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National Radio Midday report

Floods – Child Cruelty – Superannuation – Middle East Violence – Immigration Policy – Hunger Strike – Petrol Price Drop – Cervical Cancer Inquiry – Double Murder Inquiry – Firefighters Dispute – Algal Bloom

- FLOODS: Flood water is threatening homes along the Whanganui River and Civil defence staff are warning people living near the river that they may have to leave their houses. Stock banks are under pressure, as a surge of water flows through after four days of heavy rain. Surface flooding has caused the closure of a number of roads in Wanganui, Taranaki and the King Country. Flooding of market gardens in Horowhenua may cause shortages of lettuces and other vegetables around Christmas.

- CHILD CRUELTY: A Coromandel woman who doused a 10 year old foster child’s shirt in petrol, made him wear it and then accidentally lit the shirt, has been sentenced to four months prison for assault of a child and reckless behaviour causing grievous bodily harm. The crown agreed she only wanted to frighten the boy, but said a message needed to be sent out that cruelty to children would lead to prison.

- SUPERANNUATION: Finance Minister Michael Cullen says the next election will be fought on the issue of national superannuation if the government fails to get enough support in parliament for its plans. The Greens, who have been in negotiations with the Government, say their support should not be taken for granted. New Zealand First will be briefed on the proposal soon, and Mr Cullen said he had offered to brief the National Party a number of times, and his door is still open.

- MIDDLE EAST VIOLENCE: French PM Jacques Chirac has led international condemnation of the Israeli opposition leader’s visit to the Mosque compound in the old city of Jerusalem last Thursday, as deadly clashes continue in Israel and Palestinian territories. Israeli PM Ehud Barac has called on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to stop the violence, accusing the Palestinian authorities of orchestrating the event. United States Secretary of State Madeline Albright has said Mr Barac and Mr Arafat have agreed to meet her in Paris on Wednesday.

- IMMIGRATION POLICY: A New Zealand businessman who migrated from South Africa 30 years ago says New Zealand’s immigration policy has been too focused on quantity rather than quality. Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel has signalled more immigrants may be allowed in after the points system has been reviewed. He said more need to be done to help immigrants settle in.

- HUNGER STIKE: The chairman of the Council for Refugees has said the Chinese hunger strikers should consider ending their protest. Around 50 demonstrators have been camped in Aotea Square for about a week.

- PETROL PRICE DROP: Most oil companies have dropped their prices at the pump today by 2c, the second drop in a week. However, diesel prices remain the same. BP says the market is still volatile and the exchange rate still weak. Crude oil price has shot higher, following more trouble between Iraq and Kuwait.

- CERVICAL CANCER INQUIRY: Some of the laboratories identified as reporting low numbers of abnormal smears in the early days of the Cervical Screening Programme say the data is not really relevant now.

- DOUBLE MURDER INQUIRY: Palmerston North police say they believe they’ll have enough evidence to prosecute someone over the murders of Christine and Amber Lundy when forensic tests have been analysed.

- FIREFIGHTERS’ DISPUTE: Internal Affairs Minister Mark Burton wants the Fire Fighters Union and the Fire Service Commission to take their dispute over pay and hours of work to the new mediation service.

- ALGAL BLOOM: The Shellfish Industry is cautiously optimistic that the toxic algal bloom is abating.


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