National News Brief, Wednesday September 24

Tainted milk complaints as early as last December; Winston is censured; John Key admits TranzRail mistake; free trade deal with US could take years to benefit NZ; difficult students cost big; and more

  • Fonterra subsidiary San Lu covered up the tainted powdered milk scandal for eight months, according to a Chinese investigation. The Herald's lead story says San Lu received complaints about the melamine-contaminated milk last December. Four babies have died and nearly 13,000 have been hospitalised. Fonterra yesterday repeated its stance that it didn't know about the problem until August.
  • National leader John Key yesterday admitted that he should have revealed his ownership of TranzRail shares earlier and should not have held on to the shares as long as he did after entering Parliament. His family trust owned up to 100,000 TranzRail shares in 2003 when Mr Key was associate transport spokesman for National. The Herald's John Armstrong says the revelation is not the "king hit" Labour would have hoped for. Labour should let the public decide for themselves what Mr Key's admission means. However, "The fact that Key is mucking things up now is not a good prognosis for his avoiding mistakes in the white-hot heat of the formal four-week election campaign where the pressure is such that lapses are easily made. As Labour's Michael Cullen observed yesterday, Key's demeanour in the One News grab was that of a child whose hand has been caught rifling through the cookie jar."
  • Students with behavioural problems cost the education system 10 times as much as trouble-free students, according to a government report. The Press also reports that the findings, tabled in Parliament yesterday included these troubling statistics: 41% of teachers were anxious about the severe behaviour of students; 28% said it made their general health poorer; 32% said that it undermined their confidence; 9% said they were frightened of students with severe behaviour.
  • Rachel Hunter's new clothing line for The Warehouse goes on sale today. It is called Rachel and is part of the Warehouse's Design for Everyone range which launched earlier this year with home accessories by designers Peter Reid and Graham Dickie of Republic Home.