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(generated from captions) This program is not subtitled This program is captioned live. Tonight - total force - this weekend. police prepare for the worst for Bradley John Murdoch. Life really could mean 'life' a tax cut hint. A cashed-up Treasurer drops a billion-dollar miltary revamp. And spending on defending - Juanita Phillips with ABC News. Good evening.

since the Olympics There's been nothing like it

and the millennium celebrations. will be tripled this weekend Police numbers in Sydney's south

racial unrest. to deal with any further And the State's police chief says to use tough emergency powers, his officers wont hesitate special sitting of Parliament. voted into law at today's beachside suburbs of Sydney If residents of the southern a heavy police presence thought there had been in the past few nights, they haven't seen anything yet. for as long as it takes, Whatever it takes,

of order and calm. to bring about a restoration will be doubled to 1,000 Police numbers in trouble spots on Saturday. By Sunday that will reach 1,500. of all State police That's more than 10% playing Santa Claus. with the Commissioner disappeared out of this Sydney. The spirit of Christmas has simply And it is up to all of us - but people of goodwill - not only the police, back into this city. to bring the spirit of Christmas additional powers Parliament today gave police such as the beachfront at Cronulla, to to lock down areas alcohol-free zones. shut down pubs and declare these powers Police will be free to use as intended by this Parliament.

will be rewarded, not questioned. Good, firm effective policing and the Opposition Leader clashed The Premier the Government when Peter Debnam accused of not going far enough. The problem is has had a softly, softly strategy that the Government for 10 years. Why? ethnic groups. Because you're indebted to some That's the problem. No-one outside's listening, Peter. I'm Sorry, Peter. Despite his rhetoric, to amend the laws. Mr Debnam made no attempt its own laws as draconian. The Government describes are concerned it has gone too far Lawyers and civil libertarians by making it very difficult and affray to get bail. for people charged with riot

innocent bystanders Where you've got involved in the whole scene, to determine it's often very difficult of criminal activities are. who the real perpetrators or be renewed in two years. The laws are due to expire Simon Santow, ABC News, Sydney. for possible trouble, While the police were gearing up their bit to head it off. community leaders were doing and the western suburbs, They came from the southern beaches in their power promising to do everything of this week's violence to avoid a repetition in Sutherland Shire. an agreement, a strong agreement, The great thing out of today was to make sure that we would work together that once again that people can come to the beach this area is somewhere in the future. and enjoy it without problems to network over the next few days The community leaders intend

of the conflict know to let young people on both sides that violence is not an option. together as an Australian community, It's about showing our force no to racism, saying no to violence, no to any source of disturbance on the safety and wellbeing that's likely to impact of every Australian. a voluntary curfew Lebanese community leaders suggested

of this week's violence. as one way of preventing any repeat backpacker Peter Falconio The man who murdered British at the very least. will spend the next 28 years in jail in the Supreme Court in Darwin Bradley John Murdoch was sentenced this morning. he's eligible for parole. He'll be 73 before of 28 years I fix a non-parole period commencing on 10 November 2003. remove the prisoner. Would you please clasped his hands in victory. On those words, Luciano Falconio year of Peter Falconio's short life. It was, he said, a year for every

Very happy with the result. Metres away, Joanne Lees smiled. was read to the court. Earlier, her victim impact statement in sentencing. The statement was considered Your obvious aggression for the commission of the crimes and complete lack of remorse upon others, or the devastating impacts coupled with your maturity, your prospects of rehabilitation. paint a bleak picture of into her life has been devastating. Joanne Lees says the media intrusion Falconio's grieving mother, Joan, Then, the thoughts of Peter and the anguish she felt were heard

of her son's death over the phone. when she first heard the news relief at the sentence. Outside the court, to prison for the rest of his life. I'm very pleased he's gone After almost 10 weeks here, will leave Darwin Joanne Lees and the Falconio family over the next few days,

eventually heading back to Britain and resume a normal life. where they'll try still missing But with Peter Falconio's body his conviction, and Bradley Murdoch appealing the ordeal for them is not yet over. Live Casben, ABC News, Darwin. The Treasurer could afford to smile.

Today he announced a revised budget on earlier forecasts. surplus that was $2.5 billion up

more tax cuts next year. And that led to a hint or two about He's a rich man walking. strongest economies in the world. We continue to be one of the Our fiscal position is stronger than nearly every other developed economy. has been revised Australia's budget surplus forecast to $11.5 billion, up from $8.9 billion in May from booming mining companies. thanks partly to more taxes is unchanged The economic growth forecast since the May budget at 3% to the financial year, despite a weak start due to higher oil prices. but inflation has been lifted to 3% The rosy outlook and a growing surplus brought the inevitable questions about tax relief. If we can keep spending to a minimum, perhaps, if we could even shave spending, then of course you get the opportunity to cut taxes. But backbencher Malcolm Turnbull - not content taking a back seat on the Treasurer's day - was out and about, later, pressing his case for more profound tax reform at a business gathering. If we cannot afford it today, when will we be able to afford it? These figures show we can have both tax reform, including all of the rates, and we could also have tax relief. Mr Swan accused the Treasurer of hoarding cash for an election year. But not everything's gone the Government's way. It's been forced to slash the value of Telstra by more than $7 billion, reducing the share price in its books from $5.25 to $4.13 - a price that still looks optimistic by today's standards.

Phillip Lasker, ABC News. It's the Army's biggest shake-up since World War II. There'll be more soldiers and more firepower - all part of a $1 billion revamp. At Victoria Barracks this morning, the PM was eager to experience military capability first hand. Do you want to hop inside? Yeah, I do. The Government acknowledges the military's had a busy few years and that there's no slowdown in sight. To cope with the expanded role, it's set to commit around $1.5 billion over the next decade to beef up defence capability, with the Army taking centre stage. It does more sharply recognise in the circumstances of 2005 the need to provide additional firepower, additional capacity to the army. More feet on the ground is the first priority. The Army wants to recruit another 1,500 soldiers in the next five years, on top of the 1,000 it had already foreshadowed. It will still be a small army comparatively, even within the region a small army, but it does need some further depth. We are currently failing to achieve our targets in recruitment. The release of the strategic blueprint has also signalled a shift

in the Government's defence thinking, expanding on traditional regional operations and gearing up for more missions around the globe. And to enable that, heavy-lift planes like the American 'Globemaster' are on the shopping list, ending Australia's reliance on allies and leased planes. Our geography does mean we need to travel long distances,

often quickly, carrying large loads. This is a matter of choice rather than necessity. The PM accepts the changes won't come cheap, but says it can be done. Clearly when you have a very strong economy it means you can spend more, without the share of GDP necessarily changing. And Mr Howard says he wants to continue Defence's 3% annual funding increase beyond 2010. Dana Robertson, ABC News, Canberra.

President Bush has taken the blame for going to war in Iraq on the basis of faulty intelligence. But he says it was still the right thing to do. His remarkable personal statement came ahead of today's landmark Iraqi election. This is history and democracy in the making. Iraqis are voting for their first full parliament since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The very heavy security is a reminder of what's at stake. In Washington, George W. Bush urged patience, acknowledging the election won't suddenly solve Iraq's problems. We are living through a watershed moment in the story of freedom.

Nearly three years after the invasion, George W. Bush is still justifying his decision to a skeptical public. Today, the President spoke about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction - coming unusually close to admitting a mistake. And it is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As President, I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq and I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. The President says he still made the right decision, insisting the invasion was justified. The United States did not choose war. The choice was Saddam Hussein's. Saddam was a threat, and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power.

There's been a distinct shift in the government's rhetoric. Earlier in the year, the Vice President famously declared that the insurgency was in its last throes. Now, though, the White House is trying to be more humble and more realistic. This is a key reason why - the experience of some of the troops who have been on the front line. I think American people are somewhat arrogant to believe that we can - as US forces, with the small numbers that we have in Iraq - actually prevent the civil war from happening. It's a threat that makes the political process

even more important.

Mark Simkin, ABC News, Washington. There have been angry scenes in Lebanon at the funeral of a prominent anti-Syrian politician killed in a car bomb attack. The UN Security Council is already investigating the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister. Now it's being urged to include a string of other murders linked to Syria.

From Beirut, Middle East correspondent Matt Brown. Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of Beirut

to mourn the death of Gibran Tueni. Tueni was a well-known critic of Syrian meddling in Lebanese affairs. His death in a bomb blast on Monday has fired rising anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon. This was by far the largest gathering since the outpouring of emotion after former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri was killed by a truck bomb in February. Syria is suspected of being involved in that assassination and was forced to pull its troops out of Lebanon after decades of occupation. Now the UN Security Council is considering expanding an investigation into the Hariri killing to include the murders of several other critics of Syria. We're angry. We're not safe. We feel that we need help.

They stayed here and occupied Lebanon for 30 years in the government, and they still have politicians who like them, they still have people or who are afraid of them. the public focus This assassination has brought in Lebanon back to the ongoing Syrian role and here tensions are running high. for the assassinations, Now Syria isn't just being blamed like unemployment too. it is being blamed for things are working here in our country. Most of the Syrian people work here in our country. Not them. Like, we are the ones that should are playing a dangerous game Those behind the assassinations from decades of civil war. in a country still recovering Matt Brown, ABC News, Beirut. is stepping up pressure The Australian Medical Association on the Federal Government the abortion drug, RU468. to lift its ban on The AMA made its call committee hearing into the drug. on the opening day of a Senate was no more dangerous than Viagra. The inquiry was told the the drug Steve Fielding said But, Family First Senator to conduct do-it-yourself abortions. the medication would allow women arrived for the committee hearing Nationals senator Ron Boswell with one way to describe RU486. to have an abortion. The worst possible way The Senate committee is examining should be available. whether the abortion pill Despite earlier concerns, says the Australian Medical Association alternative to surgical abortion women deserve a safe and effective should be decided and it says the issue Administration. by the Therapeutic Goods an independent umpire. We need to have that is that umpire is the TGA. and we believe the expert group for the experts, This isn't just a question the kind of society we want. it's also a question about be kept under ministerial control. Tony Abbott says RU486 should Steve Fielding agrees - Family First Senator to carry out their own termination. he accuses doctors of leaving women take the drug at home, People could be able to do-it-yourself abortions. which is, effectively, No, it's not like do-it-yourself, to that comment, Senator, and I take exception with all due respect. and Gynaecologists The College of Obstetricians

questioned why RU486 is restricted such as Viagra, is widely available. when other medication, a much more dangerous drug - In some ways, Viagra is there's never been a consideration

a restricted category. it's put into at the details of the legislation, The committee has the job of looking but it's a highly sensitive issue - about morals and medicine. it's quickly become a debate to give Coalition senators and MPs The Prime Minister has agreed when Parliament resumes next year. a conscience vote on the issue Sally Sara, ABC News, Canberra. arthritis drug Vioxx The makers of the popular compensation claim. are facing a multimillion-dollar the company has been launched The first class action against in the Victorian Supreme Court. increased the risk of strokes, The company denies the drug but hundreds of patients disagree.

the arthritis drug Vioxx More than a year after was taken off shelves, the first class action Australian lawyers today lodged against the manufacturer. 400 Australians will sue Merck Sharp and Dohme for damages, doctors and the public claiming the company failed to warn about the risks of taking the drug. This was a defective product. which significantly increases It was a drug and thrombotic strokes - the rate of heart attacks in fact, by more than 100%.

took Vioxx for two years 55-year-old Graeme Peterson to treat arthritis,

two years ago. but suffered a heart attack were never told about the risks. He blames the drug and says patients Had somebody come and said to me, "Do you realise this is dangerous," I would have put up with the pain that caused stomach upsets. or gone back to having something The Australian case will centre on

fully disclosed information whether the company about potential side effects of the drug. by around 250,000 Australians. At its peak, Vioxx was used to warn They almost totally failed or the public treating doctors, pharmacists about these risks. A spokesman for Merck said clinical trials on the drug the company performed extensive before it was released to ensure its safety. its position in any legal action. It says it will vigorously defend won and lost major lawsuits So far, the company has both in the United States. Sophie Scott, ABC News. top story. Now a reminder of tonight's More police, tough new laws - to threats of further violence that's the Government's response this weekend. And, still to come - to the first Test. all the build-up

had a terrifying experience today Children at a Sydney school an end-of-year awards ceremony. when a gun was produced during primary school in Schofields. It happened at St Joseph's Police say the gun appeared attending the ceremony. during a fight between two men The drama ended quickly stepped in and restrained a man. when an off-duty police officer Everybody dropped down. and running, because of the kids, People started panicking then all the fathers jumped onto him and held him to the ground. The school says students were distressed by the incident and have been offered counselling. Police allege a domestic dispute sparked the confrontation. A 35-year-old man has been charged with assault and firearm offences. It was a truly shocking case - an elderly woman tied up, robbed, and left to die five years ago. in her South Coast home in jail for her murder, Two men were given life was overturned on appeal until their sentence

instead of manslaughter. and they were convicted for a maximum of 19 years Today the pair were jailed another appeal. but they're already planning suffered an horrific fate. 70-year-old Joy Alchin She was bound, gagged and robbed, of her home near Nowra then left on the bedroom floor

nine days later. where she died of dehydration the jail term isn't long enough. Her daughter says Animals don't do that. Worse than animals actually. emergency call after the robbery. One of her attackers made an the call was treated as a hoax. But police weren't notified because

were found guilty of murder Ian Styman and Peter Taber

and sent to jail for life. were overturned Then last year their convictions when the Court of Criminal Appeal found they could have expected the 000 call to be followed up and Mrs Alchin rescued. Today they were sentenced on the lesser charge of manslaughter. Justice Timothy Studdert told the court the pair had shown no remorse for the violent attack.

He said they had acted callously and in complete disregard for the victim's wellbeing by making no attempt to find out if the 000 call had been acted on:

The men's lawyer says they'll appeal against the sentence. We'll be running the appeal on the basis that the verdicts were unreasonable and they didn't get a fair trial.

Taber and Styman will be eligible for parole in 2015. Jayne Margetts, ABC News, Sydney. A major Sydney hospital has produced some sobering research to argue against longer opening hours for pubs and clubs.

Doctors at Saint Vincent's found a third of patients coming to the emergency department had been drinking alcohol and most had been at a pub.

If we are going to go to a situation where we have more and more pubs with extended trading hours we're going to have bigger problems than we've currently got. The research found 50% of assault cases involved patients with a blood alcohol reading of more than 0.1 while 10% had readings greater than 0.2. I think we're just waking up to a nightmare. I think we've had our eyes shut

that actually our society is drinking too much, too quickly.

The doctors estimate that alcohol-driven injuries cost Saint Vincent's nearly $1.5 million a year. To finance - and the price of gold has slumped, stopping the local share market from matching a solid gain on Wall Street overnight. Here's Alan Kohler. The shine has come off gold this week in a big way. Monday, a 24-year high of US$540 an ounce.

Four days later, back to US$505 and looking decidedly shaky. It doesn't mean the gold boom is over, but it does mean some speculators have got very burnt. On Wall Street last night the main indices closed about 0.5% higher, partly because Boeing shares boomed as a result of Qantas's order for up to 115 787s. But the local market could only manage a marginal gain, thanks partly to the fall in the gold price

bringing resource stocks like Newcrest and BHP Billiton down, offsetting gains by retailers and some, but not all, banks. The buying of retailer shares might have had something to do with this - Cashcard said that retail spending during the first 12 days of December totalled $8.9 billion, compared to $8.3 billion last year. And by the way, figures from the Reserve Bank today indicated that we're using credit cards less. Well, the average credit card balance is $2,600 which is the same as this time last year. And as the graph shows growth in credit card use has dropped from more than 20% a year to about 6%. And speaking of credit cards, the American trade deficit - the greatest credit card balance in world history - has blown out again to nearly US$70 billion in the month of October.

A new record and much more than expected by market economists. As a result, the US Dollar slumped against the Euro and the Yen, but not against the Australian Dollar,

which is trading about steady at 75.4 US cents.

And that's finance. Registered clubs have pulled out of talks with the Government in their long-running battle over the poker-machine tax.

Their industry group, Clubs New South Wales, say an offer by the Iemma Government gives small clubs some relief, but leaves the majority of big clubs paying increased taxes. The Premier rejects that claim outright.

We have now over 800 small clubs that'll pay no tax, an extra 460 clubs added to that group of clubs that won't pay tax, as well as the richest of the clubs, the top-end clubs, getting an average tax cut of some $600,000.

The clubs say there's no point in continuing talks with the Government, and, instead, they'll consider a proposal by the Coalition. We're not going to deliver a bloc vote but we'll certainly be busy in making sure that the people of NSW understand what this Government is doing to the working persons' industry.

The group says the poker-machine tax

is forcing clubs to close. Others say declining membership is to blame. The first Test between Australia and South Africa is expected to live up to the hype. Jacques Kallis is still no certainty to play for the Proteas, while Nathan Bracken returns to the Australian line-up. Here's Peter Wilkins. The South Africans think they've got what it takes to beat Australia. But they've denied playing a part in any pre-series sledging contest. I don't think we've ever made an issue of it. Until today.

Even our comments which were light-hearted in the beginning of the series, which were obvious to see that the middle order is inexperienced in international cricket, it has created a large reaction from them, so that tells us in our mind they are also scared of losing in Australia, there is massive pressure on them.

I think both sides are just trying to get a little bit of a psychological edge. Shane Warne thrives on the contest and another milestone beckons, needing two wickets to surpass Dennis Lillee's record of 85 in a year. The wait continues for South Africa's star all-rounder Jacques Kallis whose oscillating around maybe and unlikely as his elbow continues to trouble him. It's still 50-50 whether he will play or not. The South African's thunder was stolen somewhat today as that famous urn grabbed the spotlight. Cricket Australia has confirmed a hectic summer for next year's Ashes series that will see five Tests played in 45 days. It is shaping up as the biggest sporting event in Australia since the Sydney Olympics. It was no laughing matter for the Netherlands as the Kookaburras scored two minutes from full-time to secure a berth in the Champions Trophy final. The Dutch team needs to beat India in the last pool game to guarantee a re-match with Australia. The Kookaburras will be looking to maintain their unbeaten run when they meet Pakistan in their final pool game on Friday night.

They don't come any bigger in the NBA. Australia's Andrew Bogut has locked horns with Shaquille O'Neal for the first time in America's elite basketball competition. COMMENTATOR: Blocked by Bogut! Still wearing a guard to protect a broken nose, the Milwaukee rookie was involved from the start and scored all of his six points in the first quarter. Bogut also had 5 rebounds but the Bucks lost by 17 points. O'Neal scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Heat. Back home, the newest franchise in the NBL has been unveiled as the South Dragons. The search is now on for a coach and players with the Victorian franchise joining the league next year. Well, it looks like this summery weather really is too good to last, Mike? Unsettled tomorrow but still warm, Juanita. Good evening. Showers or thunderstorms will spread across most districts tomorrow and some rain would prove welcome over Sydney's water catchment areas. A dry week has seen overall dam levels fall to 42.5% of capacity - down by 0.3%. Warragamba's down by just 0.1% and holding 39.2%. Sea breezes have been gusty today, holding the city temperatures to around average for the range of 19 to 26 degrees, but inland suburbs were up to 31 degrees.

The satellite picture shows the trough fairly well wide spread. Showers and thunderstorms expected for most districts of the eastern pasrts of the continent

and up in the NT. Thanks, Mike. Now before we go, another look at tonight's top stories. Tough new laws and hundreds more police on the streets. That's the Government strategy to deter racial unrest this weekend. A Northern Territory judge has sentenced convicted murderer Bradley John Murdoch to a minimum 28 years in jail. And a cashed-up Treasurer has again hinted at the possibility of tax cuts next year.

And that's ABC News for this Thursday. I'm Juanita Phillips. I'll be back with updates during the evening and the 'Late News' is on at 10:15pm. Goodnight. Closed Captions produced by Captioning and Subtitling International Pty Ltd

This program is captioned live.

.

. Trans fat on a gram per gram

basis is the worst in our food

supply. Tonight - trans fat, it

makes food look good and taste

bertd, but it's a potential killer.

It increases the amount of bad

cholesterol in our blood and it

decreases the amount of good

cholesterol. In addition to that, it

cholesterol. In addition to that, it has other effects on arteries

that promote heart disease. So

there's kind of a triple whammy.

Found on supermarket shelves around

the nation. But of those 55

products, 18 of them did have trans

fat levels which would mean they

would be banned in Denmark. Are we

eating too much? We don't know how