National may go early with tax cut plan; TV3 cuts multi-party debate; Contact Energy increases power prices despite high profits; Aucklanders falling out of love with cars; and more
- National is considering announcing its tax-cut policy next week as Labour's own tax-cuts take effect tomorrow. The Herald's lead says it would be an "unusual" move as the party doesn't launch its campaign until Sunday, October 12, but National has looked "slow off the mark" since Helen Clark announced the election date two weeks ago. From tomorrow workers will get between $12 and $28 per week more in their pay.
- Minor parties are furious after TV3 yesterday decided to can its multi-party leaders' debate. Helen Clark and John Key have refused to participate in anything but one-on-one debates for the first time since MMP was introduced in 1996. TV3 says without Key and Clark are debate was "not viable". Peter Dunne says it's a "backroom jack-up" between the two major parties while Rodney Hide called TV3 "gutless".
- The Otago Daily Times and the Dominion Post both have front page stories that Contact Energy is planning to increase electricity prices. South Island consumers face an 11% rise. Contact says low lake levels has meant more power moving from the North Island to the South. In the Wellington region, thousands are about to be hit with a 10% price rise. The DomPost says Contact posted a $237m annual profit a month ago and doubled its directors' fees.
- The DomPost's lead story reports that the Greater Wellington regional council yesterday pulled the plug on an 81-turbine wind farm planned for Belmont Regional Park. The council is recommending a five year moratorium despite a winter of power cut fears.
- Another 559 classrooms will be needed by 2013 if schools are to handle the biggest baby blip in 36 years, The Press reports. The number of births to June 2008 has been higher than expected and could put pressure on the Ministry of Education's aim to have teacher-to-student ratios of 1:15.
- Finally, Aucklanders' shift to public transport continued last month as bus, rail and ferry use rose 2.8%. Traffic levels on the harbour bridge were down 11% on 2007 and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority says rail journeys have risen almost 20% since August last year. The other main centres are following the same trend, the Herald says. Transport Agency figures show average daily traffic fell between 5 and 9 per cent in all of the main centres last month - the fourth month in a row it eased compared with the same month last year.