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New Zealand Herald

Probation Scandals - Vector Gas Bid - Tamihere And Waipereira - WINZ Chief - Mortgage Raise - Singapore Air On Hold - Heart Stopped - Contact Clash - Craccum Jobs Kept - Dope Allegations - @Work Insurance Bonus - North Shore/Waitakere Police Priority

PROBATION SCANDALS: Scandals plaguing the probation service have widened, with a further nine staff members allegedly involved in breaches including harassment and criminal activity. Corrections Minister Matt Robson said last night that he wanted answers on all the cases from his officials

VECTOR GAS BID: Auckland-owned electricity network company Vector is on the verge of making a half-billion-dollar bid for the city's gas lines - but the people who own Vector have not been told. The company, formerly the lines part of Mercury Energy, was hoping to make a surprise raid and snatch the gas lines from the other likely bidder, arch-rival UnitedNetworks.

TAMIHERE AND WAIPEREIRA: Hauraki MP John Tamihere made a veiled threat to fight dirt with dirt yesterday, as the political campaign against him intensified. The Labour MP endured his second day of attacks in Parliament from Act and New Zealand First, with more allegations of financial mismanagement during his term as head of Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust.

WINZ CHIEF: Work and Income New Zealand chief executive Christine Rankin says she lost all of her $37,599 performance bonus following last year's controversy about the department. During a grilling yesterday by Parliament's social services committee over the financial performance of Winz, Mrs Rankin said she got none of the bonus written into her contract.

MORTGAGE RAISE: Another round of mortgage rate rises is looming after Reserve Bank Governor Dr Don Brash yesterday raised official interest rates half a percentage point and predicted further rises. If the economy pans out as he expects, homeowners will be paying 9 to 9.5 per cent in mortgage interest next year and the year after.

SINGAPORE AIR ON HOLD: Singapore Airlines put its plans to buy in to Air New Zealand on hold last night, after negotiations with Brierley Investments hit a snag at the 11th hour. An announcement had been timed for late yesterday, which would have seen Brierley deliver Singapore a 25 per cent stake in the national flag carrier at a price believed to be around $400 million.

HEART STOPPED: North Shore schoolgirl Hayley Bergin has no memory of the day her heart suddenly stopped. But she will always be grateful to the three schoolfriends who saved her life by resuscitating her.

CONTACT CLASH: The township of Kaiaua has clashed with Contact Energy within months of the power giant arriving in town. The trouble began late last year after Contact Energy took over from Counties Power as main electricity supplier to the town, on the Firth of Thames.

CRACCUM JOBS KEPT: The editors of the Auckland University students magazine, Craccum, have comfortably survived an attempt to sack them for publishing a guide on committing suicide. A group of students brought a no-confidence motion against Ben Thomas and James Cardno for what they said was reckless and inappropriate use of editorial powers.

DOPE ALLEGATIONS: Any MP who passes up a chance to scoff, sneer and play games at a rival's misfortune is a dope. And Act was well and truly busted in Parliament yesterday during a highspirited question time. Other parties tripped over one another in their efforts to make Act squirm over allegations that a press secretary, Andy Gregory, quit his job after being caught by a security guard smoking marijuana in parliamentary toilets.

@WORK INSURANCE BONUS: The chief executive of state insurer @Work Insurance could get a performance bonus of more than $50,000 on top of his $300,000-plus salary. Chief executive Sam Knowles earns between $310,000 and $320,000 a year and @Work Insurance chairman Michael Cashin told Parliament's finance and expenditure select committee yesterday that Mr Knowles and other senior staff could get bonuses worth 15 to 20 per cent of their salaries if they met certain performance criteria.

NORTH SHORE/WAITAKERE POLICE PRIORITY: North Shore and Waitakere are higher priorities for more police than Auckland City, says Police Minister George Hawkins. He was responding to comments by the National Party's police spokesman, Waitakere MP Brian Neeson, and Auckland Mayor Christine Fletcher about increasing police numbers in their areas.

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