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New Zealand Herald

Labour and the Alliance – Soccer – Timor Beer Shortage – Coromandel – HIV Testing – Cityjet – Hitmen – Dargaville Land Claim – Child Safety – Gay Clergy – Used Car Imports – Waikato Uni Fees – Contraceptives – Hunger Strike – Editorial: HIV Testing

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LABOUR AND THE ALLIANCE: Labour and the Alliance have been forced to patch up their relationship at the highest level after a public spat over spending plans. Labour leader Helen Clark and Alliance leader Jim Anderton talked by phone yesterday to clear the air and avoid any repeat of a testy public exchange between Mr Anderton and Labour's deputy leader and finance spokesman, Michael Cullen.

SOCCER: Planet Football came to one of soccer's backwaters last night ... and almost had its party blown out at North Harbour Stadium. The wet and windy weather that has dogged Auckland for a week nearly scuppered the $100,000 "Planet Football" opening ceremony, which local soccer chiefs had planned to launch the Under- 17 World Cup in front of TV audiences in more than 70 countries.

TIMOR BEER SHORTAGE: Thirsty New Zealand troops in East Timor are still waiting for their beer rations - while their Australian counterparts are slurping merrily away. Although they were told a fortnight ago that beer supplies were on the way, red tape is holding things up.

COROMANDEL: Labour's hopes of forming the next government received a boost last night, with a poll showing Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons ahead of National's Murray McLean in the crucial seat of Coromandel. The One Network News-Colmar Brunton poll gave Ms Fitzsimons 39 per cent support among committed voters, three points ahead of Mr McLean, the sitting National MP, on 36.

HIV TESTING: Immigration Minister Tuariki Delamere is lashing out at his own advisers and other critics of the Government's new HIV-Aids policy for immigrants. This week, Mr Delamere announced that from next July, anyone wanting to enter the country for more than two years would have to pass a mandatory HIV test overseas.

CITYJET: Air safety officials have ordered budget airline CityJet to stop flying passengers until all its pilots, including the "most senior training and management captains," pass written and practical tests. CityJet, which had its fleet of four Bandeirante turboprop planes and one Cessna Caravan grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority last month, is still allowed to carry freight.

HITMEN: The ex-wife of a Manurewa man who was badly beaten in his home by three masked men appeared in court yesterday in connection with the attack. Patricia Mahutoto, 52, was charged in the Papakura District Court relating to the October 23 assault on her former husband, Robert Rogers, and his new partner, Lorraine McEwen.

DARGAVILLE LAND CLAIM: A hasty ministerial plea to have a pa site sold to the Crown to help settle a Kaipara land claim ended in embarrassment when it was found the Crown already owned it. Treaty Negotiations Minister Sir Douglas Graham recently wrote to Kaipara mayor Graeme Ramsey urging that his council consider selling a hilltop site near the Dargaville Maritime Museum to the Crown.

CHILD SAFETY: A "succession of disasters" has led to a call for a sweeping investigation into the child protection service. A group fighting for children's rights says the Department of Child, Youth and Family is failing too many youngsters.

GAY CLERGY: One of New Zealand's largest churches is at a crossroads today as leading Methodists meet to make a decision on the issue of gay clergy. A special commission of the church has proposed establishing a separate synod for evangelicals who are opposed to the ordination of practising homosexuals, with church leaders hopeful it will head off a schism.

USED CAR IMPORTS: A used-car shipping company is paying for Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry officials to fly to Japan to check its vehicles so it can avoid border inspections in New Zealand. Under the Biosecurity Act, MAF has to inspect and decontaminate all new and used imported cars to ensure they are not harbouring any organisms that could harm the New Zealand environment.

WAIKATO UNI FEES: Angry students forced their way in to a special meeting of the University of Waikato's governing council yesterday after it approved a 9.9 per cent fees increase. Most of the10,000 students will pay on average $350 more in fees next year.

CONTRACEPTIVES: An implanted contraceptive that lasts up to three years will soon be available to British women. The release of Impalon follows the withdrawal of another implanted contraceptive, Norplant, which ran into lawsuits from women claiming they were not properly warned about side-effects.

HUNGER STRIKE: Four of the 16 asylum-seekers on a hunger strike at Mt Eden Prison appeared in court yesterday and pleaded with a judge to be released from jail. The men, from India, Pakistan and Iran, have refused to eat for a fortnight as a protest against being held in custody while their applications for refugee status are reviewed.

EDITORIAL – HIV TESTING: The Minister of Immigration is in a fairly desperate position at this election, which may explain the timing of his announcement, two and half weeks from polling day, that mandatory tests for HIV will be required of everyone entering New Zealand for more than two years from next July, even refugees. But an electoral motive does not necessarily discredit a decision. This one is weakened by a failure to distinguish between immigrants admitted for the country's good and those we accept under international obligations. The policy that Tuariki Delamere has announced would leave him with some discretion to waive the rule barring entry to those who fail an HIV test. But it seems that discretion will not be exercised in favour of refugees. He singles them out as a particular source of concern since 43 of them were among the 105 people identified as HIV positive in this country last year.

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