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ABC News 24: 2pm News -

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(generated from captions) This afternoon, Queensland's

marathon election campaign moves slowly towards its

conclusion. This Program is Captioned


The politicians and the

miners continue to trade blows

as the mining tax heads to the

Senate. Also, the flood clean-up under way in some towns as other communities

prepare for the waters. And

Japan pulls its whaling ships

back early after a bad season

in the Southern Ocean.

Hello, you are watching ABC

News 24. I'm Nick Grimm. Taking

first of all: a look at tomorrow's weather

The Queensland LNP leader Campbell Newman says he will back

quit politics if he loses the

battle for the key seat of Ashgrove in this month's State

election. The latest Galaxy

poll in the 'Courier Mail'

shows Mr Newman trails Labor's

Kate Jones by three points on Kate Jones by three points on a two-party preferred basis. Mr

Newman has repeatedly refused

to answer who would be to answer who would be leader

if he fails to take the seat

but the LNP still wins Government. The Premier Anna

Bligh is a keen cyclist herself

and today made a pitch for and today made a pitch for the

cyclist vote. She is promising

$28 million in funding for cycling infrastructure like

bike paths and secure storage facilities at bus bike paths and secure bike

and train stations. She is also

promising to introduce a new

offence of dangerous driving

which recklessly or deliberately endangers a cyclist.

cyclist. The pe nolty would be

up to five years in prison. But

all this is likely to be

overshadowed by the latest poll

which shows Kate Jones is on

track to retain the track to retain the Ashgrove seat. Anna Bligh says LNP can

no longer pussy foot around

what will happen if LNP wins

government. Campbell Newman

losing is this seat is now no

longer just a theatrical idea.

It is no longer a theory. It is time for the Liberal National

Party and Campbell Newman to tell Queenslanders what tell Queenslanders what their

alternative plan is. We are two

weeks away from an election.

Campbell Newman and the LNP, I

think, need to tell

Queenslanders what their

alternative plan is. been dancing around this issue alternative plan is. They've

for months. Enough is enough. Queenslanders are entitled to know

know who would be the leader of

the LNP if Campbell Newman

doesn't win Ashgrove. It is no

longer just a theory he may not

win Ashgrove. This poll win Ashgrove. This poll is

telling us it is a live

possibility. He has to tell us

the truth. What will the LNP do

if he doesn't win Ashgrove? The Queensland Premier Anna

Bligh finishing that report by

Melinda Howells. The Federal Government's controversial

mining tax goes before the

Senate next week. It comes as the Coalition and the Coalition and mining magnates launch a fresh magnates launch a fresh round

of attacks on the policy.

Speaking to reporters in

Brisbane a short time ago,

Treasurer Wayne Swan says he is

going to focus on ensuring the

tax gives a fair return tax gives a fair return to the

people of Australia. It is

really important that the minor

parties, the Greens and parties, the Greens and the

Independents, support the

passage of this legislation in

the Senate in the next fortnight. Certainty demands

that. A significant tax cut for

2.7 million small businesses 2.7 million small businesses is on the line. Substantial

increases to the superannuation

of workers is on the line.

These are important measures so

that's why we need to see

priority for passage of this

legislation through the legislation through the Senate

and we need to see the support

of the minor parties and the

Greens in the Senate. Why is

that so important? Because Mr

Abbott and the Liberals want to

destroy the MRRT. Mr Abbott and

the Liberals want to give a tax

cut to Clive Palmer and cut to Clive Palmer and take

away a tax cut to 2.7 million

small businesses in this

country. Mr Abbott and the Liberals are kneeling down to

the vested interests in the

Liberal Party like Mr Palmer.

So we need to see in the Senate

strong support for this

legislation which gives

Australians a fair return for

the mineral resources they own.

100%. It will give a

significant tax cut on 1 July to small businesses significant increase in the to small businesses and

savings of Australian workers

over the decades ahead. I have

seen some commentary in the

last couple of days from Mr

Abbott. Mr Abbott has said he

is going to have some sort of

audit commission. This audit

commission won't be about

finding out the truth, it will

be about hiding the truth that be about hiding the truth

the Liberal Party has a $70

bottom billion crater in their budget

bottom line. The fact is that

Mr Abbott wants to give tax

cuts to some of the most

powerful and wealthy interests

in our country at the same time

as giving tax increases to

ordinary workers in our

economy. Over to you. Are you

receiving any indication the

mining tax is not going to

pass? We want to see strong pass? We want to

support from the minor parties,

the Greens and Independents in

the Senate. Certainty demands we get this through as quickly

as we ask. The fact is the Government has worked on a

design, worked through the design, worked through

design with industry over the

last 18 months, we have had a

big community discussion about these issues and the Liberal Party is still intent on destroying this legislation. We

need to see this through the

Senate as quickly as

Senate as quickly as possible

in the period ahead. Do you

have any indication that ...? There is no doubt some in There is no doubt some in the

Senate will want to move

amendments, some amendments may

well be unacceptable to the

Government. The fact is we have settled

settled on the design of this

tax, it will deliver a considerable increase in

resources to fund tax cuts for

small business and to fund

increases in superannuation savings of Australian workers.

The fact is we have got to get

House of this through. It has passed the

House of Representatives and

certainty demands it passes the

Senate as quickly as

possible. You mentioned Clive

Palmer and Gina Reinhart and

Twiggy Forrest but isn't Twiggy Forrest but isn't it

BHP-Billiton and Xstrata that

do most of the tax? They are

not campaigning against the

tax. It is Mr Palmer and others campaigning against the tax.

The fact is the industry The fact is the industry has responsibly agreed to a design which delivers a significant

increase in revenues, which

provides the capacity to cut

tax for small business and increase superannuation increase superannuation savings of Australian workers but it is

Mr Palmer who has continued a

public campaign against this

tax and, of course, everybody knows

knows his close links to Mr

Abbott and the Liberal Party.

So Mr Palmer and interests in

the Liberal Party are intent on

destroying this tax which is supported by responsible elements of the mining

industry. The priority of the

Liberal Party is to give a tax cut

cut to Clive Palmer and a tax increase effectively to 2.7

million small businesses. Whatever happened to the Whatever happened to the party of small business and Robert

Menzies. What will you do if it

gets blocked in the Senate? We

will continue to put forward

our case for the swift passage

of this legislation through the

Senate. It is important that we get

get the certainty. It starts on

1 July. We need to see this

passed through the Senate and

be put in place to deliver be put in place to deliver a revenue stream which revenue stream which supports

tax cuts for small businesses and superannuation increases for

for working Australian

families. Australian women with PIP breast implants will be entitled to subsidised entitled to subsidised MRI scans to check whether scans to check whether their implants are structurally sound. Health Minister Tanya

Plibersek says she wants to

ensure women receive the best

diagnostic testing available.

France banned implants made by PIP after its products were

linked to a rare form of cancer. Today's move follows Australia's Medical Services PIP Australia's Medical Services

Advisory Committee. The rebate

will also be available in cases

where a woman's doctor where a woman's doctor strongly

suspects she has implants made by PIP. To the flood situation To the flood situation now and there has been some improvement in several

flood-stricken parts of NSW but

the threat has moved to areas

further downstream. further downstream. Residents

in Darlington Point located

down river from flood-hit

Narrandera have been issued

with an evacuation order with

water levels expected to peak

there tomorrow. Major is there tomorrow. Major flooding

is still current in Narrandera

but the levee is holding. In

other parts of the Riverina

district, north Wagga Wagga and water district, north Wagga Wagga and

Gumly Gumly are moving into a

recovery phase. Though

residents are still under

evacuation orders. Around 240

properties have been affected.

In Griffith, residents are now

returning home but an evacuation order is still in

place for Yenda. Moving to the

State's central west, the

situation in Forbes remains steady with residents in

low-lying areas not allowed to

return home. On the Lachlan

River, authorities have issued

a new evacuation warning a new evacuation warning for

residents of Condobolin. Authorities Authorities in Victoria,

meanwhile, have issued a new

flood watch for the east

Gippsland area and Lakes which

has seen significant rainfall

in the past 24 hours. The SES

has issued flood warnings for residents residents in Malacoota and Bemm

River as the Mitchel and Snowy Rivers which flood levels.

Meanwhile, levees have held in

the north Victorian town of Nathalia, although Nathalia, although residents there remain on evacuation

notice. The water level is

dropping here in Nathalia but

the Broken Creek beside me here

will pose some problems for a

few days yet. The water peaked

at 3.25m and overnight came

down to 3.22m. But authorities

say it will stay above 3m until at least Wednesday. There are

many isolated properties around

this region. As you can see,

the SES has just launched a

boat. They are heading out boat. They are heading out to one of the properties to one of the properties to speak

to the owners and ferry them

back into town to do some

shopping. With so many

properties isolated and likely

to be so for several days, if

not more than a week, scenes

like this are going to be quite

common in Nathalia for some

time to come. Meanwhile, the

flood emergency has flood emergency has proved

deadly again. An 83-year-old

man has drowned in floodwaters

north of Bourke in the

north-west of NSW. Police say

farm workers found the local

man's vehicle partially

submerged in a causeway at

about 4 o'clock yesterday

afternoon. The man's body was

in water about 20m from his

car. Police believe he was

swept away when he left the vehicle to try and get help. Police are investigating a triple fatality on the King's

Highway in the NSW southern Highlands. Siobhan Heanue

reports. Today there is hardly

any sign of the accident any sign of the accident that happened here yesterday afternoon killing three people,

injuring four more and causing

traffic chaos. There is a bit

of police tape tied around a

barrier just up the road where

the King's Highway was shot the King's Highway was shot in

both directions for hours into

the night. There is a lone

police officer who is on radar

duty, desperately trying to enscourge motorists to slow

down on their way to the coast.

The traffic was particularly

bad yesterday afternoon because

it is a long weekend in Canberra Canberra and people were trying

to get away for the holidays.

To make matters worse, there

was heavy rain at the time of

the accident and there was a

thick blanket of fog across the

road. It turned out to be a deadly trifecta of traffic

conditions. A 52-year-old man

from Jindabyne and his 8 10-year-old daughters died at from Jindabyne and his 8 and

the scene. Coming the other way

was a family of four. Two of them

them had to be trpted by air to

the Canberra Hospital. Two more

were driven there. They were a stable condition today. were driven there. They were in

Locals in this area have been

complaining about the state of

this road in this spot for many

years but the upgrades never seem

seem to come. Now with the

State and Federal budgets stretched further by the

current floods crisis, there is

even less cash left in the

kitty for possible road


A diplomatic row has erupted between Italy and Britain after

a failed attempt to free two

hostages. The men were hostages. The men were being

held in Nigeria and UK special

forces launched a rescue

mission without telling their

Italian counterparts. The house in north-west Nigeria at the

centre of yesterday's failed

rescue attempt. Inside evidence

of a fierce gun battle. One which ended with news that the

two hostages had died. Chris McManus and Italian Franco Lamolinara had been held for 10 months by a violent al-Qaeda-linked cell. Italy's

President today asked why government had not President today asked why his

consulted before the government had not been


behaviour of the British

government in not government in not informing

Italy is inexplicable. A political and diplomatic clarification

clarification is

the Foreign Office say the necessary. Officials here at

decision to send in troops had

to be made fast, so fast to be made fast, so fast the

Italians could only be told

after it had been made. So why

did it happen so quickly? The Nigerians confirmed the

arresting hostages' location after

arresting a suspect in the last

new days. But there were

concerns the kidnappers were

alerted to a possible rescue

and the hostages in danger of

being moved or killed. Under pressure, the Prime Minister

authorised the raid yesterday

morning. Then informed the Italians. The British special

boat service went in first in a

daylight raid, killing daylight raid, killing one

gunman as they entered. They

found the hostages had already

been murdered by the time they

reached them. We had to make decision very quickly to go reached them. We had to make a

ahead with this operation. We had

constrained how much we were had very limited time. That

able to consult others so we

were able to inform the Italian

Government as the operation got

than that. Today, Chris under way but not to do more

McManus's McManus's former colleagues

paid tribute to the 28-year-old

from Oldham. My reaction was

devastation. Chris was a really

good individual, very good team

player and obviously we are distraugt this had distraugt this this stage. Chris McManus's

family said they believe everything that could be done

has been done but the tragic

death of the two hostages now risks

risks sparking a diplomatic

row. Four Syrian Generals are

reported to have defected from the army and crossed into

Turkey. The four Generals are apparently among 10 high-ranking army officers stationed in cities include

Damascus, Homs and Latakia.

Syrians ly living in Syrians ly living in Russia are watching the are watching the situation

closely. Some are calling for

an end to the violence while

others are supporting President

Bashar Al-Assad. A prayer for

the end of violence in their

homeland. Most of the men here

support the Syrian Opposition

movement. A sermon draws on at

times gruesome images. It describes a place where those

who survive are forced to drink

their own blood from the

streams in which they wash their wounds. This is one of their wounds. This is one of a

number of mosques in Moscow number of mosques in

used by the Syrian community.

The vast majority of them are

actually Russian citizens that have lived here for years. For

many who support the anti-Assad

movement, they talk of

increasing fear for their

safety both in Moscow and for

their families in Syria. We

meet this man at his friend's

flat. He has lived in flat. He has lived in Moscow

for six years. He completed his doctorate here and teaches Arabic. He says he was recently

attacked by men who he attacked by men who he claims were Assad

supporters. TRANSLATION:

Everyone knows who they are. We

will never stop talking about

what's happening in Syria. That

was why they beat me up. Mossad says the Syrian embassy is

into silence. TRANSLATION: trying to scare the Opposition

There are always suspicious

people outside the building. I

asked my friends to accompany

home. My father was arrested home. My father was arrested in

Syria. They asked him "Why is your son doing this in

Russia?". I said "Tell them we Russia?". I said "Tell them

have to talk about the government killing innocent supporters". Assad supporters

have held demonstrations in

recent weeks but the violence

has split the community here.

This was once a popular cafe

for those supporting the regime

and those against it. Is this

man is one of the few Assad

supporters who comes here now

and is nervous to speak on

camera. TRANSLATION: We are

all brothers, I am afraid for camera. TRANSLATION:

my country's future. Most of

the men who support the

Opposition were afraid to talk and those who did speak said

they can no longer trust each

other. TRANSLATION: There are

here traitors telling the embassy

here what people are talking embassy to comment on the about. Al Jazeera asked the

claims. We have received no

reply. All the men say they are

thankful for the freedom Russia

has given them. They hope their friends will have the

same. Greece has opened the way

for another economic bail-out

after securing a deal to offload large parts of its

debts. Greece says more than

85% of its private creditors

have signed up to a

multibillion-dollar Euro bond swap. This will cut the country's debts by more than $130 million. It has been welcomed by the European welcomed

conditions leaders and the IMF who say

conditions are in place for a

second round of bail out money

to help Athens back on to help Athens back on its feet. Animal rights activists and the Australian and the Australian government have welcomed Japan's have welcomed Japan's decision

to bring the whaling ships home

early. They ended the hunting season after clashes with

anti-whaling ships and brought

back a lower than expected

catch. The ships have headed catch. The ships have

with less than a third of the with home, three weeks early and

quota. The Japanese said the

operation killed 270 whales in

total. They are blaming the total. They are blaming

catch on partly on bad weather

but mainly sabotage by activists. Geoffrey Simon Peterffy total.

Simon Peterffy and Glen Pendlebury provided the most dramatic moment of this year's

battle between whalers and demonstrators when they the 'Shona Maru' in January. demonstrators when they boarded the 'Shona

The men were held on board and

handed back to Australian

authorities after several days

of diplomacy. The Sea Shepherd

activists say they followed the whalers

whalers over the last whalers over the last three

months. The confrontations

included water cannon. They say

they were hit with hooks and stun grenades. After battles

like that, they claim, there

wasn't much time left for

whaling. They are calling it a

victory. The Federal Government

has welcomed the decision to

bring the hunt to a close,

saying the practice is illegal

and promising to continue

action in the international

courts. Japan insisting the whaling operation is

scientific. The country uses a

legal loophole to get the boats

out each other. They could be

back in the Southern Ocean by

December. Their tormenters have

said they will be waiting.

Environmental experts from the United Nations World Heritage Committee have been in

Queensland this week to

investigate fears mining investigate fears mining export developments are damaging the Great Barrier Reef. Last year the committee noted with extreme concern the approval of liquidified natural gas

processing on Curtis Island in

the reef area. A report

prepared has warned the reef faces a death by a thousand

cuts if the action isn't taken. Richard Leck is a spokesman Richard Leck is a spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund. Sergey

Mironov spoke with him - Mironov spoke spoke with him earlier. I this

is a significant development. I

have not seen this before in working on Great Barrier Reef

issues. We expect the World

Heritage Committee would look

at sites like Afghanistan, at sites like Afghanistan, like

less developed countries. For

them to be coming to Australia

and expressing concern about the management of our Great

Barrier Reef world heritage

area is a massive concern. We

pointed out to the mission

about the scale of development already approved and they were

aware of some of the Gladstone

developments. We talked about

some of the other things that

are coming down the pipeline. Then

Then we also talked about the

development that since they

have expressed concern has also

been applied to be developed.

We are talking about new coal ports, expansion of existing

ports as well. The last thing

we talked about was the we talked about was the fact

that the Great Barrier Reef is already under significant

pressure. Since the marine park

was declared and given world

heritage area in 1981, we have

lost about 25% of our lost about 25% of our coral

cover. Last year we

1,000 turtles die which was a

significant increase and we had

almost a doubling in the deaths

of dugongs as a result of the

floods that occurred last year.

We are looking at an ecosystem

already under significant pressure and

pressure and we are introducing

more pressure to that. How much

of that damage that's already

happened to the Great Barrier

Reef would you attribute to things such things such as the port developments, the shipping that's happening out of that

region? Well, look, this is a really

really interesting point really interesting point and

one of the things that isn't

taken into account when new

developments are approved. The

reef is under an enormous amount of

amount of pressure. When you

add in these new threats, it

already builds on the impacts

to do with water quality from

poor farming practices, to do with natural events like

flooding and also with poor

fishing practices. The amount

of impact a new development

which removes and dumps which removes and dumps an extraordinary amount of dredge can magnify the can magnify the impacts significantly.

The North Queensland Cowboys

and Manly Sea Eagles have both recorded wins in last recorded wins in last night's NRL matches. The NRL matches. The Cowboys

defeated the Broncos 28-26 in

Brisbane after two tries Brisbane Matt Bowen. The Sea Matt Bowen. The Sea Eagles

overturned an 8-2 half time

deficit to deceit the West

Tigers 22-18 in Gosford,

scoring 20 points in under 20 minutes

minutes in the process. In

SuperRugby, the Hurricanes have

thrashed the Western Force

46-19 in Perth. Hurricanes

scrum half TJ Perenara scored a hat-trick for the New Zealanders, condemning the

Force to a third consecutive

loss in what was an unhappy

night for sharp sharp sharp, playing his record breaking 150th SuperRugby game.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs defeated

the Crusaders 24-19 in Napier.

Adelaide is through to the

grand final of the AFL's

pre-season Cup after thrashing

Collingwood at Football Park. The Crows outscored the The Crows outscored the magpies

13 to 2 in the second half.

Sydney lost out to Essendon by

two points de spite recovering

from a 30-point deficit to lead in the last term. Allison

Pearson is through to the semi-finals of the 60m hurdles at at the World Indoor Athletics

Championships in Istanbul. She

clocked a time of 7.85 seconds, the fastest of all the

qualifiers. In the A-League,

the Newcastle Jets have

clinched a 1-all draw against the Gold Coast in the Gold Coast in Newcastle. Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley scored the equalising goal in the equalising goal in the 90th minute. The Socceroos have

drawn Japan, Iraq, Jordan and

Oman for the fourth round of

the 2014 World Cup Asian

qualifiers. Their first match

of the round will be away to

Oman on 8 June. At the WGC

event in Florida, the overnight leader, Australian Adam Scott,

has dropped back to third. He

is at 10 under after carding a

second round of four under 68.

American Bubba Watson is in American Bubba Watson is in the lead on 12 under.

He is a conquer er who has fast nalted historians for centuries. Now centuries. Now ancient

artefacts from the time of Alexander the Alexander the Great are Alexander the Great are coming

to Sydney. The museum is claiming a coup. It is only the

second time the antiquities

have been release 89ed from the Russia State Hermitage Museum. Aurkers say the exhibition will

trace the life of a man who

remains an enigma. He could be

wildly cruel, the worst of

invade ers. Talking to somebody

the other day, said he would be in front of the war crimes

tribunal so fast if he lived

now. He could be compassion

ate. The antiquities will

travel in three separate shipments for security reasons

and will go on display in November. Australia's worst mass murderer Martin Bryant is depicted in the work that won

the Glover Prize. It has been

awarded to Rodney Pople for his landscape painting of Port

Arthur showing Bryant in the foreground

foreground holding a gun. The

judges say the decision was

unanimous and it should not

create controversy. The Bendigo

Art Gallery is expecting record

krauds for its krauds for its exhibition honouring

actress-turned-princess Grace

Kelly. The exhibition opened

today. There are more than 100

items featured in the exhibition, including Kelly's wedding gown. A building high pressure

system in the Bight is keeping southern Australia mostly clear.

clear. Southerly winds in the

wake of a front will bring

patchy light rain to the

south-east. The forecast for

sun and Isleslated showers about the southern and about the southern and central east coast of east coast of Queensland. Showers and Showers and thunderstorms will continue in the tropics. A

chance of late showers near the NSW coast and adjacent ranges.

Fine and partly cloudy in Fine and partly cloudy in the ACT.

You are watching ABC News 24. I'm Nick Grimm. Goodbye.

# Theme music Hello and welcome to Contact Sport. I'm Steve Pearce. Coming up, the WNBL's title race is down to two, and we'll speak to the two coaches. We'll hear from world boxing champion Daniel Geale after his title defence. And we'll meet one of female cricket's brightest stars. I'm Meg Lanning, I grew up playing cricket in Sydney, moved to Victoria when I was 12 years of age. I'm currently studying Exercise and Health Science.