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Peter Doone - Contact Directors Fees - Paul Holmes - Millennium Baby - School Standards - Surfing Death - Immigration Consultants - Sex Grades - Japanese Whaling - GM Research - Peter Blake's New Yacht - Clean Green NZ? - Editorial: Peter Doone

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PETER DOONE: Police Commissioner Peter Doone has resigned his $275,000-a-year post but will stay on full pay until September, working in the Prime Minister's department. He will then retire. He quit after two top-level reports criticised his conduct on election night last year when he spoke to a rookie constable who had stopped a car driven by his partner, Robyn Johnstone.

CONTACT DIRECTORS FEES: A small shareholder in electricity giant Contact Energy has stopped six directors from more than doubling their fees. David Zwartz said it seemed the non-executive directors had a "snouts in the trough attitude" when they tried to increase total directors' fees from $219,000 to $465,000.

PAUL HOLMES: Paul Holmes started radiotherapy for prostate cancer two days ago and will not return to work until the treatment is over, likely to be in late March. The broadcaster said last night that he felt no different after the first treatment, but he had been told it would make him more tired as he progressed through the 33 sessions.

MILLENNIUM BABY: A front-page story in the Weekend Herald about New Zealand's first millennium baby was followed by a series of attacks on the paper by celebrity agent Andy Haden and the head of Woman's Day magazine. Former All Black Haden - speaking to various media organisations - accused the Herald of "unsavoury tactics" in gathering its story.

SCHOOL STANDARDS: The right of parents to know how their child's school is performing has been challenged by a study which argues that failing schools may best improve away from the glare of publicity. In the study on why some schools fail, two Massey University educationists criticise the publicising of bad Education Review Office (ERO) reports.

SURFING DEATH: Seven minutes is a long time when you are gripping a surfboard with one arm, a dead man with the other, and being pounded by waves in the gloom off the west coast south of Auckland. Daniel Whiston was surfing at Karioitahi Beach at 8 pm on Monday when he saw 21-year-old Tevita Siulangapo bobbing in the waves 100m away and paddled over on his board.

IMMIGRATION CONSULTANTS: Immigration scams ripping off would-be residents have given impetus to the Government's push towards registering consultants. The Minister of Immigration, Lianne Dalziel, said yesterday that she would soon receive an official paper on the issue and begin consultation with the industry.

SEX GRADES: Fifth-formers will be graded on how much they know about sex and drugs in an optional subject under the planned secondary school qualification Achievement 2001, says a lobby group for teachers. Peter Calvert of Concerned Teachers, a new Christchurch-based lobby group, said yesterday that few parents knew about the finer points of the health achievements standard, which is part of the qualification set to replace school certificate next year.

JAPANESE WHALING: New Zealand has delivered a terse response to Japan's strongly worded protest over Wellington's tougher stance against its "scientific" whaling programme in the Southern Ocean. Prime Minister Helen Clark yesterday urged Japan to stick to the substance of the dispute instead of making jibes about her backing for Greenpeace's campaign to stop all whaling.

GM RESEARCH: Every application for controlled work on genetically modified organisms has been approved by the Environmental Risk Management Authority, briefing papers to the Government show. But the authority says it would be wrong to assume that all applications will be approved.

PETER BLAKE: Sir Peter Blake's new boat is no superyacht. Nor is it a sleek America's Cup racer. In fact, there is no other boat in the world quite like it. Day and night, curious passersby on the Auckland waterfront tap the strange aluminium hull, asking the French crew if it is a submarine - with sails. Yesterday, as he clambered on board the Antarctic Explorer in torrential rain, Sir Peter dubbed it Noah's Ark.

CLEAN GREEN NZ? - The image of New Zealand as clean and green does not match the reality and changes must be made to protect the economy, the Government has been warned. The Ministry for the Environment claims in briefing papers that New Zealand trades on its reputation as having a clean, healthy environment but there is "a gap between perception ... and the reality."

EDITORIAL - PETER DOONE: As long as a month ago, Police Commissioner Peter Doone should have stepped down. It was apparent then that, whatever the outcome of the Police Complaints Authority inquiry into his role in a late-night police stop in Wellington, his position had become untenable. A demoralised and embarrassed police force needed a new face at the top. As December turned to January, it was increasingly obvious that Mr Doone would find no white knight among the ranks of the new Government. The commissioner was not so much damned by faint praise; he was forsaken. Signals from the Government suggested he had lost the confidence of the cabinet and should either step down or be sacked.

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