National News Brief Friday, February 20

Inquiries into pay rates for women canned to save money; no compo for Rex Haig because "he probably did it"; ARC lost $1.79 million in Beckham game; protesters decry change to internet copyright law; German internet romantic has famous father; and more

Two inquiries into pay rates for women have been axed in an effort to save the Government money, reports the Herald. The inquiries would have looked into why female social workers at Child, Youth and Family are paid 9.5 per cent less than males and probed the pay of mainly female school support workers. But State Services Minister Tony Ryall said the investigations would "generate an additional form of remuneration pressure that is unaffordable in the current economic and fiscal environment". Mr Ryall also issued new guidelines on pay rises yesterday that could affect 40,000 public servants, reports the Dominion Post.

A judge has ruled that Rex Haig--who spent 10 years in prison for murder but whose conviction was quashed in 2006--should not receive compensation because he is probably guilty of murder. Retired judge Robert Fisher, QC, said there were "literally hundreds of witnesses and documents that conflict with Haig's account" of events, reports the Press. Fisher concluded that Mr Haig and his nephew David Hogan were likely to have beaten Mark Roderique to death in 1993 and thrown him off the side of Haig's fishing boat to stop him talking about an illegal paua operation.

The full extent of the loss suffered by Auckland Regional Council when it hosted David Beckham and the LA Galaxy soccer team last year has been revealed--and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has labelled it "truly appaliing". The game between the Galaxy and Oceania All Stars at Mt Smart stadium in December sold just half of available seats and made a loss of $1.79 million, reports the Herald.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Parliament yesterday in a bid to convince the Government to reconsider the insertion of section 92a, the "guilt by accusation" clause, into the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008 next week, reports the Dominion Post. Opponents say that under the clause material would have to be removed from the internet if an accusation of breach of copyright was made--even if not proven--and internet service providers would have to take on the role of gatekeepers. Pundit is one of hundreds of websites, including members of the Scoop network, to protest the proposal, and will be blacked out for four hours on Monday.

A proposed rugby match between the Springboks and New Zealand Maori teams might be canned because South African rugby teams are forbidden from playing against teams chosen along racial lines. The match would be a warm-up for the Springboks before they play the British and Irish Lions in June, reports the Dominion Post.

The German woman whose failed internet romance with a Dunedin man made headlines earlier this week is the daughter of a famous German painter, reports the Otago Daily Times. Maja Gille, who spent a week with unemployed man Peter Robb before the Armed Offenders Squad intervened, is the daughter of Sighard Gille, a leading artist of the former East Germany in the 1970s.