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Unemployment Down – ACT/Nats Caucus – Policeman Appears In Court – Sharon Talks Tough – President Wahid – Kidman/Cruise Divorce – William Parties

- UNEMPLOYMENT DOWN: Just as the Government prepares to court business again, our official unemployment rate is at a 12-year low, 5.6 per cent. Economists say the future looks good. This time the focus of the Government’s charm offensive on business is focussed on South Island Business leaders, at the Christchurch government-business summit. Some business leaders have said they are disappointed by the lack of action from the government following last year’s business-government summit in Auckland. Finance Minister said he wants to put New Zealand back into the top half of developed countries over the world.

- ACT/NATS CAUCUS: ACT and national are both having caucus meetings in Napier, and are using the chance to get together and have a joint caucus tomorrow. ACT MPs are meeting local business people in Napier. National Leader Jenny Shipley have ruled out any pre election coalition deal with ACT, saying there are other coalition options for National, including United Future.

- POLICEMAN APPEARS IN COURT: A top Auckland policeman who faces drink-driving charges is tonight trying to leave the force. Brett Marsh is now negotiating an early end to his police career with a full superannuation deal. Marsh has been suspended on full pay since he was stopped with excess breath alcohol in December. Marsh has indicated he will plead not guilty. He appeared to receive preferential treatment when he appeared in court today.

- SHARON TALKS TOUGH: Israel’s new Prime Minister, Likud leader Ariel Sharon, has kept up the tough talk on his first day in the job. On a visit to Jerusalem he reiterated his intention to keep the city an Israeli city. Palestinians believe Mr Sharon is a war criminal, some have burned effigies of him. In conflict flash points, fighting continued as usual.

- PRESIDENT WAHID: Violence has flared in Indonesia, when rioting Muslims clashed with police over corruption allegations against President Wahid. President Wahid has three months to answer corruption charges before impeachment procedures can begin.

- KIDMAN/CRUISE DIVORCE: Divorce papers have now been filed by Tom Cruise against his Australian actress wife Nicole Kidman. Cruise has asked for joint custody of the pair’s two adopted children.

- WILLIAM PARTIES: Prince William joined his father at a party in London, along with the woman who could become his stepmother, Camilla Parker-Bowles.

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