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Christmas Island Refugee Crisis – Refugees Gather At Chunnel Entrance In France – School Fires – Armed Robberies – Party Hopping Bill – Gavin Dash Murder Jury Retires – Dr Christopher Simpson Matricide Trial – Dr Christian Barnard

CHRISTMAS ISLAND REFUGEE CRISIS: A federal court has ruled that Afghan refugees can be transferred from a freighter off the coast of Christmas Island to an Australian troop ship. Built for 450 troops the ship intends to transport the refugees to Papua New Guinea. Under the Pacific Plan they will then be air transported to New Zealand and Nauru. Staff from the office of immigration are to board the Tampa. The transfer has begun now. Barges will be used to move the people. The journey to Papua New Guinea is expected to take six to eight days. If the court case goes against Australia the ship may have to be recalled to Australia while it is enroute. Legally the refugees are still on the Tampa according to a legal fiction. The boat may have to come back to Australia if the court so rules later.

REFUGEES GATHER AT CHUNNEL ENTRANCE IN FRANCE: They walk on the lines and then are persuaded to return to their camp.

SCHOOL FIRES: The Insurance Council says call outs to suspicious fires at schools are sky rocketing. There have been several damaging fires including one of a gymnasium. Fire fighters were called out to 290 suspected arsons last year. The risk seems to be increasing says Council spokesman Chris Ryan. Schools can minimise the risk by installing sprinklers.

ARMED ROBBERIES: There were several armed robberies in Auckland.

PARTY HOPPING BILL: The Government and NZ First have reached an agreement on a party-hopping bill. Winston Peters a beneficiary and a victim of party hopping says the measure is needed to prevent the result people vote for at the election being corrupted. A guide to how to sack and MP is outlined – the process is fairly arduous. United Future NZ’s Peter Dunne says the bill is dangerous. The Greens call it undemocratic. The PM says the public has had a “gutsfull” of waka jumpers and there needs to be a settlement period for MMP. The law will automatically expire in four years by which time MMP will have stabilised.

GAVIN DASH MURDER JURY RETIRE: The jury has retired in the David Gates homicide trial in Wellington. The jury has been asked to determine whether gates knew his actions were morally wrong at the time he killed flat mate Gavin Dash. The 12 member jury was reduced to 11. The judge has allowed one juror leave due to a family crisis.

CHRISTOPHER SIMPSON TRIAL: The High Court trial of an Auckland Doctor accused of murdering his mother is continuing. The doctor was pacing up and down with tears in his eyes saying he couldn’t believe he could kill his own mother. I must be mad. The demon drink. Simpson had said. On the night his mother was killed Simpson was drinking brandy.

CHRISTIAN BARNARD DIES: The world is mourning Dr Christian Barnard the pioneering heart transplant surgeon. He died while holidaying in Cyprus. Tributes are flowing to the doctor who “knew how to live”. Barnard’s first patient survived for 18 days. He performed 75 transplants with one living 25 years. Nelson Mandela says he was also a hero of the anti-apartheid movement. 40,000 transplants are now performed a year.

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