National News Brief Wednesday, February 25

Air NZ crash report: too low, too slow; 20 percent of workers fear for their jobs; Kiwi troops to stay in Afghanistan another year; Otago toga parade turns ugly; and more

The New Zealand Herald has held back its second edition for a "3am Special", with its lead story revealing details of the first official report into the crash of the Air New Zealand Airbus A320 in France last November. The 50 page interim document says the flight was shortened and as a result the crew did a low speed test at a low altitude on their approach rather than at a higher altitude during the flight. It was then they lost control of the plane.

Two surveys released yesterday suggest that around 20 percent of New Zealand workers believe they will lose their job as a result of the global recession. The Press says that the TVNZ and New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development research puts pressure on the government just two days before its Jobs Summit on Friday. In the Business Council survey those deemed "low paid" were most worried about losing their jobs (39%), but those earning $100-150,000 were close behind (32%). Meanwhile, a bleak Business New Zealand survey showed one in five businesses are preparing to cut staff or reduce hours and community groups and small businesses are upset they aren't better represented at the summit. Of the 194 people attending, 62 are from big business, 22 from finance and only three from community groups. Just 30 are women.

New Zealand's deployment of 150 troops will remain in Afghanistan for another year at a cost of $41.5 million. American President Barack Obama has ordered an extra 17,000 US soldiers into the country and is pressuring NATO members to follow suit, but Defence minister Wayne Mapp says the US has made no "specific request" for more Kiwi troops and no more will be sent.

ASB Bank has created a $1 billion fund for low-interest loans to SMEs and farmers and are calling on other banks to follow its lead. The fund will enable businesses to borrow at "below market rates" if they can prove they can create or retain jobs. While the move would reduce profits, the bank admits it hopes to gain market share.

The DominionPost leads with judges' lobbying for more security at the country's courthouses, with Chief High Court judge Tony Randerson saying "a very serious incident is viewed as an inevitability". The judges want more security officers and ultimately for everyone entering a court to be scanned. More than 400,000 people were scanned entering courts last year and 4800 "items" were seized.

A toga parade that was part of Orientation at Otago University "descended into disorder" last night, according to the Otago Daily Times' front page. Dunedin's main street was littered with eggs and rubbish while car and shop windows were smashed. City councillors are furious and one international student from the Caribbean said, "this is a real culture shock".