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New Zealand Herald

Screwdriver Gang – Unemployment – Cocaine Bust – Car Scam – Rapist On The Run – Hawkesby – Home Invader – ACC Fraud – Americas Cup – Peter Ellis – Helen Clark – F16s – F16s and Timor – Telecom – Editorial: Police

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SCREWDRIVER GANG: Armed police brought the Screwdriver Gang's bank-robbing days to an end late yesterday afternoon, just in time to stop the fugitives making a sixth hit. Detectives used their cars to box in the alleged robbers - John Koteka, Elder Brown and Paul Tipene - in an Auckland industrial street after a pursuit, then pointed their Glock pistols at the 21-year-olds and ordered them to hit the ground.

UNEMPLOYMENT: Unemployment has fallen sharply as the economic recovery builds up a head of steam. But the good news for job-seekers could be bad for borrowers, with economists forecasting an interest rate rise next month. The 119,000 unemployed in the latest figures, to December, represented 6.3 per cent of the labour force, down from 6.8 per cent in September.

COCAINE BUST: An abandoned yacht suspected of bringing 500kg of cocaine from South America is undergoing police forensic testing after being seized in the Bay of Islands yesterday. The Bora Bora II is suspected of being the vessel from which the $286 million of drugs were transferred to the New Zealand yacht Ngaire Wha.

CAR SCAM: The Commerce Commission will continue its battle against sharp car dealers after yesterday unveiling a scam it says is common practice in the industry. One dealer has just reached a settlement with the commission after raising the price of a car, then reducing it immediately for a special "clearance sale."

RAPIST ON THE RUN: An accused rapist who was mistakenly released from custody says he is living in a cave and can survive on wild food until the authorities will investigate his case. Jacob Reece Poa yesterday contacted the Herald pleading for an inquiry into the rape and kidnapping charges.

HAWKESBY: Television New Zealand is deploying an army of highly paid public relations consultants as it heads to court today to appeal a multi-million dollar payout to John Hawkesby. TVNZ will argue in the High Court that an arbitrator's decision to award Hawkesby as much as $5.8 million was seriously flawed.

HOME INVADER: A man convicted of a crime described at the time as a "home invasion" has had his deportation quashed because of his "good work ethic and savings record" as well as his good relationship with his wife and daughter. The Deportation Review Tribunal said other reasons taken into account in deciding to quash an order to deport Fiji Indian Janardan Gounder were:

ACC FRAUD: An Auckland consultant whose businesses turned over hundreds of thousands of dollars has been exposed as one of the biggest ACC fraudsters. Alan Gordon Thomas, now aged 45, told ACC in 1989 that he had a sore arm and could no longer work.

AMERICAS CUP: Out on the green water, through the channel that passes the primeval hulk of Rangitoto, the sea is boiling. A brisk southerly chops the surface as the armada of motorcraft slowly assembles, screws thrashing at the waves, running at high revs just to stand still.

PETER ELLIS: Justice Minister Phil Goff yesterday heard the views of Peter Ellis' lawyers but said he would wait for officials' advice before deciding whether an inquiry into the child abuse case should be held. Mr Goff said he found it useful to hear the views of QC Judith Ablett-Kerr, who had asked for the meeting.

HELEN CLARK: Labour will launch a big membership drive using Helen Clark's successful leadership profile, says party president Bob Harvey. "I believe we could recruit every household in New Zealand," the former ad-man, now mayor of Waitakere City, told the Herald.

F16S: Australia is likely to respond to a New Zealand decision to cancel the F-16 fighter contract with "exact correctness," says Centre for Strategic Studies director David Dickens. But this response would mask deeper reactions that could affect relations between the two countries on other fronts, he said.

F16S AND TIMOR: Leaving East Timor after last month's "emotional" visit, Foreign Minister Phil Goff emphatically declared that F-16 fighter planes would have been irrelevant in that venture. For strike capability, he said, armed helicopters would have been more useful.

TELECOM: Four Telecom workers have won an Employment Tribunal case against the company after it refused them pay rises unless they signed individual contracts. The tribunal said that Telecom's actions were deliberate and cynical, and ordered it to pay a penalty of $4000 to the tribunal as well as lost wages of $777 and compensation of $1000 to each of the technicians.

EDITORIAL – POLICE: The demise of commissioner Peter Doone has left the police more than usually vulnerable to the prospect of a civilian in charge. It is a prospect that sworn officers greet with about as much enthusiasm as any professionals who find themselves managed by someone not intimately acquainted with their ways. Someone, furthermore, who is likely to have more interest in financial results than the finer principles of policing and might very well want to change their ways. The Treasury would probably like to have put just such a person in charge of the police long ago. But despite the Quigley report and other examinations of police efficiency over recent years, the corps has largely resisted the managerial cult imposed on the rest of the public service. Not completely of course; the policemen who rose to the headquarters executive in recent times have been those who acquired the universal managerial stripe. But they remained policemen. The fall of Mr Doone for a lapse of professional judgment - following closely upon the Incis debacle - is not sufficient reason to break the tradition.

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