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New Zealand Herald

Labour Tertiary Policy – East Timor – City Noise – Labour Broadcasting – Ansett – World Cup – Helicopter Accident – Tax Policy – Tax Editorial – No Food – Tower – Kiwi Saved – Oil Prices

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LABOUR TERTIARY POLICY: Labour is today expected to promise an extra $700 million for tertiary education over the next three years. The party's flagship tertiary education policy, due out this morning, will boost money for university and polytechnic courses and scrap interest payments for many students with loans. It is understood the policy will: * Waive all interest payments for borrowers earning less than $25,000, with full interest payments starting at $30,000. * Double the amount students can borrow for course costs from $500 to $1000. * Bring back compulsory student association membership, which the Government scrapped last year.

EAST TIMOR – NZ TROOPS: New Zealand's main troops are on standby to leave for East Timor from today, but aircraft availability may delay their arrival until Friday. The 280-strong Army company has finished eight days' training and acclimatisation in Darwin, and is ready to join the Australian-led mission to secure peace in the conflict-riven island.

EAST TIMOR – REFUGEES: New Zealand is preparing to open its doors to traumatised refugees from East Timor. Officials are drawing up advice to the Government on possible numbers and costs after a request last week by Australia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

CITY NOISE: Make a noise in the city and you could get a visit from a local body noise officer. But make a ruckus on the water, between the high-tide mark and the 12-mile limit, and you come under the authority of the Auckland Regional Council, which does not have any noise control officers.

LABOUR BROADCASTING: Labour has ruled out reinstating the broadcasting fee, which is being phased out, even though the party was originally opposed to abolishing it. Labour leader Helen Clark said her party would also seek fewer advertisements and more New Zealand drama, documentaries and children's programmes on TVNZ in return for letting the state-owned broadcaster keep more of its profits.

ANSETT: At least seven locked-out pilots have quit Ansett New Zealand to work overseas. Adam Nicholson, spokesman for the Airline Pilots Association, said senior pilots who held training positions were among those who had headed for Europe, while others were eyeing friendlier skies as the bitter dispute over a new contract remains deadlocked.

WORLD CUP RUGBY: A different north vs south rugby scrap is looming before the start of the fourth Rugby World Cup as television networks tackle the off-field tournament rules. The southern conglomerate of TVNZ, Channel Seven in Australia and M-Net from South Africa have joined forces to attack Cup organisers, who have restricted the networks' post-match player interviews to those games in which their countries are involved.

HELICOPTER ACCIDENT: The Civil Aviation Authority will investigate an incident in which the tail fin of one helicopter was clipped by another while they were shooting aerial scenes for the movie The Vertical Limit on Friday. The helicopters were operated by Queenstown-based Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters during filming for the American picture.

TAX POLICY: Labour has given a guarded welcome to the Alliance's tax policy, saying its likely coalition partner now accepts the Labour view that tax increases should not apply to people earning less than $60,000. The Alliance election policy, released yesterday, matches Labour's intention to lift the top personal tax rate from 33c to 39c on income over $60,000.

TAX EDITORIAL: If this election is going to be decided by taxation, voters will have been presented with a good selection. The Alliance policy published yesterday completes a spectrum of choice. At one end, Act advocates substantial cuts towards a low flat rate, ideally 20 per cent. At the next stall, National is boasting tax cuts in each of its past two terms and proposing another, for middle-income earners, if re-elected. Moving left, Labour plans to raise the top rate to 39c for every dollar of earnings above $60,000. Now the Alliance proposes two higher rates, 43c on income above $75,000 and 47c from $100,000. The Alliance calls its intended top rates an "executive surcharge," which at least leaves little to the imagination about the party's motive. It is not the prospective revenue - just 4 per cent of taxpayers earn more than $70,000 - it is the principle. Call it equity or call it envy, the Alliance does not like people to earn a great deal more than the average.

NO FOOD: Sceptics have put up $100,000 in a bid to make a controversial Australian spiritualist eat her words over claims she does not need food. The New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists has put up the purse as a reward to New Age teacher Jasmuheen, if she can go a month without eating, but there is a catch.

TOWER: Four hundred thousand shareholders in financial services group newcomer Tower Ltd are less wealthy than they might have expected to be at the end of the first day's trading on the sharemarket. The company's shares fell from an issue price of 565c to a low of 530c, before recovering to 540c at the close of trading.

KIWI SAVED: The humble kiwi has known some pretty tough moments in its time on this planet - but none could have got off to quite the bumpy start of young Sparky. There he was, quite content in his shell preparing for a grand entry into the big wide world when along came a Northland farmer who decided he needed saving from a dog-tucker fate.

OIL PRICES: Rising world oil prices may start hitting consumers in the pocket in places other than at the petrol station. The trucking industry said yesterday that freight rates would rise because operators could not keep absorbing fuel costs, raising the possibility of a ripple effect on prices of any goods travelling the country's highways.

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