F16S – Americas Cup – Nandor And Pot – Buddy The Chimp – Timberlands – Sweetwaters Fraud – Drowning Investigation – F16s Australian Reaction – Tauranga – Editorial Nandor And Pot
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F16S: The Coalition cabinet is on a collision course with Canberra and Washington after Prime Minister Helen Clark signalled that budget pressures could force cancellation of the deal to lease F-16 jet fighters. Officials advised the first meeting of the new cabinet yesterday that the Defence Force was unable to meet all its existing re-equipment commitments from its budget.
AMERICAS CUP: The terror of sinking and the fear that someone would die have combined to end an $80 million America's Cup dream for Young America. Five years of toil ended in despair yesterday for the syndicate when their run in the cup was torpedoed by rival America True's decision to stay on land.
NANDOR AND POT: Police say they are unlikely to act over the cannabis-smoking of Green MP Nandor Tanczos. As Rastafarian Mr Tanczos declared his intention to continue to flout the law, Auckland City's top policeman, Superintendent Howard Broad, said: "He isn't breaking the law by saying what he is doing. "I think it's probably more likely that he will be judged politically - and so unless some avenue of inquiry becomes available to us, we're unlikely to do anything about it at the moment."
BUDDY THE CHIMP: Buddy the orphaned chimp is about to jet off for a new life in Zambia - in a rainforest-style wildlife sanctuary with 70 fellow chimpanzees. As he grimaced and squawked delightedly in the arms of vet and primate expert Dr Berend Westera at a South Auckland quarantine centre yesterday, 3-year-old Buddy seemed to sense that freedom was finally close at hand.
TIMBERLANDS: The Government is prepared for a legal fight over its directive to stop Timberlands West Coast from logging native beech. The shareholding ministers - Finance Minister Michael Cullen and the minister responsible for Timberlands, Pete Hodgson - yesterday wrote to the board of Timberlands directing it to amend its statement of corporate intent to immediately exclude beech logging from its business.
SWEETWATERS FRAUD: Sweetwaters director Daniel Keighley says he made a "massive misjudgment" in using forged documents to lure investors into pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into his failed music festival. The bankrupt businessman pleaded guilty to five counts of document forgery in the Thames District Court yesterday.
DROWNING INVESTIGATION: A private investigator hired by the mother of drowned schoolgirl Chong Liu has been checking circumstances surrounding her death as police conduct their own review of the case. Chong's mother, Li-Li Li, is applying for a second extension to her visitor's permit as it now appears police will not release their findings until next year.
F16S: Axing the F-16 jet fighter deal would both anger and dismay Australia, which has long regarded New Zealand as a bludger in defence with little real commitment to the region and as an increasingly unreliable ally. After the refusal to purchase a third Anzac frigate - the disappointment was even more keenly felt because of the hefty incentives offered by Canberra - New Zealand regained some lost stature with National's moves to significantly upgrade the Army and to replace the Skyhawks.
TAURANGA: Helen Clark yesterday issued a "hurry-up" to Justice Ministry officials to ensure the judicial recount of votes in Tauranga is completed well before Parliament is due to be sworn in next Monday. The Prime Minister told her Minister of Justice, Phil Goff, to ensure sufficient staff and resources for a speedy recount after Attorney-General Margaret Wilson, who came third in the seat, lodged a recount application.
EDITORIAL – NANDOR: The Greens are going to be a refreshingly unconventional force in the new Parliament, but there is one convention they ought to observe: those who make the laws should not break them - any of them. One of their newly elected list, Nandor Tanczos, says he smokes cannabis and has every intention to continue when he becomes a sworn legislator next week. He holds that he is not breaking the law because, as a Rastafarian, he believes he has a religious dispensation under the Bill of Rights Act. The courts will wrestle with that one if he is not careful. The views of his party leaders are of more concern. "Good on him," says Rod Donald. "The law is an ass and the sooner we change it the better." Jeanette Fitzsimons says: "I don't have a problem with the occasional breaking of this particular law." We could expect better from those with a term in the legislature behind them. All acts of Parliament depend for their effect on public respect for the law.