Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
ABC News (Sydney) -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. for the mother of Van Nguyen. Tonight - a touching farewell about to become reality. John Howard sees his dream signed, sealed, not quite delivered. Hardie's compensation - the future a human face. And head start - surgeons give

Juanita Phillips with ABC News. Good evening.

for Van Nguyen There will be no final embrace before he goes to his death, his mother's hand but he has been allowed to hold one last time. by the Prime Minister John Howard, After a personal appeal relaxed its rules. the Singapore Government Not enough to allow a hug, has been allowed but the condemned man 'limited physical contact' what it refers to as

with his mother and twin brother. is scheduled to die The 25-year-old Australian eastern time. at nine o'clock tomorrow morning, Lisa Millar. From Singapore, ABC correspondent over the past two weeks, As she's done each day at Changi Prison to see her son. Kim Nguyen arrived to say goodbye. This time, though, it was the Singaporean Government relented, At the last moment, with her son. allowing her to hold hands Van Nguyen's brother, Khoa, the special exception was also granted to Singapore's rigid rules. and Bronwyn Lew arrived separately. Melbourne friends Kelly Ng to stop his execution. They've campaigned tirelessly

to save him but failed The three lawyers who tried as they left. were choked with emotion and quite uplifting. It was a great visit He is completely rehabilitated, focused on doing what is good completely reformed, completely and now they're going to kill him. three years ago at Changi Airport The 25-year-old was caught with 400g of heroin. pleas for clemency Despite legal challenges, and international pressure never backed off. Singapore's government he's going to die The violence of the death with the sort of person he is is so much at odds an appalling injustice. that I just find it from his cell Van Nguyen will be taken tomorrow morning. and hanged shortly before dawn an emotionally charged moment. It's bound to be at the prison outside, His lawyers will be here taking part in a vigil, of his death. waiting for confirmation to take his body home His family are expected over the weekend.

Throughout this whole ordeal Kim, the image of Van Nguyen's mother, under the most awful pressure. has been one of dignity before he's executed Being able to hold her son's hand may seem like small comfort,

it's extraordinary latitude. but under Singapore's strict regime I spoke to Lisa Millar A few minutes ago it was and asked her how unusual to make this decision. for Singapore show of compassion Well, this last-minute from the Singaporean Government that we've seen was looking for, wasn't the reprieve that the family but it was certainly something. who are Singaporean watchers, And amongst those they say it's quite unusual. here in this country. You don't see a lot of flexibility wanted to be able to hug her son. Ms Nguyen, of course, were given the opportunity Instead, she and her other son Khoa in prison. to hold hands with Van Nguyen to Ms Nguyen. It would mean quite a great deal for the past two weeks, She's been coming here every day increasingly fragile. has been looking officer almost had to support her In fact, today the High Commission as she walked into the jail. several hours praying in a church I'm told this morning she spent near Changi Prison. giving her the strength Her Catholic faith is apparently

to face the next 24 hours. that she needs across Australia tonight, Lisa, there are candle-light vigils what about Singapore? be some vigils outside the prison. We are told that there are going to with what they plan. They have to be very careful Because of the strict rules, together without a licence any more than four people organising is considered an illegal protest, so they don't want it stopped. campaigners But certainly anti-death penalty candles are going to be carrying, in pairs, to the entrance of the prison, placing the candles there every hour until 6:00am. and then retreating on the hour, Lisa Millar, thank you. the mood was sombre In Canberra, the execution as barbaric. with the Attorney-General condemning its rules on physical contact News that Singapore had relaxed between mother and son, was of little consolation. While in Melbourne, Van Nguyen's life has failed. a last ditch legal bid to save On the lawn in front of Parliament, were arranged thousands of flickering candles Amnesty International. in the symbol of human rights group Politicians joined protestors the 25-year-old from Melbourne in identifying with in Singapore. who's awaiting his fate Stop this barbaric practice. There is no justification for it. of Van Nguyen's life, In these final hours they called for compassion, should allow son and mother saying authorities in Singapore to hug before he's hanged. I suspect one of the reasons won't let her hug her son the Singapore Government if you're a mother? is how could you ever let go after that last hug? how could you ever let go of that, barbaric act that is occurring. It's a most unfortunate, has refused to be interviewed Singapore's High Commissioner on television. to protect the many lives Singapore has a responsibility be blighted and destroyed that would otherwise by the drug syndicates. by the Foreign Minister. This morning, he was phoned between Van Nguyen and his mum Some physical contact means a lot to us.

Australian High Commission staff. Tomorrow will also be a grim day for Australian officials will assist of the body with the formal identification after the execution.

Polls show Australians evenly divided over the Nguyen case and the death penalty. TALKBACK RADIO: I think it's an absolute disgrace to even consider having a minutes silence for a convicted drug peddler. In Melbourne, lawyer Brian Walters laid drug charges in the Magistrates' Court against Nguyen in a last-ditch attempt to get him extradited. It might be a small chance, but it's a real chance. It's just pointless to do something like this. A morning vigil's planned outside the Singapore High Commission, which this afternoon said a personal appeal from John Howard made the difference in the decision to allow Van Nguyen to touch the hands of his family,

which even the Foreign Minister described as a meagre return. Craig McMurtrie, ABC News, Canberra. Tonight there are vigils for Van Nguyen around Australia, more in hope than in expectation. Hundreds of people have gathered at Martin Place in Sydney. Amnesty International says the planned execution is a basic violation of a fundamental human right. his brother and his friends, And tonight we stand together in solidarity with Kim Nguyen, his brother and his friends, and with the other victims of this horrednous penalty around the the world. A vigil will be held again tomorrow at Martin Place from 8:45am. To other news now, and Christmas is coming early for John Howard with Federal Parliament just one step away from making his workplace dream a reality. His industrial relations legislation will be passed by the Senate tomorrow - with no major changes. The Prime Minister has also overcome objections from his own back bench on his new counter-terrorism laws. Summer is a comin' in, and already it's beginning to show around Parliament. ...that the National Party has saved Christmas, that the National Party has saved Good Friday. You didn't save anything, mate. You didn't save Christmas, you didn't save penalty rates. All you did is prove that you're just out of your league. Barnaby Joyce's bid to make sure Christmas and other iconic holidays attract penalty rates has been watered down. that there be the flexibility It is important for these provisions to be negotiated. The mood did not change as the Government insisted on slamming its industrial relations legislation through Parliament even as it dropped no fewer than 98 pages of amendments - 337 in all - on the Senate at the last moment. 39 minutes before this committe stage commences - I think that's about seven seconds per amendment. The business lobby's annoyed about the amendments, but for a very different reason. They're actually new regulations that we don't need.

They'll actually be a burden on small business in particular. After months of acrimonious debate and $50 million of taxpayers' money spent on a blizzard of Government advertising, John Howard's workplace laws will be endorsed by the Senate tomorrow. Then, it's time for the PM's counter-terrorism legislation,

which will also be passed, despite enduring criticism from within the Coalition backbench. I'm one of those who would have preferred the sedition thing removed completely. So would George Brandis, chairman of the Coalition's backbench legal committee, but the PM refused to budge and he had to settle for less. An absolute defence to protect freedom of political speech, freedom of reportage and commentary. Not good enough for the Law Council. Laws that allow ordinary Australians to be arrested without charge are alien to a democracy and that is the start of the slippery slope towards a totalitarian regime. Government's ending the year But the Nationals think the on the up and up. like a German band. This Government is going according to the Opposition. An interesting metaphor, Jim Middleton, ABC News, Canberra.

over Reserve Bank board member To the political row Robert Gerard and the businessman has confirmed about his personal tax, he was only asked for an assurance and not his company affairs, before he was appointed. its attack on Peter Costello, The Opposition has stepped up when Robert Gerard's family company accusing him of turning a blind eye of the Virgin Islands. bought into the tax haven Labor says business tax affairs the Treasurer knew Mr Gerard's

from the Reserve Bank board. would disqualify him with obfuscation, hairsplitting He is defending it now unmitigated dishonesty. and sheer, naked, proven in a court of law? Are any of these allegations No. proven facts? Are any of these allegations No. by the commissioner of taxation? Are any of these supported No. Are they denied? Absolutely. In a statement Mr Gerard says no income his family company has received from its Virgin Islands business. in black and white. It's finally there and the State Government James Hardie a compensation deal today finally signed for asbestos victims. over 40 years. It's worth $4.5 billion But the deal still depends tax breaks. on Hardies getting suitable just plenty of smiles. There were no angry words today, And perhaps a sense of relief and the James Hardie chairman as the Premier a compensation agreement - finally reached Bernie Banton came prepared, and asbestos campaigner even if Meredith Hellicar didn't. You want a black one? Oh thanks, Bernie. drawn-out, tough negotiations In a matter of minutes, became a done deal. Great day. Great day. Great day for both of us. for a new beginning. And a time, perhaps, Thanks, Bernie. the current compensation scheme The fund would replace next year and could reach $4.5 billion. and run for at least 40 years But Bernie Banton says there's no sense of victory today. with so many deaths from asbestos, down today saying we've won today. I'm not here jumping up and that we've finally got justice. What I'm saying is to suitable tax deductions, The deal is subject by companies such as BHP and CSR similar to those obtained for asbestos-compensation payments. a real agreement. This is a real deal, of taxation There's an outstanding issue which rests with the Commonwealth. can still be prosecuted. And the ACTU says James Hardie the opportunity for ASIC, There is still

and any other relevant party, and officers of the company to pursue directors for civil and criminal liability. has come in from the cold The Premier says James Hardie corporate citizen. and become a responsible the disease, Unfortunately, money can't fix as Bernie said, but I think it certainly is, it's better than not having it. the deal has been welcomed. Across Australia, in July. Ginny Beckworth lost her husband on the tabletop, I would think. He'd be up dancing He'd just be so...that was him aim, just to help other people. to campaigner Bernie Banton And there was a thank you in the NSW Parliament with a standing ovation legislation as the compensation fund was finally introduced. Adrian Raschella, ABC News, Sydney. has described his crimes A District Court judge as callous and reprehensible. Stanislas Kanengle-Yondjo 41-year-old Sydney man to 12 years jail was today sentenced for infecting two women with HIV. in NSW, In what was a landmark case he pleaded guilty to two charges bodily harm. of maliciously inflicting grievous who can only be known as 'Miss A', One of the women, was in court today

of the man to witness the sentencing virus on her. who inflicted his incurable It's a relief that it's over. for the next 9 or 12 years They appreciate that at least the opportunity the offender won't have to hurt anyone else like this again. was diagnosed as HIV-positive African-born Kanengele-Yondjo in 1999. His doctor said she'd given him: She warned him: Despite the warnings, in 2003 the married father of five met 'Miss A' in this Sydney bar, any diseases told her he didn't have with her. then had unprotected sex working at Long Bay Jail as a nurse Eight months later 'Miss A' was and came across Kanengele-Yondjo's file. that she discovered It was only then he had HIV and had infected her.

he took off a condom during sex. A second woman was infected when As Judge Andrews stated, contemptible and callous disregard the offender showed a heinous, to both the victims.

that subjecting: The judge told the man But the judge told the court

sentence of 14 years he hadn't imposed the maximum had pleaded guilty because Kanengele-Yondjo in order to save the victims in a trial. the ordeal of giving evidence He'll be eligible for parole in 2013. Jayne Margetts, ABC News, Sydney. ram-raid for an overnight fire Police are blaming a bungled which destroyed six shops of dollars damage and caused millions in Sydney's south-west. at Wattle Grove Plaza The alarm was raised through the window of a video shop when a car smashed and burst into flames. to adjoining shops Within minutes the fire spread

a bakery, including restaurants, cafes, a pharmacy and a doctor's surgery. At the height of the blaze, were involved. 40 firefighters from seven brigades It took two hours for them to bring the fire under control. There is a car in the middle of what was the video shop. It appears from the evidence at hand that it may well be a ram-raid. Last night, video shop owner Steve Jacobs could only look on as his business was gutted. This morning he was at a loss to explain why he'd been targeted. My family and I have worked seven days a week for nine years to build up what we've got. That's all gone up in one frivolous act from a moron. More than 30 people were employed in the burnt-out shops.

The toll is back and the numbers are down, but that hasn't fazed of Sydney's Cross City Tunnel operators. Back in business after dropping the toll for five weeks, the operators say it's been a worthwhile exercise, even if the figures suggest otherwise. Yesterday motorists couldn't get into the tunnel quickly enough. Today it was different story.

There was no boycott as residents and the Greens were hoping, but tunnel traffic was down by nearly half compared to the same time last week when it was free. The operators were putting a positive spin on the figures. What it means is that those people will actually come back to using the tunnel when they understand the benefits and many of them will. This morning

there was congestion on Bathurst Street and William Street, now reduced to one general traffic lane each way and a transit lane. More people were using the tunnel than the RTA expected. Many others were still avoiding it.

It's just outrageous, you know, so I hope everyone boycotts it. I think it's an unreasonable amount of money for a very short trip. Residents are angry local streets that have nothing to do with the tunnel have been closed. More traffic is being forced onto the main roads, so you lose a lot of the -

More traffic is being forced onto the main roads, so you lose a lot of the - basically, customers, delivery people have no places to park. We need to see a gesture of good faith from the Government that they're looking seriously at the impact of the road closures. We need to see a gesture of good faith from the Government that they're looking seriously at the impact of the road closures. The operators say more motorists used the tunnel today than when the toll was last collected, but nowhere near the 52,000 cars a day when the tunnel was free. The tunnel operators admit they won't reach their target of 90,000 cars a day within 18 months, but they have no plans for another toll-free period or to reduce the charge. The numbers were wrong, they didn't do their homework. They're in a weak position.

The Government says it's up to the company to introduce permanent incentives to attract motorists to use the tunnel. Rebecca Barrett, ABC News, Sydney. Now, tonight's top story again. The mother of Van Nguyen has been allowed to hold hands, but not embrace her son, ahead of his execution. And still to come -

how French surgeons turned fantasy into fact. Telstra says it won't build its planned $3 billion high-speed broadband network if it's forced to share access with competitors. The company's manager of public policy, Phil Burgess, told investment analysts today that the massive project could start next year if Telstra received the necessary legal protection. Telstra is at odds with its biggest shareholder, the Federal Government, which says access issues should be negotiated with the competition watchdog, the ACCC. To pretend that there's only one shareholder out there, the majority shareholder and their views are the only one that counts and the views of minority shareholders don't count isn't something that we affirm.

As far as the regulatory regime goes, it's been very carefully calibrated to be fair not only to Telstra but to competitors and it will not be wound back and if Telstra is relying on it being wound back, that is not an approach that's likely to be successful. Optus says it will fight what it sees as Telstra's attempt to create a new monopoly

in broadband. To finance now, and the local share market slumped today following a sharp fall in New York overnight. Alan Kohler has the details. It was red ink everywhere today - Europe, North America and Australia - down 1.1%. The wave of selling has been prompted by stronger than expected data on the American economy over the past few days culminating in a Commerce Department estimate of 4.3% - way ahead of what the market was thinking. Now you might think a strong economy is good, but when share traders are in a mood to worry about inflation, it's bad. Stocks on Wall Street have been going up lately because a pause in the rate hikes was being factored in. Now that's off.

Sometime soon someone will say "Hey, hang on, the economy is strong, let's buy some shares." The exception to today's falls, as usual, was Japan, making it 20% in three months, while the Australian market has managed 1%. But down to the details of what happened today. The All Ordinaries index fell 51 points. The banks all fell heavily, led by Westpac, and the resource stocks also retreated - with Rio Tinto falling 2.2%, AMP fell 1% and Telstra lost another cent to $3.84. Plenty of news on the local economy -

the current account deficit and foreign debt has got, which is not great considering the terms of trade index is at a 31 year high. That measures export prices versus import prices. And business investment is booming - up 3% in September quarter and an astounding annual increase of 23%, with more to come next year. And the really amazing and encouraging thing it's being driven by manufacturing, despite the competition from China, which is what is prompting all the investment in mines. Investment in factories in Australia is absolutely booming. And finally the Australian dollar is about steady at 73.9 US cents. Australia and East Timor have reached agreement on how to divide the oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea. The deal won't be officially signed until mid-January, but Foreign Minister Downer says it will give investors the certainty they need to go ahead with large-scale resources projects. Israeli politics hasn't lost its shock value. The former Labour prime minister Shimon Peres is quitting his party

after six decades to join long-time rival Ariel Sharon. The veteran Labour statesman said Mr Sharon's new centrist party had the best chance of forging peace with the Palestinians. I spoke with Mr Sharon and I am convinced that he is determined as I am to continue with the peace process immediately after the elections. The move came after Mr Peres lost the Labour leadership three weeks ago. It was once the realm of movies and make-believe. Now life is imitating art. Surgeons in France have performed what they say is the first face transplant - attaching lips, nose and chin to a woman mauled by a dog. Surgeons say the procedure was a success, but others are questioning the ethics of replacing one face with another. These are the doctors who turned science fiction into fact. The same group of French surgeons who did the first hand transplant have just completed the first partial face transplant. The patient is a 38-year-old French woman who lost much of her lower face in a dog attack and was left with difficulty in swallowing and speaking. Surgeons cut along the patient's nose, removing her damaged mouth, lips and chin. The tissue, taken from a brain-dead donor, was put in place and anchored with stitches. Small arteries were then connected. We can't really create a new lip from some other tissue elsewhere because there's nothing like it. So from her point of view, this would be a significant benefit. This digital imagery shows the effect of having one face partially grafted on to another. While the French operation was judged a success,

the patient will need to take drugs for the rest of her life to stop her body rejecting the donated tissue. Australian plastic surgeons say there are serious ethical issues to consider. Most people would still be fairly reluctant to consider this kind of surgery, on balance, and knowing that the risks of long-term immunosuppression are extremely high. Teams of American and British doctors are planning similar procedures. Sophie Scott, ABC News. The future looks shaky for some of Australia's lower-profile sports. The Institute of Sport in Canberra has earmarked changes to the distribution of funding, which could see programs cut. Here's Rob Cross. It's proving a difficult exercise, stretching already thin budgets. While countries such as Japan will direct their resources to about 15 sports

in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Australia currently divides the funding pie into four times as many sports. In the past 12 months, men's water polo and women's volleyball have had their funding cut and the Australian Institute of Sport says more programs could be scrapped if Australia is to remain competitive. We can't keep stretching ourselves that thin, if you like, with the resources we have and keep providing results internationally. That doesn't work anymore. The challenge for us is do we start focusing on sports and maybe lose a few programs. There was lots of standing around but not much golf as the Sunshine Coast failed to live up to its name. Torrential rain stopped play at the Australian PGA tournament before most golfers had completed their opening rounds. COMMENTATOR: They'll be swimming down the 18th fairway here. In a bid to keep his tour card, veteran Terry Price played even though he's recovering from a broken leg. The leg worked well, but Price had to withdraw after nine holes with blisters on his hands from the crutches. Unheralded Australians Richard Swift and Luke Hickmott had the lead on 4-under when the rain drove the players off the Coolum course. Fresh from his victory at the Australian Open, Robert Allenby made an impressive start.

Andrew Symonds admits he's still finding his way in Test cricket but he'll be a key member of the Australian one-day squad that takes on a New Zealand team which Symonds says is better than its current ranking of seven.

They always lift when they play us. so I'd say it'll be fairly helter-skelter for these three games.

There's plenty on it when we come across here. Former New Zealand batsman Mark Richardson says the 'resting' of Glenn McGrath from the series smacks of arrogance, and must be exploited by the Black Caps. Richo's entitled to his opinion but Glenn's just having a rest. The first match of the Chappell-Hadlee series is in Auckland on Saturday. It wasn't a cat up a tree, just a dog down a wombat burrow. Fire brigades from Canberra and New South Wales had to dig deep to rescue a 12-year-old dog called Bear stuck 6m into this wombat hole. Four tonnes of soil was gouged out from the hillside and a camera probe was slotted in to check on the pet. After being trapped for 4.5 hours, a rescuer finally got hold of Bear's leg. Come on, Bear.

A drink of water and Bear was back on his feet. He was actually digging himself up the hole, so he was digging himself further in as we were coming towards him. And if we had to go any further,

I think we wouldn't have been able to do it cause it was just too much dirt to move and got a bit too dangerous, I think. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but Bear's owner says her dog won't be making the same mistake again. The weather now With Mike Bailey. Thanks, Juanita. Good evening. Showers and thunderstorms have again been scattered through eastern parts today and they could be more widespread and wilder tomorrow. Rain this week has lifted Sydney's overall dam levels to 41.6% of capacity - up by 1.1%. That's just 1.8% below where they were a year ago.

But the fall over the previous 12 months was a hefty 14.1%. Warragamba this week gained 0.6 to 38% of capacity. More figures now - and temperatures in Sydney went from 16 to 26 degrees - a top that's one above average. Right now - 3 above average. Showers continued in the NE of the state. Rain - overnight storms worst at Tweed Heads. Around the nation - Brisbane was the wetest. Much cloud on the east coast is binging brought by a trough. Moderate to heavy falls ahead. Possible hail and squawly winds. NSW - gale warning for Ulladulla.

Wild storms tomorrow but fine for the weekend. Thanks, Mike. Now another look at tonight's top stories - Van Nguyen has been allowed to hold his mother's hand one last time

before being executed at dawn tomorrow. Coalition MPs have ticked off on John Howard's reform agenda. Now the workplace changes and the anti-terrorism bill are now set to become law. And asbestos victims have got their compensation package, but James Hardie says it still needs a deal on tax breaks. And that's ABC News for this Thursday. I'm Juanita Phillips. Up next, the '7:30 Report' has an extended interview with Van Nguyen's lawyer. We'll leave you with some defining images from an exhibition marking World AIDS Day in Canberra's Parliament House. Goodnight. Closed Captions produced by Captioning and Subtitling International Pty Ltd