National News Brief Friday, February 27

Job summit begins with help expected for apprentices and relocation; PM refuses to guarantee tax cuts; boot camps "worst sentence" says judge; pay keeps Kiwis overseas; Lonely Dog Hollywood-bound; and more

The government's job summit is held in Manukau today, but the New Zealand Herald reports that the six working groups have already been meeting two or three times a week and group leaders presented their "first cut" of proposals to Prime Minister John Key on Tuesday night. Employers look set to help to hire and keep apprentices, while workers made redundant will get more support to retrain and relocate. Key said new money could be found for ideas presented at the summit, but finance minister Bill English says "they have to be realistic and they have to reach a pretty high hurdle of long-term effectiveness".

John Key put the cat among the taxation pigeons yesterday refusing to guarantee further tax cuts in 2010 and 2011 as promised during the election campaign. Despite being asked three times to commit to the cuts, he simply said it was "his belief" they would go through. The DominionPost took that as a sign "that the government is increasingly anxious about a deepening recession". The Otago Daily Times reports Labour leader Phil Goff saying the world has changed since the election and he would support the government if it changed its stance on tax cuts.

Union and business leaders say companies are increasingly turning to a four-day week or nine-day fortnight as the recession reduces manufacturing orders, and both agree that's preferable to lay-offs. As many as half of New Zealand's timber companies are already on reduced hours, and the trend was "spreading" in textile and manufacturing businesses.

Principal Youth Court judge Andrew Becroft says traditional boot camps are "arguably the least successful sentence in the Western world", according to the lead in today's DomPost. While programmes backed up by mentoring and family support could work, Becroft says that 92 percent of attendees at the training camps that ran until 2002 reoffended within a year.

The ODT leads with Contact Energy's decision to dust off decades-old plans for up to four hydro-electric dams on the Clutha river. The combined projects could supply power for up to 400,000 households, but Contact stressed that they would spend the rest of the year talking to the public and no decisions have been made.

A Waikato University study has found that top high school students who choose to live and work in New Zealand sacrifice almost $2000 on average in weekly income. The study found 24% of New Zealanders with tertiary education live abroad, but that 35% of those top scholars had returned home by the age of 45.

And in The Press, news that a local canine hero is about to become a Hollywood star. Warner Bros. has bought the film rights to Queenstown artist Ivan Clarke's Lonely Dog books. Clarke has created just 95 handmade Lonely Dog books, with copies selling up to $60,000 each.