National News Brief Friday, March 13

Auckland regional fuel tax could be scrapped; the spoils of Rugby World Cup shared out; Bollard unlikely to cut much more from OCR; Graeme Hunt now Australasia's richest man; Crown says Bain's fit a fake; temporary jobs abound in Southland

Auckland's planned fuel tax might be scrapped, putting at risk funding for several public transport initiatives including rail electrification. The Government wants to avoid petrol prices rising 14c a litre in the next three years as a result of national and local taxes, reports the Herald. Auckland's regional fuel tax was to begin on July 1 at 2c a litre, and increase to 9.5c a litre by 2011.

Wellington will host five pool games and two quarterfinals in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which is expected to pump $45 million into the local economy, reports the Dominion Post. The capital had pushed to host games between the All Blacks and France and to host England, known for its big-spending fans. Instead, the All Blacks will play the United States or Canada in Wellington. Christchurch is also hosting five pool games and two quarterfinals, and has scored coveted England and Australia games and an estimated $50 million boost, reports the Press. Eleven other NZ cities will host games.

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard is unlikely to cut interest rates much further, having already slashed the official cash rate by 5.25 percentage points since last July. Yesterday's cut of 50 basis points--taking the rate to 3 percent--was less than expected, reports the Herald, and indication that a 2 percent OCR might be Bollard's bottom line.

New Zealand's wealthiest man, Graeme Hunt, is now also ranked as the richest man in Australasia, reports the Herald. Despite losing an estimated $600 million in the economic downturn, Hunt has jumped up Forbes annual billionaire rankings list, to 110th place. Forbes estimated Hart's wealth at US$4.5 billion ($8.8 billion), ahead of Rupert Murdoch and James Packer.

The Crown alleges David Bain faked a fit when police arrived at his home to find five members of his family shot dead, reports the Press. Bain's retrial is taking a break today and will resume on Monday with more evidence from emergency services.

Temporary jobs are boosting vacancies in Otago and Southland, reports the Otago Daily Times. There has been a sharp rise in temp jobs in the past three months. Select Recruitment managing director Karen Bardwell said 40 percent of her clients taking up temporary jobs during the past six months had been hired permanently.