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Today Tonight -

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(generated from captions) and the money helps the kids. We saw a few showers
across the city overnight but that wet weather cleared
and the sun came out - 25 degrees. Last night we saw some
good downpours along the coast. Gosford got another good drenching with warm temperatures today
away from the shorelines. Reaching the high 20s in the west. From the satellite, a trough is bringing a few showers
and storms over western New South Wales
and western Queensland. Tomorrow, some isolated showers
over the east coast and allow for hot, northerly winds through inland New South Wales
and Queensland, pushing into Victoria
and South Australia. That will feed into a trough,

hot in Melbourne
and Hobart. Storms in Perth. On the water:

Tonight will be fine.
Staying pretty toasty as well. We will drop to 18. Then a warm day tomorrow
with a sunny top of 26 degrees. The north-east winds
will heat things up across our west with the mercury tipping
into the high 20s.

Looking ahead - getting hotter
into Friday and Saturday with some increasing cloud
ahead of a hot day on Sunday before a late shower
and the risk of a storm.

That's Seven News
for this Wednesday. Now here's 'Today Tonight'.

Tonight - Christmas comes early
for this cashed-up cabbie. I just couldn't believe it
for the first few seconds. The mystery passenger,
his outback odyssey and the $5,000 taxi fare.

Plus, thieves explain
which houses they target and the ones they leave alone. The best ways
to burgle-proof your home. Also, the great ham review. The pre-Christmas judging to
find the best and expose the worst. And non-surgical liposuction - the fat-melting process
that's been given a tick of approval by our independent watchdog.

Good evening. I'm Kylie Gillies.
Thanks for your company. First tonight, the cab driver
with plenty to smile about after a semi-naked mystery passenger
paid him cash upfront for a 17-hour, 1,500km one-way trip. Veteran cabbie Mike Caldwell
was paid almost $5,000 to drive into the Outback
and beyond. Neil Doorley has more.

He's probably the country's It's fair dinkum, In 30 years as a taxidriver, Mike Caldwell thought
he'd seen and heard it all. That was until he was hailed down outside this pub
in North Queensland. So, he's half-naked, he comes up to the taxi,
and what does he say? He says, "I want you to take me
to Tennant Creek." That's Tennant Creek
in the Northern Territory some 1,500km away. The first surprise is that he asked
to go to Tennant Creek. The second surprise is that
he has $4,900 in cash, on him. He's got the cash on him and all laid out like you get it
from the bank, you know? Your 500 bundles
with the rubber bands. Yeah, mate, I've got cash on me.
Cash money on you? So began their 17-hour road trip, with Mike forced to make
regular rest stops along the way. The trip ended when Mike dropped off
the mystery man, known only as 'Pero', at a Westpac Bank. Did you ask him
where he got the money from? He just said, "From the bank." So, he's... From his manner,
he seemed quite passive. Having driven taxis for 30 years,
you get almost like a sixth sense whether anyone is going to be
a problem to you. With his life and job having taken
an unexpected and very long detour, Mike was left with
the long, lonely return leg. But, for Pero, it seems
his adventure has only just begun. I picked him up from Tennant Creek,
the pizza bar on the main street. We tracked down
Tennant Creek's only cabbie, Chris, who described his encounter with the
increasingly well-travelled Pero. I took him 250km out - Elliot. He was off to Darwin. Dave Manson is Mike's boss. Incredibly, this taxi ride
isn't the longest he's heard of. I'm aware of a couple of fares
about 15, 17 years ago that went to Darwin, but, other than that, we have either Cairns to the north or Airlie Beach, Mackay,
to the south. When it comes to
headline-grabbing taxi rides, Mike's fair is right up there. But who could forget Joseph Archer and his epic taxi adventure
from Brisbane to Adelaide at a cost of $5,500?

Biggest one I've ever had, mate. Probably never get another one
like it. For the same price of the taxi fare, Mike's mysterious passenger
could have flown around the world, not once but twice. Back in Townsville, Mike's hoping his next big fare
is just around the corner and he'll earn in a day what
he normally makes in a few weeks. But at this rate,
it could take awhile. $50 will be fine, thanks.
There you go. Thank you very much.

Neil Doorley reporting. For the record,
Mike gets to pocket half that fare. The rest goes to the cab company. Now to a world first, where self-confessed criminals
reveal what they look for before breaking into a home. As we enter the bonanza period
for burglars, Natalie Bonjolo's report
gives us all a glimpse into how thieves are thinking. What the burglars
were actually telling us

Historically, summer is a period
that most crimes go up. Now, for the first time, we take you
inside the mind of a burglar. Real-life robbers who confess
their tricks of the trade. We interviewed 69 current burglars
or people who said they'd burgled in the last year. Dr Natalie Gately
heads up the world-first research. done in conjunction with the
Australian Institute of Criminology. They were very candid
with what they had to tell us because they knew we had offered and that nothing they told us
could be traced back to them. So, would your house
be on their hit list?

66% of them said they just walked in
through open doors or they got in through open windows
or through very obvious means. For many, the icing on the cake
is valuables left in full view. Under those Christmas trees
is often a lot presents and that is advertising
the wares you've got on sale. It's an easy target and they're not deterred
even by a house full of people. They spoke about
being able to get in over - particularly when there was parties
and alcohol going on. So when you're having a party,
the front door's often left open so people can come and go. And if you're going away
for the holidays well, thieves love
the telltale signs you leave behind. We leave the light on at night

As far as they were concerned,
if there's no cars in the driveway and the lights and radio are on
late at night, it's a sure indication
that nobody is home. They know all your secret
little hidey holes, too. They look for the keys, they look for under doormats,
under these fake rocks or just inside the garage door And they're not fooled by fake,
or faulty, security. Security systems deterred, but only those that were plugged
in and working. They could quite easily spot a fake, they could quite easily spot
an old system that wasn't connected. Then, there's the deadset giveaways. Putting things on Facebook
to indicate that you're on holiday, not having your bins emptied, not having your mailbox emptied, leaving newspapers
on the front lawn uncollected are all telltale signs that your house
is not being occupied by anybody. Straight from the horse's mouth,
it is time to take note. These are the opportunities
that they take. Let's limit those opportunities. WA Police Assistant Commissioner
of Judicial Service, Lawrence Panaia says the burglars' confessions
confirm what they've always known. Anecdotally, a lot of police officers
will know this stuff but this just goes to show that
most criminals take an opportunity to commit a crime like this. And beware -

There's a few simple things
you can do to protect yourself
and your property. are all a turn-off.

As for the number one deterrent? (DOGS BARK) About 53% of them said that they wouldn't go into a house
where there is a dog present so the thing about whistling
to see if there's a dog present would immediately deter them - not necessarily
because they were ferocious dogs but because they drew attention
to the activity. It's the closest you'll get to knowing what goes through
a burglars' brain when they pass your place. Particularly
over the festive season, take real care to make sure
that you're not a victim.

The other key tip is to check whether your insurance covers you
for a theft if the burglars
don't have to break into your home. Now to the future of childcare. An industry in crisis
and in need of a major shake-up. It's becoming increasingly expensive
for parents yet child care workers
are so poorly paid they're leaving the industry
in droves. Georgia Main reports. We are paying $500 a week.

The only way we can have more money
is to increase fees. Let alone the horrors of payments
and costs and all these other things
that are associated, you just gotta even get in. The demand for child care
has never been greater. Two decades ago,
256,000 children were in child care. Now that figure's soared
to 964,000. It's around sort of $240 a day
for the two kids to be in the care So expensive and inflexible, Melinda Weaver gave up a
successful career as a travel agent. Now she works from home and her children are in care
just one day a week. Hi. Were you surprised
when you first started looking at how expensive child care was? Absolutely. It was quite a shock. At the end of the day, though, you can't put a price
on the care of your children but, yes, it was very expensive and I was nervous about
if they would increase over time. And has it gone up this year? It has gone up. It's steadily increasing. It's only about $10 a day but when that adds up per child
and per days that you're in care it certainly puts a strain on
the budget at the end of the week. National reforms
improving staff-to-child ratios are blamed
for putting pressure on fees. In Melbourne, child care fees have
gone up nearly 14% to $75 a day in the last year. Fees in Sydney increased
by more than 11% to $68 a day. In Brisbane, they're up
more than 10% to $67 a day. We've got
a really low paid workforce with educators earning Sue Lines, the Assistant National
Secretary of United Voice, says while fees soar, child care workers
are deserting the industry. 180 each week leave because they can't afford to stay
in the jobs they love. Like 45-year-old Kerry Devir, who, after 28 years in child care,
is facing a career change. One of the newer educators
to our service was working at Coles and she took a pay cut
to come and work with us. And she's so amazing
and so dedicated to her craft and to wanting to learn more. But I almost want to tell her,
"Don't stay. "Down the track,
you're going to be me - "still earning a very low wage
into your 40s." And at the top of my profession,
so to speak. Kerry worries Australia's child care system
could become something only the rich can afford. Roli Shrivasta tends to agree. In my weekly wage, I'm spending
around more than 50% on child care. Roli is spending $14,000 a year for full-time care for daughter,
Keisha. Because the government rebate
is capped, she gets 50% back but only for 10 months of the year. Two months, I have to pay full price
for each day. So, that means
I'm paying $2,000 per month. Our Government recognises that traditional centre-based care
isn't the answer for every family. There will be 17% more
in home care places right across Australia. Child care Minister Kate Ellis
recently announced funding for almost 800 extra places
for approved in-home carers. But she admits
more needs to be done, hosting a number of summits
with the industry discussing a major shake-up. On the table -

scrapping the rebate and
funding child care centres directly in exchange
for centres capping fees. There's also plans for
late night and weekend child care to cater for a growing number
of shift workers. The majority of the families that
do call are desperate for the care. Laura Silvera is from the World Tower Childcare Centre
in Sydney, one of the few open 24 hours a day. It's an essential service
but, she says, an expensive one. You're looking at an average
of $40 per hour per child. Instead of encouraging mums
back to work, I've got a feeling that perhaps
it is another reason why mums are saying, "Too hard.
I'd rather stay home with them. "Can't be bothered. Too expensive." The Government has to change
the funding model to see us like teachers
and kindergarten people and aged-care workers because we're an essential service
to the community just like those professions.

Georgia Main reporting. Nothing says Christmas
like a big, fat, tender ham but often
they can be a disappointment. So how do you select a ham that gives great quality
and value for money? Helen Wellings investigates
the traps and the label lies that can catch you out and talks to the experts who judge
Australia's very best hams. That's one good ham.

It's good.
Very good.

This is serious business. Normally, no-one's allowed
to witness this secret judging, but Today Tonight has been given
exclusive entry into the 2012
Ham Awards for Excellence - the very best hams in the land. Nice marbling through there. 147 100% Australian-grown
and processed hams, bone in or bone out, being scrutinized... ..sniffed... ..sampled. Cheers. The judges - the nation's top
pork industry experts. Fleishmeister Horst Schurger with the highest qualifications
in meat in Europe, a master's degree in butchering
and smallgoods from Germany. If it's nice and evenly smoked and the colour is even
and not overcooked. Paul McDonald... We're looking for texture, aroma,
its balance. ..and Simon Bestley. The key is a nice balance
of the saltiness and the sweetness. Between them, they've worked
in Michelin-starred restaurants, cruise liners
and teaching institutions. Soon, we reveal the winning hams. Chewing it, that's got to be nice and not too moist
that the water runs in your mouth. That means they've overdone it
with the curing. It's rife
in a lot of imported pork meat. Hams so water-logged that families have been cheated
on weight and size. Also misled on country of origin because the labels say
"Made in Australia" or "From Imported
and Local Ingredients" when it's mainly foreign meat
processed into ham here. So, is this problem
of water getting worse? Every year, it tends to get
a little bit worse, year in, year out. Richard Deignan's family
has owned Black Forest Smokehouse for four generations. He says most pre-packaged boneless
and ready-sliced hams comes from imported meat. $10 million worth
of imported pork meat comes in to the country every week. That's about 70% of the pork we have
on the market is imported? Correct. Processors here
add extra water marinade to that imported product to lift their profits
at our expense. It's saturated with it. That's why it is so spongy. Hams do need to have water marinade
added in during the curing process - nitrates, salt and sugars
for flavour and moisture. But it's the amount that's critical. Up to 10% is acceptable
in the finished product, but some sliced and packaged imports
contain up to 30% water marinade and you're paying for that. You're paying for water
at ham prices. Imported pork doesn't have to meet
the same high standards that Australian pork does in terms of production systems,
animal welfare and food safety. Martin Carr of Australian Pork manages
this important label program, telling you the product
is genuine home-grown Aussie meat. All hams on the bone
and half legs with part bone are Australian, as are boneless ones
like these rolled and gypsy styles if they carry the pink pork label. Australian ham is a lot fresher. It hasn't been sitting on a boat
for maybe three months coming over here. Imported ham comes in frozen and must be cooked
due to quarantine regulations. So, ladies and gentlemen, the winners of the 2012
Ham Awards for Excellence. After days of gruelling judging... The winner
of Australia's best ham... John Bartlett,
Wattle City Meats, Victoria. Richard Deignan picked up the bronze
for boneless ham, first prize in New South Wales. A lovely even colour
throughout the muscle groups. You soak a tea towel
in some vinegar and some salt, wrap your ham,
keep it in the fridge. Chef Colin Fassnidge says get the best value
out of your Christmas ham. It will keep for up to a month
in the fridge. We put it into four,
we wrap it and freeze it and we've got it all year. And the prize winners for each
state will be on our website so you can nail down
the perfect Christmas ham. We'll take a break, and then -
the revolutionary fat blaster. 2.5cm of change is reasonable. That's significant. 2.5cm - it's one size, isn't it? It's one size. Non-surgical liposuction
to get rid of those unwanted rolls, and it takes just an hour.

Ready?
Might just change my dress. I might just fix that wall.

MAN: New Selleys
No More Gaps Fast Dry. Ready to paint in 20 minutes. I can't find my earrings.
Oh. Might paint the wall.
No More Gaps Fast Dry. If it's Selleys, it works.

Welcome back. Year in, year out, the most popular New Year's
resolution is to lose weight. But next year, for the first time, with the help of the latest
non--surgical procedure. Jackie Quist reports
it promises incredible results after just one hour-long session. It debuted on 'Dr Oz'.

The next cutting edge procedure
is Liposonix. It promises you'll drop a dress size and the procedure takes
just one hour. Sick of muffin tops, love handles
and spare tyres? Hollywood's hottest
weight loss treatment is here. There's no downtime,
there's no discomfort afterwards. American plastic surgeon
and body contouring specialist Dr Mark Jewell

helped develop Liposonix - the non-surgical alternative
to liposuction, using ultrasound to eliminate
those stubborn fat deposits that exercise won't budge. This is revolutionary. It heats the tissue
and destroys fat cells. Clinical trials in the US finding some lose up to 6cm
around the waist. 90% losing at least 2.5cm.

2.5cm of change is reasonable. That's significant, 2.5cm.
It's one size, isn't it? It's one size.

Hi, Bianca. How are you?
Hi, Dr Tass. Very good, thank you. Take a seat. Melbourne cosmetic specialist
Dr Tass Tasiopoulos the first in Australia
to offer the new treatment which has just received
TGA approval. 101.

His patient, Bianca Kefford,
hoping to eliminate her mummy tummy. Ever since I had my son,
it's been there and I haven't been able to shift it. So, we'll be going
from zone to zone. We'll do that, the whole grid,
the whole pattern, four times. The lunchtime procedure painless
for most, costing upwards of $1,800 depending
on how much treatment is required. You can really go anywhere
where the fat is. Jeff Nardoci is vice-president
of global marketing for Liposonix. The love handles, so, you'll get around the sides,
the flanks of people, that little pooch area
in the centre, it'll clear that up. In Europe,
it's been used on the outer thigh, on what a lot of women will refer to
as "my saddlebag." Unsuitable for obese patients it's designed
to iron out and contour those who have
a spare inch to pinch. I'm able to pinch
this little fat pad. This fat pad should not be pinchable
in about 12 weeks. 28-year-old Lauren Mackessy
hoping to drop from a size 12 to a size 10. A flatter stomach, get rid of my doughnut,
as I call it. I'd like to get into
those tight tops that don't suck up
around my stomach line. Ultrasound technology
has long been used in surgery on things like kidney stones. This time, it's heating and
permanently destroying fat cells. Possible side effects
are minor swelling and bruising. So, no anaesthetic and no scars? There's no anaesthetic, no scarring,
there's no down time. Immediately after the procedure, Lauren will be able to continue
with her normal day. She could even go to the gym
tomorrow, if you wish. So, it's very much a non-invasive,
non-surgical procedure. It's the way I've noticed a lot
of things are going these days. I see this
as an evolving technology. Possibly even for the double chin,
we will have something shortly.

And we'll be following
Bianca and Lauren's progress to see how the new treatment
works for them. We'll take a break and be right back
with more Today Tonight.

VOICEOVER:
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Where is my other sock?

Why would you talk to a machine? Our customers don't. Why wouldn't you choose
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VOICEOVER:
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Tomorrow night -
a story of hope and inspiration and how,
if love doesn't conquer all, it goes a long way.

I know that time dying.She's very positive, very strong. Lisa Maree's story tomorrow.
Thanks for your company. I'm Kylie Gillies.
Enjoy your evening. See you tomorrow. Supertext captions
by Red Bee Media -

Hello. Welcome to the Better Homes
and Gardens Countdown to Christmas. With friends and relatives
set to drop by, why not recharge your living space
with a warm exotic makeover? Inspired by the movie 'Life of Pi', Tara takes this ordinary decking
on a journey to India. From boring... ..to bright. I'll show you how easy it is
to liven up your outdoor room. How to keep the kids occupied
this summer. Yeah! Ooh, no need to travel to putt-putt when you can lay out a whole course
in your own backyard. A dish so incredible
it's hard to believe it's so easy. Blackened spice pork belly
with smashed chilled cucumber salad. Simply delicious. Another great Australian garden
with lots of surprises. This one
is one of my absolute favourites. Summer all wrapped up
in a gorgeous dessert. Colourful layers
and contrasting textures. This is the most elegant dessert
you'll make all year. And Dr Harry on a merry chase
after two naughty kids. The owners here think I'm some
sort of expert at toilet training. They've got to be kidding. Plus your chance to win one of
our fantastic nightly giveaways. Details soon. SONG: # Ooh # Getting better, yeah # Life keeps getting better # All the time # Getting better. #

GRAHAM: I'm on a journey to bring
you Australia's greatest gardens. Tonight, I'm in the southern
highlands of New South Wales, on my way to a garden that has
a very special place in my heart.

Red Cow Farm
is about 1.5 hours drive south of Sydney at Sutton Forest.

Set on 6 acres, or 2.5 hectares, this is a magnificent example
of a cool climate garden.

The owners started from scratch
only in 1990 with the aim of creating
one of the world's best gardens. And they've certainly achieved that.

The creators of this garden were some of the early pioneers
in Australia of the garden rooms, where you walk into one area and then out into another
of a different design. This one is, obviously near
the home, the cottage garden. Look at this mass planting
of the Whetman hybrid dianthus, the little miniature carnations. Great for cutting, great in
the garden as a ground cover.