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Tonight - a frustrated

Treasury secretary at the

centre of a bank brawl. The

Leader of the Opposition has

been reputiated by the Treasury

secretary. Politicians at 20

paces - the Coalition draws

friendly fire. If I had my way,

I would march him out at dawn,

put a blind fold on him and

shoot him Field of dreams -

growing prospects of a

bountiful harvest. And

tick-tock - men too have a

biological clock. They cannot

take it to be absolutely

forgrant. Good evening.

Juanita Phillips with ABC News.

There were angry exchanges in

Parliament House today, but for

a change it wasn't a slanging

match in question time.

Treasury secretary Ken Henry

was grilled for hours by the

Senate Estimates committee

about the Prime Minister's bank

deposit guarantees. Opposition

senators wanted to know whether

he and the Reserve Bank

supported the move. Mr Henry

said they did. But he was then

accused of being economical

with the truth. Political

editor Chris Uhlmann. A

democratic ordeal for the head

of Treasury. At the mercy of a

Senate committee. That, to me,

doesn't sound to have the ring

of truth about it. I am sorry,

senator? The testy day long in

quiz ition turned on one

question - had the Reserve Bank

advised against offering

against an unlimited deposit

guarantee. Whilst I would not normally entertain questions

such as this one and in my

years of appearance s in these

committees I never have, I

think on this occasion there is

probably a public interest in

my confirming Mr Steven s and I

were of one mind. They also

agreed that a free unlimited

deposit guarantee didn't sit

with the design of the

Government's offer to act as

guarantor for bank

borrowing. For short-term whole

sale funding, we say, yes,

there's a guarantee but there

is a charge, then we will

distort the short-term money

markets. Is the solution being

consider ed is im pose a fee on

large deps yits. An issue that

we are working quite

intensively on. That fee bv

above t threshold will be above

$1 million. Nothing more than

a new tax. It is not a deposit

tax. The parliamentary

theatrics were puntion waeted

by the announcement of the

highest inflation rate in 13

years. Prices risen by 5% over

the last 12 months but

inflation is not the biggest

worry anymore. The balance of

risk has changed fundamentally

in the global economy and also

in the national economy. And we

do believe that inflation has

peaked now in Australia. It

will be coming down and perhaps

coming down quite quickly. Back

in Estimates nothing was going

quickly.

It was insults at 20 paces

today as the State Nationals

leaders took aim at a Liberal

MP. But Andrew Stoner may vended up shooting himself in

the foot. He says he was only

joking when he said that

Federal Liberal Alby Schultz

should be taken out and shot

for supporting an Independent

karnddate in the Port Macquarie

by-election. Mr Stoner has apologised but Mr Shuttle

shuttle says sorry is not

enough. He wants the comments

investigated. The Port

Macquarie by-election has

revealed fractdures in the

Coalition, prominent Liberal

Party figures pushed them wide

open by publicly campaigning

for the Independent favourite

instead of the National Party

candidate. The Federal Liberal

MP for Hume shuttle shuttle was

Western Australian of them. For

that, the NSW national leader

called him a treacherous rat

and today he spelled out his

preferred punishment I would

march him out at dawn, put a

blind fold on him and shoot

him. That statement sparked

furious condemnation from his

Liberal Party counterpart. He

made the point that it was

humorous and light hearted. I

made the point it was

unacceptable. Less than three

hours Andrew Stoner faced the

media again, to explain that he

was just joking. I am not into

guns or killing people. Just a

nonsense. He put it all down to

frustration and then laid in

again. Alby Schultz is a

renegade, his own colleagues

don't support him. Alby Schultz

is a thorn in the side of not

only the Nationals but the

Liberals. Get over it. I have

to go to question time. Thank

you. Alby Schultz is far from

over it. He wants it

investigated. As statements

of this nature represent a

threat against Mir person . And

he has his own person al attack One would have to

question the soundness of mind

of somebody who puts that sort

of statement out into a general

community. This is the just the

sort of internal bickering that

the NSW Coalition is desperate

to avoid, especially when last

weekend's by-election also

showed that the next State

election is theirs to lose. Pensioners are set to be

cutting back on essential

medicines to cope with the

rising cost of living. A new

study shows a drastic drop in

the number of prescriptions

being filled for conditions

like heart disease, high blood

pressure and diabetes.

Pensioner lobby groups Plame

the rising costs of

#1cri79s. Les Elkins takes nine

drugs a day pora serious heart

condition and with a wife also

on medication a big chunk of

their pension is spent at the

chemist. You're a long time

dead and I want to keep taking

medication so I don't have to

take out my funeral plan that

I've got. Things could be worse

for the Elkins'' . Others can

barely afford the bills and

potions they're described -

prescribed. Some even choose to

go without life-saving

drugs. No-one should be defied

their medication. Especially at

our age As prices increase,

more people struggle to afford

their treatments. A 7-year

study shows that pensioners and

the unemployed cut back on

their medication when the

Government increased the amount

they had to pay for drugs. In

2005, this co payment rose 24%.

Last January, it went up again

to $5 a script and that's seen

a fall of up to 11% in the use

of prescription drugs, like

anti-clotting agents,

cholesterol drugs and

insulin. We would expect some serious clinical consequences

if patients are not using these

medicine, as

prescribed. Lobbyists want the

co payment scrapped all agent

together or the threshold for

pensioners to get free

prescriptions. We want people

to receive quality health

care. We spend nearly $7

billion on financing and

subsidising medications and

that is a good system. But

there's every chance pensioner

co payments will rise again

next year. Drought conditions

in NSW have'sed slightly. The

latest figures show that,

thanks to rain in September,

the number of drought declared

areas has fallen 2.4% to

69%. And that's down 10% from

the same period last year. But

more rain is still needed in

the central and southern areas

to lock in the current wheat

yield estimates of 5.8 million

tonnes. So far, October has

been relatively dry. In the

State's central west, drought

is a word that people are

trying to avoid. Instead,

there's a rare feeling of

optimism in the air. At the

annual national field day s

just outside Orange, people on

the land are spending money or

at least thinking about it. As

Geoff SIMs report s some say

it's the brightest outlook in a

decade. It might not have

looked like spring on the Blue

Mountains this morning, in fact

the animal s must have wondered

what hit them. It was snow,

without doubt snow. But the

grass was greener on the other

side of the hills an the future

looking brighter than it has

done for years. On the central

tablelands at the moment, yeah,

it's a pleasant occupation to

be in at the moment. Gone the

wishful thinker, the tyre

koinks tlas few years. In this

part of the State, people on

the land are trying to put

drought behind them. To their

credit, they're in there, guns

blazing. Everybody getting

stuck in. The season around

here is pretty good at the

moment. People are obviously

looking forward to a better

result. Big dollar machinery

too. As field days go, there are smiles all round: Probably

one of the best in the last 10

years for sure. Some cheap

mightn't think so, called in to help demonstrate possibility

the way of future sheering.

Imagine the in dignity.

There's even water here. And

the fall in the Australian

dollar's value will help ex

ports. As long as the importers

overseas haven't gone

broke. We're being told by our

people where we're selling

things that our buyer s are

finding they don't have the

money to buy things. You can

see why farmers lucky enough to

have a crop are feeling

optimist, while at the same

time being a-Prix hencive. The

crops are already ready to come

off, that is unless something

gets to them first. Locusts,

blaig number s could be forming

west and south of here. It is

now up to 155 - 1,55 farm arer

areas that have been rested

plague loek quus USes. That

could mean post card predy -

post card pretty one moment,

dust the next. The wetlands of

the Murray-Darling Basin are

said to be disappearing at an

alarming rate and Government

mismanagement is being blamed.

New research from the Australian Conservation

Foundation and the inland

rivers network argues that the

Commonwealth's water buyback

scheme is too little, too late.

I says most of the wetlands are

already gone and what's left is

barely surviving. 30 years ago,

Australia signed an

international agreement

promising to protect the

Murray-Darling Basin wetlands

but since then most of them

have dis appeared. It's a bit

like removing your liver, your

kidneys and your heart. If you

take those out of a wetlands,

of a river system, then it will

just wither up and die. Those

that are left are hanging on

for dear life. A lot of the

wetlands in the Murray-Darling

Basin are an ecological free

fall. We have already lost

around 90% of the wetlands. The

Coorong and the Lower Lakes of

the Murray are half a metre

below sea level, the lowest

point since they formed

7,500,000 years ago. The

Macquarie marshes are fight for

survival, river red gum gums

are dying, water bird numbers

are plummets and the a new

report lays the blame on the

State and Federal

Governments They've been

neglected, they've not been on

the radar of water planning

across southern Australia in particular. It comes as no

surprise that the greatest

threat to the wetlands is said

to be the excessive use of

water for irrigation. There's

been a lot of buck passing go

on over many years. The current

Federal Government to their

credit are out there trying to

buyback water to try and save

some of their sites but for

mitt's far too late. But the

Federal Government's defending

its handling of the wetlands

crisis. 11 months of

Government, we've done more

than was done over the last 1

years frankly and we will

continue to work, very, very,

very vigorously and robust ly

on this issue. As far as the

Opposition is concerned, the

water entitlements bought by

the Government will return next

to nothing to the environment.

The biological clock is

ticking a little bit louder for

men tonight. A new study has

found just how significant age

is for men who want to be dads.

Despite the popular perception

that men can father children

well into old age, the latest

research shows that, like

women, their fertility starts

declining after the age of

35. We've all heard about a

woman's biological clock but

apparently time waits for no

man either when it comes to

fathering children. They

cannot take fertility absolute

ly for granted. There is also

an impact of male age upon

fertility. Sydney IVF romp

researchers took - researchers

fook sperm safrms from 3,000

men and their DNA or make-up

was examined: As the male age,

the #13er78 starts to fragment

or breakdown which makes the

sperm less via able for

fertilising the egg. The older

the man, the more damage the

result has found. The rate of

the de fragmentation increased

with age but there was an

increase in de fragmentation

after the age of 35. While the

Rupert Murdoches of this world

have fathered children later in

life, this new research suggests they tear exception,

not the rule. One in six

Australian couples end up seek

medical treatment because they

can't conceive. In almost half

of those cases, it's due to

male infertility. Specialists

say a healthy lifestyle is one

way of holding back the

years. The messages would be,

yes, limit alcohol intake,

don't smoke, have a healthy

well dallianced - balanced diet

and take anti-ox dance and

spend more time with your

partner. The global financial

turmoil may be the main issue

of the US election campaign,

but there is another crisis

that could affect the outcome.

More and more Americans are

going without basic health care

because they can't afford

it. ABC correspondent Mark

Simkin reports from Virginia on

a free medical clinic swamped

by patients. Number 20. They

drove for hours an queued

through the night. But knive

the morning, more than 1,000

people were waiting. 53.

Hundreds more arrived at

dawn. Desperate for free

medical care. Volunteers

transformed the fair ground

into a temporary clinic,

providing tests in barns, eye

checks in pence and dental work

in dent tentds. Can I ask you

what you're here for? To have

my teeth extracted? How

many? All of them. The dentist

re moved 4,000 teeth in two

days. Doctors gave

consultations and took

X-rays. She's the third patient

today that has the appearances

of lung cancer. Stan Brock is

the man behind the mission. I

grappled with giant an

kondas. He once appeared on TV

adds America's crocodile

Hunter. He found remote founded

Remote Area Medical and now his

charity does 50% of the work in

the richest country on

earth. The medical attention

here is largely a privilege of

the well do and the well

insured. The United States

doesn't have universal health

care and for many people

influence is un - insurance is

un affordable or

unvaivernlt It's terrible and

awful. Nearly 50 million

Americans don't have any health

insurance. 25 million more are

underinsured, they have some

coverage but not enough to meet

their needs. Both presidential

candidates are vowing reform. I

do know this issue is gaining

in power and in urgency. Is it

embarrassing that much a risk

country has a big health

problem? I think so. People are

hurting and that could be

enough to turn this Republican

State democratic for the first

time in decades .

The State Government has dump

add controversial plan to set

up a harbourside Sydney

University campus at Callan

Park in the inner west. It's a

victory for many local

residents who opposed the

university's plans to more than

triple its floor space on the

site. We will be proceeding

with on handing over the care,

management and control to the

council. To the council on a

99-year lease at a pepper corn

rate. The Government has

dismissed suggestions that it

made the decision to appease

voters in the March marginal

seat of Balmain. On to finance

now and the share market lost

some of yesterday's gains as it

followed Wall Street and

commodity prices lower. Here is

Alan Kohler. The All Ordinaries

Index went up 307 points in two

days and today it lost 131 of

those points, so that's two and

a bit steps forward, one step

back. The cause was a pretty

standard bit of profit taking.

A lot of people have banks

breathing down their

negotiation and need to sell

share s to pay off debt an they

do so when the price ticks up.

So any rally is likely to be

puntion waeted by a reversal.

BHP Andriyo went in opposite

directions today. BHP fell

after reporting higher iron ore

production but stating the

obvious as Rio did that China

won't be immune from the

downturn. Rio went up because

of an unexplained Bett surge

that the BHP bid for it will be

raised. Wetfield was among the

biggest falls down 9%. While

most of the banks fell, except

for NAB which went up 4%

despite reporting a 10% drop in

cash profit and a big rise in

bad debt provision. There was a

2.5% fall on the Dow Jones last

night and some chunky falls

among most of the commodities

except for silver. Which is one

of the reasons why no-one

really bothers about inflation

at the moment. The September

quarter CPI came out today, up

1.2% for thequarter and 5% for

the year. The RBA's special

measure of core inflation is

4.7% higher, well outside its target band. Here is a

long-term graph of the headline

inflation rate and it's now

back to where it was in 1995

when the official interest rate

had been raised three times. It

worked then and by 1997 the CPI

was falling, although the Asian

crisis also helped. The other

reason inflation is elevated is

this - the falling dollar and

it fell sharply today, down 3

cent s to - 6 - 66.66

cents. People are increasingly

un happy with their Internet

providers and telephone

services. The nations Ombudsman

says there's been a 50%

increase in complaints over the

past year and Telstra was the

main target. Australians aren't happy with their phone

services. And they're ringing

up and emailing the

telecommunications Ombudsman.

Almost 150,000 people

complained in the year up to

the end of June. This year that

we've just seen has seen an

increase across the board and

this's what we're really

highlight our message here,

that is across the board that

consumers are finding they have

concerns about customer service

and billing and

payments. Telstra fared

particularly badly. The number

of complains against the

company and its Internet

provider Bigpond leapt by

almost 20,000 to more than

51,000. In a statement, the

company says it's not happy

that our share of complaints to

the Ombudsman has increased. It

says it's launched a cross-pane

review to assess and improve

our complaint handling processes. Another concern for

the Ombudsman - the number of

complaints about mobile text services. The report

highlighted case studies of

people who found themselves of

paying for subscriptions for

things like horro scopes or

ring stones they - ring tones

they didn't realise they had

signed up for We have a right

to good clear information. Draft regulation s governing these types of

services are due out later this

year. So is it just a hiccup

or is Australia's dominance of

world cricket coming to an end?

The Australian team has taken

some time off to ponder one of

its worst defeats, the loss of

the second Test to India. The beleaguer ed Australian captain

says it's all in the mind and

once heads are cheer - We had a

good open discussion about what

we want to achieve and how

we're gooing to do that. The

contribution of two key senior

player sass concern. You can

consider with Lee and Matthews

led the Australian team to

victory. You never write them

off. Whether the crushing loss

in Mohali is the cusp of

Australia's international

demise, Ponting can't conjure

up personnel or rebirth some

notable absentees. Ideally you

would love to have an attack

that has the McGraths and the

Warne s but we don't have that.

So we have to find ways of

making the newer guys get the

job done for the team. We are

not going to be the dominant

side we that we've been. We've

had great sides of t over the

last 15 years. Those teams were

intim daeth. The baton of

aggression has been grabbed by

India. It's up to us to dent

that confidence now. An 80%

match fee fine was a small

price to pay for Zaheer

Khan. It's not just the quality

of some Indian spin, it's their

pace bowling. They're

outbowling Australia. One

answer could lie in Adelaide

with enigmatic Shaun Tait

taking five wickets for SA this

afternoon. Publicly India is

not trump etting Australia's

demise. I don't think they've

lost it. They will come back

strongly. The international

Raiders are assembling and

winning. Now it's time for the

big one, the Melbourne Cup. It

looks like the Europeans have a

good hand this year. Nine

European horses are gunning for

a start with Septimus the pick

after winning the Irish St

Leger by 13 pent lengths At

home off level weights you

would be very worried about

taking on sept Septimus but

our horse is always

improving. Make that horses -

Bauer win for the Cumani stable

in today's Geelong Cup earning

him a media puzzle-type start

in the Cup. Adelaide United

will be looking to book a spot

in the Asian Champions League

final when it meet's

Uzbekistan's FC Bunyodkor

tonight in Tashkent. The Red s

won the first leg 3-0 and the

coach believes they have all

the bases covered. Anything

could happen. We're prepared

for everything. We're not

afraid. We're coming into this

game very confident. If

Adelaide reaches the final, it

will also qualify for the rich

club World Cup in Japan in

December. There are four new

gays faces in the Australian

rugby league team for the

opening game of the Kangaroos

World Cup campaign. Coach Ricky

Stuart had chosen a blend of

youth and experience. The

17-man squad includes Joel

Monaghan, Anthony Laffranchi

and Manly pair Glenn Stewart

and Josh Perry. They prepared

for Sunday night's match

against New Zealand in cold

conditions. The two Sea Eagles

deb tants say they're fit and

readsy to fire now they've

recovered from Grand Final

celebration. Everything I could

have hoped for has happened

this year. Just tried ing to

get my head around it at the

moment and soak it in. The

Kangaroo s are the favourites

to defeat the Kiwis in a

rematch of the last World Cup

final four years ago. Instead

of Maurice Greening her death,

friends and family today chose

to celebrate Britt Lapthorne's

life. More than 500 people

attended her memorial service

in Melbourne. The 21-year-old

was remembered as a determined

young woman, destined for

greatness. Friends, family and

stranger Came wearing rib ons -

ribbons in Britt Lapthorne's

favourite colours. The

Lapthornes say the service

wasn't about their grief, it

was all about their girl. The

past couple of days we've been

doing a lot of crying, it's

been very difficult. But we've

been laughing a lot as well

because my sister was a real

character. Britt Lapthorne was

an accomplished traveller from

a very young age. Her brother

told mourners that the last

time he saw her aliver was when

she visited in him in germ and

at the time he was struck by

how happy she was. Her friends

spoke of a young woman with

intense focus and drive who was

great company and relished

life's simple pleasures. The

three of us have all learned a

thing or two from the

Britt. Whether it's the

desperate need for a good

coffee oor five throughout the

day, the importance of a good boovenlth And capturing every

moment on camera. The tears

flowed through laughter at

treasured family memories

before 21 mauve balloons were

released. To my sister, we love

you very much We always will,

and just rest in peace my

beautiful sister. Dale

Lapthorne has plans to set up a

special foundation for

Australian travellers who need

help overseas. I think there's

a legacy in that we've brought

to attention some of the issues

that can be faced by missing

person, some of the weaknesses

in our own Federal support

system, and those weaknesses

are really very kimp simple and

easy to be fixed. During the

memorial service, Britt

Lapthorne and her father were

described as two peas from the

same pod, both sharing an un

waiver ing strength of

character. Dale Lapthorne says

he hope s he can use that

quality to make the foundation

in his daughter's name a

success. Time to check the

weather now and how cold was it

today? Back into winter? If you

can have Christmas in July, why

not winter in octd?

Temperatures in some townsan

suburbs from the Illawarra

through to the Hunter were the

coldest October maximums in 10

to 30 years. It's not surprising, then, that snow

fell at Oberon, Katoomba and

moint Boyce on the tableland.

The cause of this cold break is

a strong cold front and a pool

of very old air in the upper

atmosphere. They were driven by

a high in SA. The good new,

spring will return on Friday.

Today was the coldest October

day in 30 years. Showers and

gusty southerly winds will

continue overnight but they

will continue tomorrow.

The old air arrived in Brisbane late this afternoon

with a wintry day in hebt and

also Canberra. Cloud across

the NSW coast will start to

break-up during Thursday, with

the next band to have an impact

tone State silting off the WA

coast. A low will form off the

north coast tonight with

onshore winds continuing and

that will see the below average

temperatures persist as well.

The high will move over the

north-east of the State on

Friday, returning much of NSW

back to typical spring

conditions. Showers along the

coast and ranges tomorrow - the

heaviest fall also be on the

hupter and mid-north coast.

That's ABC News for this

Wednesday. The '7:30 Report' is

up next and I will be back with updates during the evening. For

the latest headlines, 24 hours

a day, go to ABC Online.

Goodnight.

Closed Captions by CSI

Tonight on the 7:30 Report

- the uncertain future facing

Australian home owners in the

wake of the global credit

crisis. The first casualty is

confidence. Fear for many but

for some a ray of hope. It's

good news for us if the house

prices drop.

CC

Welcome to the program.

Whatever happened to

bipartisanship on tackling the

challenge s tloin up by the

global financial crisis. Yesterday Malcolm Turnbull

attacked the Prime Minister for

allegedly ignoring the advice

of the Reserve Bank governor

when he put his rescue package

together for Australian banks.

That attack was based on a

newspaper story. Today, the Treasury secretary, Ken Henry,

perhaps the most powerful

public servant in the land,