National News Brief, Wednesday March 18

Investigation clears police of Wallace shooting but recommends drug test; Housing New Zealand manager flees home after Mob threats; high country could again be for sale to foreign owners; no trains for World Cup; and more

The Independent Police Conduct Authority yesterday cleared Senior Constable Keith Abbott of misconduct in the shooting of Steven Wallace in Waitara in 2000, the New Zealand Herald reports. Chair Justice Lowell Goddard said Abbott was justified in arming himself and had no choice but to shoot, but Wallace's mother says the report is another cover-up.

The IPCA report goes on to recommend testing police officers for drugs and alcohol as "a matter of urgency" to protect them from false allegations. Police Commissioner Howard Broad says a policy is being drafted, but the Police Association is opposed.

The DominionPost reports that a senior Housing New Zealand manager has fled her home after being threatened by Mongrel Mob members who had been evicted from their home. HNZ mistakenly revealed the woman's private address to the gang members living in Farmer Crescent, but the gang members deny any intimidation.

The government's decision to ditch the regional fuel tax means Auckland has little chance now of having electric trains running in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The Herald reports a six month delay on the new trains and says that another $200m of public transport projects, including ferry wharf upgrades, integrated ticketing, "would not be guaranteed".

The Press leads with the government's review of the Overseas Investment Act, saying that "slices of the South Island high country and assets such as ports and airports may again be for sale to the highest overseas bidder". The government says its review will look at "adjusting" the screening threshold for foreign investments and "refining" the land deemed sensitive.

Immigration minister Jonathan Coleman told central Otago horticulturalists that New Zealanders will have the first choice of jobs during the recession, the Otago Daily Times reports. "Our first priority will always be jobs for Kiwis," Dr Coleman said.

The government has given Tourism New Zealand an extra $2.5m to advertise in Australia, on top of the $9m it already spends. Air New Zealand will spend the same amount on its own campaign to protect the tourism industry from the global downturn.

And Sir Edmund's Hillary's home goes under the auction hammer today at 2pm.