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New Zealand Herald

Whooping Cough - Judges On Probation - Dairy Industry Enterprise - Deserted 12yo - Rugby Suicide - Rabuka Biography - Rabuka Biography - False Lineage - Waiperera Trust Inquiry - Cannabis Kids- Tax Free Super - Broadcaster Loses- Health Management Shakeup - Tax Free Super -Editorial: Apprentice Scheme Boon

WHOOPING COUGH: An Auckland doctor and his 8-month-old son are experiencing first hand the early arrival of a whooping cough epidemic. Dr Rob Everitt, Middlemore Hospital emergency department registrar, caught whooping cough after treating three babies with the disease.

JUDGES ON PROBATION: The Government has placed judges on probation to deliver tougher prison sentences for criminals, Justice Minister Phil Goff signalled last night. And if they don't deliver, he might entrench stricter sentencing guidelines for them in law.

DAIRY INDUSTRY ENTERPRISE: The $8 billion dairy industry's chance of becoming a world-beating, multinational enterprise earning more like $30 billion a year is in its death throes. Five years of high hopes that New Zealand's major exporter could move up in the world rankings from 12th place to one of the top three by forming a giant cooperative integrating its provincial manufacturing companies with their marketing organisation are almost certain to die tomorrow.

DESERTED 12YO: The occupants of a stolen car last night deserted their 12-year-old companion after they collided with another car, critically injuring a woman. Police said the woman was thrown out of her car and suffered serious head injuries in the crash, which happened after the stolen car drove through a give-way sign in Pt England.

RUGBY SUICIDE: Koula Tukino knows only too well the pressures faced by young rugby players trying to break into the professional scene. The man who wears the Chiefs No 6 rugby jersey so coveted by Ryan Wheeler, the player who took his life in Sydney this week, also suffered depression after failing to live up to his and others' expectations.

RABUKA BIOGRAPHY: First it was Bill Clinton. Now former Fiji coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka has a confession or two to make about other women. In Auckland to promote his new biography, Rabuka of Fiji, the 51-year-old defeated as Prime Minister last year fronted up about his personal indiscretions: "I have admitted I'm no angel ... I have been weak in those areas," he said.

FALSE LINEAGE: In London New Zealand rugby player Brett Sinkinson yesterday insisted he had not knowingly played for Wales under false pretences. "I never set out to deceive anyone. My father always believed his father came from Wales and I acted on that basis when I told the Welsh Rugby Union I was eligible. It is still a bit unclear."

WAIPERERA TRUST INQUIRY: A West Auckland Maori trust accused in Parliament of misusing public money is under investigation by Work and Income New Zealand after more allegations of financial mismanagement. A spokeswoman for Winz, Kate Joblin, confirmed yesterday that an internal inquiry was under way into the Waipareira trust's Henderson-based employment centre.

CANNABIS KIDS: A father has been left in despair over the futures of three of his sons, all thrown out of school on the one day. Three of Joe Veve's five sons, twins Sean and Shane, aged 11, and Eddie, 13, have been excluded from St Paul's College in Ponsonby for cannabis offences.

BROADCASTER LOSES - The Government's decision to halt Television New Zealand's ambitious plans for digital TV has seen the state-owned broadcaster write off nearly $7 million in its latest accounts. The sum, which is even bigger than its payout to former presenter John Hawkesby, was revealed yesterday in the broadcaster's accounts for the six months to the end of December.

HEALTH MANAGEMENT SHAKEUP: Senior health administrators will be made to reapply for fewer management jobs within the new health bureaucracy. But the Government still expects few redundancies when the Health Funding Authority is merged into the Ministry of Health.

TAX FREE SUPER: Finance Minister Michael Cullen is pushing tax-free status for local investments by his planned giant superannuation fund as he strives to build political support for the scheme. "We are looking at issues of the taxation of the fund that might change the incentives [to invest locally]," he told Parliament's finance and expenditure committee.

EDITORIAL: APPRENTICE SCHEME BOON - A recent economic outlook forecasting 4.5 per cent growth for Auckland over the next two years had one significant caveat: staff recruitment and the related issue of rising wages. Regionally and nationally, the shortage of skilled labour threatens to apply the handbrake to an expanding economy. Whether it be welders, plumbers, technicians or metal fabricators, our skill pool is running dangerously low. A wave of selected immigrants would be a partial quick-fix, but the long-term solution lies in trade training initiatives. The Government's pumping of $5.5 million into a new apprenticeship scheme this year could, therefore, hardly be more opportune.

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