Budget: VFI Fund, Health, Tertiary Sector – US Senate – Balkans – East Coast Labour – Rat Poison Spill – Yelashgate - Earthquake
BUDGET – VFI FUND: The Minister of RS&T Pete Hodgson is confident his $100 million fund will attract entrepreneurs to NZ who will create wealth and jobs. Hodgson says he hopes the fund will eventually be self-funding.
BUDGET – HEALTH: The head of the biggest hospital is warning of cost cutting following the budget. The board’s budget has gone up by 1.7%, it’s population has gone up by 2.3% and its wage bill has gone up by $4 million. Cutting patient services will be the last option. Finance Minister Michael Cullen says that DHBs will have to look at efficiency.
BUDGET – TERTIARY SECTOR: Meanwhile Dr Cullen insists the offer of extra funding to Universities is not-negotiable. The universities have to accept this is a take it or leave it offer, he says. Michael Cullen says he will talk but not negotiate.
US SENATE: The Democrats have gained control of the US Senate, giving George W. Bush his biggest blow so far. This is the first time the Senate has been controlled by democrats since 1994.
BALKANS: Macedonia has launched a large assault against Albanian rebels. Meanwhile Serbian troops have moved into a buffer zone on the border of Kosovo. The move has the support of KFOR.
EAST COAST LABOUR: A government report says a looming shortage of skilled labour will make it hard to cut logs on the East Coast. The report says low pay means that some workers prefer the dole.
RAT POISON SPILL: Health Authorities say it will be several weeks before they know if a stretch of the Kaikoura Coast – affected by a rat-poison spill - is safe for swimming and taking shellfish.
YELASHGATE: The Attorney General has escaped a breach of privilege charge over comments she made regarding the Yelash defamation pay out. National’s Murray McCully says the party is considering relitigating the matter.
EARTHQUAKE: An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale, centred north of Taumaranui, was heard throughout the North Island today.