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New Zealand Herald

Breath Testing – New Cabinet Rules – WTO – Barbara Kendall – Browneye – Hunger-Strikers – Beer – Americas Cup – ACT and Chinese Immigration – Coalition – East Timor – GE Onions – WTO Editorial

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BREATH TESTING: The police force's best drink-drive breath-testers are under threat because of a wrangle between forensic scientists, the courts and the companies that make them. Police say they might have to stop using the testers if the dispute cannot be solved. After a drink-drive case reached the High Court, Justice Chambers told district court judges that in some cases they could order technical manuals for the Seres Ethylometre to be produced for lawyers to examine.

NEW CABINET RULES: Labour and the Alliance have agreed on new cabinet rules allowing them to agree to disagree over some policies. Described as a safety valve for the coalition, it aims to allow both sides to maintain their identities and promote their policies after the cabinet has reached a consensus or compromise. It is not clear if the convention of cabinet collective responsibility will be modified.

WTO: As world leaders struggle in Seattle to start a new round of global free-trade talks, New Zealand's junior governing partner is eyeing the humble possum for jobs and wealth creation. Alliance leader Jim Anderton is drawing his inspiration not from the World Trade Organisation but from the Nelson A & P show, where he saw a machine stripping fur from dead possums to be blended with merino wool.

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BARBARA KENDALL: After the 2000 Olympics, world boardsailing champion Barbara Kendall will pull on her dancing shoes. Kendall, one of the most successful women in New Zealand sporting history, is thinking about returning to her old profession as a dance teacher once her windsurfing days are done. The 32-year-old, just home after

BROWNEYE: Prime Minister-elect Helen Clark has given her Labour Party president, Bob Harvey, a humorous dressing-down over his alleged down-trou. Speaking before Labour's first post-election caucus yesterday, she said she had some advice for the Waitakere mayor, who also took a naked dip at the opening of a swimming pool at the Ranui Nudist Club in February. "Keep your clothes on, love."

HUNGER-STRIKERS: The caretaker Minister of Immigration, Wyatt Creech, has attacked a High Court ruling that will see 16 asylum-seekers freed from Mt Eden Prison. He says it has the potential to expose New Zealand to a wave of illegal immigrants.

BEER: Supermarket beer sales start today with few signs of bargains for drinkers and no indication that the row over expanded liquor trading is going away. The major supermarket chains have blamed an already-savage war over beer prices for a low-key start to the new liquor era, which also ushers in Sunday trading and cuts the minimum age to 18.

AMERICAS CUP: Officers from the America's Cup police contingent will double as pub cops from today as young people are expected to head into central Auckland to celebrate the lower drinking age of 18. While the Auckland city police district manager, Superintendent Howard Broad, does not expect problems with the new laws, he said 180 officers from the cup contingent would be on hand to back up regular downtown patrols.

ACT AND CHINESE IMMIGRATION: Act MP Donna Awatere Huata rang then-Immigration Minister Tuariki Delamere twice to ask whether he would approve her husband's plea to bend immigration rules for Chinese investors in Maori land. Papers released by Act leader Richard Prebble last night show the list MP repeatedly asked officials what was causing the delay.

COALITION: Labour and the Alliance plan to sign a formal coalition agreement next Monday and announce cabinet positions by the middle of next week. However, the coalition deal will not set out detailed policy positions like those thrashed out by National and New Zealand First three years ago.

EAST TIMOR: New Zealand suffered its first fatality in East Timor yesterday, when a soldier from the First Battalion was killed as the road collapsed under his truck. He was Warrant Officer Class Two Tony Michael Walser, aged 37, of Linton, near Palmerston North. There were no other soldiers in the vehicle and no one else was injured.

GE ONIONS: New Zealand vegetable growers are helping to finance research to genetically engineer onions to appeal to the sweeter palates of Japanese consumers. The research on the sharp-tasting Pukekohe long-keeper is being done at Lincoln University, said Ron Gall of the Vegetable and Potato Growers' Federation.

EDITORIAL – WTO: A gathering today on the other side of the Pacific is probably more important to the future wellbeing of this country and all others than any other recent event. The Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organisation could, with courage and foresight, launch a comprehensive effort to remove barriers not only to trade but to investment, knowledge and jobs. It could aim for global standards of fairness, not just for trade but for competition, employment and the environment. Or it could settle for a traditional round of negotiations confined to transnational trade and the rules governing it. That would essentially pick up the unfinished business of the Uruguay Round and, with agriculture firmly on the agenda, progress could be a boon for New Zealand.

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