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Tonight - Christmas cheer for

home buyers, but grim tidings

for the new year. Australia is

increasingly choking on its

prosperity. Bungle upon bungle

- how the hospital system

failed Wayne Brown. Pasha

post-mortem. Shocking weather,

and shocking Seamanship. And farewell to the ordinary bloke who lived who lived an extraordinary

life. The never take no for an

answer attitude of Bernie

Banton brings hope nationally

and globally that good will

always triumph over evil.

Good evening, Juanita

Phillips with ABC News. Some

clouds it seems, do have a

silver lining. Financial storms in the United States storms in the United States

have blown good news for home

borrowers. The Reserve Bank

has decided not to raise

interest rates this month

because it's worried about the

potential impact here of the US

credit squeeze. But a merry

Christmas doesn't necessarily

mean a Happy New Year. The

Reserve is warning inflationary

pressures could face rates up

again in February. History in

the making - a new Treasurer

with his work cut out, global credit crunch on the one hand

and domestic inflation pressures on the other. Wayne

Swan found little to celebrate

in today's economic growth

figures. They show very clearly

the challenges we confront as a

nation. The challenges of

accelerated in the September managing growth, which

quarter, rising a solid 1% to

4.3% for the year. Riding out

the initial effects of the

global credit crunch. Australia global credit crunch. Australia

is increasingly choking on its

prosperity. Despite higher

interest rates, consumers were

a major driver, and mining made an expected contribution while

drought continued to weigh on

the farm sector. Treasurer

Wayne Swan says inflation

remains a risk and he won't be

part of the problem. My job is to support the Reserve Bank by

putting in place the economic

settings that put downward

pressure on inflation and, therefore, downward pressure on pressure on inflation and,

interest rates. It was a history-making day at the

Reserve Bank, as well. The RBA

is breaking with tradition,

releasing its board minutes and

a statement explaining its

actions whether or not it moves

interest rates. Against a

backdrop of more central banks

cutting rates, the RBA statement displayed more

pointed to a credit squeeze. concern about global growth and

And the Reserve Bank didn't

act today, but partly it didn't

because it thinks that the

banks will be raising interest

rates anyway, in coming weeks.

I would certainly urge all of

the banks to think carefully

before they raised rates

again. Now it's up to

Australia's major home lenders

who are surveying their bottom who are surveying their bottom

lines to determine if they,

too, will break with tradition

and deliver the rate increase

the Reserve Bank didn't. And

if the economy isn't a big

enough worry, the new

Government's been given some un solicited advice about its

education revolution. A new international study shows

compared to other developed

nations, Australian students

are slipping behind,

particularly in reading particularly in reading and

maths. Australian school

students are still doing well by international standards.

But not as well as they used

to. The latest test results

from the OECD show that in

reading, Australia has dropped

from second to sixth in the

last six years. 15-year-olds do

less raegd now than they used

to do. They're less inclined

perhaps to sit down and read a

novel or an extended piece of

text. In scientific literacy

Australia's dropped from third

to fourth in the same time and

in mathematics we've dropped

from second place to ninth

behind countries like Hong Kong

and Coria. That fall is

significant amongst girls. Girls have made

significant gains over recent

decades. We need to keep on

eye on whether gains are

eroded. Labor is blaming the

previous Federal Government,

claiming the declines are a

result of funding cuts. This

problem has been a decade in

the making, we're going to be

making those new investments

with the aim of giving

Australian kids the best

education in the world. Not

everyone believes that funding

is the problem, though. Some

experts say the States have

been dumbing down the English syllabus, while others think

the way the subject is taught should be changed. It takes a the way the subject is taught

lot of patience and time to

develop high-level thinking

abilities. It's not something

for which there's a quick

fix. The Federal Opposition

denies it neglected education

while in office, saying it was

Labor that rejected national

benchmarks and teacher

incentives. The public

hospital system is being blamed

for getting it horribly wrong, yet again. yet again. 40-year-old Wayne

Brown died four years ago of complications arising from

kidney failure. Today, a

coroner found that mistakes by

three Sydney hospitals

contributed to his death. But

his family is furious that

no-one will lose their job, as

Stephen Dziedzic reports. It's been four years since Kim

McCall's brother died, but she

says the wounds still haven't

healed. I've still got his

Christmas present, so a lot of people student be really

sleeping well for what they did

shuttled between three to Wayne. Wayne Brown was

hospitals before dying from complications arising from

kidney failure. Today, deputy coroner Jacqueline Milledge

criticised doctors at Concord

Hospital who let Mr Brown catch

public transport home after

treatment, triggering serious

heart problems.

Mr Brown became so ill he

failed to return to hospital.

When he collapsed, ambulances

took him to Blacktown Hospital,

which did not have a dialysis

machine. He languished there

for hours before being

transferred back to Concord,

where he soon died. The

coroner found:

Wayne Brown's family says the

system let him down and they're demanding political scalps.

They've called for the

resignation of Health Minister

Reba Meagher and Premier Morris Iemma who was Health Minister

when Mr Brown died. I hope he

never forgets me and I hope he

remembers my fight for a long

time. The family's also angry

no doctors are going to face

disciplinary action. I really wanted accountability and, of

course, the system is not going

to let accountability come out

today. The coroner's report

will be sent to the Health

Minister. The Department of

Community Services insists it's

not to blame. DOCS says there

was no reason to believe the

newborn baby dumped near

Newcastle was in any danger.

The baby boy's body was found

by a passer-by yesterday

morning wrapped in a towel

inside a shopping bag. DOCS says there was no hint that the

family was in crisis. At no

time have we received any

reports of risk of harm in

relation to this child, and at

no time did we know that the

mother was pregnant, or that

the birth was imminent. The

Department of Housing booked

the family into a motel last

Friday for three nights. On

Monday, the family called DOCS, but case workers couldn't but case workers couldn't

contact them when they tried to

return the call. The child's

mother has been interviewed by

detectives and is under police

guard in a Newcastle hospital.

It reads like a horror story on

the high seas. Terrible storms

approaching, numerous warnings

and a captain who ignored all

of them and went off to have

his breakfast. The final

report into the 'Pasha Bulker'

drama has found that the master's actions and master's actions and the bad

weather resulted in the ship

being grounded off Newcastle in

June. It was a once in a

30-year storm with winds of up

to 90km/h and waves as high as

7 metres. But by 8 June, the

master of the ship had ignored

16 warnings about the severe

conditions, which he'd received

over the preceding six days. Assessing the Assessing the centre of the

gale incorrectly being " very

far away". The investigation

into the grounding has found

when the ship's captain made a

belated decision to move away from land it was too

late. Whilst the master

eventually did make efforts to

head to sea at just after 7am

he left the bridge at a crucial

time to have breakfast at

8am. This error was compounded

by his decision to not take on by his decision to not take on

heavy ballast. And caused the propeller to break out of the

water and for the engine to

overspeed. Even so, the report

has found insufficient evidence

to prosecute the ship's master

for negligence. It was

revealed today that the

warnings were not properly

recorded. The radios were

working, it was meeting, Newcastle port corporation was

meeting the requirements of its

safety operating licence but

the recording equipment was not

working. The fact this

recording equipment was not

operating has almost certainly

led to the recommendation that

they can't proceed against this

captain. The only sanction

available is to review his

licence. Future wayward

captains might not be so lucky.

Penalties for negligent

navigation are set to be

increased from $1500 increased from $1500 to

$110,000 and if accidents cause

death, there'll be jail

sentences. A search is under

way in the South Pacific for an

overdue sailing ship with nine

people on board, four of them

are Australians. The

90-year-old Alvey left Vanuatu

and was due to arrive in New

Zealand last Saturday. An

aerial search is taking place in an area between Norfolk Island and New Zealand's North

Island. A rescue aircraft is

due to arrive in Norfolk Island

shortly. America's own

intelligence agencies say

otherwise but according to the

White House, Iran is still a

nuclear threat. President Bush

has been stung by criticism

that he's been exaggerating

Iran's nuclear plans. Standing

his ground, Mr Bush has

described the new assessment as

" a warning signal". Faced with " a warning signal". Faced with

a new intelligence report that

Iran's nuclear weapons program has been dormant for four

years, the President has

decided to call it a warning

signal. Iran was dangerous,

Iran is dangerous, and Iran

will be dangerous if they have

the knowledge necessary to make

a nuclear weapon. George W. Bush

Bush once warned of a nuclear

holocaust. Now he's shrugging

off criticism he's hyped Iran's

nuclear threat. Let's just say

they couldn't start another

covert nuclear weapons program.

Nothing's changed in this NIE

that says, "OK, why don't we

just stop worrying about it?"

Quite the contrary. Britain,

too, says there's a risk of

Iran acquiring a nuclear

weapon. It confirms that weapon. It confirms that there

remains a significant

enrichment problem, enrichment

of uranium being a potential

source of nuclear weapons. Iran

has welcomed the report and the

Foreign Minister has invited

and West to correct its views.

Israel, though, is urging

caution. There is a need to

continue concerted effort to

stop Iran from acquiring

nuclear capacity. George W. Bush says he

Bush says he was told in August

there was new intelligence, but

he wasn't given any details.

And it didn't stop him from

raising the spectre of World

War III in October. So after

years of strident rhetoric

about Iran, what prompted this

stunning intelligence reversal?

The President will only say

that it was something that he

calls a great discovery. Not

good enough, though, for him to

take the option of a US military

military strike off the table.

Kidnappers in Iraq have

threatened to kill one of the

five Britons who were seized

earlier this year in Baghdad.

An Arab satellite channel has

shown a video of one of the

men. Today is 18 November.

I've been here now held for 173 days, and I feel we have been forgotten. The forgotten. The hostages were

seized at the end of May from Baghdad's Finance Ministery.

It's the first glimpse of any

of them since they disappeared.

The kidnappers say one of them

will be killed unless British

forces leave Iraq within 10 days. She was jailed in Sudan

for getting the name of a teddy

bear wrong, but Gillian Gibbons

says she's sad to have left the

country. The British teacher

is now safely back home after a

presidential pardon. Her crime

was allowing her students to

call a teddy bear Mohammed. I'm

just an ordinary middle-aged

primary school teacher. I went

out there to have a bit of an

adventure and got a bit more of

an adventure than I bargained

for. Gillian Gibbons was given

a 15-day sentence for insulting

Islam. She was freed after

diplomatic efforts by two

British Muslim peers. Everyone he met just called he met just called him

'Bernie', a good bloke with a

big heart who took on a

corporate giant and won.

Today, they came in their

hundreds to pay tribute and to

celebrate a life that was

anything but ordinary. More

than 1,000 mourners braved the

wet weather to pay their

respects to Bernie Banton, who

died last week from

mesothelioma. Unionists joined

politicians and family to

remember the 61-year-old who

became the face of the James

Hardie compensation case. The

never take no for an answer attitude of Bernie Banton

brings hope nationally and

globally that good will always

triumph over evil. And rest

assured, Bernie's story will be

told in the form of a feature

film one day. And it would have

plenty of box office appeal. The Australian hero The Australian hero who took on a corporate giant to bring

justice to working people. We

pledge to you Bernie that your

legacy will not be diminished.

Others will take up the

challenge, ordinary people will

perform extraordinary feats as

they follow your example. Acting on a request

from Mr Banton, the Prime

Minister publicly recognised

the role of unions in the

battle for compensation. So

today, on Bernie's behalf, I

salute the role of these unions

in bringing justice to working

people. The former ACTU leader reminded those gathered that

without Mr Banton, James Hardie

might never have been called to

account. Without Bernie, there

may have been people with

asbestos diseases today who

would not have had access to

compensation and tragically,

that includes Bernie

himself. From his granddaughter, there was hope

for the future. I have a dream

that one day the medical world

will find a cure and save these

people, without the fight and

loss of dignity they suffer

with this disease. Unions

farewelled Mr Banton with a

celebratory chant. Hip, hip, celebratory chant. Hip, hip, hooray. The Prime Minister said

Mr Banton would be honoured

more than politicians and

captains of industry because he

was an ordinary bloke who led

an extraordinary life.

Tonight's top story - interest

rates are kept on hold, but the

tip is they'll go up again in

February. Still to come - is

Michael Clarke the future of Michael Clarke the future of Australian cricket.

The head of ASIO has defended

two of his agents who've been

accused of grossly violating

the rights of a terror suspect.

Last month, the NSW Supreme

Court threw out a case against

Izhar Ul Haque because of the

way he'd been interrogated. The court said the behaviour of

the agents was criminal and the agents was criminal and constituted kidnapping. But

the head of ASIO has defended

their conduct. These officers

have never had a chance to

defend themselves. There's no

charges laid against them. Mr

O'Sullivan also excused the agents on the grounds that ASIO

has had to adapt to new

anti-terror laws. He didn't

say whether the agents involved

had been disciplined. Many

police are tired from working

two jobs and they're not serving

serving the community properly according to an

Auditor-General's report. It

says police are flouting

guidelines by block rostering

12-hour shifts followed by

extended periods off work. Victims of crime are complaining they can't always

contact police. We're saying it

can be improved dramatically if

there can be more flexible

rostering arrangements. The

report says half the officers

in some commands are working a

second job and their health and

well-being are suffering. I've

got a responsibility to keep

our officers safe and that's

why this will always come down

to fatigue in the first

instance and secondly from my perspective, serving the

community. It's a balance. The

commissioner announced he'll be

auditing all local area

commands to stamp out block

rostering. Onto finance now,

and both the Australian dollar

and the sharemarket eased again

today after the Reserve Bank

decided to leave interest rates

on hold. Here's koerl.

Today's national accounts

vindicated the Reserve Bank's

decision to raise interest

rates last month, but here's

why rates were not raised again

today. The graph shows the

RBA's cash rate, currently at

6.75% and the y line is the

90-day bank bill rate set by

the market. It used to be 15 basis points

basis points or 0.15% above the

cash rate, now it's 0.45%

above. In other words, there's

been a de facto rate rise.

This is starting to flow

through to mortgages. Even if

it doesn't the higher bank bill

rate is already hitting

businesses. The lack of a rate rise today and more importantly

the RBA's greater caution about

the global outlook saw the

Australian dollar sink to below

US 87 for a while today and 96

yen as traders started to take

the view that the official rate

is less likely to go up in the

months ahead.

We're saving again. Between

2002 and the start of this

year, Australia's household savings rate was savings rate was negative. We

were burning existing savings.

Now there's money going into

the bank again, which is not bad considering expenditure is

also rising strongly.

Well, it's no secret that the

Murray River system is in a sad

state. That's been shown up by

the start of the fishing

season. The Murray isn't too

bad for anglers because it's

had water released into it but its tributaries these its tributaries these days are

little more than murky puddles

where the fish are either dead

or dying. They call it the

Wakool River and everyone here

will tell you it was the

original Murray before a

geological shift changed

things. These days, it's a

river in name only, just a

series of water holes,

evaporating by the day. The

fishing season began last

weekend, but these are no weekend, but these are no

conditions for fish, or fishing. As the water

temperature gets hotter this is

what you get. Not even the

resilient Murray cod can take

it. The Wakool runs into the

Murray further west and ends up

in South Australia, if it gets

that far. Some farmers are

trying to save fish and move

them to bigger holes. They

want fishing banned here until

more water is released into the

more water is released into the

Wakool. Until we get a good

flow, we'd love to see fishing

barred from here for a

while. Ironically, the Murray

itself is looking better than

it has for ages. Water has

been released from the Hume

Weir near Albury, most of it destined for South

Australia. Before that, I could

walk across into the middle of

the river. The Murray cod are

loving it, though most of the catches

catches are under the 55

centimeter limit. Hopefully,

they will flourish, reach

mature and continue the

breeding cycle. At last, a

small release of water from the Stephens Weir near Deniliquin

is on its way down the Wakool,

almost invisibly. How far it

will get is open to question,

the river bed is dying of

with the force of thirst. It's hardly moving

with the force of a tsunami, but slowly the pools are

filling up, making one

continuous body of water and

though it's too late for many

of the Murray cod, those that

have survived may live to breed

again. With the numbers so

depleted, there's a lot of

catching up to do. Australia's

cricket selectors are looking

to the future. They've named

Michael Clarke as Michael Clarke as captain for

next week's opening 20/20 game

of the summer. Ricky Ponting

and Matthew hadden have been

rested while Ashley November

ski and West Australian batsman

Adam Vogues have been rewarded

for good form. It's coming in

a rush for Michael Clarke. In

a sign he's being groomed as

Ricky Ponting's successor,

Clarke will captain Australia

in the 20/20 game against New

Zealand in Perth next Zealand in Perth next

Tuesday. Look, I think you're

learning all the time. That's

probably one thing I try and

do, talk to Ricky, Gillie,

Matty Hayden and all the guys

that have played a lot of

cricket and get as much of

their knowledge as

possible. Far from calling it quits, Stuart MacGill believes

an operation on his injured

bowling hand tomorrow will be

an investment in his

possibly against future. Missing four matches

possibly against India now

might mean I get four matches

in India, which is something I

haven't done before. The

36-year-old took his 200th Test

wicket against Sri Lanka and

wants to advance his haul on

future tours of India and the

West Indies. Who'll knows what

shape I'll be in 6-12 months. I'm not prepared to give up now

in case I regret it

in case I regret it later. Sri

Lankan Kumar Santgakkara has

been the first batsman to make

150 in four consecutive Tests.

He scored 152 in the first Test

against England. If battling Santgakkara and Muttiah

Muralitheran wasn't enough,

England also had to take on Sri

Lanka's B team. Players were

forced to lay low for several

minutes in the final session of

yesterday's play as a swarm of

bees flew across the ground.

Then again, the match is being

played in Kandy.

COMMENTATOR: Was it flies or

bees or wasps? And the ball

that disappeared with Adam

Gilchrist's 100th Test six two

has weeks ago at the Bellerive Oval

has been handed in to Cricket

Australia. Adam Scott's lofty

ambitions haven't been realised

with just one win on the PGA

tour to be 11th on the money

list. I'm pretty disappointed

with my year and that's purely

only due to the fact that I won

once. I felt like I can do

better than that. Winning here

this week would probably change that point of view and make that point of view and make it

a merry Christmas. Scott hopes

to redress the balance at this

week's Australian PGA at Coolum

on the Sunshine Coast. Every

year they're supposed to be bigger and better than last

time, but this year's New

Year's Eve celebrations really

could be better, for the

environment. Organisers are

still promising real fireworks,

only this time they'll be

carbon neutral. Every year carbon neutral. Every year the

pressure's on to make the

spectacular New Year's Eve

fireworks just that little bit

more impressive. This is my

third and final year as the

corrective director of Sydney

New Year's Eve. I hope I've

saved the best till last. He

began planning this year's

event even before the last one.

A record 20,000 fireworks will

another explode off the bridge, with

another six barges along the

harbour acting as launching

pads. For the first time

there'll be 3-D pyrotechnic

displays with shapes like cubes

and umbrella shells visible

from all angles and the bridge

effect will have thousands of

combinations. The City Council

says the $4 million party

injects $40 million into the economy. This

economy. This year's theme is

'The Time of our Lives', a time

to celebrate, and time for

change. We're saying that now

is the time to take care of the

environment and consider our

future . The event will be

carbon neutral. By using green

energy, it's saving 50 tonnes of global warming gas emissions, and the fireworks

are made from environmentally

e-friendly materials. Just

e-friendly materials. Just 26

days to go. Time to check the

weather, and the big wet looks set to continue?

Certainly does, in both long

and short-term. Long-range

forecast models are telling us

the next two weeks will be no

experiencing at the moment. different from what we're

The La Nina responsible for the

rain of the last two weeks is set to hang around till April. rain of the last two weeks is

Moisture coming together

with troughs and that will

produce areas of cloud, and

although the trough over our

State will actually weaken the

one in South Australia is going

to continue the stormy and wet

forecasts from Friday well into forecasts from Friday well into

next week. More rain from

storms and showers tomorrow.

Although it's the north-east

corner of the State favoured

for the best of the falls.

Tonight's top stories again -

the Reserve Bank has kept

interest rates on hold, but it

says it's still worried about

inflation. Analysts say that

could mean a rates rise in the

new year. The inquest into the

death of a Sydney man has found

he was shuffled around three

separate hospitals and

incorrectly diagnosed before he

died. And a report into the

grounding of the 'Pasha Bulker'

in June has revealed the ship's master received master received 16 warnings

about the impending bad

weather. And that's ABC News

for this Wednesday. The '7.30

Report' is up next, and I'll be

back with an update a little

later. For the latest

headlines 24 hours a day, don't forget ABC News online.

Goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

Tonight on the 7.30

Tonight on the 7.30 Report -

the baby who died within 30

hours of birth. Suddenly, my

life was meaningless. The

about hospital care and the tragedy that's raised concerns

workload of nurses. Many women

are left pretty much to fend

for themselves in the

post-natal period. This is

completely unacceptable. And,

Australia's seal Australia's seal census,

revealing the secrets of the

ocean's great survivors. Oh, they're very charismatic

animals. CC

Welcome to the program. And,

although it was expected, it

was still a relief to see the

Reserve Bank announce today

that it had decided not to put interest rates up for the

second month in a row, despite the fact

the fact that inflation is

likely to remain above the