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Tonight - police closing in

on a suspected bushfire arson

ist. Grief in the towns, and

plans for a National Day of

Mourning. It is important, it

is very important that the

nation grieves. And time's up.

The Senate rejects the stimulus

package. The Prime Minister has

failed today. His economic

policy is in tatters. Good

evening, Juanita Phillips with evening, Juanita Phillips

ABC News. Finally today,

there's been some respite for

Victoria's exhausted

firefighters, for the first

time since the firestorms

began, there are no new towns

under threat. There is under threat. There is still

more than 30 fire ground

demanding their attention, 19

of them are yet to be contained

and it's the large groups of

fires, north and east of

Melbourne that are still

causing the greatest concern.

The forensic search goes on,

but there's been no official

change to the death toll, which

still stands at 181. 1,069

homes have been lost. The

homeless are sheltered at 12

separate ref uges, and in total

the fires burned out the fires burned out 400,000

hectares of the bushland and

pasture. Police believe the

Marysville blaze was to intense

and far from others there's no

way it could start on their

own. In goip, police November

of a serial -- Gippsland,

arsonist and are investigating police know of a serial

the possibility that that

person was responsible to the

Churchill fire. Small innocuous

pieces of information can be of

significance to us. Keep it

coming in, it's coming in well,

it's of value, assistance. The

way we'll solve this is through

information provided by the

community. In Taggerty, north

of Marysville, police are

investigating two men after

reports of looting, they are

not suspected of starting

fires. At the 12 relief centres

around the state teams of

mental health experts begun the

task of counsel, the victims of

the fires share a communal with

and different needs, one of grief, but they have individual

many challenges confronting the

counsellors. It's been five

days since the bushfire victims

slept in their own beds, cooked

on their over stoves or played

in their own backyards. The

grief shouldered by everyone

here. Giving them a sense of

assurance that they have done

as much as they can. as much as they can. Their

stories are listened to as

well. Very much so. And the

people will laugh when they

tell their stories, but there's

so much pain behind them as

well. People are coping

differently, some leaning on

each others, or strangers,

others returning to their homes others returning to their

to mourn or hope for words of

encouragement. It's been a

very special experience for me

to sit beside people at this

relief centre and to do the

very best I can to reassure

them that they will get through

these times. Some of the most

resilient faces are the

smallest ones. It's a good

thing to offer as a distraction

to young people that have been

through tragedy. Victoria's

bushfire disaster breaks the

mould when it comes to grieving

and counselling. Psychologists normally encourage people to

get back to a normal routine.

Here there's no such thing.

People have lost their homes

and communities, the things

that people get back to have

been devastated. Health

professionals have been

overwhelmed. At Yea hospital

some staff are trying to deal

with losing their homes. We

were able to ute lice the

volunteer staff appropriately,

and you know, we are on top of

that, but it's been very draining. At draining. At Melbourne St

Patrick's Cathedral. Hundreds

attended an afternoon mass to

pray for bushfire victims Today

agree there'll be the Victorian Premier and I

agree there'll be a National

Day of Mourning and a National

service of mourning for the victims of the Victorian

bushfires. The time and date

will be announced in coming

days. What many of the

survivors need most desperately

are the basic possessions that

make life bearable. Donated clothes and comforts are

flowing in, there's a need for

the shares of millions raised

in appeals. This tent is now

home for 13-year-old Robyn

Birrell and her family. They

want us to get out of here, we

can't, there's nowhere for us

to lef. This is what happened

to their home down, Flowerdale,

a sight their father Wayne

Birrell is yet to see. He's

more concerned with putting a

roof over his children's heads. It's getting back on

track. Finally progress, a

caravan was donated. They said caravan was donated. They

it was enough for a

family. It's good news, that is

even hard to handle. Thank you

for that. That's alright. No

worries, pleasure. You OK,

mate. Yeah. These people have lost everything, they don't

want to move away from the

thing they know, their

land. The kindness of strangers

sees a brand new barbecue turn

up. He said it'd feel like home

with a barbie. Down the road

there's no help. While there's

no shortage of good will and

clothinging families now need

their share of the millions

raised nationwide, and

now. Every time I watch the

news, all it is is how much

money they are getting. No-one

is paying it out. No-one knows

how to get it. The Victorian

Government says the first

payment should be in people's

hands within a few hands within a few days. And

Jane Cowan joins me from

Whittlesea. Now that the

reality of the situation is

setting in, how are people

coping. Well, people here are

absolutely exhausted. There's a

lot of red eyes around town

from the smoke and all the

crying. Most people have had a

chance to get up and have a

look at the houses, see destruction for themselves, destruction for look at the houses, see the

they are reacting to that in

different ways, some say they'll never live here they'll never live here again,

they have had more than enough

of bushfires, others will never

consider living anywhere else,

friends are here, children go

to school here, they've had to school here, they've

enough disruption, everyone is enough disruption, everyone

forced to look to the future

and get practical and think

about where and how they'll

live. People are overwhelmed by

the generosity, there's an

emerging sense of frustration,

knowing so much money has been

donated by fellow Australians,

much is yet to hit the ground

here in the fire-ravaged areas. We've seen pictures areas. We've seen pictures of

roes of tents, how long is it

before these people will be in

Pantai come dags. People

staying here in -- Pantai come

dags. People staying in

caravans will be here as long

as needed. Some have managed to

stay with friends in town stay with friends in town or

other parts of the state.

Everyone is looking to move on,

people of Marysville are yet to

get into their town for the

first time. They are right at

the beginning of this grieving

process. Whichever way you look

at it, this will be a long road

ahead. It's not only the

victims feeling the anguish of

this disaster, members of the

police and army are under

enormous stress, they are the

ones sifting through the ruins

confronting day after day the

terrible consequences of the

fires. It's the front line of

recovery efforts, in some of

Victoria's worst-affected

regions army personnel have

been brought in to been brought in to help,

putting in firebreaks and

searching fire-scarred

communities. Did you copy my

last... Here around last... Here around Kinglake,

they are sweeping the areas,

finding out which properties

are destroyed. Marking those

that have survived and talking

to residents to try to locate

missing people. It's a grim job

for a group of mainly

reservists. Some still in their

teens. Perhaps when we relax.

More when we go home and see

our house, maybe, that's when

it will hit home. At the it will hit home. At the moment

we are numb. When the army

discovers remains, it's these

forensic officers facing a

grizzly task. Combing through

the ruins, through personal

items, they need to put a items, they need to put a name

to the body. I think at the

time we have to step aside from

the emotions. I have my own

coping mechanisms. We try to

rotate people, I've given them

four days in the field, bring

them back, and put them out

again. Professionals may have

coping mechanisms, it's harder

for the volunteers. At the

relief centre in Whittlesea,

full of donated clothes, the

demand for suits, funerals brings home the ultimate

loss. Sad times ahead. Many

friends and, you know, it's a

community that will be sharing

the grief. And going to

funerals, yeah. When the

funerals will be is unclear.

Extra tents erected at

Melbourne's coroner's court are

filling up with bodies, none

released yet. It's emerged

today that a nation-wide alert

system to warn people about

approaching bushfires approaching bushfires could

have been in place by now but

bureaucratic wrangling held it

up. The national emergency

warning system was trialled in

Victoria four years ago, but

concerns about privacy sidelined it. sidelined it. Victoria's State Emergency Services commissioner

says it should have been a top

priority, he's frustrated by

the political bickering. At

community meetings for

residents under threat of fire

there's anxiety and

questions. If you say to people

it's up to you to it's up to you to decide

whether to stay or go, it's

easier to say go. No, it's

not. A national emergency early

warning system could alert

these people of danger via a

mass telephone call. The system

was successfully trialled in

the Yarra Valley four years

ago, but concerns over ago, but concerns over privacy

laws and logistics meant the

system was only agreed to by

State and Federal Governments

in doos. We believe that there

was no possibility at all of

having this scheme in operation

by this fire season, our target

will be to have it up will be to have it up and

running by the next fire

season. I'm frustrated. It's

taken too long. I think we need

to work as a country, not as a

separate set of States and

Territories, it's time to Territories, it's time to do

that and protect the community. The Victorian

Premier says no technology

could have beaten the weekend's

fires. If you had the best

warning systems in the world, I

honestly don't know whether

they would have helped given

the speed of the fire. Whatever

the warnings, some say there

should have been a greater

reduction of vegetation that

fuelled the fires. A bushfire management expert says the

green lobby had too much

influence. I put it down to

poor leadership and governance,

Victoria got themselves into

being the worst in Australia.

They have difficult conditions

in Victoria, there's no doubt

about that. It's tougher there

than in other place, they have

a harder job, standard have

badly slipped. One planning

expert says Governments should

buy back land in fire prone

areas. Houses and bushland are

often incompatible. If we just

keep allowing houses to go into

areas of high risk such as bush

creating horrible problems for

the future. The Firefighter's

Union has written to the Prime

Minister calling for an inquiry

into fire readiness, in

addition to the Royal

Commission announced for

Victoria. Hundreds of farmers

are facing financial ruin

because of the bushfires,

buildings, fences and pastures

have gone up in smoke. The

farmers federation says that

tens of thousands of sheep,

cattle and other livestock

died. A warning, this report

include graphic images. While

Clonbinane farmer Brian Kelly

was bicy protecting his family

home fire was RAAFaging home fire was RAAFaging the

shed where he hoped 430 of his

sheep would be safe The sheer

terror of the poor animals,

it's just terrible. The heat of

the blaze stopped some

creatures in their tracks. Down

the road it's a similar the road it's a similar story,

and the Department of Primary

Industries has no idea how high

the toll will climb, it's yet

to begin assessing stock losses

from many of the blazes. The Victorian Farmer's Federation

is predicting a crim picture

will emerge. But it's not --

grim picture will emerge. It's

not all bad news after telling

his neighbour her horses were

most certainly dead. The two

horses were alive. Up rang her, she was she was overjoyed.

Like the horses there's other

animals fortunate enough to

survive. For those lost or

injured animal welfare agencies

are mounting a massive effort

to care for them. Hopefully we

can help a lot survive, that's

while we are getting this

down. This hay was coming from

near Horsham, there's more from

the Apple Isle and across the

country, around 200 electric

loads sent already. In the south, around Cake why south, around Cake why are,

Karen Curnow was certain her

with two horses perished after she escaped her burning house

at the last minute. Here they

are, alive, which is a miracle. Burnt, the annals

survived and had been taken in at nearby Hurtsbridge Farm,

which is now struggling to care

for the number of horses

injured or without

owners. We've been allowed into

Strathewen, a lot of horses there. Donations of hay arriving, they are desperate

for more. We need some more of

these ain'tments and aloe vera

creams, we are really going

through them. With animals of through them. With animals

all shapes and sizes needing

help, authorities are pleading

for donations of pet

supplies. Tomorrow night ABC1

has a special broadcast called has a special broadcast

'After The Firestorm', tomorrow

at 7:30. Just one vote has

scuttled the Rudd Government's

economic stimulus plan. After

days of negotiation, the 42

billion package has been

blocked by the Senate,

independent Nick Xenophon held

the deciding vote, he wasn't

satisfied that the package did

enough for the Murray Darling

Basin, the Government isn't

giving up. Parliament will sit

tonight and tomorrow to debate

it a second time. $42 billion -

it's a big number. Today it was

overshadowed by one I must say

no to the stimulus plan. He

wanted more money for the wanted more money for

Murray Darling, the Government

offered to bring ford $410

million in spending, it wasn't

enough. It's a trickle rather

than a flow. The matter than a flow. The matter is

resolved in the negatives. The

Bills will be sent back to the Bills will be sent back to

Lower House tonight. This

Government will not be

deterred. Its economic strategy

is in complete and utter disarray. The Premier pointed

to Labor force figures showing

a jump in unemployment from 4.5

to 4.8% as a sign the worldwide

recession is lapping at

Australian shores. The

Government voted for jobs, Government voted for jobs, the

Liberal Party Liberal Party and National

Party voted against Party voted against Jobs. While

the debate raged the the debate raged the Treasurer

asked the house Economic

Committee to inquire into: A

move being questioned by both

the Greens and the

Coalition. The Government is

getting ready to abandon getting ready to abandon the

Emissions Trading Scheme. The

Treasurer's office says it's

committed to emissions trading,

and there's nothing unusual

about the inquiry. The stimulus

plan includes changes made by

the Greens, shaving $50 off

some of the cash handouts,

freeing up $400 million for

community work programs We are

moving towards being a wiser,

greener, more socially just

country because of these amendments. The Senate will

stay an extra day to reconsider

the package. I'm hoping that

there'll be discussions

tonight. It will be a sleepless

night for some. A Sydney taxi

driver pleaded guilty to raping

three of his passengers over a

four year period. Hasan Nagi

raped each of his victims twice

much the first happening much the first happening at

King's Cross in 2003, when he

picked up a young woman late in

the evening. Two of the women

fronted their attacker in fronted their attacker in court

as he pleaded guilty. Also

facing court Mark Catchpole,

the son of Wallaby great Ken

Catchpole, the 40-year-old

admitted owning an unlicensed

firearm and possessing a small

amount of cocaine and

marijuana, he was arrested and

charged last year with a number

of drug offences alongside of drug offences

former Olympic swimmer Scott

Miller, today the serious drugs

charges against Mark Catchpole

were dropped, and the woman who

lied to protect former Judge lied to protect

Marcus Einfeld, has been

convicted of perverting the

course of justice, a jury

taking less than three hours to

find Angela Liati guilty of

making a false statement to

help Judge Marcus Einfeld avoid

a speeding fine. A a speeding fine. A taskforce

has been set up to find the

mother of a baby boy whose body

was found at a rubbish tip

yester dare, the infant was

born two month's prematurely

and showed signs of

decomposition. The cause of death hasn't been

established. What we can say is

that the waist material that

the baby was found in we

believe comes from a suburb of Campbelltown. Police say

evidence from the child's body

shows the mother needs urgent

medical attention. The State Government says it's too dangerous to swim in Sydney

Harbour after yesterday's shark

attack. Nonetheless hundreds of

swimmers are preparing to jump

into the water for next month's

class r the Navy diver who was

attacked -- Harbour Classic,

the diver is in serious condition. Loots swims condition. Loots swims in

Sydney Harbour, sharks are in

his mind. I'm on my own, I

think about t I have never seen

one. The influx of sharks and

yesterday's attack has the

Minister worried. With the increased number of sharks at

this period of time it's a good

precaution not to swim precaution not to swim in

Sydney Harbour. Would you Sydney Harbour. Would you swim

in the harbour at the

moment. Definitely not. With

the amount of sharks we've seen

lately, we see them on a daily

basis. As the harbour is

cleaner and warmer, it's more

attractive to sharks, and a ban

on commercial fishing on commercial fishing means

more food. The last fatal human

attack in Sydney Harbour was 46

years ago, but yesterday navy

diver Paul Degelder lost his

hand and parts of his leg in hand and parts of his leg in an

attack at Garden Island. The

family are relieved that Paul

is alive. He has serious

injuries. Experts say the

riskiest time to go swimming is

dawn or dusk during shark

feeding times. Organisers of

the Sydney Harbour swim classic

event say the race will go

on. The swimmers can feel safe

in Sydney Harbour during the

Classic, we have a full safety

team. Including divers beneath

the swimmers, throughout the

race. In Zimbabwe, the race. In Zimbabwe, the former

Opposition Leader Morgan

Tsvangirai, has been sworn in

as Prime Minister. He'll run

the country alongside the country alongside President

Robert Mugabe. The ceremony

prompted jubilation throughout Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe, international

reaction has been cautious

until Port Augusta proves that

he'll stick -- approximately

President Robert Mugabe proves

he'll stick to the plan. Andrew

Geoghegan reports. For years

they've been sworn enemies,

months of hard negotiation have

led to this: President Robert

Mugabe considered by much of

the world as a tyrant and

pariah inaugurating the pariah inaugurating the leader of the Movement for Democratic

Change, Morgan Tsvangirai Change, Morgan Tsvangirai as

Prime Minister. The Opposition

Leader once branded a criminal

arrested and beaten by

pro-Mugabe police is in a

position of power. I will, to

the best of my judgment, at all

times when so required, freely

give my counsel and advice to

the President of

Zimbabwe. Under Robert Mugabe's

iron-fisted rule Zimbabwe has

disintegrated. It has the

world's highest inflation,

massive unemployment.

Infrastructure collapsed and

thousands of people died of

cholera in the past six

months. In the capital Harare

where support for the

Opposition is strongest, Morgan

Tsvangirai's Tsvangirai's inauguration has

been greeted with

jubilation. The culture of

impunity of violation against

human rights must end and it

must end today. There is tremendous excitement here,

people are talking about a new

Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe that is

free, free from hunger, free

from disease, free from

political persecution, and free

from economic hardship. Some of

the expectations are impossibly

high, and many others are

sceptical that Zimbabwe's

opposing political forces can

work together. At least there

is hope that this dying country

can be saved. On to finance

now, and the local share market

closed higher today after

better than expected employment

figures, and a stronger session

on Wall Street. Here is Alan

Kohler. Apart from the economic

data on which more later, it

was all about surprisingly good

profit results. The All Ords

going up 1.2%, Leighton's

rising after reporting a profit

going up 20%. Coca Cola Amatil

up 1.5% after posting a 24%

lift in profit. And James

Hardie jumped 11%, profit

falling 56%. CBA went up 3.5%

after the report yesterday of a

16% fall in profit. Rio Tinto

shares in a trading halt all

day ahead of a deal with Chinalco, Chinese

Government-owned firm. Rio

managed to get $30 billion managed to get $30 billion out

of the Chinese Government for

not much. 9% stake and a few

bits of a few assets. bits of a few assets. Treasurer

Wayne Swan must ask what does the Chinese Government think

it's getting for so much

money? On the employment

numbers 1200 new jobs in

January left the forecasters

gob smacked. Look at the fine

print. This is a print. This is a survey. Bureau

of Statistics doesn't count the

jobs, the margin for error in

the survey is from minus 59,000

to plus 62,000. So let's face

it, what happened with jobs in

January is anybody's guess.

Here is a graph of the NAB

survey and ABS survey. Big

difference. The only thing you

can say for sure is they are

both wrong. I found this graph

on the website of the United

States speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi

comparing job losses this time

around with past recessions around with past recessions in

the US. That's scary, the

Australian dollar down

slightly. It's up against the trade weighted trade weighted index. Australia

remains unbeaten in a bid to

qualify for a 2010 Soccer World

Cup, after a 0-0 draw against

Japan, they were lucky not to suffer their first defeat with

coach Pim Verbeek acknowledging

the Japanese were the better

side. Mark Willacy reports from Yokohama. They came swathed in

gold, and full of voice. Aussie

Aussie Aussie. But before

kick-off they were silenced as

the entire crowd of 65,000 paid

respects to the victims of

Victoria's bushfires, Australia

came to Yokohama without a win

on Japanese soil, for the

Japanese this was about revenge

for a heart-breaking defeat to

the Socceroos at the last one,

from the opening whistle from the opening whistle the

Blue Samurai sliced through the Australian

Australian defence. Australia

scrambled well in defence,

drawing the referee's ire in

process. The Socceroos best

chance came seconds before the half-time whistle

much Goalkeeper Mark Schwartzer

was keeping the Socceroos in

the match. The Japanese had

chance after chance to win it,

and in the dying minutes came

within centimetres of finding

the back of the neck. I am not

pleased that we didn't win. We didn't deserve to win, we didn't deserve to win, we have

to be honest about that. Every

coach, player, wants to win

games like this. The Japanese

may not have got their revenge,

neither did Australia get a

victory. The undefeated

Socceroos are all but assured a

one berth with the next fixture

against Uzbekistan in Sydney in

April. After earning a valuable

point from this draw in Japan,

Socceroos fans are certain a

spot awaits them in South

Africa in 2010. Karrie Webb

made an impressive start to made an impressive start to her

Australian Open defence, firing

an opening round 66 at the Met

poll Stan club in Melbourne.

The former world number one is

three shots ahead of Spanish

golfer Tania Elosegui, with a

group of players on 3-under. Here is Duncan

Huntsdale. The last two Huntsdale. The last two years have been disappointing have been disappointing by

Karrie Webb's high standards,

no victories on the US tour,

the lean run hasn't extended to the Australian Open, where

she's aiming to win a

third-straight title. That's a

premier shot. Webb had eight

birdies in her round of 66 to

set the pace in benign morning conditions. Probably rates up

with one of the best. It was

almost flawless round. So I'm

proud of myself to get in with

a good score. Scotland's Clare

Queen is among the chasing

pack, in tricky afternoon

conditions birdies were rare

for the lady's Masters for the lady's Masters Champion

Katherine Hull. English Katherine Hull. English veteran

Laura Davies found form that won her the 2004 Australian

Open. Go, go, go. How about that. Australian that. Australian vice-captain

Michael Clarke is in doubt for

tomorrow adds one-day tomorrow adds one-day series

decider at the 'Gabba with a

back injury, the problem

flaring up during a win flaring up during a win against

New Zealand. He's sore, we'll

wait until tomorrow morning. If

Clarke is ruled out. He may be

replaced by fast bowler Peter

Siddle, with rain possible. If

it's a shortened game, there's

every chance we could make a

selection like that. There was

a cheeky reminder of the last

big sporting contest when the

rugby union team triumphed.

The match will be Ponting

equal Allan Border's records

for the most games as

Australian captain. It's a

short weather, let's look at

the big topic, it's rainfall

through NSW. We have an upper

level disturbance, that is

going to combine with onshore

winds over the next 4-5 days,

producing widespread rainfall

through the state. By Saturday

we see moderate to heavy falls

developing north of the hunter.

So for the capitals:

Thunderstorms developing over

the northern inland, spreading

to rain periods in the evening.

Widespread showers through the remainder of the state except

the far south-west corner. The

southern and the western southern and the western parts

of the State are looking at

very high fire dangers again

tomorrow. A cool day for Sydney.

Tonight's top stories - a

national Day of mourning will

be held for the victims of the

Victorian Bush firks the Senate

rejects the Federal

Government's $42 billion

economic stimulus plan, that economic stimulus plan, that is

ABC News for this Thursday,


Welcome to the program,

shortly we'll be looking shortly we'll be looking at

what happens to the

Government's massive stimulus

package to boost a flagging economy now that it's been

rejected in the Senate. First,

to our bushfire coverage. This

week has featured the awful

deaths and inspirational

heroism of Saturday's horrific

firestorm sweeping through

towns and hamlets outside

Melbourne. The stories of

tragedy, survival, pictures of

awesome destruction of the fire

impact profoundly. Tonight we

have another compelling

have another compelling insight

to the way the firestorm took

the experts by surprise. Jim

Baruta watched the fire

approach from his house at St

Andrews, filming the terrifying