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New Zealand Herald

Labour’s Costings – Americas Cup – All Blacks Return – Hitmen – Aids Tests – ECA –Maori Land – Child Safety – The Two Marions – PM At The Races – Commercial Vehicles – Waikato Uni Fees – STD Ties – Editorial: Customs

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LABOUR’S COSTINGS: Labour says it can afford its seven core pledges without raising taxes, but warns New Zealand First leader Winston Peters that blocking its tax plans will see health and education suffer. Mr Peters has said that if NZ First holds the balance of power after the election, it will oppose Labour's $400 million tax increase and National's tax cuts of up to $1.2 billion a year.

AMERICAS CUP: Young America skipper Ed Baird was determined to stay awake last night, sitting with his broken America's Cup boat, which almost sank in the Hauraki Gulf. Crumpled like a torn paper ship, Young America limped back to port yesterday, its crew still frantically pumping water out of the hull to keep it afloat.

ALL BLACKS RETURN: Struggling with his luggage at an airport counter yesterday, All Black hooker Anton Oliver was clearly still shouldering the weight of Rugby World Cup defeat. He was one of 18 players who touched down in a drizzly Auckland dawn to face a warmer-than-expected welcome. Past the throngs of sleep-deprived fans, including an all-in-black front row of Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, husband Burton and Labour sports spokesman Trevor Mallard, Oliver hefted bulging suitcases to the domestic check-in.

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ALL BLACKS RETURN: Ollie Turner's banner welcoming the returning All Blacks may not have been the most artistic on show at Auckland Airport yesterday morning, but it was as heartfelt as the best of them. Knocked up by some mates on a home computer, the unadorned message was printed out on A4 sheets, pinned to a corkboard and held aloft. "Beaten not defeated," it read. "We still believe in you Kiwis."

HITMEN: Police have arrested a middle-aged woman in connection with a vicious home invasion allegedly involving three hired hitmen, one a notorious Paremoremo prison escaper who is still on the loose. The 52-year-old woman was arrested yesterday as police stepped up efforts to find Peter Anaru Matahaere, who is suspected of taking part in the brutal attack two days after escaping from a prison work party.

AIDS TESTS: Anyone wanting to enter New Zealand for more than two years from July next year will have to pass an HIV-Aids test. The Government said yesterday that mandatory offshore tests would be introduced for all refugees, immigrants and anyone wanting to study or work here for longer than two years.

ECA: Labour leader Helen Clark had two messages yesterday on the Employment Contracts Act: big change and not much change. She got a rousing response from Waikato Hospital workers in Hamilton when she told them she would repeal the Employment Contracts Act But the message was more tempered across town at the struggling fashion factory of Enid Heskett, who told Helen Clark she liked the act because she no longer had to pay overtime and the flexibility meant she could deliver orders on time.

AMERICAS CUP: Untidy America's Cup yachties are finding it hard to get a good bite to eat at the cup village built to celebrate their efforts on the water. Dress codes and high standards are causing "poor-looking" customers to be turned away from some bars and restaurants at the Viaduct Basin.

MAORI LAND: A retiring Maori Land Court judge has accused the Minister of Maori Affairs, Tau Henare, of undermining the court by delaying the appointment of a Chief Judge. Judge Heta Hingston said a year-long delay in appointing Auckland lawyer Joe Williams to replace former Chief Judge Eddie Durie - who was appointed a judge of the High Court - was an insult to the court and cast doubts over its future.

CHILD SAFETY: The Commissioner for Children will take up the issue of who should be allowed to care for at-risk young people removed from their homes. Roger McClay said yesterday that it was probably time that gang members were not considered.

THE TWO MARIONS: Just when you thought the election campaign was getting boring, along came the battle of the two Maria(o)ns. While the race for Wellington Central looks like a straight-out sprint between Labour's Marian Hobbs and Act leader Richard Prebble, a little-known Independent whose name happens to be Marion is attracting attention, too, mostly because of her name. Marion Smith - who owns homes in Auckland and Wellington and works for Auckland Mayor Christine Fletcher as a strategic and policy adviser - says she is running to make a stand against the deals made in the seat. (National has stood aside for Act and the Alliance has made way for Labour.)

PM AT THE RACES: Jenny Shipley had a good day at the races yesterday. The Prime Minister didn't back any winners herself because, as she likes to say, she's "a good Presbyterian girl" who doesn't gamble. And she didn't get to present the NZ Trotting Cup to the outgoing All Black coach, John Hart, whose horse Holmes D G, was the hot favourite but lost by a nose.

COMMERCIAL VEHICLES: A crackdown on drivers of commercial vehicles in Auckland has revealed what police say is a disturbing level of offending. More than 3000 vehicles were stopped and tickets issued to 20 per cent of drivers in the three-day blitz. Courier drivers were big offenders.

WAIKATO UNI FEES: University of Waikato students are preparing to occupy university buildings in protest against an expected fees rise to be announced today. Student leaders expect a special meeting of the university's council to approve a fee increase of about 10 per cent next year.

STD TIES: A contagious new line in fashionable diseases has spread to New Zealand via the Internet. California dentist turned entrepreneur Dr Roger Freeman has created a line of silk ties featuring magnified images of herpes, HIV, gonorrhoea, ebola and malaria. Dr Freeman says the nastier the bugs, the more beautiful the ties look - and they help raise awareness of killer diseases.

EDITORIAL – CUSTOMS: There is something disturbing about a deal between the New Zealand Customs Service and a corporate jet company that will give the company's clients a private customs inspection at Auckland Airport. Customs has agreed, for an undisclosed fee, to have corporate aircraft taxi to the office of Sky Care Ltd, some distance from the international terminal, where a customs officer will, in the company's purpose-built facilities, carry out what we are assured will be the usual procedures. If something similar was done openly, in the airport customs hall, there would be an outcry. It is comparable to opening a separate lane for business-class passengers or, not to put too fine a point on it, giving priority to those travellers whose agent has greased the palm of the Customs Service.

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