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Nation Radio Midday Report

Doctors Strike – Russian Sub – Urewera Park – Telecommunications Inquiry – TransAlta – Kashmir – Singapore Trade Deal – Ports Of Auckland – US Presidential race –Massey – Paua Poaching – Petrol Theft

- DOCTOR’S STRIKE: Junior Doctors walked off the job in Northland this morning, the first in a series of strikes planned at public hospitals. They left the wards at 8am, their places taken by their senior colleagues. The action comes after their request for a 20 percent pay increase, to bring their pay into line with overseas positions and stem the tide of young doctors overseas, was rejected. Non urgent surgery has been cancelled for e duration of the strike. Further strikes are due in Wanganui and Palmerston North Tomorrow, then Waikato next week. Further strikes around the country are likely.

- RUSSIAN SUB: The US defence secretary William Cohen has said the Russian Submarine accident in the Barents Sea underscores the need for rigorous training. All 118 crew on the Kursk are confirmed dead. Russia has been criticised at home and abroad for not seeking international assistance and for misleading early reports. President Vladimir Putin’s public image has been seriously tarnished over his handling of the affair.

- UREWERA PARK: Conservation Minister Sandra Lee has said she has instructed conservation officers to upgrade the road into the Urewera Natinal park. Tensions between local Tuhoe Maori and the crown are historic, and Lee the road upgrade and plans for several marae sites to be created in the area will help improve relations – an occupation by Tuhoe in 1998 prompted a ministerial inquiry. But she says public safety was her major concern – she said she didn’t want to see another cave creek disaster, which killed 14 people in 1995. There are concerns the areas could become an exclusive Maori camping ground.

- TELECOMMUNICATIONS INQUIRY: Clear Communications has made a strong plea to the ministerial telecommunications inquiry to allow it unlimited access to Telecom’s local network. Clear told the inquiry that such a move would allow it to offer the public greater choice and better deals.

- TRANSALTA: A power consumer has started to bill his electricity retailer for the time he spent trying to work out incorrect statements, and trying to swap to another retailer. The Christchurch TransAlta customer has begun to bill the company $100 per hour for the time he had spent dealing with them. The head of TransAlta understands that customers have become frustrated and angry, and have acknowledged their service has not been up to scratch. Reimbursement for lost time will have to be considered on an individual basis.

- KASHMIR: Two senior officers Indian army are amongst 12 people killed by a land mine blast in Kashmir. In another incident two soldiers were killed and 10 injured in a rocket attack by Mulsim separatists. Nearly a dozen seperatist groups are fighting Indian rule in Muslim majority Kasmir.

- SINGAPORE TRADE DEAL: The Prime Minister says the Government will not be bound by symbolic vote in Parliament on the Singapore trade agreement. PM says foreign policy is an executive prerogative of the cabinet.

- PORTS OF AUCKLAND: The Americas cup has boosted ports of Auckland’s profit. They made an after tax profit of nearly $43 million, up 30 percent from last year.

- US PRESIDENTIAL RACE: The latest US polls put Al Gore and George W. Bush at neck and neck. The Democratic Convention has boosted Gore’s popularity – previous polls had put him as much as 16 percent behind Republican candidate Bush.

- MASSEY UNIVERSITY: Massy University staff have begun a work to rule, following a breakdown in negotiations on pay and conditions. Union members voted overwhelmingly to reject an offer of a 1.25 pay increase by the university.

- PAUA POACHING: Paua industry is concerned that poaching has reached about 20 percent of legal take, and is threatening the sustainability of the resource.

- PETROL THEFT: Police in Kaiapoi, north of Christchurch says petrol price increases may be behind an increased in petrol thefts.

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