John Key defends "modest" tax package; roads tipped to dominate infrastructure spend; more power cuts in Auckland; hardline DNA gathering "draconian"; Tainui King's historic return to Waitangi; Fonterra board member named; and more
John Key announced a $480 million tax relief package for small businesses yesterday, but the papers this morning are underwhelmed. The Press says the Prime Minister is defending his "modest" assistance package, saying "it's not like we're not doing a lot of stuff already". The New Zealand Herald has Key warning "there is a limit here to what can happen", as he doesn't want to put the country on "a diet of debt". The package reduced the amount of provisional tax companies must pay, cut penalties for late payments, eased rules on GST registration and PAYE filings, and committed more to the Export Credit Scheme. But the DominionPost is already looking past this "miserly" package, tipping that next week the government will announce $500 million worth of spending on small infrastructure projects, dominated by new road building.
The Herald's lead story has power companies warning of more power cuts, after two days of outages in Auckland's eastern suburbs. Transpower boss Patrick Strange has apologised to customers, saying new transformers were ordered last year, but wouldn't arrive until late next year. Mayor John Banks says Strange should donate a week's salary to the Auckland City Mission by way of apology.
Police are taking a new hardline approach to DNA gathering, according to the DominionPost, taking samples even from a petty theft who stole vegtables from a neighbour's garden. Police are unapologetic, depsite complaints by civil rights lawyers that it is "draconian". The government is planning legislation that would see anyone arrested of an imprisonable offence forced to give a sample, and their DNA kept on file if they are convicted.
Tainui's royal family yesterday made its first visit to Waitangi's Te Tii marae in 19 years. King Tuheitia made the trek from Waikato to the north with close to 800 followers to celebrate the relationship between Tainui and Ngapuhi. The Governor-General was also welcomed yesterday, while John Key arrives today.
The Curtis brothers, who murdered Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie, were yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 and a half years. The judge said they were "extremely cruel". Nia's mother Lisa Kuka was sentenced to nine years for manslaughter. Meanwhile, the Otago Daily Times reports that murder accused David Bain is back in Dunedin for the first time since 1995, making preparations for his retrial. The Privy Council quashed his convictions in May 2007 and his retrial begins in Christchurch on March 2.
The Herald reports is was Fonterra-appointed board member Patrick Kwok who gave Sanlu CEO Tian Wenhua documents stating that the European Union's permitted level of melamine. Tian's lawyer also said Fonterra did not need to withhold phone records showing staff had told Tian the only acceptable level of melamine was zero because "people at Sanlu were not the ones adding the chemical".