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(generated from captions) Tonight - to patrol Sydney's trouble spots 1,500 extra police armed with new anti-riot powers. A Federal Budget windfall for another round of tax cuts. increases pressure And top of the class - from this year's HSC. the high achievers This program is LIVE captioned. This is Seven News with Chris Bath. Good evening. is showing little confidence The police commissioner are over, that Sydney's racial tensions onto the streets this weekend. ordering 1,500 extra officers swoop on new outbreaks of violence They'll saturate riot hot spots and to maintain law and order. in a major operation Once again last night, weren't taking any chances - hundreds of police pulling over and searching cars, for any sign of flare-ups. watching out promising zero tolerance. Now they're bracing for the weekend, People are clearly on notice. increase They will see a demonstrable in the presence of the police. On Saturday

rising to 1,500 on Sunday. 1,000 extra police on potential hot spots Flying squads will concentrate confiscate vehicles ready to set up roadblocks, or seize mobile phones, like Cronulla. even locking down entire suburbs available to me That's clearly an option I will. and if that becomes necessary, at this Punchbowl Park, On Monday night a gathering of suspected criminals police chose to avoid confronting

of Middle Eastern background. Stung by criticism of his decision, one patrol car was told to turn back. the officer in charge says only

about a fact that I've gone soft. I will not take this rubbish I haven't gone soft. tactical decision. I made an operational, We haven't yet got to a society and put before the courts where we arrest

people for talking to each other. there'll be a police operation This weekend since the Sydney Olympics. the like of which hasn't been seen

The question is resources be thrown at the problem? for how long can so many police "For as long as it takes." The commissioner says

at Lakemba and Maroubra stations There were no Australian flags flying today. they're in disrepair, According to police rather like the community. The last ten days or so rode out of this town. the spirit of Christmas From tonight, tough new anti-riot powers police will be able to enforce during today's emergency sitting. rushed through parliament in two years, The laws will be reviewed but lawyers warn in the crackdown. innocent people could be caught up

in the Australian flag Wrapping yourself has taken on a whole new meaning. like this man outside parliament exposed racial tensions so deep, The Cronulla riots from Christmas holidays politicians have been called back to enact new laws. the fabric of our society, If you tear up you will pay the price. just got a whole lot heavier. A price that, as of today, 48-hour lockdown zones. Police can now declare That means...

to show respect and responsibility, As long as they refuse to the fullest extent. these powers will be used zones, and close pubs for 48 hours. Police can also declare alcohol-free risk a year in jail. Licensees who defy the ban in two years. The laws will be reviewed making it harder to get bail. Lawyers are critical of changes involved in the whole scene, Where you've got innocent bystanders to determine it's often very difficult of criminal activities are. who the real perpetrators The Opposition supports it, but... in almost all its provisions. It's simply not strong enough

in bipartisan agreement, If this was parliament certainly wasn't showing it. the Opposition Leader Peter Debnam even claimed hasn't targeted ethnic crime the government

have branch-stacked for the Premier. because Lebanese people softly-softly strategy for 10 years. The government has had a Why? to some ethnic groups. Because you're indebted That's the problem. Ridiculous comments to hang on to his leadership. by a man who is desperate The laws take effect immediately.

powers won't be needed this weekend. Community leaders hope the new police political and cultural groups Representatives from religious, for the first time today, met at Cronulla of Sydney's racial tensions. discussing the causes facing young people They blame social problems and misunderstandings between the city's ethnic groups. must stand together Every individual in every sector they display the maturity we need and ensure to ensure Australia remains safe. is fighting over and fighting for And the one place that everyone will be destroyed if we don't stop. and Sydney's Lebanese community say Leaders from the Sutherland Shire

for each other's cultures. they're committed to teaching respect To other news now - And a man's been arrested in front of terrified students after a gun was drawn at a western Sydney primary school. was brought out during an argument Police believe the weapon at Schofields. at St Joseph's Primary School the two men fighting in the middle Somebody was trying to separate and one of them drew a gun out. An off-duty police officer tackled the man to the ground. and distressing situation. the quick response of the parent, We're very grateful for that intervened. the off-duty officer A woman was kneed in the head as students, teachers and visiting parents in nearby classrooms. scrambled for safety A 35-year-old man has been charged. He'll face court tomorrow. Bradley Murdoch Convicted outback killer in prison will spend at least 28 years Peter Falconio. for the murder of British backpacker until 2031, A Darwin judge today jailed Murdoch for his crime. saying he's shown no remorse that you will die in jail. There's a real prospect of 28 years. I fix a nonparole period 28 years behind bars. Peter Falconio was only 28 when Bradley Murdoch shot him dead. The convicted murderer will be at least 73 by the time he walks out.

In the courtroom his victims wept. They emerged elated. I am very pleased with that. More than pleased. The judge told Murdoch he's a cold-blooded killer with no remorse and little hope of rehabilitation. He described Joanne Lees' escape as heroic. It must have been close to the worst nightmare imaginable. Unlike you, Ms Lees displayed considerable courage. Once again, Murdoch showed no emotion in the dock, even when the judge echoed the pleas of the victims to reveal where he's hidden Peter's body.

The tears flowed as Joanne Lees and Peter's mother Joan told how their lives have been torn apart.

Lees says Murdoch ended her dreams of travel, marriage and children with Peter. I am sceptical, untrusting, I am sceptical, untrusting, fearful and heartbroken.

And a mother's heartbreak. I never knew mental and physical pain could be so relentless. They're heading home now to continue rebuilding their lives. The Treasurer is under pressure to deliver a new round of tax cuts after announcing a bigger-than-expected Budget surplus. But economists warn any relief from the tax man could be counterbalanced by increased interest rates. Unlike his leadership ambitions Peter Costello's economy is charging full steam ahead. The greatest period of economic growth at least for a century, maybe ever. The Treasurer today announced an $11.5 billion cash surplus, $2.5 billion better than expected,

and that has renewed talk of tax cuts.

The Treasurer, because of the political circumstances at the moment,

has to be seen to be doing something. I think he'll promise cuts. But Mr Costello was noncommittal... If you can balance your budget, if you can meet your expenses, then your tax rates then your tax rates should be as low as possible. ..the Opposition accusing him of holding out until closer to the next election. When he thinks there's an outside chance that he might be Prime Minister. His potential rival for the job and Liberal colleague Malcolm Turnbull is keen to give something back to taxpayers, campaigning for what he calls a simpler, fairer tax system.

What we have to do is make a commitment to tax reform. While the cash surplus gives Peter Costello the opportunity to play Santa economists have warned the Reserve Bank could as easily play Scrooge. If the government cuts taxes for the fourth time in a row it's not going to be a surprise

if the Reserve Bank raises interest rates. Australia's Defence Forces are to get a major shake-up to confront the threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Billions will be spent to create mobile units that can strike hard and fast. The Army was showing off its latest equipment today. I might do it damage if I throw one now. High-tech gear for high-risk missions, and there's more to come to better equip soldiers to fight war, keep the peace or deliver aid. The Australian Army will have more firepower, more mobility and more protection. The government wants bigger aircraft to transport equipment, including tanks and helicopters, like the Americans. Our geography does mean we do need to travel long distances, often quickly carrying large loads. Well, it would seem to suggest

that Australia sees itself as more of a global military player than it has been in the past. The Opposition argues Australia should keep to its backyard. Our neighbourhood is a dangerous neighbourhood - that our primary focus should be security in our region. The final decisions on how much will be spent won't be made until next week but defence commitments like these don't come cheap, with estimates already of up to $2 billion. It is just not acceptable for a country as wealthy as Australia to send men and women into the field without having the best possible equipment. Finding those men and women Finding those men and women could be the challenge. They want 25,000 more. At the moment, we can't even meet our quotas for recruitment with the forces that we've basically got. The Army's even made a music video which could help. UPBEAT MUSIC It'll be a sleepless night for thousands of high school students anticipating the release of their HSC results from 6am tomorrow.

But some who've done exceptionally well got the good news today.

A happy snap of the 114 smartest students in the State. Matt Asimus had a great year. His beloved Wests Tigers won, now he's topped PE. Everything's going good. Everything's going very good actually. Macedonian-born Biljana Casceska couldn't even speak English four years ago. Today she aced it. Everyone's so shocked. It's a great achievement. I'm very proud of myself.

Proud parents too. Pianist Adam Chen took out music and his folks get the benefit. He fills the house with music, yeah. The gong for drama - Tahlia Phillips. Remember the name. I'd like to be like Cate Blanchett. I think she's really a good role model. Languages were popular this year. (speaks Hindi) Basically that means I'm really glad Basically that means I'm really glad my HSC for Hindi is finished. (speaks Japanese) REPORTER: And tell us what that means in English? Oh, I'm in Year 11 this year, so I have to come back again next year for year 12. Unfortunately? Unfortunately. (laughs)

Some had it a little bit easier. Kristina Milic used to live in Sweden. I thought it would give me good marks in an easy way - simple.

Today we've seen the top guns of the class of 2005. Tomorrow everyone else gets their results. From 6am, students can text or call or go on line to find out how they went.

Still ahead - Two men jailed for leaving their elderly robbery victim to die. Also, the NRMA told to rethink

its controversial online smash repair system. And the best seller that's set to become a movie blockbuster. hurry into Kmart. Sydney's registered clubs have cut all ties with the State Government following the breakdown of talks on poker machine tax. Clubs say Morris Iemma's latest offer is a fraud

which claws back more tax than Bob Carr's original scheme. Clearly there seems to be a desire within this government to break the spirit and the back of the club industry and I can tell you that's not going to happen. Today's announcement was made at Five Dock RSL Bowling Club which closes in two weeks, blaming the poker machine tax. Two men who left an elderly woman to die after robbing her and tying her up will each spend up to 19 years in jail. They were spared a life sentence because they'd made a triple-O call that operators wrongly thought was a hoax. Joy Alchin lay bound and gagged on her floor for at least nine days, before she died. Her killers were friends of the family. I can't describe them. Look what they did! Yeah, worse than animals actually. Animals don't do that. But they did ring triple-0. That call was ignored as a hoax, but it saved Ian Styman and Peter Taber from a murder conviction and a life sentence. Even so, they showed... Joy Alchin's attackers knew she was suspicious of banks and kept large amounts of cash at home. They and their mates spent up big on cars and household appliances. The day after the robbery, Joy Alchin's niece Leonie Revell was seen by one witness

to have a wallet too fat to fold. I can't find my lip gloss. Taber and Styman still say they're innocent. We'll be running the appeal on the basis that the verdicts were unreasonable and they didn't get a fair trial. NRMA Insurance is facing renewed criticism for using the Internet to get smash-repair quotes. An independent survey has found 80% of repair shops aren't happy with the system, often because of poor photography. Richard Nathan runs one of the largest smash repairers in the State. But he won't accept work from the NRMA because of its new quoting system. This has cost us a lot of money. But it could cost us a lot more if we do faulty repairs and fall for that plan. The Care and Repair system has also been criticised in a new independent report. It found many repairers can't give accurate quotes, because photos of damaged cars on the web site aren't clear. The assessors are saying "As this rolls out, "then damage that's there will be ignored "or overlooked by the repairers." And who suffers for that? The consumer suffers. Some repairers say unsafe vehicles were being driven to their workshops from NRMA assessment centres. 80% are unhappy with the scheme, but they're trying to make it work so they can stay in business. The government wants the NRMA to make changes. They've already said today they will not abandon the system. If the system doesn't work, though, they've gotta be able to fix it. The report itself stipulates it only visited 30 repairers out of 405 repairers that we have in our network. The battle between smash repairers and the NRMA comes to a head next week when the Stay Safe Committee reports on the issue. Either way, the insurer says it's sticking to its system. Voting is under way in Iraq

for the election of the first full-term government since the start of the war. High security is in place around polling stations

to protect an estimated 15 million voters including many Sunni Muslims who boycotted earlier elections. On the eve of the ballot,

there was a major concession from the US President on America's justification for war. And it's true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. for the decision to go into Iraq. As President, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. The new Iraqi government should be in place by the end of the month. The first trailer has been released, previewing Hollywood's version of the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code. Starring Tom Hanks, the movie begins with a murder in the Louvre and a code breaker's desperate efforts to unravel a 2,000-year-old religious secret... ..that, if revealed, it would devastate the very foundations of mankind. Producers hope the movie will enjoy similar success to the blockbuster book. The Da Vinci Code opens here in May next year. Time for sport with Matthew White. The Aussies are set to unleash the pacemen.

Cut them loose. They had a couple

to choose from.

Nathan Bracken got the call-up for the first Test at the WACA but there's still doubt over South Africa's No.1 batsman.

The details next. Also tonight - the soccer show in Turkey that didn't rate at all with the fans. How did you go with your recycling? Got it all sorted, but I don't know. Sometimes I wonder if all this really makes a difference. You got to be kidding. Once it's sorted here at the plant it gets sent off to manufacturers who recycle it to make all kinds of things. Cool. And then it gets recycled again? That's right. And if you want to know more, just get on the web. Recycling let's sort it our for our future. An inquiry is under way at the Cronulla Rugby League Club tonight after a fight at training today between two Sharks players.

Hutch Maiava and Jacob Selms are the players involved. Selms was taken to hospital needing 20 stitches in his head. New South Wales paceman Nathan Bracken will be let loose against South Africa

in tomorrow's first Test at the WACA.

Bracken edged out his Blues team-mate Stuart Clark for the final spot against a South African side already swinging, but still struggling to finalise its line-up. No batting again for Jaques Kallis but his sore elbow did get a work-out when Perth's flies came to play. The all-rounder will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness. If there's any risk whatsoever, I don't think they can afford to go into the game with him and then to not have him batting in potentially one of the two innings of the game. If Kallis can't play, Jacques Rudolph is his likely replacement.

Jacques is always gonna be a big blow for any team. He's up there in the top batters in the world but, as I say, we're a team and a confident team at the moment. And cocky, too, with the South Africans claiming their pre-game sledging of Australia's middle order as brittle has hit a nerve. That tells us in our mind that they're also scared of losing in Australia. There's massive pressure on them and we've taken heart from that and it's certainly given us confidence going forward to the Test match. But the Australians do have an in-form Shane Warne who needs just two wickets to pass Dennis Lillee's record of 86 in a calendar year.

It's an unbelievable effort. He's had an unbelievable year. Looking back to the Ashes, you know, he carried us right through the Ashes, there's no doubt about that. And everything he's done since has been first class as well, so he's a once-in-a-lifetime bowler. A once-in-a-lifetime chance for most fans too with news the Ashes urn will come to Australia for next year's series as it leaves Lords for just the second time. Australia is into the gold medal game of hockey's Champions Trophy after beating the Dutch. The Kookaburras' Matt Naylor and Andrew Smith got the first two goals but the Dutch hit back with two successful penalty corners. Locked up at 2-2, the match looked a certain draw until Michael McCann put one past the keeper in the dying minutes. The Olympic champion's opponent in the final

will be decided in the next few days. Aussie basketballer Andrew Bogut Aussie basketballer Andrew Bogut has gone shoulder to shoulder

with NBL superstar Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq is used to hotter conditions in Miami and took the chance to throw some snow in Milwaukee before the match-up. When it got down to business, Bogut started strong. COMMENTATOR: Six quick points for Bogut.

COMMENTATOR: Lays it in. Six quick

points. Bogut and O'Neal did square up at times and the Aussie defended well but the Bucks couldn't handle Shaq or the heat going down 100-83.

Talking about handling the heat you

think it is about going along to

footy games, it is tough and

dangerous. Believe me. Watch this.

You have to feel sorry for these

guys, our fellow preers in Turkish television.

Well, we should feel a bit sorry for our fellow presenters in Turkey. They were doing their thing, talking about soccer, when a group of fans stormed the studio. They weren't happy after being criticised for violence after their club's recent match. The station muted the audio but the pictures kept on rolling.

Police eventually detained the culprits.

You have to be nice They certainly

weren't there to read the weather

If that ever happened to me would

you stick up for me? Of course I

would. I'll have Sydney's weather after the break,

but first, finance. Macquarie Bank shares rose with a decision expected tonight on a bid for the London Stock Exchange.

Bushfires are part of Australian life. But what you do, along with your neighbours and your local fire authority, can make a real difference. The Australian Government is working together with fire authorities to help you be better prepared. Make sure you're ready this bushfire season. Call your local fire authority or fire service. Be safe. Be prepared this bushfire season. Bunnings at Christmas - everybody's coming in, they want to get a variety of items. They've got their list - Bit of luck, I might get an invite. (Laughs) Shade sail, just $19.98. Petrol line trimmer - $129. Halogen tripod work light - $28.89. with 20% off all women's, men's and kids' sunglasses and watches. After a muggy night Sydney woke to another warm and sunny summer day. It reached 26 degrees in the city. That's 1 degree above average. 28 at Parramatta 30 in Richmond. Penrith was the warmest with 31. 23 in the mountains. Right now in town its 25. We're in for another warm night and tomorrow should be hot with the chance of afternoon showers or storms. 29 degrees is forecast in town. Up to 32 at Gosford and Campbelltown. 31 at Richmond and Penrith. And looking ahead - Saturday could be a little unstable before returning to fine conditions for the start of the working week. And that's Seven News to now. I'm Chris Bath. Thanks for your company. Goodnight. Do you know your credit rating?

There's every chance it's not only wrong

but you may have a big black mark against your name. It screws you for the rest of your life. Hello, and welcome to Today Tonight. I'm Anna Coren. How bad credit is ruining lives. That story shortly. Also, the calls to charge talkback king Alan Jones with inciting racial violence. We don't have Anglo-Saxon kids out there raping women in western Sydney. So don't get carried away with all this mealy-mouthed talk about there being two sides, I can tell you. Plus, simple tests anyone can carry out to pick unsafe cars before you waste your money. And a father's worldwide search to find his daughter.