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National Radio Midday Report

Boat People – East Timor Election – PNG Peace Deal – Fiji Election – Ambulance Call Centres – Kaikoura Spill – Middle East – Plane Attacks – Nurse Practitioners – Gavin Dash – Euros – DoC Discrimination – Asbestos Trouble – Auckland Rail – Grape Biosecurity – Phones Restored

BOAT PEOPLE: Australian PM John Howard still won’t back down over the asylum seekers stranded off Christmas Island. He won’t let the Norwegian freighter Tampa unload its 460 mainly Afghan asylum seekers on Australian soil. UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson insists Australia should take them in, at least temporarily. The NZ Refugees Council is urging NZ to resettle some of the asylum seekers here if they are genuine refugees. NZ PM Helen Clark says we could accept an unspecified number.

EAST TIMOR ELECTION: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has congratulated East Timor’s people on the success of the territory’s first democratic election.

PNG PEACE DEAL: Paupua New Guinea and Bouganville have sealed peace agreement after a decade of war. A peace agreement was signed, with Commonwealth and UN representatives including New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff present.

FIJI ELECTION: Police in Fiji have stepped up security in a rural part of Fiji where burning, looting and intimidation was at its worst during the coup last year, as polling in the general election continues. Preliminary results indicate voter turnout will be low.

AMBULANCE CALL CENTRES: A review of the country’s ambulance communication centres has recommended the closure of five centres.

KAIKOURA SPILL: The driver of the truck that rolled south of Kaikoura earlier this year, spilling toxic chemicals into the sea, has been fined $500 after admitting to driving carelessly.

MIDDLE EAST: The end of Israel’s re-occupation of Beit Jala appears to have set the stage for possible meetings between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and the Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Perez.

PLANE ATTACKS: US war planes have attacked Iraqi air defences for the second time this week, after Iraq claimed to have shot down an unmanned US surveillance plane.

NURSE PRACTITIONERS: Nurses say new approach to nursing care should not be seen as a threat to doctors or other medical professionals. Nurse Practitioners, the first of whom should be practicing as early as next year, will be able to make diagnoses and prescribe medicine.

GAVIN DASH: The crown has begun making final address to the jury in the murder trial of David Gates, the man who killed Wellington law student Gavin Dash in 1999. The defence has submitted that Gates was legally insane at the time of the killing.

EUROS: The president of the European Central Bank has unveiled the new bank notes that will be replacing 12 European currencies. Earlier, the bank announced it was cutting its key interest rate by a quarter of one per cent.

DOC DISCRIMINATION: A survey of Department of Conservation staff has found that many women and Maori workers felt discriminated against.

ASBESTOS TROUBLE: The Government has recommended that the Manukau City Council works out a local solution to its asbestos problems.

AUCKLAND RAIL: An announcement is expected this afternoon on progress in talks between the Government and Tranz Rail about buying the Auckland track network off the rail company.

GRAPE BIOSECURITY: The president of the Grape Growers Council is challenging the Government over the need to protect vineyards from breaches in biosecurity.

PHONES RESTORED: Most phone services have been restored to people in Southland and Central Otago. The problem stemmed from truck crashing into telecommunications box.

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