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Seven Afternoon News -

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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. In this bulletin - villages destroyed, people missing after an earthquake rocks
the Solomon Islands. Craig Thomson freed on bail after appearing in court
on more fraud charges. Essendon tries to
get on with the job as the supplements scandal deepens. And Bee Gee Barry Gibb arrives home

Seven News afternoon edition with Rebecca Maddern.

Good afternoon. A large earthquake has struck
in the South Pacific, generating a tsunami that's
destroyed several remote villages. The epicentre
of the magnitude 8 quake was off the Solomon Islands
near the Santa Cruz Islands, where there are reports villages
have been wiped out. People are also
believed to be missing.

Joining us on the phone
from the Solomons capital Honiara is Seven News reporter Ben McNair. Ben, what's the situation now?

Good afternoon. We know that a tsunami has hit the south of the Solomon Islands and have heard unconfirmed reports that one person has died. We know two people have already been taken to hospital in the provincial capital and local police on the ground say there are still people missing. Many homes have been lost. We have the -- have heard that low-lying villages have been entirely wiped out. It is a very remote part of the Solomon Islands. This is what Bob Carr,

very remote part of the Solomon
Islands. This is what Bob Carr, the Foreign Minister, had to say.We are waiting to get information and are eager to assist if the government requires it. A good news is that the warnings have been dropped for the Solomon Islands and the rest of the Pacific. The fault has been very active of the last few days and it is a very nervous time for residents, particularly in the south.

Embattled MP Craig Thomson
has had his first day in court and is facing five more fraud
charges, bringing the total to 154. He's now free on bail
until his next appearance in May. Seven reporter Dean Felton was
at the Melbourne Magistrates Court.

Rebecca, this day has been a
long time coming for Craig Thompson. He arrived at court this morning
with his wife, Zoe, and he repeated his familiar mantra that he was simply here
to clear his name of allegations he used a union credit card
to pay for prostitutes. In the court hearing, itself, he was composed and relaxed
and chatted amiably with his wife. He addressed the court only once
during the proceedings and that was to confirm that
he understood his bail conditions. Those bail conditions
were varied slightly to prevent Mr Thomson
from having any contact whatsoever with anyone associated
with a number of businesses trading under names
including Boardroom Escorts, Tiffany's Girls, A Touch Of Class
and Young Blondes. He was critical of the way the prosecution
was progressing with its case, but he spoke on that subject
to the media as he left court after the hearing. What was disappointing about today
was, of course, that it became clear that not only was last Thursday
wrongly done by the police but after 18 months in relation
to investigating this matter, we still...they still
don't even have witnesses. It will be a slow process
for Mr Thompson. He is due back for
a committal mention on May 22. Bec. As the fallout from Essendon's
drugs controversy continues, coach James Hird
has expressed support for suspended high performance
manager, Dean Robinson. It comes as the AFL investigates Nick McCallum has the latest. Rebecca,
Essendon is a club under siege. This morning,
at a closed training session, security guards were employed to keep members of the media
and the public but afterwards,
players tried to sound upbeat. We're just getting on
with our business. Dustin, what's the feeling
like among the players today? Oh, the boys upstairs
will deal with all that, I think. We're just here to train
and do a bit. The ASADA and AFL investigation
centres on whether supplements the players
took last season were legal. Fitness advisor Steve Dank, also well-known in NRL circles, was let go by the Bombers
at the end of last season. Last night, fitness coach Dean Robinson
was suspended last night, but today he was defended
by coach James Hird. We're still a bit shocked by it all,
yeah, still shocked and looking to move on and obviously prove
that we've done nothing wrong. Did you have confidence
in Dean Robinson? I had confidence in our processes,
our footy club, that we'd get it right. Coaches insist
the players are trying to move on but they'd better do so quickly. Their first preseason NAB Cup game
is on Friday week, Rebecca.

following explosive evidence aired at the state's
corruption commission. It's examining whether the family of former state Labor powerbroker
Eddie Obeid benefited from coal mining licences
in the Bylong Valley. Mr Obeid's son Paul
took the stand today denying the family knew
the value of property purchased in the Bylong valley was going to increase. how confidential maps of the area
were found in his office. The corruption scandal
has spread to Canberra with two federal ministers
forced to admit they stayed at a ski lodge
owned by the Obeid family. But Communications Minister
Stephen Conroy and Environment Minister Tony Burke
say they've done nothing wrong. Political reporter Mia Greves
joins me now. Good afternoon, Mia. Is this another headache
for the Gillard Government? Good afternoon. It's certainly not a good look to be caught up in a saga
plaguing New South Wales Labor. Both Stephen Conroy and Tony Burke decided to update their register of
interests in parliament last night after failing to declare they stayed for free
at Mr Obeid's ski chalet in Perisher seven years ago. Tony Burke said he and his family
stayed on two separate occasions. Senator Conroy said he was invited
by Mr Burke on one occasion and slept in a spare room. Senator Conroy, a keen snowboarder, has called this
a Coalition smear campaign but the Opposition said it's proof Mr Obeid
still has mates in Canberra. Let's take a look. I don't think I've ever had
a cup of coffee with Eddie Obeid. I did fail to ask whether someone was going to come
before ICAC in eight years' time. I didn't do quite enough
due diligence. What I put in the register yesterday was not required to be put
on the register yesterday, was not required some years ago
to be put on the register. It was entirely
in a personal capacity and it was long before
I was a minister. The tentacles of Eddie Obeid
have reached Canberra. It's clear that Eddie Obeid has
friends in Julia Gillard's cabinet. Bec, former prime minister Bob Hawke
returned to his old stomping ground this afternoon to observe proceedings after attending an event
at Parliament House this morning. Not only was Labor happy to see him,
so was the Opposition. For the second day in a row, shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey
continued his attack on the government's
economic credentials but Mr Hawke received
a backhanded compliment. Let's take a look.

Join with you in welcoming
my constituent to, ah, and the last Labor prime minister
to deliver a surplus! Well done!

Bec, a lighter moment in
parliament's hectic first week back. Thanks, Mia.
Mia Greves in Canberra. Protesters have been arrested after storming their way into
Kevin Rudd's electorate office in Brisbane. A staff member was injured as the group forced its way
into the building around 11am. Police were called
and officers were soon on the scene. Six people were taken into custody
but no charges have been laid. The group was protesting
Indigenous recognition in the Constitution. Almost $800,000
from life insurance policies for slain Brisbane mother
Allison Baden-Clay are to be held in trust. The Federal Court has decided it will keep the money
until her husband, who is accused of her murder,
faces trial. Angie Asimus was in court today
and has the details.

Rebecca, Gerard Baden-Clay
won't be able to access either of his late wife's
insurance policies after today's ruling. The judge decided Allison Baden-Clay's
second insurance payout will be held by the Federal Court. TAL Life Limited,
the company holding the funds, The policy is worth
more than $400,000. There's also another $350,000 which has already been frozen
by insurer Suncorp. Gerard Baden-Clay made claims
on both of those policies after his wife's body was found
10 days after she went missing. He is the recipient
of both of those policies but Allison's parents
are contesting that. The Dickies are caring
for the couple's three children while Baden-Clay remains in custody
charged with murdering his wife. It is likely that both of those
policies will remain in trust until all criminal proceedings
against the accused are finalised. The Federal Government says
it hasn't banned childcare centres from having communal birthday cakes
with candles. That's despite
new hygiene guidelines encouraging children
to bring cupcakes to stop the spread of viruses. The AMA is opposed, saying it's good for children
be exposed to some antigens to build up their immune system. Minister Kate Ellis
has tweeted a clarification, saying centres can still determine
their own policies. But staff will have to wash toys, doorknobs, floors
and cushion covers daily to prevent the spread of germs.

Supermodel Miranda Kerr
will be among those walking down the runway in Sydney
tonight to launch David Jones's
autumn-winter fashion range. The store celebrates
175 years of trading this year and will be hoping the new range
will help stop a slump in sales.

These designers, they definitely know how
to bring up that wow factor, but also in a wearable way, which is what I love
about Australia. It's wearable - wow, there you go! Among those joining Kerr
on the runway will be Samantha Harris
and Jason Dundas. a new police squad set up
to tackle gun crime. Also, an Australian man linked
to a deadly terror attack. And the Governor-General visits
a town devastated by bushfire - that's next.

When people first suffer
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A straightforward solution
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and give the benefits that a normal, everyday
toothpaste would.

Police have discovered
up to 300 cannabis plants in a burning home in Sydney's south-west. Firefighters were called
to the 2-storey Bankstown house around 11pm after a neighbour noticed smoke
coming from the windows. Once inside, they found six rooms were being used
to grow the hydroponic crop. Police were told a couple and their three children
live in the house but there's been no sign of them. Officers are now guarding the home. A man with an Australian passport has been accused of being involved
in a terror attack in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government
also believes a Canadian was behind the attack
last year. Both have links to Lebanon's
militant group, Hezbollah. If indeed it's subsequently proven that this terrorist organisation
was responsible for this attack, it would be the first time that Hezbollah has carried out
a successful terror attack in Europe since the 1980s. At least 7 people were killed
and 30 injured in the attack on a bus full of Israeli tourists.

A bill to legalise gay marriage
in Britain has cleared a major hurdle as MPs voted overwhelmingly
in favour of plans put forward by Prime Minister David Cameron. But it wasn't a total victory
for Mr Cameron with many of his own
Conservative Party MPs voting against the measures. The ayes to the right - 400. The noes to the left - 175. ALL: Here! In the end, the Tory rebellion was
as big as we thought it might be. More of Mr Cameron's MPs voted
against this bill or abstained than voted for it, and this was so even after a
last-minute appeal from Number 10. Well, today is an important day.
I am a strong believer in marriage. It helps people
commit to each other, and I think it's right that gay people should be able
to get married to. that gay people should be able
to get married too. All day, the arguments had raged
across the floor of the house. There were plenty of Tory MPs
who supported Mr Cameron, some making passionate appeals
for tolerance and understanding. But what wasn't in doubt was that a few Labour MPs
and an awful lot of Tories really did not like his bill at all. As the Tory rebels streamed out
after voting against their leader, they said they acted more in sorrow
than anger. There has hardly been
a social change in our national life that was not at the time
opposed by traditionalists. It's not so very long ago
that women weren't allowed to vote, and as you spin
through the last century, one can tick off a host of changes, from decriminalising homosexuality
in the '60s, in England at least, to the introduction
of civil partnerships in 2004. So, is gay marriage just part of
that inevitable sweep or an unnecessary step too far? The political reality is that
your answer to that question may determine, at least in part,
your view of Mr Cameron, for better or worse.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce
has visited the victims of Tasmania's devastating bushfires. She met residents and officials
in the village of Dunalley. Many of the homes and businesses
were destroyed by the fierce blaze last month. It's a very long road to recovery
for many people, though, isn't it? Quentin Bryce's visit coincides with more dangerous hot weather
forecast for the region. She arrived in Hobart last night
after visiting Antarctica for the centenary of explorer
Douglas Mawson's expedition. Three wounded Australian soldiers are in the running
for a trip to the South Pole to support their injured comrades. The Australians,
along with Canadian veterans, will race against teams
from Britain and the US across the frozen wastes
of Antarctica. And hopefully,
we can inspire the rest of Australia to get behind us
and inspire our wounded soldiers to get through that healing process
a lot quicker. The Australian contingent of Scott Warby, Seamus Donaghue
and Heath Jamieson are preparing for the
final training camp in Iceland. Two will be chosen.
The third will be a reserve.

Next in Seven's Afternoon News - we take a look at the day
in finance. Also, BlackBerry takes on Apple
with its new smartphone. And Bee Gee Barry Gibb happy
to be back home in Australia -

BlackBerry's new smartphone has
launched after a series of delays. Bosses are hoping the Z10
can reverse the company's fortunes in the face of falling sales and fierce competition
from Apple's iPhone. The phone will be released
in Australia next month. Figures out today have confirmed our retailers
didn't have a merry Christmas. The Australian Retailers Association
says the 0.2% drop in December trade is disappointing
for the festive season. It says it shows consumers
were hit too hard by tax hikes, rises in household bills and the failure of banks to pass on
interest rate cuts in full. and the Australian share market
closed higher after a strong lead
from Wall Street - the ASX 200 finishing the day
38 points stronger.

The sole surviving member
of the Bee Gees, Barry Gibb, has arrived in Australia
to kick off his tour with two new band members
and his mum. His son, Steve,
will be lead guitarist, and niece, Sammy, vocalist. the tour is about returning home
to where it all began. But he admits it'll be tough
on stage without his brothers. I don't like being on my own, but I love to play
and I love to sing. I'm just trying to continue on,
somehow, 'cause life has to go on. The tour begins this Friday
in Sydney. Sport with Jim Wilson shortly. and these are the stories
making headlines.

Hello.. A court's ordered a
15 year old boy charged with stabbing a 16 year old in the thigh
and stomach at Karabar High School yesterday.. to have a mental
health examination. He'll only face court if he passes. Outrage.. after only a
third of Liberal members registered to vote in the
local Senate pre-selection. Former branch president Gary
Kent says the Liberal's Management Committee
didn't do enough to notify members...and
insists the pre-selection date should be pushed back by 4
weeks. It's after Zed Seselja announced he'll run for
Gary Humphries' seat. A 48 year old Goulburn man's
been found not guilty of murdering his 74 year
old mum 2 years ago. But Terrence David Kain has been
found guilty of manslaughter. He'll be sentenced at a later date. A tourist bus driver from
Queanbeyan's been fined.. he was caught driving 120K's
in a hundred zone on the Kings Highway yesterday. And.. Shane Watson's got
the Aussies off to a great start... at Manuka. He made a quick
half century.. off 52 balls.

NRL heavyweights Manly insist they had no issues
with the supplements used by controversial sports science guru
Stephen Dank during his time at the club. Dank made headlines
several years ago when it emerged he was injecting
Sea Eagles players with calf's blood to aid recovery.

He's now at the centre
of the Essendon drugs scandal. The AFL and Australian
Sports Anti-Doping Authority are investigating whether Dank administered banned substances
to players last year. Trainers and all coaches and that are going out there
and looking for different things to enhance their performance so I think a lot of the clubs
have got to have a good look at it. Bombers players were reportedly
taken to secret locations for injections.

Shane Watson's building
a strong case to be retained as a batsman only
for Australia in today's third one-dayer
against the West Indies in Canberra. The Aussie vice-captain only needed
52 balls to reach his half-century. COMMENTATOR: And that'll be 50.
Welcome back, Shane Watson. Watson and Aaron Finch put on 89
before Finch faltered on 38. And Watson completed the dream
return with a wonderful century. A short time ago he

A short time ago he went for 122. Paul Gallen is out of this weekend's
Rugby League All Stars game in Brisbane after breaking down
with a quad strain at training. The Blues captain has also
been battling an infected elbow. His place in the NRL All Stars squad
has been taken by Sharks team-mate
Chris Heighington. The Indigenous side was put through
its paces this morning in preparation for Saturday night's
clash at Suncorp Stadium. Waratahs coach Michael Cheika
has named backrower Dave Dennis captain for the 2013 season. The Western Sydney junior beat fellow Wallabies
Michael Hooper and Benn Robinson for the role.

Just really proud and honoured
to have this opportunity. I'm born and bred in New South Wales and I love my state
and I love this club. Cheika says
he finalised the captaincy just moments before
today's season launch. The 'Tahs open their campaign
against the Queensland Reds at Suncorp on February 23.

Thousands of fans have donned purple
and lined the streets of Baltimore to celebrate the Ravens' victory
in the Super Bowl. and over 70,000 fans
packed the team's home ground. The biggest cheer was reserved
for the retiring Ray Lewis who gave fans one last taste
of his famous squirrel dance.

# I feel like bustin' loose # I feel like touching you, uh! # Lewis bows out a legend
after 17 NFL seasons.

The big story is the AFL drugs scandal. We will have a chat after five o'clock, the ramifications and the web is getting wider and wider. Next in Seven's Afternoon News, we'll get the latest
on the earthquake that's struck
off the Solomon Islands. Also, new charges for Craig Thomson
as he fronts a Melbourne court. And a new police squad launched
to tackle rising gun crime.

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Our top stories - villages destroyed, people missing after an earthquake
strikes the Solomons.

Federal MP Craig Thomson freed
on bail after appearing in court
on more fraud charges.

And Essendon tries to get
on with business as the supplements scandal deepens.

A large earthquake has struck
in the South Pacific, generating a tsunami that's
destroyed several remote villages. The epicentre of the magnitude 8
quake was off the Solomon Islands near the Santa Cruz Islands, where there are reports
villages have been wiped out. People are also believed
to be missing. We're waiting to get info
on damage done in Santa Cruz, and we're very eager to assist if the governor of the Solomons
think we can help.