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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. of a challenge to John Howard. Peter Costello abandons any threat over the North Cronulla bashing. Another brawl as a man is arrested out of the one-day series. Andrew Symonds blasts the Kiwis Good evening. showdown in federal politics in years It's been the most anticipated by Peter Costello but today the leadership challenge but with a whimper. ended not with fireworks, has withdrawn any threat The Treasurer with Prime Minister Howard, of a party-room confrontation set by his supporters abandoning a deadline in the Liberal Party leadership. for a change Peter Costello sounded the retreat, Today was the day to force John Howard formally calling off his attempt in the first half of next year. into a leadership handover the budget as Treasurer next May. First, he conceded he would deliver to be handed down by me. I'm preparing it down by anybody else. I'm not preparing it to be handed to the March or April deadline That finally puts paid for the Prime Minister to retire. Costello supporters had set to rule out challenging Mr Howard Then the Treasurer appeared at any stage, for the Liberal leadership saying he would be a candidate when there is a vacancy. There is no vacancy. if there is one. We'll deal with that He has run up the white flag campaign. in terms of his future leadership He has completely capitulated. Does the Treasurer stand by his view aside before the next election? that the Prime Minister should stand a false premise. The question is based on that his leadership ambitions Mr Costello's acceptance at least in the short term, have been stymied,

follows two weeks of pressure with serious tax problems over the appointment of a businessman to the board of the Reserve Bank. the Prime Minister Some Costello loyalists had accused with all the blame. of trying to lump the Treasurer this morning This picture in newspapers at the top of the Government. seemed to sum up the tension that photographs can lie. But Mr Costello said it simply showed the Prime Minister agreed. Magnanimous in victory, and we continue to be a great team. We have been a great team Laurie Oakes, National Nine News. In breaking news, at North Cronulla Beach. there has been more violence as a fight between two men, It apparently started before 10 others joined in. A newspaper photographer was injured. and have arrested one man. Police swarmed the area police arrested and charged a man It happened on the same day that of two volunteer lifeguards in connection with the bashing on Sunday. He's an 18-year-old from Bankstown. Police arrested him this morning for questioning. before taking him to Newtown station with assault and affray, After being charged bail and will face court next month. the teenager was granted conditional of being a Grinch this Christmas, The Premier is accused of some price rises. with the announcement the cost of a ferry ride will rise, In a matter of weeks, to fund an upgrade of the power grid. while electricity will also go up of the State's ailing power network, taxpayers' pockets. the Premier is digging into It's a modest increase on the investment. for a substantial return is introducing another $10 tax. What Morris Iemma is doing now $1.6 billion of improvements A $10 a year rise will cover to power lines and substations will also be built Two new gas-fired power stations on the Central and South coasts. fast outstripping supply, But with demand will prevent blackouts this summer. there's no guarantee the measures blackouts, fewer outages It is to ensure there are fewer fewer interruptions into the system. of electricity, As the Premier increased the cost higher ferry fares. the Transport Minister was approving I think most people will understand for an organisation that a CPI increase

is a reasonable increase in fares. it'll cost another 20 cents From January, and Manly ferries to use inner harbour feeling the pinch. And it won't only be ferry passengers bus fares are also tipped to rise. Later this month, and well. The Christmas Grinch is alive cop it, bus commuters are next. Sydney ferry commuters are about to Nigel Blunden, National Nine News. problems this evening, Rail commuters are experiencing because of Sydney's sweltering heat. as trains are forced to slow down making it the hottest day in a year. It reached 40 degrees today, For those without airconditioning, were the only places to be. the pool or beach could do was watch the heat rise And for the rest of us, all we those scorching north-westerlies. and shelter from Today's temperatures were fitting, climate change conference heard coming as an international and driest on record. 2005 is set to be the hottest Don't expect any more favours of the Cross City Tunnel. from the operators they would accept road changes, Just a day after hinting is now threatening the chief executive to protect the tunnel's revenue. he'll sue the State Government was in rapid reverse. Today the Cross City Tunnel boss to clarify what I said yesterday. I'm here today really dropped under oath. It was a bombshell by a parliamentary committee Peter Sansom was being grilled because of the tunnel. about the road closures imposed to those roadways, So if the Government made changes compensation from the Government? then you would not be seeking Not for changes down there, no. Mr Sansom had said in the past. That contradicted everything yesterday, After admitting he was wrong straight. today he tried to set the record compensation? REPORTER: Will still be seeking Yes, we will seek compensation. to be drawn on the confusion. The Government has refused from the NRMA The Premier has also rejected calls to have some road changes reversed. the tunnel chief to renegotiate. Instead Mr Iemma wants to put If he's got something sensible then I certainly will listen. even further, But just to complicate things the Opposition claims it has proof

that the Government already has the power to reverse many of the road changes without incurring any penalty. I think it's worth actually going back to the table and thumping the table.

I've made the point continually for the last few months, the tunnel operator is in a very weak position. Mr Debnam believes 52 or the 72 road changes could be overturned. Damian Ryan, National Nine News. Teachers will have fewer choices on what they can include in their lessons under strict new guidelines imposed on our junior schools. From next year, a greater emphasis will be placed on the basics and students will be expected to reach certain standards at particular stages of their education. There's nothing tricky or trendy about the new system. 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 An emphatic return to the fundamentals - maths and English in particular. (All) H...I...J...K...L...M...N...O...P Two years in the making, a series of so-called 'foundation statements' will govern education from kindergarten to Year 6. A clear picture of what each students needs to know and understand at each stage of primary schooling.

All children should now be leaving primary school very numerate, very capable. There are clear guidelines and frameworks now. Teachers like the new format - up to 55% of a school week devoted to English and maths, with another 2.5 hours each devoted to science, history, geography and technology. People need to know how they should allocate their time. To parents of a certain generation, all of this new system may seen very familiar, and so it should. It used to be known as the three Rs. Emphasis on reading, writing and 'rithmetic. Peter Harvey, National Nine News. More than 1,000 people have packed a Melbourne cathedral to farewell hanged drug trafficker Van Nguyen. Mourners paid tribute to his dignity and courage in his final days.

Dressed in white, the Vietnamese colour of mourning, friends and complete strangers came to farewell a young man whose death had galvanised them. No, I didn't know Van, For Van Nguyen's brother, Khoa, and their mother, Kim,

support was overwhelming, and compassion for her unbearable ordeal.

Today a nation, in many ways divided, unites in its admiration for you, comes together to comfort you. And few were left doubting a convicted drug trafficker had turned his life around on death row. In the last two years of Van's life, selfishness gave way to selflessness, lies gave way to truth, and indulgence gave way to spirituality. CHORAL SINGING As they consoled each other his family and friends were comforted by his final diary entry - "To all who have fought so hard for my life, "to all who've prayed and those I have hurt, "please forgive me for my sins." "It is now my time. "Fear not, my brothers and sisters, fear not." But as Van Nguyen was farewelled,

there was a sense of optimism, of good coming from evil. An Iranian military transport plane has crashed into a Tehran apartment block, killing at least 128 people. Most of the victims had been on the plane,

but more than 30 were killed on the ground by exploding wreckage. The C-130 had been trying to make an emergency landing because of engine trouble when one of its wings clipped a 10-storey apartment building. SIRENS WAIL The plane's fuel tanks were full, the impact causing a huge fireball and mayhem on the streets. Riot police called in to control the crowds. Most of the wreck came to rest at the base of the apartment block. Witnesses say some who rushed in to help the injured were killed by falling debris when parts of the building collapsed. All on board died - 10 crew and 84 Iranian radio and television journalists heading to the country's south to report on military exercises. On the ground, 34 were killed. Mostly those trapped inside the apartment block by the blaze after fire trucks reportedly ran out of water. Iranian television reported 90 people had been hurt. There are calls now for the airport to be moved, away from the city and its high rise residential blocks.

Christine Spiteri, National Nine News. After 15 months of legal wrangling, Taronga Zoo has all but won its battle to bring in five Asian elephants from Thailand. Animal welfare protesters had been trying to stop the import on the grounds of cruelty, but today, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal gave its approval, subject to a number of conditions about the elephant enclosure. A final decision will be handed down on December 16 and all being well, the elephants will be in their new home by Easter.

In the news ahead - a billion-dollar boost for Parramatta. And an island volcano erupts under water. There is more to this story than just a dead cockroach. SCUTTLING AND SCREECHING What about the germs they carry? Ew! Only Baygon Germkill has the power to kill cockroaches and the antibacterial power to kill the germs they carry. Now, that's the whole story. New Baygon Germkill. Kills insects and the germs they carry. Also available in flyspray. 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. There's been a tragic demonstration of the dangers of country driving just weeks before many of us head out of town for the Christmas holidays. It's believed a tyre from this red station wagon blew out, causing it to collide with a ute just east of Bathurst. A man and woman from the station wagon died while the ute's driver was airlifted to hospital in a serious condition. The driver of a fully laden semitrailer has lost control and ploughed into a row of parked cars at Narwee, in Sydney's south. The accident happened on a suburban street early this afternoon. Locals say it's lucky that school hadn't finished and children were not playing nearby. The city of Parramatta is in line for a major facelift, the biggest urban revitalisation project in a decade. It will cost almost $1.5 billion and create more than 8,000 jobs. It's been years in the planning and still nine years from completion, but the Lord Mayor says the billion-dollar revamp is crucial to Parramatta's future. It'll be the most integrated town centre in Sydney and the most interesting and culturally diverse town centre. Think European style piazzas - five outdoor public spaces over three hectares, with a mixture of business, retail, residential and cultural space. Recent studies have shown most university graduates and young families leave the west for the city, in search of better careers and lifestyle. The mayor believes that trend can be reversed. We've invested a lot of time and money into making sure that we've got the details right. More people from Sydney itself might come out and check out the west.

But there's a significant hurdle to overcome before the development is approved. Council is looking to acquire large portions of land for the project, land which is currently owned by ratepayers. There are reasons where governments need to make hard decisions in the community's interest. This is one of them. The project is expected to be completed by 2014. Stella Lauri, National Nine News. In Vanuatu, thousands of villagers are being evacuated from homes near an erupting volcano. Mount Manaro, on the island of Ambae, has been active for more than a week now, spewing smoke and some 2,000 tonnes of ash every day. There's a lake inside the crater, and experts believe that when molten rock hits the water, there will be a massive explosion. Three weeks away from the first anniversary of the tsunami disaster, Australian aid agencies are preparing for a massive housing project for Indonesia's Aceh province. Much of the year has been spent repairing roads and facilities. Now the focus is on building homes for the hundreds of thousands living in emergency shelters. $1 billion buys a lot of gratitude. While these students at a Muslim school were giving their thanks to Australia, the grinding physical work continued, using Australian funding, for perhaps the province's most important single project - getting the port running again. And now we are moving into the major reconstruction program, the rebuilding of Aceh. Here in the centre of Banda Aceh, it is hard to believe almost a year ago there was nothing much except death and destruction. Now the place is thriving. But you don't have to go far from here to see that there are still plenty of scars. Refugee camps still sprawl across the landscape and a Red Cross assessment has found virtually all of them in need of emergency work. There was 170 camps assessed and 168 needed some sort of intervention to stop a disease outbreak in the coming wet season. Nora and baby Raisa are still living in one room with two other families, waiting to get their own home. The plan is to build 80,000 houses in Aceh next year - 30,000 more than are built annually in all of Indonesia. But many are taking the rebuilding literally into their own hands - 75 fishing boats are being constructed here, for free. In Banda Aceh, Brett McLeod, National Nine News. Friday will mark exactly 25 years since the murder of John Lennon, and new audio tapes have been released, revealing his thoughts on his talent, the fans and the Beatles' break up, which he partly blames on Paul McCartney. The interview was recorded by 'Rolling Stone' magazine just months after the break-up. He was in a dark mood about many things, including his fans. But he was more than confident about his own talent. Lennon would have been 65. Ken with sport next and Australia has set New Zealand a mountainous task in the second one-dayer in Wellington.

Thanks to an amazing innings from Andrew Symonds. He made an extraordinary 156, which included 8 sixes. And it's curtains on Sunset Beach for some but not for one Aussie. For me, Christmas just isn't Christmas Like the ham... ..fantastic cherries... DOORBELL CHIMES Look at me. I can't get enough of them. And I don't need to run myself ragged to find it all. Coles has everything I want in the one place. WOMAN: No running, kids! So I've got more time... (All squeal) ..for the special things. I got it. (Laughs)

Game two of the Chappell-Hadlee series is proving to be an absolute ripper, New Zealand hitting back after an awesome power-batting display by Australia's Andrew Symonds. With Australia in trouble at 3/50, this was the moment New Zealand probably lost any hold on the Chappell-Hadlee trophy. Chris Cairns grassing Andrew Symonds on just 14. While Hamish Marshall got rid of Simon Katich for 36, from there Symonds and Michael Clarke mounted their middle-order rebuild. Clarke compiling an unbeaten 82. Symonds' third one-day hundred hit from just 109 balls. The top-order collapse all but forgotten as the all-rounder further upped the tempo. COMMENTATOR: It's six. This is hitting of the best style you'll ever see in one-day cricket. That dropped chance haunted Cairns. Symonds smashed him for 3 sixes in a row. That one's been hoicked to the on-side. And guess what? It's gone for six! From just 16 balls, Symonds flew from 100 to 150. All up - 12 fours and 8 sixes. His 156 the highest one-day knock hit in New Zealand. Any fears of Brett Lee from game one were quickly overcome as Lou Vincent got the Kiwis away to a flyer. Michael Lewis' first over in international cricket cost 11 runs. And it's gone all the way. But Lewis hit back, taking two wickets, including dangerman Vincent for 71. The brakes further applied by spinner Brad Hogg. He's gone back and he's going to be given. Andrew McKinlay, National Nine News. A more flexible view towards finals football was one of the proposals put forward at today's NRL conference. It follows last seasons outcry when fans missed out on tickets to a final between the Tigers and the Dragons because it co ldn't be shifted from Aussie Stadium to Telstra Stadium. What we want to do will make the finals series better.

We've obviously had some hiccups along the way during 2005, and indeed 2004. There's also been a recommendation to play finals on Friday and Saturday nights. Robert Allenby and Adam Scott will start as equal favourites in tomorrow's Masters tournament at Huntingdale. Allenby is chasing his third consecutive title, while Scott is hoping to break his Australian duck. It's all part of the golfer's kit - play, travel, play - and Scott only arrived for the Masters last night, and more then anyone he wants a win in his home country. I'd love to notch up a win and get that over with so it's not a big thing any more. The world number eight had been competing at Sun City in South Africa, where he lost in a play-off to American Jim Furyk. Still second place isn't bad form heading into tomorrow's first round. Kind of mission accomplished. Had a high finish. Former champion Peter Lonard can't wait for the season to finish. A heavy workload has left him with damaged knee ligaments and he'll have surgery on Monday. It will be nice to have a couple of weeks off and nice to have a reason why I don't have to pick up a stick for at least a week,

that won't hurt either, I don't think. At Sunset Beach the competition was almost as hot,

as the waves where Australia's Jake Paterson conquered the 5m swell. The lights went out for some. And in the perfect lead up to Pipeline, Paterson beat America's Andy Irons in the final. Clinton Fletcher, National Nine News.

And the great Arthur Beetson has

resigned as an Australian Rugby resqgned as an Australian ugby resigned as an Australian Rugby League selector, I don't think he

saw eye to eye on a lot of things with Wayne Bennett. with 30% off manchester. Excludes nursery manchester. That's beach towels, sheets, quilts, pillows and more at a massive 30% off. In some welcome relief for home owners, the Reserve Bank has left interest rates on hold. It came as Australia's economic growth slowed, up just 0.2% as petrol prices cooled our spending. An absolute scorcher today, with more, here's Jaynie. We have sweltered and melted in the heat, and it's still 39 outside. but a gusty southerly change is set to move in between 7pm and 9pm tonight. Some westerlies have been gusting to over 60km/h. A severe thunderstorm warning is in place this evening for the northern quarter of the State. There's the chance we could get large hail and wind gusts in excess of 90km/h. At the moment they are gusting to 80 for the north-west slopes and along the Illawarra coast. We just had a big storm over Armadale. A high fire danger tomorrow for the Central West Plains. Another scorcher for the north-east, with afternoon storms. The rest of us should stay dry under the large high, with moderate westerly winds and a cooling sea breeze along the coast. Fine in Canberra tomorrow. A few showers over Melbourne, with fresh westerly winds. Hobart also windy. Adelaide waking up to showers. Perth will see a few sprinkles. Darwin and Brisbane in for storms. Sydney - there is the chance of storms tonight, but tomorrow should be a dry one with light winds spinning back around to the north. Still no sign of the wet stuff for at least a week. Just more heat with northerly winds, but nothing like today, Mark. And that's National Nine News for this Wednesday. A Current Affair is next.

I'm Mark Ferguson. Goodnight. Supertext Captions by the Australian Caption Centre.