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New Zealand Herald

Alliance Tax Policy – Tomato Sauce – Petrol Prices – Bastion Point – MMP – Helen Clark – Election Date Editorial – Wellington Central – Eating Or Not – Immunisation – East Timor Darwin – Bob Harvey – Poverty – Radio Wedding – Youth Radio - Ansett

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ALLIANCE TAX POLICY: The Alliance is softening its tax policy, aligning its key increase in the top personal rate with Labour. But it will go into the campaign with its eye on high earners and is proposing an 'executive surcharge' on income above $75,000. The policy, which will be released today, is designed to blunt National's 'tax attack' by ensuring the vast bulk of taxpayers remain untouched by the tax plans of a Labour-Alliance coalition.

TOMATO SAUCE: A piece of Kiwiana that has delivered splurts of tomato sauce for 30 years has captured the hearts of the British - and provided a tasty export market for a local manufacturer. Britons, it seems, just can't get enough of our bright red tomato-shaped plastic tomato sauce dispensers.

PETROL PRICES: Shell is putting up its petrol prices for the fifth time in less than three months - and further rises seem likely as the price of crude oil continues to soar. Prices at Shell stations will go up 3c a litre from midnight tonight.

BASTION POINT: Ngati Whatua has resurrected plans for a housing development on Bastion Pt - in the form of an upmarket retirement village. Eastcliffe on Orakei, a joint development between Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board and Protac Investments, will be targeted at retirees already living in the affluent surrounding suburbs.

MMP: It has to be voters' worst nightmare. Regardless of who actually wins the election, will the coalition talks go on forever, as they did last time? And will we all be sitting down to Christmas dinner (four weeks later) or celebrating the new millennium (five weeks later) with no Prime Minister, no Government and no clear idea of where the country is going?

HELEN CLARK:Forget a week, six months can be a long time in politics, as Helen Clark discovered when she hit the campaign trail in her Owairaka electorate yesterday. An 8-year-old constituent, Rawiri Nahu, studied first a billboard photo, then the real-life version beneath it, and asked, "Is that you when you were young?"

ELECTION DATE - EDITORIAL: A date certainly concentrates the mind. The date National has set for its appointment with the voters is about as late as constitutionally permitted, but even two months out the election suddenly looms large. A late November ballot, even if it returns to a cycle broken since 1984, seems a little too late for good government now. Elections are a catharsis, and after them the country needs to get on quickly. The date National has set leaves very little time for a new or re-elected government to get down to business before the summer hiatus.

WELLINGTON CENTRAL: National's decision not to stand an election candidate in Wellington Central has strengthened Act's hand there, a new poll suggests. The Evening Post-UMR Insight poll of 300 voters published yesterday shows support for Act leader Richard Prebble rising 14 percentage points.

EATING OR NOT: Nutritionists dismiss as fantasy a spiritualist's claim she does not need to eat. Australian new-age spiritualist Jasmuheen says she receives nutrition from an internal power source. She has been lecturing in Auckland, but Scottish prosecutors are probing links between her teachings and a woman's death in the Highlands.

IMMUNISATION: New Zealand is now lagging behind Australia in child immunisation, says a local expert in the field. Dr Nikki Turner, medical director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre in Auckland, has just returned from an international immunisation conference in Manchester, England.

EAST TIMOR – DARWIN: HMNZS Canterbury sailed from Darwin last night for waters thick with Indonesian naval vessels. The Indonesian Navy is manoeuvring around a growing multinational fleet of destroyers, frigates and other vessels supporting United Nations operations on East Timor.

BOB HARVEY: Labour president Bob Harvey may have taken an instruction about leaving comment to the party's leader "too literally." Mr Harvey, the colourful Waitakere mayor, declined interviews about the election date - set on Sunday as November 27 - sparking suggestions that the party had gagged him after his embarrassing claim that the CIA was implicated in the death of former Prime Minister Norman Kirk.

POVERTY: Even the brightest of our poor children are slipping behind their classmates as they get older. A study on New Zealand 8-year-olds - involving a group of 550 children who have been tracked since they turned 5 - has found that some of the most capable poor and Maori 5-year-olds had fallen behind their peers three years later.

RADIO WEDDING: The radio station staging the marriage of two strangers this week is in the middle of its twice-yearly ratings battle. Darryl Paton, marketing manager of Hamilton radio station The Edge, said the promotion - Two Strangers and a Wedding - was not part of a ratings war.

YOUTH RADIO: Angry independent radio stations have condemned the Government's announcement of a non-commercial youth network, saying it placed their own futures under serious threat. The Government insisted the non-commercial youth network would boost the New Zealand music industry here and overseas.

ANSETT: Ansett New Zealand is investigating claims that its pilots have been phoned and called scabs while in the air. The airline and the Airline Pilots Association initially denied any knowledge of reports that pilots who had signed a controversial new employment contract had been targeted while flying aircraft.

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