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Tonight, another Labor MP

suspended. The party is shell

shorked. It's damaging,

absolutely. I do strongly

believe that I'm innocent. A

budget break for the Premier,

but he is still seeing red.

Jack Thomas to face a retrial

on terrorism charges. And

America's fallen angel - from

Miss USA to misbehaved. I

want to apologise to my family

if I've brought any disgrace

upon you.

Good evening. Joe O'Brien

with ABC News. There will be

little cheer for Morris Iemma

this Christmas. Just three

months out from an election,

his government has been rocked

by yet another scandal. The

Labor MP for McQuarry fields,

Steven Chaytor has been charged

with assaults his partner, an

allegation he denies. But the

Premier isn't taking any

chances. He has moved to

suspend Steven Chaytor's ALP

membership, effectively dis

endorsing him from the March

election. Steven Chaytor is

defiant in the face of a charge

that he assaulted his former

partner. I do strongly

believe that I'm innocent of

these claims. The second is

that I'm a very proud and loyal

member of a party that holds

the presumption of innocence

first and foremost of one of

its great ideals. But it is a

bombshell that the Premier,

Morris Iemma, just wasn't

prepared to wear, suspending

Steven Chaytor's ALP

membership. I'm not going to

have a candidate entering the

election campaign with matters

unresolved. Steven Chaytor

claims his partner tried to

commit suicide after he broke

up with her. He says he was

injured while trying to stop

her repeated attempts at

self-harm. Police say the

30-year-old woman suffered a

bruised leg. Just last year,

the pair celebrated his

by-election victory in the

south western Sydney seat.

The idea, of course, of

stepping down does cross your

mind, but I would like to say

this, that I won't be stepping

down. It is yet another

liability for Premier Morris

Iemma as the State election

draws closer. He has been

under growing pressure to

discipline his troops after a

series of scandals. The

Premier has already lost one

MP, Milton Orkopoulos, over

child sex charges, he has had

to dump Carl Scully as Police

Minister. There is the serial

speeding Minister, Kerry hickey

and Cherie Burton forced to

defend claims she tried to

cover up embezzlement. My job

is to deal with these as they

arise. I can do no more than

my job. The State election is

still three months away. This

latest scandal to hit the Iemma

Government has over shadowed

better news on the budget

today. A half-yearly review

has shown an un expected $200 million turn around in the

deficit. The Labor government

is reaping the rewards of a

booming share market. Good

investments have swelled the

coffers of the New South Wales

Treasury by an extra $235

million. Overall, this is a

pleasing result, given the economic circumstances we do

find ourselves in. The

ha-yearly review has seen the

protect -- projected budget

slashed to $497 million. This

is despite more confirmation

that the property market is in

the doldrums. Revenue from

stamp duty has fallen by $130

million. Unfortunately the

three interest rate increases

have hit us. The property

industry says fewer houses are

being built today than was the

case 40 years ago. The

property industry is sick. The

housing sector, particularly.

The review confirms New South

Wales remains the weak link in

the national economy. Growth

forecasts have been cut from

2.5 to 1.5%. With the economy

sha ripging in the last

quarter, the State could be in

a technical recession. I'm

very concerned about the March

terms of quarterly national figure that bee will get in

accounts. The Opposition says

other States are streets ahead

of New South Wales. You contrast it with the Victorian

government where there is a

left-wing Treasurer with a

surplus with twice the growth

rates. Either way, there is

not much in the kitty to spend

at the next election. To the

federal economy now and there

is confirmation today that the

drought is putting more of a

brake on the nation's growth.

Treasury's mid-year snapshot

show s 3.-- 0.75%. The

Treasurer's mid-year report card shows the drought

continuing to bite. The

Australian economy remains

sound, although it is buffeted by severe drought.

by severe drought. Peter

Costello says because of the

downturn in the farm sector,

the economy is now tipped to

grow by 2.5%, down from the

Budget night forecast of 3.25%.

But the Opposition says the

drought isn't all to blame.

The economy is certainly

slowing and there are some

factors at work which are

leading to the slowing of the economy apart from the drought.

We've had a 20% reduction in

farm output. We've got to do

something about declining

productivity and declining

competitiveness. As for pressure on interest rates,

employment growth has been

stronger than expected and the

inflation forecast has been

revised up to 2%, but the

Treasurer argues the pressures

are passing, and inflation will

fall back into the Reserve

Bank's comfort zone. So we

are actually expecting the

profile of the CPI to come down

and to actually go to the

middle of the band by 2008. I

think mortgage holders should

certainly at least be factoring

that there may well be a rate

rise, but my suspicion is there

won't be. Despite the severe

droug, the Government is still

looking at a sur plus of $11.8

billion. They are a billion

dollars more in the black.

That's another billion dollars

that shouldn't have been

collected because tax rates are

too high. The Treasurer isn't isn't giving anything away on

the war chest. You've got a

surplus of 1%. I think it is

prudent to have surplus

budgeting. And he won't be

drawn on the prospect of more

tax cuts. Melbourne terror

suspect Jack Thomas has been

ordered to stand trial again.

His convictions for receiving

funding from al-Qaeda and

tampering with his passport

were quashed just four months

ago, but prosecutor s say

recent interviews he has given

to the media provide new

evidence. Jack Thomas's exit

from the Victorian court after

peel today was in stark contrast to his last appearance

. Back in August, the p

3-year-old had had a big win.

His convictions for receiving

funds from al-Qaeda and

travelling on a falsified

passport had been quashed on

the ground s that his interview with agents in Pakistan

shouldn't have been used

against him. But that elation

was short-lived. The court

appeal has now ruled that

interviews he gave to 'Four

Corners' program and 'The Age'

newspaper give the Crown the

evidence it needs to try him

again on the same charges.

Prosecutors admit that this is

an extraordinary case because

the information they needed to

push for a retrial effectively

came straight from the horse's

mouth. The court ruled this

isn't a case of double jeopardy

because prosecutors couldn't

have knowned about the new

evidence until it was broadcast

and printed at the end of his

trial. The court rejected

submissions made by Thomas'

lawyers that a retrial would be

unfair to a man who suffers

from post trau mat tibling

stress after being im prisoned

and released three time s since

his arrest in 2003 . Thomas

was released on bail and will

have to report to police in accordance with the control

order placed on him in August

that restricts his movements

and requires him to follow a

nightly curfew. His lawyers

will find out if their

challenge to that has been

successful next year.

Outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan

has lamented that his 10 years

as UN leader may only be

remembered for the oil-for-food

scandal. AWB was the worst

offender among the thousands of

companies involved in funneling

kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's

regime. The scandal, if any,

was in the capitals, and with

the 2,200 companies that made a

deal with Saddam behind our

backs. Mr Annan says the

failure of the UN to stop the

Iraq war and the loss of

colleagues in Baghdad were two

other low points of his tenure.

Meanwhile it has been

confirmed that AWB will not

have to pay tax on the hundred

s of millions of dollars it

paid out to Saddam Hussein's

regime. The Cole Inquiry found

the payments did not constitute

bribes, meaning the wheat

exporter can claim them as a

tax deduction. 9 op the Opposition says it is a

disgrace and the Government

should intervene. There is a

loophole in the tax Act which

is big enough to drive a wheat

truck through. But the

Treasurer says his hands are

tied. We had a multi

multimillion dollar inquiry.

They went through all of the

matters and that was the

finding made. I accept the

coal inquiry. The ruling

means AWB will avoid a million

dollar tax bill. The single

desk market ing system has been

kept. The it is a final effort

to persuade Peter McGauran not

to grant up to 40 applications

for wheat export licences. His

decision is expected this week

Let's all look forward to when

it starting to rain we can make

a quid again. Barnaby Joyce

warn that had growers could see

prices undercut by multiple

sellers as happened with coal

sales to Japan. Every time

you went there, all you are

negotiating is how much you are

going to cut your price by this

time. The pressure for

multiple export licences has

come largely from Western

Australia. The warring

Palestinian factions are trying

again for a cease-fire after

their first truce

disintegrated. It follows the

worst day of fighting. Matt

Brown reports. This is how

the Palestinian cease-fire

looked at the general

intelligence headquarters in

Gaza City. Fatah gunmen loyal

to the President, Mahmoud Abbas, took up positions to

defend the compound. But the

Hamas militia men pressed on

with their attack, using

rocket-propelled grenades and

mortars. The leaders of each

faction called for calm. But

the attacks continued. A Fatah

loyalist was killed in a gun

battle when this truck was

ambushed in Gaza. A Hamas

fighter was killd in a

shoot-out at one of Gaza's main

hospitals. At least five

people were killd in the

clashes. The Hamas leader and

Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh,

claimed to have collected

enough cash from foreign donors

to overcome the Western-led

financial blockade on his

government. No need then for

fresh election s. Away from

the gun battles, supporters of

each side hit the streets.

Gunmen from Hamas and Fatah

took up positions at key

intersections. They sealed off

whole-city blocks in Gaza City.

One after the other, the dead

arrived at Gaza's morgues.

This is the worst violence

since Mahmoud Abbas threatened

Hamas' grip on government by

calling fresh elections there

has also been around a dozen

kidnappings so far and there is

a real danger now that these

attacks will gather their own

momentum. Many have been given

good reason to want an end to

this conflict but others now

also have a reason to hate the

other side even more. A

Libyan court has sentenced to

death a group of foreign medics

accused of deliberately

infecting more than 400

children with HIV. The five

Bulgarian nurses and one

Palestinian doctor say they are

victims of a cover-up. They

claim the children were

infected due to un hygienic

conditions in a Benghazi

hospital before their own

arrival. The decision which

upheld a 2004 court verdict was

celebrated on the streets of

Tripoli, but it has been widely

condemned by the international

community. Lawyers are

planning an appeal. Police in

Britain have arrested a second

man in connection with the

murders of five Ipswich women.

The man has been named, but no

other information has been

released. As Jane Hutcheon

reports, no charges have been

laid against either suspect.

A forensic operation is under

way in and around a small

ground-floor flat where the

suspect lived, close to the red

light district of Ipswich.

The 48-year-old man was

arrested as his home address in

Ipswich. He has been arrested

on suspicion of murdering all

five women. Locals have named

the second suspect as Stephen

Wright. He was arrested

without a struggle. I assumed

it must have been something

quite innocent because he wasn't agitated at all or

fighting or screaming. He just

sat in the car. So far, there

are few details about Stephen

Wright, but regarding the first

suspect, Tom Stephens,

detectives have been granted

extra time until Thursday

night, to question him as

forensic teams search every

inch of his property. Overnight, investigators returned to the scene where the

last two bodies were found.

Their work is proceeding amid

huge interest in the British

public. Police are keeping any

new leads closely under wraps.

Hundreds of police continue

their investigations in and

around Ipswich. They've

clearly identified suspects who

have had contact with the dead

women. Now they have to find

the evidence. Guantanamo Bay

detainee David Hicks has

refused to speak to his father

in a telephone call set up this

morning. Although

disappointed, Terry Hicks says

he was prepared for today's

refusal, saying his son is

emotionally stressed. He was

put back in solitary

confinement. He has no-one

emotionally talk about what we've discussed or anything

like that. It has been six

months since the two last spoke

and they've only made contact

four times since David Hicks

was detaind in Cuba nearly five

years ago. Terry Hicks says

his son's mental health is

deteriorating. They've now

told us that David isn't fit

and well like the Government

have been telling us now for

the last two years. The US

Defence Department has blocked an independent psychiatrist

from visiting David Hicks. His

father now hopes to contact his

son through his lawyer, Major

Michael Mori. Tonight's top

story - another Labor MP facing

criminal charges. Still to

come - isn't -- is it

finally over for Shane Warne?

The death in custody that

sparked riots on Queensland's

Palm Island two years ago today

prompt -- prompted protests

around Australia. Rallies were

held to demand that the

policeman found responsible for

the death face charges. The State's

State's public prosecutor that

the evidence did not warrant

criminal proceedings. Anger

over the death in custody has

been brewing for days and under

the hot Queensland sun, tempers

flienlly -- finally flared.

About a thousand pro evidenter

s marched on Queensland's

Parliament House demanding to

know why Senior Sergeant Chris

Hurley escaped prosecution. Earlier this

Earlier this year, a coroner

found him responsible for the

death of Mulrunji at the

watch-house in 2004. This is

a campaign and this is where it

starts. They want the Premier

and Police Minister to resign

and the DPP to be sacked.

Mulrunji's brother called for

people to share his sense of

outrage. I'm sick of this.

I'm sick of playing the poor

black fella. I want to stand

up. I want to be stand up and be counted.

be counted. Joining him was

television personality Ernie

Dingo who has called for calm.

We need to try and find something that's positive

towards family. But there was

more anger in Sydney as pro

testers marched to the gates of

Parliament demanding an

inquiry. We have to learn

your culture, your way of life,

your food, your law. What

about us. Where is the

fairness? Peter Beattie flew

to the community on Palm Island

to answer its questions, but

say s ordering a review is not

and should not be up to him,

but what he will do is support

seeking a second opinion. The Director of Public Prosecutions

wants to seek the view of

another Director of Public Prosecutions from New South

Wales or to seek another

opinion, she will have my full

support to do so. For the

community, that's not enough.

They say Mr Beattie needs to do

more to heal the pain of the

last two years. A teenager

who attacked a man at the Cronulla Railway Station last December has been found guilty

of rioting. Brent Lohman was

among a crowd of people who set

upon a man of Middle Eastern

appearance who sought shelter

in a train carriage. The

19-year-old was convicted of

beating the man. Today the

magistrate rejected Lohman's

claim that he had been acting

in self- defence and said he

was considering a jail

sentence. Double demerit

points come into force on

Friday as police ramp up their road safety campaign this

Christmas. More highway patrol

cars will be painted red or

blue to make them more visible

and once again police will

focus on speeding,

drink-driving and seatbelt

offences. Predicting rain for

Christmas periods, so people

need to slow down, drive

carefully on the roads, take

that break every two hours and

get there safely During the

last holiday period, it 2

people died in -- 22 people

died in road crashes in New

South Wales. To finance now

and the local share market

surged to new high s while

Thailand's market suffered one

of its biggest falls on record.

Here is Alan Kohler. It was

the biggest fall since it was

established 31 years ago and

that includes the Asian crisis

of 1997 which began with the

collapse of the Thai currency.

It was sparked this time by new

controls on capital inflow by

the bank of Thailand designed

to stop speculation. That went

well. The local market rose

back to another record high

today with the All Ords close

ing 8% higher. The gains were

across the board among the blue

chips. BHP Billiton, CBA and

Woolworths all rose strongly

and AWB put on 10% after the

Tax Office ruled that it didn't

pay bribes, so that what it did

pay will be tax deductible..

The merger of Promina and

Suncorp was approved today and

the shares of both companies

rose quite strongly. Multiplex

has agreed to pay $32 million

in compensation to investors

who were caught out by the

problems with its Wembley

Stadium project in the UK.

ASIC said Multiplex should have

revealed the problems three

weeks before it did. US shares

were mixed last night with the

Dow Jones and S & P 500 down.

Oil went up 1.5% and on the

London met tals exchange most

prices fell, led by nickel,

down 1.5%. Tonight's other

graph is taken from the

Government's mid-year fiscal

statement that you've heard

about. It shows the amount by

which the budget forecast has

been out each year, an average

of $4.7 billion. But at least

Treasury underestimates it, I

suppose. The Australian dollar

is trading a bit hieter tonight

after the US currency resumed

its decent. That's finance.

With the Ashes back in safe

hands, question are now being

asked about just how long the

senior Test players will stay

in the game. There is strong

speculation tonight that Shane

Warne won't play on beyond the

fifth Test in Sydney while

Langer, McGrath are are giving

little away. With retirement

beckoning for Australia's

ageing warriors there is a

recognition a mass departure

could be counter productive.

It would be irresponsible for

selectors to let five quality

players go like that at the one

time. Strong speculation

Shane Warne will retire after

the fifth Test. These are the

things you will miss. ..goes

alongside a knowledgement of

the solid start of the game.

Everybody is replaceable.

Everybody is replaceable.

While the components of the

Australian team beyond this

series are unknown, England

will look at the remaining Test

matches it is the first steps

to regaining the Ashes. Coach

Duncan Fletcher has been

defended. We are 100% behind

them. While the nature of the

Australians' approach in tough

situations is a learning curve,

being on the receiving end

hasn't dented Collingwood's

point of view as the man on the

cusp of 700 Test wickets and,

it seems, retirement. The guy

is literally a legend.

Australia has a relatively easy

draw for the first round of the

Asian Cup next year. Carney

drew Australia to play in Group

A alongside Oman, Thailand at 1

37 and Iraq at 83. They could

be one of the dark horses in

this group. Come next

summer, the best in Asia

together with, for the first

time, Australia, will converge

on South-East Asia.

Australia's top ranking for the

16-nation tournament will be

balanced by a wariness of

unfamiliar opposition and

conditions. A totally

different competition and

totally new surroundings for

our players playing in Asia.

It will be cold and won't be

plain sailing. That's the

message from the Bureau of

Meteorology ahead of the Sydney

to Hobart on Boxing Day.

Conditions will be rough A low

pressure system is expected to

produce strong south-west to

southerly winds for the start

of the race. There may be gale

force winds on Boxing Day which

will test the smaller boats.

It's not going to be a pleasant

first day if it pans out as

predicted for anyone, but more

so for us snoo. Snoo glued we

will be in a one hundred footer

at least on this forecast.

Ludde Ingvall's maxi 'Diabetes'

broke a mast whilst preparing.

She has proved to be more

misbehavioured. Tara Conner

has been ordered into rehab in

America amid accusations of

alcohol abuse, drug-taking and

sexual acts. But she has been

told she can keep her crown

after promising to mend other

ways. The fallen angel was

summoned to a meeting with

Donald Trump. Tara Conner

expected the real estate

magnate would say, "You're

fired," but the Donald was un

kark Rhys trickly forgiving.

Tara is a good person. Tara

has tried hard. Tara is going

to be given a second chance.

Miss USA is accused of mis

behaving. There are

allegations of underage

drinking, cocaine snorting and

sexual escapades. One report

she was caught giving Miss Teen

USA a raunchy kiss. I want to

apologise to my family for

bringing any disgrace upon you

but now thank God I have the

chance to make it right. Mr

Trump, thank you. You will

never know what this means to

me and I swear I will not let

you down. I want to

you down. I want to thank...

Tara Conner has just turned 21.

She is from a tiny town in

Kentucky and apparently found

the temptations of the Big

Apple overwhelming. Her home

town is happy about the second

chance. I think it's

wonderful. She is a really

sweet girl. Everybody makes

mistakes. I think it's great

because she has a good mother

and good family. Our kids like

to have a little party. Part

of growing up The beauty

pageant's ratings are falling.

It is a familiar routine for

many American celebrities.

Outrageous behaviour, a tear

tearful apology, then a stint

in rehab. Next it will be a

talk with a talk show. Let's

take a look at the weather.

Some isolated severe

thunderstorms today and more

showers likely over the

weekend.

There is a lot of cloud on

the satellite loop, mostly

building up across the west of

the continent associatewide a

trough that will make its way

into New South Wales over the

next day or two. Further un

settled waeth ner the

north-west of the State

tomorrow with possible

afternoon and evening showers

and thunderstorms and the east

will also have onshore winds

producing showers and the

chance of storms about the

central ranges as well.

And before we go, another

quick look at tonight' top

stories. Labor MP Steven

Chaytor has been charged with

criminal assault and the

Premier has moved to suspend

him from the party. The

scandal has over shadowed a

budget break for the Government

with a half-year review showing

an un expected $200 million

turn around in the deficit.

And there are reports tonight

that Shane Warne is set to

announce his retirement from Test cricket, possibly after

the Ashes series. And

finally, a footnote to a story we broadcast on Sunday night

about a group of horses in northern New South Wales that

were saved from a pet food

factory. The 77 ponies and

foals were to be slaughtered

because the owner could no longer afford fodder in the

drought, but a good Sam mar tan

intervened and the horses

undered up on a property near

Guyra which provided a

temporary haven. Now homes

have been found for all of them

including two more foals which

were born yesterday. That's

ABC News for now. There will

be updates during the evening.

The 7:30 Report is next. Have

a great night. snoo Closed Captions by CSI

Tonight - the jut back

thun's now the Mecca of

Australia's mining boom. I was

making about $30-40,000 a year.

Here I'm making 90-plus. But

can it cope with the

bonanza. Just can't afford to

rent anymore. It's gone up

150%. And the Sydney-Hobart

yachty trading size and speeds

for the romance of the sea. The

difference here is charge ing

towards an albass tros do ing

48 knots, now it will turn

around and have a look so sit

about commuting with the sea

again. CC

Well come to the program.