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Live. Tonight - Heathrow feels

the heat of Europe's deep

freeze. Just a nightmare. It's like this It's like this every single

year. Last year was the same

nightmare. It's again and

again. Obama's pre-Christmas

boost - approval for the

long-stalled nuclear arms

treaty. Victorian ticket

inspectors in trouble for an

overly hands-on approach. And

thanks for the memories, but

the MCG. England looks to the future at

successful on this Ashes trip

will be to just forget about

last week. Good evening.

Welcome to ABC News. I'm

Virginia Haussegger. It's been

nearly a week, but Europe's big

chill is still paralysing

transport in the air and on the

ground. Despite subzero temperatures, tempers are

reaching boiling point, with

thousands of travellers still

stranded. The second runway is

now open at London's Heathrow

Airport, but there are no

guarantees weary passengers

will be home for Christmas. Europe correspondent Europe correspondent Philip Williams reports. Mountains of

snow, an Everest of

frustration. Heading into day

five, they're calling this the

Heathrow hostile. While there are more flights in and out,

time and again the complaint

not enough information. That

board over there says that that

flight is cancelled to Germany and the place you check up here is closed, there's nobody over

there. It's just a lack of

information. No information at

all. The information to the

customers has been terrible.

There's no information at all, nothing. But with the backlog

owe growing by 100,000 people

for a day, for for a day, for many Christmas

at home looks less and less

likely. We're doing everything

we can for the passengers here.

We've secured more hotel rooms.

We are seeking to provide hot

food, we're putting up marquees

where we can to provide additional shelter. Planes and

trains are in trouble. Once again, thousands queued for

hours in the cold, hoping for a

Eurostar train to the

continent. I don't understand

why they don't put in a ticket

system so we don't have to wait

for four hours outside. This

is not human, for me it's not

human. Just a nightmare. It's

like this every single year.

Last year it was the same

nightmare, again don't understand why they're It's all outside as well. I

not queueing up inside. I

think it's about 2.5, maybe 3

hours, just chitchatting and

biding my time and stomping my

feet, surviving. As bad as all

these this looks, at least some of

of getting to their these people have some chance

destination. Across the road

at kings cross station a major

thoroughfare to the north,

there's no chance. Major power

failure s saw east coast trains

stopped. Some passengers were

trapped without heat for hours.

Many roads remain unsafe,

supplies to petrol stations and

supermarkets running low.

There may well be less food to

be delivered as winter crops

remain buried. Like much of

Europe, snap frozen, and in

some places more snow is

falling. That's Europe

correspondent Philip Williams

last reporting from London. The

last of three children by last week's boat crash at

Christmas Island has been re

united with his extended

family. The Federal Government

has confirmed that vulnerable

families will be transferred to

the mainland as soon as

possible. Up to 50 people may

have died in the incident, but

the precise figure may never be

known. O'Connor. The three children known. Here's Andrew

who were orphaned in the shipwreck on Christmas Island

are being held here at fos fate

Hill in a detention facility

used by families. Two of the

children have extended family

in the group of 42 survivors,

but one boy was left all alone

by the loss of his parents. The

The immigration department has

try worked to identify the boy and

try to establish if he has

extended family either in

Australia or overseas. Today

it was revealed that he has two

aunties, that they were among

more than 120 people who were

offloaded on to the island from

two subsequent asylum seeker

boats in just the past 48

hours. The department is now

between trying to facilitate a reunion

aunties, but the timing of that

reunion will be determined by

psychologists. Andrew O'Connor

there at Christmas Island. After looking doubtful for

months, the US Senate now seems

certain to hand Barack Obama a

last-minute victory on his long-stalled nuclear long-stalled nuclear arms

treaty with Russia. A frantic

round of last-minute lobbying

overcame strident Republican opposition. North America

correspondent Craig McMurtrie reports. It's called New Start, but

but in Washington the argument

over the nuclear arms treaty is

getting old. Signed by two

Presidents back in April, it's

been stuck in the US Senate

ever since. New Start limits

Russia and the United States to

1,550 deployed long-range

warheads each. Republican

leaders aren't happy that short-range tactical nuclear

weapons aren't included. They

say new verification processes are weak and it limits US are weak and

missile defence plans, claims the administration strongly

rejects. But opponents insist Mosco got the better Mosco got the better deal.

They've told us take it or

leave it, my response to our

Russian friends is I choose to

leave it at this time. Despite

their objections, the treaty's

opponents are staring at

defeat. New Start has powerful bipartisan backing from the

likes of Kissinger, Schultz,

Powell, and former prths Bush

Senior and Clinton. Barack

Obama has been phoning senators

to personally plead his case.

At the 11th hour, in a procedural vote, the white house won over the nine

Republicans needed for the

required two-thirds majority.

We remain extremely confident

that this is a pretty that the

Senate will believe is in the

best interest of our national security. An arms control

treaty has never been ratified

in a lame duck session of

Congress before and it would

seal a surprisingly successful seal a surprisingly

despite end of year for Barack Obama,

despite a bruising mid-term election, Congress also passed

his $850 billion tax plan and

voted to lift the ban on gays

serving openly in the military.

The final treaty vote is

expected tomorrow, before the

President leaves for Hawaii on

a Christmas holiday. In

Sydney, more than $14 million

worth of the drug ice has been

seized in Federal Police raids.

90 kilograms of the drug was

found hidden in suitcases and a

cup board at a house in

Campbelltown. Police also

confiscated $400,000 in cash.

A 35-year-old Malaysian man

faces charges carrying a penalty of up to life

imprisonment. Our intelligence and certainly speaking to the

offender indicates that it was indeed imported from overseas and investigations are

continuing as to the origins

for that narcotic. It's the carried out by Federal

Police. The Victorian

Government is cracking down on

ticket inspectors who use

excessive force against fare

evaders. It's reacting to a scathing report from the State's Ombudsman and

disturbing security footage of Melbourne commuters being roughed up. In March, two

teenagers tried to board a

train as it left Ringwood

station. A plain-clothes

ticket inspector was having

none of it. He pushed the

teens back through the doors

and they tum belled on to the

platform. An inspector performs a running tackle and

grabs the commuter around the

throat. It clearly shows some

inspectors are in the wrong

job The new transport minister

says he found the footage

shocking, but believes

commuters are often the source

of the trouble. I will not

accept the fact that authorised

officers should become punching

bags for thugs on the public

transport network. As his investigation, the

Ombudsman identified ticket

inspectors with criminal

records. He wants to see

tougher screening and

monitoring. Metro bosses say

these images approve these images approve mistakes

were made and a review is

already under way, but they say

4 million tickets are checked

every year and most officers do the right thing. We're not deliberately trying

to intimidate people to buy a

ticket. Our job is to provide

a good railway service and

we're endeavouring to do that

and we expect the public to pay

for that service. A free legal

service in Melbourne did its

own survey of commuters. One

in five young people said

they'd been man handled by an

inspector. Because often, you

know, they're approached by a number of inspector s,

sometimes there's aggressive language language or inappropriate

language used by inspectors, it

might sort of escalate. She says often the young person

then faces additional charges

like resisting arrest. ticket inspector who pushed the

teens through the door was

disciplined and then resigned.

A high tide caused flooding in

suburbs along the Brisbane

River this morning, catching

some car owners offguard.

Water levels rose quickly,

replacing bitumen with replacing bitumen with flooded parking spaces in northern

Brisbane. The wet weather also

forced motorists to drive

through waterways and disrupted

city Cat ferry services. Forecasters say there's nothing

unusual about the timing of the

tide, but a number of weather

conditions contributed to

localised flooding. The warmer

than normal temperatures of the

general western Pacific, a

little lower pressure around

and there's also some interesting circulations off

the coast that is causing a

little bit of a rise in the sea

level as well. The Weather

Bureau says a high tide Bureau says a high tide is

expected to happen again tomorrow. A community has been evacuated region after their small town

was flattened by record floods.

About 20 people have left

Gascoigne Junction, about 170km

east of Carnarvon, after floods

cut water supplies and left

buildings in ruins. In

Carnarvon, the clean-up has begun begun as floodwaters continue

to recede. Residents have

started returning to their

homes. While the houses are

still standing, millions of

dollars worth of crops are

lost. Most of the produce has gone, so I think that's pretty

much a given for everybody. So

very unfortunate. Yeah, not a lot we can do about

it. Carnarvon remains isolated

with roads in and out of the

town damaged. Emergency crews

will have to wait for the

waters to fall further before

being able to decide how soon

they'll be reopen ed is. Three

major banks have been targeted

by the corporate regulator for

their role in the collapse of Storm Financial. Commonwealth, Macquarie and

Bank of Queensland are being

sued by ASIC for breaches of

the banking code and Trade Practices Act. Thousands of

small investors lost $3 billion

when Storm collapsed in March

last year. Philip Lasker has

more. ASIC says it's seeking compensation on behalf of

investors who've lost money in

the Storm Financial collapse

and there are about 14,000 of

those. It's been talking to

the banks, it would have

preferred some sort of

commercial resolution, but the talks have been unsatisfactory.

So it's going to the courts.

ASIC will allege the banks were involved in Storm Financial's unregistered managed

investments scheme, also seeking compensation against Macquarie and bank of Queensland for breach of contract, unconscionable

conduct and liability as linked

credit providers to Storm

Financial. Slater & Gordon lawyer lawyer Damian Scattini, representing almost 2,000

invest ortion, has welcomed the

court action, saying it won't

disadvantage any clients who've

already done a deal with the Commonwealth Bank. If ASIC

achieves some superior outcome,

our clients can take part in

that no questions

it's a good development. Now,

the banks have come out

swinging, saying they'll defend

this action. To finance now,

and the Australian dollar edged

towards parity today, without

quite getting there. As Alan

Kohler reports, the local share

market was up slightly as well. Well, the post-Korean

apocalypse rally that began in Asia yesterday spread to European and American markets

last night, with investors

showing a bit more confidence

in taking on risk assets, like

Irish shares, which rose 1.4%. European stocks were also

helped by Chinese comments that

they're prepared to help out the the debt-strapped European

countries, perhaps buy a

cathedral or two or take a few

islands off Greece's hands. In

Asia most markets suffered a

bit of a reaction to

yesterday's gains. In Australia, the

Australia, the market closed

just a few points higher, half

of which was due to a solid

rise by BHP Billiton. rise by BHP Billiton. Lyonas

corp, running hot lately, went

up 4.5% after the Government of

mall ah y gave it permission to

buy in that country. Wesfarmers wents up, most suffering at the moment higher

rates have killed Christmas,

the banks fell back a bit.

Commodities generally stronger, especially some metals and

especially the light ones.

Aluminium and tin. On currency

markets, the Aussie dollar got

to 99.9 US cents, but has

fallen back to 99.7, still

higher than it was yesterday.

Our currency has gone up 9%

against the US dollar this year, while the index has gone up 8%. Given

the big increase in commodity prices as well as interest

rates, it could have been much worse for exporters than this,

but the US dollar has also been

supported by what's technically

known as the hyby jybys, fear

of anything that's not the

world's reserved currency. The

yen has gone up a bit more than

ours, Japanese saves have been

bringing money home, the Euro

is down 10%. That would have

been much more without been much more without Germany. That's finance. British Prime

Minister David Cameron has

stripped his business secretary

of key powers after he was

caught on tape saying he had

declared war on Rupert Murdoch.

Vince Cable will no longer have

a say on whether Murdoch can take full control of British

pay TV channel B Sky B. Vince

Cable, early this morning a bit

glum to have read in the Daily Telegraph unguided remarks he'd made to reporters. At 3 it became more than embarrassing for the

business secretary. What I can

disclose is that although the

Telegraph put out this morning

what it said was a full

transcript of the conversation,

and this is a print-out from

what they put on the website,

actually they actually they omitted some fascinating parts of the conversation we had with these


It was back in June that

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation offered ?7.5

billion for the 61% of BKiB it

doesn't already own. In

November Mr Cable asked to

investigate the deal. On

December 31, Ofcom is due to deliver vice on whether there

should be a further probe.

This is what Rupert Murdoch's

It's now down to Mr Hunt

whether Mr Murdoch's vast empire should be fenced in or

allowed to expand. A not for

profit development company has

received an early Christmas

bonus from the ACT Government.

Advocacy groups for those

searching for affordable

housing have welcomed the $20

million injection, which boosts

the program already funded to

the tune of $90 million. But

the Opposition says the top-up

is evidence of failure. This

two-bedroom Crace home would

normally rent for $410 per

week, but the new tenants will

pay $307. The discount is an

initiative between community

housing Canberra and the ACT Government. This

the pressure that we're

experiencing in the affordable

housing end and it will provide opportunities for people on

incomes as low as

$42,000. Community housing

Canberra today received a $20

million injection from the ACT

Government to purchase 90 more

dwellings for low and

middle-income earners. While

they welcome the extra funds,

advocacy groups are not convinced

convinced it will do enough.

74.9% of market rental is

still a large proportion of

income that families have to

pay. What we need to see is a

greater mix of affordability

across the ACT and more work by

the ACT Government to actually

examine what we mean by

affordable when average rents

in the ACT continue to sky

rocket. I think it's an

admission of failure by Jon

Stanhope. If you look at all their policies over the last

few years, we've seen housing

affordability get worse. We've

seen rents go up, the cost of buying a home for first home buyers getting out of

reach. Stakeholders are also

concerned location compromises

affordability. We also need to

examine what we mean by

liveable. A lot of these

properties are being built in

the outer suburbs of Canberra.

We need to ensure there's

adequate transport. I don't believe Crace believe Crace is too far. When

you look at it, as we're

developing Gunghalin further, buses travel very close to

there. Over the last two years,

Community Housing Canberra has

received $90 million from the

ACT Government. Their mission

is to deliver 1,000 affordable

homes over the next decade. So

far they've completed 200. The

ACT road toll for 2010 is the

second highest this decade. 18

people were killed this

people were killed this year. The police say 15 of those

deaths occurred in the first six months of the year. We

were on track for the worst

road toll this century. result of police operations and

as a result of the great work

of the other emergency services, we've managed to

bring that down to three deaths in the second half of this

year. The figure is well above

the average of 14, but below

the horror year of 2005, when 26 people died. Double demerit

points will apply from Friday

morning until 3 January. It's

nearly 150 years old and the famous flag that rebellious

miners raised at the Eureka Stockade

Stockade is showing signs of

its great. It's been lovingly

restored for the first time in

decades. It's much older than the

the Australian flag, and became

famous when it was hoisted at

the Eureka Stockade, a

rebellion of miners in Victoria

in 1854. Today what remains of

the enormous emblem is being given a laboratory in Adelaide. If you make

make a mistake on a flag like

this, it will be remembered.

So, yes, it's certainly a bit

daunting, but none of the

treatment we're doing is risky or dangerous. South Australian

art conservator Artlab was

selected by the Ballarat council for the $100,000 project. It's the first

restoration of the flag since

1973. I don't think it was in

a perilous state, but certainly

it was timely to be looking at it and updating the treatment The complicated and

pains taking task should be

finished by April. Conservatives have already

removed a polyester backing

from the damaged flag and

replaced it with a natural

fibre backing. They'll also

return the flag to its original

dimensions and clear up some

loose stitching. The restorers

hope their work won't be

noticeable. You'll be stunned

by the flag and then you might think about the treatment as a

secondary thing. We don't want

our treatment to stand out.

Since 1973, the flag has been lighting and controlled atmospheric conditions at the

art gallery of Ballarat. It

will return there once the

restoration is complete and

could then be moved to the new

Australian centre for democracy

at nearby Eureka in 2012. The

Australian and England cricket squads have arrived in

Melbourne for the Boxing Day

test at the MCG. Victorian

past bowler Peter Siddle and

England batsman Kevin Pietersen

fronted the media today to talk

about their preparations.

Kevin Pietersen insists

England's players are having the time

the time of their lives Down

Under, but from the press

conference today it was

difficult to get that

impression. No, I haven't read anything, so don't believe

everything you read. I didn't

watch oo too much to be watch oo too much to be honest, mate. He definitely wasn't

going to comment on an ongoing

feud with Mitchell Johnson. I

don't have a relationship Mitchell Johnson. The

30-year-old is one of a hand

willful of survivors from

England's last Boxing Day in

2006, when the tourists entered

the match after having already surrendered

surrendered the Ashes. A huge

Test match coming Test match coming up here, both teams have a huge test match.

I don't think there's any point

in wasting your energy thinking

about things in the past. It's

about looking forward, that's

what we're looking to do. Of more immediate concern to

England is reversing its form

from the third Test of this

series in Perth, but Pieterson

says the team isn't concerned

by reports the MCG wicket will

resemble the bouncy WACA

surface. We didn't lose it to a

a bouncy wicket, we lost it with

with balls that swung, we didn't prepare ourselves

properly for A man with fonder

Boxing Day memories is Peter

Siddle, who took four wickets

against South Africa in the

test in 2006. The Victorian

paceman is desperate to keep

his place in front of a vocal home crowd.

It is something that you want

to be a part of, you want to be

out there and hear the roar and

be in the field with them

behind you. The only England

players under injury cloud

James Anderson and Steve Finn are expected to be fit for

boxing Day. Ricky Ponting will

be given until be given until the night before

the match to prove he's

recovered from a broken finger. Essendon coach James

Hird has confirmed he's

interested in sounding out

Rugby League international Greg

Inglis. Hird says he's hoping

to meet the former Melbourne

Storm later this week to gauge

his interest in switching

codes. He has to be a player

who can help us. You know,

Greg Inglis is an amazing

athlete, no doubt about that,

we haven't talked to him yet.

It's speculation about whether

we'll take him, he has to make

a decision whether he wants a decision whether he wants to leave NRL. A deal between

Inglis and south Sydney stalled third-party deals would have to

be included in the Rabbitohs'

salary cap. The Weather Bureau

for this year's Sydney to

Hobart yacht race all but rules

out any chance of a race

record. The traditional Boxing

Day start on Sydney Harbour is expected to be in conditions, then the fleet will

confront strong southerlies

along the NSW coast. It looks

like it will be pretty tough

going for competitor s this year. There's very little

indication of indication of downwind conditions. It's nothing new to

the experienced crews. Being

the toughest race of its type

in the world, this is pretty

much normal conditions for that sort of race. Four-time winner

Wild Oats XI will start as the overwhelming favourite for line honours. The honours. The Australian War Memorial's Hall of Valour has

been given a makeover. The new

display will be opened to the

public from Friday, ahead of an

official opening early next

year. The hall showcases Australian recipients of the

highest military honour, the

Victoria Cross. They stormed

enemy bases, enemy bases, rallied comrades

and charged over the trenches

toward enemy lines to save

their friends. In the end,

many paid the ultimate price.

You walk in here, you're captured by that contemplation 66 medals reside

in the new Hall of Valour.

It's been transform ed, but the

granite, sandstone and bronze materials maintain a link to

the rest of the memorial. For

us, I think the challenge was

how do we get that balance between, you know, the

monumental, the symbolic and

the personal. In the hall, the small crosses that mean so much lie lie under the stories of those

who earned them. This place is

about people, not about

strategy, tactics and

equipment, it's about the

people. The hall recognises people. The hall recognises the sacrifice of the fallen. Directly above that central

space is the dome and the tomb

of the unknown soldier. A place to remember those without the

accolades, faces and names.

But in the hall of valour too

there are missing pieces of

history. There are gaps in the

wall where we don't have

medals, so hopefully a few more

might come. They won't be easy

to find, but as one recipient

cried in his final words, there

is no surrender and one day the

searches may end. Now with a

look at today's weather, here's Mark Carmody. Thanks,

Virginia. Good evening. These

flowers are kangaroo paws and

it was cool this morning with a

minimum of 5 at the airport,

soon warmed up and we reached a

maximum of 25. The winds were

light and variable to start

with, but turned more northerly

this afternoon and freshened to

the mid-teens. Currently it's

still light and the sun won't

set until 8.15 or so.

clear, the barometer is rising

and it's very nice, 23 degrees.

Regionally today, a couple of

spots had cool starts, but not

quite as cool as Europe,

though. Cooma dipped to one

this morning. The bay had a

minimum of 14. The coastal

showers didn't eventuate, but

it was cloudy down there. As

expected, out around Griffith

was hot, 29 in Griffith was hot, 29 in Griffith and

Hillston, Yass the same as here,

here, Goulburn reached 23.

Nationally today, it rained in

Brisbane, Sydney was overcast

and reached 26. Melbourne

reached 25. Adelaide was sunny. Cloud along the

Queensland coast has the

potential to deliver heavy rain

and monsoonal cloud over the

Top End will give Darwin a wet Christmas.

Christmas. A trough extends

across the top of Australia and

a high in the bite extends a

ridge over central and ridge over central and southern regions, which will keep us dry

for a while, although a trough

and frontal system is

developing to our west, which

may result in late

thunderstorms in the ACT on

Christmas Day, but there

they'll be more likely on the

ranges. Nationally tomorrow,

rain in Brisbane, 27, coastal

showers for Sydney, morning

cloud but it will clear in

Melbourne, 22, sunny and hot in

Adelaide, storms for Darwin,

showers and 33 in Perth.

Locally tomorrow, it will be a

sunny start down the coast, but afternoon south-easterlies

might bring in a shower or two.

They might even get to

Goulburn, but apart from that, the rest of be sunny and quite warm, 29 in

Yass, 32 in Darlington Point

and Coleambally. And for

Canberra tomorrow it will be

dry and sunny, with light winds, which will turn easterly during the

during the early evening. 10

to 29. For early dog walkers,

cyclists and growers, sun's up

at 5.46 and it will slip away

at 8.19. A cloudy Friday with

a top of 26. Clit mass Day

will be cloudy as well, but it

should reach 29 and, as I said,

there's now could be late thunderstorms. Kids, don't

worry about that story

regarding snowed-in aeroplanes

in the northern hemisphere.

These are ideal conditions for

reindeers pulling a slay with a

jolly gent in it saying ho ho

ho, aren't they, Virginia?

Indeed, I'm sure they are.

Thank you very much, Mark. A

merry Christmas to you because

I'm about to head off. Merry

Christmas and have a safe new year. recap our top stories tonight.

Thousands of travellers could

be standed for Christmas, with

freezing temperatures in Europe

continuing to cause chaos. And

the US Senate is expected to

give Barack Obama's presidency

a boost by ratifying the long-stalled nuclear treaty

between Russia and the United

States. That's ABC News. As I

said, I'm off for a short break

and wish you all a very merry,

safe and peaceful Christmas and

I look forward to joining you

again in the new year. Until

then, good night. Closed Captions by CSI

Tonight on the 7.30 Report -

a home for Christmas. This is

going to change my life, this

is going to change my family's present you can get. The new

scheme inspiring unemployed

youths to build their own houses. This opportunity houses. This opportunity has

got me back on track... it really will. Sailors with

disabilities, a very special

crew throwing the gauntlet down

to the Sydney to Hobart race

fleet. No matter how you are,

whether you're hearing impaired

or deaf or missing a leg or an

arm, we can get a good

boat, they sail a boat well -