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National Radio Midday Report

Waterfront Dispute – Cement Strike – Interest Rates – Petrol Price Wars – Masterton Toddler Murder – Cannabis Law – Galapagos Oil Spill – Black Stilts – Animals On Ferrys – Ratana Celebrations – Dairy Merger – High Country Pests – Middle East Peace Talks – Pigeon Wars

- WATERFRONT DISPUTE: Police are denying accusations of heavy-handedness on the Nelson waterfront. Four people have been arrested over the past 24 hours in clashes on the waterfront. Police also stand by claims that some of the protesters were drunk.

- CEMENT STRIKE: In Northland, fitters at the Golden Bay Cement Works are on strike over plans to make six staff redundant. About a dozen workers are picketing at the entrance to the strike. Protests have been peaceful so far.

- INTEREST RATES: The Reserve Bank has left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 6.5 percent. Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash says the economic situation has changed since last month, taking the pressure off inflation. The decision has been welcomed by Council of Trade Unions economist Peter Conway.

- PETROL PRICE WARS: BP has backed down from its diesel and petrol price rises imposed on Monday, to be in line with Caltex and shell. They had put petrol up 7c and diesel up 5c, but have now reduced the increase to 5c for petrol and 2c for diesel.

- MASTERTON TODDLER MURDER: A 23-year-old man has appeared in the Masterton District Court charged with the murder of a 2-year-old relative. The man has been remanded in custody for a psychiatric assessment and has interim name suppression. Police are waiting for an autopsy result and expect it to confirm what they already know about the death.

- CANNABIS LAW: A change to cannabis laws that emphasises education and treatment rather than a system of fines has been supported by the Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harre.

- GALAPAGOS OIL SPILL: The European Commission has joined a call for tougher laws on maritime safety following an oil spill off the Galapagos Islands. Meanwhile, favourable winds and currents have given the islands a reprieve, but the archipelago is not out of danger yet.

- BLACK STILTS: The Department of Conservation’s black stilt recovery programme is releasing nine birds into the wild today. The birds are just three months old, and the department says the chances of their survival is variable.

- ANIMALS ON FERRYS: The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says it will look into reports of animals being stressed by being kept in hot conditions in captivity while waiting on inter-island ferry delays.

- RATANA CELEBRATIONS: About 7000 people are attending celebrations to commemorate the founder of the Ratana church. Prime Minister Helen Clark is due to arrive in about an hour’s time and is expected to deliver a speech about the Government’s performance.

- DAIRY MERGER: A dairy farmers group has rejected an independent report that says a planned dairy mega-merger is not in the country’s interest.

- HIGH COUNTRY PESTS: The Department of Conservation says other pests, including hares, and weeds may be taking the place of rabbits killed by the illegally introduced calisi virus in the South Island’s High Country.

- MIDDLE EAST PEACE TALKS: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has recalled his top negotiators from peace talks with Palestinians in an Egyptian resort, following the discovery of the bodies of two murdered Israelis in a Palestinian controlled West Bank town.

- US EDUCATION REFORM: US President George W. Bush has made education reform, including reform of public schools, his first proposal to congress.

- PIGEON WARS: There has been a new development in the battle of Trafalgar Square – dividing people along pro and anti pigeon lines. In a victory for pro-pigeon forces, the sole bird feed seller has won a temporary high court reprieve allowing him to keep selling feed.

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