National News Brief, Wednesday October 22

Contact Energy raises prices and directors' fees; highly skilled workers join dole queue; middle-income families head to food banks; banks charge up to $20,000 to discharge mortgages early; Kiwi-trained teachers heading to Middle East; and more

  • Contact Energy is raising prices 10 percent at the same time as the company is raising the directors' fees pool by $1.5 million. The Herald reports that thousands of customers will soon receive letters announcing the price rise. Many shareholders oppose raising directors' fees but the company's Australian majority owners are in favour. Energy Minister David Parker is unimpressed. "The Government has already said it is concerned about the recent hike in Contact's electricity prices, and we remain concerned about whether the electricity market is operating effectively to constrain excessive prices and excessive cost structures."
  • The office of the Banking Ombudsman is investigating the fees banks are charging to customers wishing to pay off fixed-rate mortgages early. The Press reports that one bank charged a $20,000 break fee on a loan of $560,000. Deputy banking ombudsman Susan Taylor said there had been a cluster of complaints about break fees in the last few months.