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Tonight - the dirty dozen,

the 12th interest rate rise in

a row. We eat less, we do

less. This is a difficult day

for working families. Wollongong City

Council is sacked while the

opisation makes Hay. High noon

in Texas, can Hillary Clinton

outgun Barack Obama. She's

going to be under extreme

pressure to drop out if she

can't win Texas. Buckle up,

hunker down, it's going to be a

rough ride. Good evening,

Juanita Phillips with ABC News.

Up they go again. Home buyers

have been hit with the 12th

interest rate rise in a row,

taking rates to their highest

level since 1996. People with

mortgages have barely had time

to take a breath since last month's rise leading the Prime

Minister to describe it as a

double blow for working

families. The Government has

warned the major lenders not

the use the increase to put

their rates even higher again.

The only faintly positive news

for struggling home owners is

that the rate rises have been

so painful they might actually

be working. Everyone saw it

coming but that doesn't soften

the blow. The Reserve Bank has

lifted its cash rate to 7.25%.

It's a 13-year high and the

second rise in Kevin Rudd's 101

days in the top job. As Prime

Minister I take responsibility

for the Australian economy, the

good news and the bad news, and

this is bad news. It takes the

standard variable rate for the

major banks over 9%, pushing

repayments on the average

mortgage of $300,000 up another

$51 a month, on $400,000 it's

$68. Or an extra $85 for bigger

borrowering but Lenders might

lift rates higher still. It

really gets down to the policy

decisions by the banks. Efforts

to slow the economy are pushing

against a tide of resources

boom riches. The Government's

commodity forecasters tipping

returns from iron ore exports

to rise 61% next year, coal

used in steel production will

jump 97% and thermal coal 80%.

That's another $38 billion

poured into an over heating

economy. It adds to the

pressure on inflation and

ultimately on interest

rates. But the Reserve does

offer a glimmer of hope.

Economists were quick to read

a pause into the bank's

words. It feels a bit softer,

just the last sentence. Kevin

Rudd promised to help with the

every day costs of life and

that task looks more difficult

by the day because the forces

driving inflation are largely

beyond his control. It's

falling rates of interest that

are bedeviling the Opposition.

Brendan Nelson is exploring

record lows in Newspoll. Only

7% say he'd make a better prime

minister than the

incumbent. How safe is Dr

Nelson's leadership? As safe as

housss. A-Las, houses aren't as

safe as they used to be. How

safe indeed, many home buyers

are asking that question

tonight. Struggling with one

interest rate rise after

another, this latest one will

push some families to the

brink. Finance correspondent

Philip Lasker reports. Interest

rates up, petrol up, life's

just got tougher for millions

of Australians and more

desperate for single mum Vivien

Swang and her three

daughters. We eat less, we do

less. Today's rise will see

Vivien's home mortgage rate at

9.5%. She's trying to refinance

or sell part of her land to a

developer. I really don't want

to sell the house at the moment

because the market's not

right. For David and Jenny

Indge, it was now or never. An

11% increase in rent was the

last straw forcing them to buy

a house. It's taken a long time

to save the necessary deposit

with most of your income going

away into rent there's not much

left over. Rising interest

rates mean they've had to

settle for a cheaper home

further away from work. Jenny

is hoping part-time work will

be enough. Who knows in the

future with rising interest

rates and everything else that,

you know, that's rising at the

moment . Domenico Gerace is

already seeing the impact of

higher petrol prices and

interest rates. He says

consumers are shying away from

expensive items. I think the

pain felt by Mr and Mrs Average

will be far great ner the next

two to three months than what

they have experienced in the

last 10 years. Today's retail sales numbers pointed to a

slowdown, they were the weakest

in 8 months with no growth in

January. And big cuts in

spending on cafes and

restaurants. Away from the

cafes, many more Australians

are likely to join over 500,000

low income home owners or

renters already suffering from

some form of housing stress.

Well housing stress and

interest rate hikes haven't

stopped the housing boom down

south though. So much so that

Melbourne is said to be on

track to overtake Sydney as

Australia's largest city by

2028. It's planning for the

population growth by fast

tracking the development of

90,000 blocks of land on the

city's fringe. The Premier John

Brumby says the move will help

to make new homes more affordable. That will mean

more competitive housing. You

can get a house and land

package out here for $250,000

to $3,000,000. There is no new

land being released as a

consequence of today's

announcement. All of this land

has previously been earmarked

for urban growth. The

Government says the new land

will start coming on the market

in 12 months time. The axe was

poised and today it fell.

Wollongong City Council was

formally dismissed this

afternoon and it may not be the

only political scalp. The Labor

MP for Wollongong, Noreen Hay

is again facing calls for he

resignation. The Opposition has

unearthed documents showing

that she failed to declare tens

of thousands of dollars in

donations in her election

return last year. The donations

include free office space from

one of the developer's

mentioned at the ICAC

corruption inquiry. Stood aside

on Friday, by Monday Noreen Hay

was on a high, not a person of

interest to the ICAC and rein

secretary. I'm delighted state ed as a parliamentary

because it vindicates my

position as I put on

Friday. Tuesday is another day.

Documents from the elect oral

funding authority show Ms Hay

has declared new donations

totalling nearly $65,000. That

included eight weeks rent from

developer Frank Vella for a

campaign office worth

$2,000. The Opposition has been

quick to point out the funding

was declared just before the

icrack began its investigations

into Wollongong Council and

developers including Frank

Vellar. It wouldn't take a

genius to work out that these declarations were connected

with the fact nah some of the

issues at the heart of them

were about to be raised at the

ICAC inquiry. I am seeking

further information and advoice

on this matter and will examine

it. Morris Iemma later released

a statement attributing Ms

Hay's delayed declaration to an

administrative error. The

Opposition has shot back saying

it's all too much of a coincidence and it's planning

to ask the election funning

authority to investigate. The

revelations coincided too with

the formalities to sack

Wollongong Council. The local

government minister took the

dismissal papers to the

governor. The ICAC has made a

recommendation dealing upon

systemic corruption. You can't

get much more serious than

that. As the sun was setting on

the final council meeting. The

councillors not under

investigation by the ICAC were

still holding out hope they'd

be able to stay. But by morning

the only job left for the mayor

was to pack up his desk. Looks

like it. He's admitted he and

his colleagues should have kept

a closer eye on development applications. Certainly not the

way I wanted to go out after 21

years service to local

government. The State

Government has appointed three

administrators to take over

council matters for the next

four years. The end of this

part of the saga has been

dubbed Black Tuesday for the

people of Wollongong. And it

was a dramatic final day at the corruption inquiry with the

star witness slapped in the

face by a member of the public

gallery. Convicted con man

Gerald Carroll denied posing as

an ICAC investigator. Instead

he claimed he was the one who

was conned an that didn't go

down well with at least one

member of the public. Gerald

Carroll tried to run rings

around the media this afternoon

just as he's accused of running

rings around Wollongong

councillor, developers and

staff. Posing as an ICAC investigator, and offering to

have their files cleaned.

Carroll spent 15 months in jail

for fraud. While inside he meat

Ray uniian - Younan..

For the Wollongong property

develop erp Frank Vellar,

Carroll threatened to tell his

wife all about his mistresses.

But when asked by council assisting:

Carroll said he and Younan

only offered to find lawyers

for their Wollongong clients,

that Younan ripped him off

keeping almost all of the

$500,000 they collected. It

prompted the Commissioner to

accused him of giving answers

that are so pal pably idiotic

it's tantamount to not answering questions. There was

high drama after Carroll left

the hearing room. When he got

into the lift a member of the

public reached in and slapped

him across the face. When asked

by journalists inside the lift

who hit him, he joked "I do not

recall." One man keen to give

him a clip around the ears is

Paul Gray. I'm angry because he

ripped my partner off, my wife

off for $200,000. Public

hearings have now concluded.

The final report into

Wollongong City Council is due

in two months. The US Secretary

of State Condoleezza Rice has

arrived in the Middle East

where she will try to revive

the flagging peace protest. The

Palestinian President suspended

the talks in protest at

Israel's Gaza offensive. Israel

has now pulled out of Gaza but

it's keeping its tanks on the

border. It's vowed to take

further action against the militants and Israeli air

strikes are continuing as are

the missile attacks from Gaza.

In the West Bank, clashes

erupted between demonstrators

and Israeli troops and in Arab

East Jerusalem angry rioters

attacked a car belonging to the

local authority. Tehran is

facing suffer international

sanctions over its nuclear

program. The UN Security Council has approved tighter

restrictions on companies and

individuals linked to Iran's

contentious nuclear plans. But

the Iranians remain

defiant. History tells us that

no amount of pressure,

intimidation and threat will be

able to coerce our nation to

give up its basic and legal

rights. And Iranian President

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad issued a warning to foreigners not to

med ool in the region's

affairs. He was winding up his

visit to Iraq. It could go down

as Hillary Clinton's last

stand. Tomorrow she faces the

most critical primaries of her

campaign in Texas and Ohio. If she loses them it could be the

end of her presidential

aspirations. For both Mrs

Clinton and her rival, Barack

Obama, the last-minute

campaigning is increasingly

desperate.

The primary isn't the only

thrilling contest in Austin

this week. The cowboys are in

town and there's an Australian

bull rider among them. Like the

cowboys, Hillary Clinton is desperately trying to hang on

and overcome her adversaries

momentum. I want you to say you

know, I was at that rally at

the stock yards, I heard you

say you were going to make

college affordable, what have

you done? Instead of saying I

was at that speech, it sure

made me feel good but I don't

have a clue about what you're

going to do as our president.

Barack Obama's won 11 straight

contests and he wants to

deliver a knockout blow. His

campaign and backers have spent

more than $10 million on ads

including this pitch to Latino

voters. The Clintons are have

flooding the air waves

too. It's 3 am and your

children are safe and

asleep. One controversial

commercial is reminiscent of

the Cold War. It implies Obama

doesn't have the experience to

keep families safe. I'm rilry

Clinton and I approve this

message. It's basically the

machine verse sus the wave. Can

the established machine that

Clinton is taking hold of

withstand the moult mounting

wave of Obama vorts an

enthusiasm for Obama. Hillary

Clinton's huge leavings in

Texas and Ohio is evaporating

and if she loses both states

her dream of becoming the first

female president could

disappear too. The former first

lady says she's just getting warmed up but party heavy

weights are indicating they

don't want a drawn out,

destructive battle. Tonight's

top story - the mortgage belt

gets even tighter. And still to

come - Australia has it all to

do to keep the triseries

cricket alive.

Harsh words, hefty fines, but

the NRL admits there's little

else it can do to end rugby league's drinking culture. In

the latest incident, three

Parramatta players were shot at

during a night out drinking

with other footballers in Kings

Cross. St George captain Mark

Gasnier was one of the drinkers

and he's been fined. The Eels

players are still waiting to

hear their fate. Mark Gasnier's

been in trouble before and he's

in it again. He's been fined an

undisclosed hament for being

out in Sydney's Kings Cross at

3 cloction yesterday morning

altercation. when there was some sort of

Parramatta bosses will meet

tomorrow to decide what action,

if any, will be taken against

three of their players who were

out with Gasnier yesterday

morning and who were shot at

after Gasnier left. I've

obviously come back to a bloody

ugly headline for the game

today. David Gallop has been in

charge of the league while it's

had to grapple with ongoing

alcohol problems. He's

championed education programs

but the incidents keep coming. Alcohol-related

incidents are not going to go

away. It's unrealistic to

expect them to go away

completely. He says the league

will continue to ensure players

are taught the risks. He's

shied away from declaring a

curfew for all players. I don't

believe blanket curfews are the

answer. Certainly if clubs want

to impose that kind of

condition on their players

that's a matter for them. The

season starts in two weeks when

focus is expected to return to

what happens on the field. A

man accused of attacking a

Sydney teenager and then

dousing her with petrol has had

his trial delayed. The family

of Lauren Huxley was in court

as the judge adjourned

proceedings to allow Robert

Farmer to seek legal advice.

Today Farmer pleaded not guilty

to four charges including

grievous bodily harm with

intent to murder. Lauren Huxley

was found with severe head

injuries at her Sydney home in

2005. She'd been bound and her

house set alight. A new trial

date is expected to be set on

Friday. On to fnction now and

the Australian dollar has

fallen despite today's interest

rate rise. And as Alan Kohler

reports, the local share market

also fell for the fourth day in

a row. Well there are two

reasons the dollar fell below

US 93 cents today, one is that

the rate increase was entirely

factored in and actual tlrk

there was a sneaking suspicion

in the market that the Reserve

Bank might go for 0.5%, so that

had to be factored out at 2:30.

The other reason is this -

foreign debt is now more than

$600 billion because of this.

The current account deficit is

at a record of 7% of GDP. It

was 19.3 billion dollars in the

December quarter and that gap

has to be financed, mostly with

debt. And if the providers of that debt look at this graph

and they don't like what they

see, and why would they, then

they might stop giving us the

money until the currency falls

enough to make Australia a

bargain. Here's where Australia

stands versus a selection of

other countries. Our current

account deficit is slightly better than New Zealand's but

worst than everyone else's

including the US and the G 7

average. And Canada which is a

commodity-based country like

ours, is in the black, which is

why their official interest

rate is 4% and ours is now

7.25. The share market fell

again. Trading continued to be

punk waited by occasional

explosion r as debt-ladened

companies are detonated by their banks.

With the Prime Minister set

to visit Papua New Guinea this

week, a new twist has emerged

in the battle over the ka

Kokoda Track. Canberra is

willing to spend millions to

have the war time path heritage

listed to protect it against a

new copper mine. But that view

appears to be based on a false

premis. Tonight's 'Foreign

Correspondent' program reveals

that today's trekkers are not

walks in the historic steppers

of diggers at all. A mapper

says the 600 metre mine site is

not part of the ka Kokoda

Track. Back then it wasn't

necessarily a track at all. As

we saw on the map, it had

crosses over it and it was

disregarded. It was a mistake.

There wasn't the most direct

route. Soc Kienzle said the original track won't be

affected by the copper mine.

The track is still closed to

tourists until the mine get a

go ahead. There's a familiar

ring to it. A young tourist

protesting her innocence,

jailed in a foreign country for

importing drugs. In this case

the country was Australia, the

woman was Japanese and after

serving a 10-year sentence, she

was deported. Now six years

later, Chika Honda wants to

come back here to see a stage

show about her story. Chika

Honda's story is unkanly like

that of convicted Australian

drug runner Schapelle Corby

who's doing time in Bali except

the young Japanese way tress

was arrested for trafficking

drugs in Melbourne. In Japan it

is seen as a case of human

rights abuse in

Australia. Document ary maker

has recreated Chika Honda's

story for the stage. She became

convinced of her innocence when

she met her in jail in 2002

when she was near the end of

more than a decade inside. She

was not a bitter and twisted

woman. She was well

adjusted. The case has received

the same kind of media scrutiny

in Japan as Corby's has here.

She's won the support of

lawyers in both countries who

are convinced she was set up.

Her luggage and those of her

six travelling companions on a

tour group were switched during

a stopover in qual Kl. They

were all trialed jointly and jailed.

TRANSLATION: I'm innocent. I

know a long time has passed but

lawyers are woshing to prove my

innocence. The stage

documentary portrays her as a

young woman who was duped to go

on a bargain holiday to

Australia only to become an

unwitting drug runner and

wrongly convicted. It's a story

of injustice and needs telling.

It's also about the triumph of

the human spirit. Chika Honda

was deported immediately on

release from jail but she wants

to return, not only to see the

show, but to thank her

supporters and see the women

she befriended in jail. We are

waiting and the ticket is still

booked. The show opens at

Sydney's Carriage Works

tomorrow night but the

Immigration Department has

still to decide whether to give

Chika Honda a visa. Brumbies an

Wallaby full-back Julianne

Huxley has been diagnosed with

a brain tumour. It's believed

to be benign but he is having

more tests. There were grave

fears for Huxley's health when

he suffered convulsion s after

being knocked out in Saturday's

game. Initially he was given a

clean bill of health but today

he told shocked team-mates that

scans had revealed a

preexisting tumour. Initial

observations suggest the tum Sr

benign but we'll only be able

to find out further information following further testing. At

this stage it's not clear whether Huxley be be able to

play again. The Brumbies take

on the waras in Sydney on

Friday night. Australia's off

to a shocking start as it

chases India's imposing total

in the second try series final

in Brisbane. Australia needs to

score 259 to win the match

level the series and force a

play off. Sachin Tendulkar

again led the way for the tour

is until Australia's run chase

faltered. Coming off two

defeats in a row and desperate

for victory, Australia lost the

toss but India lost its best

paceman to

injury. Unfortunately thing,

Ishant is not playing. After

his match-winning century on

Sunday, Tendulkar made a shaky start and offered a sharp

chance to Ricky Ponting on 7.

But the master batsman soon

found his range. It's a woirg

sign for Australia. Especially

for Mitchell Johnson who served

up several wides. The openers

added 94 before Robin Uthappa

fell to the recalled Stuart

Clarke. Michael Clarke resorted

to unorthodox tactics in a bid

to bring down Tendulkar. Yuvraj

Singh took just two balls to

get his eye in. But as is often

the case, Yuvraj got himself

out when a big innings beckon.

Tendulkar fell nine runs short

of making two centuries in a

row. Clarke took three wickets

with his part him spin.

Australia bowled well in the

last 10 overs to restrict yaind

to 258. Adam Gilchrist had a

short stay at the crease in

what could be his last innings.

And Ponting's lean run

continued as India made early

inroads. The Melbourne Tigers

have been given a boost on the

eve of the NBL grand final's

searies with centre Chris

Anstey named the league's most

valuable player. The Tigers are

in enemy territory for tomorrow

nooils night's start. The sport

is dis-Pratt for a resurgence

in the Olympic year. The club

say this is the dream match

up. I think defence will win

the championship. So obviously

we're talking about Anstey all

the time but they've got a

number of weapons. But he'll be

the focal point for us. We've

got to execute what we do

offencively and look after the

ball. Reigning world champion

Mick Fanning has been beaten by

Kelly Slater. The Australian

had a long day at his home

break of Snapper Rocks having

to get through a fourth round

heat a quarter final and a

semibefore the decider. Waiting

for him in the final was

Slater. Fanning couldn't give

the local fan whas they'd hoped

for with Slater in control throughout. Forget snakes on a

plane, this was a bad case of

shakes on a plane. The 131

passengers on board this

Lufthansa air bus landed on a

wing and a prayer and then only

just. The plane was caught in

violent cross winds as it tried

to touch down in the German

city of Hamburg. The wing tip

touched the runway at one point

before the pilot regained

control and took off again.

After circling the airport, the

plane landed safely on the

second attempt. There were no

injuries and the plane is

already back in service. Well

let's hope the winds aren't

that strong around Sydney

Airport tomorrow. No, lit be

smooth flying tomorrow. We have

got a cool change set through

to move through overnight

tonight but wind gusts are only

expected to reach around 40km/h

overnight and during tomorrow.

Today we had a taste of summer

lost with temperatures reaching

around 26 to 31 degrees across

the city today. It was

extremely pleasant and we have

a southerly cool change moving

up the coast as I spoke of

earlier. That is going to bring

some slightly cooler temperatures tomorrow.

Around Cairns it's a story of

too much rain as moist

south-easterly winds have been

forced to rise by the ranges

and they're receiving flooding

falls. Despite the wind change

along our Co.s, more northerly

winds will keep the inland warm

to hot and mostly sunny and

we're looking at little change

from that over the next six

days as well. Now the change

will bring nothing more than a

millimetre or two of rainfall

along the coastal fringe. Just

the chance of an isolated

shower or two about. But #4

It should be mostly dry.

We're looking at some cloudy

periods but the showers at this

stage are expected to hold off

until the afternoon or evening

but south to south-easterly winds will be fresh

particularly awlonge the

coast. Now Thursday's not

looking too bad. Again some

morning cloud about but that

will clear. Friday looks great

but then the next cool change

interrupting the weekend with a

few late show ertion expected

on Saturday. Now let's recap

tonight's top stories. Interest

rates have gone up again for

the 12th time in a row.

Household s are an average

mortgage will have to find

another $50 a month. Wollongong

Council has been formally

sacked while the local Labor MP

Noreen Hay is again facing

calls for her resignation. And

it's now or never for Hillary

Clinton as she and Barack Obama

slug it out in the key Texas

and Ohio primaries. That is ABC

News for this Tuesday. '7:30

Report' is up next and I'll be

back with updates during the

evening. And for the latest

headlines 24 hour asday, go to

ABC online, goodnight. Closed

Captions by CSI

CC Quickly put in a vendor

bid of $300,000. Tonight on the

7:30 Report, the latest blow

for home owner, interest rates

up again for the 12th

consecutive time. It's criminal

young people are losing their

houses because of high interest

rates. Should the Reserve Bank

have shown more patience? We

vbt haven't seen time to see

the effect of last month's rate

rise. Also Australia's most

celebrated living author, Peter

Carey, on his latest novel and

the angst of his craft. There's

an awful lot of being in the

dark and being in the mud and

of course that's why at the end

of it all, it's such a miracle

that you've got something with

form and sense to it.

Welcome to the program and

the Reserve Bank has applied

the financial thumb screws yet