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Seven Nightly News -

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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. Tonight - under investigation Manly league star Brett Stewart for an alleged sexual assault. disappointing. Clearly incredibly and frustrating, the first home buyers grant Pressure to extend housing boom. because of a western Sydney as much for vegetables Families paying up to five times because of summer's extreme weather. of its biggest parties of the year. And Sydney prepares for one with Chris Bath. VOICEOVER: This is Seven News Good evening. Less than a week from kick off, is dealing with a sex scandal. and once again, the NRL Brett Stewart has been arrested The Sea Eagle's star fullback in Manly last night. over an alleged sexual assault Patrick Molihan Seven's league reporter is at NRL Headquarters. Pat, what do we know so far? has told police Chris, a 17-year-old girl last night. she was sexually assaulted

than the accused - NRL stars don't get much bigger

of the game's new ad campaign. Brett Stewart is the face at Manly Wharf Brett Stewart was all smiles for the season launch but things soon turned ugly. First team-mate Anthony Watmough in the face allegedly punched a sponsor then around 8 o'clock last night, Stewart sexually assaulted her a 17-year-old girl claims in the stairwell of his unit block. The Test star was arrested refusing to answer police questions. but released after He's staying with his girlfriend later this week. and will be interviewed are entitled to be dismayed I think fans of the game that in these economic times, well-paid footballers are, it seems, in trouble. continually getting themselves

for the National Rugby League. It couldn't be any worse

new million dollar-plus ad campaign. Stewart is the face of the game's He told Seven News

to launch the season how honoured he was an anti-domestic violence campaign Former stars used the launch of to call for an open investigation. brushed under the carpet. It's something that's not gonna be everything is handled the right way. It's about making sure that problems have just got bigger. Chris, I can reveal the NRL's

this time in Goulburn. Todd Carney has again been arrested, He's charged with malicious damage on a car last weekend. Chris. after allegedly being caught jumping has led to calls A western Sydney housing boom to be extended. for the first home buyers grant by more than 20% in some suburbs Home sales are up but the boom could turn to bust runs out later this year. when the Federal Government's cash The bidding started low. That $200,000 is the call. We'll look for a rise of $10,000. a big block with a separate garage. Not bad for a three bedder on Six bidders in total at the moment. At $271,000 is the bid. It didn't get much higher, bid $290,500 for the home in Miller. successful buyer Ahmad El-Darani down the road here My kid's in public school

and my daughter in high school,

so everything nice and close. to the western suburbs. For buyers, it's good to be close New figures show are up an average 18% home sales in the west on the same time last year. Sales to first home owners are also up 18% in Liverpool and Fairfield and a whopping 22% in Campbelltown. The last six months, every weekend. I'm doing five or six auctions and they are first home buyers. 90% are selling

Experts say the middle of a false property boom, the western suburbs could be in by keen first home buyers. fuelled only and the boom will disappear They're worried the buyers is reduced in June. when the government grant Well, if it did turn off, to a standstill, then the market would certainly come to the Federal Government

it is working. keep this stimulus going, to the New South Wales economy I think it's vital

continues that the first home owners grant and the New South Wales Government

the stamp duty concessions. will continue have soared in Sydney Vegetable prices extreme weather over summer. because of Australia's as much as usual for some produce Consumers are paying five times will make it worse. and more bad weather $2 a kilo.

packed Paddy's Market Bargain hunters to restaurants and retailers. for produce wholesalers didn't sell wholesale prices, They pay more or less at 5 o'clock in the morning but you have to get out of bed and struggle amongst all the people here for the best buy. and convenience Supermarkets offer more variety especially now. but you'll pay for it, and the heatwave in Victoria Floods in Far North Queensland and sent prices soaring. destroyed crops Beans are $15 a kilo. They're usually $3. $25 a kilo, rather than $8. Snow peas - Zucchini and lettuce are also almost double what you'd normally pay. So is broccoli. A few days ago, it hit $8 a kilo. have also been affected. Rockmelons and bananas you buy things, for sure. It does change the way at what's cheaper. You tend to look around more the price hikes by buying locally, Shoppers hoping to avoid like at this growers market, will be disappointed. Produce from the Sydney basin has also been affected. sometimes even double. Anything from 40% to 50% increase, double the price of beetroot, We're looking at and the silverbeet. Some prices have started recovering. A lot of good crops coming up. they'll come down. Eventually slowly, slowly prices will rise again But there are fears Queensland because of Cyclone Hamish if there's too much rain in in the drought-stricken Riverina and not enough rain of New South Wales. the evacuation of tourists Cyclone Hamish has forced from Queensland's resort islands. is still well off shore The Category 4 cyclone along the north coast. but is intensifying quickly a disaster situation. The State Government has declared This declaration is a precaution. for relevant officers It provides authority to ensure that evacuations can occur swiftly. North Queensland is only just recovering from widespread flooding, with residents once again forced to stock up on supplies. The Federal Government is backing its stimulus package to stop Australia suffering the same job losses as the United States. Nearly two million Americans have lost their jobs in the past three months. Marching in time for the opening of a new headquarters to control Australian military operations across the world. ('WALTZING MATILDA' PLAYS) Kevin Rudd's war against unemployment may now be much harder if new job figures from the United States are any guide. Another 650,000 Americans lost their jobs in February - nearly 2 million in 3 months. job losses will stop accelerating or slow any time soon? The answer is probably 'no' right now. That is not a future I accept for the United States of America. That is why... (APPLAUSE) Barack Obama hopes his trillion-dollar economic stimulus package

will stem the rising tide of joblessness. Rising unemployment there is a warning for Australia. That demonstrates the importance of economic stimulus and the importance of governments acting early. An overnight report from the International Monetary Fund has given the Treasurer ammunition to justify his economic stimulus package. The IMF says such spending is inevitable and necessary. It endorses it lock, stock and barrel. And in a special edition of 'Sunday Night' tomorrow, the Prime Minister will join Australia's financial experts to give advice on how to get through the tough times ahead. That's 6:30 tomorrow, straight after the news. The search for sharks has been stepped up on Sydney's beaches this weekend, with volunteers conducting aerial patrols.

And there'll be extra resources keeping an eye on the water during a triathlon tomorrow. Off the coast of Cronulla, a hammerhead shark swims in crystal clear water. It's following schools of fish at dinner time. This morning, lifeguards were on patrol as locals returned to the beach including marathon swimmer Susie Maroney. I think it is a little bit of a worry, going into the water knowing that there are a lot more sharks at the moment. But it's because the water's so clean and there's so much more fish around. Maroney's taking part in tomorrow's triathlon at Wanda Beach. There'll be extra surf life savers and rescue boats to keep anxious competitors safe. We'll also be doing an aerial surveillance before any competitor goes in the water. Volunteer pilots began aerial shark patrols in Sydney's north today, keeping an eye on the coast from Manly to Palm Beach. The shark nets aren't stopping them - it's only aerial patrols that are spotting them. They're conducting the new weekend flights for free following three recent shark attacks.

We hardly see them. The sharks that we do see, there are many different types of sharks - like we saw one this morning, a Port Jackson Shark, totally harmless. Occasionally, a Wobbegong shark. Experienced scuba divers say the hysteria over the recent shark attacks and sightings is affecting our international reputation. Mr Towner says he was contacted this week by a nervous relative of one of his American diving students. His mother was e-mailing us from Michigan expressing concern if he is going to be all right. The floats are painted, the spray tans are on and the outfits are glittering for tonight's Sydney Mardi Gras. Edwina Bartholomew is at the start of the parade in Hyde Park. Edwina, how is everyone looking? Chris, they're looking fabulous. A record number of 134 floats have entered the parade this year and, as you can see behind me, spectators are in for quite a show. Some last minute shopping for Mardi Gras essentials. What are you here to buy? Gloves, accessories, accessories - you can't have enough. Fake eyelashes, a spare wig, some sensible shoes. These are my day-wear shoes. Just pan the camera down there. Very practical, but very retro. A quick touch-up to blend in with the crowd - just one of 80 spray tans done at this Oxford Street salon today. Everybody is bronzed and beautiful at Mardi Gras so you've got to fit in. This year's theme is Nations United, with floats representing every continent. Olympic Champion Matthew Mitchum will lead the parade. This is actually my first real Mardi Gras. Everything about this year's Mardi Gras is big. There will be a record 10,000 performers. SONG: # Baby when you touch me on my body. # Most are here for the party. I think Sydney is known as the party town of Australia. But, as always, a political message to Mardi Gras. This float marks 25 years since the death of Bobby Goldsmith - one of the first Australians to die of AIDS. Organisers are expecting record crowds - 300,000 people along the parade route. It's been growing bigger and bigger and bolder and more beautiful. Happy Mardi Gras! The parade starts at 7:45 and heads up Oxford St. It will finish around 10:30. But I'm sure the party will continue all night, Chris.

It will probably be just as noisy as

it is right there. Still to come - the politician hit in the face with custard by an angry protester. Also, new beginnings for Victoria's bushfire victims, a month on. And cruise ship passengers sent flying overboard. That's next. A car has ploughed into a city Starbucks One month after Victoria was ravaged by bushfires, communities are starting to rebuild their lives. But the chief of the recovery taskforce has warned there's a long road ahead. The danger has passed. But for towns like Yea, the full impact of the devastating bushfires is still being felt. and encourage people to say, "We're here, we are open for business again. "Please come back and visit us."

The craft market is usually lined with stalls and full of people.

But despite pleas for visitors to return, people are staying away. David Marshall lost his workshop and tools

but amazingly, his sculptures survived. Now he just needs someone to buy them. A fair bit really, I mean, everyone does.

I mean, all the local shops are doing it hard. It's being felt, too, at tourist attractions

like the Kerrisdale Mountain Railway. and there's no customers, so the car park's empty and the till's empty. 70% of Flowerdale was wiped out on Black Saturday. The pub survived but now they need customers to come back. At this time of year, the front bar is usually full. We haven't done any meals today at all.

We've got people that are cancelling bookings. Next weekend, Yea's hosting it's Autumn Fest and races. To preserve the sense of community,

the Recovery Taskforce is considering building up to five temporary villages in the fire zone. What we probably need to have, I think, is a place where communities can come together. People who have decided to stay on their land need to come together in a safe, warm place. And more help has arrived today from overseas.

The wife of new Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been killed in a car crash. The couple was driving home south of the capital Harare, when their car was side-swiped by a truck. Susan Tsvangirai died instantly but her husband wasn't badly hurt. Yes, I saw the Prime Minister when he came in. I spoke to him, exchanged greetings. He actually walked from the vehicle that brought him here.

It's claimed the truck is owned by an aid contractor. Tsvangirai's political rival Robert Mugabe visited him in hospital to stop speculation the crash was anything more than an accident. Passengers have been sent crashing into icy waters in Spain

following a cruise liner accident. The mooring lines snapped

as winds pushed the ship away from the dock.

The gangway collapsed, sending four people into the water. They were rescued by crew members.

One person is in hospital with a head injury - three others suffered hypothermia. One of Britain's top government ministers has been hit in the face with green custard outside an environmental summit in London. Whilst I'm prepared to take my fair share

of the green revolution onto my shoulders, I'm less keen on having it on my face. The woman responsible for the attack was protesting against the expansion of Heathrow Airport. Sport with Kylie Gillies and the Aussies are looking good in the second Test. Chris, our batsmen belted the Proteas bowlers, led by 20-year-old Phillip Hughes.

Coming up - the rookie opener silences South Africa's sledging

with his first Test ton. COMMENTATOR: What a way to get your first Test hundred. And State versus State in the Super 14 - the Waratahs' sweet victory over Queensland.

Australia's batting prodigy Phillip Hughes has responded to South Africa's taunts with a brilliant maiden century in the second Test.

The Aussies dominated day one in Durban, reaching 4/303. Simon Katich made 108 and Hughes became the fourth-youngest Australian to score a Test ton. Through the first Test and the build-up to this game, South Africa mocked Australia's rookie opener. But Phillip Hughes ignored their gibes about his unique technique. I knew early on, you definitely gotta come hard and, you know, that's cricket, really.

It's definitely been a great contest out there and one I'm thoroughly enjoying. After three innings, the Proteas have respect - their all-star pace attack's baffled by Australia's new opener. He seems to have a little bit of X-factor, you know? The bottom line is

as a player you get judged on how many runs you make as a batsman. COMMENTATOR: It's a flourish. Oh, look at that finish. Hughes hit 19 boundaries, 4 came from one Morne Morkel over. He reached 1,000 first class runs at a younger age than Sir Donald Bradman. He beat the Don to a Test ton, too, by 28 days. At 20 years and 96 days, Hughes is the fourth-youngest Australian centurion. He did it with back-to-back sixes. What a way to get your first Test hundred. He threw it up there so I thought "go again" and it just happened. Definitely a very exciting time and one I'll never forget - and that's why I was so happy, I think. Hughes fell cutting Jacques Kallis on 115. South Africa thought they had Katich caught behind on 63. The new hot spot technology let them down. Every one of them is totally convinced he nicked the ball. Katich went on to score his seventh Test century. That's a mental effort as much as anything else. Australia dominated day one but late wickets gave the Proteas life as they try to level the series. Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh has had the last laugh with a win over Queensland after the Reds talked up their chances of victory all week. The Hurricanes defeated the Cheetahs and the Western Force lost to the Chiefs. The Waratahs beat the Reds by 4 points at the Sydney Football Stadium. All week, the Reds were calling themselves entertainers but Phil Waugh knows actions speak louder than words. COMMENTATOR: Oh, Phil Waugh, hammer time! You know, they still only scored 11 points.

For an exciting rugby team to throw the ball around, they still only scored 11 points. Benn Robinson barged over for the first try. The Reds were hopeless in the lineout, losing seven of their throws to the Tahs, but New South Wales admit their ball control isn't up to scratch - still pushing too many passes. You know, you're not going to score tries off one or two phases every time - you've got to accumulate pressure.

Lachie Turner broke free for a solo run - unlucky not to go all the way. Leroy Houston wiped out Kurtley Beale. The Reds led 11-10 at half-time. Hynes! Peter Hynes scores! Turner pulled off an amazing tackle to prevent further damage. Peter Hynes lost the ball straight into Timana Tahu's hands who sealed the match 15 -11. McLinden comes at him - won't stop him! The Tahs are waiting on scans to see if Wycliff Palu has broken his hand. Hugh McMeniman was the bravest man on the field, playing after his dad passed away in the afternoon. Very inspiring and all our thoughts are with the McMeniman family at the moment. Wests Tigers star Robbie Farah

will be fit to start the NRL season next weekend, after successfully testing his recovery from a back injury last night. The Tigers' trial against Shellharbour was disrupted by a blackout. Giant winger Taniela Tuiaki scored 4 tries in the 70 to 4 win - a tune-up for Farah and Benji Marshall's

new hooker-halfback combination. Robbie and Benji playing 9 and 7 for the first time. Not an NRL game but it was a good hit-out for them. The Tigers play Canberra in round one, next Monday. Niconero has won the million-dollar Australian Cup at Flemington but Super Saturday belonged to jockey Craig Newitt whose father Guy died a week ago. Newitt held back tears after winning the Cadbury Guineas

on Heart of Dreams.

Super Saturday for most. For Craig Newitt, it was super in that he won a Group One, but sad all the same. I cant explain it, mate. I can't explain it, mate. It's been the toughest week of my life. This time a week ago, Newitt's heart was broken when he learnt his father had died in a car crash. Newitt rode last week without the dream result. Today, it came true in the Guineas. RACECALLER: Heart of Dreams takes the Guineas.

With emotion, Newitt did what his dad said he'd do. This is what he wanted. He said they couldn't beat him. Just wish he was here, mate. In the million-dollar Australian Cup over 2000m, it was a 3-way battle between Theseo, Niconero and Zagreb. They're closing on Theseo - they hit. They're closing on Theseo - Too close to call, a photo proved Niconero nailed it. And Scenic Blast went in search of Flemington's Lightning Stakes Newmarket Handicap double - and did it. But Scenic Blast won the Newmarket from Swiss ace, Aichi. World number 2 Bede Durbidge's attempt to win the Quiksilver Pro is back on track, surviving today's sudden death round 2 heat on the Gold Coast. Durbidge beat Byron Bay veteran Danny Wills who retired from pro surfing after the defeat. Mixed feelings leading into the event and stuff. Just a big relief - it's like someone's thrown a couple of bricks off me shoulders. I feel good. World number 4 Joel Parkinson also progressed to round 3. Parkinson and Durbidge are trying to prevent Kelly Slater from winning a 10th world title this year.

Abid he feels better with those

bricks of shoulders. A beautiful autumn day in Sydney. I'll tell you if sunrise is going to be just as nice as this morning's after the break.

A fine evening turned into a perfect day with sunny skies across Sydney.

Overnight temperatures had an autumn chill but they were several degrees warmer than recent days. Around the country tomorrow - A few showers developing in Brisbane. Melbourne can also expect a shower.

Fine in Canberra and Adelaide. A hot day for Perth. On Sydney's waterways - There's a fine evening in store for Mardi Gras but the sunrise might not be quite as spectacular as this morning's. Cloud increasing with a couple of showers developing. And get your umbrellas ready for the week ahead because showers are forecast right through until next weekend. And that's Seven News to now but I'll be back later with updates. I'm Chris Bath. Thanks for your company. See you tomorrow for 'Sunday Night' right after the news. Goodnight. This week I'm gonna do a boating trip with a good mate of mine, Terry Hayden. Terry lost his leg in a boating accident about 20 years ago, but that doesn't deter him from his two great loves, and that's the ocean and saltwater fly-fishing. Terry manufactures these top-of-the range fly reels,

and he's always wanted to test them out along the wild Kimberley coast, so he's gonna join me