NewsRoom Digest: Top NZ News Items for April 17, 2015

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Newsroom Digest

This edition of NewsRoom_Digest contains 6 media release snippets and 8 links of the day from Friday 17th April.

Top stories in the news cycle include the Government proposes to amend the Coroners Act to limit investigations into deaths of soldier overseas, a public health researcher says a $40m Government programme to tackle obesity is unlikely to have much impact, and the White House moves a step closer to signing the Trans Pacific Partnership.

SNIPPETS OF THE DAY

Labour: Battle Fatality Must Be Scrutinised: As New Zealand troops head to Iraq under a shroud of secrecy, the Government is pushing ahead with legislation to remove independent scrutiny of incidents where Kiwi soldiers are killed in hostile action overseas, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. Changes proposed to the Coroners Act will prohibit a coroner from launching an inquiry into the death of a Defence Force member if it occurred during hostile action on operational service. “The Coroner will only be able to report on such a death if the Attorney-General, a politician, directs him or her to do so,” Phil Goff says.“Documents obtained by Labour reveal Defence Force boss Tim Keating was warned of major concerns around the changes in the Coroner’s Amendment Bill.

Call For Coordinated Housing Response: Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford today supports calls for all political parties to agree to a cross party accord to address the “very serious” issues facing New Zealand with respect to adequate housing. “What concerns me most are the many and varied housing issues in New Zealand which have no joined up, coordinated action plan to address them,” Mr Rutherford said. “We’re seeing housing issues being talked about as separate issues when in fact they need to be addressed as a whole.”

Minister Praises $120m Drug Bust: Police Minister Michael Woodhouse and Customs Minister Nicky Wagner today congratulated agencies for the latest successful drug-related operation targeting the production and supply of methamphetamine in Auckland. Operation Wand and Operation Sorrento recovered 123 kilograms of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of over $120 million in the Auckland region in late March. Nine individuals have been arrested and charged. “These operations were successfully executed due to the great work of Police districts and the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ), and I commend their efforts,” Mr Woodhouse says.

NZ Dollar Surges Past RBNZ Forecast: The New Zealand dollar trade-weighted index has soared above the Reserve Bank’s projections to a nine-month high but traders and strategists say the bank has few options, other than jawboning, to drive the currency lower in the face of stand-out economic growth. The TWI touched 80.08 this morning, its highest level since July last year when it touched a record 82.03. Last month, the central bank forecast the TWI to average 76.7 in the second quarter. It was recently at 79.78.

NZ First: Make Use Of Surplus Military Vehicles: New Zealand First wants the 2015 Defence White Paper to look at options for the 35 Light Armoured Vehicles reportedly declared surplus by the National Government in 2010. The Party is eyeing these LAVs as a way to regenerate lost capabilities for the Army. “There is meant to be a Defence White Paper in 2015 and New Zealand First wants to use the White Paper process to regain Army capabilities that were lost under Labour and National,” says Ron Mark, New Zealand First Defence spokesperson. “Labour literally took the gas axe to direct fire support and mortar carriers while National has just shrugged its shoulders.

Revised Landing Fee Accepted By Com Com: Wellington International Airport’s revised landing fees are “just within” the Commerce Commission’s acceptable range of returns, the regulator said. The capital city airport, which is co-owned by Infratil and Wellington City Council, revised its landing fees after the commission previously found it was targeting excessive profits.The commission’s latest analysis estimates that Wellington Airport has set its prices targeting a return of 8.4 percent between June 1, 2014, and March 31, 2019, which is just within the upper limit of an acceptable range of 7.4 percent to 8.4 percent, the regulator said in a statement accompanying its draft report analysing the revised pricing.

LINKS OF THE DAY

MINISTER LAUNCHES NEW BIOSECURITY PROJECT: Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy launched Biosecurity 2025 at The Future of the Heartland Forum in North Canterbury this afternoon. People with an interest in participating in the Biosecurity 2025 engagement can register their interest by emailing Biosecurity2025@mpi.govt.nz
More information will also be available at www.mpi.govt.nz

COM COM RELEASES WELLINGTON AIRPORT REPORT: The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report indicating Wellington Airport is now targeting returns for the period from 1 June 2014 to 31 March 2019 that fall within an estimated range of acceptable returns. For further information, including a copy of the draft report, see:http://www.comcom.govt.nz/regulated-industries/airports-information-disclosure-summary-and-analysis/.

A copy of Wellington Airport’s section 56G report from February 2013 can be found here:http://www.comcom.govt.nz/regulated-industries/airports/section-56g-reports/

NUMBER OF WELFARE DEPENDANTS DECREASE: Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says the latest benefit figures show a further year-on-year decline as the New Zealand economy improves and welfare reforms continue to support families. There were 284,260 people on benefit at the end of the March 2015 quarter, a drop of 11,060, or 3.7 per cent, compared to a year ago. The figures are the lowest since March 2009. “These numbers are extremely positive, and they continue the downward trend of the number of people on welfare,” says Mrs Tolley. The latest benefit data is available at:http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/statistics/benefit/index.html

NEED FOR CROSS PARTY ACCORD ON HOUSING: Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford today supports calls for all political parties to agree to a cross party accord to address the “very serious” issues facing New Zealand with respect to adequate housing. “What concerns me most are the many and varied housing issues in New Zealand which have no joined up, coordinated action plan to address them,” Mr Rutherford said. “The human right to adequate housing is a binding legal obligation of the State of New Zealand. This means the government has a duty to protect the right of people in New Zealand to enjoy adequate housing and it has a responsibility to provide remedies. Download the report here:
http://www.hrc.co.nz/files/1214/2681/4255/Right_to_Housing_Flyer_FINAL__2.pdf

PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING SYSTEM TURNS 50:The warning system which provides coordinated tsunami threat information to countries throughout the Pacific marks its 50th anniversary next week. New Zealand will play a part in an International Tsunami Symposium in Hawaii on April 20 and 21 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (PTWS), and a subsequent meeting of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) of the PTWS from 22-24 April. More information on how to prepare for tsunamis is available online at:
www.getthru.govt.nz/disasters/tsunami

GALLIPOLI EXHIBITION OPEN: A ground-breaking national exhibition opens at Te Papa on 18 April, to mark the centenary of the First World War. “Gallipoli: The scale of our war combines the world of museums with the world-class creative artistry that Weta Workshop is renowned for, to immerse you in the sounds, sights and emotions of the war,” says Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis. You can find out more about the exhibition at:
www.gallipoli.tepapa.govt.nz

And that’s our sampling of the day that was on Friday 17th April 2015.

Brought to EveningReport by Newsroom Digest.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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