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SAS Rescue – Super Fund – Helicopter Crash – Global-E – Rodney Council – Drug Testing – TVNZ – Americas Cup – Child Safety – Super – Women’s Work – Iwi Radio Death – Tainui – Editorial: BPS

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SAS RESCUE: An undercover team of former SAS soldiers has rescued a wealthy businessman from captivity and brought him to New Zealand. The Chinese Indonesian businessman was believed to be under guard in Auckland last night after a secret operation that reportedly took place practically under the noses of New Zealand forces in East Timor.

SUPER FUND: Finance Minister Michael Cullen has unveiled plans for a mammoth fund to be built up out of tax surpluses over the next 30 years to help pay for baby-boomers' pensions. Details of the scheme, to be managed at arm's length from the Government, are yet to be agreed with the Alliance or the Greens.

HELICOPTER CRASH: Raglan people woke yesterday to the news that two of their favourite sons had perished in a helicopter crash in rugged high country near the coastal town. Gone were brothers Kevin Barry Lee, a 35-year-old Telecom technician, and Gregory Francis Lee, a 38-year-old fisherman.

GLOBAL-E: American backers of Global-e Investments, the e-commerce venture launched in Auckland on Tuesday, are relying on bond holders to put up most of the money for the project while the backers stand to reap the lion's share of any rewards. Global-e said on Tuesday that it hoped to raise $US1 billion ($2.05 billion) by selling bonds to New Zealand and foreign investors.

RODNEY COUNCIL: A confidential inquiry into the troubled Rodney District Council recommends the council be scrapped and replaced by a Government-appointed administrator. A review authority appointed by the Minister of Local Government, Sandra Lee, wants her to appoint a commissioner to act in place of the council until the 2001 local body elections.

DRUG TESTING: A top sportsman challenging a drug test result has had his name and details suppressed because district court judges do not have the power to have sports drug testing matters heard in public. In what Auckland District Court Judge Roderick Joyce, QC, yesterday described as an "entirely unusual state of affairs," he told waiting media that an appeal by the sportsman would be heard behind closed doors.

TVNZ: The public browbeating of a senior TVNZ executive by the state broadcaster's new chairman raises questions of potential editorial interference, says a media commentator. Jim Tully, head of journalism at Canterbury University, said "public chastisement" by chairman Dr Ross Armstrong of TVNZ's news coverage of research into the cancer-fighting qualities of lyprinol signalled a new culture at the state-owned enterprise - but could have damaged staff morale.

AMERICAS CUP: Sir Peter Blake took the America's Cup to Parliament yesterday before a heroes' welcome through the streets of the capital for Team New Zealand and rivals Prada. Winning had been "the country's effort," not just Auckland's, he told a parliamentary reception. A vital part had been people wearing "funny red socks" all over New Zealand.

CHILD SAFETY: A woman who killed her toddler and has now given birth again should seriously consider not having any more babies, says the Commissioner for Children, Roger McClay. The Department of Child, Youth and Family must also take responsibility and give "absolute assurances" that Sharon Moke's child is safe, he says.

SUPER: Michael Cullen billed his first budget policy statement as boring. In fact it is quite breathtaking in confronting what the Minister of Finance calls the "biggest long-term challenge to fiscal management facing any Government" - how to pay baby-boomers in retirement. How it does that could prove to be very smart politics.

WOMEN’S WORK: In the new age of apparent gender equality, men still spend more time at work and do less around the home than women, a survey has found. Men do about two hours' extra paid work a day and two hours' less unpaid work, according to the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Statistics New Zealand time-use survey.

IWI RADIO DEATH: Jesse Rawiri, a popular Maori radio personality, has died at the age of 27 after a heart attack at his Sydney home. Ngaruawahia-based Radio Tainui has been fielding hundreds of calls from distraught listeners after news of the death of the broadcaster - alias Blossom.

TAINUI: A Tainui executive claims the cash-strapped tribe is on track to halve its $31 million debt by June despite rumours that it is near collapse. Shane Solomon, the iwi's legal adviser, yesterday rejected reports that Tainui was heading for receivership.

EDITORIAL – BPS: Bright and bushy-tailed plans are apt to pour forth from a Government new to power. The merit of many of those ideas is, however, uncertain until the means of bringing them to fruition are explained precisely. As a forum for announcing such detail, there is none more appropriate than an incoming Government's first Budget preview. It is a prime opportunity to make defining statements about economic strategy as well as spending intentions for the next three years. By that yardstick, yesterday's Budget Policy Statement was a disappointment - much about general spending and saving but nothing that could be called a distinctive idea. There is the long-planned superannuation fund. According to the Finance Minister, the document reflected the Government's concern to achieve "inter-generational fairness." Priority, he said, would be given to the new Ministry of Economic Development, to science and research, and social spending to close gaps. Much was made of the case for the partial pre-funding of superannuation, a departure from the previous Government's emphasis on repaying debt. If there are few specifics, and mainly an analysis of partial pre-funding's impact on the accounts, that, in this instance, is understandable. Key details are yet to be thrashed out with the Labour Party's coalition partners. Possibly, they never will be.

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