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Christine Rankin (Extended Report – Parliamentary Fallout) – Kidnapping – Policeman Thief – Drug Dealer Found – Rail Safe – Auckland Hospital

CHRISTINE RANKIN (EXTENDED REPORT): Today it was the crown’s turn to cross-examine WINZ boss Christine Rankin. The crown portrayed her as a person who put herself first. A red suit and a change of earrings for another day in court. Crown counsel’s king hit was a charter flight to a conference at Wairakei. “I paid the price in so many ways for that,” said Rankin. The Crown argued that Minister Steve Maharey wanted simply to reinstate the public perception of WINZ. “I was not prepared to change the way I dress”, replied Rankin to questions. Maharey asked me to develop an honest face like Nandor, “I did not know how I could do that”. There was also a controversial stoush over a video which Rankin refused to supply to her minister. The Crown counsel said that the PM’s offices Mark Prebble had requested an “honest and frank” discussion in confidence with Rankin before remarking on her appearance. “I thought his comments digusting,” said Rankin. JANE YOUNG: She stood up to cross-examination pretty well. The crown is trying to blame Rankin for everything that was wrong with WINZ. She wants the crown to look at the bigger picture. Interestingly the substance of the allegations made by Rankin yesterday was not challenged today. Some of her claims about Maharey were corroborated by a staff member late this afternoon. It will be interesting to see how Steve Maharey performs on the stand.



CHRISTINE RANKIN – PARLIAMENTARY FALLOUT: In Parliament Steve Maharey denied blatant sexism. He said there were two sides to every story. Maharey was not looking comfortable when he responded to questions in the house. The Rankin allegations are a dream for the opposition.

KIDNAPPING: A 24 year old man is in police custody tonight following a hostage drama in Huntly. Police say their negotiator avoided a tragedy. Police say the man took a woman and child from their home early in the morning. At the height of the drama more than 14 police vehicles were involved in the pursuit of the offender. The man will appear in court tomorrow.

POLICEMAN THIEF: An Auckland detective has appeared in court charged with stealing an unmarked police car and drunken driving.

DRUG DEALER FOUND: Police say they are concerned that a drug dealer whose car was found in Bulls with blood stains may be dead.

RAIL SALE: Tranz Rail has sold several rail lines to West Coast Rail, an Australian firm. Four lines are likely to close. The managing director of West Coast says the other lines could not be purchased because they were not profitable. The Rail Workers Union says it wants the government to get serious about rail and buy the infrastructure back. Regular passengers on the lines that will close

AUCKLAND HOSPITAL: Auckland’s hospitals are being swamped by a wave of winter admissions. Auckland’s A&E center is struggling to cope. All the beds are full and passengers are in corridors. Some passengers have waited over 20 hours in corridors for a bed in the main hospital.

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