National news brief, Thursday, December 18

Economic forecast worse than we thought; Commerce Commission says Shell ads misleading; $258 million iron sands deal fails; Griffins closes Lower Hutt factory; taxi-cams could become compulsory; 33-year-old woman allegedly pregnant to 15-year-old

The economic forecast is expected to be even worse when the Government announces new tax and budget plans today. According to the Dominion Post's Vernon Small, senior ministers have privately said the deficit numbers are spooky and that "Dracula would feel at home" with them as debt soars from the current 19 per cent of gross domestic product toward 30 per cent.

The Commerce Commission has alleged that Shell's ads promoting a more economic fuel are misleading following a two-year investigation, reports the Herald. Shell says its Fuel Economy Formula will allow a car to travel further than if using petrol without the additive. Today the petrol company has bought advertising space in the Herald to publish an open letter to consumers.

A $258 million dollar deal between an iron sands operation near Raglan and a Hong Kong company has fallen throughjust four months after it was announced. The global economic crisis is being blamed for the failure of the sale of Taharoa Iron Sands to Hong Kong-based Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings, reports the Herald. The Government rejected CKI's application to buy the company because it did not meet the Overseas Investment Criteria.

Griffins closed its Lower Hutt factory yesterday after 70 years of operation, putting 228 people out of work. The company will continue production at a newer facility in Auckland, reports the Herald.

The Government will consider making taxi-cams compulsoryfollowing the stabbing death of Christchurch taxi driver Abdulrahman Ikhtiari, reports the Dominion Post. The Taxi Federation says there are 8000 taxis in New Zealand and installing cameras would cost about $1200 each. The Government would help with costs if the cameras were to become compulsory.

A 33-year-old South Canterbury woman is allegedly pregnant to a 15-year-old, reports the Press. The woman has been charged with having sex with a minor but did not plead guilty to the charge.