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New Zealand Herald

Sydney Train Smash – Britomart – Trade Policy Shift – All Blacks – Cabinet – Socks Row – Drinking At School – Hero – Maori Fish – F-16S – Editorial: Awatere Huata

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SYDNEY TRAIN SMASH: The driver of a Sydney commuter train was hailed last night for his courage and quick thinking - qualities which almost certainly saved lives when his train collided with the interstate Indian Pacific at the foot of the Blue Mountains, killing up to 12 people. As his train rounded a blind bend near Glenbrook Station, 55km west of Sydney, and headed towards the stationary Indian Pacific, he slammed on the emergency brakes and raced into the passenger compartment warning commuters to brace themselves.

BRITOMART: Axing the Britomart project could plunge the Auckland City Council into the red - even without the cost of a likely lawsuit from the developers. Council staff are still working out how much of the $23 million of ratepayers' money spent on the canned $164 million transport terminal will be written off and how much can be salvaged for a smaller replacement project.

TRADE POLICY SHIFT: The Prime Minister-elect signalled a change in New Zealand's trade policy yesterday and pressed outgoing Trade Minister Lockwood Smith to take up the new line at the Seattle talks. Helen Clark said her Government would push for the World Trade Organisation to include employment and environmental issues on its agenda, and she expected that position to be represented in the current round of talks.

ALL BLACKS: A 17-year-old schoolboy was among the applicants for the vacant All Blacks rugby coaching job. However, Napier Boys High School sixth-former Aaron Hankin was not interviewed by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union.

CABINET: Labour and Alliance MPs are scrambling for cabinet jobs as the coalition moves from negotiations to forming a Government. The two parties wrapped up their coalition talks in five days yesterday and will sign an agreement and form a cabinet next week.

SOCKS ROW: The rebirth of Team New Zealand's red socks promotion ran into rough seas yesterday, with the Greens urging people not to buy the socks because they are made overseas. America's Cup campaign boss Sir Peter Blake, who made red socks an unlikely fashion in 1995, relaunched the promotion yesterday to raise at least $600,000 for the New Zealand syndicate.

DRINKING AT SCHOOL: Senior students at Christ's College may be the first in New Zealand to follow an upper-crust English practice of having a beer in their own school bar. In light of the drinking age being lowered to 18, the Christchurch private school for boys is considering opening a bar in a seventh-form common room.

HERO: Two Auckland outdoor events - the Hero Parade and the Starlight Symphony in the Domain - do not have the money to go ahead next year. Hero, a gay extravaganza which attracts tens of thousands of people, has been moved back to February 2001.

MAORI FISH: A shakeup of the Waitangi Fisheries Commission may be needed to speed the distribution of assets, says the man most likely to be next Minister of Maori Affairs. Dover Samuels says not only Maoridom but the whole country is tired of the legal wrangling.

F-16S: The new Labour-led Government has indicated it may seek to cancel a deal to lease United States F-16 strike fighter aircraft - provided the termination cost is not too high. The Shipley Administration agreed in July to lease 28 older-model F-16 A/B jet aircraft to replace the country's 19 ageing, subsonic Skyhawk A-4 attack aircraft.

EDITORIAL – AWATERE HUATA: The outgoing Deputy Prime Minister, Wyatt Creech, has found nothing amiss in the actions of an Act MP, Donna Awatere Huata, who twice contacted the office of the Minister of Immigration over a matter of financial interest to her husband. Mr Creech, the Acting Immigration Minister since Tuariki Delamere was sacked over the same matter, has checked the office records and concludes that Mrs Awatere Huata was not "directly lobbying" in her husband's interest. She was merely seeking "information as to the process" of Mr Huata's request. Her party leader, Richard Prebble, is naturally relieved and other parliamentary leaders have been quiet. Labour and the Alliance have had coalition negotiations on their minds this week but issues of political and public service probity figured so prominently in their election campaigns that they ought to offer a view of this case. Is it proper for a member of Parliament to be even "seeking information" about a matter of pecuniary interest to his or her spouse, and therefore of interest to the member?

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