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New Zealand Herald

Airways Corp - Student Fees - Banks & Customers - Team NZ Crews - Christchurch Protest Inquiry - Rail Pedestrians - Sea Slugs - Asylum Seekers - Logging Ends - Tobacco Ingredients - Sandwich Board Debate

AIRWAYS CORP: Senior Airways Corporation figures received a public roasting from the Government yesterday as they tried to defend their controversial international operations. Corporation chairman John Maasland and chief executive Craig Sinclair called a press conference to reject allegations that they will personally profit from an Airways bid for the British air-traffic control system and to set out their reasons for courting overseas business.

STUDENT FEES: Students may get a break from tuition fee rises next year under a deal the Government is discussing in private with universities and polytechnics. Tertiary Education Minister Steve Maharey has been meeting sector leaders to propose a 2.3 per cent rise in their funding in exchange for a freeze on student fees next year.

BANKS & CUSTOMERS: At a time when most people feel their banks never want to physically meet them, one company has adopted special tactics to woo customers. "Premier" branches of the ANZ bank are now springing up around the country, where customers will be spared the bother of queuing for a teller.

TEAM NZ CREWS: Team New Zealand want to start hiring crew next week before the cream of their sailors and designers jump ship to rival America's Cup syndicates. Big-budget campaigns are stepping up their attempts to lure the champion Kiwis overseas - one challenger representative is flying in from Britain this week to meet the Cup-winners.

CHRISTCHURCH PROTEST INQUIRY: CHRISTCHURCH - Buses used to screen protesters from President Jiang Zemin in Christchurch in September were hired by the Chinese Government, not local police, a parliamentary committee was told yesterday. Protest leaders told the MPs that their demonstration against China's role in Tibet had been peaceful but noisy.

RAIL PEDESTRIANS: The pedestrian crossing at Auckland's Glen Innes rail station will be either improved with warning bells and lights or scrapped after a train killed a teenage girl there. Tranz Rail revealed yesterday that it favoured either option after a damning coroner's report last week into the death of 16-year-old Katie Connolly.

SEA SLUGS: Algae experts say warm weather is to blame for an invasion of sea slugs along Auckland east coast beaches rather than sewage and other high-density housing side-effects. Auckland University of Technology scientist Professor John Buckeridge has voiced concern about the presence of the slug, or sea hare, at Long Bay. He said the slimy creatures were harmless but their prolific numbers indicated the ecosystem's balance had been upset.

ASYLUM SEEKERS: An Algerian refugee being kept at Auckland's Mt Eden Prison is being cited as an example of the continued unlawful imprisonment of asylum-seekers. The man has spent two months in prison waiting to hear of his fate.

LOGGING ENDS: All logging of native timber on crown-managed land will cease within two years after cabinet ministers yesterday came up with a face-saving compromise on terminating West Coast rimu contracts. Furniture-makers were not sure what impact the decision to end state forest rimu logging by April 2002 would have on rimu furniture prices in the meantime.

TOBACCO INGREDIENTS: New Zealand's biggest tobacco company would have no problem printing a list of ingredients on cigarette packets, if the law required it to do so. A spokeswoman for British American Tobacco New Zealand, Vickie Curtis, said the company had nothing in principle against plans by Health Minister Annette King to have all cigarette additives listed on packets.

SANDWICH BOARD DEBATE: Sandwich boards may be banned from footpaths in central Auckland, amid claims they clutter streets and hamper the disabled - but many firms say they will suffer. The Hobson Community Board is due to vote today on pushing the Auckland City Council for a ban on the boards along Queen St and adjacent roads going north from Aotea Square to the waterfront

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