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News of Zealand

News of Zealand: Peter Dunne the Third Party Leader to Ditch this Election

The Leader of United Future was polling badly. Plus Greens want free transport for under-19s, Family First loses charity status and vehicle attack in Marseille.
Peter Dunne. Image via Flickr.

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Peter Dunne Is Done With Politics
United Future leader Peter Dunne announced yesterday that he will stand down at the election, which has left the race for his Ōhāriu electorate wide open. The political landscape has dramatically changed since the start of campaigning. Dunne is the third party leader to step down, after Labour's Andrew Little and Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei. National said it will now work to win the seat, having previously endorsed Dunne to stand against Labour's Greg O'Connor. Dunne said standing down after 33 years was not an easy decision to make, but felt his constituents wanted change. The move could cause problems for National, who have had a confidence-and-supply arrangement with Dunne for the past nine years.

Family First Loses Charity Status
The controversial Family First has been stripped of its charity status. The group has been vocal in its opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. The Independent Charities Registration Board removed the organisation's registration yesterday, stating that Family First did not advance exclusively charitable purposes, therefore it did not qualify as being "for a public benefit". The organisation's national director, Bob McCoskrie, said he plans to fight the decision, calling it a "muzzling of free speech".


Green Party Announces "Game-changing" Transport Plan
The Green Party announced yesterday plans to establish a Youth Green Card, which would make travel on buses, trains, and commuter ferries free for under-19s. The party also promised to offer free off-peak travel for tertiary students, apprentices, and those with disabilities. Green Party spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said the Green Card will cost $70-80 million a year and would come out of the Land Transport Fund, which "will allow councils to invest more of their own funds to further improve public transport services".

National Promises Cheaper Doctor Visits
The National Party has announced an extension to cheaper doctor visits for low income people. The policy promises $18 visits for an extra 600,000 people. National also pledged to extend the Community Services Card to those who received income-related rent- and accommodation-supplement subsidies. The policy is expected to cost $380 million over four years.

Fishing Boat Surveillance Causes Controversy
Fishermen may take the government to court over plans to use cameras and GPS to track commercial trawlers. Some claim the time and cost to install the technology would put many out of business, with invasion of privacy also cited as a concern. The Ministry for Primary Industry's Stuart Anderson, who is in charge of the rollout, says the fishing industry had its chance to consult on whether the technology should be used, with that window ending yesterday. The technology will be introduced in October 2018, with all operators required to use the new system.



Ten Sailors Missing After US Warship Hits Oil Tanker
Ten US Navy sailors were missing Monday after the USS John S. McCain hit a merchant ship carrying oil near Singapore. Five others were wounded in the crash, the second high-profile Navy accident since June.

North Korea Calls US-South Korea Drills 'Reckless'
North Korea has condemned the US and South Korea for holding an 11-day program of joint military drills, starting Monday. A North Korean government newspaper called the decision "reckless," adding that the exercises were driving the situation toward the "uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war."

At Least One Killed in Vehicle Attack in Marseille
At least one person has been killed and another wounded after a van plowed into two separate bus shelters in the French city of Marseille. The vehicle's driver, a 35-year-old man, has been arrested in connection with the attacks. According to a French TV report, police had little initial information about a possible motive.

Russian Air Strike Claims 200 ISIS Fighters in Syria
A Russian airstrike killed more than 200 ISIS fighters, according to the country's defense ministry. The militants were heading for the ISIS stronghold of Deir al-Zor inside Syria when they were hit by the barrage.

Spanish Police Say Terrorists Were Planning Larger Attack
Spanish cops revealed that the terrorist group behind 14 deaths in Barcelona and Cambrils had stockpiled 120 gas canisters for a larger-scale attack. They were discovered at a house in Alcanar where an explosion took place Wednesday. Catalonia's police said the group was formed of 12 men, and authorities are still searching for the driver in the Barcelona vehicle attack.

Reporting by Alessandra Nixon, Jack Marshall and Lachlan Balfour.