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Tonight - party time, Labor's

gang of nine sets Australia's

new agenda. We intend to turn

COAG into the workhorse of the

nation. Muslim school plans

spark fear and loathing in

Sydney's west. No-one wants

them here, they're filthy

grubs. In a league of their own

- Souths dump their pokies.

And, pride restored - Australia

Trophy. reclaims the Chappell-Hadlee

Good evening, Joe O'Brien

with ABC News. Kevin Rudd is

promising a new era of

cooperation for Australia's

council of governments. He met

State and Territory leaders for

the first time today setting

out a broad agenda for change.

His first act was to boost

funding on a key election

promise. He's offered the

States and Territories an extra

$50 million to slash elective

surgery waiting lists. Labor

mates from State to State in

one big Federal family. Kevin

Rudd reveled in his first COAG

meeting so much he wants four

of them next year. We intend to

turn COAG into the workhorse of

the nation. The Premiers and Chief Ministers couldn't be

happier, a $50 million bonus is

coming their way to carve into

elective surgery waiting

lists. I don't think there's

any doubt this is a substantial

new injection of funding. Just

seven weeks ago, Kevin Rudd

promised $100 million would

shred in one year the list of

patients waiting longer for

surgery than doctors advise. The money is there for

the purpose of reducing that

waiting list of 25,000 cases to

zero in a 12-month

period. Today's $50 million is

an admission that pledge was

unachievable, but the Prime

Minister has told the States,

the extra they get now means

less later. And we'll have to

look, therefore, at downstream

needs as a consequence of that. Another $50 million will

also go to drug and alcohol

treatment in troubled

Aboriginal communities. That

will see new drug and alcohol

detox centres and rehab units

on Cape York. They may have

left with money this time, but

Kevin Rudd has warned the States and Territories not to

expect hand-outs every time

they meet. In fact, he intends

to tighten the strings on the

$30 billion in tied grants the

Commonwealth gives them every

year. Where there's impro. In

health, education, housing and

transport, incentive rewards

will be on offer. That is a

departure from the past. This

is the beginning of a new era. Our commitment is to work

together to tackle the nation's

problems, not to attack each

other. All for one, and one for

all. Well done. One of the

first hospitals that probably

should share in some of that

extra funding is the Royal

North Shore Hospital. A

parliamentary inquiry has found

it suffers from unhygienic

conditions, bed shortages and a culture of bullying. But

instead of coming up with

solutions, the committee has

recommended a second opinion.

The ordeal suffered by Jana

Horska in having to miscarry in

a toilet at Royal North Shore

Hospital's Emergency Department

sparked the inquiry. Today,

her husband said he feels like

they wasted their time. Just

bureaucratic waffle from what I

can see. My God, you know,

it's unbelievable. The

committee chaired by Fred Nile,

agreed the hospital is sick. I

believe it's in a critical

condition, and a lot needs to

be done. He cited:

Of the 45 recommendations, 15

called for more reviews.

Reverend Nile wants others to

decide how many more nurses,

beds and funding are needed. We

didn't actually establish the figure. The recommendations

are wishy-washy, they're

bureaucratic. They're all

about reviews and looking at

and thinking about. The

committee was not wishy-washy

about who to blame - senior

management. It criticised the

high staff turnover, including

eight general managers over the

last 10 years. Things were

never rectified. They could

have been rectified without

much trouble. The Health Minister refused to defend

previous Labor ministers,

including the Premier, for

allowing it to happen. But as

the circumstances arose on my

watch, I dealt with them. And

she says, the recruitment of 78

new nurses will help turn the

corner. Well, I think the vital

signs at this hospital are, in

fact, good and getting stronger every day. It's cold comfort

for Mark Dreyer. How could

anyone say we were treated

adequately and appropriately.

It's unbelievable. But the

report gives the Government a

neat political solution to its

problems. The chairman Fred

Nile rejected almost all

Opposition suggestions to

toughen up its findings, and

with the report wrapped up

before Christmas, the

Government can make a fresh

start in the new year. Japan

may yet bow to world pressure

and exclude humpback whales

from this year's Southern Ocean

kill. While no agreement has

been made public, the ABC

understands a deal to spare the

humpbacks is being negotiated.

It's also believed Australia is forming an international alliance of up to 30 countries

to fight the annual hunt. This

year, and for the first time,

Japan's annual whale cull will

include humpbacks. That's

angered Australia and the

United States. And after intense behind the scenes

lobbying, Japan is hinting it

may reconsider. I think the

Japanese Government is, has

started to ah... ah, have an

intensive suggestion about what

steps should be taken. News of

a possible back down was

brokered last night by the US

ambassador to Tokyo. But

Australia is yet to hear

anything definite. If that's

the case then, it would be a

welcome development, but it's

not enough. As well as the 50

humpbacks, the whaling fleet

also plans to kill 900 minks

and 50 fin whales, all in the

name of so-called science.

With the catch expanding every

year, Greenpeace says it has

new evidence that Tokyo is

building a larger factory ship

to cater for the increased

cull. It's likely to probably

lead to a doubling of the

number of whales killed in the

Southern Ocean . Australia is

leading our diplomatic push

with around 30 countries set to

lodge a complaint against the

Japanese Government. The ABC

understands it'll be lodged in

Tokyo tomorrow. If Japan does

go ahead with the humpback

cull, it'll be under close

watch, with Australia

dispatching a ship and planes

to monitor the hunt in the Southern Ocean. The Federal

Government's next step may be

legal action in the

international court. An

Adelaide court has heard how

convicted terrorism supporter

David Hicks thought Osama bin

Laden was " a lovely man". The

court is deciding what controls

should be placed on hicks when

he's released from jail next

week. Today's evidence

included extracts from private

letters in which he praised the

al-Qaeda leader and admitted to

deadly attacks on soldiers in

Kashmir. Jane Stinson reports.

In nine days, David Hicks will

walk out of these gates an six

years behind bars. He's

emotionally fragile, he's

looking forward to his release.

He's very much focussed on

that. But the 32-year-old won't

quite be a free man. The

Federal Police want to restrict

his movements and

communications with a control

order. The AFP's lawyer today

read out parts of letters hicks

owrote to his parents from 1999

to 2001. He says he met Osama

bin Laden about 20 times.

He writes about training with

the Pakistani group,

Laskar-e-Toiba, and describes

how he and three others fired

grenades at Indian soldiers in

Kashmir, killing two.

He also explained jihad and

martyrdom to his mother.

But Hicks' legal team says

the letters were written a long

time ago and that a US military

court has already accepted

Hicks didn't kill anyone. The

AFP argues the control order is

needed to protect Australians

and people in other countries

from terrorism. They've asked

for a curfew, a limit on email

and phone accounts, and that

Hicks is required to attend a

police station three times a

week. Hicks' legal team

doesn't oppose the order but

argues the reporting condition

is too onerous. He's very

grateful for the first time in

six years to be before a

regularly constituted court,

and he respects the court and

will abide by any order that

the court eventually makes. The

magistrate will hand down his

decision tomorrow. Ugly,

angry, and bordering on race

hate. A highly-charged public

meeting in Sydney's south-west

last night has seen hundreds

protest against plans for an

Islamic school in Camden.

There were even warnings that

the school's students could

turn into terrorists. Islamic

groups say the comments are

irrational and disappointing.

They came in their hundreds to

find out more about plans to

build an Islamic school for

more than 1,000 students in their neighbourhood. There

were scores who couldn't fit inside the Camden McArthur

Residents' Group meeting and

the media wasn't welcome.

Already, the local council has received almost 3,000

objections to the proposal, an

unprecedented number for a town

of 52,000. We have a right to

choose and that's exactly what

we're trying to do. Who is the

Quranic Society? This is a $20

million school project, and

they haven't run a chook raffle

in Australia. They're filthy

grubs. Police held the crowds

at bay with a line of control.

Inside, the Christian Democrats' leader Fred Nile

warned American Islamic schools are a training ground for terrorists. A number of young

men, who've now graduated, who

were born in America,

volunteered to go to Iraq. Not

to join the American army, but

to join the terrorists and to

kill American soldiers. Muslim

educators say that it's Islamic

phobia. To hear we're the

breeding grounds of terrorism

is a slap in the face to the

achievements of what these

schools have been doing. The

Quranic Society office is here

in suburban Sydney. Its

members won't speak publicly except to say they're

Australians who want to build a

school for their children,

little different from a

Catholic or Jewish school. The

society's hired former Sydney

Lord Mayor Jeremy Bingham to

handle its development

application. Surely, nobody is

opposed to Australian citizens educating their Australian

kids, even if they are

Muslims. The group says it's

not deterred by the opposition

and has vowed to appeal if the

school's knocked back by

council. A convicted child sex

offender is on the run tonight,

despite being forced to wear an

ankle monitor. Raymond Barry

Cornwall was freed from Long

Bay Jail yesterday after

serving 14 years for armed sex attacks on two underage girls

and two women. The Government

had applied to keep him behind

bars for another five years

under new sex offender

laws. The commissioner

identified Cornwall as an

offender who shouldn't be

released from custody, because

he considered him to pose a

risk to the safety of the

community. But yesterday, the

Court of Appeal overturned a

recent extension to Cornwall's

prison term and the 52-year-old

was released. Within half an

hour he went missing around

Parramatta. His ankle monitor

doesn't have a satellite

tracking device. A nationwide

crackdown on child pornography

has led to 31 arrests. There

was a tip-off from Interpol in

August, those arrested include

a teacher, a forensic

psychologist and a former

police officer. More than a

million images have been seized

and police have removed one

child identified as being at

direct risk. I think that it is

the tip of the iceberg. Our

experience shows that this is a

serious problem, and I think

the Internet provides

opportunities for people to

feed sick fetishs and predilictions. The charges

relate to the distribution and

downloading of images of sexual

abuse, involving children from

infants to teenagers. Last

weekend, seven men in Victoria

and NSW were charged with

similar offences. Three people

have been killed in a freeway

crash in north-east Victoria.

A semitrailer carrying a gas

cyclinder collided with a van

on the Hume Highway near

Glenrowan before mid dae. Fire

crews cordoned off the area

fearing a possible gas

explosion. The male truck

driver and two people

travelling in the van died

instantly. Police say it

appears the van lost control

and veered onto the wrong side

of the road. Traffic will be

diverted around the scene well

into the night. The south

Sydney Football Club is taking

a punt on scrapping its pokies.

The celebrity owners Russell

Crowe and Peter Holmes a'

Court, believe their club will

grow bigger and better without

the one-armed bandits. If the

members back the plan it'll

make Souths the only major

lesion club to do so. It's a

$1 million a year gamble to

mothball the club's 60 poker

minister. We've got to move on

from focusing on poker

minister. The board voted --

poker machines. Hollywood actor

Russell Crowe and businessman Peter Holmes a' Court. When

the redeveloped club opens in

Redfern next year, the pokies

will be gone in place of new restaurants, bars and a

function centre. We're trying

to say, this is the type of

establishment that will work.

When they had poker machines,

it went out of business. It's

a great idea, if they can stick

to it. They're evil, mate.

They're evil. I think gambling

is detrimental to families, especially in this

area. Russell Crowe and Peter

Holmes a' Court will partner a

Sydney restauranteur to run the

leagues club. That could mean

changing laws, so a meeting

will be held soon with the

State Government. This is a

model that other clubs we hope

will embrace. There's plenty

of small clubs with poker

machines right now they are

finding it hard to work. Maybe

this is a model that will work

for others. The decision puts

Souths in a league of its own.

There are 1,400 registered

clubs in NSW, but only a

handful of the smaller ones are

free of pokies. But what makes

this one a little different is

that this is the largest club

that's ever contemplated trying

to run a football site without

gaming machines. An

interesting exercise. Incoming

anti-pokies Senator has

welcomed and plan. A gutsy

move. I wish them well and I

want to do everything I can to

give them support at a Federal

level to make that shift to a

pokies-free venue. For now

Souths is hedging its bets. It

will keep its pokies licences,

just in case. Tonight's top

story - Kevin Rudd has promised

Labor leaders more money to cut

elective surgery waiting lists.

Still to come - a President's

orders to go green.the sield

has a new Prime Minister. The country's Governor-General

announced that the former

Education Minister, Derek Suhkoohuh had won a clear

previous Prime Minister majority in Parliament. The

Manasseh Sogavare was voted out

last week, prompting fears of a

resurgence of unrest. But the

new Prime Minister said his

nation's democratic

institutions had

worked. Parliament and the

judiciary have also played

their roles effectively in

protecting the constitution,

and ensure ing not only that a

legitimate outcome is achieved,

but that it is achieved within

the law. Mr Sogavare had a

rocky relationship with

Australia and the regional

assistance mission in the

Solomon Islands. The new

leader is expected to be less

confrontational. There's also

been a change at the top in

South Korea. Conservative

candidate Lee Myung-Bak has

ended 10 years of centre left

domination of the presidency.

North Asia correspondent Shane

McLeod reports. Coinciding

with both his birthday and his

wedding anniversary, Lee

Myung-Bak's election win is the

most decisive in Korean

political history. The

66-year-old former executive

with Hyundai won more than 50%

of the vote by focusing on

jobs, and the economy. TRANSLATION: Don't

think about the dark side of

this nation over the last few

years, let's get together and

make a better future for the

country. It wasn't all plain

sail Iing for the former mayor

of Seoul. A share trading

scandal has hung over him

throughout the campaign. Just

days out from the poll, a

parliamentary investigation was reopened after the government

revealed a video that seemed to

link Mr Lee to the controversy.

But it didn't help the

government's candidate. Former

minister Chung Dong-Young came

a distant second. TRANSLATION: I accept what the people

decided today. I hope the

president elect will lead the

people well. On relations with

North Korea, Mr Lee has pledged

to continue working towards

peace, but he's hinted he won't

be as generous with aid as his

predecessor who met North

Korea's Kim Jong-il in October.

Mr Lee's immediate priority is

expectation s that he'll be the economy and voters have big

able to deliver on his

promises. To finance now, and

the local sharemarket has

fallen for the seventh day in a

row , led by Wall Street.

Koerl has the details. Well,

it seems to be another day,

another nasty subprime moment.

Last night was that rating

agency Standard & Poor's warned

that the credit ratings of two

big bond insurers might be cut.

These firms in general ensure

$2.2 trillion worth of

subprime-backed bonds and other

high-yield securities.

Investors were already on the

ropes after higher inflation

numbers and Centro and they

just sagged a bit more. The

local market likewise for the

seventh consecutive session.

BHP Billiton went below $40 for the first time since

mid-September. Its takeover target Rio Tinto fell 1.8%.

The Reserve Bank put out a

report that spelled a bit of

burning plastic.the permanent

balance was unchanged from last

year. Here's how the graph of

credit card transaction looks.

You can see every peak is higher than the last and no

sign of a turnaround just yet.

Here's the average balance

that's accruing interest. It's

been falling since July,

although I think there's a fair

chance that everybody's been

getting ready for Christmas

when the plastic gets a

work-out. And that's 2007 from

me. Have a great Christmas.

See you in three weeks. From

light trucks to light bulbs.

Americans are under orders from

their president to slash energy

consumption. George W. Bush

has signed a new energy bill.

The law mandates historic

changes to fuel efficiency

standards and massively

increases ethanol production.

That's it. The bill left

Capitol Hill and headed to the

White House after a year of

lobbying, negotiating and veto

threats. In a symbolic stunt,

it travelled in a car that uses

a mix of electricity and

petrol. The legislation I'm

signing today will lead to some

of the largest CO2 emission

cuts in our nation's history. For the first time in

three decades, carmakers will

be forced to make their

vehicles much more fuel efficient. Cars must average

15 kilometres a litre by 2020,

a 40% improvement on now. The

legislation also orders a

massive increase in corn-based

ethanol production - a

development that will keep

international grain and food upwards pressure on

prices. And it's lights out

for the incandescent bulb two centuries after it was

invented. Like in Australia,

the globe will be replaced by

more energy efficient

alternatives. Today we make a

major step towards reducing our

dependence on oil, confronting

global climate change,

expanding the production of renewable fuels and giving

future generations of our

country a nation that is

stronger, cleaner and more

secure. Just before the former

Texas oil man signed and bill,

the White House started heating

up, not because of global

warming, but because the

building next door caught fire.

Firefighters used hammers to

break the bullet-proof glass.

According to one estimate, the

new law will reduce the United

States' carbon dioxide

emissions by nearly 10% in 20

years. Not everyone's happy.

Republicans say it's a recipe

for recession, some

environmentalists are

disappointed it doesn't cut the

oil industry's tax breaks.

Across the Atlantic the

European Union's agreed to fine

car companies who don't lower

vehicle emissions. The move's

fuelled outrage in Germany

which has a big car industry.

Australia has regained the

Chappell-Hadlee Trophy with a

comprehensive win over New

Zealand in the deciding match

in Hobart. Captain Ricky

Ponting made his second century

of the series to steer

Australia past 280.the Black

Caps lost early wickets and

never looked like reaching the

target. Here's Peter Wilkins.

After winning the toss for the

third game in a row, New

Zealand tried a different

tactic and bowled first. Makeshift opener Michael Clarke

departed for 7, and Matthew

Hayden squandered a promising start.

COMMENTATOR: Should be out? Is

he out? Yes, he is. When Mike

Hussey went cheaply, Australia

was struggling to build

momentum. But Ricky Ponting

soon fixed that. That's some

sort of stroke. Andrew Symonds

produced a measured 52, and a

day after his 33rd birthday,

Ponting treated his home crowd

to his first 1-day century at

the Bellerive Oval. Another

brilliant century from Ricky

Ponting. The two captains had a

difference of opinion, but the

man of the series won the battle on the scoreboard,

finishing unbeaten on 134 as

Australia set New Zealand a

hefty 283 for victory. No team

had chased that many to win in

Hobart. Has he got him? Yes, he

has. Both New Zealand openers

gifted their wickets to the

Lee-Haddin combination. Helped

by a controversial catch from

Michael Clarke, Brad Hogg

pressed his claims for inclusion in the Boxing Day

Test with two wickets in his

first over. Scott Styris

ensured New Zealand would go

down swinging. But it was a

lame defence of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy which is

now back in the hands of the

highly-motivated Australians.

The Indians have taken some

time to adjust to Australian

conditions. They lost 3 early

wickets on day one of the game

against Victoria at the

Junction Oval. Alan Wise was

the Bushrangers man of the

moment dismissing all three,

including the prized scalp of

Sachin Tendulkar. The former

captain's Rahul Dravid and

Sourav Ganguly had valuable

time in front of the first

Test. Play was abandoned with

India 3/110. In announcing

long-time friend as his

opponent. Anthony Mundine

poured more fuel on his

relationship with Perth boxer

Danny Green. He's at the back

there. Mundine was cook ahoop

and a rematch is in the wings.

There was some wheel trouble at

a cycling mete in Melbourne

last night. Competitors in the

under 18, 2,000 metre dash were

150 metres from the finish line

when two of the leading riders

collided bringing 11 others

down behind them. One rider

was set cart wheeling for

nearly 10 metres. Only four

cyclists managed to avoid the

pile-up. No-one was seriously

hurt in the crash. Yesterday,

it was HSC results, today Year

12 students received their

university admission scores.

Students around the State

gathered at their old schools

to share results with friend

and teachers. The mood was

particularly euphoric at James Ruse Agricultural High School, where at least five students

achieved the perfect 100. I

went onto the site around 9:30

and I looked and thought 100...

that was great. The main

feeling is disbelief. Euphoria

comes one or two days after, I

would think. I still can't

believe it. Now it's just a

matter of waiting for offers of

university places to roll in.

That'll start in the new year.

Let's take a look at the

weather now.

We've got poor driving

conditions set to develop

tomorrow and Saturday across

the State. Anyone travelling

on the roads should expect

dangerous driving conditions

with poor visibility, strong

winds, fog or low cloud in higher areas and slippery

roads. Heavy rain may cause

floodways to be covered with

water. Before we look at why,

let's check out what's

happening with the dams.

Cloud over the country is

basically thunderstorms falling

along troughs, and cloud south

of Western Australia is a

front. Now as that front

approaches the trough during

Friday a rain band will develop

with embedded thunderstorms.

This is what's going to produce

the heavy rainfall. When you

get a mix of dry, cold air

which is the front and warm,

moist air which is what we've

got ahead of it , severe

weather is highly likely and

that's what we expect tomorrow.

Thunderstorms will develop

through the State with that

rain band forming back in South

Australia, then spreading into

NSW and both these systems will

bring heavy falls.

Now, before we go, some

breaking news, a large

earthquake has shaken the New

Zealand city of Gisbon. The

quake measured 6.4 and struck

about 25 minutes ago. It

damaged buildings and blacked

out the city, but so far there

are no reports of casualties.

That's ABC News for now. I'll

be back with updates during the

evening and the late news at

10:25. Have a great night. Closed Captions by CSI

Probably I would go to sleep

crying, wake up crying. Tonight

on the 7.30 Report - struck

down in her prime. The young woman inspiring business

leaders to join the battle

against Parkinson's

disease. You can let yourself

be a victim, or you can let

yourself be a champion, and she decided to be a champion. CC

Welcome to the program, I'm

Ali Moore. Prime Minister

Kevin Rudd arrived at his first

meeting of the Council of

Australian Governments today

bearing gifts. $150 million to

help cut elective surgery

waiting lists, and $50 million

to tackle Aboriginal drug and

alcohol abuse. And, while the

gesture was warmly welcomed by