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New Zealand Herald

Teen Wages - Morgan Fahey - Top Cop - Coutts Out Of Relay - Olympic Flame - Euthanasia Debate - Police Batons - Prison Work - Gisborne Scare - Secret Conversation

TEEN WAGES: A plan to boost the minimum wage for teenagers has been abandoned - the latest victim of the Government's drive to appear more business friendly. Sources say an Alliance push for 16 and 17-year-olds to get an increase from the present 60 per cent of the adult minimum, or $4.55 an hour, to 80 per cent is a "dead duck."

MORGAN FAHEY: Christchurch doctor Morgan Fahey, imprisoned yesterday for sex crimes against patients, had a contract with police that required him to examine rape victims. Fahey was a police medical officer in Christchurch between the late 1960s and the early 1980s.

TOP COP: Steve Fitzgerald takes over as the country's top traffic officer today aiming to cut the road toll by up to 100 next year. Superintendent Fitzgerald believes tougher policing of "accident-promoting offences" - overtaking on yellow lines, going through stop signs and tail-gating - and an expected increase in funding for road safety in this month's Budget will see the road toll drop from more than 500 to around 400 by the end of 2001.

COUTTS OUT OF RELAY: Team New Zealand defector Russell Coutts has pulled out of the Olympic torch relay. For the past week, relay organisers have been waiting to hear whether he would fulfil his commitment to carry the Olympic flame through the America's Cup village.

OLYMPIC FLAME: It's the stuff of nightmares - the eyes of the world are on you as you proudly bear the Olympic flame ... and it jolts out of its special holder and crashes to the ground. But 13-year-old Queenstown mountainbiker Scarlett Hagen overcame the embarrassment yesterday, replaced the torch and carried on pedalling.

EUTHANASIA DEBATE: Controversial right-to-die advocate Dr Philip Nitschke, who arrives in New Zealand tomorrow, wants to check on the state of the voluntary euthanasia debate here. And he wants to see if New Zealanders have any interest in advisory clinics of the type he has set up in Australia.

BUSINESS CONFIDENCE: The Government's efforts to placate flagging business confidence suffered a blow yesterday from Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton. The Alliance leader said business appeared to think it should dictate Government policy, as it had done over the past 15 years.

TOP POLICE: The country's top policeman has told his staff they need to be brutally honest with themselves about the way they deal with rifts with Maori. Rob Robinson, the Acting Police Commissioner, says the police's relationship with Maori needs a lot more work.

OLYMPIC FLAME: QUEENSTOWN - After months of practice holding a Thermos flask aloft, 100-year-old Madge Mason had no trouble striding out with the Olympic flame in Queenstown yesterday. Tiny Madge earned the loudest cheers on the first leg of the flame's journey through New Zealand - but could not understand all the fuss.

POLICE BATONS: The traditional police wooden baton will soon be replaced by a high-tech handy extendable version. Police have announced that the standard wooden baton and the side-handled PR24 riot variety will be replaced by the ASP21, which extends from 19cm to 53cm at the flick of a wrist.

PRISON WORK: WELLINGTON - The Corrections Department says prisoners are contributing to their "inkeep" by working in job schemes. Over the 1998-99 financial year, prisoners spent 4.7 million hours taking part in inmate employment, including working on the department's forests and farms.

GISBORNE SCARE: Inexperienced staff and a shortage of money have been blamed in part for a health scare at Gisborne Hospital involving an anaesthetist who reused syringes on patients. A Canadian anaesthetist who worked at the east coast hospital from October 1999 to last March is being investigated by Tairawhiti Healthcare officials over reusing syringes on 134 patients.

SECRET CONVERSATION: WELLINGTON - Lawyers who arranged to secretly record a conversation with their client's opponent have been ordered to surrender the tapes. The case breaks new ground in defining what legal professional privilege can apply to and involves one of New Zealand's richest men, Murray Haszard, whose wealth is estimated at $45 million - mainly from the sale of his Ghost disk-cloning software copyright to US utility maker Symantec for $US27.5 million ($59.78 million).

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