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New Zealand Herald

Doone Inquiry - Venezuelan Floods - Helicopter Surprise - Cricket - NZ Post - Nandor - Millennium Funds - Rankin - Minimum Wage - Child Abuse - Editorial: TVNZ

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DOONE INQUIRY: The driver of a car carrying Police Commissioner Peter Doone that was stopped by a police patrol late at night was not even spoken to by the constable, let alone breath-tested. Mr Doone stepped from the car and engaged the constable in conversation before the constable reached the driver's window, an informed source told the Herald yesterday.

VENEZUELAN FLOODS: Mudslides have killed at least 650 people along the Caribbean coast of Venezuela, and 7000 are missing, presumed dead.
At least 200,000 people have been forced from their homes by the mudslides, which are reckoned to be the worst natural disaster to hit Venezuela in half a century.
Most of the homeless were from Vargas, a coastal state of 350,000 people near the capital, Caracas.

HELICOPTER SURPRISE: Expert helicopter engineer Mark Beach surprised his family by arriving at early Christmas celebrations on Saturday in a helicopter and promising to take them all for a ride.
After a festive lunch and photograph session, Mr Beach, aged 37, of Whakatane, took to the air with his parents for a flight over their asparagus farm, 6km north of Kawerau.

CRICKET: Spin bowler Daniel Vettori looms as the main obstacle for the West Indies as the tourists try to avoid defeat in the first cricket test today.
Twenty-year-old Vettori, working magic in front of his home crowd, has already helped turn the match on its head to put New Zealand within grasp of a remarkable win.

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NZ POST: NZ Post has been accused of taking advantage of a loophole in the law to deny workers their statutory Christmas holidays - prompting accusations of "Scrooge-style management."
The problem has arisen from a clause in the Holidays Act designed to make sure all workers get an extra two days off at Christmas.

NANDOR: The most talked-about item of clothing to grace a parliamentarian since that infamous pair of silky boxers will make its first public appearance today.
When Green MP Nandor Tanczos walks up the steps of Parliament to be officially sworn in, he will be clad in a new hemp suit.

MILLENNIUM FUNDS: Where did the $20 million of taxpayer and lottery grant money earmarked for millennium celebrations end up?
A Herald survey of those giving out your money found that:
* Private broadcaster TV3 received $4.5 million - $2.8 million to be host broadcaster on millennium-night when numerous foreign TV channels will be here anyway, and $1.7 million to make its own TV advertisements telling viewers that it will perform that role.

RANKIN: The head of Work and Income New Zealand, Christine Rankin, will get the blunt message that extravagance within her department must stop when she meets her new minister for the first time today.
The Minister of Social Services, Steve Maharey, said yesterday that he did not have confidence in Ms Rankin - but then qualified that statement by adding that he wanted to have confidence in her.

MINIMUM WAGE: Low-wage earners have a good chance of an early Christmas present when the Coalition cabinet completes its review of the $7-an-hour minimum wage today.
The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, said yesterday that the matter should be settled at today's meeting. Officials have advised the Government on the implications of an increase and a recommendation will go before ministers.

CHILD ABUSE: New Zealand has been given a wake-up call over its children's rights record by the international Save the Children organisation.
This is contained in a just-released book which breaks down the performance of 25 countries, New Zealand included, since the adoption of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child 10 years ago.

EDITORIAL - TVNZ: The winds of change are part and parcel of Television New Zealand's world. Technological development and competitive exigencies demand a fleetness of foot. Right now, however, the state-owned broadcaster faces the prospect of a blast of chilling intensity. It knows that it must spend more than $200 million, perhaps as much as $300 million, to move into digital and pay television. It also knows that sitting on the sidelines for any length of time is not an option if it is to keep pace with rival broadcasters.
Yet just as TVNZ's commercial drive is accelerating, it has been becalmed. A new Government has taken the wind from its sails by signalling a significant switch of direction. Change has started with the chairwoman of TVNZ stepping down. The broadcaster is effectively in limbo. Clear signals are urgently required.

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