Christmas Island Refugee Crisis – Centre For Strategic Studies – Bougainville – East Timor – Prison Strike – Mark Burton Trial – Michael Coffin Murder – Wellington Rail Purchase Concerns – Black Grace
CHRISTMAS ISLAND REFUGEE CRISIS: Early this morning the Australia Senate has rejected proposals to strengthen laws against refugee boat people. A Norwegian freighter with more than 400 asylum seekers aboard is now sitting 4 miles off the coast of Christmas Island. SAS soldiers boarded the freighter yesterday. Meanwhile the NZ PM is calling on the United Nations to intervene in the crisis.
CENTRE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: The Government has emphatically denied a claim that it has acted to cut funding to the Centre for Strategic Studies. All three funding agencies for the centre, MFAT, The Ministry of Defence and the Defence Forces have cut funding and the Centre may have to close at the end of the year.
BOUGAINVILLE: A peace agreement between PNG and Bougainville rebels is to be signed today in Arawa. The agreement culminates negotiations that will give the island autonomy.
EAST TIMOR: 100s of thousands of East Timorese go to the polls in a few hours. These are the first free elections in the territory. Sixteen parties are contesting the vote with Freitilin out in the front.
PRISON STRIKE: State Services Minister Trevor Mallard says a Corrections Department industrial action may lead to the suspension of prison officers.
MARK BURTON TRIAL: A second psychiatrist will give evidence today in he trial of Mark Burton for matricide. Yesterday a psychiatrist criticised decisions to discharge Burton the day before he stabbed his mother to death.
MICHAEL COFFIN MURDER: The police investigating the suspected killing of Auckland man Michael Coffin say it is taking time to piece together a picture of the missing mans life. After finding his car yesterday a missing person investigation was upgraded to a homicide inquiry.
RAIL PURCHASE CONCERNS: Concerns are being raised in Wellington about the speed with which the regional council is moving towards taking over the Wellington commuter rail network. Some mayors are concerned that the process is going to fast.
BLACK GRACE: An Auckland based dance company Black Grace is the only new arts organisation receiving institutional funding from the Arts Council.