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Coalition puts family

first. It's high time this

country had a national paid

parental leave scheme. Iraqi

voters line up for democracy

defying the insurgents. Here's

cheers, drivers plied with free

drink by the RTA. And, hurt's

so good, Kathryn Bigelow makes

Hollywood history. It was the moment of a moment of a lifetime.

Good evening, Juanita

Phillips with ABC News. He

once declared the Coalition

should fight to the death to

stop compulsory paid maternity

leave, but Tony Abbott's gone

through a full conversion.

He's floating a new scheme that

pays full wages for up to six

months. That's longer and more generous than the Government's

proposal and the Opposition proposal and the Opposition

wants big business to pay for

it. Here's chief political

correspondent, Mark Simkin. No

child is safe during a phoney

election campaign. Bunny ears

up the back. While Kevin Rudd

cosied up to kids, the

political action man courted

potential mothers. My personal

commitment is that Australia

will finally have a will finally have a national

paid parental leave scheme

that's more than a mere token

acknowledgement of women's

rights. The Coalition's

offering is more generous than

the taxpayer-funded Government

scheme that'll be introduced

next year. Instead of 18

weeks' leave, Tony Abbott's proposing 26 weeks and rather

than receiving the minimum

wage, women earning up to

$150,000 a year will continue

to get their full salary. The difference between difference between our scheme

and Labor's Mickey Mouse scheme

is that mothers get real time

and real money. The real money will come from big business.

Tony Abbott wants to impose a

1.7% levy on the country's

3,000 wealthiest countries. --

companies. The idea of taxing

industry to pay for this social

policy is a mistake. It is

wrong and it is also unfair.

wrong and it is also unfair.

That means a $3 billion tax

every year on Australian businesses at a time when

they've been struggling through

the global financial

crisis. Tony Abbott admits his

think's evolved. Eight years

ago he said compulsory paid

maternity leave would be

introduced " over his dead body". This Government will

never come at that. The new

policy also contradicts Tony Abbott's pledge of no new policy also contradicts Tony

taxes, but the Coalition hopes

a backflip will help win over

female voters. A new opinion

poll shows Tony Abbott's

approval rating is still

climbing, but it also suggests

Labor's maintained an

election-winning lead aided by

overwhelming support for the Government's proposed health

plan. Joe Hockey almost put

the health system to the test

in a bruising prelude to this

week's parliamentary clash.

The Shadow Treasurer recovered

and will be ready to tackle the

Government tomorrow. In Iraq,

a series of deadly attacks on

election day has killed at

least 35 people, but despite

the violence, voters still

turned out in large numbers.

Foreign leaders, international

observers and Iraqi officials

have praised locals for taking

but part in the democratic process,

but it could take months of

negotiations before a Coalition

government is finalised. ABC

correspondent Ben Knight

reports from Baghdad.

Insurgents began their campaign

to derail this vote at dawn.

Houses near polling booths were

rigged with bombs. Two suicide bombers attacked other sites

and throughout the morning,

rockets, mortars and roadside

bombs exploded across the

capital. Before 10am, capital. Before 10am, 24

people had been killed. Not

sprielgz, voting was quiet in

the morning, but suddenly the

bombing stopped and when

security forces reopened the

streets to cars around midday,

voters began heading to the

polls in numbers. TRANSLATION:

The insurgents have tried since

early morning to disrupt the citizens going to the ballots. What happened was the complete

opposite. Millions of people

went to the polling stations

and the number of voters and the number of voters has increased. Turnout appeared to

be strong across the country.

There were some early claims of

electoral fraud, with

candidates asking why millions

of extra ballots had been

printed, but foreign observers

say normal procedures have been followed. And what I've heard

here is of the observers that

are here is so far so good. The

US President congratulated

by Iraqis for not being deterred

by the violence. Today's voting

makes it clear that the future

of Iraq belongs to the people

of Iraq. As the party leaders

voted there was no clear front

runner to win. Forming a new

government could take weeks or month of negotiation. But

there's a positive mood in

Iraq, and a sense that this

vote was once again a

repudiation of the religious militants who almost destroyed

the country after the last parliamentary election parliamentary election four

years ago. And Middle East correspondent Ben Knight joins

me now from Baghdad. Ben, that

was a fairly upbeat assessment

of the mood in Iraq, but that's

not going to stop the

insurgents, is it? No, it's not

and, in fact, their first

opportunity will probably come

very soon when the physical

task of actually bringing in

millions of ballot papers from

all over the country into

under way. Baghdad to be counted gets

under way. Now it's going to

be undertaken in some secrecy

because of that very danger,

but I think most people in the

country and indeed around the

world regard this election as

having been a huge success,

despite the violence of yesterday morning, that this

was conducted freely, fairly.

Those who wanted to vote voted

and so far, with no further

get a violence. So how soon will we

get a final result? Well, maybe

sooner than we expected. We're

starting to get early

unofficial results in, booth by

booth around the country and

they seem so far to be pointing

towards a man named Ayad

Prime Minister immediately Allawi, who was the country's

after the overthrow of Saddam

Hussein. He was installed by

the Americans. He leads a

Coalition that is very broad.

It includes Sunni, Shi'ia,

Christians, Kurds, secular and Christians, Kurds, secular and

religious. If indeed he does

come through with a strong

vote, Iraq could be looking at

a change of government and a

Coalition that can be formed

perhaps quicker than was expected. Ben Knight in

Baghdad, thank you. An inquest

has opened in Sydney with an

ambitious pledge. It wants to

improve understanding of mental

illness and provide lessons in

how to reduce the country's

suicide toll. The coroner

hopes to come up with some answers

answers while investigating the

suicide of Channel Ten newsreader Charmaine Drugan.

More from the ABC's John

Thompson. Friends describe

Charmaine Drugan as " the

happiest person in the room".

The day after that news

bulletin, the 29-year-old drove

to this notorious cliff in

Sydney's east and jumped to her

death. I miss everything, her beautiful

beautiful smile, her love for

life, and she did. Please

remember that, she loved

life. An extraordinary inquest

into the suicide will examine

the reasons behind Charmaine

Drugan's depression, and why

those she was closest to had no

idea she was so near the

end. If I knew what Charmaine

was going through, maybe I

would have seen the warning

signs. The inquest heard that Charmaine Drugan was Charmaine Drugan was diagnosed

with depression at 19 and had

been taking anti-depressants

almost continuously since then.

Three weeks before her death,

doctors changed her medication.

The court was told:

The counsel assisting said

the objective of the inquest

was not to lay blame but to

seek the truth " and learn what

we can to avoid it in the

future". The Coroner's Court heard that Charmaine Drugan heard that Charmaine Drugan had

an ideal life, and everything

to live for, so why did she

take that fateful step forward?

It's a question her family

wants answered in the hope that

it may prevent more lives being

lost. I know my daughter would

have wanted that, that there

was a positive from all of

this. It's a case that's

attracted wide interest. Every

four hours, someone in

Australia dies from suicide and every every 15 minutes at least

someone is attempting

suicide. Today's inquest was

told that Charmaine Drugan had

wanted to help raise awareness

of the issue. Her family is

determined to make sure her

wish is granted. The RTA has

been severely embarrassed after

it was caught giving young

drivers free alcohol. It was

all part of a road safety

campaign. The young campaign. The young drivers

had all taken a slow down

pledge and their reward - a

night out at the cricket and

free beer. It was meant to be

a clever new way of getting

young drivers to slow down. I'm

Nathan Bracken, take the slow down pledge not to

speed. Cricketers gave their

support to the RTA's

initiative, promoted through a

Facebook page. Now, it's

attracting the wrong kind of

publicity. Those who took the pledge

pledge were invited to the VIP

area at a Twenty20 match in

January and it didn't take long

for pictures and messages to

appear online celebrating that

the drinks were on the

house. And to have an RTA

function rewarding good driving

with alcohol, it just beggars

belief in a way. The Premier

says the campaign has sent the

wrong message. Alcohol will

play no future part in any road play no future part in any road

safety promotion from the RTA.

Alcohol was available at the

ground and in hindsight, yes,

we could have taken some

measures to make sure that it

wasn't available for this

particular venue. The RTA

admits free alcohol was a bad

idea, but has defended its

handling of the promotion. The

event was tightly managed.

There were professional

security staff, professional

event management staff. While

free alcohol won't

free alcohol won't be a part of

any future road safety

campaigns, the RTA will

continue to use social

networking sites to promote

safer driving. If the RTA wants

to do something useful, offer

them a discount on licence or

registration, but for goodness

sake don't put alcohol on the table. Whoever devises the next

campaign can expect a little

more scrutiny. Victoria just can't seem to escape can't seem to escape nature's

fury. On Saturday, it was

Melbourne hit by a violent

downpour and now Shepparton's

copped it. A freak storm there

has caused flash flooding and

power blackouts. So far,

insurers in Melbourne have

received 40,000 claims, with

the damage bill already

expected to top $200 million.

Suzy reigns reports. These are

the latest online images the latest online images to

surface from Saturday's freak

storm. Hail stones 10

centimetres in diameter can be

seen in Ferntree Gully, in

Melbourne's east. The deluge

lasted less than one hour, but the scale of destruction is

only now becoming clear. It was

terrible, all the roofs are

caved in, all the ceilings

caved in. We've got some of

the hail stones in the freezer

the size of golf balls and even the size of golf balls and even

cricket balls. SES crews from

South Australia and NSW have

been called in to help respond

to more than 6,000 calls for

help. A series of houses that

have got roof s that look more

like cheese graters. So now

we're dealing with a lot of

water damage, ceilings that are

inundated with water and in

threat of collapse. Also counting the cost today are

business operators. Like many

small car dealers, the operator of

of this outlet faces financial

ruin because he'd elected not

to take out expensive insurance

against hail damage. Myself and

all the boys around this strip

will rally together, whether we

sell the cars cheap, I don't

know, but that's probably the

way we have to go. But

significant buildings like the

Supreme Court weren't spared

either. As predicted the wild weather didn't end there. The

regional town of Shepparton in

the State's north was struck hard

hard yesterday. We went through

Cyclone Larry up in Queensland

and it was far worse than the

Cyclone Larry, a lot more

scary. Insurance companies have

received more than 40,000

claims. They're predicting a

damage bill of more than $200

million. It's a very large event, one of the largest

events that we've had, but it's

also spread across Victoria.

It's both regional and It's both regional and metropolitan. There was a

silver lining to these clouds,

though. Melbourne's water

catchments received 2 billion

litres in 48 hours. In

Queensland meanwhile, the big

flood has inundated more

communities as water streamed

south towards NSW. There have

been significant stock losses

and infrastructure in western Queensland has been severely

damaged. The

damaged. The towns of

Cunnumulla and Thargaminda were

the latest to be flooded.

There's an anxious wait south

of St George where a flood peak

is expected later tonight. Paul Lockyer reports from

Dirrumbandi. The people of Dirrumbandi certainly know

what's coming - a wall of water

heading south from St George.

They've worked day and night to

try to defend their town. We've try to defend their town. We've

had three excavators, they've

worked three to four days

building all the levees

up. Dirrumbandi is in the

middle of a flat flood plain

and the smallest rise is of

concern and there's more water

streaming towards the town than

they've ever seen before.

After all the enormous efforts

to fortify these flood

barriers, there's little left

for the town to do now than

wait for the huge flow of water to

to arrive. It's n an unknown we

have to wait and see. It's a

best guess, but we are prepared

and we'll manage it as it

comes. Dirrumbandi is just one

of a growing number of

communities now confronting the

flood crisis. The town of

Bollon west of St George has

been engulfed for five days,

and downstream of Bollon where

a woman was winched from the

roof of her Flooded roof of her Flooded homestead,

station hand Johnny Forster is

marooned, but he's prepared to

sit it out on the top floor of

the house. We managed to get through to him by mobile

phone. I got plenty of meat...

Some people will be isolated

for weeks, if not months after this flood, and

this flood, and so will the

stock and the wildlife. Found

huddling together on any

stretch of high ground.

Taronga Zoo's been expecting

the birth of a second elephant

calf any day, but it was not to

be. An ultrasound has

confirmed the calf died in the

final weeks of a 2-year

pregnancy. The zoo is

devastated by the news and it's

prompted renewed debate about prompted renewed debate about breeding elephants in

captivity. Here's Environment Reporter Sarah Clarke. Last

year, Taronga Zoo celebrated

its first elephant calf born in

captivity, and this month they

were set to deliver the first

calf conceived by artificial

insemination. But today the zoo delivered the tragic

news. Based on the information

available, we believe that our

little elephant calf Porntip's

calf has not calf has not survived. After

two years of pregnancy, the

mother elephant Porntip had a

week of difficult labour. An

ultrasound confirmed the calf

was breached and a successful

birth was unlikely. Because it

was upsidedown, the head was

being pulled down by gravity

and would never have been able

to get through the birth canal, just physically

impossible. Weighing around 100 kilogrammes, kilogrammes, a caesarian

section to deliver the calf was

never an option. The zoo said

the first time mum appeared relieved and she'll breed again. I am absolutely

confident with the care that

she has that she'll breed again

and that will be the best

outcome for us. But

conservation groups say it's a

tragedy that should never have

happened and city zoos are the

problem. In the cramped problem. In the cramped city

conditions such as in Taronga

Zoo they're not able to express

those natural behaviours as

well as we at Humane Society

International would like. Porntip - seen here on

the left - still has to give

birth to the dead calf. That

could take weeks, even months,

and the zoo is expecting its

second naturally conceived calf later this year.

The Church of Scientology is

again under the spotlight with

new claims about the

mistreatment of some of its followers. The latest

allegations are revealed on tonight's 'Four Corners'

program. The report comes just days before the Senate is

expected to vote on whether to

launch a parliamentary inquiry

into the church. Scientology

leaders have flatly denied the

charges. Canberra charges. Canberra woman Liz

Anderson belonged to the Church

of Scientology's elite unit

known as the Sea Organisation

or Sea Org. She left the

religion last year, now she

claims when she mistakenly

thought she was pregnant, a

senior church officer tried to

convince her to have an

abortion. She said "You just

can't be pregnant" because at

that stage the new policy had

come in that you can't have

children in the Sea Org. And there are other there are other former Sea Org

members who also claim to have

been pressured into having

abortions. I categorically deny

that allegation. The Church of

Scientology would under no

circumstances, and it certainly

has no reflection in church

policy, tell a woman what to do

with her body. The last time

former Rugby League player Joe

Reaiche saw or spoke to his children was five years children was five years ago,

just before he was expelled

from the Church of Scientology.

His children remain

scientistologists and he says

he believes the church has

instructed them not to

associate with him. They had me

declared a suppressive person.

They told everyone else,

including my children. I

cried, I was sad. You know,

it's my kids. There are also it's my kids. There are also allegation s that some

Scientology members were

pressured into donating large

sums of money to the church and

another former Sea Org member

claims that as a teenager she

once worked 72 hours

straight. Well, if that is

actually the case that would be utterly and completely

unacceptable. The church is

vigorously defending legal

actions which are under way

overseas, but early next week

the independent Senator Nick

Xenophon is expected to Xenophon is expected to move

that a parliamentary inquiry

take place into the church.

There'll be more on that story on 'Four Corners', that's

tonight at 8:30, here on ABC1.

Onto finance now, and the local

sharemarket rose for the

seventh session in a row today

as Shell launched a $4 billion

takeover bid for Arrow Energy.

Wall Street set the tone last Friday after better than Friday after better than

expected US job figures. Shell Oil Company and PetroChina launched a takeover bid for

Arrow Energy, which owns a lot

of Coal Seam Gas in Queensland

and plans to turn that into LNG

for export to China. As you

can see by the $5.11 closing

price, the market is quite

excited about it and pushed

other gas company shares up as

well. Only the banks and big well. Only the banks and big

retailers went backwards, but

just a bit. The Australian

sharemarket went up 1% - its

seventh gain in a row. Today's

the anniversary of the market

bottom in 2009 when the bear

market apparently ended. It's

been a year of two parts.

Seven months in which the All

Ords rose 45%, and then 5

months during which it's been

almost dead flat. Up to a week

ago, it was absolutely flat. The Dow Jones rose The Dow Jones rose 1.2% and the

S&P 500 1.4% on Friday after

news that the decline in jobs

in February was less than

expected, down 36,000, which is

about half what the market had

expected. You might think

"What's so good about that when

the economy is supposed to have

grown 5.9% in the December

quarter?" The official cash

rate has been zero for a

year... there are actually two surface of employment in the

US. One is a

US. One is a question air sent

to 160,000 employers and it's

the main one the market

watches. The other is

face-to-face interviews with

60,000 Americans at home. It's

called the household survey and

showed 308,000 new jobs in

February, which is the second

massive increase in as many

months. It seems the household

survey picks up small business

employments that the other one

doesn't. And the Australian

dollar has shot up above US dollar has shot up above US 91

cents, its highest level for a

couple of month. That's

finance. Homeless men living

in Sydney's Bondi Pavillion

have been given two weeks to

move on. The Court of Appeal

today dismissed their

application to continue living

there. Some of the men have lived at the back of the

historic building for up to

eight years, while refusing

offers of public housing

elsewhere. Obviously elsewhere. Obviously a

unanimous decision by these

three judges in favour of the

State and in favour of Waverley

Council to allow homeless

people to be marginalised and

stigmatised and moved on is an

appalling state of affairs to

be in. The court has ordered

the men to pay costs. The

group says it will appeal the

decision. The Melbourne

Victory isn't exactly jumping

for joy, despite winning the

right to host its right to host its third

A-League Grand Final in three

years. Club officials weren't

happy with the refereeing in

the extra time defeat of Sydney

FC and Melbourne is livid about

the scheduling of an Asian

Champions League game tomorrow

night. Here's Peter Wilkins.

Balancing the euphoria of the

Melbourne success, were two

point of consternation - the

Victory fuming at the

application of the offside rule

which might have proved

crucial. If it's line or the

close to the advantage you go

to the attacking team. They

just can't get it right,

especially in finals and it's

very frustrating. There was a

double spray for the

inconvenience of having to play

an Asian Champions League match

two days after the final. It's ridiculous. I don't think

there's any point in dealing

with the FFA and AFC, they just don't move on

don't move on anything. On the

plus side, apart from the

result, the medical staff were

prising the seasons of Robbie

Kruse and Archie Thompson who

snaffled the vital goal. To

drop a goal like that is

disappointing when we've been

stressing so much during the

year. Sydney FC will try to

keep its Grand Final hopes

afloat against Wellington this

weekend. Every weekend weekend. Every weekend hacker

across the country could

sympathise with the struggles

of Nathan Green this morning.

The par 317th hole completed a

horror round for the Australian

at the PGA event in Florida.

Stuck in the mire, Green needed

three attempts to extricate himself.

COMMENTATOR: Sooner or later

you're going to wish you could

dig a hole and hide. Colombian

Camilo Villegas continued his

hot start to the year with a

5-stroke victory. Australia's

chances of avoiding reigning

world and Olympic hockey champions Germany in the semifinals of the World Cup

improved after the Germans were

held to a draw by the

Netherlands. Germany came from

behind to grab a 2-1 lead

before being denied the win.

If standings remain as they are

with one group round to play, Australia would meet the Dutch

in one semifinal, while England

would meet Germany, however

Spain and Korea are still

chances to qualify. Hollywood

has crowned her Katherine the

great. Kathryn Bigelow is the

first woman to win an Academy

Award for Best direction. 'The

Hurt Locker' won the Best

Oscar. Although this year's

Academy Awards had a record 10 Academy Awards had a record 10

films vying for top honours,

the movie battleground narrowed

to two contenders - 'Avatar'

and the confronting war story,

'The Hurt Locker', each with

nine nominations. And the

winner is... 'The Hurt Locker'. But 'The Hurt Locker'

showed early form and triumphed

as Best Movie of the Year. Well, the Year. Well, the time has

come... Kathryn

Bigelow. Kathryn Bigelow became

the first woman to win the

coveted Best Director Oscar,

upsetting the dream run

expected of the 'Avatar'

juggernaut and fellow nominee,

her former husband, James

Cameron. And I'd like to

dedicate this to the women and

men in the military who risk

their lives on a daily

basis. 'The Hurt Locker'

focuses on a

focuses on a US bomb disposal

unit in Iraq. Made with a

modest budget, it became a

surprise international hit. Whoo! It was the fifth

time lucky for crowd favourite

Jeff Bridges. He beat off a

strong field to take Best Actor

for his role in 'Crazy Heart'.

And another Hollywood favourite

'Sandra Bullock' came up trumps

as Best Actress for 'Blind Side'. Did I really Side'. Did I really earn this,

or did I just wear you all

down? She had a dubious second

victory, presented with a

Razzie for worst actress of the

year in 'All About Steve'. It

was not a great year for

Australian talent. No actors

were nominated, though Sam

Worthington played a starring

role in 'Avatar'. Janet

Patterson missed out on Best

Costume Design in 'Bright Star'

to Sandy Powell for 'Young to Sandy Powell for 'Young

Victoria'. And Australians

Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey

nominated for Best Live Action

Short for 'Miracle Fish' lost

out to the film, 'The New

Tenants'. Checking the weather

now, fortunately Sydney missed

and wild weather over the

weekend, but they copped it

further south.

A complex weather pattern made

up of a surface and an up of a surface and an upper

low combined to destabilise the

atmosphere and small localised

troughs triggered recurrent

thunderstorms. That means as

each thunderstorm died out a

new storm would build in behind

it. That's what's maintained

and heavy falls over the same

area. The areas around waga,

and also Deniliquin felt the

full brunt of these storms with

parts of the Riverina reporting parts of the Riverina reporting 200 millimetres with flash

flooding. Heavy rain and hail

at Hillston and White Cliffs.

In contrast, we had isolated

showers and they produced

nothing above 1 millimetre in

Sydney today. Also sticky

conditions. Deepening Deepening low over the

south-west of Victoria. The

trough produced showers over

much of the ranges and slopes

and parts of the slopes.

The low is the main cloud

feature across the south-east,

with clear skies in the west

the result of a developing high

which will move into the Bight.

It will strengthen through the

week and become slow moving.

That's fairly typical for early

Autumn. This will lead to

significantly cooler

temperatures across the State. temperatures across the State.

Its slow movement will also

result in little change in the

forecast in the coming week.

That means no significant rain

expected across NSW. The low

will still produce strong winds

and showers about the south-eastern capitals

tomorrow.

Recapping tonight's top

stories - Tony Abbott is

proposing a parental leave

scheme offering full wages for

six months funded by big

business. Iraqi voters have

defied insurgents to turn defied insurgents to turn out

in charge numbers. It could be

months before a government is

finalised. And Kathryn Bigelow

has become the first woman to

win an Oscar for Best direction

and Best film for her war drama 'The Hurt Locker'. That is ABC

News for this Monday. The

'7.30 Report' is up next.

Goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

It's about ensuring that

people don't lose their homes.

It's about ensuring that gambling doesn't contribute to suicides. Tonight on the 7.30 Report - the Report - the big push to wind

back Australia's $18 billion

gambling habit. That would cost

11,000 jobs annually. We try

to run a nanny State where the

Government is going to tell us

how we spend our own money. And the battle to save the last of

the big cats. The situation for

tigers looks extremely bleak at the moment. This Program is Captioned Live.

Welcome to the program. As

if the Rudd Government hasn't

got enough sticky issues on its

plate, there's now a battle

royal brewing over a report it

commissioned, and has, in fact, already received, into

Australia's $18 billion a year

gambling industry. In the last