National News Brief, Monday March 2

Proposed $60 million spend to boost tourism; police called to schools to deal with unruly students; sharp rise in newborns taken into CYF care; three-strikes law could breach human rights; drinking age to be reviewed; Arthur Allan Thomas joins Bain support camp

The Government and tourism operators are considering spending $60 million to boost tourism, one of the "top 20" ideas to emerge from last week's employment summit, reports the Dominion Post. The money would be used to subsidise airline tickets from Britain and the United States, bringing the cost to travellers down to $500, so long as they stayed in New Zealand for a week.

Police are being called to schools an average 40 times a week to deal with unruly students, reports the Herald. The number of calls over violent offences rose 27 percent in the past decade. While children had become more violent, said Frances Nelson, president of the New Zealand Educational Institute, health and safety regulations also encouraged schools to call police for help.

The number of custody orders involving newborns has more than doubled in the past five years, reports the Dominion Post. Child, Youth and Family took 66 babies under a month old into its care last year, 15 on the day they were born. In more than half these cases an older brother or sister was already in CYF care. Care and protection notifications involving babies still in their mothers' wombs have doubled. Last year CYF received 215 notifications from people worried about the welfare of unborn children.

The proposed "three strikes and you're out" law could breach human rights, reports the Herald. Attorney-General Chris Finlayson has found the three-strikes bill, championed by the Act Party, has an "apparent inconsistency" with the part of the Bill of Rights that protects New Zealanders from cruel, degrading or "disproportionately severe" punishment.

The legal age for drinking will be reviewed, along with alcohol's role in driving crime and appropriate blood alcohol levels for drivers. The Law Commission review is a response to the fatal shooting of Navtej Singh during a robbery at his Manurewa liquor store last year and will be led by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, reports the Dominion Post.

Arthur Allan Thomas has flown to Christchurch to support David Bain during his retrial for the 1995 murder of his family, reports the Press. Thomas was wrongfully convicted of the 1970 murder of Waikato farming couple Harvey and Jeanette Crewe and spent nine years in jail. Bain has maintained his innocence since five members of his family were found dead in their Dunedin home.