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A Brisbane security

contractor killed in Iraq. It

is a dangerous country and

obviously it is a very high

risk, so I do want to pass on

my con con dole lenses to his

family. Enling closer - Palestinians on the brink of

civil war. The drought victims

saved from the abattoir. And

the Ashes not yet Australia's

at England digs deep. Good

evening. Paul Lockyer with ABC

News. A Brisbane man working

for a private security firm in

Iraq has been killed during an

tack on the convoy of trucks he

was escorting. Steve Gilchrist

who is a New Zealand national

and Iraqi colleague died when

their armoured vehicle was hit

by a shell on Wednesday. They

were escorting a convoy of

essential goods through the

centre of Baghdad when they

came under attack.

33-year-old Steve Gilchrist was

a New Zealander who moved to

Brisbane to join the Australian

Army five years ago. He went

to Iraq last October to work

for the private British

security firm, Armor Group.

His body will be returned to

Brisbane where his funeral will

be held on Wednesday.

Queensland's Premier Peter

Beattie offered condolences to

Mr Gilchrist's wife Sara and

three children. This is a

dangerous country and obviously

it is of very high risk, so I

do want to pass on my con dole

lenss to his family. Iraqi

leaders have convened a

reconciliation conference in

Baghdad to try to halt the escalating violence that has

raised fears of a civil war. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

said he was opening the door to

former soldiers who had served

under Saddam Hussein. But his

political opponents, including

the main Sunni clerics, have

boycotted the conference,

dismissing it as

window-dressing. In Washington, speculation is

mounding that US President Bush

is planning a major surge of

30,000 more American troops in

Iraq, bringing the total to 1

64,000. But the army

chief-of-staff told the

Congress his soldiers are

already stretched too thin.

As it currently stand s, the

army is incapable of generating

and sustaining the required

forces to wage the global war

on terror. The President is

showing no sign of a backdown.

I've some ideas that would

lead to defeat. And I reject

those ideas. He is planning

to unveil a new strategy for

Iraq in the new year. The

Palestinian President Mahmoud

Abbas has called for fresh

elections in a bid to break a

year-long crisis in the

Palestinian territories. The

mill assistant group, Hamas,

which won last January's

election, says the more

moderate Fatah fraction, run by

the President is attempting to

mount a coup. The latest

dispute could push the two

groups over the edge and into

civil war. Matt Brown reports

from ram mall la After almost

a year of crisis, the

Palestinian President Mahmoud

Abbas has thrown down the

gauntlet. Before a packed

meeting, the leader of the

moderate Fatah faction made his

call for early elections. It

is a direct challenge to Hamas

which controls the Parliament.

From his supporters inside the

hall, a standing ovation.

Outside, the news was welcomed

in a more familiar fashion.

But Hamas staged its own show

of strength. It says it won

free and fair elections at the

start of the year and Fatah is

attempting what amounts to a

coup. If they are going to do

it, again it's the will of the

Palestinian people, again it's

the government, I think this

will flatten the integ grit of

the Palestinian people. The

fa that's faction favours

establish a Palestinian state. negotiating with Israel to

But Hamas wants to destroy

Israel. When Hamas won

elections in January, the

international community banned

crucial foreign aid to force

Hamas to soften its stand. But

they've held firm and the

economy has been devastated.

Hamas could still quell this

crisis, by forming a government

of national unity and dropping

its call to destroy Israel.

But loyalists from both sides

are already trading death

threats. Hamas and Fatah have

hundreds of thousand s of

active supporters and tens of thousands of men under arms.

It is going to take a huge

effort now just to avoid more

bloodshed. Back home and

casualties are mounting from fires still burning across

Victoria. Today a bulldozer

driver was hurt while trying to

help build a fire break in

Dargo near Gippsland. Four New

Zealand firefighters are

recovering in hospital after

they were caught in a firestorm

yesterday in the north-east.

Another day, another

firefighter flown to hospital.

This time, there were no burns.

Instead, multiple injuries

suffered when a bulldozer flipped, trapping its driver

for three hours. The accident

came as across the Tasman New

Zealanders were coming to erm

terms with their casualties.

I didn't want him to go because

I didn't let on bauts they are

not little fire tls. They are

big fires overseas. Decades

of firefighting experience

weren't enough when Larry

Rangiwai and his crew came up against Mount Terrible

yesterday. 40 men were

battling spot fires using

backhoes to clear ground around

them when the main blaze

flared, forcing them to flee.

Some made it, some didn't, and

then the ones that didn't actually took cover on the

ground. Four of the nine men

trapped in the ditch suffered

serious burns. Mostly to their

hands and faces. Three men are

still in a Melbourne hospital

where one has undergone facial

surgery. Amazingly, the rest

of the New Zealand contingent

braved the fire front again

today. This morning, they

were up and away with their

chins up, so, yeah, pretty

sombre last night. It is a

shocking experience.

Victoria's Governor travelled

to the north-east to say what

many are thinking. Thank you

again for the great

contributions. The support

has been absolutely terrific.

Got a great team here. The

accident couldn't help but

rattle firefighters arriving

for their first encounter with

this massive fire. The news

came on and, yeah, it was,

yeah, pretty gut-wrenching when

we first heard it.

Authorities say they will

investigate how and why the

accident happened, including un

confirmed suggestions not all

the firefighters were wearing

protective gloves. >>Z I think

we're premature to say what has

been done wrong. What we've

got to say is we need to

investigate and learn. Today,

firefighters continued straying

strategic containment lines

around the Mount Buller fire.

The alpine village is one of

several townships still at risk

when the weather heats up as

early as tomorrow. In New

South Wales, a second bushfire

is burning out of control near

Tumut. The new outbreak

started overnight about 1km

from the town. At this stage, no property is under threat.

The cause of the blaze is being

investigated and fire crews are

still working to contain a big

fire near Narrabri . It has

already burnt out more than

12,000 hectares of bushland.

And there is new evidence that

by the end of this century,

bushfires may be a thing of the

past. The latest mathematical

modelling suggest that drought

and glow Wal ball warming will

increase the number of fires in

the sherment, but in the years ahead, very little left to

burn. Only weeks into the

summer and with bushfires

ablaze in four states,

scientists warn the worst is

yet to come. By 2050 over

most of Australia, we are

looking at a 25 to 50% increase

in bushfire risk. Modelling

by scientists has for the first time predicted by how much

fires will increase. If

greenhouse emissions aren't

reduced and climate change isn't dealt with, scientists

say there will be nothing left

to burn by the end of the

century. The fires will have

taken out so much of the

forests that we wouldn't

actually, by 2100 see those

fires taking place. They would

have taken place before then in

2070 or 2080 and they would

occur with a frequency that

wouldn't allow the forests to

regenerate. On average, 80

homes are lost to bushfires

every year, but scientists say

reduction isn't being done

properly and more often than not, that's where the fires

start. The fires that cause

the worse damage often start a

long way away from the places

where they kill people and

destroy property. And

Professor Adam says until

governments spend more money on

fire hazard reduction in rural

areas, the risks to existing

homes and new developments

won't change. And a major

clean up is under way after a

massive storm front tore through South-East Queensland

late yesterday. At the height

of the storms, 30,000 homes

were without power. Buildings

have been unroofed and houses

waterlogged, but very little

rain has fallen in the region's

depleted dams. The storms cut

a swathe of damage from the

Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane

up to the Sunshine Coast hinter

land and towards Noosa. They

struck just on dusk, but it was

dark by the time residents

realised the extent of the

damage and the danger. Winds

estimated at is 50 km/h snapped

off trees, brought down

powerlines and blocked roads,

while people took shelter

wherever they could.

Absolutely amazing. Never seen

anything like it in 15 years.

Scary. Kept pounding the

windows and doors joo. Joo the

hail just kept coming side

ways. Couldn't see 3 or 4m in

front. Every power pole is

down on Forest Acres Drive.

The first objective was to make

sure no-one was electrocuted by

fallen pour lines. Coup roo

was one of the places hardest

hit with some people unable to

return to their homes until

morning. We've had

approximately 120 calls at the

moment, but we are expecting a

lot more today when people come

home or they actually get out

in the daylight to see what

damage they may have sustained.

The wind was wild enough to

snap a power pole. At least

three houses lost their roofs

and many were damaged by

falling trees and destructive

hail. Half as big as stubbie

bottles here. This neighbour's

roof was blown into a

neighbour's yard. The first

they knew of it, the hail was

coming in their ceiling.

Getting around in the kitchen

in gumboots. Water 4 inches

thick running straight out of

the house. Rain fell till midnight causing further

damage, but contributing little

to South-East Queensland's

depleted dams. Labor has

outlined plans to effectively

nationalise education. The new

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd

wants school terms and

curriculums standardised across

the country. He has also

promised to look at reducing

HECS debts and charges. Kevin

Rudd and education spokesman Stephen Smith spent the morning

outlining some of Labor's

education plans. Mr Rudd says

Australia should be working

towards consistent school terms

and curriculums. There is a

challenge face ing us all here,

to make it easier for working

families and their children to

move from State to State. Mr

Rudd and Mr Smith met the

Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor

of the University of Western

Australia today, saying Labor

is also concerned about the

rapid rise of HECS fees.

We've got to look long and hard

at how we make higher education

affordable for kids from

working families across this

country. I'm concerned we are

heading backwards on this and

it's not good in terms of

equity. Stephen Smith says

lowering the HECS burden is a

priority. Questions of HECS

debt and burden, questions of

income support are very much on

the issues we are confronting.

But Education Minister Julie

Bishop say s national

consistency is long-istaning

government policy. Labor will

never be able to deliver on

this because they are captive

to the Teachers Unions and the

Teachers Unions oppose such

reforms. Stephen Smith says he

will release further details of

Labor's education policy early

next year. Rescue workers in

the Blue Mountains have been

forced to retrace their steps

as they search for David

Iredale. The 17-year-old

bushwalker has been missing for

seven days now. Police fear he

has had an accident. After

several days of cold and cloudy

weather, clearer conditionses

brought hope that David Iredale

would be found. More than 100

police and emergency workers

hit the ground early. We've

covered just about 100% and now

we're moving further afield to

spiral the search into a bigger

area. Helicopters also

rejoined the search after being

grounded for several days by

bad weather, but their efforts were futile. Nothing has been

heard from the Sydney Grammar

student since Monday when he

called triple-0 after becoming

separated from two friends.

Their trek was part of the

group's attempt at the Duke of

Edinburgh Award. This week's

search focused on 16km of

bushland in Mount Solitary.

The terrain is rugged but the

teenager is experienced

bushwalker with food and

well-quipted. Had food

forefour to five days,

certainly didn't have the water

for that time, but did have

water purification tablets.

His parents have been

travelling to the site for the

past few days. There are no

plans to scale back the search.

We will continue the search

until we're satisfied that

every area is cleared. Local

authorities say bushwalkers get

lost in the the mountains about

once a week, but this is one of

the biggest searches they've

undertaken. British police

have released security camera

footage of one of the five

women murdered by a suspected

serial killer in the country's

east. The pictures show

25-year-old Anneli Alderton

travelling by train to her home

town. The footage was recorded

a week before her body was

found. Police have no

information about the woman's

movements in the days after the

train journey. We now need to

piece together anly's

movements. At what station did

anly get off the train and

where did she go after that.

Players and spectators at a

soccer match observed a

minute's silence for the five

victims. The stadium is next

to the red light district where

the women worked. Astronauts

aboard the international spice

station have completed a complicated rewiring job to

double the power supply for the

orbiting lab. Two astronauts

spent more than seven hours

attaching new solar panels to

the space station. The

international space station

travels into an orbit tal sun

rise high above the north

eastern coastline of Australia.

But not everything has gone

smoothly. One of the old solar

panel s has become jammed and

another spacewalk may be

required to fix it. Almost

80 pony s have had a

last-minute reprieve from the

snacker's yard. Now, homes

still have to be found for

them. Several tonnes of horse

flesh - that's what it came

down to. 62 Arabian and Welsh

ponies and 15 foals would have

been slaughtered several days

ago. With a lot of the drought conditions at the

moment, the first thing to go

are the horses because they are

seen as a luxury item. So it

was drought that sent them to

the slaughter house and

ironically it was in rain that

they were saved. They are

being moved to a temporary safe

haven. There is good pasture

and hay brought in more than 400km from Queensland by

another horse lover. I reckon

if anybody can get in and help

horses like this, it is a

bonus. An anonymous woman

came up with a $10,000 loan to

buy the horses back. She felt

the case was so urgent that she

offered to pay for the horses

so we could secure them from

the abattoirs. Each horse

will now sell for about $150

toe cover the loan. Finding

homes for the horses may not

prove too difficult. The big

issue at the moment is avoiding

what might be called the

Christmas puppy syndrome. So, potential buyers, like the

horses themselves, will be

well-vetted. Chantelle Hanson

is taking a mare and a foal.

It kills you to think that

something like that will

happen. Her sister Cassie is

taking a foal. For Mum for

Christmas. Does she know

about it? No. And Bianca

Lyne herself will keep a group.

Some of them will be staying

together as a family at my

place. Does that give you a

nice, warm feeling? It does.

A nice time of year to be doing

something nice for someone. That's from the horse's mouth.

Tonight's top story - a Brisbane security contractor

has been killed in an attack in

Baghdad. Still to come - rain, a crocodile's aphrodisiac.

Australia will have to wait

a little longer to reclaim the

Ashes with the English batsmen

offering dogged resistance on

day four of the Perth Test. So

far, only two wick kit Ketts

have fallen in two sessions of

play with play likely to be

forced into a fourth day.

England suffered a setback on

day 3 with the dismissal of

Andrew Strauss. And all signs

indicated it could be resolved

on day four. The England

resumed at 1/19 this morning.

Shane Warne was tossed the ball

early and Ian Bell took up the

challenge. The gritty No. 3

brought up his 50 just before

lunch. A stroke of luck

allowed Alistair Cook to reach

his half-century.

COMMENTATOR: That will scuttle

away for four. There was more

good fortune for England when good fortune for England when

Bell survived this tough

chance. The home team began to

get frustrated. I think deep

fine leg went up for it as

well. Australia eventually

claimed its first wicket of the

day nearing tea. That's it!

Just a little lapse in concentration. Warne has

tossed it up. The 171-run

partnership broken by Warne.

Bell gone for 87. Australia

turned to Andrew Symonds to

bowl his off spin. But it

was Stuart Clark that got the

breakthrough after tea. Collingwood caught behind for

just 5. The highlight of

yesterday's play was a century

by Adam Gilchrist, the fastest

in Ashes history. He faced

only 57 deliveries for his 100

runs, only one more delivery

than it took the West Indian

great, Viv Richards, to set the

record 20 years ago. In front

of his home crowd, Adam

Gilchrist delivered.

COMMENTATOR: There he goes.

After the measured Mike Hussey

and Michael Clarke centuries

which took the third Test and

perhaps the Ashes away from

England came a 57-ball 100 from

a 35-year-old. Goes and goes

and goes. Back in the rooms,

did we want to have a look at

them tonight if we could press

on. We read it as a yes.

Apparently it was a no. It

won over. He handed Monty

Panesar the most expensive six

balls in Ashes history,

clubbing 24 runs. He smashed

102 in an unbeaten 6-wicket

stand of 1 62 with Clarke.

Gilchrist's second 50 took 17

balls. That's the best of the

lot. To be standing up the

other end, it was fantastic.

Apart from being Gilly, I had

the second best spot in the

game. Gilchrist claims he had

no idea to how close he was to

Richards's record. I would

have guessed that Viv Richards

was somewhere in the mix.

Mesmerised and staring down an

unassailable 3-0 Ashes deficit,

England was philosophical about

the Khan nadges. He can take

the game away from you in an

hour. He had two good hours

and showed he was a quality

player. A veteran of 88 Test,

Gilchrist's 17th Test 100 kept

his strike rate at about 82.

It's stated as the quickest

Test century ever by an

Australian will take some

overhauling. And Victoria

will be chasing outright

victory at the MV -- MCG

tomorrow after piling on the

run s against New South Wales.

The Bushrangers declared their

first innings with a lead of

more than 300. At stumps, the

Blues were one wicket down.

McDonald brought up his century

first, closely followed by

David Hussey. The pair added

258 before Hussey was caught

off the bowling of Lambert.

The declaration tame at tea

with McDone ald unbeaten on is

50. The Blues gain their run

chase badly. Phil Jaques was

bowled by Mick Lewis for two.

The Queensland Roar remain in

contention for the A-League

semifinals after upsetting

Central Coast 3-2 at Gosford.

It was the first loss at home

for the Central Coast in 13

games. The Central Coast

Stadium has become an

intimidating venue for visiting

teams. When Queensland was

penalised for a handball in the

28th minute, it appeared to be

business as usual for the

Mariners. Central Coast hadn't

conceded a goal in four games

but close to half-time the Roar

found a way through.

COMMENTATOR: What an outstand

ing execution from the young

defender. Queensland hit the

front when 19-year-old Danny

Vidusic was given space and

coach Frank Farina was almost

singing in the range. A

dangerous challenge from Mile

Jedinack reduced the Mariners

to 10 men. But when Wayne

O'Sullivan was brought down,

Adam Kwasnik had a chance to

score his second. Desperate

to keep its season alive,

Queensland came up with a

match-winner in the 80th

minute. The Roar is in 6th

position, only one point behind

Central Coast which is 4th.

Dual Olympic gold medallist

Graeme Brown has won the

inaugural International Cycling

Grand Prix at Cronulla. A year

after the Cronulla riots,

cycling heavyweights, including

Robbie McEwen and Ben Kersten

competed to promote goodwill in

the beachside suburb, but it

was Brown who claimed the event

in the tight finish ahead of

Victorian Joel Pearson. With

200m into the straight, Pearson

in front of Brown. Brown takes

the lung. Kate Nicholls won

an impressive field which

included Olympian Sara Carrigan

and Kate Bates. As we

reported earlier, summer storms have caused havoc in

Queensland, but the weather is

also having an effect on the

crocodile population. For the

crocodiles, the weth is -- the

wet is a signal to start

breeding. There is no need

tore chemistry to get these

crocodiles in the romantic

mood. All they need is is a

touch of wild weather to start

the mating season. Thund er

and lightning and rainfall is

the main thinging. They start

going out there looking for

mates. It is a sexual

stimulant or aphrodisiac to

them. The number of eggs laid

has increased by 10% because

it's been a good start so

summer, but the drought is a

lingering concern. Last year

we didn't get any rain. We had

14 females that re- absorbed

their eggs. So we lost

potentially 700 baby crocs last

year. Finding a suitable

partner can be a deadly

business. That's why

prospective mates are put in

separate pen s beside each

other for six months to ensure

they are compatible. Mr Lever

says crocodile nests are danger

zones and should be avoided otherwise trespassers could

find themselves a snap which

opponent. The crocodiles will

be ready for harvest in three

years. And now let's take a

look at the weather. In Sydney

today, it hit 22 degrees, 4

below average.

it was warmer, sunny and dry

elsewhere with some scattered

cloud, haze and smoke from the

bushfires were reported over

many parts of the southern half

of the State. Inland,

temperatures were closer to

summer averages.

The satellite picture shows

a big area of cloud developing over Western Australia and the

Northern Territory. Cloud is

also building over inland

Queensland and south of the

continent westerlily wind s are

carrying a band of cloud across

Tasmania. On the sin nop tick

chart there is a broad area of low pressure developing over Western Australia and the

Northern Territory. A belt of

high pressure to the south of

the continent is bringing mostly sunny conditions to New

South Wales, Victoria and South

Australia, while a cold front

is moving towards Tasmania.

That front to the south will

bring late showers to Tasmania

tomorrow. There will be some

isolated showers along the

Queensland coast and widespread

showers and thunderstorms

across Western Australia. In

the capital cities tomorrow:

The fire danger remains

very high.

And before we go, another

look at tonight's top stories.

A Brisbane-based private

security contractor has been

killed during an attack on a

convoy of trucks he was

escorting in Iraq. Kevin Rudd

says a Labor government will

introduce un form national

school curriculums and ease the

HECS burden on tertiary

students. And England's

batsmen have fought back in the

third Ashes Test which is set to go into