National News Brief Tuesday, February 24

Internet publishers win a stall on Section 92a; medical graduates paid extra to work in rural areas; hospital blunders on the rise; NZ sharemarket hits five-year low; food miles debate simmers down; Bradford and Turei to duke it out for Greens co-leadership

The Government has stalled an amendment to the copyright law that internet publishers have labelled unfair. Yesterday, when most major NZ blog sites were blacked out in protest, Prime Minister John Key conceded that Section 92a, the proposed change to the Copyright Act, could be "problematic" and may be thrown out. The clause has been condemned as allowing "guilt by accusation" because there would be no independent scrutiny of claims made by copyright holders against users, reports the Herald. Section 92a was to have come into force this weekend but will be delayed a month and may be suspended.

Young doctors will receive a salary increase of $45,000 under a new Government scheme if they work in rural areas that are difficult to staff, reports the Dominion Post. Graduates who go on to train as a GP, general surgeon, or in internal medicine--all specialties that have struggled to attract graduates--will get another $15,873 a year. The incentives scheme also applies to graduate nurses, midwives, teachers and veterinarians.

The number of medical blunders causing death at public hospitals continues to rise and reporting will likely extend to private hospitals and family doctors, reports the Dominion Post. Seventy-six patients died after being involved in serious hospital incidents last year, nearly twice the the number of deaths reported the previous year. Reporting is voluntary and DHBs say the apparent rise in deaths resulting from hospital incidents is due to better reporting systems and more transparency.

The New Zealand sharemarket hit a five-year low yesterday. According to the Herald, the NZX-50 fell 38 points or 1.48 per cent to close on 2538 points in its sixth negative day in a row.

The global recession may have taken the bite out of the food miles debate, according to a study by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and the University of Otago. European consumers are more concerned with "more pressing" issues than with how far their food has travelled, reports the Press. This is good news for New Zealand, potentially one the countries that would be hardest hit by food-miles campaigns, but is temporary, warns the report.

Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei have put their names forward to replace Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, who has confirmed she will stand down in June. The party's other two female MPs, Sue Kedgley and Catherine Delahunty, have ruled themselves out of the running, reports the Press.