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Seven Early News -

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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. This morning -
crunch time for the big four banks - under pressure to pass on the
Reserve Bank's interest rate cut ahead of Christmas. Prince William
returns to the London hospital where pregnant wife Kate is being
treated for severe morning sickness. And a heartbreaking journey
for the parents of a teenager killed during schoolies celebrations
in Fiji.

VOICEOVER: This is Seven Early News
with Natalie Barr. Good morning. Pressure is mounting
on the big banks after the RBA cut interest rates
just in time for Christmas. Smaller lenders have begun
passing on the savings. But the big four are yet
to show their cards.

It looks like Christmas
has come early for families... ..0.25% off interest rates. That takes interest rates back
to the level they were at the GFC and to 5-year lows. If passed on in full,
the cut means, on a $200,000 loan, savings of $30 a month. On $300,000 - $45 a month. But so far only smaller lenders
have passed on the savings. We've seen some pressure coming off some of our senior
debt issuance costs in recent times and deposit costs
coming back a little bit. ING Direct passed on the full cut. The Bank of Queensland -
20 basis points. No word yet from the big four except they're
"reviewing their positions". Either way, the Opposition says
it's an ominous sign. The Reserve Bank has dropped
interest rates to emergency levels not because the Australian economy
is doing well but because the Australian economy
is facing huge challenges. But the Treasurer disagrees. They certainly do not, in any way, support a description of these
rate levels as emergency levels. Nobody who is in touch
with the economy does. One thing's for sure - the pressure's on for the banks
to show some Christmas cheer.

The Duchess of Cambridge is assured
of giving birth to a future monarch after the British government
received final consent to change succession laws. The future king or queen
is only in its early stages, but is already big news
around the world.

An anxious father-to-be
hurries into the hospital where his wife is being treated
for acute morning sickness. Outside the hospital,
the media keeps a constant vigil such as the huge interest
and excitement about a royal baby. New images of Prince William returning to the hospital
just moments ago where his pregnant wife, Kate,
is battling acute morning sickness as reaction floods in to the news that she is expecting
Britain's future king or queen. Even those who would prefer
to be free of the monarchy are happy for William and Kate. This is delightful news. It's going to bring joy to them
and to their family and I think it's going to bring joy
to many around the world. And in the couple's
hometown of Anglesea where Kate made one of her first
public appearances, there were lots of delighted locals. Yeah, it's good, it's brilliant.
Good luck to 'em. It's good Christmas news anyway. It will cheer everybody up,
won't it? Lovely couple aren't they? Yeah. I wish them all the best anyway. As Kate continues treatment,
she faces another night in hospital, her condition expected to improve
with fluids and rest. Her husband and family
are rallying around, as she left home this morning. It is, of course, a worrying time
for everyone but also an extremely joyful one. Lawyers for a Perth man on trial
for drug trafficking in Malaysia say police were desperate
to arrest their client. A Kuala Lumpur court has heard Dominic Bird was approached
by an undercover officer two weeks before his arrest
in March. Police asked him for drugs following
a tip-off from an informant. It's alleged the 32-year-old agreed to sell them
250 grams of methamphetamine. Bird will plead not guilty
to two charges, including one that carries
a mandatory death penalty. The trial continues today. A Queensland teenager who drowned
during end-of-school celebrations in Fiji

has been remembered
as a smart and sensible boy. Harrison Kadell decided
to holiday on the island because he didn't like the dangers
and drunken antics of the Gold Coast. Harrison Kadell had the world
at his feet - a gifted drama student and athlete, vice captain of
St Thomas More College in Brisbane. He was an outstanding young man. He was a role model
for our other students. He was involved heavily
in college life. The 17-year-old and three mates
travelled to Fiji on Sunday - a trip to celebrate
their school achievements. His parents were told of his death
yesterday. They're numb,
they're in a state of shock and they're trying to piece together
what has happened. Harrison drowned in
the Plantation Island Resort pool. There have been reports the mates
were playing an underwater game. He just had everything
going for him. Like, smart,
really, really good-looking. He was so perfect. At his school
the flag flew at half-mast, friends and staff
gathered in the chapel. His sister was college captain
as well. He has a brother here in Year 10. how it's hit our college community. He's not the type of person that you wouldn't expect this type
of thing to happen to.

His parents have flown to Fiji. They want to find out what
went wrong and bring their boy home.

Independent MP Craig Thomson
has formally denied using union credit cards
to pay for prostitutes. He also says
he should avoid civil penalties because most of the accusations were
made outside the legal time limit. He's lodged defence papers
in the Federal Court. Fair Work Australia claims he spent thousands on escort
services in Sydney and Perth. Police in Victoria are investigating
another attempted abduction of a Melbourne schoolgirl. It's the third incident
in less than a week. Detectives say a young girl
was approached in the toilets at a primary school
last Monday. They're now looking for a man with
curly, black shoulder-length hair who was wearing black clothes. A bushfire is threatening homes
and lives on Western Australia's south coast. More than 100 firefighters are trying to protect the town
of Bremer Bay, south-east of Perth. Families have been urged to evacuate with concerns strong winds
could push the fire front back towards the town. I've lived here for so long and I don't really want everything
to go burn and stuff. We're just packing a few clothes, we're taking our important
documents. The fire was started
by a lightning strike. Firefighters have brought a bushfire
under control at Cessnock, north of Sydney. The blaze has burned
through 13 hectares of bushland, but backburning last night has
pushed it inside containment lines. No homes are in danger but fire crews say
they're remaining vigilant. Authorities say this fire started
in the same spot as a fatal blaze 10 years ago.

More than 30 bushfires
are raging across Queensland after Brisbane sweltered through
its hottest December day in more than a decade. Temperatures soared to 40 degrees
in the state's south-east,

reaching 38 in the city.

Firefighters remain on high alert with hot dry winds expected
to blow across the state today. A severe to near-extreme fire danger
remains in place for many areas today.

Cricket legend Ricky Ponting
has flown home to Sydney after playing his final test game
in Perth. With his wife, Rianna, and daughters
Emmy and Matisse by his side, they said their final farewells
to their Australian cricket family. Ponting's wife of 10 years teared up
at the airport. She's often been credited
with giving her husband the support and maturity needed
to lead the national team. Ponting's retirement
from test cricket He will play out the summer
with his state side, Tasmania. Now for your first look
at Wednesday's weather. Around the capitals - another hot day
for Brisbane although not as bad
as yesterday. Sydney,
sunny. Windy and partly cloudy
for Canberra. A few showers
for Melbourne. with rain clearing in Hobart,
a chilly top of just 15 degrees. Partly cloudy
in Adelaide. Showers and a chance
of a storm for Perth. A hot day
for Darwin. Coming up on 'Sunrise' at 6am - US President Barack Obama sends
a direct threat to Syria. But next on Seven Early News - ground-breaking research
into a common childhood disease. And a deadly typhoon
in the Philippines leaves thousands homeless.

What does a long bar have to do
with a huge river?

What does a Parisian artist have in common with a touring cricket team?

Or Seven Sisters and 21 First Ladies? Give up? They're all part of
Canberra's huge centenary year. Beginning in January 2013, there's a massive year of events planned to celebrate
Canberra's 100th birthday. So visit to start planning your experience now.

after battering the Philippines
with winds of up to 210km/h. 43 of those deaths are believed to
have occurred in one southern town that was in the direct path
of the powerful storm. The strong winds toppled trees
and blew the roofs off houses, while heavy rains caused flash
flooding that cut off roads and triggered mud slides. More than 56,000 people are
taking refuge in emergency shelters. British loyalists have clashed
with police in Belfast, after the city's council decided
to no longer fly the Union Jack on a daily basis. Around 1,000 protesters
gathered outside city hall as council members
debated the motion. Some demonstrators forced their way
inside the council grounds. 15 police officers were injured
and a photographer was also hurt when he was caught between
protesters and the riot squad. The flag will now only fly on selected days
of British significance. Police in Japan
have raided the offices of the operator of a motorway tunnel
that collapsed outside Tokyo, killing nine people. Investigators stormed
the company's headquarters, seizing documents relating
to maintenance and safety records. Management has admitted the accident could have been caused
by ageing bolts used to secure concrete panels
to the tunnel's inner walls. The road remains closed as emergency workers continue
to search for victims. Australian doctors could be
on the verge of preventing one of the most
common chronic childhood diseases. In a world first - they're using
a child's own cord blood - to stop the onset
of type 1 diabetes.

8-year-old Brice Gardner
is a good big brother to his little sister, Araminta. Mm-hm. He holds her hand,
tells her stories. And then Sam I Am came up and said, "Why did you get
my green eggs and ham?" But mostly Brice hopes his 5-year-old sister won't develop
type 1 diabetes like him. It would be a great weight
off our shoulders just, you know,
to stop her having it. Araminta is at high risk of
developing the autoimmune disease which destroys cells
in the pancreas. Her parents paid $3,000 to freeze
her umbilical cord blood at birth. that it may be used one day. That day has come, with Westmead's
Kids Research Institute launching a world-first study
into cord blood and diabetes. They believe cord blood cells
returned into the bloodstream could stop the illness
developing in kids like Araminta. What we hope is an immune boost to prevent them from progressing
to type 1 diabetes. The study runs for five years and
the results are vital for Australia. We've one of the highest type 1
diabetes rates in the world, with 130,000 sufferers. There's no cure and no prevention...

Your first finance this Early News - little change on Wall Street
this morning.

Coming up on 'Sunrise' at 6am - more from London
on the royal baby buzz. But next on Seven Early News - a big boost to the bottom line
of AFL heavyweights Collingwood. And spin king Shane Warne
ready to answer an Ashes SOS from Aussie captain Michael Clarke.

You don't use your car much.

You use it on the weekend.

You only use your car
when you get back.

You don't use it much
at the moment.

And you use it a lot less nowadays
than you used to. There's no-one youer than you.
That's why there's Youi.

Call 13youi or go to

The stories we're following
on the Early News - will they or won't they? Pressure mounts
on the big four banks to pass on the Reserve Bank's
interest rate cut. a 5-year low that hasn't been seen since the height
of the global financial crisis. Anxious father-to-be Prince William
returns to the London hospital where his wife, Kate, is being
treated for morning sickness. And the parents
of a Brisbane teenager who died during end-of-school
celebrations in Fiji have arrived on the island
to bring his body home. Harrison Kadell drowned
in the pool at a luxury resort.

Now it's over to Mark Beretta
with all the day's sport. Thanks, Nat. Good morning. Shane Warne says he'd be open
to the idea of an Ashes comeback if asked by Australian captain
Michael Clarke. The 43-year-old is preparing for the Melbourne Stars' Big Bash
League opener on Friday night and has told News Limited he has no doubt he's still good
enough to excel at test level. Warne admits he felt sorry
for Clarke while watching the Aussie attack
cop a pasting from the Proteas in Perth. With back-to-back Ashes series
coming up next year, Warne says he could be persuaded
to make a 12-month commitment to international cricket.

Phil Hughes says he's ready
to return to the test arena if selected
as Ricky Ponting's replacement for the upcoming series
against Sri Lanka. The 24-year-old believes
he's over the technical flaws that have dogged his career. There's one thing
that I've really worked on. I'm not going to go into it, but I know it's improved my game
all around the park. Ponting rates recently axed
Victorian Rob Quiney as the frontrunner to take his spot
in the Australian line-up. The Australian Rugby Union
has revealed it began negotiating
with Waratahs recruit Israel Folau within days
of the serial defector's release from AFL club
Greater Western Sydney. The news is sure to anger the NRL
and the Parramatta Eels but Folau insists
he didn't mislead anyone.

He's been called 'greedy' but Israel Folau says it's garbage
to say his switch to rugby union is just another grab for cash. Definitely not, mate. If I was...if I was entirely in
for the money, I could have stayed in AFL,
the deal, which was massive. But the 23-year-old admits his heart
was with a switch to the Eels. If people had kept their word
would we be standing here now? Ah, well, the story
might have been different. Things didn't work out
in terms of the Parramatta talks and hence why I'm here today. Folau says league didn't do enough. I think the game was doing
all it could within its rules to try and accommodate him. While leaguies have slammed
his character, not those from AFL. I think Israel Folau
is one of the honest people I've actually ever dealt with. But will this switch be a success? A the natural talent, there's
no questions asked, whatsoever. Mat Rogers wore these colours before
when he switched from rugby league and is certain Israel Folau
will match his efforts and become a Wallaby. I've got absolutely no doubt,
whatsoever, that he'll absolutely brain it
in rugby union. You know, I always back myself
in everything I do. If it doesn't work out there
are other options. Maybe badminton.

Collingwood remains the undisputed
financial powerhouse of the AFL after announcing a record profit
for 2012. The Magpies posted a profit
of $7.83 million, easily the highest of any club
in the competition. The record windfall comes despite
an outlay of more than $21 million on its football department. Collingwood's financial figures
highlight the growing gulf between the AFL's rich
and poor clubs. Port Adelaide's operating loss for
the year was more than $4 million.

Newcastle teenager
Jake Higginbottom has been paired with golfing royalty
at this week's Australian Open. 8-time major champion Tom Watson
is his playing partner at the Lakes, here to win his second
Stonehaven Cup. The only problem is this 63 year-old body's got a cold
and a bit of jetlag coming from South Africa. The Open is live and free on Seven
from midday on Thursday.

, The golf back on Seven is fantastic, could waurn be back in the test arena. That will be the story of the today, that will have us very excited if excited if waurny walks back in the green cap for

Next on Seven Early News -

Now for a closer look
at how the weather's shaping up around the country. Fine weather across New South Wales
with cooler temperatures as south-westerly winds
move through. A small, intense frontal system
and cloud band is approaching southern Victoria
and Tasmania as low cloud extends
over South Australia. Around the capitals - temperatures cooling in Brisbane but it will still be hot,
33 degrees. Sydney, sunny and 25. Windy and partly cloudy
for Canberra. A few showers for Melbourne. with rain clearing in Hobart,
a chilly top of just 15 degrees. Partly cloudy in Adelaide. Showers and a chance
of a storm for Perth. A hot day for Darwin. And that's Seven Early News
for this Wednesday. I'm Natalie Barr.
Stand-by now for 'Sunrise'. Supertext captions by
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