1. ELECTRICITY REGULATION: Power controls to be extended over power retailers as well as line companies. Select Committee report made public this morning. The select committee has supported moves to regulate line companies by majority. The committee has also criticised retail companies expressing concerns about high disconnection and special meter reading charges. Compromise regulations in this area now look likely – an ironic result for the anti-regulation ACT party.
2. BREASTFEEDING: World Wide Fund for Nature says mothers should continue to breastfeed in spite of a report that found lots of toxins in breast milk. A spokeswoman says the organisation thought long and hard about releasing the study but at least now the government can address the problem. Mothers can also try to eat more organic food.
3. ARGENTINE PACIFIC ROSE: The Apple and Pear board has taken action to stop another Pacific Rose orchard in Argentina. This time fewer trees are involved. The trees are thought to have come from Chile where trees were destroyed earlier.
4. AMBULANCE ASSAULT: Wellington Free Ambulance says it will not be changing its procedures following an attack in Porrirua. Two female officers were beaten by a group of teenagers after responding to a hoax call. Police have not yet made an arrest in connection with the attack.
5. WESTAIR GROUNDED: The Civil Aviation Authority has grounded Westair and associated aircraft companies.
6. SCOTT WATSON TRIAL: Scott Watson trial now in its fifth week. Witnesses tell of Olivia Hope and Ben Smart’s last days. Trial now moving on to Scott Watson’s trip to the New Year’s eve party.
7. WINE-BOX: Lawyers for NZ First leader Winston Peters are attempting to have the Wine-box inquiry findings overturned . Lawyer Brian Henry has told the High Court the Commissioner Sir Ronald Davison made a legal error in declaring the Magnum transaction not to be illegal . The case is set down for two weeks,
8. AUSSIE DEPORTATION: The Howard League for Penal Reform says its supports the deportation of a New Zealand born man who has been convicted of 55 offences in Australia.
9. KASHMIR: Forces have begun withdrawing from Kashmir following a meeting between military commanders for India and Pakistan. The process of de-escalation is underway say both sides. Both sides have claimed victory. Pakistan says it is disengaging to enable negotiations.
10. TAX CUTS: Bill English says tax cuts are a symbol of the government’s economic direction and the PM makes a speech about winners. Businessman Murray McCall (from Comtex) says the New Zealand government should start picking winners. National’s campaign director Jeff Grant says it won’t – and neither would Labour.
11. SOUTH POLE: Midwinter airdrop at South Pole for woman with lump in breast appears to have succeeded.
12. LABOUR ON RMA: The Labour Party says it will retain the RMA largely unchanged. Changes to the act have been introduced by National but will not be passed by the election. Labour says it will not pursue them if elected. Speaking at the Local Government Association conference Helen Clark says the changes were not what was needed.
13. IRAN: Iran’s top security body says it will not tolerate police abuse of powers, at the same time it has also said that illegal protests will not be tolerated. Two senior police have been dismissed and all detained students have been released. An inquiry has begun.
14. DAIRY MERGER: Second Dairy Company now seems unlikely to become part of the Dairy Board merger. Tatua has opted out as the Marlborough Cheese cooperative. Draft legislation to Cabinet today.