National News Brief, Monday December 1

Answers in the Air New Zealand crash; New Zealand homes are making us sick; debt collectors want law change; HIV on the rise; climate change good for melanoma rates; Andrew Little's political ambitions

Answers as to why an Air New Zealand jet crashed into the Mediterranean on Friday could be available within two days, reports the Dominion Post. The plane's cockpit voice recorder has been retrieved and is on its way to Paris, where it will be dried out and examined. The flight data recorder--the most important of the plane's two "black boxes"--is yet to be found. Forty divers have been working on the crash site to retrieve the data recorder and the bodies of five of the men who died when the Airbus A320 crashed just off the coast of Perpignan. Two bodies have been recovered and taken to Montpelier for DNA testing.

A million New Zealand homes are of such poor quality that they make the inhabitants sick, according to a national housing survey. It would cost $22,000 per home to bring them up to standard, says the Business Council for Sustainable Development. The Dominion Post reports: "Council chief executive Peter Neilson said the country was paying $54 million to admit to hospital 50 people a day with respiratory illnesses, losing 180,000 worker days to illness, and spending $475 million a year more than it needed to on household power bills." The Business Council report proposed a mandatory rating system for houses when they are sold or rented, to ensure they meet minimum health standards.

Debt collectors want to see a law overturned that expunges debtor's records after seven years. Before the Insolvency Act became law in 2006, a debtors record was permanently available to the public, reports the Herald, but now even those who have been bankrupted several times can escape detection.

The number of HIV infections is still rising in men and women in New Zealand. In the first half of this year 69 men and 18 women were diagnosed with HIV, bringing the total number of HIV-positive people to 2978, reports the Herald. Infection rates are still highest among gay men but there is concern that foreign prostitutes could help spread the disease by offering unprotected sex as a way of making more money in the economic downturn.

Melanoma cases could begin to fall in the last half of the century as climate change speeds up recovery of the ozone hole, reports the Press. New Zealand has the highest melanoma death rates in the world, with 250 to 300 people dying each year. National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research scientist Greg Bodeker said the peak in the skin cancer rate would be around 2040. After that, increased ozone concentrations could return skin cancer levels to those of the 1950s and 60s.

Andrew Little, the man tipped to be the next Labour Party leader, only wants to be in the job for three years, reports the Dom Post, before becoming an MP. Yesterday the national secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union signalled his availability for the party leader job.