National News Brief, Thursday October 2

Wall St woes hit New Zealand farms; violent crime up 11 percent; Good Samaritan Austin Hemmings farewelled; just how big is a $50 tax cut?; Rob Guest dies; and more

  • The nightmare on Wall St has hit New Zealand, threatening PGG Wrightson's plans to buy half of meat processor Silver Fern Farms for $220m. The Herald's business lead reports, "The global financial crisis yesterday derailed the biggest business deal being done in New Zealand", as PGG Wrightson's Craig Norgate announced banks which had committed to fund the deal had been unable to finalise credit approvals in time. The Otago Daily Times says the partnership that was meant to revitalise the country's meat industry "looks to be over before it started". Norgate remains confident, however, and SFF chair Eoin Garden says "it is our intention to settle". The Dominion Post says the New Zealand share market bounced back 3% yesterday.
  • A DomPost headline says "16 more violent incidents each day", as the latest police crime statistics show an 11% jump in reported violent crime. Police say that's almost entirely due to increased reporting of family violence, thanks to their anti-violence campaigns and improved police training. But National isn't buying that—violent youth crime has risen 52% since Labour took office and the government is letting young people "slip through the cracks". Adjusted for population growth, overall crime rates are down 1%.
  • Putting a face to the crime figures, the Herald leads with the funeral of good Samaritan Austin Hemmings yesterday. Hemmings was stabbed to death in Auckland last week while assisting a woman in need and 1000 people at the funeral heard his widow, Jenny, ask New Zealanders to write to her saying how Austin's death had changed them.
  • The Press leads with a report that the local Asian community is sitting on a "time bomb" of neglected health problems, including sexual health and obesity. Christchurch's 27,000-strong Asian population is the city's second largest ethnic group but unlike Auckland, Christchurch doesn't have targeted health services.
  • Electric trains in Auckland are another "lock-down certainty", Michael Cullen said yesterday, after announcing an extra $121m for the national rail network.
  • Finally, the papers report that theatre star and former pop singer Rob Guest was critically ill in Melbourne last night after a stroke. The 57 year-old was the world's longest running Phantom of the Opera and is currently starring as the Wizard of Oz in Wicked. UPDATE: Guest has died overnight, surrounded by family and friends.