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Tranz Rail Restructure – Dr Graham Parry – Fletcher Sell-Off – Super x 2 - Pensioner Drug Deal – Israel Has Extended It’s Deadline

TRANZ RAIL RESTRUCTURE: Tranz Rail wants to sack lots of workers. And focus on basic freight. Sold seven years ago by the government for $400 million, most of it is back on the sales block again. Tranz Rail boss says he wants to prune a complex tree – the company wants to sell passenger and refrigerated freight services – and contract most of the remaining work out. It expects 3400 jobs to go outside the company. It says the Napier to Gisborne line is likely to close. Tranz Rail has suggested the government could look at a subsidy to keep some lines open. The government has asked to see details about the plans. Tranz Rail will meet the Government on Thursday.

DR GRAHAM PARRY: The Whangarei gynaecologist accused of disgraceful conduct, Dr Graham Parry, today apologised to a patient who is dying of cancer. Patient Colleen Poutsma said the apology fell short of what she wanted. “He says he has lost his livelihood, I am losing my life.” She wanted an apology to her face – not just the tribunal. Dr Parry said he accepts now that he should have conducted a vaginal examination, but doubts he would have done anything different. Dr Parry’s lawyer says the mistake falls well short of disgraceful conduct.

FLETCHER SELL-OFF: Another major player on the NZ business scene says it is breaking up and selling it’s energy business for nearly $5 billion. Shell and its American partner Apache are paying $4.6 billion for Fletcher Energy. Forestry biotechnology will be put into a new company called Rubicon that will invest in more technology projects. The Fletcher deal does not involve as much investment as many expected. The reaction from investors has been mixed. Fletcher Building and Forestry fell. Fletcher Energy rose $1.40.

SUPER: The government has put its baby boomer Super proposal on the table. The proposal involves creating a multi-billion fund out of future surpluses. He says the days of super as a political football are over. If that doesn’t happen there are horrible consequences says Cullen. National is being surprisingly conciliatory about the proposal. The Greens are worried about how the funds are invested – particularly in relation to ethical issues. NZ First says it is minded to support it. If there is no consensus Labour will make it an election issue. The government’s preference is to start the fund running as soon as possible.

SUPER: While the government wants to guarantee national super, that won’t be a lot and people will need to save too. Currently 12% of the population is over 65. In 15 years 25% will be aged over 65. For single parents retirement nest-eggs are not a priority at present. 20-somethings meanwhile are really worried about their student loans. Superannuation – “forget it” says one 20-something.

PENSIONER DRUG DEALER: A Te Puke pensioner appeared in court today on charges of selling cannabis for supply. George Edwards started selling dope to pay for his driveway. He couldn’t afford to do so on his pension. He admits making around $1500 in six months. He says he was careful about his customers and did not sell to children. His arrest has become legendary in the neighbourhood. In court today he was chastised. As a great-grandfather of one and grand-father of 11 he should have known better. He was given an 18 month suspended sentence.

ISRAEL HAS EXTENDED ITS DEADLINE: Israeli PM Ehud Barak has offered more time to negotiators before launching a crackdown on protesting protestors. BBC REPORT - The peace deadline of Barak came and went largely unnoticed. UNSG Kofi Annan says that action must shift to the bargaining table. “The conflict must not be allowed to spread”. This has been the day of atonement – the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar - but there has been no end to the fighting. Each day starts with the funerals. Afterwards young men make their way to the flashpoints. Then the usual. Rubber coated bullets. Stun grenades and tear gas. The Palestinians are out-gunned but defiant. They wonder how much more brutal the Israeli defence forces can get. So far diplomacy has failed to deliver peace. The army has been preparing for more confrontation.

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