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National Radio Midday Report

Whale Rescue - Apartment-gate Widens – Christmas Party Manslaughter – GE Pine Trees – Ferry Crossing – Dairy Megacoop – Bank Robbery – Israel –Sri-Lanka – Mitterrand Arrest – Food Standards – New Bail Lawe – Northland Lake

WHALE RESCUE UNDERWAY: A whale rescue operation is underway in Stewart Island with concerns that 100 pilot whales may be in danger of stranding again

APARTMENT-GATE WIDENS: A second minister is now under investigation for campaigning while claiming an out-of-town allowance. The Dominion reported this morning that Marion Hobbs had done this. Marian Hobbs isn’t available for comment.

CHRISTMAS PARTY MANSLAUGHTER: A man accused of setting fire to a colleague at a Christmas Party has been charged with manslaughter. Matthew Scofield has also been charged with acting with reckless disregard to the safety of others. Mr Scofield allegedly set fire to the victims grass skirt under the door of a toilet cubical.

GE PINE TREES: The Environmental Risk Management Authority has given approval to trials of GE pine trees. ERMA says the risk such as pollen drift can be contained. The decision has outraged Greenpeace. Of more than 700 submissions all but five were against the application. Greenpeace says the risk of the release is too great. The Forest Research Institute has said it will delay the trials

FERRY CROSSING: Tranz Rail says it has cleared the backlog of passengers on the Cook Strait crossing following freight is expected to be cleared within a reasonable time.

DAIRY MEGACOOP: The proposed new Diary Megaco-op will ask the Government to make a policy decision in favour of their proposal to avoid the Commerce Commission.

BANK ROBBERY: Police are searching for a Chubb security van stolen in Wellington. The robbers stole the van and a “considerable” amount of money. The van was last seen heading towards the Railway Station.

ISRAEL: Shimon Peres will not be standing in upcoming elections for the Israeli PM. All left-wing parties will now support Ehud Barak vs Ariel Sharon. Peace talks are continuing in Washington.

SRI LANKA: Tamil Tiger rebels have announced a month-long ceasefire saying they want to take advantage of a Norweigian peace envoy’s initiative to hold peace talks. The government is concerned about the Tigers motives. The Norweigan says the latest announcement is one of a series of positive developments.

MITTERRAND ARREST: The eldest son of former French President Francoise Mitterrand has been taken into custody on charges of selling arms in Angola. The younger Mitterrand’s flat had earlier been searched after his name was connected to that of a businessman involved in selling helicopters to Angolans.

FOOD STANDARDS: New Food Standards have been gazetted in Australia and NZ. Labeling will include more nutritional information and warnings about allergens.

NEW BAIL LAW: A new tougher bail law takes effect from January 1st in some controversy. The policy will cost $30 million and involve having 2000 more remand prisoners. Judith Ablett-Kerr says the law unfairly targets people on minor offences committed while on bail. “The criteria has been set extremely low.”

NORTHLAND LAKE: A Northland Lake may be about to die. 32,000 Carp have been released into the lake by a Carp company, but they are not expected to be enough to save it. DOC is still thinking about funding a clean-up operation.

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