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National Radio Midday Report

Telecommunications Inquiry – Economy Warning – Missing Man – Flooding Damage – Home Invasion Penalties – Medical Misadventure – Maori Diabetes – Middle East Violence – US Presidential Race – Electricity Ombudsman – Reproductive Technology

- TELECOMMUNICATIONS INQUIRY: The ministerial report into telecommunications recommends more regulation of the telecommunications industry plus changes that should save consumers almost $330m a year. Paul Swain has just released the report, which has been seven months coming. The inquiry was set up to quell anti-competitive business practices in the industry. The Government will formally respond to the report in December.

- ECONOMY WARNING: The Reserve Bank has warned New Zealand risks a return to stagflation, the combination of high inflation and negative economic growth last seen in the Muldoon years. Don Brash told a select committee today this would be the worst of several possibilities as the economy faces an uncertain future, with high world oil prices, low exchange rate, and a subdued domestic economy.

- MISSING MAN: There is still no sign of the 38-year-old man who was swept away by the swollen Whanganui river. Police have named him as Murray Phillips.

- FLOODING DAMAGE: Many district councils in the central and lower North Island say it is too early to estimate the cost of four days of heavy flooding in the area. Damage to roads has been extensive. Many roads that were closed have opened, but the AA is advising caution when travelling on them.

- HOME INVASION PENALTIES: The Court of Appeal has again expressed support for judges imposing the markedly heavier penalties when the crime involves a home invasion.

- MEDICAL MISADVENTURE: The head of a large Auckland Hospital has called for national action to improve patient safety. The chief executive of South Auckland Health, David Clark, says a national plan, a central agency, and millions of dollars are needed to reduce the number of patients who die or a re seriously injured through medical misadventure.

- MAORI DIABETES: Associate Maori Affairs Minister Tariana Turia says lifestyle changes forced on Maori since contact with Europeans has caused the high incidence of diabetes in Maori.

- MIDDLE EAST VIOLENCE: The short-lived cease-fire in the Middle East has been broken by renewed violence. The peace process now hinges on Paris talks between Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barac, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and US Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

- US PRESIDENTIAL RACE: The US presidential race steps up a gear today, with a 90 minute debate in Boston between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush.

- ELECTRICITY OMBUDSMAN: The Electricity Industry says an ombudsman to hear complaints from power consumers should be in place by April next year.

- REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY: Labour list MP Dianne Yates says an American case where a couple used genetic tests to screen embryos for implantation highlights the need for comprehensive legislation on reproductive technology in New Zealand.

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