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Seven Nightly News -

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(generated from captions) Good on you, Mauricio. So, we'll go with 15, then,
with Rachel? Yes. We'll go with 15. See if my theory was right. I did think it was the $20, but
now I'm thinking it's the $100,000. Alright.
So, $100,000. It's... Oh! $4,000. (LAUGHS)
Ooh! Was Mauricio on the money? Was it all true
when he said he had $100,000? Mauricio, let's pop those locks.
Alright, you ready? Was he there?
Is it here? Did he accessorise?
Set! Go! It's... Oh!

$100,000 in there, my friend! You did have a feeling! But, you know, just think about it as the tool that helped you
write this cheque! (SCREAMS) Hey, and this is Mauricio! And this is the lovely Katie Mac, with your cheque for $31,250. Good on you, Mauricio! Nicely played. Well done, Gianna. Don't overdo it on the wieners, OK? Oh, well, with that money,
maybe overdo it on the wieners. Go crazy! See ya!

This program is captioned live. Tonight - homes threatened during a bushfire emergency
in Sydney's south-west. The man accused
of the Lin family murders granted bail. The Treasurer breaks
his budget surplus promise. Why? A make-up artist
among eight people charged over a Customs
drug importation scandal. And the Sydney pets desperately needing a home
this Christmas.

VOICEOVER: This is Seven News
with Mark Ferguson. Good evening. We begin with breaking news, and a bushfire
has come close to homes at Airds, near Campbelltown,
this evening. Residents were told to take shelter
in their homes around 4:30 this afternoon as properties came under threat. An emergency alert was issued
for up to 20 homes as three water-bombing aircraft
got to work.

Let's go to Sean Berry who's on the phone
at the scene of the firr. who's on the phone
at the scene of the fire. Firefighters are still fighting displays of from the ground. It

displays of from the ground. It
appears that they had it under control at five o'clock. But it is still sort of touch and go at the moment. Them ago a couple of helicopters dropping water on it. It is a threatening 20 homes. In Airds, people have been told to stay indoors and take shelter. The fire was only in fire danger conditions but we have had a bit of rain come through which has helped the cause. How did it start? Firefighters say it started very close to homes. As a result of that, they are treating it as suspicious. Thank you for the update.

There's been a startling development
in the Lin family murder case with the accused killer
granted bail. Live to Jodie Speers
at the Supreme Court now where, Jodie, Robert Xie's imminent release
is being challenged. Mark, the Crown prosecutor is
fighting this remarkable decision, which could see Robert Xie home
for Christmas. He's expected to face trial
in the second half of next year over the murders
of five members of his family found bludgeoned to death
at North Epping in July 2009. The magistrate says the Crown case against xie falls
well short of being strong the Crown case against Xie falls
well short of being strong despite the fact he committed him
only yesterday to stand trial. He granted $900,000 bail
on strict conditions, including that the accused killer
surrenders his passport, reports to police twice daily and wears an electronic
tracking device around his ankle. He'll also have to abide by
a night-time curfew. Mr Xie will live at North Epping, just around the corner
from the house where he's accused of carrying out
the murders, and he'll live there
with his wife, Kathy, who's been one of the main witnesses
in the case. He's expected to be released
in coming days unless the Crown succeeds
in its Supreme Court appeal.

The Gillard Government has broken
one of its key promises by dumping
the Federal budget surplus. A $4 billion plunge in taxes
paid by companies is being blamed for what Treasurer Wayne Swan calls
a huge whack to revenue. The Opposition calls it
irresponsible economic management.

Wayne Swan takes a swig of water,
swallows his pride and drains the last hopes
of achieving a surplus this year. Dramatically lower tax revenue
now makes it unlikely that there will be a surplus. The Government had promised
it would be achieved. We're getting back into surplus
in three years, Kochie. Come hell or high water. Echoing her carbon tax pledge, the Prime Minister even said... The government I lead
will return the budget to surplus in just three years time. Now the Government can't say when the surplus
will be delivered at all, blaming new figures released today showing company tax payments
$4 billion lower than expected. It wouldn't be responsible to continue to make up
for that revenue hole if that endangered growth or jobs. The Treasurer also cited slowing economic growth,
low commodity prices and a high Australian dollar
for the decision, which economists have called for
for months. It would have been dumb
to chase a surplus this year. The announcement,
just five days out from Christmas, is exactly the early present
the Opposition was hoping for having claimed for years now the Government would never deliver
a surplus. It's a failure of competency,
it's a failure of trust. Enough is enough. They are the most incompetent
government Australia has ever had. Despite being freed
of the surplus straightjacket, the Treasurer denies
he'll start spending big, including on expensive education
and disability insurance promises.

And the NSW budget
is back in deficit. The mid-year review released today
has confirmed with the extra $1 billion
recently uncovered already swallowed up. The State Treasurer hopes
more budget cuts or tax rises won't be needed.

I'm not going to rule out today
taking additional measures to ensure our finances
are sustainable in the long-term. The state will be in deficit
a year longer than forecast thanks to a drop in Federal revenue
and mining royalties.

Australia's border security
has been breached by the very people trusted
to protect it. A Customs officer
and a quarantine inspector are among eight people charged with helping to smuggle drugs
through Sydney airport. An anti-corruption board
is now being set up with more arrests expected.

They are hired
to protect our borders. Instead, potentially dozens
of Customs officers are helping to infiltrate them. This week, four people
have been arrested in relation to the allegation of the importation of narcotics
into Australia. They are among eight arrested
since August and more are expected. And if you are corrupt, we will
hunt you down and lock you up. It's alleged they are part of
a larger group of about 30 paid off by criminal gangs to help not only turn a blind eye
to illegal imports, but to facilitate safe passage. I'm not so naive as to think that criminal elements will not
attempt to infiltrate this service. Six months ago, Seven News revealed
169 drug-laden containers had passed through Customs
undetected. Some had even been X-rayed. One former Customs officer believes
a royal commission is needed. I was in the place for 25 years and I experienced it
from the very first days I entered the agency. Schapelle Corby's mother
welcomes the news. Well, it's about time someone's
doing a deeper investigation. We've always asked for it. Roseleigh Rose has always maintained corrupt baggage handlers
set up her daughter. They were covering up corruption
in the airport and they didn't give a damn
about Schapelle. A review will be headed by former royal commissioner
James Wood, ex-New South Wales
police commissioner Ken Moroney and businessman David Mortimer. I am resolved to weed out corruption
wherever it occurs. Privately, police have been appalled at how loose Customs has been
in identifying potential threats. They believe change is needed not just in personnel, but in culture, from the top down.

One of the eight people arrested
in the Customs sting has been supported in court by colourful Sydney businessman
Jim Byrnes. Krystle Hill is a professional
make-up artist and dancer. Police believe she also moonlights
as a drug smuggler.

Krystle Hill is not a young woman
accustomed to courtrooms
and prison cells. I will definitely be fighting them.
This is just...yep. So you say you're innocent?
I am, yeah. Absolutely. She's a professional dancer
and make-up artist whose website says she's based
in Sydney and the French Riviera. It features photos
of the 27-year-old glamour girl with celebrities and royalty. Now she's at the centre
of the Customs corruption scandal, accused of trafficking
pseudoephedrine between Thailand and Australia
in 2009. She was allegedly escorted
through Customs by officers who were in on
the smuggling operation and paid $10,000. One of Krystle's employers
is Sydney businessman Jim Byrnes, who recently had his Bellevue Hill
mansion shot up. Today he came to court in support, offering to post
Krystle's $20,000 bail. What was she like as an employee? Excellent. She's a very honest,
genuine person. Everyone's entitled
to be presumed innocent until they're proven guilty. The court heard the case
hinges on allegations made by one of her co-accused, who claims he recruited Krystle
as a courier after meeting her in a pub. Krystle's barristers described
the case against her as hopeless, saying there's nothing independent
to support those claims. The magistrate granted bail, agreeing the evidence is not strong. The case returns to court
on February 27.

The number of unwanted dogs and cats
at the RSPCA's Yagoona shelter in Sydney's south-west
has now reached a critical level. And with more pets expected
to be dumped over Christmas it's feared
many will have to be put down unless they're adopted soon.

These are the lucky ones - strays from the street,
or surrendered by their owners. All smart, others missing a limb, but all in search of a new home.

we do have to euthanasia, if we simply don't have the room
to hold the animals here. The RSPCA's Sydney shelter
is overflowing with cats. They're forced to pass animals
to pet shops or put them down because no-one wants
a feline friend. People tend to come in
looking for kittens, and can overlook the adult cats here
that we have here for adoption. They're selling them for half-price
in an effort to clear the decks. But even that hasn't tempted
potential pet owners. All are given a vet check before moving in
with their new family. Good body condition,
you know their heart sounds fine, and there's no wounds
to indicate injury. Keepers here know
they could end up as gifts, just like these active pups. The advice stays the same. Pets are for life - they're not just
a Christmas present, and they can live for
up to 20 years, They'll thank you
for the new start at life.

We warned last night that these pictures
may not have been authentic. And it turns out the eagle snatching a baby
from a park in Canada is fake. An animation school came clean after the video
made world headlines. The eagle and child were created
in 3D animation and added to home video. It even had some wildlife experts

Next in Seven News -
back live to the Airds bushfire. The attack on a World War II veteran
that's led warnings for the elderly.

Also, preparing for
the end of the world. How much time
we apparently have left.

And find out how Australia fared
in the Miss Universe pageant. That's next.

Christmas time is Coles time for great seasonal specials like Lindt Lindor 235g or Ferrero Rocher 30pk - 2 for just $20 at Coles! # It's Christmas time # It's Christmas time... #

Back now to our breaking news on the bushfire that's been
threatening homes at Airds near Campbelltown. Let's get the latest now
with Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at the Rural Fire Service. Commissioner, what's the latest?

Good evening. The fire is now largely under control. That is a result of the extraordinary work of more than 60 firefighters from Fire and Rescue and also the Royal fire service and that the assistance of three water bombing aircraft. I can let you know that police have been able to apprehend two individuals this afternoon that they have in custody and they are insist -- assisting in inquiries.The what is the advice of residence?We have given the all-clear for that area. The fire is under control. There will still be smoke and firefighters will mop up the area. It is a timely reminder that summer is upon us. If anyone sees anything suspicious, please report that two crimes -- crime stoppers.

A World War II veteran
has been robbed and bashed after withdrawing cash from a bank
at Liverpool. It's prompted police
to warn the elderly that they're easy targets
at this time of year. War veteran Ralph
with battle scars at 91 years old. Well, I was lucky.
He could have kicked me to death. It happened at Westfield Liverpool. Ralph had taken out $3,500
and was walking to his car but was attacked from behind
and beaten to the ground. As his fist went, he sort of did a grazing blow
on the side of his chin. The attacker had followed him
and was after the cash. It was in an envelope. He grabbed that
and took off like a Bondi tram. Ralph is a survivor,
but this was too much. He's very athletic,
very fast runner. 70 odd years ago,
I might have been able to catch him but not now. Police think it was this man -
33-year-old Ahmed Yaghi, captured on CCTV and arrested this morning. He's charged with attacking Ralph and stealing shoes
earlier this week. A scare for the elderly but a warning for everyone
in Christmas shopping crowds - the advice is to never carry
large amounts of cash and always be aware
of your surroundings. It also should show
as a warning for other people - you've got to be mindful
and careful. I don't think the average thief
has too much between the ears in the means of brains. Ralph is OK and ready for more
Christmas shopping. According

We don't want to alarm anyone but according to some, the world will end
in just one day and four hours. That's not the end of the world
as we know it - but as the ancient Mayans did. But some are still getting ready,
just in case. So much to do, so little time, if you believe the ancient Mayans, who calculated the world would end
on December 21, 2012. Whether it be the end of days,
civil unrest, nuclear attack. In the US, companies
which build elaborate bunkers have reported a rush on sales. So have army supply stores. People are coming in to buy, like, the earthquake kits
that are already prepared. We've got brownies.
We've got the water here. I like this one -
the disposable urinal. you left it too late
to build that bunker that'll somehow protect you, or are thinking of racing out
to buy survival gear, it's worth noting experts
on Mayan culture say the doomsayers have completely
misunderstood the situation. They predicted
that things would go on for thousands of years after 2012. NASA also says
there's nothing to worry about. This is simply a big hoax. Even some extreme survivalists
are sceptical. Chris Petrovich, with his stash
of gas masks and bread in a can, believes the end is coming -
but not yet. It's a bunch of crap. It's not the first time
the world was supposed to end. Remember Nostradamus, Y2K
and the Millennium Bug? American radio host Harold Camping? All prophets of doom - all failed. So far, anyway.

Australia has finished fourth
in the Miss Universe contest held today in Las Vegas. One of her rivals took a stumble
during the televised competition. But Perth's Renae Ayris
didn't miss a beat, making it to the top five. In the end, it came down
to Miss USA and Miss Philippines. USA!

Olivia Culpo is the winner
of Miss Universe. Australia's Timomatic
was part of the entertainment.

Sport now with Mark Beretta and, Berretts,
cricket finally has a plan for our sick quicks? Yes, Mark. They had to do something. All the details next. While Warnie offers
a stinging assessment of those bowlers
who are fit for Boxing Day.

Plus, Izzy bringing the magic
of all football codes to his stint with the Waratahs.

And a James Bond-style homecoming for Australia's
new world surfing champion.

VOICEOVER: Big W has last-minute
gifts covered this Christmas for under $10, with 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
The Third Wheel' just $8, and a Tinkers Doll only $10. At Big W,
everyone's a winner
this Christmas.

Because they light up our lives, here's something
to lighten up theirs. New My Dog Light has 20% less fat,
more quality, lean meat, and the same ultimate My Dog taste. And the best part is - they'll
never know My Dog Light is light.

There's no-one youer than you. That's why there's Youi. We save you money by insuring you
for how you use your car. So if your car is
mostly at home during the day, we could save you lots
on your car insurance. Call 13youi or go to

Cricket Australia
has ordered a review of its player management program in the wake of a crippling
injury toll. A disappointed High Performance
boss, Pat Howard, says answers need to be found soon
with the Ashes looming.

At Cricket Australia's
batting boot camp, machines do the work
these paceman can't do, with front-line bowlers
Hilfenhaus, Cummins and Pattinson buckling under the strain
of an endless summer. Add Hazelwood, Harris
and Hastings to the list, and we have a full-blown crisis. Our current situation's
not good enough, and, around the world,
all the teams - it's not just
an Australian cricket problem. Trainer Dave Dwyer
had great success keeping Pakistan's pacemen
fit and firing. He believes Australia's calendar
is the main challenge. They're playing double
the amount of cricket that we were so that's probably one way
of making sure that we were never going to get
as many injuries as they did. Teen sensation Pat Cummins won't be
back at full pace until April. I guess the reality is I'm going to get injured
continuously. I mean all bowlers are,
until you're 24, 25. I'm really disappointed
where we're at, at the moment. A cheeky King of Spin
has weighed into the pace debate. Shane Warne says left-armers
Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc should make way for debutant
Jackson Bird on Boxing Day. I think they both leak runs. I think they can both take wickets, but they both go for
a few too many runs so, for Michael Clarke, he'll want to have
a little bit of control. The Waratahs deny suggestions
code-hopper Israel Folau will only get a game
to boost crowd numbers. During a camp in Newcastle, Folau showed he'll bring
some of his AFL skills to union but the 'Tahs don't see his
novelty value as their big drawcard. Well, I'm hoping that the team
will be the drawcard, you know - that he'll be a part of that team. He wasn't brought on board
for a gimmick. Izzy doesn't play his first game
until February.

Skipper Michael Beauchamp
is confident Western Sydney Wanders can continue
their giant-killing run against Adelaide United. The Wanderers have moved to fourth
in the A-League with back-to-back wins. After downing Sydney FC, they don't fear
second-placed United. Only nerves of excitement.
There's no nerves of fear. Giants' Chelsea
would have been nervous. They trailed Leeds by a goal
but stormed home and into the semis
of English football's League Cup.

Newly crowned world surfing
champion Joel Parkinson says has made his win
all that much sweeter. The 31-year-old will begin
the defence of his title at home on the Gold Coast in March, but now it's party time.

He's never far from the water so the wet welcome provided
the perfect homecoming present for Joel Parkinson. His parents Jo and Brian
among the crowd to greet surfing's
new world champion, his son Mahli and wife Monica
on the Gold Coast last night. MAN: Yeah, Parko! (CHEERING)

The support's been unbelievable,
amazing from all over the world. He's already inspired
the next generation of surfers. He's one of the best out there,
for sure so, yeah - he bloody deserves it. After finishing runner-up
four times, Parkinson overcame
a bad run with injuries to be crowned surfing's king
at Pipeline. He's worked extremely hard and deserves everything
that's come his way so... happy and so proud. There's gonna be lot of people that
are gonna want to cheers-beers to me the whole way around town
and I can't wait. I'll obligely accept.

Some it is one of our best-loved champions. This will be a long -- party.

Checking finance now and the share market has closed
at a 17-month high, the ASX 200 finishing up 16 points. Qantas shares were up slightly as the airline welcomed
a preliminary decision giving its Emirates alliance
the green light.

Sally's next with Sydney's weather, and it's been running
hot and cold, Sal. What's next? Mark, we've got wet weather
on the way and it could hang around
for Christmas. I'll have the details
after the break.

Christmas time is Coles time for great seasonal specials like Lindt Lindor 235g or Ferrero Rocher 30pk - 2 for just $20 at Coles! # It's Christmas time # It's Christmas time... #

What a difference a day makes. After starting off boiling hot, things have certainly
cooled off tonight. And the mild weather will linger
for a little while. We peaked at 33
this morning then the change swept through. Right now, it's 23 in the city. North-west winds pushed the mercury
into the high 30s in our western suburbs. Then the fresh and gusty southerly
change hit the coast. Cooling the morning off
as it swept inland. Right now there are showers and storms across
northern Australia, into southern Queensland
and the north-east. Tomorrow a cooler change will push
along the NSW coast with a few showers and storms likely
over northern New South Wales.

Around the nation,

expect a late storm
in Darwin and Brisbane. Cairns will be
fine and hot, while it will be warm
in Adelaide and Perth.

The water's 22 degrees
at the moment. It will stay pretty mild tonight, dropping to 17. And then we've got
a much cooler 24 tomorrow with a touch of cloud in the sky. Could see a brief shower over the western and northern
suburbs tonight but the breezy weather
will die down. Tomorrow will be 10 degrees cooler
than today.

Looking ahead - we could see a few afternoon showers
across Saturday and Sunday. A hot Christmas Eve on the way then a few showers
on Christmas Day clearing on Boxing Day. Recapping our breaking news now on the bushfire at Airds
near Campbelltown. And as we reported earlier, two people are in custody over the blaze that broke out
around 4:30 this afternoon. The fire came close to homes
and at one stage, about 20 properties were threatened. 60 firefighters and 3 aircraft
battled the flames. The fire's now under control and residents have been given
the all-clear. Investigations into the
suspicious blaze are continuing. That's Seven News for this Thursday. Next - 'Today Tonight'.

Hello. I'm Kylie Gillies.
Welcome to Today Tonight. We start with a late breaking
development in the road rage case the culprit has been arrested. This vision shows police arriving
at his home this afternoon to make an arrest. We will bring you details shortly.

But first to something very close
to all of us - wages, salaries and job security. This man is a banker. His pay packet this year
was $10.1 million but with bonuses and share options it almost doubled to close
to $20 million dollars. it almost doubled to close
to $20 million. This man is a dying war veteran, totally and permanently incapacited
due to war injuries. His pension has increased
by one cent a fortnight. That's right - one cent, not even legal tender nowadays. The gap between rich and poor
is widening. Most workers are battling
for even modest wage increases, and as Pippa Gardner reports, it's leading to growing resentment.

I'm getting angry. Ron Calnan served his country
in Vietnam and Borneo. There, he says, he was sprayed
with the highly toxic Agent Orange.