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Bill English Optimism Gaffe – English Embarrassment Comment – Indecision 2000 – Live From Florida - Fiji Constitution Still Valid – Ship Explosion – Small Boat Safety – Austrian Ski Train Fire

BILL ENGLISH OPTIMISM GAFFE: Bill English has spelt out in plain English that he expects the economy to get better. It is creating a huge embarrassment for the opposition. Bill English wasn’t keen to be on camera initially – putting paper over the lens of one camera. Later he said there were comments in the memo which were not embarrassing. The memo was used over and over again in the debating chamber to direct barbs at the Government. The memo was left on a table in the Parliament cafeteria. It says growth will restart following the September quarter and that the “easy bit” for the opposition is over. Tony Ryall was not keen to talk about it. Michael Cullen says it is very damaging for the government.

ENGLISH EMBARASSMENT COMMENT: This has caught National completely by surprise. They have been using the economy as an attack weapon and can no longer do so. National MPs were looking sheepish today. The government has the name of the MP who left the memo lying around and this is expected to come out soon.

INDECISION 2000: After the deadline for vote reporting George Bush has a 300 vote margin over Al Gore in the state of Florida. Katherine Harris – a republican – holds the key to who will be the next President of the USA. Earlier today a court held that she had the right to set a deadline for the reporting of votes. George Bush’s brother Jeb Bush says that Harris is doing a good job. Democrats are vowing to keep fighting once recounts in three more counties are completed.

LIVE FROM FLORIDA: John Campbell: How are Americans reacting? Reporter: With surprising patience at this point. The latest poll indicates that the public are willing to wait for an accurate vote. At this point no one seems too anxious about this. I would not presume to predict anything in this election. Everyday unexpected events take place. A sample vote in Dade County has found seven more votes for Al Gore – the county has decided not to have a recount but Democrats are expected to challenge this decision. There are also still absentee votes to come in which could make a difference.

FIJI CONSTITUTION STILL VALID: The High Court of Fiji has held the constitution is still valid.

SHIP EXPLOSION. A container ship bound for Brisbane has suffered an engine room explosion injuring a crewman. The ship is being taken under tow.

SMALL BOAT SAFETY: Boaties are to be encouraged – and in some places forced – to wear life-jackets this summer. Kirsty Robinson who survived a boating accident in which several relatives died is a supporter of the campaign. The Maritime Safety Authority says the majority of drownings occur from lack of knowledge, not recklessness. There is a push for a nationwide law to make life-jackets compulsory. In some places there are already bylaws in place.

AUSTRIAN SKI TRAIN FIRE: The Austrian ski train fire is believed to have been caused by a mechanical fault say investigators. So far 66 bodies have been found outside the train where they were killed by toxic smoke. There is little left of the train. They now know the driver opened the doors – but too late for most passengers to get out safely. On the tracks they have found metal and plastic and the brake was mysteriously on.

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