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Welcome to Ten's Early News. Today: A desperate search. Two fishermen

coast. still missing off the NSW north

coast.

On the brink-of-collapse - ABC

Learning nearing the end of its empire. British residents face a massive

damage bill after an earthquake. In In sport, Anthony Mundine defends

his WBA supermiddleweight title

The big story in finance - ABC

Learning on the brink of collapse.

could lose The crisis deepens. Eddy Groves The crisis deepens. Eddy

could lose control of his childcare

empire after it was revealed he and

his wife were among four directors

forced to offload $52 million in

shares. That halves their stake in

the company to less than 4%.

Making matters worse, the company is

now reportedly facing a possible

insider trading investigation

after it was revealed CEO Martin

Kemp sold $7.5 million in shares

two days before the market rout. two days before the market rout.

The stock has been placed in a

two-day training halt with

management locked in crisis talks. The company is reportedly looking

at selling its assets, at selling its assets, including

1,000-plus centres in the United

States. A Singaporean company,

Temasek, and Macquarie Group have

emerged as potential buyers.

emerged as potential buyers.

The Government have freed The Government have freed up

billions of dollars in America to

free up the housing market.

I'll have more on the Aussie

dollar's stellar run a little later

in finance. It's a good time to go

to the States on holiday.

A full-scale search will resume this morning for two this morning for two fishermen

feared drowned off the north coast

of NSW. Another man on board of NSW. Another man on board the

trawler raised the alarm after

shore. swimming for ten hours to reach

The trawler sunk seven nautical

miles off the north coast of NSW.

After it struck a reef about three o'clock yesterday morning, three

fishermen on board were left

clinging to what they could. Deck

hand Michael Williams swam ten hours to shore to hours to shore to raise the alarm.

Cuts and lacerations up and down

his legs. He was pretty exhausted.

The 39-year-old was taken to

hospital suffering from severe

dehydration and exhaustion. Search

parties hit the water and took to

the sky but were unable to find the

other two crew members. Skipper

Charlie Picton and deck hand JJ were last were last seen holding on to an

esky. We have concerned for their

safety at the moment. The sea at

the moment is fairly treacherous.

An air and sea search has continued

throughout the night with police

checking the shoreline in case the

men managed to reach the land.

The 'Oceanic Viking' is due back in

port today after monitoring the

Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. The customs ship is Southern Ocean. The customs ship is

expected to arrive Fremantle this

photographic morning arpltd with video and

photographic evidence of the whale

cull that could be used in legal

gens Japan. The ship also helped resolve

resolve a stand-off between

whalers and Sea Shepherd protesters.

It's hoped autopsy results today

will shed light on an apparent

poisoning in country Victoria. The

bodies of two men were discovered on the side of the road on the side of the road on Tuesday

after they placed a call to 000

saying they were ill. By the time

paramedics arrived it was too paramedics arrived it was too late.

One of the men has been identified

as 21-year-old Stephen Rees. Detectives believe the deaths may

have been caused by a bad batch of drugs.

Fresh reports have emerged this

morning of NSW Government links to

developers. According to News

Limited premier Morris Limited premier Morris Iemma and

the planning minister, Frank the planning minister, Frank Sartor,

had donation cheques written out to

them personally by a developer

involved in a safety and corruption

probe. The developer donated more

than $13,000 to the ALP and Mr

Sartor has since agreed to take

over planning approval for his

building approval.

A warning to parents about what

they are feeding their toddlers. Landmark research has discovered

young children are eating too much

salty, calorie-rich food and young children are eating too much

missing out on fibre and essential

nutrients. Researchers tracked the

diets of more than 400 youngsters

the and found almost all were exceeding

the recommended daily intake of

calories or energy.

The Taliban has failed to disrupt

the work of Australian military engineers in Afghanistan following

a spate of attacks near a

construction site. Our troops construction site. Our troops have

launched a counter-attack.

Australian troops have moved deeper

into Taliban territory denying the

enemy access to a key mountain pass

which channels movement through

this forbidding terrain. The

Australian reconstruction task

force, building a force for the

Afghan army from where it can reach

communication. out and interdict the Taliban's

communication. Extremists have hit

back, forcing the Aussie troops to

repel a number of attacks. It was

obvious to us the Taliban do not

want us here. They attacked our

security positions just on dusk

with RPG and small arms fire. These

local civilians reckons two members

of the Taliban approached this

position on motorbikes andified position on motorbikes andified

RPGs from the corner of this

building here. There were no

casualties on either side. The

Taliban melting back into the countryside but not before firing

on the pursuing Australian soldiers.

I reckon they ducted back over the

back of that ridge line there,

probably 200 metres. The Taliban

attempting to hide the weapons use ntd the

ntd the attacks. Boss, jackpot.

More here!

Indonesian police say the fatal

stabbing of an Australian woman in

Bali may have been a robbery gone

wrong. Heidi Murphy's body was

found last month with 37 stab

wounds. Police have arrested a

second man, Ahmad Fahrul Rozi, over

the killing. He alleges Miss Murphy the killing. He alleges Miss Murphy

woke up while he was robbing her

home and he paniced and stabbed her.

He stole $500, which he used to

buy an engagement for his girlfriend.

Britain has been rocked by a 5.2

magnitude earthquake, the biggest to

hit the country in 20 years. The

epicentre was in Lincolnshire, 200

kilometres away from London. kilometres away from London.

Tremors were felt as far away as

in Wales. dem frees in Scotland and Swansea

Michael Jackson is set to lose his

multimillion-dollar Neverland ranch. multimillion-dollar Neverland ranch.

He still owes $24 million on the

property and a Californian court

has given him a financial ultimatum.

Unless he pays his debts within

three weeks, the home will be

auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The estate boasts The estate boasts a ferries wheel,

merry-go-round and sculpture garden.

Supermodel Megan Gale has bid farewell

farewell to the catwalk, the

32-year-old taking to the runway

in Melbourne last night, the last

time for David Jones. I saw people

I knew having a bit of a tear and I

almost had a tear myself but almost had a tear myself but I

thought, "If I start, I will not be

able to stop." Gale is

able to stop." Gale is pursuing a

new career now on the silver screen

start being the role of Wonder Woman.

Australian opener Matthew Hayden

has escaped with a reprimand after

being charged with making a

detrimental public comment about

India's Harbhajan Singh. The Queenslander faced Cricket

Australia after revealing on radio

his true feelings about the

controversial spinner. Been a bit of a controversial spinner. Been a bit of

a long battle with Harbhajan. The

first time I ever met him he was

the same little on noxious we'd

that he is now. Hayden will take on

Harbhajan this Sunday in the first

of the one-day final matches.

Adelaide defender Nathan Bassett is

set to make his long-awaited return

in this weekend's NAB Cup smienl

against Hawthorn but the all-Australian will find himself in foreign territory on Saturday night.

Nathan Bassett hasn't played since

breaking his ankle in Round 13 last

year but provided he pulls up well

from training, the 32-year-old will

be included in Adelaide's squad to

face the Hawks. Bassett can expect

a different role on Saturday night.

Nathan has played a fair bit of his junior football forward and we've

seen him not so much - not so much

- a little bit this year in - a little bit this year in our

training, pre-season training actually, where he's played up

there. According to Craig, he won't

be the only Crow experimenting in the

the first half. I want to give

Goodman, McCloud, Edwards, perhaps

Scott Thompson another look forward.

Mast ue Lloyd knows a fair bit

about the forward line but he'll

cool his heels for another week. The Bombers not

The Bombers not willing to risk him

for Friday night's semi against the

Saints. I would have thought Saints. I would have thought he

would play the following week barring

barring any interruptions since

them. St Kilda has named Nick IRA

wolt.

Anthony Mundine has successfully

defended his supermiddleweight

title with a unanimous points decision decision over

decision over his good friend Nader

Hamdan. Mundine dominated as the

fight wore on, showing some

trademark flare to the hundreds in

attendance. Money Dean wants to

finish it right here. He's waiting

to get that right to connect. Money Dean proving his proterrible record

-- improving his professional

record to 31 and 3. Another solid result for Another solid result for Westfield?

That's right. The shopping centre

giant has boosted its profit to

$1.79 billion. Strong sales at its

44 centres across the 44 centres across the country

accounted for the 11.6% jump in

earnings but it was a very

different story in the US and

Britain where revenue weakened.

Westfield says it's confident,

though, its $10 billion pipeline

and $7 billion in the bank will

help buffer it from the credit crunch.

It's a good time to plan an

overseas trip with the Australian

dollar hit ago 24-year high against

the US currency, thanks to

escalating commodity prices, speculation that local interest

rates will increase as early as

next week and a strong oil price. A weaker American dollar is also

contributing.

The European Union has slapped

Microsoft with a record

Microsoft with a record $1.5

billion fine billion fine for overcharging

rivals for soft ware information.

Regulators found the corporation

had charged unreasonable prices

for developers who wanted to make

products compatible with Windows

desktop. The fine is the biggest

ever handed out to a single company.

Looking at today's newspapers, the 'Sydney Morning Herald' reports on

the health dangers facing a an Aboriginal community north-east of

Alice Springs. Their drinking water

is severely contaminated.

The 'Financial Review' has more on

the stellar profit result from

Westfield, as we just heard. And

leading the 'Herald Sun', Megan

Gale's final catwalk appearance in Melbourne last night.

Mitsubishi workers strike a deal

over redundancy. Details of that

when the Early News returns.

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This is Ten's Early News. This

morning the search continues for

the two fisher men missing off the

NSW north coast.

Mitsubishi workers strike a $100 million deal over redundancy payments.

And taking her final turn, Megan

Gale bids farewell to the catwalk.

In sports news, the Wildcats get

physical in their NBL semifinal against the Sydney Kings.

In the markets at the In the markets at the moment, the

US Federal Reserve flags growth and

inflation concerns? That's right. The

The Fed chief has issued a sharp

warning about warning about inflation and for

investors to brace for the prospect

of slower groith. The markets

turned higher on the news but turned higher on the news but have

since dipped into the red.

ABC Learning shares have been

placed in a two-day trading halt placed in a two-day trading halt with management locked in talks on

how to salvage the company. Owner

Eddy Groves and his wife are among

four directors who had to dump $52

million in shares to meet margin

calls. The company is looking to

offload some assets, including

1,000 centres in the US, to meet

its debt. ABC has received a

proposal for one of its businesses

and has signalled it will sell off

$250 million worth of dollars by

the end of June. Their shares collapsed on Tuesday after the

company unveiled a 42% drop in profits.

I'll be back a little later in

finance with some more company results. Thank you, Kath.

A full-scale air and sea search

resumes this morning for two

fishermen feared drowned off the

NSW north coast. Their 18m trawler

sank seven nautical sank seven nautical miles out to sank seven nautical miles out to sea after striking a reef yesterday. Deckhand Michael

Williams struck out for shore to

raise the alarm. We have concerned

for the other two men's safety at

the moment. The sea at the moment

is fairly treacherous. Mr Williams

is recovering in hospital from dehydration and exhaustion.

Queenslanders will likely go to the

ballot box in a referendum on fixed

four-year terms of Parliament.

State Parliament passed a motion

last night to take a formal vote on

the issue and a referendum is now

likely. The move would bring

Queensland into line with the rest

of Australian States.

Mitsubishi workers have accepted a

redundancy package and that clears

the way for the Amberley plant to

close in March. 71% of staff voted

to accept the deal which will cost

Mitsubishi around $100 Mitsubishi around $100 million. The

redundancy package for the 900

workers includes an extra week of

pay for each year of service as a

reward for loyalty. Teachers

Teachers in WA are walking off the

job today over a pay dispute. It's

expected to cause widespread

disruptions with no guarantee that

schools will be able to supervise

their students.

For three hours, the State teachers union executive met to

consider whether to defy the

Industrial Relations Commission not

to stop work. Its decision - go

ahead with the strike. It will

provide an opportunity for our

members to clearly again signal

they are not happy with the

progress of negotiations, that the

content of the second offer was not

sufficient 9,000 teachers are

expected to converge on Langley

park and thousands more in the country

country for a one-hour meeting, the

move leaving the union open to a

fine and deregistration for not

complying with a fine and the IRC

order. This will inconvenient

families, hurt children's education

and shows bad faith. The department

unable to guarantee schools will be

open tomorrow. In the event that

schools do need to close, that

principals take that decision, they'll communicate it with the

parents.

A man has died in a high-speed car

crash in Brisbane overnight. The

driver lost control of his car

shortly after seven o'clock, the car rolling several times before

hitting a power pole. It's believed

the driver was not wearing a

seatbelt at the time and died at the scene.

Taliban soldiers have attacked

Australian troops in Afghanistan,

sparking a series of running sparking a series of running gun

battles. The fighting was sparked by

by the construction of a fort by the construction of a fort by Australian combat engineers inside

Taliban territory. It was obvious

to us the Taliban do not want us

here. They attacked one of our

security positions just on dusk

with RPGs and small arms fire. The

Australians have launched a series of aggressive patrols which have

uncovered Taliban weapons. It's

meant to be one of the most secure

buildings in the UK, but protesters managed

managed to get on to the roof of

Britain's historic Houses of

Parliament. The environmentalists

were protesting against plans for were protesting against plans for a

third runway at Heathrow Airport.

The incident highlighting a severe

security flaw at the House of

Commons, which is seen as a potential target for attack. potential target for attack. This

follows a parallel protest earlier

this week when activists climbed on

top of a plane at Heathrow.

The curtain has fallen on Megan

Gale's catwalk career, the Gale's catwalk career, the

supermodel taking her final turn

on the runway last night in

Melbourne. Ch

A super sign-off from the catwalk

Queen, retiring from the runway

after 15 years. In front of an

adoring crowd at Melbourne's Town

Hall, the 32-year-old found it hard

to say goodbye. Some people I knew

were having a bit of a tear and I

almost, almost had a tear myself

but I thought, "If I but I thought, "If I start I will

not be able to stop." Gale has hung

up her catwalk heels but will stay

on as ambassador for David on as ambassador for David Jones. Tonight in Melbourne is Megan's

final walk. Now with a little spare

time, she'll take on the time, she'll take on the silver

screen starring in her first film

as Wonder Woman. Such a huge role

that I'm undertaking but I've

loved Wonder Woman for years. If

all goes well, this won't be the

last time she'll strike a pose.

That's enough. I think they got it.

Newcastle's Joel Griffiths has

dominated the A League awards,

winning the coveted Johnny Warren

Medal for the league's best player

and the golden boot for the most

goals. The Jets goals. The Jets striker

celebrated his accomplishment just days after winning the grand days after winning the grand final.

This is the icing on the cake and

I'll Cherish it. It's a year I'll

never forget. The Jets manager

Gary van Egmond was named coach of

the year while Bruce Djite was the

A League's rising star and Michael

Theoklitos was the keeper of the

year. St

St Kilda forward Nick Riewoldt has

been named in the squad to face

Essendon at the Telstra Dome

tomorrow night, named alongside

Steven King, Lenny Hayes and Robert

Harvey for the NAB Cup semifinal against Essendon. The Bombers have

decided not to risk Matthew

Lloyd's hamstrings just yet. I

would have thought he would

definitely play the following week

barring any interruptions between

now and then. Matthew Knights said

if Essendon made the grand final,

Lloyd would play.

The Perth Wildcats remain alive in

the NBL. They beat Sydney in the

semifinals there, sending the teams

back to Sydney for a deciding game on Saturday. Brisbane must beat Melbourne

tonight. They lost by 18 last night.

Finals desperation from the outset,

Melbourne on a mission at home and Brisbane did not like it.

Bradshaw from close range. The

defending champs were led by CJ

defending champs were led by CJ

Bruden who hit seven 3-pointers but

his side trailed in the third

quarter and never recovered.

Melbourne took game one by 18

months. They've won game one of

this best-of-three series in

impressive fashion. Perth, the

Wildcats ended game two against

Sydney fighting for survival and it

showed. Sydney without a couple of

boomers, but with Dante Draper,

who was in fine touch. Pulls up for

a long three. That's good! The kats

led by seven at half-time led by seven at half-time but

Sydney closed in on that in

emphatic fashion. A tip down! Oh,

my! Perth lost its discipline but

still won the match, both teams'

coaching staff involved in a nasty

spat at the game's conclusion.

spat at the game's conclusion.

That never happens in the finance

world, does it, Kath? Oh, never.

Profits tumbling at Seven. That's

right. They've unveiled an 18.7%

drop in first half profit to $126

million. Removing one-off sales,

the bottom line is down 21.1% to

just under $89 million. The Seven

board blames the poor result on a board blames the poor result on a company restructure following company restructure following the

formation of the Seven Media Group

with KKR.

NIB is locked in merger talks with

two smaller funds in an effort to

consolidate its position in the

industry. They hope to expand

operations in NSW ahead of the $2.4

billion merger between NBF and a

British insurer. Checking

the forecast around Australia:

More scandal for the NSW Government.

We'll have that next. And cot

secretary finance report when the

Early News returns.

Did you know some sharks grow new teeth as they need them - certain species growing up to 20,000 new teeth in a lifetime. It's the active fluoride in Macleans Protect

to strengthen teeth from the inside out. Don't just protect your teeth on the surface. (Sings off-key) # Are your Macleans showing? #

This is Ten's Early News. Our This is Ten's Early News. Our top

stories this morning:

A desperate search. Two fishermen

are still missing off the NSW north coast. On

On the brink of collapse - ABC

Learning facing the end of its empire.

Residents left with a massive damage bill after an damage bill after an earthquake rocks Britain.

In sports news, Anthony Mundine

successful in his defence of his WBA supermid-weight title.

Right now, Kath, the founder of ABC Right now, Kath, the founder of ABC

- tough lesson. That's right, the

crisis deepens with owner Eddy

Groves at the brink of losing

control of his childcare empire

after it was revealed he and his

wife were among four directors

forced to offload $52 million in

shares to meet margin calls. That

shares to meet margin calls. That

halves the company's stakes -

couple's stake in the company to less

less than 4%. The company is now

reportedly facing a possible

insider trading investigation

after it was revealed CEO Martin

Kemp sold $7.5 million in shares Kemp sold $7.5 million in shares

two days before the market rout.

The stock has been placed in a

two-day trading halt with

management last night locked in

crisis talks. The company is

reportedly looking at selling its

assets, including 1,000 centres in

the US, to cut its $1.4 billion debt.

debt. Singaporean company Temasek

and Macquarie Group have emerged

as potential buyers.

To the markets and a choppy session

on Wall Street overnight. US stocks rallied after the government rallied after the government moved

to free up billions of dollars to

invest in the slumping housing market

Coming Coming up:

What's in store for the day ahead.

We'll speak to experts at CommSec.

A man who swam for ten hours A man who swam for ten hours from

his stricken vessel to shore in northern

northern NSW is recovering in

hospital as the search continues

for two of his crew.

for two of his crew. Their 18m

trawler sank seven nautical miles trawler sank seven nautical miles

out to sea yesterday. Deck hand

Michael Williams swam for ten hours

to raise the alarm. Skipper Charlie

Picton and another deck hand JJ

were last seen clinging to an esky. We We have concerns for their safety.

The sea is treacherous at the moment. Mr moment. Mr Williams is recovering from dehydration and exhaustion. The 'Oceanic Viking' is due back in port today after monitoring port today after monitoring the Japanese whaling fleet in the According to News Limited, premier Morris Iemma and Frank Sartor had cheques written to them in their names, allegedly by a developer involved in a corruption probe. Mr Sartor has since agred to take over planning approval for his building proposal. School's out for students in WA today as teachers go on a half-day

strike over a pay dispute. Staff

are defying an Industrial Relations

Commission order by gathering for a stop

stop work meeting this morning. The

strike is expected to cause

widespread disruptions with no

guarantee that schools will be guarantee that schools will be able to supervise their students.

The Taliban has failed to disrupt

the work of Australian military engineers in Afghanistan following

a spate of attacks near a

construction site. Our troops have launched a counter-attack.

launched a counter-attack. Australian troops have moved deeper

into Taliban territory, denying the

enemy access to a key mountain pass

which channels movement through

this forbidding terrain. The Australiaian reconstruction

task force building a fort for the

Afghan army from where it can reach

out and interdict the Taliban's line of communication, but

line of communication, but the

extreme irsts have hit back, extreme irsts have hit back,

forcing the Aussie troops to repel

a number of attacks. It was obvious

to us the Taliban do not want us

here. They attacked one of our

security positions just on dusk

with RPGs and small arms fire. The

diggers following up with a diggers following up with a sweep

the surrounding area about 15

kilometres from the fort. These civilians reckon two Taliban civilians reckon two Taliban

approached on motorbikes and fired

RPGs from this corner here. There

were no casualties on either side,

the Taliban melting back into the Taliban melting back into the

countryside, firing on pursuing

Australian soldiers. I reckon they

ducted over the back of that ridge

line there, probably 200 metres.

The Taliban attempting to hide the weapons

weapons used in the attacks. Boss,

Woodsy, the jackpot. Yeah, more Woodsy, the jackpot. Yeah, more

here, more here.

Indonesian police say the fatal

stabbing of an Australian woman in

Bali may have been a robbery gone wrong. Heidi Murphy's body was

found in her villa last month. 37

stab wounds. Police have arrested a

second man, Ahmad Fahrul Rozi, over

the killing. Rozi alleges Ms Murphy woke

woke up while he was robbing her

home and he paniced and stabbed her. The The alleged killer stole $500

which he used to buy an engagement

ring for his girlfriend.

The damage bill from an earthquake

in the UK is likely to run into millions of pounds. The

millions of pounds. The 5.2-magnitude quake was the

strongest to hit Britain in strongest to hit Britain in more than two decades.

At Barnsley in Yorkshire, the

consequences of the earthquake are

serious. A lump of chimney felling

through the ceiling in this house and

and landed on a 19-year-old and landed on a 19-year-old man

below. He's broken his pelvis. He

fell to the floor and we just

phoned emergency services as

quickly as we could. It were quickly as we could. It were just

shocking, just a nightmare. It was

one of many chimneys that collapse

aid cross the country. From the air,

the damage done by the earth is

evidence in Gainsborough. The

tremor may have only lasted 10

seconds or so but at the epicentre seconds or so but at the epicentre in Market Rasen, bricks from the

local church have also been local church have also been shaken

free. The slates over the vestry -

the organ is in the vestry and if

the water gets into the organ it

causes a tremendous amount of

damage. And people living nearby

felt every second of the quake.

Just like a train come thrueing the

tunnel, just like a tunnel. It was

absolutely frightening. Emergency

services have thousands of calls

and many roads are still blocked and many roads are still blocked off.

Cricket and Australian opener

Matthew Hayden has escaped with a reprimand after being charged

make ago detrimental public comment

about India's Harbhajan Singh. The Queenslander faced Cricket

Australia after revealing his true feelings about the controversial

spinner on Brisbane radio. Been a

bit of a long battle with Harbhajan. The

The first time I ever met him he

was the same little on noxious we'd

that he is now. Well, leaving the code of conduct hearing, Hayden was accepting

accepting the result. I maintain my

innocence. My intentions were never to denigrate cricket or anyone.

That said, the umpire has made his

decision. It's drummed up a bit of business when Australia takes on

India in the one-day final at the SCG on

SCG on Sunday.

Nathan Bassett is set to make a

long-awaited return in this week's NAB Cup semifinal against Hawthorn

but he'll be in foreign territory on Saturday night.

Nathan Bassett hasn't played since breaking his ankle in Round 13 breaking his ankle in Round 13 last

year but provided he pulls up well

from training, the 3-year-old will

be included in Adelaide's squad to Hawks. One Hawks. One of the game's premier

defenders, he can expect a

different role on Saturday night.

He played a fair bit of junior

football forward and we've seen him

a little bit this year in our

pre-season training where he's

played up there. According to Craig

he won't be the only Crow

experimenting in the front half. I

want to give Goodman, McCloud,

Edwards, perhaps Thompson another look up look up forward to spend some more

time up there. Matthew Lloyd knows

a fair bit about the forward line

but will cool his heels for another

week, the Bombers not willing to

risk their Coleman medallist for

Friday night's semi against the

Saints. I would have thought he would play the following week barring any interruptions between now

now and then. St Kilda has named

Nick Riewoldt IRA alongside Steven King,

King, Michael Gardener, Lenny Hayes.

Anthony Mundine money has been

successful in his defence of his

title over Nader Hamdan. Hamdan

started well but Mundine dominated

as the fight wore on. He showed some trademark flare to the

thousands in attendance. Mundine

wants to finish it right here. He

is hurt. He's waiting to get that right to right to kebgtd. And that improves

Mundine's professional record to 31

and 3.

Figures out yesterday showed that construction work had dropped in

the December quarter. For more I'm

joined live by Craig James from

CommSec. It looks like the rate

hikes are taking their toll. hikes are taking their toll.

What's the outlook? The outlook is actually

actually more positive. There's a record

record amount of work remaining to

be completed. $35 billion worth.

That's up in the order of 20% on a

year ago, particularly in terms of commercial work. Certainly what companies want to see is more

offices and retail establishments so they can expand capacity.

Looking to overseas now and the US

Fed has hinted at another rate cut. Fed has hinted at another rate cut.

Yes, the US Federal Reserve

chairman said downsized risks for

the economy remain. He's concerned about financial markets saying that

strains continue to exist there.

He's flagged the potential for

another 0.5% rate cut when the

Federal Reserve meets in March.

What can we expect today? The

futures markets suggest profit-taking in our market today, down around

down around 1%. It's gaped almost

5% in the last four days. Keep a

watch on the Aussie dollar.

Overnight it hit the highest levels

in almost 24 years, that in almost 24 years, that produces

its usual gainers and losers on the share market.

Not good for exporters. Craig James,

thanks for the update. Thank you.

The national weather for this Thursday:

Looking at today's papers, the

'Australian' is reporting on an

Iraqi family that was fired at

during a confrontation with

Australian soldiers in Australian soldiers in Baghdad. The

'Sydney Morning Herald's business

day has more on the crisis

engulfing ABC Learning Centres. And

Sydney's 'Daily Telegraph' has more

on the fresh donations scandal facing the NSW Government.

Megan Gale bids farewell to the catwalk.

catwalk. The details when we return.

A twenty four year old Jindabyne woman has been given a two year suspended jail term, ... for killing her eight month old boy in Crookwell almost 18 months ago. The Goulburn District Court took into account her guilty plea, and her post traumatic stress disorder

brought on by her violent former partner, as reason for the term. State Premier Morris Iemma has launched an extraordinary attack on the media, over Planning Minster Frank Sartor's handling of a new housing development near Queanbeyan. Sartor is deniying any wrong-doing over the Tralee housing development, despite ignoring the advice of planning staff, and being unaware the area's developer had donated funds to the Government. Iemma's threatening legal action against any media agency who questions Sartor's integrity

The A-C-T Government's supporting a plan to make Calvary Hospital and its surrounds a smoke free zone. The Government says smoking will be eventually be banned outside local hospitals, sending a positive health message. But there will be some consultation first TO SPORT The Tuggeranong Hawks and Canberra Wildcats are close to merging for this year's Canberra A-F-L season.

Competition officials say merger talks are progressing well, and will result in a much stronger, competitive six team league when the teams join forces NOW TO THE WEATHER A cold front will be moving across New South Wales today and tomorrow, bringing a cooler airmass with showers along the coast and ranges Around the nation... a shower or two for Canberra ... rain still falling in Sydney ... a mainly fine day in Adelaide Looking locally... rain for Dubbo today ... windy with showers for Bega ... chance of a storm in Orange ... showers easing in Wagga Maybe a storm for Bathurst ... showers for Goulburn ... a shower or two for Perisher Wet in Cooma ... a possible storm for Mudgee .. rain for Nowra and Parkes Looking ahead: Those storms that have been hanging about should be clearing up tomorrow, to mostly cloudy skies across the start of the weekend... before the sun and warmer temps return from Sunday onwards.

This morning, the search continues

for the two fishermen missing off

the NSW coast. . Mitsubishi the NSW coast. . Mitsubishi workers

strike a $100 million deal over redundancy redundancy payments.

Taking her final turn - Megan Gale

bids farewell to the catwalk.

And in sports news, the Wildcats

get a little physical in their NBL

semifinal against the kings.

Right now finance and ABC Learning -

- is it facing the end of its

empire? It could be, Bill. Their

shares have been placed in a

two-day trading halt with

management locked in talks on how to salvage the

to salvage the company. Owner Eddy

Groves and his wife are among four

directors who've had to dump $52

million in shares to meet marplgin calls. The company is now looking

to offload some of its assets,

including 1,000 centres in the

United States to meet its debt. ABC

has received a proposal for one of

its businesses and has signalled it

will sell $250 million worth of

property by the end of June. ABC shares collapsed shares collapsed on Tuesday after

the company unveiled a 42% drop in profits. To the markets now: the

Our market is set to Our market is set to open lower this morning.

The SPI is currently down 58 points. The SPI is currently down 58 points. MFS ask for an extension to

half-year results. I'll have the

details fairly soon.

A full-scale search involving 10

helicopters will shortly resume for

two fishermen feared drowned off

the NSW north coast. Another man

aboard their trawler raised the

alarm after swimming for ten hours

to reach the shore.

The trawler sunk seven nautical

miles off the north coast of NSW miles off the north coast of NSW

after it struck a reef about three

o'clock yesterday morning. Three

frishermen on board were left

clinging to what they could. Deck

hand my well Williams swam ten

hours to shore to raise the alarm.

Cuts and lacerations up and down

his legs. He was, um, pretty

exhausted. The 39-year-old was

taken to hospital suffering from

severe dehydration and exhaustion.

Search parties hit the water and Search parties hit the water and

took to the sky, but were unable to

find the other two crew members. Skipper Charlie Picton and deck hand

JJ were last seen holding on to an esky.

esky. We do have some concerns for their safety at the moment. their safety at the moment. The sea

at the moment is fairly treacherous.

An air and sea search has continued

throughout the night with police

checking the shoreline in case the

men managed to reach the land.

men managed to reach the land.

It's hoped that autopsy results

released too will reveal how two

young men died in country Victoria.

Their bodies were discovered on

Tuesday night after one of the men

called 000 saying they were ill. By

the time paramedics arrived, it was

too late. One of the men has been

identified as 21-year-old Stephen

Rees. Detectives have ruled out

foul play but they believe the

deaths may have been caused by a deaths may have been caused by a

bad batch of drugs.

A man has tied after a high-speed car crash in Brisbane overnight.

The driver lost control of the

black Suzuki shortly after black Suzuki shortly after seven seven o'clock. After rolling

several times, the car smashed into

a power pole. It's believed the

driver was not wearing a seatbelt at the time and died on at the time and died on impact. Investigations continue.

Mitsubishi workers in Adelaide have accepted a redundancy accepted a redundancy package

clearing the way for the Amberley

plant to close in March. 71% of

staff voted to accept the deal,

which will cost Mitsubishi around

$100 million. The redundancy

package for the 900 workers

includes an extra week of pay for

each year of service as a reward

for loyalty.

Queenslanders will likely go to the

ballot box in a referendum on fixed

four-year terms of Parliament. State Parliament passed a State Parliament passed a motorlast

night to take a formal vote on the

issue and a referendum is now

likely. The move would bring

Queensland into line with the rest

of the Australian States. The

The curtain has fallen on Megan

Gale's catwalk career, the

supermodel taking her final turn

on the runway in Melbourne last night.

A super sign-off from the catwalk

Queen, retiring from the runway

after 15 years. In front of an after 15 years. In front of an

adoring crowd at Melbourne's Town Hall,

Hall, the 32-year-old found it hard

to say goodbye. Some people I knew

were having a bit of a tear and I

almost, almost had a tear myself

but I thought, "If I start, I will

not be able to stop." While Gale

has hung up her catwalk heels,

she'll stay on as ambassador for

David Jones. Tonight David Jones. Tonight in Melbourne

is Megan's final walk. Sheeing

she'll now take on the silver

screen, starring as Wonder Woman.

Such a huge role that I'm

undertaking but I've loved Wonder

Woman for years. If all goes well,

this won't be the last time she'll

strike a pose. That's enough. I

think you got it.

A warning today to parents about

what they're feeding their toddlers. what they're feeding their toddlers.

Landmark research has discovered

young children are eating too much

salty calorie-rich food and missing

out on fibre and essential

nutrients. Research has tracked the diets diets of more than 400 diets of more than 400 youngsters

and found that almost all were exceeding the recommended daily

intake of calories or energy.

Britain has been hit by a 5.2-magnitude earthquake, the

biggest to hit the country is in more more than 25 years. The epicentre

of the quake was in Lincolnshire,

about 200 kilometres north of

London. Struck at 1 am local time

with tremors felt as far away as Dumfries with tremors felt as far away as

Dumfries in Scotland to Swansea in

southern Wales. The damage bill is

likely to run into millions of pounds.

Protesters have managed to climb

on to the roof of Britain's historic Houses of Parliament. The environmentalists were protesting environmentalists were protesting

against plans for a third runway at

Heathrow Airport and this follows a

parallel Greenpeace protest earlier

this week when activists climbed on

top of a plane just after it landed at Heathrow. Newcastle's Joel Griffiths has

dominated the A League awards

winning the coveted Johnny Warren

Medal for the league's best player

and the golden boot for most goals. and the golden boot for most goals.

The Jets striker celebrated the accomplishment just days after winning

winning the grand final. This is

like the icing on the cake and I'm

just going to Cherish it. I'll

never forget this year. The Jets

manager Gary van Egmond was named

coast of the year and Bruce Djite

was the A League's rising star.

Michael Theoklitos was the keeper

of the year.

St Kilda forward Nick Riewoldt has

been named in the squad to face Essendon at the Telstra Dome tomorrow

tomorrow night. He was named

alongside Steven King, Lenny Hayes

and Robert Harvey for the NAB Cup

semifinal but the Bombers have

decided not to risk Lloyd lid Lloyd's hamstrings just yet. I

would have thought he would play

the following week barring any

interruptions between now and then.

Matthew Knights said if Essendon

made the grand final Lloyd would play.

The Perth Wildcats are still The Perth Wildcats are still alive

in the NB L, going back to Sydney

now for a deciding game on Saturday.

Brisbane must beat Melbourne

tonight to stay in their series.

Finals desperation from the outset,

Melbourne on a mission at home and

Brisbane did not like it. Bradshaw

from close range with some anger.

The defending champs

The defending champs were led by CJ

Bruden but his side trailed by as

much as 33 in the third quarter.

They never recovered, Melbourne

taking game one by 18 points. They've won game one in impressive

fashion. In Perth, the Wildcats

ended game two against Sydney

fighting for survival and it showed. Sydney without a Sydney without a couple of boomers

but with Dante Draper who was in fine touch.

The kats led by seven at half-time

but Sydney closed in on that but Sydney closed in on that in emphatic fashion.

Perth lost its discipline but still

won the match, both teams' coaching

staff involved in a nasty spat at staff involved in a nasty spat at the game's conclusion.

Let's talk finance now, more civil

eyesed we hope.

Westfield continues its solid run.

Yes, Bill. The shopping centre

giant has boosted operating profit

to $1.79 billion. Strong sales at

44 centres across the country

account for the 11.6% jump in earnings earnings but it was a different

story in the United States and story in the United States and Britain where revenue weakened.

Westfield says it's confident its $10 billion development pipeline

will buffer it from the credit crunch.

crunch.

It's a good time to plan a trip

overseas with the Australian dollar

hit ago 24-year high against the US

currency. The rise is thanks to

escalating commodity prices, speculation that local interest

rates will rise and a strong rates will rise and a strong oil

price A weak American dollar is

also contributing. The latest

price of $9 -- 94.30. MFS has asked

to delay half-yearly results since

match as City Pacific dumps a deal

to buy some of the group's finance assets.

And Bill, that's it for the

morning's news and finance.

Let's check the weather forecast

now around Australia.

A quick recap of the morning's top

stories - a desperate search today.

Two fishermen still missing off Two fishermen still missing off the

NSW north coast.

On the brink of collapse, ABC

Learning centres nearing the end of its empire.

Britain facing a massive damage

bill in the millions of pounds after an earthquake rocks the region.

And that's it for the Early News. Don't forget 9 am can David and Kim,

the morning news at 11:00 and we'll

wrap it up at Ten News at 5:00. wrap it up at Ten News at 5:00.

Have a great day. Bye for now. Supertext Captions

by Red Bee Media Australia.