National News Brief, Monday November 10

Key in a rush to establish government; Phil Goff tipped to lead Labour; tax cut legislation before Christmas; NZ First future unclear; property prices down 6.8 percent; and more

Prime Minister-elect John Key is hoping to put together a government within a week so he can attend Apec, which will focus on the global financial crisis, reports the Herald. He meets with Act and United Future today. If successful in satisfying the Governor-General he has the necessary numbers, Mr Key could be flying to Peru next Tuesday to represent New Zealand at Apec, accompanied by his picks for Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, and Trade Minister, Tim Groser.

Outgoing Trade Minister Phil Goff seems set to lead the Labour Party after Helen Clark resigned from the leadership following Labour's defeat on Saturday. Deputy leader Michael Cullen resigned yesterday. Health Minister David Cunliffe has said he will not seek leadership but he is still tipped for the deputy's role, reports the Dominion Post. Party president Mike Williams is expected to resign later this month with union leader Andrew Little a favourite to replace him.

John Key and National are expected to push through tax-cut legislation before Christmas. Other priorities are establishing support for the newly jobless and funding 52 weeks of Herceptin treatment for breast cancer patients, reports the Dominion Post. John Key's family will not be joining him in Wellington's Premier House, preferring to stay in their Parnell home, reports the Press. Mr Key says he will be returning to Auckland for weekends.

Defeated NZ First leader Winston Peters--outgoing Racing Minister, Foreign Minister and Associate Minister for Senior Citizens--has been given 28 days to clear out his Parliament office; his staff have just five days. Peters has not informed his staff and loyal supporters of his future plans, reports the Press. Despite losing all seats in Parliament, NZ First remains the country's fourth most popular party, the Herald points out, collecting more votes than Act, which emerged from the election with five seats.

Property prices have dropped 6.8 percent in the past year according to QV Valuations. Across Auckland prices are down 7.7 percent but there is steady buyer interest in the mid to high end of the market, reports the Herald. First home buyers, attracted by slashed prices, are having trouble securing finance because they have been unable to come up with large enough deposits to satisfy banks' more stringent requirements.

In further depressing real estate news, a Bay of Islands farm valued at $7 million is selling for $2.4 million in a mortgagee sale. Owner Skip Tayler said he had been unable to make any interest repayments on his $3 million BNZ loan since May.