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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. on banning live bird imports. A flap over pigeons prompts debate Cross City Tunnel contract. No U-turn over Sydney's Qantas jobs are heading offshore. Flying out - fears thousands of

And a laid-back preparation classic. for the latest spring carnival Good evening. Juanita Phillips with ABC News. all imports of live birds The Federal Government may ban sent from Canada after several pigeons antibodies. were found to have bird flu The birds "arrived" in Australia disease free. with documents saying they were are now suspended Live imports from Canada an explanation and the Government's demanding from Canadian authorities. made the discovery Quarantine officers sent from Canada last month. during routine tests on pigeons for bird flu antibodies, Three tested positive they'd been exposed to the virus. meaning that at some stage There is a risk, but we shouldn't panic. In relation to the three birds, have been destroyed, they and some others

are being sent back. and the other birds for breeding The pigeons were to be used but none left quarantine, and officials say of the virus spreading. there was never any risk of an overreaction in some way It's little bit than to expose ourselves to danger. but it's better to overreact on all live bird imports An immediate ban has been imposed from Canada, an explanation. and the Government is demanding that the Canadian authorities But I am disturbed as disease-free certified these birds were afflicted with when in a fact a number of them and Newcastle disease antibodies. avian influenza antibodies Canadian officials say with international regulations, they complied of overreacting. and accuse Australia In Canada's case, of avian influenza virus we are free and have been since May of 2004. The pigeons are unlikely to have been exposed

H5N1 strain of the virus, to the virulent more than 60 people in Asia. which has killed

in parts of the region But with avian flu now endemic and spreading through Europe, at banning all live bird imports. the Government is looking Australia is signatory to a lot of international agreements we're banning all bird imports, we can't put up our hand and say that's unsatisfactory. is do it on a case-by-case basis What we can do, that are a particular risk. and look at the countries restrictions may not be enough But even tighter quarantine Australian shores. to stop the virus reaching through migratory birds It's the entry of the disease that keeps us awake at night. The Opposition says

to help countries in the region more should be done combat avian flu to spread to Australia. before it has the chance Marcus Cheek, ABC News. Sydney motorists are stuck arrangements. with the unpopular Cross City Tunnel has categorically ruled out The State Government with the tunnel operators. renegotiating the deal it made confidential documents A day after it released giving details about the contract any changes to it the Government says making compensation bill. would expose taxpayers to a huge restricting public transport But it insists there was no deal to favour the tunnel operators. what he claims The Roads Minister released on the Cross City Tunnel contract. is the definitive legal position signed by the State Government The final contract public transport. protects and encourages any compensation whatsoever The company is not entitled to public transport. when the State Government expands

whatsoever to break this contract. The State Government has no plans

the Opposition wants. But that's exactly what It says the tunnel is a failure the upper hand and the Government holds and the toll reduced. to get roads reopened get off their backside - What they need to do is not the operator - they're in the strong position, and renegotiate the contract. the pressure. The NRMA is also keeping up unfair prices People shouldn't be forced to pay unreasonable road closures. and they shouldn't be forced to use

a free ride for three weeks. From Monday, drivers will get the Government hailed It's a concession

as a win for motorists. a toll-free period But today it admitted that was always part of the plan. during contract negotiations. The idea was floated is pushing for more. But the Government the motorway company I would encourage the toll-free period, to strongly consider, at the end of

to cut the toll. If motorists aren't using it, a real problem for the company, then that's going to be over a period of time, and if that does eventuate as I've already indicated, financially. we won't be bailing them out They carry the risk of that. to the Government, As for the political risk that's still to unfold. The Greens believe still to be answered. there are serious questions Its legal advice says the legality of the entire contract there's now a cloud over

and the RTA's role in negotiating the deal. Adrian Raschella, ABC News, Sydney. has decided The Federal Government a new computer system not to shut down at Australia's ports and airports. blamed for a backlog of cargo

at docks and warehouses Containers have been building up

last week. since the system was introduced going back to the old system The Government had considered to clear the backlog. But it now says including extra Customs staff, new measures, are helping to speed things up. those problems, We're working to overcome and it's pleasing to see that the containers are moving. that Patricks and P&O have said But cargo handlers have warned

that some ports could come to a standstill over the weekend. That's a possibility. The stevedores are telling us they can move cargo with these contingency arrangements, and I stress contingencies, that doesn't mean the system works. Customs brokers and freight forwarders say they're being left out of pocket by mounting storage fees

and want the Government to offer compensation. The Customs Minister will meet industry representatives again next week to discuss the situation. A week after putting

the Government's draft counter-terrorism laws on the Internet, the ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, claims he's been dropped out of the loop.

Mr Stanhope says the Territory has been excluded from any future consultation on the laws.

He says he's been advised that new drafts of the anti-terrorism bill will only be provided via fax and to all States and Territories except the ACT. I think that's an incredibly churlish, if not childish, move by the PM, and frankly, I'm quite stunned by it. Mr Stanhope says the laws can still be passed with or without the ACT Government's approval. The PM requires the approval of four of the States and Territories before he can introduce and proceed with his legislation. He's decided that he doesn't need me, that I'm expendable, that he'll go with the other seven jurisdictions. The Chief Minister says it's a direct breach of the inter-governmental agreement and is designed to muzzle community debate. Qantas has confirmed that it's considering moving much of its maintenance operation outside of Australia. Unions are up in arms saying it could cost thousands of local jobs, and the Opposition is calling on the Government to intervene. The unions are calling it a body blow and saying any decision by Qantas to move the jobs offshore would be the death knell of aircraft maintenance in Australia. These jobs, which are high-skilled, high-tech and high-value, may be exported at the cost of safety.

The airline's on a cost-cutting drive and according to its chief executive, a final decision will be made in three or four months. Geoff Dixon says the choice is between restructuring at home or moving significant parts of maintenance operations offshore. Obviously if there was an outsourcing overseas option we'd have to admit it would be a lot of jobs. We don't believe it's appropriate to outsource these jobs

simply on the base of chasing a dollar overseas. The uncertainty over the future of maintenance workers comes

as the Government is weighing up whether to let Singapore Airlines compete on the US route. The Opposition Leader says the Government has to intervene. If these 3,000 jobs are shifted overseas it looks, very much, to me like the kangaroo would be taken out of Qantas. I hope they don't take decisions which transfer, needlessly, Australian jobs. One prominent union leader says talk of local maintenance jobs being at risk is no accident. To try and frighten Qantas workers into making concessions towards John Howard's industrial agenda and Qantas's bottom line. Last month, the unions failed in their High Court bid to challenge the Government's advertising campaign selling workplace changes. Today, the court revealed its reasons.

Two judges have said that these ads are a political waste of money. But the majority decision found it hadn't been shown that the use of taxpayer funds was unlawful, and the ACTU and Labor have to pay costs. For the first time today, the PM acknowledged the extent of the ad spend. Our budget would be somewhere... The upper limit of it would be somewhere in the 30s, 40s. ...that's in millions. Craig McMurtrie, ABC News, Canberra. The United Nations says the Pakistan earthquake relief operation is more difficult than the tsunami effort. Up to 500,000 people are still stranded without food, shelter and medical treatment almost a fortnight after the quake. We've never had this kind of a logistic nightmare ever. We thought that the tsunami was as worse as it could get. This is worse. The UN relief chief has asked the NATO countries to do more, urging them to "think big". He wants enough helicopter support to rival the Berlin airlift which sustained the city during a Soviet blockade in the late '40s. A UN investigation into the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, points the finger of blame at Syria. The report's been handed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It says the Syrian security service probably approved the bombing, which killed Mr Hariri and 20 other people in February. It accuses Syria of blocking and misleading the inquiry and says there's evidence of Lebanese collusion. Mexico is bracing for the full fury of Hurricane Wilma now expected to hit the Yucatan tourist coast tomorrow. The powerful storm has forced thousands of tourists to flee Cancun's resort hotels. Forecasters say Wilma will probably hit Florida on Sunday. The US Military has launched a criminal investigation into claims that troops in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of two Taliban fighters. An SBS report claimed the Americans then made taunts about the bodies to flush out other Taliban militants. A US commander in Afghanistan said if true, the incident was repugnant. A Melbourne man convicted of drug smuggling in Singapore has had his final appeal rejected and now is facing execution. 25-year-old Nguyen Tuong Van has been on death row since March last year for smuggling heroin. The Australian Government had asked for a presidential pardon but the appeal was turned down. We're very sad that this has happened. There's no further appeal. That's the end of the processes of appeal and the execution is expected to be carried out fairly quickly. Nguyen will become the fourth Australian to be hanged in Asia for drug smuggling. The doctor who examined Joanne Lees the day after she was attacked has contradicted her evidence.

Doctor Matthew Wright said there was no evidence that she'd been hit on the head as she claimed. It was a very public display of affection from Joanne Lees as she left court today... ..a kiss for both the mother and father of her former boyfriend.

Earlier, in court, Ms Lees sat with the family as they listened to the morning's evidence. Among the witnesses, the doctor who examined Joanne Lees the day after she was allegedly attacked. Dr Matthew Wright described a number of abrasions on Joanne Lees's elbows and knees. He said his patient had been quiet and subdued. But then, under cross-examination by defence lawyer Grant Algie, Dr Wright contradicted Joanne Lees's earlier evidence about being hit in the head. Joanne Lees told the court this week

she'd been punched in the right temple by her attacker. Today, Dr Wright said Ms Lees had told him she had not suffered a hit to the head. The jury also heard from one of the truck drivers who assisted Ms Lees the night she was allegedly attacked. Rodney Adams described her as having her hands bound and tape around her neck and ankle. He said she was distraught and in a state of panic. Publican Les Pilton described a cowering Joanne Lees in the cabin of the truck when she arrived at Barrow Creek. He said he'd had to coax her out of the vehicle and into the hotel. As he left court today, Mr Pilton commented that Ms Lees was doing better than during the committal. A lot better than she was She was not good last year. Bradley Murdoch denies murdering Peter Falconio and assaulting Joanne Lees.

The trial continues on Monday. Liv Casben, ABC News, Darwin. The leader of a South Coast religious community who calls himself the Little Pebble has appeared in a Sydney court on new charges of sexually assaulting a young follower. William Kamm was last week sentenced

to a minimum 3.5 years in jail for child sex offences. He faces 11 new charges. In Western Australia 25 children have been injured in a collision between their school bus and a truck. The accident happened near Mandurah south of Perth. One child has been critically injured and four have serious head injuries. The injured are being ferried to hospital by a rescue helicopter and ambulances. The NSW Education Department has made it clear that a controversial theory challenging evolution will not be taught in public school science classes. 'Intelligent Design' argues that certain forms of life must have been created by an intelligent force, which some interpret as God. The theory says evolution cannot fully explain the biological complexities of life. It's being debated in some of the State's Christian schools, but it won't be taught in the public education system. In the scientific curriculum we have a pretty clear and consistent view that scientific theories - 'Intelligent Design' is not accepted as a theory or a model that we would include in scientific curriculum. 'Intelligent Design' has a strong support base in the United States. There's a federal test case under way there

which could determine whether or not the theory can be mentioned in American public schools. The complexities of 'our' State schools meanwhile

are to be explained in a booklet of handy hints for parents and children. It's been produced by the State Government to help those entering the system ease the transition from home to classroom. It covers everything from notifying teachers about allergies

to checklists on what students should take to school. This booklet tries to cover most of the issues but, of course, the advice to parents is always get to know your child's teacher, talk to your child's teacher and make sure you raise any concerns with your child's teacher. More than 60,000 copies will be distributed between now and the beginning of kindergarten classes next year. Police are questioning a 25-year-old man over the attempted abduction of a teenage girl in south-west Sydney yesterday. Police say the 13-year-old-girl was at a bus stop in Leppington when a man tried to coax her into his car. There was a similar incident earlier yesterday in the same area. Local schools have sent notices to parents, warning them not to let their children walk to and from school alone. A 2.5-year-old Tibetan girl has been given a chance at a better life after Australian doctors operated to reconstruct her disfigured face. Chogkey Tenzin's mother had to hide her daughter away but then the Dalai Lama got involved.

Little Chogkey Tenzin still bears the disfigurement of a lymphatic malformation which enlarged her face and neck. But her mother, who teaches English in their village, sees only beauty. The surgery has changed my daughter's life - future life - into much brighter, happier. Chogkey was born with the rare disorder in India to a Tibetan family in exile. Indian hospitals could not operate. Her desperate mother went to the Dalai Lama, who blessed the little girl and said there could be help in a foreign country. In Australia, Vyvyan Cayley was alerted to the predicament. 25 years ago, as an aid worker, she'd rescued Chogkey's mother from malnutrition and paid for her education. Vyvyan called the Children First Foundation, who flew them to Australia. One of my friends said "You know, you don't have children of your own, "but Cheodon's really like your daughter." So that means Chogkey's my granddaughter, and I couldn't wish for a better granddaughter. Chogkey's mother recalls trying to hide her in the village - the little girl subject to cruel taunts.

Sometimes they used to say, "A pig is coming - "look, look, look - monkey!" My eyes just filled with tears. But now she sees a future filled with possibilities. She looks beautiful to me. Now when I go back, I'll take her with me and my husband - we will go everywhere together. I'm really proud of Chogkey, being a mother. Chogkey goes home on Tuesday. She will return for more surgery when she is a teenager. Nicole Chvastek, ABC News. Recapping tonight's top story. The Federal Government is considering whether to ban all imports of live birds after three pigeons in a consignment from Canada were found with avian flu antibodies. And still to come - Australia's national rugby league team out for revenge across the Tasman. Rising oil prices are about to be passed on to shoppers. Owner-drivers in the State transport system have been granted an increase of about 6% in their contract fees to cover higher fuel costs. The New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission

gave the rise to the owner-drivers, who make up about a third of the State's general transport system. The Transport Workers Union expects retailers to pass the increase on to consumers. And other transport operators are expected to raise their rates as well. In many cases companies already have notified their clients of price increases and the need for it, and this 5%-7%

is indicative of the transport costs that'll need to be paid right across the industry

whether it be employees or, in this case, independent contractors, owner-drivers. Interstate drivers, though, are outside the jurisdiction of the State system and may not see any flow-on benefit. To finance now, and the local share market fell again today, but not as much as Wall Street overnight. Alan Kohler has the details. Wall Street's fall last night was rather large at 1.3%, and because of continuing fears about inflation plus a few worse-than-expected profit results for the first quarter.

The local market only finished up falling 0.3% - although that is starting to mount up. The All Ordinaries index is down nearly 6.5% in a bit less than a month. The biggest falls today were Caltex, Babcock and Brown and Harvey Norman, while the rises were led by Boral, which reported better-than-expected first quarter profits, and CSR and Brambles also went up. Part of the reason the Australian share market did relatively well today,

was that the copper price hit a new record high in London last night. It went up 1.2% to US$4,180 a tonne - the highest price since records started being kept, apparently, in 1870. However, the oil price has fallen back below US$60 a barrel in Singapore this afternoon.

It's down 70 cents to US$59.36 a barrel.

In economic news - a poll of economic forecasters was published today predicting 3.1% inflation when the CPI comes out next week, which would be above the Reserve Bank's target range. And new car sales in September rose 2% to a new record, with very strong sales of 4x4 cars - 4WDs. And sales of new cars looks like passing a million this year for the first time. In 1991 it was 500,000 but with car prices coming down and interest rates staying fairly low, sales have doubled. And unlike the housing boom, the car boom just keeps going. The Australian dollar is trading a bit stronger against the US dollar tonight. And finally, goat exports are jumping - up 11% in the first nine months of this year. And in Taiwan they just can't get enough Australian goats. I'll be back at 9:45 on Sunday with 'Inside Business'. Till then, that's finance. Two brothers from the Central Coast have received bravery awards for trying to save a 2-year-old boy who died in a house fire last year.

20-year-old Joshua Carew received a silver medal from the Royal Humane Society

at a ceremony at Government House today. His 21-year-old brother, Brendon, is still too upset about the fire to receive a certificate of merit. Their father spoke on their behalf. Both the boys are still pretty emotional about what happened and they just don't like it being rehashed all the time, you know. Hopefully this'll be the end of it and they can get on with their lives. The mother of little Brent Londrigan, who died, was at Government House to see Joshua receive his award. There's so many people that don't get recognised for things like this and, yeah, he did extremely good job of what he did. Unfortunately it wasn't a happy ending. 27 awards were given out today. The Australian rugby league team has bounced back from its surprise loss last week, beating New Zealand in tonight's Tri-Nations test in Auckland. Australia held on to win 28-26. With the breeze at their backs in wet conditions, the Kiwis had the better of the first half and led 16 points to 8 after tries to Jake Webster, Nigel Vangana and Motu Tony. COMMENTATOR: Motu Tony - he has planted the football! But Australia scored three tries in four minutes early in the second half to take an 8-point lead. New Zealand produced a late surge but the Kangaroos held on for a much-needed 2-point victory. The Ashes might be long gone but the bickering is far from finished. The latest bout involves the England coach and the Australian captain. Here's Peter Wilkins. It was all a sideshow to the main event - Ricky Ponting criticising England for its use of substitute fieldsmen. But now Ponting and the Australians are under attack from the England coach for unsportsmanlike behaviour. Critical on several fronts in his new book, Duncan Fletcher said Ponting and Vice Captain Adam Gilchrist Yeah, I don't know if he's trying to cover his own backside up a little bit with a lot of these allegations directed at us now. It's all coming after some allegations were probably made against him and the way they conducted themselves during the tour. I don't really care. Australia's premier pace bowler couldn't let the slur pass. I think it's disappointing that Duncan had to come out and mar the series like this. There's no rest for the international cricketer. Particularly Australia's premier fast bowlers, who appeared to be thinking they were getting next week off. The two players concerned spoke to the coach and indicated it might be worthwhile them sitting it out

in terms of their long season. There's not too many breaks. You always enjoy the breaks. Cricket Australia was quick to point out no directive to play was issued, however, after some indecision and confusion, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee will pad up for NSW for a one-day and a four-day match over the next week. We were under the impression it was up to the players, but all the selectors are keen for us to play in this match

so that's the way it is. She's on target for another slice of immortality. Dual Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva

couldn't be in better shape to add the prestigious Cox Plate to her CV. Regular jockey Glenn Boss says a win in the Cox Plate for the firming favourite would confirm the 7-year-old mare as a true weight-for-age champion, not just a champion handicapper. Talked to the vet - said she'd never been better. Talked to the track work rider - said she's never been better. I feel like physically and mentally that she's right in the right spot at the moment and Lee is a bit like me - can't wait for the day. There's doubt over Xcellent's chances of challenging Makybe Diva with rain falling in Melbourne and the track expected to deteriorate. And Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais has moved within one point of clinching the champ car world title at Gold Coast Indy. Bourdais has provisional pole

and earned a championship point from the opening qualifying session. If he repeats his effort in tomorrow's second session, he'll secure the crown. The big race is on Sunday. This year's AFI awards will be the most closely contested battle for more than a decade, with four films vying for the top gong. Hundreds of representatives of Australia's film

and television industry gathered to hear today's nominations. 'Little Fish' is leading the feature film category with 13 chances. It's narrowly ahead of 'The Proposition', 'Look Both Ways' and 'Wolf Creek'. After a long period of poor box office returns and bad reviews Australian film-makers are feeling much more optimistic. On top of the world! And there is a groundswell of talent and there is a wind of change a coming. I think it's enormous morale booster.

As Australians, as human beings who want to tell their stories we as film-makers want to be appreciated, we want to feel we have the right to tell our own stories. The awards will be presented in Melbourne in late November. Time to check the weekend weather now, and I don't think we'd say no to a little bit of sunshine, Mike? There'll be some of that, Juanita. Good evening - still some isolated storms about tonight with a severe thunderstorm warning for Sydney, the Hunter, CT, parts of the CWS, Illawarra, NT and the MNC. More are possible tomorrow, with isolated showers for Sydney after a mostly sunny morning. Some sun today, as well, but temperatures peaking around average with the coastal range of 17-22 degrees. Sydney 8mm rain overnight. Cloud around the states. Rain - scatttered thunderstorms inland NSW. Around the nation - few centres getting a little rain. Slow moving trough across NSW. Still rain about the east.

NSW - strong wind warning for areas south of Ulladulla. Sydney - sunny morning chance of showers later. Thanks, Mike. Now recapping tonight's top stories. Bird flu antibodies have been discovered in a consignment of racing pigeons from Canada.

The Federal Government is now considering banning

all live bird imports. The State Government has ruled out renegotiating Sydney's Cross City Tunnel contract, saying it would expose taxpayers to a huge compensation bill. And there's opposition to a plan by Qantas to move some maintenance jobs overseas. And that's ABC News for this Friday. I'm Juanita Phillips. Stay with us now for 'Stateline' with Quentin Dempster. 'Lateline' is along at 11:00pm. Enjoy the rest of your evening and have a great weekend. Captions by Captioning and Subtitling International.