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CC Tonight - fire break, a

cool change takes the heat off

the Blue Mountains. Definitely

relieved after yesterday that

we seem to be safe here

now. Lights out in Macquarie

Street, now for the real power

struggle. It will be the fight

of our lives. And simply sensational, Australia's

skipper rises for the Ashes.

COMMENTATOR: What a cricketer

and what a hundred that is for

Ricky Ponting. Good evening,

Juanita Phillips with ABC News.

In the Blue Mountains they've

spent the day fighting fire

with fire. Thanks to a cool

change, firefighters have been

able to burn containment lines

around the worst blazes

stopping them coming any closer

to a number of vulnerable

townships. For now they've got

the upper hand and even though

the fire is still not under

control, at least it's no

longer a threat to people or

property. An anxious night at

Mount Tomah bracing for

southerly winds that could

drive the fire into the tiny

township as well as

communities. Basically what neighbouring

we're doing tonight is keeping

the fire on this side of the

road and taking the backburn

down to Mount Tomah. An

unexpected and welcome lull in the wind saw work throughout

the night on burning a fire

break along 19 kilometres of

road and ridges. The aim is to

build a so-called containment

line that stretches 100

kilometres around the Gross

Valley blaze. The job's likely

to take another week. Try to

rush home at night an put my

little boy to bed and then I

come back out to

station. Volunteer Karen Bull

has left her three children at

home to do her bit to make sure

the fire doesn't get out of hand. The kids can ring any

time and found out where I am,

how I'm doing. With cooler

temperatures and lighter winds,

firefighters are hoping this

time their backburning doesn't

Rural Fire Service has already break containment lines. The

been criticised for the extent of backburning around Blackheath and Mount

Victoria. The energy that's

gone into backburning I feel

could have gone into fighting

the original fires with more

power and knocking them

out. Not to do it would be to

almost concede that we're going

to have major fire in the very

towns we're trying to

protect. Today residents in

those towns that have been on

high alert relaxed. Kate Smith

and son Lachlan had only moved

to the area a month ago. I'm

definitely relieved after

yesterday that we seem to be

safe here now. For now, Warwick

Reynolds' bed and break fst is

also safe. Mpbl we slept easier

last night. But there won't be

much sleep for some 1,000

firefighters who continue to

work on putting out 44

bushfires across the State. The

State's politicians are moving

out of Macquarie Street and

heading for the hustings.

Parliament won't sit again until after the election next

March and that sets the scene

for a frantic four months of

campaigning. Debate on the

final day was dominated by

power, not the struggle to win

it, but rather whether there's

enough electricity to go

around. They spend their

working lives exercising it or

wishing they had it. Stop the

flows to - But when the power

went out in ma quarry Street

twice in an hour during a bedate on nuclear energy it was

too much for some

politicians. He can't even

maintain power, Mr Deputy

speaker, to the parliament of

NSW. The Government says the

disruption was beyond its

control. There's plenty of

electricity in the system A

bushfire at Rookwood cemetery affected transmission lines

occurred yesterday that caused the two dips that

afternoon. But the Opposition

argues the State hasn't planned properly for its energy future

and it's been backed by Phillip

Higginson who for 12 years

chaired Transgrid until he fell

out with the Government and was

sacked earlier this month. If

this government was a bank,

there would be a run on the

bank, there would be 4.6

million people wanting to get

their money out overnight. As

far as the medium and long-term

energy demands, the system has sufficient capacity right

now. With Parliament out of the

way and a long, hot summer

ahead of him, morse Iemma is

trying to convince voters Labor

enters the campaign as the

underdog. This is going to be the toughest, hardest election

that we've confronted. In fact

lit be the fight of our lives. Peter Debnam and the

Coalition have a lot of ground

to make up to win government,

17 seats many held by

comfortable margins. Those

margins mean nothing, they are

just paper margins an paper

majority, they mean

nothing. But as the lights went

back on in the bearpit, the Premier looked far from

defeated as he sets his sights

on leading Labor into a fourth

term of office. Plenty of

resolve, plenty of runs,

Australia has begun its

campaign to win back the Ashes

in fine style. The home side

dominated the opening day of

the first Test in Brisbane.

Ricky Ponting won the toss an

then scored a century. The wait

for this celebration of the

game had been excruciating.

Emotions bubbled beneath a

carefully selected wardrobe as

the sellout crowd completed

their vibe rant... Aussie,

Aussie, Aussie, And amid tight

security sometimes frustrating

journey into the Gabba. Ricky Ponting made the first good

decision. We're going to have a

bat. Between the relaxed and

the pensive, hearts pumped with national pride. There was

nothing wrong with the welcome

for the Ashes holders. CHEERING

Or their body language, though

after Australia galloped into

the battle that betrayed them.

Edgely but effectively Justin

Langer hit 5 fours in his first

15 deliveries. Matthew Hayden

flashed before finding the

spot. And Steve Harmison exited

the attack after two overs for

17 as England faced the early

inquisition. Methodically and flamboyantly Langer led the charge.

COMMENTATOR: That is an

impressive and professional 50

from Justin Langer. But a blossoming partnership was

interrupt ed by England's fiery

captain who lamed Hayden for

21. The hundred before lunch

wasn't a good sign for England, nor was the Australian stroke

play after the break until Langer's aggressive bent undid his century ambitions on

82. The captain strikes again. Fortune favoured the

home team as one attacker

substituted another leading

England, it seemed, like lambs

to the slaughter. The silence

was deafening. Despite

Ponting's positive

vibrations... He's hit that

beautifully. Ashley Giles

explored Martyn's penchant for

the late cut and at 3/198

balance was partly restord. It

was short lived. Mike Hussey

kept England on his toes while

on his knees Kevin pooert sen

had a Jones type scare. The

closest England came to

removing Ponting was when

eccentric umpire Billy Bowden

raised his finger to scratch

his cheek. 18 months of pent-up

frustration over the last Ashes

defeat bubbled into a euphoric

release as Ponting reached his

32nd Test century. What a 32nd Test century. What a

hundred that is from Ricky

Ponting. With Hussey as a solid

ally, Ricky Ponting has taken

the first steps towards Ashes

redemption. The Federal

Treasurer has moved to ease

concerns about a possible $10

billion takeover of Qantas. Peter Costello says the

Government won't lift the limit

on foreign ownership and he

doesn't want Qantas broken up.

In Melbourne Qantas discount

airline JetStar was unveiling

its first long haul flight but

officials were tight lipd on a

potential deal with ma quar fi

bank and Texas Pacific. We

can't make any more comment. On

a visit to Brisbane's Golden

Circle cannery, the Treasurer

moved to calm concerns. The

flying kangaroo says Australia

and as far as I'm concerned

that means majority Australian ownership. While he isn't

ruling out a takeover, the

Government has no plans to lift

the 49% cap on foreign

ownership and the Treasurer

says he can't see a case to

split the airline up. I can't

see any reason why Qantas

should be broken up. He says

any foreign investor wanting a

controlling interest would need

the approval of the Foreign

Investment Review Board and

even then... We would decide

that on the basis of the

national interest. The

Opposition Leader wants the

Prime Minister to guarantee

jobs at the airline. My

challenge to John Howard is to

come through this process and

guarantee Aussie jobs won't be

lost. Government backbencher s

are divided over what a

takeover might mean. Asset

stripping, staff reductions. I

think it is over protected. I

think it's 1980s thinking and I

can understand the public's concerns. Another talking point

when parliament returns next

week will be nuclear energy but

despite the Switkowski report,

the Treasurer's siding with the

nuclear sceptic. While the

Prime Minister says the

economics are obvious and compelling, Peter Costello says

nuclear energy doesn't stack up

at the moment and as for carbon

trading. I don't think the

arguments for and against

carbon trading should be

decided on the basis of trying

to make nuclear power

competitive or not competitive. He says the

nuclear debate has to be open

and honest. AWB was told that

Australia was going to war in

Iraq more than a year before

the public heard about it, according to documents released

by the Cole inquiry. The information was in a briefing

to the company's board by the

chairman Trevor Flugge in 2002.

He said the advice had come

from John Dauth who was then

the Australian ambassador to

the UN. The Prime Minister

didn't announce the decision to

send troops until 13 months

later. John Howard was prepared

to take the wheat board into

his confidence a year before

going to war, but not the

Australian people. The

Department of Foreign Affairs

said today the comments were the personal views of the

ambassador. The final report of

the Oil-for-Food inquiry is due

to be handed to the Government

tomorrow. The horrify ing

reality of life in Iraq is that

one civilian dies every 12

minutes. According to a United

Nations report in October alone

more than 3,500 people were

killed, the highest monthly

toll since the invasion. Even

so, Britain believes the

situation is sufficiently under

control for it to withdraw its

troops by the middle of next

year. The latest victims were

policemen, gunned down at a

checkpoint. The United Nations

estimates 120 Iraqi civilians

were killed each day in

October, the worst rate since

the war began. Behind the

statistics are stories of utter

horror. This is a funeral of a

12-year-old girl who had been

tortured and then executed. I

think we have seen a great

increase in sectarian violence

and acts in activities by not

obl insurgents and tris but

also ma lish arks and armed

groups an criminal gangs. The

United States is still

resisting demands do establish

a timetable for the withdrawal

of its forces but Britain is

talking about the schedule that

could affect the presence of

its 7,000 troop. It hopes to

transfer control of several

pro-Vins to the Iraqis by early

next year. Although, Mr Speak e

as I say, there can be no

question of us abandoning Iraq

in these circumstances, that

does not of course mean that

things are standing still. Australian troops are

also deployed in southern Iraq

but the Defence Minister won't

say when they'll withdraw. We

are continuing to train Iraqi

security forces, it is likely

over the next year that we will

increase those activities, it's

about helping people to crawl,

helping them to walk and then

ultimately to run. You want to

come up and say hello to the

turkey? George W Bush is

considering his options in Iraq

although today he was busy

saving a turkey from thanks

giving dinner. As the President

gave the bird an official

pardon he was talk about the sacrifices being made by US troops. Their courage keeps us

free, their sacrifice makes us

grateful. Next week George Bush

will travel to joern to meet

Iraq's Prime Minister. Baghdad

is considered too dangerous.

There will be some serious

discussion about the bloodshed

and whether the Iraqi security

forces are able and willing to

contain it. Lebanon has called

on the United States to help -

United Nations to help

investigate the latest

political assassination. The

country has been plunged back

into crisis after the murder of

the Pierre Gemayel who was

gunned down in Beirut. The

killing has heightened

divisions in Lebanon where the

majority of people want to be

independent of Syrian influence. It's become an all

too familiar scene in Lebanon.

Another mysterious murder,

another display of public

grief. The body of Pierre

Gemayel was taken back to his

home town after he was gunned

down by assassins in Beirut.

It's the sixth time an

anti-Syrian public figure has

been killed in less than two

years. Followers and friends

alike travelled to the family

home. They gathered over Pierre

Gemayel's kas ket to consider

the meaning of his death. Most

in this predom nanltly

Christian suburb believe that

Syria's to blame. This murder

means that Syria doesn't want a

sovereign Lebanon a free Lebanon. Anti-Syrian drews

leader says he expects more

killing but he says the

violence will event ually bring

down the regime in Damascus. Syria is already in

the sights of an international

investigation into a string of

murders targeting anti-Syrian

activists. Now Lebanon's Prime

Minister has asked the United

Nations Security Council to add

Pierre Gemayel's assassination

to the list. Syria has denied

any involvement but this latest

death has heightened fears that

Lebanon may descend into

renewed violence pitting the

anti-Syrian majority against

Syria's powerful allies like

Hezbollah. Despite the outrage

at this assassination, most

Lebanese don't want a return to

the dais of bloodshed and civil

war. Their leaders have been

doing their best to keep a lid

on rising tensions. Outside the

family home, the emotion was

clear to see. I did feel very

angry. I cried yesterday but

today I did feel very

angry. Security has been beefed

up in the capital. So far it's

been quiet. A funeral and mass

protest are due to be held in

central Beirut later today. The

King of Tonga has promised democratic reform in a bid to

ease the crisis over last

week's deadly riots N a speech

to parliament, King George

Tupou X said the differences

between his government and

prodemocracy groups could be

resolved through discussion.

Sean Dorney reports from

Nuku'alofa. An explosive salute

in honour of a king whose realm

is in unprecedented turmoil.

King George Tupou X arrived - V

arrived to close the parliament

in a part of the capital

demrooet completely shut off to

the public. Australia mes new

high commissioner was among the

few to hear the speech first

hand. Speaking in Tongan, King

George said Tongans had become

prisoners in their own homes.

He put the damage bill from the

riots at US $200 million but he

did promise a more democratic

form of government. Some were

moved, others dismissive. The

King's speech is a clever,

nice, conciliatory speech with nothing. One of the King's

cousin, who represents nobels

in the parliament, boycotted

the session claiming he would

not sit with the commoner MPs

whom he labelled terrorists. We

might as well invite bin bin to

attend the closing of

parliament. I'm not a

terrorist, I'm only doing my job. The Tongan parliament now

goes into recess for six

months, that means it won't be

meeting again until next May.

The prodemocracy movement says

some dialogue on reform has to

happen before then. Tonga's attorney-general says schools

in the capital remain closed

because children who witnessed

last week's rampaging mobs

remain traumatised. It's wise

just to keep kids within the

precincts of their home. King

George Tupou V's reign has

begun with events he admits has

shaken Tonga's constitutional foundations. Tonight's top

story - the fire threat eases in the Blue Mountains and still

to come - a 21-year-old amateur

leading the Masters golf.

When it comes to abuse of the

elderly, many people think of

physical or sexual violence but

new research shows that in many

cases it's the misuse of

medicine which is the weapon of

choice. The research showed in

many cases abuse occurs because carers can't cope with the

demands of looking after their

elderly relatives or

patients. What we're seeing

particularly is overuse and

that might be sedatives being

used all day instead of just at

night. Aged care specialist sue

san Kurl says the abuse she's

seen has occurred when the

relatives are looked after in

their own home. It occurs when the relatives aren't

coping. Some of the worst cases

included a 78-year-old man who

was given high doses of seant

psychotic medication by his

partner to cause drowsiness and confusion.

In some cases, carers wit

held crucial medications. We

had a case where antibiotics

were not being given by a son

to his mother, probably in an

attempt to hasten her death. So

clearly an abuse

situation. Experts at a

conference on ageing heard that

abuse of medicines was

difficult to detect. If the

person has got dementia

sometimes there's a ten dency

for people to think it's just

dementia talk and dismiss it.

Unless it's taken seriously and

checked out we'll never know if

something bad is happening. The

abuse was often picked up by

nurses, GPs or pharmacists who

noticed prescriptions were

being filled too often. Parents

who spend their welfare money

on drugs and gambling could

soon be forced to spend it on

taking care of their children instead. The Federal

Government's come up with a

plan to make sure that a

certain portion of welfare

payments can only be spent on

rent and food. Talking to

welfare groups in Sydney, Mal

Brough's message was blunt. The

dignity of a child takes

precedent over other concerns

about the parents. He says too

many kids are going without

food, housing and clothes

because their parents' welfare

money is being spent on drug,

alcohol and gambling. Now the

Minister's got the green light

from Cabinet to target the

parents of at risk children and

quarantine at least 40% of

their welfare payments for

basic needs. The policy would

also apply to parents whose

children skip school. Serial

truancy is also likely to be a

high indicator of

neglect. Welfare groups say

they're keen to work with the

Government but that it's on the

wrong track. These kind of

issues of families dealing with

alcohol and other drug issues and gambling issues an other

forms of crisis are human

issues not financial issues.

Coming in with a financial

response alone is not going to

do the trick. If a parent or

family is not living up to

their responsibilities, it is

not a solution to take over

those responsibilities. And

Labor's sceptical too. The

Government is usually

interested in getting an

outcome that pleases a few

voters as opposed to an outcome

that solves the problem. The

Minister says no-one would lose

any money but they could be

issued with a debit card with

inbuilt spending restrictions.

There is no punishment here

whatsoever. The punishment that

is currently occurring is where

children are not being provided

with a decent meal in their stomachs. The Federal

Government controls an delivers

welfare payments but it says it

can't go ahead without the

States' cooperation. Mal

Brough wants State child

protection agencies to identify

which families should have

their spending restricted F the

States agree the welfare shake

up could begin early next year.

On to finance now and the local

share market rose again today

even though Qantas shares fell

back. Here's Alan Kohler. The

latest company in the take

overspotlight is Fosters with

rumours that a bid is coming

from a bell gin brewer. p

Tonight's graph is the zinc

and copper prices so far this

year. Now both metals doubled

in price up to the middle of

May and then eased for four

months as analysts wrung their

hands and worried about supply

and demand. Then in late

September zinc took off again

because of a sudden shortage of

stocks on the London Metals

Exchange while copper continued

to fall. The 'ins are still

worried about copper but they

can't see where the next tonne

of zinc is coming from.

And that's finance. The

former rugby league player

Jarrod McCracken has been

awarded $97,000 in damages for

an illegal tackle that ended

his career. The former Wests

Tigers star and New Zealand captain sued Melbourne Storm

and two players over a spear

tackle in May 2000. He clainled

he suffered ongoing back and neck injuries which forced him

to retire from the game. But

Jared McCracken was unable to

persuade the court that she

should be compensated for loss

of future earnings. The judge

described the 36-year-old as a successful property developer

who had been able to devote

more time to that business

since his injury. There's an

unfamiliar look to the top of

the leader board after the

first round of the Australian

Masters in Melbourne. Most of

Australia's top players had

solid opening rounds but the

honours went to 21-year-old

Aaron Pike, an amateur from

Darwin. Low scoring was the

order of the day at Huntingdale

as the pros took advantage of

the perfect conditions.

Defending champion Robert Allen

by put his recent problems

behind him and looked to have gained some of last year's

touch. While his putting let

him down, Allenby remains in

contention after shooting a

3-under par 69. Period Lonard

spent yesterday playing around

with yimmy Barnes but there was

nothing working class about his

round of 68. Peter Wilson may not hang out with rock stars

but the little known Victorian

played like one. He shot a 65.

The Masters is co-sanctioned by

the European tour and

Englishman Nick doity made the

most of his invitation

finishing at 7 under. Follow

Englishman Justin Rose started

well but as the wind picked up

later in the day Rose wiltered

bogeying each of the last three

holes to finish with a 69 . The

field was high class but it was

upstaged by a 21-year-old

amateur from Darwin when Aaron

Pike took the first round lead

at 8-under par. Just qualify

for this last Tuesday and come

out here and had a dream round. Pike's putting was a

feature as he added six birdies

Antogna eagle. The greens are

great out here and I just holed

some great puts. It wasn't that

easy for everyone. Some golfers

showed how tough sit to get a

birdie out of a Huntingdale

bunker although Peter O'Malley

showed how it was done. NSW has

beaten WA in a day-night

thriller at the SCG. The Blues

won by one run dismissing WA

off the last ball of the game.

WA tail ender Brett Dorey gave

his team a chance of victory

when he smashed 25 off 12

balls. The visitors needed two

runs off the final delivery.

COMMENTATOR: It's in the air an

it's going to be caught and NSW

win. The Blues are now top of

the table in the one-day

competition. A month after

receiving that long-awaited

shipment of elephants from

Thailand, Australian zoo have

returned the favour. Bleary

eyed after an exhausting flight

from Sydney, four koalas were

introduced to their new home at

Chiang Mai Zoo. There are two

males and two females. Australian experts will stay

with them for three weeks. Then

Thai zoo keepers who have

studied swal koalas in

Australia will take over. The

koalas have a fortnight to get

used to their new airconditioned home before they

face the public. And just as

good as airconditioning, a drop

in the temperature today,

Mike. It sure was welcome. Good

evening. Some relief from the

heat but still no rain.

Sydney's overall dam levels

have fallen.

The satellite loop shows the

change that moved through NSW

yesterday. That's mostly gone

although there's some low level

cloud about the coast tonight and that's likely to linger

into the morning but again

without producing significant

rain. The north-east of NSW

though just may get an isolated

thundery shower late tomorrow

and in fact one of those was

around about the Northern

Tablelands late today as well

but not much to report beyond

that.

Total fire bans for a couple

of districts of the state the

upper and lower central western

plains an also the central

ranges and the general fire

danger level remains very high

to extreme for most of the State.

Thank, mooix. Now before we

go, another look at tonight's

top stories. The Rural Fire

Service commissioner says he's confident that firefighters

will contain most of the blazes

around the State over the next

couple of days. State

Parliament has adjourned for

the year and MPs are now

preparing their election battle

plans. And a century from Ricky

Ponting has put Australia in a

strong position on day one of

the first Ashes Test. At stumps

the home side was 3/346. And

that is ABC News for this

Thursday. I'm Juanita Phillips.

I'll be back with update during

the evening. 'Lateline' is

along just before 10:30 followed by 'Lateline

Business'. Goodnight. Closed

Captions by CSI

There's people out there who

are biologically related to you

and you have no knowledge of

them. Tonight - the test tube

generation left in a genetic

limbo. To not know who the

donor is a really frightening

thing. I think it is a

disgrace. And inside the Barmy

Army. Why it's a full-time

yob? We're in a competitive

business, but we've got a good

merchandising arm. They've

reduced crowd behaviour to the lowest common denominator. CC