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What’s on RNZ News at midday – Dec 17

The Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has confirmed White Island Tours which took tourists to the island last Monday has been regularly audited as recently as the last few months; and the Health Minister David Clark is defending the public being kept in the dark for a fortnight about the possibility of a link between an epilepsy medication brand switch and the death of three patients.  

1.Police searching for two more volcano victims have been unable to return to Whakaari/White Island today because of bad weather. The bodies of guide Hayden Marshall-Inman and 17-year-old Australian tourist Winona Langford are believed to be in the sea after being washed down from the crater area.

2.The Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has confirmed White Island Tours which took tourists to the island last Monday has been regularly audited as recently as the last few months. However, Galloway says there are valid questions that remain unanswered about the regulator and adventure tourism regulations.            

3.Volcanic tremors continue at low levels at Whakaari/White Island but there have been no eruptions since last Monday’s explosion. GNS Science says the likelihood of another eruption within the next 24 hours is 25-40 percent.

4.The Health Minister David Clark is defending the public being kept in the dark for a fortnight about the possibility of a link between an epilepsy medication brand switch and the death of three patients. PHARMAC continued with the cost saving switch despite being told in late October that the deaths have been reported to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) and there were suspicions they were linked to the change.    

5.The Whanganui District Council is reviewing how it names its streets because one  suggested by iwi was rejected and mocked by one Councillor. The iwi submitted a name for a newly developed housing subdivision in the Springvale area but it was rejected and instead a name of a sculpture was used.         

6.A former school teacher is due to be sentenced in the Blenheim District Court this afternoon over sexual misconduct involving two students. The woman, who has name suppression, appeared in court in October and admitted to seven charges of sexual relations with minors and two charges of sending sexual material to minors.

7.Nelson and Northern Marlborough have been drenched by downpours as rain hits much of the country. MetService says its rained in about 80 percent of New Zealand this morning with more predicted for already cordoned areas.        

8.Council workers are starting the job of removing sand bags from Downtown Queenstown and Wanaka today. Weeks of heavy rain had led to fears, Lakes Wakatipu and Wanaka would burst.    

9.Two Australians have had to be rescued from a river bank where they got trapped by heavy rain and rising water. The pair were winched to safety by helicopter after being cut off by a swollen river at the start of the Heaphy Track. 

10.The Broadcasting Minister will not meet his commitment to announce the Government's plan for public media by Christmas, with ministers wanting more work done before the final  decision. The Cabinet has one proposal to consider yesterday, dis-establish RNZ and TVNZ and create one new public media entity.

11. Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel is yet to release the list of donors who fundraised $40,000 for her re-election campaign, despite saying it would be released yesterday.

12. Housing advocates fear data to be collected by a Government agency from state homes could be used to cut benefit payments or even evict tenants .

13. Further charges have been laid over the death of a 90-year-old woman after an assault on her Levin home in November. One young person has been charged with murder and two others as being party to the murder. 

14. Consumer confidence has improved to its best level of the year, buoyed by a better economic outlook and financial security. 

15.Firefighters across NSW will continue backburning after homes were lost when crews lost control of an operation to strengthen containment lines. Some 115 fires are burning across the state, with 59 of those still uncontained. All are burning at advice level this morning, the NSW Rural Fire Service said.

16.Boeing will temporarily halt production of its troubled 737 Max airliner in January, the manufacturer said. Production of the jet had continued despite the model being grounded for nine months after two deadly crashes.

17.Thieves have reportedly stolen £50m ($NZ100m) worth of jewellery from the Kensington home of Tamara Ecclestone.The daughter of ex Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was left "shaken and angry" after the burglary on Friday.

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