National News Brief, Monday November 24

NZ commits to further trade talks; Education Ministry seeks compensation for leaky schools; $450 million drop in lamb exports; plastics recycling system misleading; get your life insurance from Tony's Tyre Service; and more

Prime Minister John Key has committed New Zealand to a trade talks deadline. At Apec outgoing US president George Bush proposed a five-week deadline to reach agreement on continuing the "Doha round" of trade talks, which stalled seven years ago. World leaders at Apec also promised not to introduce any new protectionist measures in their countries in the next year, reports the Herald. They hoped to see the economic crisis end in the next 18 months although did not reveal how that would be achieved.

The Education Ministry is taking legal action against developers to recoup the costs of repairing four leaky schools, reports the Dominion Post. The worst affected school is Mt Albert Grammar, in Auckland, which lost 24 classrooms. Macleans College, also in Auckland, estimates damage to the school will cost up to $12 million to repair.

Meat industry insiders say there could be a $450 million drop in lamb exports this year. Meat and Wool New Zealand said 4.7 million fewer lambs were born this year due to dairy expansion and drought, reports the Press. In brighter news, the country's biggest meat company, Silver Fern Farms, says there is good demand for lamb on the international market.

The triangular symbol on plastic products which indicates they are recyclable is misleading, says the national recycling body Recyclers of New Zealand. In many cases products bearing the symbol and numbered code 1-7 are not recyclable in New Zealand. For example, while Auckland and Christchurch city councils collect plastics labelled 1-7, Wellington will only recycle codes 1 and 2.

Consumers shopping for life insurance now have another provider to consider--Tony's Tyre Service. Tony's Tyre Service general manager Steve Lange said "these old, worn-out life insurance companies badly need a retread and I'm the man for the job". The product is called Tony's Tyre Service for Life and can be purchased online.

Shrek the internationally famous sheep has retired at age 14, reports the Otago Daily Times. The merino sheep gained fame when he was shorn in 2004 for charity after evading the Bendigo Station muster for six years. His fleece weighed 27kgs. He will move to the House of Shrek Museum in the new year.