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Tonight - red alert, global

stocks melt down as Australian

shares dive. The market's down

over 20% so technically we're

in a bear market. Thousands

evacuated but the flooding's

starting to ease. On trial, the

mother accused of a deadly

methadone overdose. And final

farewells for the man who

conquered Everest. He went to a

height and a place no man had gone before.

Good evening, Joe O'Brien

with ABC News. The warning

signs have been there for

weeks. Today it finally

happened. Financial markets

around the world have crashed

as panic sets in about recession fears in the United

States. Overnight stocks in

Europe hit their lowest levels

since the 9/11 attacks. Today

shares went into a tail spin

across Asia. $100 billion was

wiped off Australian stocks as

they suffered their biggest

one-day loss in 20 years and

the pain is far

the pain is far from over.

Finance correspondent Phillip

Lasker begins our

coverage. From Wall Street in

New York to Pitt Street in

Sydney, it's starting to hit

home. My husband's about to

retire so we're really concerned because a lot of the

things we've planned to do,

yeah, determined by the price

of the shares. Times like this

I just wish I had more money to

put in. Just the effect on the economy's very

concerning. Around $100 billion

was wiped off the market as

investors came to terms with

the new reality. The market's

down over 20% so technically

we're in a bear market. A

market where sellers outnumber

buyers, where bad news is acted

on and good news ignored. The

market's valuation was at 16

times earnings, that's now come

down to 12.5, which is in fact

below the long-term average of

13.5. So we're now overshooting

on the downside it would appear. Today's fall is the

fourth biggest one-day slump on

record and the steepest since

October 1989. The All Ords

index plunged nearly 409

points, more than 7%. Other

markets also plummeted, Bombay

was closed for a time due to

the meltdown. Chinese markets

were not immune with Hong Kong

down 8%. From 2003 the

Australian market had risen

140% to a peak last November.

Since then, after 12 straight

days of losses, it's dived over

23% and some don't see an

end. There's a fracture of

confidence and so you'll see,

you'll see the impact of that

over the next six to nine

months. Wall Street was closed

for a public holiday but the

future's market is trading and

betting that the US stock

market will fall around 500

points. There's fear, there's

panic and there's lots of

margin calls. More and more

investors are using debt to buy

shares these days and those

situations are being rapidly

unwound in this market. So in

investors are forced sellers

and margin calls are at record

highs. Well this isn't helpful

for the broader economy. Share

market investors have lost

wealth and that could affect

their spending plans going forward. It's important though,

at times like this, that we emphasise again the strength of the fundamentals of the

Australian economy. Economic management, responsible economic management is core business for this Australian

Government. The next few months

is likely to put that

management to the test. No

sector of the share market was

spared today and the Australian

dollar was hit hard too. Here's

Alan Kohler. Well everyone

wanted to sell today and no-one

wanted to buy and that's

usually the best time to buy

but there are too many

uncertainties such as what will

Wall Street do tonight. As

today's graph of the All Ords

shows once again the market

closed on its low for the day,

down 7.25%. The biggest one-day

fall since October 16, 1989

when it dropped #.1 pt. It

might be easiest to show you

what went up today out of the

ASX 200. That is Consolidated

Media Holdings.

Here's where Australia

stands in the global blood

bath, fifth so far.

Let's see what the US comes

up with tonight when they open

after the long weekend there.

To finish, a bit of good news

for the farmers at least. The

wool price is sitting at a

record high and the wheat price

is close to it and looking

pretty strong. But then again,

that will be inflationary, but

I guess that's life. And

joining us now is Craig James,

the chief economist with

Commsec. Craig James, there's

been growing concern for several weeks about the

possibility of a US recession.

What brought it all to a head

today and sparked this sell

off? Well Joe, it may appear

strange but there was no piece

of economic or corporate news

that sparked the selling today.

Rather it was fear, fear of a

recession and that created a

domino affect of selling right

the way across share markets

across the globe. Now what are

you expecting will happen on

Wall Street when it opens later

tonight and what will be the

flow on effect in Australia? Well it's certainly

not going to be pretty. US

investors had a holiday on Monday and they come back to

work after two significant

declines on Asian share markets

over Monday and Tuesday. At

pointing to that this stage, the Dow futures is

pointing to that market being

down as much as 640 points or

over 5% and it could be much

worse than that. Now only two

days ago George Bush announced

an economic rescue package of

$150 billion, that seems to

have had little impact. What's

needed to turn this around? At

this stage wee need a circuit breaker. Something to stop this

selling right the way across

the market so that this

psychology of fear. That

circuit breaker could come from

the US central bank or Federal

Reserve. If it cuts interest

rates decisively tonight, by as

much as 1%, - one percentage

points, that's certainly what

investors could be looking for

and that could bring buying

back on to the market instead

of selling. Thanks for talking

to us. Interest rates and

financial markets were also on

today with the launch of the Federal Government's mind

today with the launch of an

ACCC inquiry into food prices.

The consumer watchdog has been

directed to look at the

structure of the grocery

industry as Kevin Rudd

continues to work on bringing

down inflation. Flying high,

but no cause for levity. Kevin

Rudd flew across the North West

this - shofrt West shelf this

the moment When morning pressing his message of

the moment When I look at

regions of, this it reinforces

the absolute importance of

infrastructure for the

country's future. Infrastructure

Australia will audit the

country's needs by the end of

the year, another body to hold

another inquiry. From the big

ticket to the small, the

Government today got the ball

rolling on another election promise. I've written to the

ACCC giving them the terms of

reference for an inquiry into

the grocery sector in

Australia. The watchdog has six

months to report back. It will

follow grocery prices from the

paddock to the plate. It will

also set up a website to

publish the price of an average

grocery basket. Clearly

Australian food prices have

been going up more than they

have been elsewhere in the

world, that's something the

inquiry needs to examine. Too

much examining says the

Opposition and not enough

action from Kevin Rudd. If action from Kevin Rudd. If he

is as ineffect chul with

grocery prices than he has been

with petrol, then he will have

spun himself into office with

claims of no substance

whatsoever. As Malcolm Turnbull

points out Kevin Rudd made the

cost ove living central to his

election pitch. That may well

be put to the test tomorrow

with the release of the latest

inflation figures. The major

pointer to whether interest

rates go up next month or

not. The tipping point on underlying inflation the last

three months, if it's 0.8 or

worse you can expect the

Reserve Bank will pull the

trigger. That is unless things

get worse on the stock market.

If the market turmoil worsons

further that may lead the Reserve Bank to stay its

hands. A silver lining perhaps

on an economic storm

cloud. It's been a day of

evacuations and rising waters

in central Queensland with

thousands of people forced to

abandon their homes. But

tonight the flood emergency

appears to be easing. The worst

of it is in Emerald with homes

underwater. But the Nogoa River

has steadied below the expected

flood peak peak. Flood levels

are also dropping at

Charleville. The waters are now

heading south down towards the

Warrego River into Cunnamulla and should cross the border

into NSW in coming days. It it

was day Emerald locals had

feared when the flood Waters

inundated part of their

town: It's coming up faster and

fastzer every daismt it's

amazing. I've never seen

anything like it. The water ran

into about 60 low-lying houses

and turned the streets into

rivers. Businesses were awash

despite the sandbagging. We

might need a hand. Adrian

McDonald raced to his shop and

moved dozens of motorbikes to

higher ground but much of the floor stock was water

logged. Oh, the water's through

first half of the shop but if

it goes up another two inches

it will go right back to the

work shop then. Roads in and

out of Emerald is still cut but

the rail line is open and is

ferrying the sick out of town.

By last night about 2,000

people had been evacuated from

their homes. It's still rising

and we don't like it. Not at and we don't like it. Not at

all. Some went to the

evacuation centres where the Emergency Services Minister

bedded down. Others stayed with

friends. It's the closest thing

to having a beach. Can't get

the dam to ski so thought we'd

have a beer on the water's

edge. Today the Premier toured

the disaster-declared region. I

expect the bill to run into

many hundreds of millions of dollars. This afternoon the

emergency eased. The Nogoa

River stopped rising about 30

cm below its expected flood peak. The situation has

improved at Charleville as

well. The Warrego River peaked

at 6 metres this morning, half

a metre less than expected. The

Premier and the Federal

Opposition Leader Brendan

Nelson inspected the town's

makeshift levee. Despite a few

leaks, it along with an urban

levee kept the flood Waters out

of the town. It's the product

of a lot of hard work and

people chipping in and working together. Authorities say the

Charleville flood waters should

recede by next week. A woman

accused of killing her

6-year-old daughter with an

overdose of methadone says she

confused the lethal drug with

cough medicine. Julie Anne Austin's barrister said the

death in 2005 was an zpent but

the Crown says it was

deliberate. Julie Anne Austin

said it was 3:00 in the morning

when she gave what she thought

was cough medicine to her

daughter. Seven hours later

Rose Austin was pronounced

dead. She died from an amount

of metadob her body could not handle. Police found three

litres of methadone in Julie

Anne Austin's Cattai home. The

former heroin user had been on

the methadone program since

1992. She's now on trial for

methadone. man slaughter and supplying

The police say that's

impossible because they found

the cough medicine on top of

the fridge. They argue the

packaging and taste are completely different to

methadone. The Crown told the

court analysis of Rose Austin's

hair shows the 6.5-year-old was

exposed to methadone for at

least 2.5 years before her

death. Rose Austin spent three

days a month with her father

Tony Villanueva who's also on

the methadone program. He says

child's mother's he couldn't find fault with the

child's mother's care of her.

It's the defence case

accidents happen. The judge has

instructed the jury not to

consider Julie Anne Austin to

be of bad character just

because she was taking

methadone. The United Nations

Security Council will hold an

emergency meeting tonight about

the humanitarian crisis in the

Gaza Strip. Israel has agreed

to ease its blockade for a day

to allow fuel and essential

medicine s into the territory.

Gaza's only power plant shut

down on Sunday when it ran out

of fuel. Many Palestinians have

had another night without

electricity or heating. There

were protests over what the EU

has called collective

punishment. At Gaza's border

with Egypt, doctors and paramedics also demonstrated

amid warnings of food and drug

shortages. Israel closed its

borders in retaliation for

rocket and mortar attacks by

Gaza-based militants. It's

accused Hamas of exaggerating

the affects of the restrictions. While Queensland

battles its emergency, floods

have also been causing chaos in

Britain. In Yorkshire dozens of homes an businesses

homes an businesses were

inundated as water levels row.

Key road and rail links were

closed. While in the south, the

beaches have been swamped not

by water but by wood. A huge

clean up is continuing to

remove thousands of tonnes of

timber washed up from a wreck.

Up to 16 km of coast line has

been affected. New Zealand has

farewelled its faifrlt son, farewelled its faifrlt son, Sir

Edmund Hillary. Thousands turn

ed out to watch as the coffin

carrying the man who conquered

the evidence was driven through the streets before a final

journey past his family home.

It's nearly two weeks since he

died but still many New

Zealanders can't believe

they've lost the man they

called Sir Ed.

Everyone here will tell you

no-one comes close. He was

simply the greatest this

country has produced. Sir Ed's

achievement on that day cannot

be underestimated. He went to a

height and a place no man had

gone before. It would not have

been easy growing up being the

son or daughter of Sir Ed but

Peter Hillary followed his

father up Everest having been

brought up on a diet of

extraordinary family

trips. Going on adventures in

Dad's belover loved mini coup

with six of news the car and

two, believe it or not,

inflatable rafts. One on the

roof and one down the back. He

was considered a second father

to many Nepalese including the

son of the man who climbed

Mount Everest with Sir

Edmund. His spirit forever will

live and protect the great

mountains and the people he

loved so much. He is a friend

we will dearly miss. Goodbye.

While Aucklanders woke up to

rain and blustery winds n the

end the day cleared enough to

bring thousands on to the

streets to watch the funeral

procession. Thousands more

watched the service on big

screens around the country. The

tributes to Sir Edmund will not

end today. Official mourning

continues in Nepal for weeks

and the Queen has invited the

Hillary family to attend a

service at Windsor Castle in

April. Tonight's top story -

there's been carnage on the

stock markets with $100 billion

wiped off Australian

shares. And still to come - and

early exit for last year's early exit for last year's

women's Open champion.

The first results of random

drug testing have found 1 in 40

people driving under the

influence of illegal drugs.

However NSW police have

qualified the figures saying

they focused on areas around

dance parties and trucking

routes. The Premier has

announced he will increase the

number of testing vans from 1

to 3. If you want to take

drugs and drive, you will

finish up in jail, a hospital

ward or a morgue. And so don't

turn our cars an our trucks

into lethal weapons. But the

State Opposition says NSW lags

behind other States citing

Victoria which has eight drug

teing vans. It seems drinking

coffee might soon be added to

the list of pregnancy no noes.

The latest research shows that

consuming high levels of

caffeine early in pregnancy can

significantly increase the risk

of miscarriage. Researchers in

the United States looked at

just over 1,000 women in the

early stages of pregnancy. They

found those who had 200 mg of

caffeine or more were twice as

likely to have a

miscarriage. It adds to the

need to Be vigilant when you're

taking any form of drugs,

particularly one that's a

strong central nervous

stimulant such as caffeine. 200

mg of caffeine is the

equivalent of drinking two cups

of strong coffee, five cups of

tea or five kans of cola.

Caffeine crosses the pla sen ta

and has an affect on blood vessels. Obviously that early

part of pregnancy when the pla part of pregnancy when the pla

sen ta is attaching itself and

there's a growth of new blood

vessels it may be having an

affect there. While there's no

official recommend yaig, the

college of obstetrician say

s Don't have the 10 Mack yacht

os but enjoy a cup of coffee or

tea. One in five pregnant women

in Australia will have a

miscarriage with the rates increasing with age. And while

the reasons remain a mystery,

genetics play an important

role. Probably 60% to 70% of

all miscarriages are actually

nature getting rid of mistakes

it's made in the genetic make

up of the baby. Earlier studies

have found that high early

caffeine consumption can lead

to low Birt rate babies an

early labour. Alarm bells are

ringing in Tasmania where a

chemical used as a fire

retardent has been found in

Tasmanian devils. Tests are

under way to see if it could be

responsible for the facial

tumour disease that's wiping

out the marsupial. The devil

only knows what's causing the

facial tumour disease. What is

known is a potentially

cancerous compound has been

found in fat samples taken from

the animals. I wouldn't have

expect these levels to have

been as high as they are in

remote parts of Tasmania. The

chemicals found are used as

fire retardants in common

household goods and Dr Lloyd

Smith believes it could mean

devils are more susceptible to

tumors. The head of the

government group investigating

the disease is playing down the

results. At this stage no, I'm

not worried. But anti-pollutant

campaigners are

concerned. Linked with cancer,

they have been linked with reproductive disorder, they

affect the way the brain

develops an most importantly in

this situation they reduce the

immune response in animals. To

identify the exact risks,

Professor Ma Callum will send

the results to four interstate

toxicologists. Nothing I looked

at shows a significant

difference between the diseased

and undiseased animals. Tasmanian Greens have

gone a step fur, they want people tested for the

chemicals. We know that it

leads to reproductive health

issue, we know that it's a carcinogenic compound. That's

serious whether you're an

animal or a human being. In

Launceston the Premier pledged

further support for the

devil. It's important that the

Government therefore provides

the necessary support to the

relevant government agencies

and scientists. Further

analysis of the chemicals from

non-government toxicologists

should be available within the

month. Serbian third seed

Jelena Jankovic has beaten

defending champion Serena

Williams to become the first

player through to the

semifinals at the Australian

Open. Last night the last local

standing, Lleyton Hewitt, lost

in straight sets. Today Rafael

Nadal progressed to the final

four while Jankovic defied injury to

injury to end Williams' title

defence. The talk of this

tournament has been late night

matches. Today the sun caused

trouble in the quarter finals.

At her best, Serena Williams is

unstoppable but she misfired

against Jelena Jankovic. Once

again a step off the

pace. Jankovic won the first

set and consistently broke the

powerful Williams' serve in the

second. The American's racquet

suffered. Both players needed a

pit stop in the hands of the

trainers and Jankovic stretched

her lingering leg problems to

the limit. Her injury didn't

impact her court movement and

Williams couldn't match the

Serbian's consistency. Jankovic wrapped

up a straight sets win. She'll

meet the winner of tonight's

blockbuster between Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin. I'm really so Henin. I'm really so happy to

be in the semifinal for the

first time here in

Australia. Jarko Neimenen had

some early fortune against

Rafael Nadal and at times out

muscled the man known as the

Spanish bull. The world number

two produced the sublime to

break serve. And clinched the

first set. Despite Neimenen's

best efforts, the second and third sets became

third sets became a showcase of

Nadal power as he booked his

semifinal berth. That is

ridiculous. Nadal will play the

winner of tonight's surprise

quarter final twooens Mikhail Youzhny and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The stars were out last night

to see the final Australian

standing but Novak Djokovic

stole Lleyton Hewitt's

favourite line. C'mon. Hewitt had his chances in had his chances in the first

set but stumbled. In contrast

to his marathon matches, the

Serbian third seed has cruised

through the tournament. It showed. Djokovic sealed the win

in straight sets. He was very

tired and exhausted from

Baghdatis match two nights

ago. Djokovic will play Spain's

David Ferrer tomorrow while

Roger Federer faces James

Blake. Paceman Shaun Tait had

made a late bid to keep his

spot for Thursday's forty Test

against India in Adelaide after

bowling a fiery spell at

training. The final position in

the team could come down to

Tait or spinner Brad Hogg.

While the Indians are

considering adding a bowler to

their line up. With batsman

Matthew Hayden proving he's

recovered from a hamstring

strain, the remaining question

is whether out of sorts

speedster Shaun Tait can keep his spot or Brad his spot or Brad Hogg returns.

Tait did his best to win over

captain Ricky Ponting as he

worked up to full speed in the Adelaide Oval nets this

morning. Yeah, he bowled fast

today in the nets, that's for

sure. He was swinging the ball

as he does, you know, he's

fast, he's, you know, he's got

that extra bit of pace and he's

obviously doing his best to try

to make the team as we all are. While Jaques fairs

bringing Hogg in, the pitch

might still suit the South

Australian as the team looks to

bounce back from defeat in the

third Test. Les Burdett the

curator here always does a fantastic job. A few little

green patches out there which

is nice. India has a dilemma of

its own as it considers adding

spinner Harbhajan Singh to

complete a 5-strong bowling

attack. If you're playing five

bowlers you're sacrificing one

batsman. You have to assess the

situation and the way your

batsmen are performing. India's

one-day captain says the time

of naming its one-day squad

including the axing of veteran

batsman Sourav Ganguly won't

upset team morale. In showbiz they say never work with

children or animals but Opera Australia has thrown caution to

the wind for a new production

of 'Carmen'. It's hired two horses to horses to share the stage with

the human stars of the show.

No performer wants to be

upstaged by an animal but it's

a rare thing to see a live

horse on stage at the Sydney

Opera House. And working with

the equine co-star has its

challenges. He got a little

fidgety, he started moving around as I around as I was singing so I

kind of tried to take control

and I'd squeeze my legs

together. Well that's the

signal to back up. So he

started to back up and I'm trying to get him go forward

all singing at the same time.

So it's a lot going on.

Kirstin Chavez plays Carmen,

already a dramatic role, it's

made more intense because she

never knows if her horse Drummer will hit its Drummer will hit its mark., we

had one of those instances

today where Drummer didn't want

to stop to let me get off and I

basically fell into Todd's arms

but how romantic. You know, you

just play it. You just go with


'Carmen' has become a

signature role for the

American. This is Kirstin

Chavez's 26th production and her most physical her most physical yet. I do a

lot of dancing, I do some

fighting and lot of moving

around and I love thasmt it's

very challenging, but when the

evening's over I feel like I've

actually done something, had a work out.

And while Drummer doesn't get

top billing, he almost steals

top billing, he almost steals the show.

Now let's take a look at the

weather. In Sydney today:

There's low cloud over south-east Queensland, cloud

over parts of the north

associated with thunderstorms

and there's also patchy cloud

and storms over the west. On

the synoptic chart a developing

trough will generate a warm day

across the south. Onshore winds

will maintain showers along

much of the east coast. Rain

tomorrow, heavy showers an

storms over the tropics and storms over the tropics and

also some falls over central

Australia and Queensland.

And before we go, another

look at the headlines. Stock

markets around the world are in

turmoil. Almost $100 billion

has been wiped off the value of

Australian shares. And the

flood emergency in central

Queensland appears to be easing

tonight after the evacuation of thousands thousands of people from the

township of Emerald. That's ABC

News for now. I'll be back with

updates during the evening. The

'7:30 Report' is next, have a great night. Closed Captions by CSI

CC Tonight on the 7:30

Report, market mayhem. There's

a lot of panic selling

today. As global jitters drive

Australian stocks to their

longest losing streak in three

decades, is there even worse to come?

Led Zeppelin were huge, they

were really on a roll when they

hit Sydney. We saw them at

their peak. And stairway to

rock heaven, memories of Led

Zeppelin's only Australian

tour. I get goose pimples

standing here in this gallery,

just seeing these photographs

that were taken on that day.

Welcome to the program, I'm

Ali Moore. Shortly we'll cross live to Queensland for the