National News Brief, Friday October 3

Dairy prices to drop; Cullen favours US bailout plan; National and Maori Party "cosy up"; Reserve Bank makes money trading the Kiwi dollar; Agent Orange blamed for veteran's death; and more

The Herald leads with news that cheese, milk and butter are about to get cheaper. Fonterra announced a 10 percent price drop for whole milk powder yesterday. The world financial crisis has affected demand. This means consumers will enjoy lower prices for dairy products at the supermarket, but farmers will suffer.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen is hoping US Congress' proposed US$700 billion bailout plan bill will be passed today, reports the Press. The first version of the plan was voted down on Monday, leading to a sharp drop in world markets. Cullen said the views of those in the US who believe Wall Street should be allowed to crash ignored the repercussions of a US and worldwide economic recession potentially flowing from a complete loss of confidence in the finance sector.

Four public service bosses earn more than $500,000 per year, more than Prime Minister Helen Clark, who pulls in $375,000 a year. The figures were revealed yesterday with the release of the State Services Commission's annual report. The National party has made "public sector waste" a focus of its campaign, notes the Dominion Post.

The Dom Post also reports that National candidate Hekia Parata has been telling voters to give their party vote to the Maori Party. Ms Parata said it was "a throwaway" remark. "I did say that if they really did not feel they were able to give me their vote, they should consider the Maori Party." Winston Peters said this was evidence that National and the Maori Party had been "cosying up to each other".

The Reserve Bank made $535 million in the past year, much of it from buying overseas currency when the NZ dollar was higher last year, reports the Dom Post. In an unusual move, the Reserve Bank sold Kiwi dollars to buy other currencies when the NZ dollar rose above US80c.

Dunedin City Council's plan for a new community-owned multimillion-dollar fibre broadband network hit a snag yesterday, reports the Otago Daily Times. A Ministry of Economic Development spokesman said the government's $340 million broadband fund was intended to address the "infrastructure gap". Telecom is already upgrading its Dunedin broadband network.

An Auckland man's death from cancer has been partly attributed to Agent Orange. Vietnam veteran Pat Hauwai of Manurewa died last week from fast-spreading cancer of the lungs. His death certificate notes smoking and exposure to Agent Orange. Veterans say it is the first time Agent Orange, a herbicide used to clear jungle, has been officially found responsible for a death.