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ABC News -

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Tonight - thep.m. gets ready

to fight for nationwide health care reforms. Clearly some great work has been done to

date but there is more to do. Some profit hang-ups but an up beat assessment of Telstra's

NBN agreement. NSW went from

the promise of a bumper crop to

harvest heart break. We

couldn't get onto the ground to harvest the crops, we were bogging all our machinery. The cross-border deal that could

cut hospital waiting lists in

Canberra. N good evening and welcome to

ABC News. Aim Virginia Haussegger. The Prime Minister has brought forward a

meeting of State and Territory

leaders to this weekend to

clinch a new national deal on

health care. Julia Gillard is sweeping aside Kevin Rudd had hailed his

historic. She is set to

abandon plans to claw back GST

revenue and that should be

enough to finally bring all

Premiers on board for a new

agreement. Chief political correspondent Mark Simkin.

Kevin Rudd visited dozens of

hospitals and promised billions of dollars, trying to keep his

dream alive. Will you do this

on me after I collapse? His

leadership did collapse and now

his grand vision appears dead

on the table. Clearly some

great work has been done to

date but there is more to do

and I am hoping that in the

coming few days, I can, in the national interests, strike agreements with Premiers and with Chief Ministers. Julia

Gillard is still pursuing local

control and better care but principles

principles once considered

untouchable are on the negotiating table. The Commonwealth is no longer

demanding the States give back

30% of their GST payments, a

national funding pool is one

alternative but the funding That means Kevin Rudd's promise

to fund 60% of the health

budget is also on the choping

block although the Commonwealth

is offering a cash injection of

up to $16 billion. It is

clear to me Julia Gillard will

bend over back wards to

deal and abandon every

principle. Government sources

say Kevin Rudd's plan was too complicated. If Julia Gillard

steps away from the GST she has

got a real prospect of greating

agreement on health. I'm not

particularly fussed as to

whether money from our State

and from the Commonwealth goes into this pool or that

pool. The Federal/State get

together will be held on Sunday

brought forward because of a

possible clash with a soldier's

funeral. The government is quietly hopeful a deal can be

change saying the proposed

changes to the plan are

of Julia Gillard's pragmatism.

The Prime Minister is relaying

on patience rather than prag ma

timp. I said the Prime

Minister had a decent heart but

she has a tin ear. I have

never seen such a tin heart. Some Independents are

yet to fall into line. The Commission of inquiry

into Queensland's devastating

floods has promised it will be

free from political

interference. A preliminary

hearing was held in Brisbane to

set out the framework for the

year-long inquiry. It will

examine the preparation and response by Government and Emergency Services, early

warning systems, dams and land planning and planning and the

responsibilities of insurers.

The Commission has already Lockyer Valley but will hold

public hearings in flood-affected regions in the

coming months. The task before

us is enormous because of the

variety of issues to be

addressed in a very short time

frame. The inquiry won't be

extended to include the damage caused by Cyclone Yasi. caused by Cyclone Yasi. The

flood inquiry will get on with the sgrob it

the sgrob it is charged with and I look forward to hearing

answers to some of the

questions I share with other

Queenslanders. Deadlines were

submissions are in March and

April with the Commission due

to hand down an interim report

in August. In preparation for

the next wet season. Telecommunications giant Telstra says it will sign on

the dotted line to get the dotted line to get the National Broadband Network

rolling. The telco has

reached an in-principle

agreement with both the

Government and network builder

NBN Co. At the same time, its

price war with competitors has

taken a heavy toll on profits. Phillip Lasker has He is the man who took

Telstra to a price war against

his competitors. Our strategy

is on track and we are tracking

that very clearly and we are

delivering results. But not the desired bottom line result.

more than expected, down 36% Half year after tax profit fell

below $1.2 billion. But

Telstra's generous dividend of

14 cents a share remains in

place. The price war has

blown a hole in profits but

Telstra says it's paid for

almost 1 million new customers.

We went back over the records

and we went back 10 years, we

have never had as strong a

six-month period. Analysts say

the trick is to keep the

customers. Costs have blown out

and, yes, it is great Telstra

are adding new customers but their revenues were lower.

Investors may not have felt

too much joy but the

Communications Minister has

reached a milestone in his broadband quest.

broadband quest. The holly

grail of reform in the Telecommunications sector. The Federal Government has confirmed an in-principle

agreement which outlines the

payments and conditions in building the new National

Broadband Network. But there

was no detail beyond promises

to act quickly so Telstra shareholders could vote on it

by July. We think the target is achievable but very

aggressive but that's what we

are working to. The deal

remains hostage to the

political process and review by the competition regular

lators This is a massive,

reckless, waste of taxpayer fund. Suggesting David Thodey

is still in search of his holy

terrorist grail. The threat of a

States is as high as it was

leading up 9/11. In a frank

assessment of US homeland

security, top officials say

that is partly due to the

recruitment of US citizens to carry out attacks. The man

Bin most feared is no longer Osama

Bin Laden but a radical cleric

who is alleged to have

Australian followers. Here is

North America correspondent Lisa millar.

Almost a decade after

September 11 and the US remains

on edge. The threat continues

to evolve and, in some ways,

the threat today pay be at its

most heightened state since the

attacks nearly 10 years

ago. Osama Bin Laden, the

master mind behind these attacks, has been America's most wanted until now. I

consider al-Qaeda in the Araban

Peninsula with Anwar al Awlaki the significant risk to the US home

land. A US citizen Muslim

cleric Anwar al Awlaki is

hiding in Yemen. He is

believed to be behind attacks

on Americans. The ABC's 'Foreign Correspondent'

reported new evidence this week that Australians have been

recruited to his training

camps. He is the most well known English speaking ideologue. In Afghanistan and

in Pakistan, the leadership of

al-Qaeda is under the greatest

pressure that it has seen since 9/11. The Government recruitment of Americans and

Westerners to carry out the

attacks. Al-Qaeda is still

aggressively pursuing those who share its extremist ideology. Demonstrators in Cairo have succeeded in blockading the Parliament

building after spilling over from Tahrir Square which has

been at the centre of the protests.

protests. It comes as the Egyptian government takes a harsh er tone with the

protests. Vice-President Omar Suleiman says they are

insulting Egypt and the country

is not yet ready for democracy.

The ABC's Mark Willacy reports

from Cairo. They will bow

before their God but they won't

bow to Hosni Mubarak. From

the shores of the Mediterranean

to the deserts of the south,

millions of Egyptians are vowing to continue their

uprising until the President goes. TRANSLATION:

protests are continuing because

nothing has been achieved.

When all the members of this

regime leave and have been

change, then we can say we

achieved something. But the

regime is being just as

stubborn. The Vice-President

Omar Suleiman warning Egypt was

not yet ready for not yet ready for democracy saying saying those demanding the President step down were

insulting their country. While

tens of thousands of protesters

remain in Tahrir Square just to

my right, all around the Square

there are thousands of

soldiers, hundreds of tanks and

armoured personnel carriers and I have seen special forces

soldiers carrying high-powered

sniper rifles which some

Egyptians fear could be used

against the people inside the

square. While the army has

vowed not to use force against

the Egyptian people, it is well

placed to move if it has to.

In Cairo, more reports of

emerging. TRANSLATION: I was

taken by the secret police, hand cuffed, then punched,

kicked and pistol whipped but I

have come back to the Square. Thousands of first-time

demonstrate ors have flooded to

the Square after watching a TV

interview by Wael Ghonim. The

crack down has inspired them to

join the uprising. The parliamentary committee

investigating the social and

economic impacts of the

Murray-Darling Basin plan wants

the Government to re-think the

water buy-back. Members say the plan is having a

detrimental effect on the

irrigators who are keeping

their water licences. In a

bipartisan move, the committee

has taken the unusual step of

delivering interim findings urging it to re-assess their role. We have suggested to the the Ministers that they

consider a more strategic arrangement in templ terms of

the buy-backs. We have raised

it and it is the role of

Government and the Ministers to

take on board what we have

raised. The Federal Government

has set up a climate change

commission to replace the citizens assembly citizens assembly which it

dumped last year. The independent body will advise it

and the public on the latest

climate science and will be

headed by the scientist and former Australian of the Year

Tim Flannery. It was expected

to be a saviour after a decade

of drought, but relentless wet

weather has wiped more than $1

billion off the national grain

outlook. Farmers are trying

to look on the bright side,

insisting it could have been

much worse. The past 12 months

have been a roller-coaster for

farmers. This year people's expectations were particularly tough and they thought this was

going to drag them out of the mire. But prolonged,

above-average rainfall and hail

brought a new nightmare. We

couldn't physically get onto

the ground to harvest the crops, we were bogging the machinery and the tractors.

NSW farmers are anxious not to harp on about loss following

the Queensland disasters,

nonetheless hundreds and

thousands of tonnes of grain is

being downgraded to stock feed.

What's wrong with the grain?

The moisture has started to

shoot the grain, but some of these grains have started to

germinate. More than $1 billion

has been slashed off the wheat

outlook by the nation's

agricultural fore quaster. The

losses continue to mounts. It

could be up to 20% in some

States that has not been stripped. Fortunately grain prices are buoyant. There other positives too. As much

grass as we have seen for many,

many years, probably 30 or 40

years. But there is a linger cash drought and not enough

stock to capitalise. After you

flogged for 10 years with dry

times people are nervous about putting putting their properties back

to full stocking rates. Nonetheless, there are some ambitious plans under way.

The drying silos particularly

means we can harvest the wheat

when it is too wet ordinary

narl. That means we can

harvest for longer every day.

NSW farmers were expecting to harvest up to 17 million tonnes

of grain by the end of this

month. It is still unclear

how much of that crop has been

wiped out. Growing up is never

easy and these days dealing

with bullying is maybing it -

making it even harder. A survey of 24,000 Girl Guides found two-thirds of 10-14-year-olds

have been bully, many online. The problem is apparently

getting worse. On the eve of

her 13th birthday, Beth

Harper-King received six phone

calls on her mobile phone as

she walked home from school. The voice was that of a teenage

boy, the message was the same

each call. They wanted to

rape me, kill me, bash me up and do the exact thing to my

father. In Beth's case, the

culprits were easy to trace.

They left a caller ID and they

were three boys boarding at one

of Sydney's elite private

school. They had harassed a

girl and frightened the living

daylights out of me. A study of

the concerns of thousands of

Australian girls by Guides Australia identifies bullying

as one of the biggest problems

for young girls. Girls

reported being bullied from as

young as pre-school, often by

other girls. It needs to be addressed. There needs to be

programs in place and the

encouragement of girls gaining confidence. The Federal Government says it already

offers support and advice

regarding cyber bullying.

Obviously we want all young

people in this country to be

growing up with a sense of confidence, to be feeling

secure in their surroundings and not to be threatened. The

three teenage boys who made the

calls to Beth Harper-King were not suspended from school.

They had to meet with their

victim and her family and

apologise. Each had to write

an essay on the impact of

bullying and do community service at their local charities. Beth Harper-King

also had the option of going to

the Federal police, something

she chose not to do.

Ask any parent in Canberra and

they will tell you that a place

in a childcare centre is like gold opened in Gunghalin today and

should help to ease the

shortage in that area. But as

the demand for childcare

continues to rise, parents are

now having to pay just for the privilege of being on a waiting

list. In the Gunghalin suburb

of Harrison, there are now more than 100 additional places for

young children, but like most

centres in Canberra, it is full

to the brim. The key thing is

availability. At the moment,

there isn't enough to meet the

demand. A lot of mothers these

days want to be career mothers

and to give them the possibility to do that is to increase centres and increase

childcare workers to keep up

with the demand. It is a system that's desperately under-resourced, placing

pressure on parents and even

those whose children haven't

yet arrived. I had to enrol

him before she was born. Cindi

waited on multiple lirss and

she is not alone. Some parents

are on as many as a dozen and

a log jam. The only choice is

to put yourself on multiple

waiting lists to be guaranteed a spot eventually. Some childcare centres are charging

just for a place on a waiting

list. The ACT Government says

it wants to see a single waiting list but the Minister

concedes there is only so much

the government can do The

government is not into government is not into the business of providing childcare

but we are a facilitate but we are a facilitate yoor

and we support the places that

choose to provide childcare. Developers and operators need

to get into the market and

parpts need to be clear about

what their needs are as well.

For some, those needs have

been met at the new centre but

for many others, the search for

a spot goes

Waiting times for elective surgery in Canberra could be

cut thanks to a deal struck with the NSW Government. The ACT Government plans to lease

wards at the new Queanbeyan

Hospital in a bid to clear a

back log of less urgent cases.

But the ACT Opposition says the in-principle agreement is light

on detail. More than 5,000

patients are waiting for

elective surgery in the ACT,

but help is on offer across the

border. The ACT health system

should be able to use

Queanbeyan Hospital in

recognition there is a level recognition there is a level of under-utilisation of that

hospital. Under a proposed deal

with the NSW Government, ACT

authorities would lees wards at

the Queanbeyan hospital. We

have agreement at the government level this is a

sensible thing to do. We need

to work through the detail. We

designed this hospital so we

could do flow reversal from the ACT. ACT. We have two operating

theatres and a procedure room

which we are not using to full

capacity. It is hoping it

would ease pressure on the

numbers. How would it be

staffed? What difference would

it make to our surgery lists? Although

is a start, we are seeing a

lack of detail. In Queanbeyan

there is optimism about the

change. So long as we get the

same quality of care, it doesn't matter which hospital

you go to. It is good news

for Queanbeyan, Canberra, the

community. It can address the

waiting lists for elective

surgery and it can only improve

health outcomes. While it's not yet a done deal, expectations are high.

To finance now and the All

Ords Index topped 5,000 points

today for the first time in 10 months. There was some news on employment even though

the unemployment rate remained

steady at 5%. Here's Alan

Kohler. Before we get to jobs,

a news flash - Rio Tinto reported its full-year profit a

short time ago. $14 billion,

up 122%. Shareholders get a

big pay rise. The dividend is up 140% and there is a $5

billion share buyback sometime

this year. There were 24,000

new jobs in January, well above

expectations but hours worked

fell, full-time jobs fell and

two-thirds of the new jobs were

in Victoria. Unemployment in

Tasmania jumped from 5.1 to

6.4%. Nationally, the

unemployment rate was steady.

All in all, the report did not

weaken the case for another

rate increase. The All Ords is

sitting above 5,000 for the first time since last April.

It wasn't a big rise today with Telstra closing a crescent

lower in the end. Boral

continues to surge on yesterday's results and Tran

Tran fell despite announcing a

10% increase in earnings. Here

is a graph of the All Ords over

two years and you can see it

has tried to break through

5,000 a couple of times

failed. The chartist would say

there is technical resistance.

I would say there were European

sovereign debt problems that

happened to hit when it got to

5,000. The Australian dollar

is weaker, falling below $1.01

US and 74 Euro cents. I have

been talking about the big rise

in food prices. Here is the

wool price. It is soaring up

50% in not very long. It is not about to not about to regain its crown

from iron ore as the most important export but the sheep's

sheep's back, as it were. That's finance. In cricket,

Australian Ponting says he will be playing

with pain during the upcoming

World Cup. But Ponting insists

his injured finger won't make

him a liability in the field.

Ricky Ponting has been out of

action for so long that he's

almost a new recruit at almost a new recruit at 36

years of age. Fair to say I'm pretty fresh. Wubd on the one

hand, the captain says his

finger won't cause concern but

he will be in a different fielding position mg I will be starting at cover or mid-off. While describing the injured

injured Michael Hussey as a

massive loss, Ponting is kflt

in his brother. I think Dave

has improved game after game.

Glenn Maxwell has broken the

long-standing record for the

fastest 50 in the one-day

competition. Maxwell reached

his half century his half century off 19 balls.

Victoria needed a run off the

final ball for the win.

Tasmania required one wicket.

Peter Siddle scrumabled a

single. Australian psyche list

Heinrich Haussler has taken Heinrich Haussler has taken the

overall lead in the Tour

Qatar. The product of rel rel

in northern NSW overpowered

compatriot Mark

Renshaw. Haussler leads by

three seconds with two stages

to go. Tiger Woods has

dropped from one to three in

the world rankings but the competitive ing stint remains.

If I am in the event, it's to

win. That's plain simple.

Woods didn't win a single event last year and will be up

against a strong field in this

week's Dubai desert classic.

Canberra's junior Raiders will be allowed to re-enter

NSW Rugby League's under 16 and

under 18 competitions. An

agreement was reached between

the Raiders and NSW allowing

the teams back into the season.

The board banned the Juniors

but overturned the decision

after the Raiders agreed to

field a NSW Cup side in

2012. There is a new kid 2012. There is a new kid on the

block in the world of dance. Mod Dance Company, which will debut with a national tour this

year, has formed without year, has formed without any

public funding. At its helm

is one of the most accomplished

names in Australian dance.

Adrian Raschella reports. The beat heralded the birth of Australia's newest arts

organisation, Mod Dance Company, and one of the country's most acomplashed

choreographers is centre stage

as patron. It is a lesson in bravery. There will be hard

times, good will be new times. The company's 18 dancers have just

started rehearsals for their

first production Suite Synergy.

It is a fusion of two works

created by Graeme Murphy in the

1990s when he ran the Sydney dance company. Artistic

director Brett Morgan says the

huge popularity of TV dance

shows has led to a renaissance

in the art form and the

in the art form and the company

will focus on mainstream styles

of dance. I am trying to make what I consider the most entertaining product possible,

trying to get more general people involved with

contemporary dance. Unlike

most of the country's major art

companies, MDC gets no public

furning. It has raised its money privately. The company

says the absence of public

funding gives it more freedom to target audience. I think it fits a

niche that isn't being served

by dance companies, that by

their nature have to be cutting

edge. This is about dance that

can reach a broadence

audience. MDC will audience. MDC will debut its five-city national tour in

Melbourne in March.

Now with a look at today's

weather, here's Mark Carmody.

Thanks. I am not sure how to

describe today's weather, as

either partly cloudy or mostly

sunny as we had both. It was also warm last night.

The maximum was a warm 28.

True to the forecast, the winds started out as mainly

easterlies swinging to the north-west this afternoon.

The sun will soon set. It is

dry and almost calm and the

thermometer is sitting on 27.

Around our region today - It was cloudy on the coast which diminished

diminished as you came up over the rain.

In the State capitals today,

it was cloudy but dry in Brisbane, light early drizzle

fell in Sydney, then it was

overcast. Hobart was sunny but

coolish, 22. Adelaide was

sunny as well but much warmer,

37 and Darwin had some

afternoon showers.

Cloud associated with a trough

covers most of the south-east

and is generating showers. There is an active monsoonal

system across the Top End.

With the trough moving through Victoria and a cold front

passing by Tasmania, our region can expect showers and cooler temperatures over the weekend.

So around Australia tomorrow,

there could be possible showers

in Brisbane, Sydney will be

cloudy and dry but very hot 31. Melbourne on the other hand

will be wet and coolish, 24.

For Canberra tomorrow, we can

expect a shower or two as well,

although there is only a 40%

chance. The falls will be

between 1 and 4mm. The winds will be north-wester lys

getting up to 40km/h around

lunchtime. The top will be 28

after 17 overnight. For early risers, such as

bootcampers and rowers, you

will be getting up in the dark as the sun will rise at 6:32

and set just after 8. Then on

Saturday, there will be rain

with a chance of a storm during

the morning. It will also be cool ish -

cool ish - 22. It will be wet

and 22 on Sunday as well. The

botanical gardens, which are

looking terrific at the moment, sent me this Telopea

Mongaensis, a local variety of

Waratah from Braidwood. You said that very well. Well

done. You will be down at the

festival, I believe, tomorrow,

so we will catch up with you

there. That's ABC News. Stay

with us for the '7:30 Report' .

I will be back with an update

at 8:30. Until then, goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

We were not very far apart.

How far apart were you? He was

about that far away, I reckon.

Welcome to the program, I'm Heather Ewart. John Clarke and

Bryan Dawe shortly, but first,

as residents of north-western

Victoria continue recovering from floods, the water that's devastated their communities

and farms is now slowly making

its way downstream. High flows

are expected at the South

Australian border for the next

week, bringing joy for parts of

that State which have endured