National News Brief, Wednesday September 17

Stock market woes; Fonterra didn't know what was happening at SanLu; Brian Henry changes his story; Black Power seek Waitangi Tribunal hearing; and more...

The Herald leads with a tally of losses in the worst stock market trading day since September 11, 2001. The American markets lost 4.4 percent of their value, Japan 5 percent and New Zealand 2.8 percent. Liam Dann of the Business Herald points out that the three Wall Street banks that have failed--Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers--all survived the 1929 crash that precipitated the Great Depression. The Dominion Post reports that the failure of American insurance giant AIG, with one trillion dollars in assets, would be even more catastrophic for world markets than the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

In related news, the Press details Finance Minister Michael Cullen's claims that John Key is not fit to run the New Zealand economy given his experience as a top broker at Merrill Lynch. Mr Cullen said, "He has got a short-term profit-maximising mentality, and that is what has brought Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers ... to their knees".

The Dominion Post reports that Fonterra appears to have been unaware of what was happening at its joint-venture milk powder company SanLu. Two babies are dead and more than 1200 sick after consuming milk powder contaminated with melamine. Fonterra bought a 43 per cent share in SanLu in 2005. Steve Dickinson, a lawyer based in China, told the DomPost, "The reality is if you're a 43 per cent shareholder in a joint venture in China you're nothing," he said. "You don't know anything, you don't have any power."

Winston Peters' lawyer Brian Henry has admitted that his recollection of events surrounding Owen Glenn's $100,000 to New Zealand First is poor. The Dominion Post reports that he changed his story in evidence to the privileges committee yesterday and that Helen Clark may fire Peters today.

One of the 2059 last-minute claims lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal was made by the Black Power gang. Lawyer Moana Jackson told the Herald that the fact the gang was not a party to the Treaty of Waitangi was irrelevant. Gang spokesman Eugene Ryder said, "The object of the claim is education as to why we're in the position we're in."

The Press reports that biofuel company Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation is seeking $20 million in funding after discovering that it can make a crude oil substitute from algae. The company has been experimenting with biofuel made from algae skimmed from Blenheim's waste treatment oxidation ponds.

The Otago Daily Times talks to Arrowtown designer Tamsin Cooper, who is showing her designs at an Auckland hotel room rather than pay around $50,000 to show at New Zealand Fashion Week.