list MP made the comment last night at a candidates' meeting in Hamilton.

It came as he was asked if he was embarrassed by the privileges committee hearing into NZ First leader Winston Peters' failure to declare a $100,000 donation to his legal costs from billionaire Owen Glenn.

"I was hugely embarrassed. That was unfortunate but the parliamentary committee did its job," Mr Woolerton responded.

2.15pm: Three who share a common bond
The leaders of three of the minor parties addressed students at a University of Auckland forum today, and the one thing they agreed on was that the government's bank loan guarantee scheme needed fixing.

NZHerald roving reporter Edward Gay was there and filed this report.

2.00pm: Nats believe 'home detention' is flawed
National leader John Key said today his party would limit who could get home detention and would impose longer sentences for abusing or killing children.

Mr Key said home detention sentences were too easy to get and it should only be available to low level offenders.

National would reassess whether home detention was an appropriate sentence for people convicted of violent, sex and drug charges.

Penalties for those who abused or neglected children would also be increased.

12.55pm: Raising the IQs of both NZ and Aust?
National Party Finance spokesman Bill English believes he knows where to lay the blame for the net loss of 82,000 kiwis abroad in the past year - the Labour Party.

"Over the past nine years Labour has totally failed to deal with the causes of this wave of emigration. The latest statistics underline the critical need to improve economic growth, cut needless red tape, and introduce more focused government spending," he said.

82,000 people is the highest loss for a year ended September since 1979 and the second-highest total loss of people for a year ended September in recorded history.

"At least 47,000 of these people went to Australia. These are the same people who Michael Cullen described as 'innumerate' and said 'we were probably better off without them,' added English.

12.15pm Exercise your democratic right
Advance voting has opened for the November 8 election.

Advance votes can be cast by voters who are unable to get to a polling place in their electorate on election day.

Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden said more than 250 advance voting places would be available from today for people to vote.

There would also be special arrangements for some electorates.

They include sending ballot papers by boat to Pitt and Stephens Islands, visits by officials to communities along an 80km stretch of the Whanganui River and voting vans travelling around the Kaikoura and West Coast electorates.

He said staff would also visit hospitals and rest homes.

12.10pm Know us if you want to join us
One News at midday is reporting that the Maori Party say new immigrants should be cognisant with New Zealand history - with particular reference to the Treaty of Waitangi - as part of their entry criteria.

To quote from their just-released policy document:
"...To compete globally it is important that new citizens share our understanding of history.
* All new citizens to complete a course in the history of Aotearoa and the Pacific as part of receiving citizenship."

11.45am: Key brings message to the heartland
Herald reporter Paula Oliver tracked down National leader John Key in Taranaki, where he addressed a small crowd of predominantly rural residents in a milking shed just outside of New Plymouth.

Mr Key's off-the-cuff speech touched on the Emissions Trading Scheme - drawing groans from the assembled farmers.

However Key urged them to think longer-term, saying that although ACT said it would scrap the ETS, the real losers would be farmers if nothing was done to address climate change issues.

He cited the on-going droughts in Australia and the difficulties being faced by farmers there.

Mr Key will head into New Plymouth early this afternoon to deliver further details about National's law and order policy.

11.20am: The best-laid plans ...
Green Party MP Sue Kedgley's plan to catch the Johnsonville train into Wellington to launch her party's transport plan for the city was derailed this morning.

The trains were off track for a couple of hours while maintenance work was done on the lines.

Ms Kedgley was able to get a replacement bus instead.

The Greens' transport strategy for Wellington aimed to eliminate congestion in Wellington, make public transport affordable, and reduce carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.

A Tranz Metro spokesman said trains were up and running again shortly after 10am.

"It just happened to be that Sue Kedgley's train was one of the those caught in the bus replacement but we still got her into Wellington."

9.35am: Early childhood education push
Education Minister Chris Carter announces funding of $9 million over two years to develop nine new early childhood education services on existing school sites in south Auckland.

He said early childhood education participation rates were lower in the Counties Manukau area than in other parts of the country.

9.10am: Lockwood lapses into stereotypes
The Marlborough Express newspaper is reporting a potential racist gaffe by National's immigration spokesman.

Campaigning in Blenheim yesterday, National MP Lockwood Smith reportedly said Asians have "small hands that make them more productive" and Pacific workers need to be "taught to use toilets and showers".

He suggested the the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme (RSE) be expanded to include workers from Asia, since "they are better at pruning because their hands are smaller."

He added that some Pacific Island workers, here on the scheme, are having to be taught basic social skills like "using the bathroom", which was an unfair burden on their employers.

8.35am: PM making quick stop in Taupo
Prime Minister Helen Clark is campaigning in Taupo today and the visit could prove crucial to the region's sitting MP.

The Taupo seat is held by former cabinet Minister Mark Burton who may struggle to hold on to it as boundary changes are seen to give National's candidate Louise Upston an advantage.

Mr Burton won the seat by just 1285 votes in 2005.

8.20am: Nats to focus on dealing with crime
National is expected to make further announcements about its law and order policy today.

Leader John Key has told people at a public meeting in Pukekohe south of Auckland that bail and issues regarding the length of sentences will be covered, particularly in relation to crimes committed against young people.

Mr Key is expected to release full details of the policy in New Plymouth today.


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