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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. hard bargaining on Telstra Tonight - it's arrogant. as the Government denies corruption over Orange Grove. State ministers cleared of in the front line. Women soldiers set for duties on Australia's injured speedsters. And last-minute decisions Felicity Davey with ABC News. Good evening. today, Despite announcing a record profit is standing by his claim the Telstra boss, Sol Trujillo, and over-regulated. that the company is underfunded Mr Trujillo announced the profit the Prime Minister for $5 billion while preparing to ask to the bush. to provide enhanced services The Opposition claims has a long way to go this proves the Government are up to scratch. before services in the bush greeted Sol Trujillo Chilly scenes of winter as he flew in to Canberra, announcing a record Telstra profit even though he was fresh from of nearly $4.5 billion, for an "aggressive" restructuring $100 million and redundancy programme, an increased dividend of 14 cents of seven cents. and a special dividend As Telstra's majority shareholder, Government of close to $2 billion, that means a windfall for the but profits may have peaked - eyeing full privatisation needs. not what a Government brought to Canberra? So what message has Mr Trujillo I'll tell you after it's over. Mr Trujillo has some big ideas. One report says to help fund a $5 billion programme he wants the Government to blanket the country telecommunications. with cutting-edge high-speed The Government sounds sceptical. that a worth consideration. There may be some elements of it too. Doubts from the National Party, to soften up the National Party. I hope it's not just puffery not to sell off the rest of Telstra The Government has promised until services are up to scratch. Australia has a long way to go, Mr Trujillo thinks other industrialised nations. having fallen behind what Mr Trujillo actually meant. I'm not sure

It says that the magnitude of the problem in the bush

this Government has ever let on. is far greater than John Howard was not happy was underfunded and over-regulated, when Sol Trujillo suggested Telstra a "reality check". demanding he take Mr Trujillo is unrepentant, to the Telstra board declaring his responsibility is to tell it like it is. describe the facts, Tell the truth as it is, facts are uncomfortable. and sometimes

senator Julian McGauran Discomfort, too, for Government of keeping the PM's promise who today revealed an unusual way new Senate majority. not to abuse the Government's doesn't he understand, Which part of abuse ask the Opposition parties. Jim Middleton, ABC News, Canberra. leading the Coalition case The Federal MP charged with for workplace change doesn't know has admitted that the Government whether anyone will be worse off. also concedes Senior Liberal Andrew Robb a new industrial relations system it's difficult arguing for without having the details.

Liberal Party director The MP and former

is heading the PM's task force relations changes, to sell the industrial is finding it hard-going. but Andrew Robb "will I be worse off?" MAN: 'Cause people are saying, the government has guaranteed Previously, nobody will be worse off. Is that guarantee stand or not? That...that... Well, we just simply don't know. Well, that's appalling. I'm a nurse. my weekend penalties? Am I going to lose What we have now, we will protect.

on the latest jobless numbers In Parliament, the PM seized unchanged at just 5%. showing the unemployment rate It can go even lower, Mr Speaker, workplace relations reform. if we have further

case of a South Australian teenager But the ACTU was highlighting the 25% less than award rates who went to court after being paid at a Bakers Delight franchise, even with annual leave and sick leave supposedly cashed out

in her individual contract. I was pretty angry about it employers exploit young workers. because it's not fair that Her agreement hadn't been approved of the Employment Advocate, by the Office dozens of her workmates had been. but similar contracts covering The Federal Minister says to be careful. he's warned the bureaucrats So that you don't have are the case. inappropriate outcomes

As the union campaign continues, on the draft legislation the government's sweating

for its workplace changes, which is still being drawn up. that what we are doing And people will see is demonstrably - demonstrably - of the Australian people. in the interests have been done in advance Andrew Robb says it couldn't because it would've leaked, he's in the hot seat. but without it, It's not easy without the detail. the legislation's still weeks away. At the very least, ABC News, Canberra. Craig McMurtrie, has told a parliamentary inquiry The world's largest uranium producer should be regulated Australia's uranium deposits by the Commonwealth Government. company Cameco at a Senate hearing The claim came from Canadian-based uranium mining industry. into Australia's the mineral is outstripping supply Cameco says global demand for to the world market. and Australia's reserves are vital uranium policy is needed. The company's CEO says a clear

We'd like to see clarity in the future for Australia and the issues around uranium to be clearly identified. today announced a 3-year plan The Federal Government that will identify opportunities for more uranium mining. and clear the way and two current ministers The former premier, Bob Carr, by the coruption watchdog have been cleared over the Orange Grove Shopping Centre affair. It ends a political battle allowed Orange Grove to compete that started when Liverpool Council a nearby Westfield complex. as a retail outlet against This prompted a round of court challenges and political lobbying -

the State Government eventually siding with Westfield and closing the centre with the loss of 400 jobs. The ICAC's verdict on influence peddling over the shopping development threatened to damage Morris Iemma's team before it was properly established. The report is a vindication of Minister Tripodi, Minister Beamer, former premier Carr. Diane Beamer may no longer be responsible for planning but as a current minister she acknowledges that some mud sticks. I think it was Neville Wran who said some does stick. A corruption-free outcome didn't please John Brogden. This report by the ICAC is a complete joke. Orange Grove's owners are also unimpressed. much harsher. I believe they should be And it's left the Opposition Leader questioning the worth of the ICAC. The watchdogs of New South Wales have become lapdogs. That fired up the Premier. His foolish and intemperate remarks.

The report largely spares politicians, but Mark Ryan, Westfield's chief lobbyist, came in for criticism. The company had engaged in "extravagant and sharp tactics", especially in attempting to convince the Premier's office of a web of influence encircling Diane Beamer. But the lobbying was effective - Mr Carr's former chief of staff, Graeme Wedderburn, contacted the Minister. The Commission's recommendations have already been embraced by the new Premier. They include guidelines for ministers in dealing with lobbyists and a better way of referring corruption allegations surrounding ministerial decisions. Simon Santow, ABC News, Sydney. A Sydney magistrate has dismissed a charge that a Channel Seven employee smuggled a knife onto a regional airline flight for an exclusive news story. The prosecution alleged newsroom assistant Anna Szymanski took a box cutter on board a flight from Orange to Sydney to demonstrate faults in airport security. But the defence argued the video sequence for the news item failed to prove the knife had made it onto the aircraft. The court was told the key sequence was shot inside a car, but Channel Seven maintains the story was valid. Furthermore, I'm proud of the story. I believe security at regional airports has been tightened partially as a result of the story. This was done in the public interest. We've now been exonerated. End of section. I'm delighted. Channel Seven's legal team was awarded $30,000 in legal costs. More women could be fighting alongside Australia's frontline troops if a proposal from the army is approved by Federal Cabinet. The move is partly to fill gaps left by falling recruitment numbers with the armed services unable to replace those leaving or retiring. Currently there are 7,000 women in Australia's defence forces. For generations, women like Beryl Evans, who served in World War II, have played a critical role in Australia's defence forces. I think you have to be prepared to go wherever you're sent or wherever you're needed - it's important. Over the past six years thousands of men and women have been deployed to overseas conflicts on a scale not seen since the Vietnam War. Yet despite the demand for people, the ADF is struggling to recruit soldiers and replace those retiring. Recruitment figures are around 15% below target,

so, for every 100 people they wanted to bring in, they're only getting about 85. The Army is proposing a greater combat role for women to fill the gap.

Currently women make up just 13% of the military. Being isolated off from the action end of the business puts women at a disadvantage when it comes to promotion. Women are already involved in many command and combat roles in the Air Force and Navy. By lifting its restrictions on frontline duties the Army is hoping more women will be enticed to join up - and it has Government support. It is a significant part of making the Army reflective of mainstream employment. It's as a result of necessity rather than principal

and that necessity is because of the Government's neglect of recruitment to the point where we now have a real skills shortage. The Army's proposal is expected to be approved by Cabinet and this could mean more women being deployed to more dangerous, frontline roles in Iraq within months. Philippa McDonald, ABC News. It may look inevitable, but Israeli settlers are still protesting

against next week's planned evacuation from the Gaza Strip. A huge crowd gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for a mass prayer against the pullout. Middle East correspondent Matt Brown. Tens of thousands came to Judaism's holiest site. They gathered to pray to stop what now seems inevitable - Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. But at house No. 73 in this settlement, Afira Grenot was grappling with a new reality. She's lived in the Gaza settlements for 21 years, but she has decided to move before soldiers come to force her out. (Speaks foreign language) "This place is my childhood, my memory, my home", she says.

Afira Grenot and her husband, Ayal, were renting in the settlements until they bought this house just a year ago, well after their Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, announced his intention to make them leave. (Speaks foreign language) "I won't have work. "My husband won't have work", she says "We're moving against our will to an empty life."

The Grenot family home sits atop a sand dune so far south in the Gaza Strip

you can see an Egyptian watch tower from the backyard. The Palestinians who work in the family business don't want to lose their only source of income. They don't want the Grenots to leave either, but they are helping them pack. In just a few days the government will start forcing people out of these settlements and the land will be handed back to the Palestinians. The Grenot's new home lies on a hill, half an hour's drive north of Gaza, in a makeshift cluster of look-a-like buildings. Thousands of people, hundreds of families are being brought to this village. For them, this is the end of a dream and the beginning of years of uncertainty. For Ayal Grenot, it's a heavy burden to bear. (Speaks foreign language) "I realise now the evacuation will happen", he says. "It's not a dream anymore. "There will be no miracle." The challenge now is to build a new life and leave the old settlements behind. Matt Brown, ABC News, the Gaza Strip.

Malaysia is holding emergency talks with Indonesia over smoke from Indonesian forest fires that has drifted over the border smothering much of the Malaysian peninsular.

The capital, Kuala Lumpur, has been choked with smog for more than a week, causing a spike in asthma attacks as the air pollution has soared. Schools have been closed and airports disrupted as anger mounts over the fires.

Hundreds of blazes are alight as farmers use the dry season for land clearing. Ministers from the two countries are due to meet again

in Jakarta tomorrow. The smog is likely to continue for weeks. The husband of Sydney woman Kerry Whelan has described the day she disappeared in 1997. Bernie Whelan has begun giving evidence at the trial of Bruce Burrell, who's accused of the kidnap and murder of Mrs Whelan. Bernie Whelan was obviously distressed as he recounted the day his wife, Kerry, disappeared in May 1997. He told the court Mrs Whelan had been in a good mood and he was worried when she failed to turn up at their meeting point

for a flight to Adelaide. Knowing she'd been to Parramatta, he found her car there, unlocked and with the keys still in the ignition. It's the prosecution's case that 52-year-old Bruce Burrell kidnapped Kerry Whelan

from that car park and murdered her. Mr Burrell had been retrenched by Mr Whelan some years earlier. Although they had been friends, Mr Whelan hadn't heard from his former ad executive until a call a few weeks before his wife went missing. Mr Whelan said at the time he hadn't seen any point to the call, but that he had told Bruce Burrell he was away from home regularly. In his opening statements, Mr Burrell's defence lawyer said the case against him was circumstantial, tailored to fit an end result. The defence said it could be implied that the ransom note was a ruse and that someone else had made a phone call to make it seem as if Mr Burrell was involved in the kidnapping. Mr Dalton reminded the jurors that the case had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Bernard Whelan will continue giving evidence tomorrow. Deborah Rice, ABC News, Sydney. The latest snapshot of Australian households has shown people are earning more than ever, but saving less. The survey shows that most of the increased income goes on higher housing, health and credit costs. Every five years the bureau takes a snapshot of Australians' spending. It's a picture that we've been doing better. Our expenditures gone up about 8% in real terms over the last five years. But savings have been going down as Australians fork out more for health care, housing and credit cards. On average, households spend $833 a week. Spending on health care soared 40%, mortgage interest payments went up 47% and interest on other loans like credit cards jumped almost 80%. But spending on alcohol and tobacco has slowed while Australians are able to buy more clothing and cars. Partly because of the boom in the global economy and the pressure from China and other countries are pushing down prices. And falling property prices might feature in coming years according to investment bank JP Morgan. House prices are, in fact,

a long way above what we think is fair value, and we found that for Australia the national house price index is about 22% above what we think is fairly valued. But JP Morgan isn't forecasting a property price crash because people won't sell unless they have to and that won't happen while they have jobs and interest rates are low. Phillip Lasker, ABC News. The oil price has soared to more than US$68 a barrel in Singapore, taking the local sharemarket to another record high. Here's Alan Kohler with the details. The oil price just won't stop rising - $68.45 in Singapore this afternoon. $70 a barrel seems just around the corner. How long before we're paying $1.50/litre for petrol? As a direct result of the oil price, the local sharemarket surged to its fourth record close in a row. Today the All Ordinaries Index rose 1%, led by mining companies, including Rio Tinto. AMP also went up and Woodside bounced back with a 3% gain. And that happened despite a 3% drop in Telstra share price

as investors waved off the record profit and focused on the outlook, which they obviously weren't too impressed with. went up more than 2% News Corp shares a 22% increase in profit. after Rupert Murdoch announced is employment - The other other big news today in a row. more jobs for the 11th month This time it was 12,700. new jobs have been created, Since last September 374,100 of new employment for Australia. which is an extraordinary period Now you'll hear the headlines say unemployment rate stayed at 5%, that the seasonally adjusted to exactly 4.99. but actually it dipped below 5 around the nation. Here are the unemployment rates leads the way with 4.6%. Among the states, South Australia Territory are still 5 plus, Victoria, Tasmania and North but all the rest are below 5%. The strong employment helped push the Australian dollar to above 77 US cents for much of the day, just below that now. although it's trading Wall Street shares fell overnight because of the rising oil price. Commodity prices rose fairly strongly on global markets, leaving the major commodity index, the CRB, up 1.7%. And Asian markets also traded higher today, despite the higher oil price. on the lawns of Parliament House More than 1,500 farmers rallied in Canberra today on food labelling. to send a strong message The farmers want better labelling Australian fruit and vegetables to encourage consumers to buy instead of cheap imports. from Tasmania They've taken their campaign across Victoria and to NSW this week. before arriving in Canberra This campaign has raised a high degree of expectation

on the part of farmers but around Australia. not only in Tasmania, we can't deliver that expectation, I have a concern that gonna have to do a lot more work. and I believe to do that, we're There was some joy - the Federal Government announced $3 million to follow up on a study into the price of fruit and vegetables. Sixty years on World War II veterans have set off on a special tour of duty to celebrate Victory in the Pacific. More than 150 veterans and their partners were waved off in Brisbane this morning, as they boarded a troop train for Townsville. Thousands of servicemen made the journey in World War II, from Japanese invasion. to defend Australia the memories are still very clear. For those who survive, because I'm 83 It means a hell of a lot, you know, when I did it in the war. and I was only 19 This is absolutely wonderful, for months now I've been looking forward to it

when you were getting up to be 21. and it's been so slow coming, like on Friday, The group will arrive in Townsville celebrations will continue. where Victory in the Pacific faster Australians are getting bigger young adults. and the worst offenders are of the eating habits of Australians The latest study change in our attitudes to food underlines the need for radical and exercise. It's not just middle-age spread

that's responsible for the growing obesity epidemic in Australia. A new study by the South Australian Department of Health finds young adults are getting fatter more quickly than anyone else. And we need to act fairly swiftly to try and get the levels down so that we are not impacting on diabetes, cardiovascular disease and increasing the death rates. Australians in 1991, Researchers examined nearly 29,000 then again in 2003. from 8.7% to 14%, Overall, the obesity rate increased for generation Xers aged 25-40. but it was much bigger than that If the trend continues will be obese within 10 years. one in three Australian adults in weight-related illnesses That would mean a massive jump pressure and heart disease. such as diabetes, high blood Type 2 diabetes occurring Whereas we used to see, for example, in middle-aged and older adults we are going to see it occurring and their 40s. in people in their 30s They say future health campaigns at young people and adults. need to be targeted Sophie Scott, ABC News. In a major selection surprise, Glenn McGrath will play in the 3rd Ashes Test at Old Trafford. After an extensive fitness examination just a short time ago, McGrath showed he'd recovered from his ankle injury sustained a week ago. McGrath will be tested straight up. England has won the toss

and is batting with Michael Kasprovicz 12th man. Here's Peter Wilkins. It was expectation overload as not only Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, strolled but the man on crutches last week, into the Old Trafford sunshine. on crutches a few days ago He has come a long way from being to getting around quite freely now. In a selection gamble, in the side alongside Brett Lee Glenn McGrath will take his place from his leg infection. who's made a complete recovery a weird couple of days, It's been quite spending two nights in hospital. for most of that time, I was on a drip to go out there but had the opportunity

and felt fantastic. and have a bowl this afternoon about the condition of the pitch While opinions are divided and its likely behaviour, of the Ashes series. there's a unified view This series right now is exactly where we want it to be. This is the reason you play Test cricket, to be tested. We've been tested through this series so far and we're looking forward to showcasing our skills again tomorrow. While second Test revelation Andrew Flintoff is looking for a repeat performance on his home ground in his 50th test, the glory is shared. the England captain is hoping the match-winner at Edgbaston Obviously, Freddie was but there's a number of players and be the match-winner this week. who could put their hand up has ignored the maxim, One likely candidate for that "Don't change a winning formula." your hair, what's brought that on? REPORTER: Gotta ask you about just something different. Oh, a change, A good luck memento perhaps? I hope so. hopefully this does the job as well. Well, the old hair seemed to work so a winter Olympics More resembling Championships, than a World Athletics much maligned team some light has shone on Australia's with two runners through to the track finals in Helsinki. Athens Olympic relay silver medallist John Steffensen has become just the second Australian to reach a world titles 400m final. Steffensen overcame the atrocious conditions

to finish third in his semi and hopes his performance will lift the profile of athletics in Australia. Johnson, who inspired his younger team-mate, semifinal finished fourth in his 200m

to squeak into the final for Australian runners. in another rare occurrence the full range of shot-making And the Australia Boomers displayed in the inaugural Gaze Cup. in their easy win over China

here tonight. COMMENTATOR: Hits another one understrength Chinese team Australia took advantage of the missing its three 7-foot stars and, along with New Zealand, to record a big 89-50 win tournament. stay unbeaten in the four-nation The Wallabies coach Eddie Jones

is under threat. has rejected claims his position

on Saturday night in Sydney Jones's team faces the All Blacks their opening Tri-Nations match after both sides were beaten in in South Africa. On a training free day Wallabies coach Eddie Jones today headed to the AIS in Canberra for a coaching seminar. I'm going to try to improve my coaching - obviously I need to, so I better work pretty hard today. Jones today played down suggestions his job is on the line after two defeats in South Africa. a game or you lose two games In modern sport now if you lose

sacked or the captain to be sacked. you either want the coach to be NSW football faces - No sackings are likely for these two Phil Waugh on the left that's Wallaby and Waratah flanker Louis Roberts-Thompson. alongside Sydney Swans key defender firsts rugby at the same school Their link - they both played in the late 1990s albeit four years apart in year 10. but when they were only

I like the no sleeves. Maybe we should play in this. the best of both worlds I suppose growing up we got the highest level at school playing rugby at school and reaching a bit of Aussie Rules. and on the side playing on the same ground, This weekend they'll ply their wares Saturday's Bledisloe Cup rugby venue hurriedly reconfigured from against Brisbane. into Sunday's venue for the Swans Both are confident of home success. a win. The Wallabies particularly need the Springboks, The next Tri-Nations opponent, are already in Perth for Saturday week's Test. John Hayes Bell, ABC News.

To the weather, and it's still pretty chilly, Mike Bailey. But snowfalls have become very isolated, Felicity. Good evening. Yes, back to dry in most districts today and there's been no significant rain over Sydney's water catchment areas. Overall dam levels are at 41.5% of capacity - down by 0.2 this week. Warragamba's holding 37.2% - a fall of just 0.1. Clear skies over Sydney today, but cold gusty winds played their part in keeping temperatures 3-4 degrees below average.

The coastal range 6-14. Temperatures kept down by gusty winds. Lowest overnight Thredbo -9 Rain and snow - heaviest falls in central west. Further falls in south-east. Cold air in the dotted cloud mass over the Bight. Front is moving over the Tasman. Isolated showers in the north NSW cost. Strong wind warning coastal waters south of Ulldulla. Increasing to gale warning. Outlook - dry and warmer. And that's ABC News this Thursday night. I'm Felicity Davey. I'll be back with news updates and 'Lateline' tonight is just after 10:20. We'll leave you tonight with more winter weather -

today's heavy snowfalls across Tasmania. Goodnight. Captions by Captioning and Subtitling International.