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CC Raging fires, raging

winds and all too close for comfort. Massive clouds of

black smoke were going up,

very spectacular but

absolutely

frightening. Shares soar as

foreign raiders stalk the

Flying Kangaroo. Killing

democracy, another

assassination puts Lebanon on

edge and it is not just

cricket, it's the battle for

the Ashes. One day I went

from what could be the

biggest Test series ever.

Good evening. It has been a

harrowing day for

firefighters and the

emergency is not over yet. 44 bushfires are burning across

the State night fuelled by

high temperatures and strong

winds. More than 2500

firefighters and 62 aircraft

are on the front line. Once

again, towns in Blue

Mountains are the ones most

at risk. Hundreds of

volunteers face yet another

sleepless night as fires

whoever close to Mount Tomar

and a number of towns from

Black Heath. All eyes are on

the weather forecast with the

a cool change expected to hit

tonight. This is a bushfire emergency which shows no

signs of easing. Come on,

let's go! Last night a

controlled Blackburn along

the Bells Line of Road jumped containment lines spreading

spot fires throughout Valley.

This morning erratic winds

had firefighters struggling

to get ahead of the flames.

Fire is still in an

accessible area and we do not

know where it will emerge. Residents were

bracing for the worst

Tasmania fire front raced

east. Anybody close to the

fire will be concerned. The

wind then gained momentum so

did the fire, taunting the

mountain. We are watching it

from the shut and it was just

massive clouds of black smoke

were going up, very spectacular but very

frightening. Gusting up to

100 km/h t wind pushed the

flames towards a number of

mid-mountain towns. In Spring

Wood the high school was evacuated. We are just

waiting for the last few to

be sent home with the bus and

we are just making preparations for whatever

might happen tomorrow. 16

choppers took to the air to

douse some of the

unpredictable flames. Sending

ground crews into the more

difficult terrain is not an

option. It is a very dangerous situation to put

them down into that remote

location while the fire

behaviour is erratic. This

fire is in one of the State's

most iconic national parks.

It is park would unique

species of Flora and fauna

but the national parks

service is confident the

animals at least will be able

to shelter from the blaze in

the region's many canyons and

streams. The wildlife can escape off the ridge tops

into the gullies and Georges

and in effect have some

protection from the wildfire

as it passes through. The

fire here in the Grose valley

has been burning for 10 days.

With winds like this it is

proving Neerim possible for firefighters to extinguish

it. Those winds are expected

to pose a new challenge for firefighters as they switch

direction with the cooler

change forecast for tonight.

And what is the latest?

The latest is that behind me

you have helicopters dumping

water to put out a major spot

fire behind me which is

threatening the mid-Blue

Mountains townships so they

are working until night fall

to try to extinguish that

blaze. Here in Blue Mountains

there are 80 firefighters who

are trying to protect houses.

Over on the other side of the

valley, there are many more

firefighters and new strike

teams trying to protect the

mountain. In Black Heath

there are more firefighters

so practically all of the

Blue Mountains, you have a

heavy presence of firefighters trying to

protect property because it

is very hard-to-get into

Valley and to put out that

fire. You have been to quite

a few of these threatened

townships today. Are people fright snend are they

preparing to leave? There

is a certain bravery but here

in Lyn done where I am I knocked on the front door and

said "How prepared are you? "

They did not have any water

in garbage bins or saucepans

to put out the ember fires

but they have a fantastic

view of the Val whyy but

other people have been hosing

down roofs, clearing out the

gutters, elderly people on

the rooftops getting ready

and they sort of have this

sense that "We have been here

before, we are going to get

readi". Some people have

packed up the car and they

are ready to go, some people

have left by my experience is

most people are staying with

their homes, they are keeping

in touch with the

firefighters and they are

really waiting this one out.

The fires have brought

Baxter guying memories for

residents of the Blue

Mountains township of Waramoo

Bore. They are only just

getting back on their feet

after devastating fires in 2001. Cross Street in Waramoo

Bore bore the brunt of the

2001 summer bushfires. 8

properties were destroyed

when the water supply to the

street was cut at the height

of the inferno. Five years

later t homes have been

rebuilt. For this man who

lost his home, the wounds are

still raw. Every now and

then I find something that

brings back memories. His

property now has a water

tank, as do many others on

the street. Still, he fears

the worst. Very nervous. Um,

I get the fear every year

that the heat builds up and

the fires are around. The

residents of Cross Street now

take fire readiness more

seriously. This morning they

were doing all they could.

Fires will do what they do,

they do not discriminate. He

clears the gutters and we

have fill add few drums with

water. Even those away from

the bush had their precious belongings at hand. They are

expecting a long and

dangerous summer. A few

hours ago the weather did

start to turn at least on the

coats. After a day of

blistering temperatures a

cool change has started to

come through but it has also

brought more strong wind with

it. Joining us now is Cameron

Weighed from the Rural Fire

Service. How does the change

situation in the Blue in the weather affect the

Mountains? What will occur

is that we will end up with a

south-westerly change through

Blue Mountains. We have not

had any reports of that

occurring but it is due soon.

This will change the

direction of some of the

fire, push it in a north easterly direction. Our

concern is that is probably

away from towns like Lyn done

but it is towards townships

like Mount Tomar so it is a

matter of waiting to see what

occurs. We will still have

the fire crews basically

throughout the whole area

overnight. We not sure about

the containment strategy but

it will be a long night for

crews and residents. What is happening with the fires elsewhere in the State? We

have had a number of other

fires. One out near the

central west near Molong. It

was threatened earlier this

afternoon, a very fast-moving

grass fire. Unfortunately I

have to report that a

structure was destroyed by a

fire out at Molong. In the

Hunter Valley a lot of fires burning in the national park. No property threat but a

large fire, the same can be

said around the Putty Heights area. Before we leave the

fires, just briefly a blaze

in south-western Sydney has

left about 30,000 homes

without power. Energy

Australia says the fire

damaged major power lines

causing blackouts in receive

on the and Green Achor

Park. Shares in Qantas shoupt

on the back of take over

speculation. The word is an

American investment company

and Macquarie Bank are the

interested parties. The deal

would put Qantas in the hands

of a few private owners,

almost half would be foreign.

But the Government says

whatever the outcome

Australian interests will

still own a majority of the

airline. Australia, it is the

private equity playground and

Qantas is the latest play

thing. I think it is going

to be a difficult deal to get

up. That is because Qantas

stirs emotions and operates

in a industry often

attracting the attention of

regulators and politicians.

We need to have a very close

look to make sure it sis in

the national interest. We

have to absolutely ensure we

keep the Kangaroo in Qantas.

Given the foreign owner ship

cap there will be a majority

Australian ownership of the company. Qantas confirmed it

had been contacted by the San Francisco Texas Pacific

group. The deal would have to

satisfy a 25 per cent limit

on individual share holding

and a 49 per cent cap on

fompb ownership. A Financial

Review report says Macquarie Review report says Macquarie

and its associates want 25 per cent of the airline.

Australian interests would

take the same amount and

Qantas management 1 per cent.

The balance would go to the

Texas Pacific group. The

speculation saw Qantas shares

soar nearly 15 per cent to a

record high of $5. Analysts

say the raiders see value in

the airlines cost-cutting program. That is yet to

come. There are all the other

assets in the company that

nobody values. Competition

regulators may see problems

with Macquarie Bank owning

stakes in both Qantas and

Sydney Airport. There will be

speculation on rising air

fares as a result. These

deals are making some people

nervous, deals with involve a

great deal of debt and which

are increasingly being funded

by Australian banks. The

Government's point man on water Malcolm Turnbull says

that if all the State

capitals only Darwin and

Hobart have adequate

supplies. And he has thrown

his support behind nuclear

energy saying reactors could

be combined with desalination

plants to help solve two

problems at once. The

Parliamentary Secretary to

the Prime Minister says State

governments have chosen easy

options rather than spending

money on water. Speaking in Adelaide Malcolm Turnbull

released a consultant's

report showing of the capital

cities only Darwin and Hobart

have adequate water supplies

and per capita spend I am on

water infrastructure in Perth

which is just opened a

desalination plant has been

twice that of Sydney,

Melbourne, Brisbane and

Adelaide. The Sydney MP is an

open supporter of nuclear

energy. It will be a key

part of our energy future. As

consultant's report

highlights the potential of

desalination saying it

suffers from miss perceptions

and could offer cities a

large-scale water supply.

Malcolm Turnbull says the two

nuclear reactors and desalination could be

combined. Anywhere you have

waste heat you have the

opportunity to concert that

into energy to de sal night

water so that is certainly a possibility. The head of the

Government's nuclear task

force likes it. There is a

certain sort of at least

ennearing elegance to that

approach. But yesterday's

release of the report and its

scenario of 20 reactors built

by 2000 has State Labor

governments and opposition

assist in furious agreement,

emphatically against the

nuclear option. We have laws

in New South Wales that ban

nuclear power. We are not

going for nuclear energy.

I'm not about to start

promoting it. I don't want

the see the slogan that says

"Come to Queensland,

beautiful one day, nuclear

powered the next" The

Commonwealth could force the

issue but once State leaders

confront the enormity of the

greenhouse State problem they

will come around. Lebanon is

in turmoil once again tonight

after the assassination of

another senior politician.

The industry minister Pierre

Gemayel is the signatures anti-Syrian politician to be killed in Lebanon in less

than two years. His murder

follows moves by the

proper-Syrian Hezbollah to

take over the country's

fragile Government. In

Damascus the Syrian

Government has denied any

involvement. The assassins

rammed into Pierre Gemayel's

car as he drove through north

Beirut. Witnesses said they

left out spraying Pierre

Gemayel with bullets before

making their get away. The

leader of the Government

interrupted a press

conference to break the

news. They have just told me

that minister Pierre Gemayel

was shot and he is seriously

wounded. (All chant) And

Hariri laid the blame

immediately on Syria. Pierre

Gemayel died soon after in

hospital. His supporters

gathered outside, saddened

and angry but if Pierre

Gemayel's father appealed for

calm. We don't want to

December crate this martyrdom

with reactions and revenge.

International reaction to the

killing was swift. We

condemn this murder utterly.

It is completely without any

justification at all. We

support the Lebanese people's

desire to live in peace and

we support their efforts to

defend their democracy

against the attempts by

Syria, Iran and allies to ferment instability and violence in that important

country. Hezbollah and its

Syrian sponsor have both denied responsibility for

killing Pierre Gemayel.

Syria had nothing to do with

this. Syria is affected

directly or indirectly by

such horrible crimes

permitted an person trade on

the Lebanese scene. Syrian

officials and pro-Lebanese

have been implicated in the

killing of former Prime

Minister Rafik Hariri T

public backlash forced troops

to be pulled out of Lebanon but Hezbollah has been trying

to block the international

tribunal to prosecute those

responsible. Lebanon is now teetering on the brink of

more bloodshed. A Queensland

magistrate has triggered one

of the biggest extradition

cases in the State's history

signing off on the arrest

warrant format pat. He is now

wanted on manslaughter,

griefus bodily harm and fraud

in relation to surgery he

carried out at the Bundaberg

Hospital but he fled to the

US before his wrote doing was

realised. Former patients are

elated. If I could July up

and down I would. The best

news we have heard. It is a

big step forward and

something we have been

waiting for for a long time

but I've never lost

faith. While police in the US

could pounce win days the Queensland premier has warned

it could take some time

before doctor Patel faces

justice in Australia. The

decision to quit was all his.

She says she just helped him

find the way. Sports counsellor Deidre Anderson

has been revealed as the

person who advised Ian Thorpe

on his momentous decision to

retire from swimming. This is

the woman behind the man.

Deidre Anderson describes

herself as a sports

transition expert and she

helped Ian Thorpe come to his

decision to retire. She was

approached by the former

swimming great Shane Gould

who herself had trouble

coming to terms with her

departure from the sport.

When Shane Gould came to me

and said "Look, Ian might

value your counselling in

going through some issues" I

just felt it was part and

parcel of why I had been

doing this for so long. It

was almost a responsibility

that I had. Deidre Anderson

and Ian Thorpe met once a

week for six weeks and their

conversations always came

back to a simple question -

why swimming? And that is really all difficult with

Ian, to go back and ask why

he was involved in swimming,

what he gains from swimming,

how his values are match

would what he does and all of

the things outside of

swimming. Ian Thorpe realised

that after all the gold,

silver and Britons there was

now more to life. I have not

balanced out my life as well

as what I should. Deidre

Anderson says while Thorpe is

an extraordinary athlete his

feelings about his career

crisis are very common. Any

decision that will influence

the way you live your life

will have emotions attached

to it so there is a bit of

sadness, anger, frustration

that is normal. She says she

had no influence on his

decision. Only to have that

power, if anyone knows Ian

they will know only too well

that no-one has the power to

do that. While Ian Thorpe

said he would never rule out anything Deidre Anderson

doubts he would ever return

to competitive swimming.

Tonight's top story - the

State's bushfire fighters

hoping for a break in the

weather. Still to come, the

death of Hollywood's maverick

director. On to finance now.

The Qantas take over talks

contributed to a surgeon the

local share market today.

With the details here is

Jenna-Louise Coleman. The

Qantas private equity

approach just a couple of

days after the 7 network

private equity deal lit up

the share market today and

helped produce a 1.6 per cent

rise in the All Ordinaries

Index which has once again

closed in on the record high

hit a fortnight ago T market

was almost primed to go

higher this morning when the

Qantas story broke because

metal prices mostly rose

strongly in London last

night. That and the report on

nuclear energy that came out

yesterday came out yesterday

pushed the resource prices

higher. BH Billiton went up

and ERA jumped 9 per cent.

Telstra shares had another

huge day up 8 cents to $3.72

while the instalment receipts

jumped. Elsewhere the banks

and the retailers all rose

strongly today while the

fertiliser company jumped

another 7 per cent. Its share

price has gone up $10 in a

week. AWB shares rose today

after the company announce

add 68 per cent fall in net

profit because of a

combination of the costs and

turmoil of the Cole Inquiry

and the growth but today's

rise was a mere blip in a

grim trend for AWB. Here is a

chart of its share price from

when it changed to AWB.

Things were growing great

because of a bumper wheat

crop but shareholders do not

know what is around the corner. The share price has

halved. The Australian dollar

rose strongly against the US

dollar but eased against

theen and the euro. The

Danish royals have made a low-key start to their

holiday in Tasmania.

Australian born Crown

Princess Mary who is pregnant

with her second child touched

down in Hobart this morning

with one-year-old prince

Christian. They were met by Crown Prince Frederik who is

believed to have arrived last

night. From the airport they

headed the the home of

Princess Mary's sister. While

the princess relaxed with her family Prince Fredrick was

spotted in a nearby deli

helping his sister-in-law buy

dinner. Australia and England

will finalise their lineups

for the Ashes test in Brisbane. Australia is

weighing up Mitchell Clark

against Stewart Johnson. Ian

bell is still nursing a

bruised wrist. After talking

up the contest over 18 months

the Ashes combatants are

trying to Chantel excitement

now that the moment is almost

here. I don't think there is

any more pressure on me or

the players coming into the

series trying to win the

Ashes back. There is a sense

of relief that action can

replace talk. It has almost

come to an end. If Australia

things the England captain is

not up to the challenge Andrew Flintoff's sense of

the occasion might be a

warning sign. I think it is

almost a sense of something

extra here. He walked out on

to the ground yesterday, it

is amazing stadium. I just

walked around, took it all in. Imagine what it will be like full to the rafters. Australia's fast

bowling equation is closer to

being solved after Shaun Tait

was released it is is down to

Stuart Clark. He is a man of

the series performance, the

only Test he has played in is

South Africa. Mitchell

Johnson. A lot more

confident bowler than he was

12 months ago. Ian bell's

hands injury will be assessed

tomorrow morning but he is

expected to be fit the bat at

number 3. With back luck for

Shane Watson Michael Clarke

has the ideal chance the

cement his position. He has

worked hard on his technique,

batting and body over the

last 7 month so he is

ready. Aaron Baddeley might

be hoping lightning strikes

device. On Easter Sunday this

year he led a morning sermon

before winning his first US PGA event.

Yes, his prayers answered!

On the eve of the Australian

Masters numbers swelled to

hear his message. I had

planned to go away for our

first-year anniversary but

God communicated to both of

us that we need to be

there. While he hopes for

more divine assistance

Australian Open champion John

sent done has his eyes on the

next level. For me these are major championships, I've

only played in three in my

life. But there is a warning

for those aspiring to golfing

heaven. Last year's US Open champion Michael Campbell has

found it tough at the top.

Being labelled a major winner

puts a lot of pressure on you

and my expectations this year

have been too high and that

is where frustration sets

in. The masters begin at

Huntingdale tomorrow. New

South Wales have set a top

task. Brad Haddon scored a

century and Dominic Horley

made a half century. MAS*H

changed the way Hollywood

made movies. Director Robert

Altman has died at 81. He was

a Parveris Rick famous for a

style often chaotic and

always I Reverend. The 1970

black comedy MAS*H was Robert

Altman's first big success

earning him his first Oscar nod and spawning the

long-running TV series.

Although set in the Korean

war he turned it into a biting critique of the

Vietnam war. I'm not trying

to show you how I think life

would be but the way I find

it. He was cherished as the

actors director. Actors

would fall over themselves to

get into the movies so actors

that would be getting

millions of dollars for a few

weeks worth would do his

films for scale just to be in

them. He directed 86 films

during more than half a

century of film making. Four

more films, 'Nashville',

'Shortcuts', 'The Player' and

'Gosford Park' saw him

nominated for Academy Awards

but he never won. Most

people don't even know what a

director does. And I'm not

sure I do! I mean, you know,

we get a bunch of mates together. Australian writer

David Williamson was among

those mates for a time. Instead of craving the

approval of the studios like

most directors, he went the

other way fright the start. He realised that if you want

the make the sort of films

wanted the make they had to

be on his terms. Hollywood

finally recognised him this

year awarding an honorary

Oscar for a lifetime's work

that reinvented the art of

film making. I look at it as

a nod to all of my films

because to me I've just made

one long film. And I know

some of you have liked some

of the section and others,

you... anyway, it's all

right. Robert Altman had a

heart transplant 10 years

ago. It was cancer that

finally killed him. With the

bush fire situation the

weather tonight will be

critical and that cool change

has come through with a

vengeance. Certainly for

coastal Sydney. It knocked 12

degrees from temperatures as

it past but the wind have

brought no rain.

Thunderstorms were strong but

isolated around Newcastle and

the Hunter. 38 degrees, 15

above the average and 40 at

Liverpool this afternoon.

21.2 degrees, 1.2 above

average. Relative humidity up

to 75 per cent with the more

and the pressure continuing moist southerly air stream

to rise. Around the State

warm to hot in all districts

today and conditions became

windy at times particularly

Tasmania front started to about the south of the State

come through. Temperatures

down to 5 degrees at

Tenterfield ahead of a top of

41 at Bourke in the north-west. Not much rain to

talk about though. 1.2 millimetres at Thredbo

village, the top in the 25

hours to 9 and no falls in

the six hours to 3 but a

different store yin

Newcastle. A trace in Hobart.

The other capital cities dry.

The satellite shows the cloud

associated with the change

moving rapidly through New

South Wales and the change

will breakdown to some extent

on the mid north coast

tonight. It is unlikely to produce any significant

moisture but still the chance

of an isolated thrun dry

shower as it moves north.

Winds behind it will tend

from the north east tomorrow.

projections no significant As you can Seaby the rainfall

falls are expected through

New South Wales. That goes

for the next few days. Around

continent also dry with the

exception of a possible

shower for Darwin. In New

South Wales a gale warning is

current. Strong wind warnings

north and south of that point

and severe weather warnings

for gusty winds in the Hunter

and the Sydney region but

most of the State as

mentioned already to remain

generally dry. That goes for

Sydney tomorrow as well with

the sun returning too. 19 to

26 expected near the coast.

Warm enough but well down on

today's levels. In the west

33 to 34. Sunrise is at 5.40,

the first high tide is 1.7

metres and winds on the coast

up to 20 knots. As we

mentioned, continuing dry,

temperatures down a bit on where they have been in the

past day or so. Finally this

week's check of the southern

os lation index. It has risen

2 points in the past week to

minus 7 still in the dry

range but edging back towards

a 50/50 bet to where we go

for the future of rain.

Before the we go an update on

the Blue Mountains fire. Our

reporter is at Mount Tomar

where a southerly change has

hit. The situation is deteriorating here at Mount

Tomar. At about 7.05 a very

strong southerly breeze came

through this area whipping up

a fire which looked like it

was becoming dormant. We saw

fire storms up, very thick

black smoke, plumes filling

the area and the fire behind

me is a kilometre or two from

Mount Tomar, there are 100

fires here, some are

weekenders, some full-time

residents and a local deputy

captain says the fire will

reach the properties. They

are hoping they can do some

backburning tonight to tease

situation but bad news for

the firefighters here because

this southerly has hit and

the fire is burning with

greater intensity here. We

will keep you updated on that

situation at Mount Tomar

throughout the evening. That

is ABC News for this

Captions by CSI Wednesday. Goodnight. Closed

Tonight - the $10 billion

question - is Qantas about to

be sold off to a private

consortium, including US investors? Well, the

transaction of this size would

be very lucrative. How much

would foreign interests be

allowed to buy? You will never

see the kangaroo moved off the

tail of Qantas aircraft.

COMMENTATOR: There it is.

England have regained the

Ashes. And can Australia

revenge its Ashes loss? Let the

hostilities begin in one of the great rivalries of

international sport. I'm a bit

like Glenn McGrath really. I

many Australians who are hope for 5-0. There are not