Checkpoint. 2001-03-13

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Tono kōrero mai

The US military is facing more embarrassment after a military training exercise in Kuwait went fatally wrong this morning, claiming the lives of six soldiers, including a New Zealander. The Pentagon says the men died when a F-18 fighter dropped a 500 pound bomb on their observation post at a training range, just south of the border with Kuwait's former occupier, Iraq.
The New Zealander was 27 year old Major John McNutt, a member of the SAS, deployed as a staff officer at the allied headquarters in Kuwait. The blunder comes just a month after a US submarine sank a Japanese trawler, killing nine civilians. The news was first announced by President George W Bush, in a speech in Florida, cut The chief of Kuwait's defence staff, Lieutenant General Alia Moman also expressed his sympathy over the tragedy. cut
I asked Colonel Bryan Hoye from the Pentagon central command headquarters in Florida what Major McNutt and the other observers were doing at the training range. PREREC
I asked the New Zealand army's Brigadier General Jerry Matapaerae about Major McNutt. PREREC b/announce: There will be more on this story later in Checkpoint.

The Justice Minister has turned down convicted child sex abuser Peter Ellis's third bid for a pardon. Mr Ellis was released from prison last year after serving more than six years of a ten year sentence for abusing children in his care at the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre. A Ministerial Inquiry by the former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum said that Mr Ellis has failed to prove his convictions were unsafe and Justice Minister Phil Goff says he has now advised the Governor General that the application for a pardon be declined. Mr Goff joins us now. LIVER
Gaye Davidson, who was one of Peter Ellis's co-workers at the creche, says she's not surprised that his application for a pardon has been turned down. PREREC

The chief executive of the Department of Work and Income Christine Rankin is under scrutiny again after it was revealed in Parliament that she is threatening legal action against the Green MP Sue Bradford. The action relates to remarks the MP is reported to have made in the Sunday Star Times last month. Ms Rankin has had a controversial history at the head of Work and Income - to discuss the latest issue to affect her, I'm joined by our political editor Al Morrison. LIVE WITH DROP INS

Returning to our lead story - and New Zealand is asking the United States for an explanation about today's fatal military training accident which killed a New Zealand officer. Major James McNutt and five Americans were killed, and eight others wounded, when a US Navy fighter mistakenly dropped a bomb on their observation post during a training exercise. Parliament has paid tribute to Major McNutt - Our political reporter, Bryan Crump, was there. PKGE

Germany will apologise to New Zealand after its agriculture marketing body, the CMA, claimed that sheep here have the brainwasting disease scrapie. The CMA made the claim on its website and in 30 million pamphlets sent to German households - at the moment, Germany imports about 220 million dollars worth of New Zealand sheepmeat every year.
The CMA has agreed to issue a nationwide retraction in Germany and apologise to New Zealand. Neil Taylor from Meat New Zealand says the visiting President of Germany's Farmers Union will make the apology tomorrow. I asked him what form it will take. PREREC
Food prices have recorded their largest annual increase for 11 years, with the latest official figures showing the cost of food is 5-point-7 percent higher than in February last year.
The high prices are being blamed on poor weather, sending fruit and vegetable prices skyrocketing. As Sarah Gregory reports, family budgeting advisors are warning that the latest increase is hurting low income families. PKGE
A new report recommends reducing the size of primary school classes from 28 to 25 children, while classes in Māori language immersion schools should be slashed even further to 15. A ministerial review team has been looking at how the government can improve school staffing. To explain the significance of the team's report, I'm joined by our education correspondent, Gael Woods. LIVE WITH DROP INS
The government minister Turiana Turia is backing calls for grandparents to have more rights as caregivers. The lobby group, Grandparents raising Grandchildren, says its members are being financially ruined fighting for custody of their grandchildren becausae the natural parents are repeatedly getting legal aid for custody battles, while they dont. Andrew Greenwood has more. PKGE
Flood-stricken towns in northern New South Wales have begun a massive clean-up following floods and some of the heaviest rainfall in decades. Up to three [illegible] people were evacuated as the floods swept through, causing tens of millions of dollars damage. The owner of Smithtown's Riverview Hotel - Brian -told me that two metres of floodwater ripped through the town. PREREC

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Year 2001

Reference number 143816

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits RNZ Collection
Wilson, Mary, Presenter
Rood, Don, Editor
Brennan, Stephanie, Producer

Date 13 Mar 2001

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