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Tonight Kevin Rudd eyes

the prize. While John Howard

prepares to fight. Farewells

for a father killed in the

Garuda plane crash. We

lilding one year on from

cyclone Larry and in cricket

Bermuda tumbles as India

scores a big victory. Good

evening. Welcome. On a day

when latest Newspoll

delivered bad news to the

Federal Coalition there was

more trouble for the

Government over the Santoro

share scandal. The opposition

has grilled the Prime

Minister over when he first knew about the Queensland

Senator's business activities. Demanding to know

why, one of his senior

officials called the

Senator's office about it

months ago. The Commonwealth cars rolled-up this morning

but there was no sign of

Santow Santoro who has ex-as

per rated many in his own

parties. John Howard said he

needed the scare dealing scandal like a hole in the

head and he has refused to publicly endorse the

Queensland Senator for the

coming election but as the

former minister watch to the

back bench the Government's

Leer in the Senate was far

more generous. Senator

Santoro has been a great servant of the Liberal

Party. John Howard said he

only found out about the

share dols a few days ago but

the opposition wanted to know

why his principal private

secretary called Santoro back

in September wanting a change

to the register of interest switching the interest from

his business consultancy from share holding against the

rules to share investment. Can the Prime Minister

confirm whether or not in

December last year his office

instructed Senator Santoro to

change the description of his

activities? What the

deputy leader is geting at is

the suggestion that in

December of last year Mr Nut

knew of the disclosures that

were made a few days ago, he

did not. There was no comfort

for the Coalition in today's

Newspoll which has Labor a

20-year high, a 2-party

preferred lead but it is the

trend that is spooking

Government back-benchers on

the primary vote but on

preferred Prime Minister with

Kevin Rudd opening up a big

lead. Today the opposition

leader told his caucus there

is a mod for change. Former

Prime Minister Bob Hawke

agrees. I think we are

getting to the stage of it's

time. But John Howard told

his party room the

fundamentals are not there,

the Governments are only

thrown out if they are seen

as incompetent or people stop

listening and this the

Coalition has an enormous

fight on its hand and the

Government needs clear ear

and discipline like never before. One of the two Federal Police officers

killed in the Indonesian

plane crash which claimed the

lives of five Australians was

laid to rest in Canberra this

afternoon. Father of three

Mark Scott was farewelled

with full police honours. A

14-year-old boy walked by his

father's side for the last

Tim as top officials from the Government and police paid

tribute to a talented officer

killed in the prime of his

liver. 42-year-old Mark Scott

was marked out for complex operations early in his

career. He served across

South-East Asia with the UN

and most recently in

counter-terrorism in

Indonesia. The significance

of the work that Mark was

undertaking in Indonesia

cannot be discounted. Working

in these countries meant that

protecting Australia's Mark was at the forefront of

interest. But he began his

career on the local beat in

Canberra and later chose the

demanding role of police

diver. As a diver he was

relaxed, confident a

competent in and out of the

water and I would and did on many occasions trust hip with

my life. Today colleagues

who had walked the beat with

him paid tribute to his

work. In his proceed freshal

life hi had known stress,

fear and anxiety but he did

not let these challenges

define his humanity There

are those who will never know

what we do, will never

experience what we have and

in so many ways will never

have life. Do not mourn,

celebrate the great life he

had. The tributes continued

in Parliament. One of the

common links among all of

those who died in this

terrible accident was that in

every case they were taken

well before their time. And

the loss because of that is

tall more grievous. Words

cannot fully describe the

impact of these events on the

families suffering bereavement. We can never

aprop aide their grief. Grief

is a deeply personal

thing. Mark Scott was

cremated at a private

ceremony this afternoon. (Lament) The Prime Minister

has shocked the opposition by

appearing to admit he has an exit strategy for the

Australian soldiers in Iraq.

Labor asked Mr Howard whether

he was aware of the American

contingency plan for

withdrawal if the surge of

troops into Baghdad fails to

improve security. Does the

Prime Minister have a similar

contingency plan of fazed

withdrawal in place for Australian forces? The

answer is yes, it is normal

for that contingency planning

to be made. What is that

plan? I was asked whether I

was aware of the American

plan and I said yes and I is

normal of the a contingency

plan. John Howard has always

steadfastly refused to set a

deadline for Australian

forces to leave Iraq. The US President George Bush has

marked the fourth anniversary

of the Iraq war with yet

another plea for patience.

President Bush insists the

war can be won and says there

are now hopeful signs of

progress but it is a message

that is wearing thin at home

and in Iraq. The anniversary

was just like any other day

in Iraq, a string of car

bombs in the northern city of

Kirkuk killed 18 people. While in Baghdad 8 died in

the bombing of a Shiite

mosque. It is not the result

a chase end US President had

been expecting. Sphour

years after this war began

the fight is difficult but it

can be won. Four years after

a US bombing blitz heralded

the start of the invasion

there is more shock than awe

about how Iraq has ended up.

The situation has worsened

even more says this man.

There is no security now.

Just explosions, killings and

violence between Sunnis an

Shiites. Tens of thousands of

Iraqis have died since Saddam

Hussein was toppled. 32000

American soldiers have been

killed and the commander in

chief is warning of more bad

days ahead. It can be

tempting to look at the

challenges in Iraq and

conclude our best option is

to pack up and go home. That

may be satisfying in the

short run. But I believe the

consequences for American

security would be

devastating. The consequences

have already been severe for

thousands of American

families. 24-year-old Joss

Johnson was killed Moran year

ago. If it was not for my

other children I would never

have made it this farment I

couldn't have handled it. I

wouldn't be here. It is

devastating. The war has also

been devastating for George

Bush's presidency. Most

Americans now oppose to the

conflict and are against the

recent troop bid are build

up. Four years on and with no

end in sight the President's

pleas for patience may be

wearing thin. The grim toll

from Russia's worst mining

disaster in a decade is still

climbing. Nearly 100 mine

workers have now died while

13 others remain trapped

after an explosion in the pit

inside beera. Thick smoke and

dangerous pockets of gas are

hampering in the rescue

effort. The shafts extend 5

kilometres underground.

Elsewhere in Russia another

disaster. A fire at a

retirement hope has killed at

least 63 people, dozens more

were injured. Officials said

the nearest fire station was

50 kilometres away and it

took firefighters an her to

each the scene. The

Australian dollar hit a

10-year high today but almost

no-one is sell brangt. On the

business front exports will

be more expensive and harder

to sell. While on the home

front the rising dollar could

point to more interest rate

pain ahead. The Australian

dollar's flying high thanks

partly to tough talk from

this man, reserve back have

tant Governor. Last week he

warned the bank's own

forecasts mean underlying

inflation is more likely to

be too high than too low in

the future and what's more,

... Information that has

become available suggest some

of the factors pushing up

inflation last year remain in

place. It is fuelled

speculation the bank could raise interest rates as soon as next month to keep a lid

on inflation. By contrast this week American

authorities concerned about

rising home loan de Lynen sis

effecting broader US economy

are expected to keep rates on

hold. The market continue

the see a significant risk of

rates decreasing in the US so

that rate different yentional

which has been a key part of

the Australian dollar being

up near 80US cent could if

anything widen in the next

few months. The Australian

dollar leapt above 80 US

cents partly on speculation

the gap between US and

Australian interest rates could widen but did doll were

has been boosted by the

steadier stock markets as

investors become more relaxed

about riskier investments

like the Australian currency.

In the pass year as interest

rates have risen the

Australian dollar has jumped

11 per cent making imports

cheaper an exports more expensive hitting the rural and manufacturing sectors

hardest. I'm very concerned.

I think we have seen a

pick-up in exports in recent

quaers which is welcome but

this will kill it stone dead. Some analysts say the

pain for exporters will not

last. We will not expect the

currency to spend much type

up here. But others say the

dollar's value will prove as

resilient for the long-term

outlook for commodities. The

central level for the currency over the next guy

years is probably more like

50 cents in 75 cent where it

has been over the last five years. Suggesting it will not

get any easier for

Australia's manufacturers.

Reports of chide abows and

neglect in Canberra are

expected to top more than

10,000 this financial year

but child protection

advocates warn the startling

figures should not be taken

on face value. Since 2002

reports of child abuse have

been on the rise and this

year is no exception. We are

still a system responding to

our community in a sense and

our community is needing a

lot more help than we

expected four years ago. The

Government's figures show last financial year there

were more than 9000 reports

of child abuse. In the first

six months of this financial

year, child protection

authorities received 4500

reports. Up to February they

have moved into around 6000

so we are on track to exceed

10,000 for the first time

ever. It tells us about how

many people are concerned about children, concerned

enough to ring the department

about that but I is about reporting behaviour rather

than incidents of child

abuse. The changing

definition of choild abuzz

and greater community

awareness could also have

contributed to in the crease.

A view shared by the ACT's

recently appointed children's

commissioner. That would be

good news fit was because it

means as a community that we

are more atuned to what is an

appropriate standards for the

care of a child. The

opposition says the number of

child abuse reports is

alarming but wants a more detailed breakdown of the

figures to give a better

picture of the extent of the problem. What the figures do

not reveal to us is whether

we are talking about

individual children or we are

talking about families, are

we talking about numbers of

reports for the same child?

Also for the first time more

than 50 40 children in the

ACT are in Government care

which the minister says

proves the courts are

prepared to intervene when

needed. A Sydney doctor who

escape from his car boot just

before it was set on fire has

spoken of the most traumatic

experience of his life. Dr

Stephen tan was on his way to

the hospital to deliver a

baby when he was car jacked

in the early hours of

yesterday morning. Two men

posing as police officers

threatened him with a hammer

before stealing his wallet

and locking him in the boot.

They then drove the car

around the northern suburbs

using Dr Tan's ATM card to

withdraw money. He got out of

the boot to find the car on

fire. What happened to me in

the early hours of yesterday

was without doubt the most

terrifying and traumatic

experience in my entire life.

It is nothing short of a

miracle that I'm still alive

today. Just as incredible Dr

Tan still made it to the

hospital to deliver the baby.

He is appealing for any

witnesses to the attack to

call police. One year ago today Far North Queensland

was ravaged by the most

severe storm index aides T

category 5 cyclone Larry with

winds of up to 290 km/h left

a widespread trail of destruction. Thousands were

left homeless in Innisfail

and other tons along the

coast while the banana

industry was wiped out.

Martin covered the story for

the ABC a year ago and

returned today as the region

marked Larry's first anniversary. They came

together to give thanks, for

no loss of life and the reconstruction efforts so

far. It helped me make

closure on the trauma of the

last 12 months. 12 months tag

clean-up was just under way.

Wind of close to 300 km/h for

through coastal communities

ripping roofs from homes an destroying local industries.

Today there is still evidence

of the storm but also plenty

of signs Innisfail is

recovering Yeah, we have got

a lot of washing to do, we

are redoing the ceilings and

the walls. General Peter'cause grove this

morning held his final

recovery task force meeting

You have much to be proud of

in the way your sense of will

and sense of community has

led to what I think has been

a magnificent recoffee effort

to date . I finally and

most importantly pay tribute

to the spirit, the

resilience, the sense of hope

and optimism of the local

community There are shiny

new roofs and banana

plantations once again

bearing fruit but not

everybody is happy. Screws

were not fitted, the water

got in, flowed down through

the wall and down through

here. Mark Nolan has a new

$20,000 roof that is not

water tight. Sadly my Roach

leaked in a few places and I

contacted the plumbers to say

they are not coming back so I

flickid it on to the build

It is like every time we have

heavy rain. Communities are

bouncing back. One year on

once this wet season passes

without a cyclone. Still to

come on ABC News, the raining

AFL premiers the West Coast

Eagles suspend their star for bad behaviour. The New South

Wales election campaign has

been tightly scripted until

now. But that change briefly

today when protesters

disrupted the premier on the

hustings in Newcastle but it

did not stop Morris Iemma

campaigning in one of the

into seats Labor is worried

about losing. Morris Iemma

has been accused of running a

scare campaign to get Labor

elected. A small group

protesting against

Newcastle's cool exports tide

the turn the tables. Away

from most of the cameras they

jumped on the premier's car.

Security guards rested them

to the ground. The Morris Iemma Government is planning

to double our cool

exports. The Premier defended

their right to demonstrate S

We are an election campaign,

a democracy, my staff acted

appropriately. With his

heavily stage-managed

campaign back on rack Morris

Iemma promised money to help

Jodie keep the seat of

Newcastle in Labor hands. It

has been tough. $10 million

has been set aside for a

medical research institute at John Hunter hospital. There

is even more to rebuild the

city's decaying football stadium grandstand but only

if the Federal Government

comes up with matching fund.

Former Labor MP is sceptical,

he hopes to retain the seat

but as an independent. By

saying we are tieing it to

the Government it means we

will not be deliver. The lord

mayor is challenging hard

echoing the battle cry that

Labor has lost up the with

the Hunter heartland. It is

not believable, anyone can

say they will put money

in. Back in Sydney Peter

Debnam was pledging to spend

$20 million funding air

conditioning in public

schools. It is time we moved

resources through to the

front line and through to

infrastructure where it is

really needed. On a hot and

humid day the opposition

leader is sweating on than

audit of all his campaign

promisees. A top 10

distinction that is nothing

to be proud of. A world

conservation report lists the

Murray-Darling as among the

planet's most engangerd river

systems T listing has

reignited the political

debate about who should take

charge of the recovery.

Reduced the a trickle there

is no question the

Murray-Darling basin is

battling drought and parts of

it have no flow at all. But a new report commissioned by

the global conservation group

WWF says the ailing river

system is now one of the top

10 most endangered in the

world. It is a fragile

ecosystem. It is a highly var

yabling river system and it

really has been impacted by

the over-al occasion and the

use of dams and weirs to stem

the flow. The it sits along

side the Nile, the ychl antze

the Danube T what sets the

more l Murray-Darling basin

apart is that it is also

plagued by invasive species

like the European carp. The

impact on the echo system of

those speakeries is to push

our native fish out of the

echo system to extinction.

Federal Government says the

solution is easy This is one

of the reasons it is so important that the governments of the

Murray-Darling basin be

addressed and that it be

managed as one entity, one

hydro entity by the

Commonwealth Government. New South Wales, South Australia

and Queensland agree. They

have signed up to the

Commonwealth plan. Victoria

is standing out. We have

clear plans for delivering

the extra water to the Murray

which is needed which have

been negotiated with farmers

and which are potentially

under threat. Both the Fed

and Victorian governments

agree talk are not over yet.

Now with more on the dollar's

rise and all today's share

market action is here Alan

Kohler. The Australian dollar

broke through 80US cents during overnight trading in

New York and touched its

10-year high of 80.3 at 10 this morning before easing slightly during the rest of

the day. It was also the

first time in a decade above

94Yen on the trade weighted

index not far off a 20-year

high. Here is a graph of the

Aussie dollar since it was

floated by Bob Hawke and Paul

Keating in December 1983. In

the few years leading up to

that it had been consist

teptly above party, more than

1 US dollar but since then it

has only been above 80 cents

five times and each was

generally bad news for the

economy because it meant

interest rates were high

which is what is happening

this time as well. Markets

are betting on a rate rise

here possibly as early as two

weeks time and maybe a rate

cut in the US. Mining

companies, Telstra, the banks

and the ASX saw the best of

gains.

Shares in New York also

rose pretty strongly last

night and on the metals

exchange nickel and zinc fell

sharply while copper went up.

The price of crude oil

continued its slide. It has

no fallen 8.5 per cent in two

weeks. Today's economic news

is housing starts for the

December quarter down 0.8 per

cent but that masks some huge differences between the

States. New South Wales saw a

solid increase in new

dwellings albeit from low

base while there was a

massive drop in Canberra and

a pretty big fall in

Victoria. The West Indies has

joined defending champions

Australia in the second stage

of cricket's World Cup with a

six-wicket win over Zimbabwe.

Brian Lara brought up the

winning runs with a 6 to give

the tournament hosts victory

with 13 balls to spare. In

front of another buoyant home crowd the Windies had

Zimbabwe 2/2 but the

underdogs toiled away and

managed 5/202 to at least set

a target. The chase was

laborious until Chris Gayle

cut loose with three

consecutive 6s. Zimbabwe

fought back with four wickets

but their challenge was

arrested by a partnership

from Bravo and captain Brian

Lara who steered them safely

to the next phase. Bermuda's

grab. What a catch. Tears of

joy flowed for the

17-year-old wicket taker but

mostly pain followed as

satisfy wag returned to form

with a century as India

posted a World Cup record

5/413. Bermuda scored 1 a 56

to suffer the worst ever

World Cup beating by 257

runs. After a boozy late

night a paddle boat capsize

and losing the vice cap say

England's Andrew Flintoff has

promised never again. I feel I let the team down over

the week and I feel I have

something I want to give back

to them. Tasmania has New

South Wales on the back foot

after two days of the

first-class final. Fill Jakes

was force from the field. The

all rounder scored a half

century as Tasmania posted a

respectable 340. Jakes was

able to take his police at

the top of the blues order and was the main stay of the

in innings. He remained a

target for the Tigers through

out his inning goes of 82. At

stumps New South Wales is

8/207. Australian sign crow

niced divers have won a

silver medal in the 10 metre

platform event at the world

champion ships in Melbourne T

pair needed the score well in

their final dive the secure

silver ahead of Germany. I

think of they have done it.

You should see Melissa

hitting the water first. We

have been training very hard.

We didn't take much notice of

the other pairs. The Australians finished behind

the Chinese combination.

Socceroo mark Schwarz heroics

kept Middlesbrough alive against Manchester United but

Ronaldo put them out in

controversial fashion. He was

accused of diving to earn the

vital penalty. Middlesbrough

players and fans did not

approve. Chelsea is through

as well. But it is 2-1 win

over Tottenham ended

dramatically when a fan tried

to attack Frank Lambard

before he was

apprehended. The AFL raining

premiers the West Coast

Eagles have suspended star

player Ben Cousins

indefinitely for breaching

team rules and his con track.

He failed to turn up to to training sessions yesterday

and the club chairman says

the Brownlow medallist has a

number of personal problems.

Over the past few weeks those

issues have come to the

surface and it is time that

Ben is suspend from the club

to go away and try to tackle

these personal private issues

head on. Mr Gooding also

revealside Cousins was drug tested yesterday although the results will not be known for

weeks. It is not the first

time Cousins has been in

trouble. He lost the Eagles

captaincy after running away

from a booze bus and only a

few months ago was arrest in

Melbourne for being drunk in

public T South Sydney rabbit

owes defeated Roosters 18 to

6 last night in the national

Rugby League's return to

playing matches on Monday

nights. Meanwhile the raiders

Costigan will miss this

weekend's clash against the

Melbourne Storm after

accepting a one-match

suspension for a dangerous

tackle T news was better for

key forward Troy Thompson.

There were fears he would be

out of action for the rest of

the season with a shoulder

injury but scans today

cleared him of serious damage

and he is expected to return

within a month depending on

how the injury responds to

treatment.╝white Now with a

look at today's weather here

is John Ringwood. Good

evening. There was a foggy

start to the day here in the

national capital that gave

way to cloudy conditions and

even a few light showers in

some parts. Winds were

moderate northwesterlies and

temperatures were close to

the monthly average. It got

to 23.7 at 4.50 this

afternoon and I looks like a

similar difficult again

tomorrow. In Canberra the

temperature is 20 degrees.

Wind from the north-west at

10 km/h. The relative

humidity 7 per cent and the barometer is steady. There

were showers on the northern

part of the coast and rain in

the south. 26 degrees the top

at nowa.

Rain in Darwin, 18

millimetres fell to 3pm.

Showers in Melbourne. Rain

clearing in Adelaide of hazy

in Brisbane, fine else. Where

the satellite shows a band of

cloud bringing rain to

Victorian southern New South

Wales extending back to the north-west. Thunderstorms

continue in a monsoon trough

over the north. A high

pressure in the Tasman a

broad trough from the centre across southern New South

Wales, another high in the

Bite and a trough across the

far north. Showers for

southern Victoria, eastern New South Wales, light rain

in the centre and continuing

showers and thunderstorms

across the trot cribs. Partly

cloudy in Adelaide, fine in

Melbourne, an early shower in

Hobart, showers and an

afternoon storm in Darwin and

the chance of a shower in

Sydney. Isolated showers are

forecast for the coast

tomorrow, a shower or two

from wool opening gone and Batemans Bay.

A possible shower or two tonight, local morning fog

tomorrow, a shower or two and

the chance of an afternoon thunderstorm. Moderate nosht

west winds turning easterly

late in the day, temperatures

from 17 to 26. More unsettled

weather with a possible thunderstorm on Thursday.

Fine on Friday before the

return of patchy rain and

showers Saturday and

Sunday. Before we go, a brief

recap of our top stories tonight. The Prime Minister

has called for discipline in

party ranks as the Government

faces a challenge from Labor.

The Australian dollar hits a

10-year high but it may lead

to rises in interest rates.

That is ABC News. Stay with

us now for Kerry O'Brien and

the '7.30 Report' coming up

next. I will be back with an

update later this evening.

Until then, goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI CC

Welcome to the program.

Shortly claims of widespread

rorting in Australia's lucrative foreign student

market and also direct from the

Louvre, the treasures of

ancient Egypt. But first the

action in Federal Parliament

and the aftermath of the Santo

Santoro share trading

revelations and today's

sobering poll results for the

Government. The Prime Minister

told his party room this

morning that while there's a

big fight ahead, he still

believes the fundamental s for

a change of government simply

aren't present. Today's

Newspoll follows a trend that

puts Labor in its best position

since John Howard took office.

It comes after a bruising

fortnight that culminated in

Senator Santoro's resignation

from the aged care ministry

last Friday. As political

editor Michael Brissenden

report, one Liberal backbencher