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New Zealand Herald

Nose Stud Controversy - Helen Clark - Infrastructure Auckland - Wages Of Lotto - Persecuted By the Council - PM on Polls - Sex Slave - Road Toll - Orphaned Chimp - Greens - Dope Vote Split - United - Winston - Editorial: Economy & Election

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NOSE STUD CONTROVERSY: A 15-year-old Hillsborough girl has missed six weeks of school after being excluded for wearing a nose stud she says is culturally important to her. Shivani Karan, a fourth former at Onehunga High School, began wearing the traditional 'khil' stud midway through this year. She is the youngest of generations of women in her family who have worn the khil as a link to her family and culture.

HELEN CLARK: A buoyant Helen Clark made a pitch for middle-income voters yesterday, telling them National could not win and urging them to ensure Labour became a "very strong force" in the next Government. The Labour leader listed her priorities for the first 100 days of a Labour administration, promising legislation before Christmas to ban MPs from defecting from their parties.

INFRASTRUCTURE AUCKLAND: Chairman Craig Little and two fellow directors have been dumped from the board of Infrastructure Auckland, the body set up last year with the $1 billion assets of the former regional services trust. An electoral college, made up of Auckland's seven mayors and Auckland Regional Council chairman Philip Warren, has confirmed it will not reappoint Mr Little and colleagues Margaret Tapper and Geoff Clatworthy to the board. They will step down on December 31.

WAGES OF LOTTO: The Lotteries Commission is under fire for its retirement scheme. The staff, public servants, are given golden handshakes without having to contribute a cent.

PERSECUTED BY THE COUNCIL: A woman wept as she told how the Auckland City Council destroyed her family's dream of building a luxury tourist lodge on Great Barrier Island, leaving them virtually destitute and on the verge of bankruptcy. Deputy mayor Dr Bruce Hucker last night confirmed he had launched a full inquiry into allegations that the council waged a seven-year campaign against Les and Beverley Harrington.

PM ON POLLS: Prime Minister Jenny Shipley believes poll results are not reflecting National's real level of support. Commenting on yesterday's Waikato University poll which put National almost 12 percentage points behind Labour, she said: "Most of the pollsters will tell you that they have never seen such a large group of people not undecided [but] actually refusing to answer."

SEX SLAVE: Police want victims of abuse to come forward after a South Auckland couple were found guilty of using their niece as a sex slave. The inquiry head, Detective Sergeant Neil Grimstone, said the convictions sent out the important message to both victims and abusers that "the system works."

ROAD TOLL: Four people died on the roads yesterday afternoon in what the police called "a mad few hours." The deaths took the road toll for the weekend to five.

ORPHANED CHIMP: The owner of Buddy, an orphaned baby circus chimp, wants $10,000 to hand him over to New Zealand animal rights campaigners to release in a wildlife sanctuary. The fate of the chimp, whose mother, Lola, died in Samoa last week, is being decided at the highest level in that country.

GREENS: The Greens have accused National of putting out a postcard full of "lies and defamation" in a further bid to wreck Jeanette Fitzsimons' chances in the Coromandel seat. The postcard, headed "The Greens - Worrying Facts and Faces You Need to Know," claims that Jeanette Fitzsimons supports programmes for children on safe cannabis use.

DOPE VOTE SPLIT: The "dope vote" this election could be the biggest yet, but cannabis law-change proponents suspect supporters' loyalties are divided. The single-issue Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) has lost some of its leading lights to the Green Party and the Greens are, so to speak, on a roll.

UNITED: Many New Zealanders will never have heard of the list candidates in Peter Dunne's United Party. But, according to Mr Dunne, some are media celebrities as big as Paul Holmes in their own countries.

WINSTON: Winston Peters has five days to fight for his political life. He and New Zealand First are on a knife-edge between annihilation and a respectable showing of about six MPs. Under the vagaries of MMP, a few thousand votes on Saturday could spell the difference. If his party does not win an electorate seat and fails to make 5 per cent, it will be out of the next Parliament.

EDITORIAL - ECONOMY: It is typical of an election campaign that attention should focus on almost anything except the subject that matters most. Perhaps the final week will see side issues put where they belong and questions of the country's future come to the fore. The economy, as always, is central. It received a very good prognosis from the Reserve Bank last week, with recovery from the Asian crisis reckoned to continue at close to 4 per cent growth over the next year or two. The country is fortunate that both its main political parties adhere to effective counter-inflationary policies entrusted to a detached central bank and both recognise the disciplines necessary, in the form of fiscal restraint and private sector competition, if the country is to earn its way in world trade.

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