Each weekday The Front Page keeps you up to date with the biggest news in New Zealand. Today it's Google breaching suppression on the Grace Millane murder case, harsh new penalties for synthetic cannabis, relief for those flying before Christmas, and a slip of the tongue becomes quote of the year. Hosted by Frances Cook.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple podcasts here, iHeartRadio here, and Stitcher here.

Internet giant Google has breached suppression on the identity of the 26-year-old man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane.

The company sent an email to certain subscribers, showing that New Zealanders had searched for the man's name 100,000 times.


On Monday alone, the accused man's name was the second-most searched through Google in New Zealand with over 50,000 searches.

But the Google email itself put the man's name in its subject line, and linked his name explicitly to Grace Millane's death.

It also included search terms that could lead users to more information about the man.

It is not just Google that is spreading the accused man's name.

Herald searches on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook show hundreds of posts, comments, hashtags, and photos of the accused.

While you may think that's natural justice, it actually jeopardises the chances of the Millane family having their day in court.

Justice Minister Andrew Little has previously given UK media a serve for naming the murder accused, warning their actions risk stopping a fair trial, which could heap more misery on the grieving Millane family.

Little says that both overseas media, and social media rumours here, could be used by a defence lawyer looking for any chance to argue the man couldn't get a fair trial.

He says if successful, the man would get to walk away from the case, causing further injustice to the Millane family.

However, the problem is not new.

A Herald investigation earlier this year found some high-profile New Zealand court cases were having suppressed details published on Google.

The Herald has approached Google for comment on the Grace Millane case, however, it earlier said it was "not in the business of censoring news".

Prominent human rights and privacy lawyer Michael Bott has previously described Google as "thumbing its nose" and "expressing a high-degree of arrogance" at New Zealand's court orders, which threatened fair trial rights and due process.


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The man accused of murdering Millane was once a promising athlete who represented New Zealand in his chosen sport.

He played for several elite teams, including a New Zealand under-19 side.

His name - and details that could identify him including the sport he played - cannot be published due to court-ordered suppression.

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Grace Millane's mother and two brothers joined hundreds of locals at a vigil in her home town in England.

The BBC says her mother Gillian and brothers Declan and Michael were among 200 lighting candles outside the Fox and Hounds pub in Essex.

Shauna Cassidy, who went to school with Grace, says she was adventurous - and "always smiling".

She told the BBC Grace was just trying to live her life.

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People who make or supply synthetic drugs face life in prison under changes announced by the Government today.

The changes mean a crackdown on sellers of potentially deadly synthetic drugs - but a more lenient approach to those hooked on them.

Synthetic cannabis will be reclassified as a Class A drug.

But police will be able to use their discretion about users - and can refer them to help rather than arresting them.

It's estimated about 50 people have died this year from using synthetics.

Health Minister David Clark says it's time to do what will work.

The changes include allocating $16.6 million to boost community addiction treatment services.

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The Government is set to focus on wellbeing in the new year.

It's released the Half-Year Economic and Fiscal Update, which forecasts GDP will rise to 3 per cent on average, over the next couple of years.

The Government's surplus is likely to see strong growth - from 1.7 billion dollars to 8.4 billion within four years.

And the Crown's on track to reach Finance Minister Grant Robertson's target of reducing net core debt to 20 percent within five years of taking office.

With those updates, the Government also details the priorities for Budget 2019.

Robertson says there will be five areas, including tackling child poverty and family violence; supporting mental wellbeing; lifting Maori and Pacific incomes; helping the country move to a low-emissions economy; and supporting the nation in the digital age.

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The Karel Sroubek case is causing problems again, as opposition leader Simon Bridges demands Jacinda Ardern release a text message sent to her.

Ex-martial arts champion-turned personal trainer Richie Hardcore sent her a text commending the decision to grant Karel Sroubek residency.

Hardcore is a friend of the Czech drug smuggler.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister says she received the text following media coverage of the first decision about Sroubek, and that Ardern and Hardcore are acquaintances.

Bridges says Ardern should appear in the House and make a Ministerial statement about her associations with Hardcore, Sroubek and any of their other associates.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the text was unsolicited, she didn't respond, and didn't engage.

Ardern says National's a bit desperate in trying to suggest she was lobbied by a mutual friend of Karel Sroubek.

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Construction can begin on the largest dam built in New Zealand in more than 20 years.

Nelson MP Nick Smith's bill opening up conservation land for the Waimea Dam has passed its final reading.

It will store 13 million cubic metres of water in a 87ha reservoir.

Smith says the reservoir needs just 9.7ha of the 166-thousand-hectare Richmond Forest Park.

Vegetation clearing for the dam is set to begin next year.

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The industrial action affecting Air New Zealand flights in the build up to Christmas has been called off.

Agreement in principle's been reached between the airline and unions representing its engineers.

Strike notices covering three days before Christmas have been lifted.

News of the deal came late last night after three days of mediation.

E tu's Head of Aviation Savage says the airline's offer is a much improved one, and will be put to members over the coming week.

Neither E Tū nor Air New Zealand will release details of the agreement at this stage, until members have had a chance to look at it.

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The International Monetary Fund has issued a dire warning on the global economy, so the Herald's business editor at large has crunched the numbers on what that means for New Zealand.

David Lipton, the first deputy managing director of the IMF, says history suggests we are due for another financial crisis and right now the world is no shape to cope with one.

He says with interest rates still low, central banks don't have the firepower to deal with a deep recession.

Meanwhile, public debt has been building in many countries - including the US - seriously limiting the option of using fiscal stimulus to deal with a crisis.

The Herald's Liam Dann says one positive is that New Zealand has been trying to prepare, and so has more resources than many of the countries criticised by the IMF.

Our past three finance ministers have focused on reducing core crown debt.

While the Reserve Bank hasn't made much progress on lifting interest rates it has overseen an improvement in financial stability.

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Wellington City rents now match Auckland's for the first time.

Average rent in the capital has jumped 5.8 per cent on last year to $550 per week in November.

That's according to the latest Trade Me Rental Price Index.

Head of Trade Me Rentals Aaron Clancy says rents in the capital have been hot on the trail of Auckland City for some time.

He says there's a chance Wellington will overtake Auckland in the battle for the most expensive place to rent.

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The family of a woman who was shot in the head by her partner after a relationship counselling session, told her killer they believe he had planned the brutal execution.

Flint Wallace coaxed his partner Leigh Wallace to attend the counselling session in Te Kuiti before shooting her in the head in the passenger seat of his vehicle outside their rural home on August 31, this year.

Leigh Wallace's mother and her two daughters this morning spoke of their heartbreaking loss in the High Court at Hamilton.

Struggling to hold back tears, they spoke of a woman caught up in a volatile relationship.

Leigh Wallace's mother, Rose, spoke of the guilt she felt for driving her daughter to Te Kuiti to attend the session, while her daughters, Tessa and Briar Rose, spoke of the anger and sadness they had felt since losing their mother.

Justice Courtney described Flint Wallace's behaviour as "entitled and controlling", factors she said she sees too often in offenders in court.

The Judge said she didn't believe the shooting was pre-meditated, but it was clear he had an entitled view that he could control her.

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A crucial step in re-entering the Pike River Mine is now underway.

A nitrogen-producing plant - which will help flush dangerous methane gas out of the mine - has been started up for the first time.

Recovery Agency CEO Dinghy Pattinson says they were able to start pumping for a brief period yesterday - before bad weather forced them to stop.

But he says they'll now be running the plant every weekday through to Christmas.

Pattinson says all of their operations are based on the success of this equipment.

For more on this story, tune in to Newstalk ZB
The Government has announced it will put a cap on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), limiting the number of units that can be traded under what is the country's main tool to counter climate change.

It's part of a raft of changes, which also include the introduction of permanent forest to the scheme.

No call has been made yet on whether agriculture would be pulled in as well, but this is being considered.

Acting Climate Change Minister Julie-Anne Genter says, until now, New Zealand's ETS had been the only emissions trading scheme in the world which didn't have a cap.

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The Quote of the Year has been announced, and a Massey University professor says it says a lot about out country's sense of humour.

A slip of the tongue by Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has been voted 2018's best quote - receiving 21 percent of the votes by Kiwis.

In July, Bridges got the wrong name wrong for his deputy, Paula Bennett, calling her Paula Benefit.

Senior lecturer Dr Heather Kavan says she was surprised it took out the top spot, as it's not particularly original.

But she says it has a certain X-factor that makes people enjoy it.

This year's runner-up, with 18 per cent of the vote, was Taika Waititi's quote about New Zealand being "racist as f...".

For more on this story, tune in to Newstalk ZB.

That's the Front Page for today, Thursday December 13, making sure you're across the biggest news of the day. For more on these stories, check out The New Zealand Herald, or tune in to Newstalk ZB.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple podcasts here, iHeartRadio here, and Stitcher here.

If you like to stay up to date on social media, you can find host Frances Cook on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.