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Ten Morning News -

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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. Family tragedy - crashes off the Florida coast. all onboard killed as a seaplane over claims of an IR cover-up. The PM backs his embattled Treasurer of Rolf Harris's unorthodox way And what the Queen thought her 80th birthday portrait. of painting Ten News with Deborah Knight. But first, 20 people are dead off the Florida coast. after a deadly seaplane crash Three babies were among the victims. now live from our US bureau. Ten's Leisa Goddard-Roles joins us being heard, An explosion has been reported what caused the crash? is it yet clear

No, Deb, it's not. It's a stairbl

accident. People over here cannot

believe the plane came down in the

way it did. We've just seen home

video come down of the crash. We

show you the pictures now showing

the plane spiraling out of control

in flames and crashing into the the plane spiraling out of control

ocean. People raced into the water

hoping there were some survivors

but unfortunately there weren't.

You have to remember there were 15 but unfortunately there weren't.

adult passengers, three babies and

two pilots on board and no survivors. There were some

witnesses after the accident who

spoke to the media crews and here's

what they said. Next thing I know,

I heard a noise and everyone

started shouting and pointing. I

looked up and the plane was coming

down like a ball of fire with a

trail of smoke. Pure fire in the

sky. The engine exploded and the

right wing came flying off. Deb,

the wreckage remains now in at

least 10m of water and it's now the

scene of the investigation to work

out what did go so horribly wrong.

The plane was on its way to the

Bahamas, no doubt taking the

celebrations. families there for Christmas

The Prime Minister his embattled Treasurer. has been forced to stand up for Costello did not mislead Parliament John Howard says he's satisfied Peter over industrial relations reform. It's a hard learned lesson. You've got to be careful. as I've found out. You've got to be very, very precise of Treasury advice, Mr Costello's handling

negative short-term consequences which revealed of the Workchoices legislation, he misled Parliament. has prompted claims and his boss agrees. He says he didn't and I support him to the full. Peter has been falsely accused That's a relief for Peter Costello.

the last time he was in trouble, The PM wasn't as kind appointment of Robert Gerard revealing the questionable to the Reserve Bank board was all the Treasurer's idea. industrial relations bill Criticising the Government's biggest PR success of the year. has arguably been the Opposition's copped a battering in the polls. The Coalition It took some bark off us. But now the bark is growing back. the Coalition's gaining lost ground. The latest Newspoll reveals is up 3 points to 41 It's primary vote while Labor's dropped 3. Labor still holds a narrow lead. But on a two-party preferred basis prompted another poll released today The Sydney riots less than a quarter of Australians which shows that the country is not racist. disagree with John Howard and standing firm. The Prime Minister is sceptical the average Australian is a racist. of Australians are racist. I do not believe the majority Danielle Isdale, Ten News. is due in court today A suspected white supremacist linked to Sydney's racial violence. after a police raid was charged by the unit 25-year-old Andrew Sanders the Cronulla riot. established to investigate a pistol, a smoke grenade, A cache of weapons including was allegedly found in his home. knives and slingshots, he was one of five men On Sunday carrying 25 litres of petrol, allegedly found

helmets and police scanners. materials to make Molotov cocktails,

Barbaro are in court for sentencing. The kidnappers of baby Montana joins us live from Melbourne. Our reporter Cameron Baud Cameron, what's happen in court.

As you said, only moments ago The

judge handed down the sentence for

Cheryl and Mark McEachran, the

married couple who pleaded guilty

to the kidnapping of Montana

Barbaro. Mark received 11 years to the kidnapping of Montana

jail term for a range of offenses

including kidnapping. He'll serve

at least 7.5 years for that. Cheryl

has received an 8-year jail term

and will serve at least four years

for that. Tell us more about the

kidnapping. What happened? The

court was told some of the

circumstances that led up to the

kidnapping in August last year. It

was told the mother of Montana was

in the carpark in a shopping centre

in Melbourne when she was

approached by the McEachrans. The

court was told Mark McEachran went

to Anita, grabbed her by the throat,

punched her in the face and threw

her to the ground and sprayed her

in the face with an aerosol can

while Cheryl fook off with the baby.

They spent the night in a caravan

park and even showed the Bobby off

to relatives they hadn't seen for a

while. They noticed the kidnapping

had attracted a lot of media

coverage and dropped the baby in a

house in North Melbourne where a

jogger noticed the whimpering of

the baby and the baby was taken to

hospital and reunited with their family. Thanks.

be allowed to clone human embryos, Australian scientists may soon but medical research. not for reproduction bans the practice Currently the Federal Government wants the laws relaxed. but an independent review committee cloning techniques be permitted It's recommended therapeutic for research purposes only. under strict regulation implanted into women's bodies, The embryos created could not be on reproductive cloning. the committee has backed bans a conscience vote Its findings could trigger when Parliament resumes. A high-speed crash in Melbourne to call for calm on the roads has prompted residents over the holiday period. of a Holden sedan lost control The 20-year-old driver last night. and ploughed into a power pole but he had died on impact. Locals rushed to help the man will serve as a warning to others. They're hoping the tragedy around Christmas time A lot of accidents do happen more careful please. so can you just try and be Residents claim drivers as a drag racing strip. the road is often used by young in inner Sydney this morning And long traffic delays after a fatal car accident. died at the scene, The driver, a woman in her early 20s, after colliding with a bus shortly after 6:00am. Luckily the bus wasn't carrying any passengers at the time. The bus driver has been treated for shock and minor injuries. NASA's bold mission to Pluto -

what's behind the trip to the unexplored region when the morning news returns. And Rolf paints the Queen - the Aussie entertainer tells

which parts of the prestigious portrait were the hardest to get right. This program is captioned live. Our Federal Police chief and Justice Minister

have been dragged into a diplomatic row during a visit to the Solomon Islands. A customary Island welcome awaited Mick Keelty and Senator Chris Ellison. But the country's ousted prime minister is demanding Australian forces withdraw, our Government refusing to set an exit date. This month marks the first anniversary of the murder of an AFP officer, gunned down on patrol near Honiara. US President George W. Bush has defended his decision to allow spies to eavesdrop on American citizens.

In the face of mounting criticism, he's defiantly vowed to continue doing whatever it takes to catch terrorists. It was his third speech in as many days, but this time President Bush was defending himself and his secret spy program. The fact that we are discussing this program is helping the enemy. The embattled leader is under fire from both sides of politics for authorising spies to secretly eavesdrop on US citizens suspected of having terrorist links. But he insists it is all a necessary part of keeping America safe.

While he is furious the program has been made public, he's adamant he hasn't acted outside his powers. As President and Commander in Chief I have the constitutional responsibility and the constitutional authority to protect our country.

But in America the only legal way to wire-tap citizens is by obtaining a court warrant and he didn't do that. Critics are now calling for an independent investigation to determine if Mr Bush acted above the law. a leg to stand on, legally. A defiant President Bush says he will continue the spy program for as long as there are enemies that want to kill Americans. In the United States, Leisa Goddard-Roles, Ten News. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expects to leave hospital tomorrow after treatment for a minor stroke over the weekend.

Doctors treating the Israeli leader say he's responding well to treatment and expect him to recover rapidly. I can say he looks fine, feels fine and wants to go home. The 77-year-old is in the midst of a hectic campaign for re-election after splitting from the Likud Party and forming his own centrist movement. Two woman have made history in Northern Ireland, becoming the first to take part in a civil partnership ceremony. A small but vocal band of protesters greeting the happy couple as they arrived for the nuptials. We just wanna say that this is a very privileged position we're in this morning and for us, this is making a choice to have your rights, our civil rights acknowledged and respected and protected as any human being. A couple arrive for a short, private ceremony which was held behind closed doors. What started as a quiet protest soon became heated and vocal. Are you a fruit?

I am not a fruit. Well, then what are you worried about? I am a gay man. Well then you're a sodomite. You're a sodomite. It may be a special day for them but it's a day of shame for this province, a day of shame for those who have named the name of Christ. The Bible makes it very clear this is a vile sort of something that's taking place today and it's extremely sad. Amidst the protests, Chris Flannagan and Henry Caine arrive to become the first male civil partners. Same sex couples like Henry and Chris say they've waited years for the equality that their civil partnership will bring and there are plenty of others who want to follow their example. Ceremonies will be introduced in Scotland tomorrow and in England on Wednesday.

It's estimated that by the end of next year, 4,500 couples across the UK will be registered as civil partners. Another first for Aussie icon Rolf Harris. The 75-year-old performer is the first artist outside the recognised art world to paint the official portrait of the Queen, a job he says frightened the wits out of him. As the artist himself is apt to ask, can you tell what it is yet? Well, it's 'The Queen by Rolf', a portrait of a smiling monarch to mark her 80th birthday next year, the latest of some 130 official portraits of the Queen. A picture which, Rolf Harris hopes, has captured her less formal side. I was hoping to do an impressionist painting but I wanted a good likeness and I wanted to create the feeling of the lady as a person, as a human being rather than as a figurehead for the monarchy and a pomp and circumstance formal portrait. I wanted a relaxed portrait. Your Majesty. Lovely to meet you. We've got a wonderful seat here which you probably know very well. The portrait is the product of two hour-long sittings Rolf Harris had with the Queen earlier in the year. What I try and do is paint the whole canvas really, the whole thing as a blur and then slowly refine the blur and try and... It sounds a very interesting way of doing it. It was a real challenge to get the likeness. It went on and on and the teeth were all wrong at one stage and I had to repaint them to make sure they looked as if they were inside the mouth rather than sticking out on the bottom lip. At one stage I had one eye looking slightly in the wrong direction, almost slightly cross-eyed, and you think, "I'd better fix that up." And what does the Queen herself think of it? That, of course, is something we will probably never know. Madame Tussaud's Christmas display is raising a few eyebrows this year, poking fun at world leaders and other celebrities. Centre of attention has been American President George W. Bush and Britain's Tony Blair, the cow alluding to Bush's Texas farm while Tony Blair is seen as following him where ever he leads. We haven't heard from Downing Street yet. I'm hoping that Tony Blair is finding it a little amusing. Thousands of visitors are expected to tour the display over the next three weeks. NASA is about to visit the planet Pluto, until recently overlooked as insignificant in our solar system. No spacecraft has ever visited the furthest planet from the sun or its moon Charon. Now both are on the agenda for NASA's 'New Horizons' spacecraft, due to be launched next month from the Kennedy Space Centre. Today with our better knowledge of the geography of our solar system we see how central it is in the modern planetary science.

The journey to Pluto will take at least nine years. Ahead, Australia to be a major platform in a tennis comeback for Martina Hingis. That's when Ten's morning news returns. And Hodge the hero as Australia pushes for victory over South Africa COMMENTATOR: Wonderful moment for Brad Hodge.

This program is captioned live. In finance news, the Australian share market has opened slightly weaker. Juliana Roadley at Commonwealth Securities. Sweet returns for sugar farmers this Christmas.

We've seen sugar prices rising over

60% so far this year. That's thanks

to a rise in demand for sugar cane,

especially as a use of alternative

energy such as ethanol. Aussie

farmers are reaping the reward from

a good harvest, especially after

the poor crop returns we've had

this year from some of our biggest

suppliers in Thailand, China and

Brazil. In Aussie dollar terms at

the moment, we have sugar cane

around $31 a ton. The Aussie dollar

fallen off its perch this morn

sning In the first two hours of

trade we saw the Aussie dollar fall

below the key 74 US cents, it is at

the moment just above. We've got a

lot of global traders, especially

lot of global traders, especially the Japanese, in there at the

moment basically cashing in their

Aussie dollar returns to take

profit ahead of the new year. Australia looks set for victory when play gets under way on the final day of the first Test against South Africa. The tourists chasing a massive winning target after an unbeaten double century from Victorian Brad Hodge put the Aussies in total control of the match. A maiden Test ton that's been 12 seasons in the making. COMMENTATOR: That is a century for Brad Hodge. He's fought really hard for it. After more than a decade on the first class scene, Hodge becoming the first Victorian to bag a Test century since Matthew Elliott in 1997/98 and Hodge wasn't content to stop there. The strange thing was that Gillie, when I got to 150, he said that he saw a monkey run off my back and jumped back to the Western Australian zoo. And after seven hours at the crease, 203 not out. There it is! You beauty! A massive emotion for me to get my first century for Australia and then obviously to make 200. It was just sort of a surreal experience. Hodge's double century followed by an Australian declaration. South Africa losing two wickets before stumps and today a battle for survival but some good news - injured all-rounder Jacques Kallis should be right for the Boxing Day Test. Hopefully by the time the Test match comes around there should be no pain. That's what we're aiming for.

So that's the ideal situation. If there's a bit of pain, obviously you've got pain killers and that. And the man most likely to take the place of injured Australian opener Justin Langer is getting used to the spotlight. In-form NSW opener Phil Jaques says he's ready to wear the baggy green. There's a little bit of a changing of the guard, I guess, and a few guys are getting opportunities and they've already tried a few guys and it would be a really great opportunity if I did get that opportunity and I'd enjoy every second of it. Leanne West, Ten News. Martina Hingis has confirmed her return to competitive tennis will be on the Gold Coast on New Year's Day. The former world number one will begin her comeback at the women's hard court tournament at Royal Pines. The 25-year-old is making a bold return to the game she dominated

before retiring in 2002. She's set to be given a wildcard for the Australian Open

as a former Melbourne Park champion where she'll join Jelena Dokic, who yesterday won a wildcard of her own to ensure her place in the opening Grand Slam of the year. The proposed takeover of the South's NRL team by Peter Holmes a Court and Russell Crowe has been again on hold. The Souths' board needed clarification

on a number of key points, ending hopes the proposal could get the green light before Christmas. But Souths chief George Piggins remains unconvinced Obviously they've got to do their job as a board and they've got some things we need to clarify and we are responding to that. The revised plan is expected to be tabled by the end of the week. To say I'm going to go out to Telstra Stadium and follow a privatised team, that might even be enough to turn me off it. Next in Ten News weather around the nation. Stay with us. This program is captioned live. National weather: A massive secret of the deep has been revealed at the Melbourne Aquarium. A giant squid encased in the largest ever man-made block of ice has been delivered, all up - 3.5 tonnes-worth of frozen calamari. The huge creature was caught around 18 months ago in the waters between Tasmania and New Zealand. It's usual home, 1,000m beneath the surface. The squid will give visitors the evil eye while on display over the holiday period. And Sydney's Taronga Zoo has paraded its latest tenants, a pair of endangered snow leopards. The cuddly twins, a male and a female. were born a month ago to proud parents Leon and Samarra. Their birth represents a triumph after two years of hard work by the zoo's keepers. The survival of the highly elusive animals now depends on the success of zoo breeding programmes. Poaching has seen their numbers plummet to around 4,500 in recent years. That is the latest from the Ten news room. Stay with us here on Ten for updates throughout the day and the full details in Ten's news hour tonight.

I'm Deborah Knight, thanks for your company. Enjoy the rest of your day. Supertext Captions by the Australian Caption Centre.