National News Brief, Friday November 14

Price wars in Christmas run-up will benefit shoppers; Turia says Goff is "bloody patronising"; house prices on the up; cutting edge melanoma vaccine to go on trial; John Key to meet Gordon Brown; Clint Rickards free to practise law

With retailers warring for customers, it's a good time to shop for deals--if you have the money, reports the Dominion Post. Statistics New Zealand released figures yesterday that showed total retail volume had dropped 1 percent, or $129 million, from June to September. Total retail sales in the same period dropped by $22 million. Meanwhile, credit card interest rates charged by some banks have risen 1 percent this year, despite the drop in the official cash rate from 8.25 percent to 6.5 percent. This means Christmas shoppers with unpaid balances will end up paying more this year than last year, reports the Herald.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has called Labour leader Phil Goff's warnings about making a deal with National "bloody patronising", reports the Herald. Mr Goff warned the Maori Party that there could be a backlash from their supporters who tended to vote Labour if they made a leadership deal with National. Mrs Turia said, "Labour didn't even invite us to sit with them in the last government and our people are sick and tired of being told what to do. He should stick with rebuilding the Labour Party instead of trying to dismantle others."

House prices are on the rise, with new figures showing Auckland's median house price rose from $420,000 in September to $433,000 in October. Figures released by the Real Estate Institute yesterday also showed the national median house price had risen from $330,000 to $335,000. That is still well under the national median price of $350,000 achieved in October last year, reports the Herald.

A cutting edge melanoma vaccine will be trialled in New Zealand next year, reports the Press. New research has confirmed New Zealand's place as the country with the highest rate of melanoma. Each year 250 people die and there are 2000 cases of melanoma.

John Key has set up meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative Party leader David Cameron. The Prime Minister-elect will fly to Britain after next week's Apec meeting, which will focus on the global financial crisis. He will also be talking economics with Mr Brown.

Former top cop Clint Rickards has received the Law Society's go-ahead to practise law. In 2006 Rickards was acquitted with Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton of the early 1980s rape of Louise Nicholas but resigned from the police. He studied law and now wants to focus on Maori issues, says the Dominion Post.