National News Brief, Wednesday November 12

John Key's cabinet taking shape; John Banks slashing Auckland budget; bankruptcies up by a third; Phil Goff a workaholic; answers for David Bain; and more

John Key could name his cabinet as early as Sunday and be sworn in as Prime Minister on Wednesday. As many as five ministerial portfolios could be handed out to Act, United Future and the Maori Party, reports Dominion Post political editor Tracy Watkins. National MP Lockwood Smith is in the running to become Speaker, reports the Press. He created controversy during the campaign by saying Asians tended to have small hands and some Pacific Islanders didn't know how to use a toilet.

Auckland Mayor John Banks has unveiled a drastic plan to keep council rates at the level of inflation. A 10-year plan proposed this week would slash hundreds of millions in spending on basics such as footpaths, public transport and storm water drainage, reports the Herald.

Bankruptcies are up by one third on a year ago. In the 10 months to October, 3938 people were declared bankrupt or entered into the new No Asset Procedure, which wipes clear debts of less than $40,000, reports the Herald.

Next year the economy is expected to grow by less than one percent, according to Westpac Bank's Economic Outlook report. Houses are still overvalued by 15 percent and unemployment could rise to 5.6 percent, says the report. The global economic crisis meant perhaps three years of slow growth, said Westpac chief economist Brendan O'Donovan.

New Labour leader Phil Goff is a workaholic, according to the Herald, rising at dawn, breaking from work at 10pm to play squash, and finishing his working day at 1am. He is said to be very media savvy and to have avoided publicly "stuffing up" or getting on the wrong side of public opinion. Mr Goff says the new National-led government could last just one term, after making commitments they might not be able to keep, reports the Press.

David Bain will know early next month whether the Privy Council will hear his case for acquittal on five counts of murder. If unsuccessful, he faces a new trial in Christchurch in February, reports the Otago Daily Times. Bain was found guilty in 1995 of murdering his mother, father, two sisters and brother.