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The New Zealand Herald

Prostitution Bill - Female Abuse - Cervical Smear Inquiry - Overstayer Amnesty - Cultural Emergencies - Rest-Home Killing - School Olympics - Winning Aussies - Waitara Racism

PROSTITUTION BILL: Prostitution is back on the political agenda with the launch of a bill to decriminalise soliciting by sex workers. Prostitutes are backing the bill to legalise their profession, and one sex worker went to Parliament yesterday to support the reform.

- FEMALE ABUSE: Doctors will be required to ask all women patients whether they are being abused at home, if health officials have their way. In advice to Health Minister Annette King, the officials say a "culture change" is needed to ensure that GPs report abuse.

- CERVICAL SMEAR INQUIRY: A legal bid to release vital information for the Gisborne cancer inquiry is in jeopardy because the Ministry of Health does not want to pay for it. The inquiry needs the case records of women elsewhere in the country who have suffered cervical cancer, to check whether the rate of under-reporting at Gisborne was happening in other centres.

- OVERSTAYER AMNESTY: Overstayers are scrambling for information about the Government's one-off amnesty. Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel announced the partial amnesty yesterday, raising hopes and fears among the estimated 22,000 overstayers. About a third are expected to qualify for the amnesty, but the rest face deportation.

- CULTURAL EMERGENCIES: A failure to show its services were "culturally appropriate" may have cost the Northland Emergency Services Trust its contract with ACC to carry accident victims. The community-owned trust's Sikorsky helicopter has flown more than 4000 people in the nearly 12 years it has been operating.

- REST-HOME KILLING: Police evidence in the Christchurch rest-home killing has come under fire at a special hospital court sitting. A rest-home resident charged with murder was wheeled into the boardroom of Princess Margaret Hospital yesterday clutching a large doll. The accused was comforted by his daughter while being remanded on the murder charge.

- SCHOOL OLYMPICS: Corinthians and Spartans clashed and roared as the fields of Panmure Bridge School were transformed into an ancient Greek valley yesterday. "Do we cheat? - Yes!" chanted the Spartan team at the school's Olympics opening ceremony.

- WINNING AUSSIES: Did you hear about the Aussie who was gracious in victory? Hah! You'll have better luck searching for the Tooth Fairy. And as if the constant Ocker crowing about the swimming deeds of "Thorpy" and "Klimy" wasn't enough, they've started pointing the finger of scorn at New Zealand's non-appearance on the medal tables.

- WAITARA RACISM: Urgent steps are needed to mend the rift between Maori and police in the Taranaki township where Steven Wallace was shot dead, Race Relations Conciliator Dr Rajen Prasad says. "To report that Maori police relationships in Waitara were at a low ebb would be an understatement," says Dr Prasad in a 39-page report issued yesterday.

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