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New Zealand Herald

MP Rejects Allegations - Probation Sex - End Of Summer- Allegations Background - ACT Aide Complaint - Anti-Union Stance - SAS Kidnapp - Queen Removed - Kiwi Kids - Cross Now - Editorial: Dairy Mega-Merger

MP REJECTS ALLEGATIONS: Labour MP John Tamihere yesterday rejected accusations that $200,000 of public money was misused during his time as head of a West Auckland Maori trust. Act leader Richard Prebble raised allegations of criminal conduct at Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust and tabled documents in Parliament claiming that large amounts of money had been inappropriately transferred between the Aotearoa Maori Rugby League club and the trust.

PROBATION SEX: A male officer at the centre of a probation service scandal allegedly had sex with dozens of young men he was supposed to be supervising. As details of sex and drug scandals in the Community Probation Service unravelled this week, associates of the former South Auckland probation officer told the Herald they saw between 25 and 30 young men leaving his Otahuhu address over a six-month period last year.

END OF SUMMER: It was the end of the golden weather - at least for a day - as the warm summer was brought to an end yesterday by torrential downpours. The unseasonable rain washed out the test cricket in Auckland and brought floods and traffic disruption to the rest of the country.

ALLEGATIONS BACKGROUND: During question time, the following questions were asked of Prime Minister Helen Clark about reports she had received from Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Maori Development: Richard Prebble (Act): Did the report cover the allegations of criminal conduct relating to the administration of the Aotearoa Maori Rugby League, and that over $200,000 of taxpayers' money from the Health Funding Authority to the Waipareira Trust when the Labour member Mr [John] Tamihere was chief executive were diverted to the Aotearoa Maori Rugby League, and if so what action has she taken?

ACT AIDE COMPLAINT: Police have received another complaint about a press secretary smoking marijuana at Parliament, this time involving an Act party aide, Andy Gregory. A security guard is understood to have been alerted by smoke coming from toilets in Bowen House, where he found Mr Gregory, a temporary media aide.

UNDERCOVER STING: An undercover sting operation against a group of former servicemen has come unstuck in the courts after a three-year battle. The saga began in 1995 when the Matamata District Services Club bought a minivan to take members home after they had had a few drinks.

ANTI-UNION STANCE: A trucking company manager who told his staff that veteran trade unionist Bill Andersen was "a divisive character" has earned a court order to cool his company's aggressive anti-union stance. Mr Andersen, a veteran of the 1951 waterfront dispute and now president of the National Distribution Union, said yesterday that he was delighted by the interim order of the Employment Court because it opened the door for the union to represent company workers in collective contract negotiations.

HUMAN SMUGGLERS: Detectives have captured the heads of an Auckland-based organised crime syndicate trading in human cargo, but reaching its numerous overseas agents may prove difficult. Police blew the group's operations wide open on Monday following a series of early morning raids which netted three ringleaders, from Iran and Afghanistan.

SAS KIDNAPP: A Chinese Indonesian tycoon rescued from alleged kidnappers by former SAS soldiers has left New Zealand but hopes to return after meeting business trustees. Johnson Cornelius Lo, also believed to be known as Rusli Hartono, left Auckland two days ago while Foreign Minister Phil Goff was still waiting for a report on possible diplomatic ramifications of his rescue from Indonesia.

QUEEN REMOVED: Oh, for security camera footage of the strange nocturnal goings-on in the Auckland Town Hall last Thursday. As the big hand of the clock edged towards midnight, mayor Christine Fletcher led a small and incongruous band of councillors out of the councillors' lounge where they had been unwinding for about half an hour after the monthly council meeting and into the debating chamber.

KIWI KIDS: Dozens of parents, grandparents, principals, teacher and other people have contacted the Herald about its series of stories on Building Kids with Character. Here is an edited selection of readers' views: “I do not believe it is the job of schools to develop the character of the child - that is the prime responsibility of the parents.”

CROSS NOW: Relying on the green "cross now" man to help you cross the road is not the safe option many people think it is, as figures reveal that an alarmingly high number of pedestrians are being hit at intersections. The safety of pedestrians is under the spotlight following the death of 31/2 -year-old Michaela Keightley who was killed on a New Plymouth pedestrian crossing at the weekend.

EDITORIAL: DAIRY MEGA-MERGER: There is an air of inevitability about a dairy industry mega cooperative. Most farmers recognise that the demands of export competitiveness mean nothing less than integrated manufacturing and marketing. They are impatient for progress. Why then is the union of the New Zealand Dairy Group and Kiwi Dairies, of Taranaki, proving so frustratingly elusive? A failure to agree on valuations for the companies is given as the cause of yet another stalemate in the protracted negotiations. More fundamentally, the imbroglio suggests that substantial egos are overriding common sense.

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