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Tonight - Fiji's Parliament

dissolved. More wrongful

detentions. More pressure on

the minister. Police say

they've cracked a major Sydney

drug syndicate. And too

drug syndicate. And too old,

two-up - where does England go

from here?. It will go in

history as one of the great

Test matches. Good evening.

Juanita Philips with ABC News.

Fiji's coup leader has

consolidated his grip on power. Commodore Frank Bainimarama has

appointed a caretaker Prime Minister, but at the same time,

he has used armed troops to shut down the Parliament and

has declared a state

has declared a state of

emergency. Australia has

joined other Commonwealth

countries, urging Fijians to

begin a concerted but passive

campaign of resistance. The

ABC's Sean Dorney reports from

the Fijian capital. The Fiji

military got rid of the

Government yesterday. Today it

was the turn of the Parliament.

First the speaker of the House

of Representatives was escorted

from his office and ordered to

leave. Then soldiers

leave. Then soldiers

surrounded the Senate. The

President of the Senate got the

message and suspended the

sitting. The army then locked

up the chamber. Nobody has

the power right now but the

military, to do anything.

Last night, shortly after the

proclamation of the state of

emergency, the military moved

to impose Sen coreship.

Soldiers entered the premises

of the main daily newspaper

of the main daily newspaper and

Fiji 1 television. At 6

o'clock, the Commodore took

over the country of Fiji, and

at 7.30, they started to take

over the media. The acting

Police Commissioner defied the

military last night. The

regime that they have put in

place is illegal. The Fiji

police will not now or ever

to a have any part of it. That led

to a stand-off outside the

police tactical response

division which ended with the

the acting Police Commissioner

being sacked. The commander

warned his critics not to stand

in his way. But should we be

pushed to use force, let me

state that we will do so very

quickly. Some institutions

are refusing to buckle. Fiji's High Court judges met this

morning and they've issued a

morning and they've issued a

statement reassuring the public

that they will remain committed

to their judicial oaths to

uphold the constitution. Prime

Minister Qarase left his Suva

residence early this morning to

fly home to his island in the

far east of Fiji. He still has

the support of the international community. We

believe this is a very

overthrow of unpopular - I say unpopular -

overthrow of a democratically

elected government. Australia's Foreign Minister

urged Fijian public servants

and police not to accept the

coup. I think the ordinary

people of Fiji and the

institutions of government in

Fiji should show passive

resistance to this imposition of dictatorship on their

country. But as long as these

men support their commander,

Fiji will have a military, not

Fiji will have a military, not

a democratic government. The

latest scrutiny of the Immigration Department has

revealed up to 18 new cases of

wrongful detention. As many as

half of those put behind bars

were Australian citizens, some

of whom could now claim

compensation. In his report,

the ombudsman sharply criticised Immigration officers

for abusing their powers.

for abusing their powers.

After Cornelia Rau and Vivian

Alvarez, the ombudsman found serious problems with

Immigration's handling of every

one of the 20 new detention

cases he examined. In fact,

half turned out to be

Australian citizens. The figures alone suggest that

there is a matter of real

concern. A 52-year-old

Timorese man suffering from

chronic schizophrenia,

chronic schizophrenia,

identified as Mr G, was

detained for 43 days despite

being a Australian resident and

despite DIMIA concerns it was

on shaky ground.

Compensation is now likely.

We have entered into

discussions to ensure he is

aware of his rights. There

aware of his rights. There

were nine cases of people with

mental health problems

detective Taeyned. Five turned

out to be Australian citizens,

three permanent resident s and

the remaining person had a

visa. Then 10 cases of

children. 9-year-old JT was

born in Australia and entitled

to citizenship on her 10th

birthday. DIMIA officers tried to hasten her and

to hasten her and her family's

removal from the country,

writing in another email:

JT ended up spending 2al 2

days in Villawood with her --

282 days in Villawood with her

mother. This is a situation

of spotting a situation or two and saying there could be more. The

The minister called it a good

day. Senator Vanstone points

to significant improvements in

her department. As for

speculation that some of her

Coalition colleagues want her

dumped... Look, it is the

silly season. Amanda Vanstone

says she is happy with the job

and wants to keep it. The

detention report was something

of a gift for the new

Opposition Leader. Kevin Rudd

Opposition Leader. Kevin Rudd seized on it, saying it put

paid to John Howard's claim of

being the standard bearer of

family values. Today Mr Rudd

also got the go-ahead to

appoint the people he wants on

his new front bench. Kevin

Rudd is not only happy showing

off his family. This is my

little boy, our little boy,

Marcus, he is 13. He has also

made it clear he plans to seize

John Howard's title of champion

of family values. Today the

new op significance leader

seized on the detention debacle

to make his case. Prime

Minister, how can the

Government claim to be a

supporter of family values when

Australian detention centres

have been used to lock up

Australian kids? It is sadly

the case that mistakes are

made, Mr Speaker. No

administration is perfect.

But Mr Rudd was not finished.

Prime Minister, why do you fail to take responsibility

to take responsibility for

anything that goes wrong, and

always blame someone else? Mr

Speaker, I don't. Mr Rudd has

also been hinting he may

exploit Labor's links to the

eight State and Territory

governments to push for a federal takeover of the

nation's hospitals. It is

designed to end public

annoyance over blame-shifting

between an bra an the states

and appears to have got under

the Government's skin, too.

the Government's skin, too. The Australian people aren't

interested in runs hospitals,

they want hospitals to run

better. That seems to be Mr

Rudd's point. On the eve of

Labor's front bench revamp,

Peter Costello pointed to Peter

Garrett. Having the Member

for Grayndler instead of the mm for Kingsford Smith

for Kingsford Smith is having

Barry Crocker in preference to

Elvis Presley. Kevin Rudd did

not have to wait until tomorrow

to get what he wanted. At

Labor faction meetings this

evening, he insisted that Peter

Garrett and others be elevated

to the front bench.

gling For Morris Iemma, it is

the news he didn't want to hear

the news he didn't want to hear three months before an

election. Figures out today

show New South Wales has

slipped into negative growth. That means Australia's biggest

State is now on the brink of

recession. Putting on a free

concert for senior citizens is

a lot easier than running the

State's economy. Voters won't

be so impressed with the latest

national accounts. Since the

June quarter, economic growth

has gone backwards and was

negative in September. If the next quarter is also in

next quarter is also in the

red, New South Wales will be

officially in recession. The

Government has been in denial

about it, but I think these

figures they can't ignore.

The Treasurer blames the

Reserve Bank. The national

interest rate regime that the

Federal Government has put into

place is slowing the national

economy, and it's hurting

states like New South Wales

more than the others.

(Laughs) if all of these things

were my fault, presumably you would see the same

would see the same thing

happening in all the other

states as well. Today the

State Liberals backed down on

one of their key economic

promises, reducing the 29,000

public service jobs they had

vowed to slash. 5,000 back

room bureaucrats over four year

s He lacks judgment and he

does make it up as he goes.

The Government prefers its

target of 5,000 re-Dunn

Dancies. One of those

Dancies. One of those is Chris

Papadopoulos. He is leaving

after 11 years at Parliament

House. There will be people

left over who have got to do

the work of the people leave hg

and that is a concern. The

relative size of job cuts is a

real point of difference

between the two sides before

the election. Labor is already

campaigning hard on the issue,

saying the Coalition's plans

would endanger front line

services. But the Government has its own problems.

has its own problems. Today it

was roads and plans to blast

pollution out of Sydney's M5

tunnels. The residences

around the tunnel will be

impacted and it is a very poor

environmental way of managing a

haze problem in a tunnel. In

what might be his own backdown,

the Premier has hinted he might

make some changes. Police say

they've smashed a sophisticated

drug network and arrested

drug network and arrested some

of 9 Mr Bigs who head it. In a series of dramatic

early-morning raids, officers

seized drugs, cash and property

from a crime gang described as

a major player in Sydney's

underworld. The investigation

into the Middle Eastern crime

syndicate has gone been going

on for nine months. Today

police swooped. More than 100

police raided 11 homes across

Sydney. Three of the members

were among 30 people arrested .

Police describe the crime ring

as a complicated and

well-organised praiption. It

has certainly put a hole in the large-scale drug distribution

in the world. The raids

netted $150,000 in cash, and a

quantity of drugs. Also

seized were half a million

dollars worth of cars and a boat

boat and jet can I. But lavish

lives funded by the proceeds of

crime might be about to come to

an end. All assets, including

houses may be seized. We will

be checking their lifestyle

against the assets that we can

if they cannot prove how they

got it, we will be seizing it

and chasing thex through the

court. Police claim the gang

was distributing millions of

dollars of ecstasy cocaine and

amphetamines across western

Sydney and they say their

members had been in contact

with a crime syndicate that

which was recently raided.

These people and their

associates are usually koulth

up in the investigation. Some

of those arrested have already

started appearing in court with

others to follow in coming

days. Lawyers for David Hicks

are taking the Federal

Government to court, trying to

force his release from

Guantanamo Bay. They will be

arguing that the Commonwealth

has a legal duty to try to

bring him home. David Hicks

has been held in Guantanamo Bay

for almost five years. His

supporters fear that his trial

on terrorism charges before a

new military tribunal could

still be years away. Enough

is enough. This action has

been taken because every other

avenue has been exhausted.

The Attorney-General and and

the Foreign Affairs Minister

are being sued in the Federal

Court for what's described as a

failure to exercise their duty

of care to protect an

Australian citizen abroad. If it takes the Australian Federal

Court to remind this government

of its obligations to its own

citizens, then it is a dice

worth rolling. The writ

compares the US Government's

success in re-pat tri-ating

nine of its citizens from

Guantanamo Bay with the lack of action by the Commonwealth.

They want orders to force

Canberra to lobby Washington to

release him. Five years is a

long time to be in cars rated

in a place like Guantanamo Bay,

particularly the way he has

been treated. But the

Attorney-General says people

should not escape punishment

for their actions simply

because justice is delayed.

The Government continues to

press for the resolution of his

circumstances as quickly as

possible, but we believe there

needs to be accountability.

David Hicks' lawyers will ask the Federal Court to treat the

case as urgent and bring on a

full hearing in January. If

necessary, they will ask

Alexander Downer and Phillip Ruddock to appear as witnesses.

The man nominated to replace

Donald Rumsfeld as US Defense Secretary says the United

States is not runing the war in

Iraq. It is a remarkably blunt

assessment and directly contradicts what the President

has been saying. One of the

ukan senators offered Robert

Gates both congratulations and

condolences, a recognition of

the challenges waiting at the

Pentagon. If confirmed, the

former spy master will be

responsible for a war that has

claimed nearly 5,000 American

lives . Mr Gates, do you

believe we are currently

winning in Iraq. Knows .

That's not the view of the man

who nominated Robert Gates and

ate breakfast with him this

morning. This is what George

W. Bush said last time he was

asked if the United States is

winning in Iraq. Absolutely

we are winning. And yet these

have become everyday scenes in

Iraq. Today a series of car

bombs killed dozens of

civilians and police found

scores of dead bodies dumped

around Baghdad. Gates believes

the United States made a

mistake by not sending enough

troops after the invasion. Do

you say the invasion of Iraq

was the right decision or wrong

decision? Frankly, senator,

that's a judgment that the

historians will have to make.

Tomorrow, George W. Bush will

receive the findings of a

panel. Gates used to be a

member of the group and says he

is open to all options,

including troop withdrawals.

Gates is almost certain to

become the new Defense

Secretary. He was unanimously

endorsed today and is expected

endorsed today and is expected

to receive full support.

Winning the war in Iraq will be

a lot more challenging. Two

Muslim students have been

expelled from an Islamic school

in Melbourne for spitting and

urinating on a Bible, then

setting it on fire during a

school camp. Teachers at the

East Preston Islamic College,

10 of whom are non- Muslim,

were shocked. The school says

it was an isolated incident and

no further punishment is

required. Do you believe we

can do anything more than we've

done? You can't kill the kids

or parents. What else can we

do? Teachers say they are

satisfied with the school's

actions. He may have been

homeless, but friends say he

was a happy-go-lucky guy.

Today the young man they knew

as Mitchell was found dead in

the grounds of a city church.

The local bishop says it is a

reminder of the violence in

Sydney. Police were called at

7 o'clock this morning when

passers-by noticed a man's body

slumped in a square next to the

cathedral. At this stage the

cause of death is unknown, however, detectives are

treating the matter as suspicious and investigations are continuing. The 13-year-old Indigenous man

known as Mitchell was well-known to local social

workers who say they are deeply

saddened by his death. He was

a happy-go-lucky young bloke,

always bright and cheery and

listening to his music, which

he loved. They've offered

counseling to the man's friends

who they say are devastated.

It is a shock to be reminded of

the vulnerability and violence

that occurs in this city. The

bishop is concerned the attack

happend in the church precinct,

an attack he says is made worse

because it's Christmas. This

reminds us of a great need in

our society. And you may say without judging what has

happened, human evil as well.

The latest census figures show

there are 26,000 homeless

people living in New South

Wales. 3,500 live rough.

Social workers say for those

street dwellers, violent confrontations are always a

risk. It may take several days

for police to formally identify

the victim. Tonight's top

story - a state of emergency in

Fiji. Still to come - try this

on for size,, the dress that cost a cool million.

Two of Australia's biggest

newspaper groups are merging.

Fairfax is swallowing up Rural

Press Limited to form a $9

billion publishing giant. It

is a friendly takeover, seen as

a strategic move by Fairfax to

fortify itself against any

hostile raid. Rural Press

Limited is a prize often

rumoured to be in the takeover

sights of the industry's

biggest players. Today Fairfax

absorbed what it hopes to be a

substantial ally. This is not

a detention move. This has

been going on for a long, long

time. This is a great merger

between two powerful companies

with like-minded interests.

The bulk-upped Fairfax will

have an extraordinary

geographic reach. Along with its influential broadsheets in

the major Sydney and Melbourne

markets and expanding digital

services, it adds Rural Press's

mastheads, the 'Canberra Times'

and the farmer's stable, 'The

Land'. It also gains 140 rural

and regional newspapers, nine

radio stations and publications

in New Zealand and the US. I

think it will be a more competitive environment with

two large players going head to

head. For John B Fairfax who

departd in the acrimonious take

over of the company nearly 20

years, it is a case of giving

back the keys to the family

jewels. They are very

supportive of what was

announced today. But some

analysts believe the combined

group will still be vulnerable

to a takeover predator. We

might in two to three years'

time see a whole lot of 10%

shareholders sitting there, all

wanting their split-up of

Fairfax. It will get taken

over. The market has

interpreted the deal as a win

for Rural Press shareholders.

The company's shares closed 13%

higher. While Fairfax shed 3%.

And the local share market

rose strongly today despite figures showing that economic

growth is weak. Here is Alan

Kohler. The economy has now

been expanding for 15 years or

60 quarters in a row, but it's

now running out of steam. GDP

growth in the September quarter

was just 03% and 2.2% for the

year. Tasmania is firmly in

recession. New South Wales has

contracted for two of the past

three quarters and of course

the other part of the country

in recession is rural Australia

which contracted by 10% in the

latest quarter. Here is how

the national DBP looks on' - -

GDP. Since rates have gone up

eight times in a row, including

three times this year. The

question now is whether it's

gone too far. Certainly there

was no fourth rate hike for the

year this morning, following

yesterday's board meeting.

Here is where Australia sit s

on the tables. We might have

won the cricket, but the Poms

are beating us in had the

economic Ashes, along with

Japan, Germany and China. A

huge part of it was a big jump

in Defence spending and household consumption and

business investment. The lag

guards are houses and

amazingly, net exports.

Today's share market was a

happier story. The commodities

exporters like BHP Billiton and

Rio Tinto dragged the all oerds

0.75% higher, helped by the

banks led by ANZ. Base metals

rose last night, but gold fell

0.5% because the US dollar is

continuing to recover. That's

left the Australian dollar

roughly steady against the US

dollar and down slightly

against the trade-weighted

index. That's finance. NASA

has unveiled plans for a

permanent base on the moon as a

stepping stone to Mars. It

aims to send robotic probes to

scout out the best place to

build the base. Manned

missions would begin in 2020

Lunar base will be the central

theme in our going-forward

plan. It is a very, very big

decision. The lunar program

would involve new rockets,

space capsules and moon rovers.

Well, if it wasn't Australian

cricket's greatest triumph, it

was certainly right up there.

The home side today was still

celebrating after an inspired

victory over England. It left

the Australians poised to

regain the Ashes and England in

despair. There were two given

awakenings, that of the victors

and their bubbling reflexes of

a remarkable win. Just the

atmosphere and intensity of the

crowd. And the one for

England. Test shock. What a

shocker! Diabolical. England

management seemed to be at odds

with the critic, who dubbed

their side chokers and accused

their players of giving the

Ashes back in two hours of

school by panic. I mean,

there is no way I want to go in

after a Test match and opening

an inquest. You never do that.

But inquest, it is. I think

it was a backward step not

playing Panesar. And the

harsh reality. It is very

intimidating to be playing

against a five you know you

have to play to your maximum

all five days. Even the Australian coach couldn't

resist. I thought the way

they played yesterday indicated

they were mindful of a draw

first. While there was universal appreciation of Shane

Warne... He had a look in his

eye he had the bit between the

teeth. ..England will have to

do some soul searching. It is

a big offensive for us. The

pressure is on for a different

approach. That will mean

changes to their team, I think.

Easy to listen to everyone.

In the meantime, Australia

won't be striking up the

Ashes-winning band just yet.

Pakistan fast bowler s, Shoaib

Akhtar and Mohammad Asif's joy

at having doping charges

overturned may be short lived.

The world anti- doping agency

says it will discuss the pair's

appeal with the international cricket Council and then

consider it's own appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

An independent inquiry had

accepted the pair are not taken

Nandrolone as part of a

supplementary regime. I'm

very pleased that these two

players have been exonerated.

Leisel Jones has narrowly

missed breaking her own world

record at the national titles

in Brisbane. Just outside

world record pace at the turn,

she powered home to sin initial

in the second fastest time in

history . 14-year-old Queenslander Emily Seebohm

qualified for next year's World

Championships when she

dead-heated with Tay Zimmer.

The film 'Ten Canoes' will be

vying for best picture at this

week's AFI awards.

week's AFI awards. It was

inspired by David Gulpilil, but

he won't be there at the

presentations. The veteran

actor has fallen on hard times

in Darwin. He is more

concerned at the moment with

putting a roof over his head.

There is war in this story,

and... The voice is un miss

fakable. David Gulpilil

conceived the story of 'Ten

Canoes' and Nah rated the film.

It is nominated for seven AFI

awards, including best film,

capping off a year of

international success. But the

actor won't be attending the

awards. He has been living

rough in Darwin. I walk

around, I've been sleeping in

different places and in the

bush, in the grass. But

that's my life because I was

born in that place. I was born

in the bush. Throughout his

life, David Gulpilil has moved

between his traditional country

in Arnhem Land and the city,

trying to straddle both

cultures. David fits in no

culture anymore. He doesn't

fit into his own culture

anymore, and ultimately he

doesn't fit into our culture

either. He wants to change that. With the financial help

of people in the film industry,

he is planning to build his

first house. And that house I

will build here. Personal

problems prevented David

Gulpilil from starring in 'Ten

Canoes', so director Rolf de

Heer cast his son, Jamie, who

will be attending the awards.

I'm proud of my son, yes. He

is a star. Other move vis

vying for best film are

'Candy', 'Jindabyne', and

Kenny. When it comes to

little black dresses, it's hard

to go past the one that Audrey

Hepburn wore in 'Breakfast at

Tiffany's', and someone was

prepared to pay a million

dollars for it at auction.

When it went under the hammer

in London, the anonymous

European buyer paid far more

than expected. It is the

second highest price ever paid

for a second-hand dress. The

only other one was the one

Marilyn Monroe wore for

President Kennedy's birthday.

Time to check the weather.

Isolated showers and

thunderstorm s today and there

will be more overnight. shall

As for rain, the

As for rain, the 24 hours to 9 this morning produced:

Some of that rain has moved

a little north to the western

ranges of Sydney this evening.

But the main centres have been

generally dry. Satellite shows

the cloud building up down to

the central parts of the State.

There will be further isolated

afternoon and eving showers and

thunderstorms in the north-west

of the State tomorrow extending

down to the central ranges at

times. Also a weak change

along the coast. That will

trigger some drizzle patches

for coastal areas of New South Wales tomorrow. Around the

nation:

Most of the inland will be dry and fire danger very high.

Thanks for that. Another

quick look at tonight's top

story - armed troops have shut

down the Fijian Parliament.

The military has declared a

state of emergency and

appointed a caretaker prime

minister. And that is ABC

News for Wednesday. I'm

Juanita Philips. I will be

back with updates during the

eving. Labor Party

eving. Labor Party is loing

loing Lateline is along just

after 10.30. We will leave

you with pictures of

special-needs children enjoying

the annual Variety Christmas

party. Goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

CC

Welcome to the program and

shortly we'll be hearing from

Immigration Minister Senator

van reason van - Amanda

Vanstone responding to a

damning report from the Ombudsman. We're barely

Ombudsman. We're barely into

December but already there are

warnings over the next few days

that Victoria faces a

possibility of a bushfire

crisis to rival the worst on

record. 40 fires sparked by

lite thing are already burning

across the mountainous east of

the state, but experts fear

that a combination of drought

and soaring temperatures will

see them merge into a giant

inferno stretching over

hundreds of thousands of hectares. Premier Steve Bracks is

is seeking assistance from New