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Today, Aleppo finally falls to Bashar al-Assad amid accusations of atrocities.

Power bills set to rise across the country from next year according to a new report. The search for a couple and their son on a boat missing off the South Australian coast enters its second day. New Australian research suggests autism could be linked to vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy.

Hello and welcome to Mornings, I'm Joe O'Brien. A quick look at the weather first:

That record minimum temperature overnight, that's the highest on record, we will have more from the Bureau of Meteorology on that a little later this hour.

The battle for Aleppo could now be over with Russia declaring all military action has stopped and the Syrian Government is in control of the eastern part of the city. The UN has accused pro-government forces of war crimes with reports of dozens of civilians and rebels being executed. There are also grave concerns for up to 100 unaccompanied children who are trapped in a building which earlier came under heavy shelling. Syria's representative to the United Nations has defended government forces, saying they are not complicit in any civilian atrocities. TRANSLATION: I'd like to begin my statement by saying my government is innocent of the charges of such crimes having committed genocide. The actions of the Syrian Government - I repeat this point before you all - our actions and those of our allies in Aleppo across Syria are the expression of the constitutional and legal right of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to protect its citizens against terrorism. This has guided our action, we have taken such action all the time abiding by international and humanitarian rights law. I denounce and reject all fabricated reports used by the delegations of the United States, France and the United Kingdom as well as their partners and allies which claim that the Syrian Government is deliberately targeting civilians in Aleppo. Allow me at this stage to show you some photos that I have. This is what the Syrian Army is doing in Aleppo. Here you see a picture of a Syrian soldier providing help and to a woman, helping her get out of a car. He is making his body a bridge so that this woman can get out of this vehicle. She is a woman fleeing eastern Aleppo. These are the humanitarian and self-sacrificing actions we are engaged in, the Syrianam Army is engaged in. Should we wait for the fall or collapse of Aleppo, allow me to correct you, this is not the fall of Aleppo, this is the liberation of Aleppo.Syrian Government representative speaking to the UN there. The US State Department says the end of the conflict in Aleppo does not mean the end of the war.Even if it is the siege in Aleppo, it is not the end of the war in Syria. It will go on. The Opposition will continue to fight. Extremists will continue to be drawn to the vacuum that continues to exist in so many places in Syria. People, innocent people, many of them children, will be flung into refuge. I totally, completely reject the characterisation we are washing our hands of anything here or that we have ceded influence or failed to try to exert some leadership here. It was the US who led the development of the ISSJ, it was the US who led efforts to get the UN Security Council resolution in place that codified the process through which we could get a cease-fire and get humanitarian aid in.Earlier an evacuation deal was announced with rebel fighters and their families to be given safe passage to their last stronghold in the province of Idlib but it is unclear whether thousands of civilians trapped in the former rebel territory can also leave. Middle East correspondent Matt Brown reports. The latest we are hearing is that the rebels and their families will be bussed out of these few suburbs in southern Aleppo and taken, presumably, to neighbouring Idlib province which is the rebels' last remaining major stronghold in Syria. In the past hour, a senior Turkish official has said they'll be building a tent city to house 80,000 people who have come out of Aleppo. There were no more details about where that would be done. There are varying reports about how many civilians remained in those few suburbs, certainly tens of thousands, perhaps 1,500 rebels and, according to a senior UN official, a third of those were rebels from the organisation which only renounced ties to its founding organisation al-Qaeda in the middle of this year. There are a number of militias from Iran, Iraq, also here in Lebanon, Shiite militia Hezbollah, who have been aiding them in that. They'll have a job for a start keeping order. One of those militias from Iraq is one of those accused of these very grave abuses of killing civilians who were in the areas they were overtaking. There will be a discipline problem, first of all, but there will be a major aid effort to go in there and, if the Syrian Government allows unfetterred access by the international community, no doubt they'll get that help but the key is what happens now in Idlib province and what will the Government do to the civilians and rebels now in that province? Adjunct professor Bob Bowker is a former ambassador to Syria. Welcome. The moderate rebels are the big losers in east Aleppo. Is this confirmation, if it was needed, that Vladimir Putin and Russia entered this to smash Western influence rather than pursue Islamic State?I think there's very little doubt that, whatever moderatecy might have been attributed to the rebel movement early in its life, it was quickly subsumed in a much more radical form and those who have been removed from Aleppo now will almost certainly require the protection of al-Qaeda-linked elements and that, I think, leads us to the point that I think was just being made, that the future of Idlib is now very much uncertain because neither the Syrian regime nor the Russians are going to want to see that area remain dominated by elements that are actively hostile to the Syrian regime.We will get more on that in a moment, but the suggestion there has been a corridor organised so buses of the rebel fighters can get out of Aleppo to be transported to Idlib. Do you really expect that this will happen safely for those fighters considering what's happened over the last several years? Do you think the Russians and the Syrians will let these soldiers get out to Idlib?I think they might be prepared to see them removed from Aleppo but they'll be looking to follow up the operation against them in a fairly short space of time. What we need to remember is that these militias will disperse themselves among civilian populations, these refugee camps and so on are going to become areas of potential military interest. I don't think that we are far from the end of this situation at all.Judging from your previous answer, you think the description of moderate rebels is a bit of a misnomer but do you believe the rebels that are left have much chance of holding on to their remaining territory primarily in the Idlib region?No. I think that it depends a great deal on how much backing they get from Turkey and from Saudi Arabia. But the likelihood is that once they are out of public view, as they were in Aleppo, the Syrians and the Russians and Hezbollah and others will gradually nibble away until they have brought them under full control. It might take a couple of years but I don't think that anyone seriously expects that the regime will allow a hot bed of what will become a guerilla war against the regime to be sustained in Idlib. Give us your description of what you think are the remaining rebel fighters. Are they primarily Jihadists or do they include some moderate people?At the very end of the conflict in Aleppo, I understand that the more radical elements turned their guns on the so-called moderate elements that had been receiving American support and were trying to negotiate a surrender or an exit arrangement. There is no doubt that the real power among the rebel forces lies with the Jihadists and when people talk about the Zengi group, for example, as being moderate, quite frankly, that's a gross fallacy. There is plenty of imagery of the antics of that group including the beheading of a 12-year-old boy. There is nothing moderate about those groups who present themselves as being sympathetic toward Western or anti-Iranian agendas in Syria.What are the primary opposition groups holding the power in the Idlib region now?Ara-Sham. Despite disclaimers, it is very much a clone of al-Qaeda. There is also an element of the Zengi group. The remnants of al-Nusra Front. Group called Ara-Sham as well. A whole raft of these elements which will be loosely grouped under some form of coordinating arrangement which will, again, make sure that the so-called moderate elements have a very minor role, possibly to be presented as a useful political device but, in effect, the real power will be right with the Jihadist elements.But aren't Assad and the Syrian Government forces still vulnerable, though? They've lost Palmyra in the course of this.They lost Palmyra to

course of this.They lost Palmyra to
IS, not to al-Nusra. The IS elements overran, basically, a national militia that was poorly trained and poorly equipped but the focus for the Syrians will not be on those areas such as Raqqa and Palmyra which require extended lines of communication. Idlib and the province there will be a much closer target and one which, for that reason alone, is more dangerous as far as the regime is concerned.What then is the future of the east of the country? As you mentioned there, Islamic State still holds Raqqa. Have they basically written that off and not going to pursue that and so, for the moment, that will remain under the control of the Islamic State although you have coalition forces moving in on Raqqa now as well?My best guess - it is only that - that the Syrian regime lacking capacity to be involved militarily in the capture of Raqqa will wait and see what the Americans and the Turks and the Kurds come up with in regard to pushing out IS from Raqqa. It may take them several years to do that but then the Syrians will look at gaining political control over that or striking some sort of arrangement with the Kurds which gives the Kurds a degree of autonomy for the time being at least.Thanks for talking to us this morning from Canberra. Thank you.To other news now - a new energy report shows the closure of two major coal-fired power stations will push up electricity prices from next year. By 2018-19 electricity bills in the Eastern States could rise on average by $78, in Tasmania by more than $200. Prices are eventually set to ease after more wind power comes online. The Commission also says the cheapest way to reduce emissions is a scheme where dirty generators pay cleaner power producers but that has been ruled out by the Prime Minister. The Victorian Energy Minister says the Federal Government is failing to lead on energy and is calling for more measures to integrate renewables into the power grid.One regards monopoly power companies price gouging when it comes to energy bills. Victoria has been pushing for more than a year now we need to revise the rules from stopping the monopoly power companies from price gouging, not accepting the umpire decision and appealing. What that's meant in the last few years is billions of extra dollars these monopoly power companies have been able to receive from ordinary families, from businesses, that otherwise would not have had those significant price increases. We are looking at wanting to eliminate the opportunity for these monopoly power companies to appeal and put extra pressure, of course, on power bills. The Federal Government is failing to articulate a vision for any Renewable Energy Target beyond 2020 so is it any wonder States are going it alone? The fact is the Federal Government themselves will not be able to meet their own emissions reduction target by 2030 without Victoria's renewable energy targets. That is an absolute fact. So far the Federal Government has failed to be able to articulate precisely how they will meet their own emissions reduction target. That is why Victoria's Renewable Energy Target will help them achieve that. At the moment we have an energy system not fit for a modern purpose. What we want to see today is an outcome where we focus on Dr Alan Finkel's other suite of recommendations that, if adopted, will position us so well be being able to integrate renewable energy so we move towards a stronger renewable energy mix, importantly looking at affordability for households and, of course, importantly, maintaining the security of supply that has been the hallmark of our energy system now for a long, long time. The top stories - Russia says its ally the Syrian Government is in full control of Aleppo and all military action there has stopped. A new report predicts another hit on household power bills as a result of the closure of coal-fired power stations as State and Territory Energy Ministers meet to discuss the future of the electricity market. A search is continuing for a couple and their son who are missing on board a boat off the south-east of SA. Nicola Gage joins us for more. When did these people set out on the boat?Good morning, Joe. It was Monday that these three people, all members of the same family, left Cape Jaffa which is about 3.5 hours drive south of Adelaide. It is understood they were anticipated to come home that evening but they haven't been seen since. Their car and boat trailer are still at Cape Jaffa. Since then, a huge search and rescue operation has been under way and police have said this morning that a bucket and tub have been found in that area. That search has been conducted from the land as well. This is a huge fishing area around the Limestone Coast, including Robe, different areas around there people have been searching. It is continuing. They are saying it is a search and rescue operation still. The couple are aged 57 and the son is in his mid 20s. Police don't know if they were going out there to go fishing or diving but, obviously, the more hours that continue to pass, the more dire this situation is getting.In the pictures we are seeing there, it looks reasonably calm there at the moment but what were conditions like there over the past couple of days and particularly on Monday when these people went out?It seems like the conditions were very good when they went out. The Weather Bureau said that the wind speeds were actually quite light. There wasn't a big swell but, as we know on the water, anything can happen. We don't know the exact situation. Obviously there is a huge search and rescue operation, as I said. They have already scoured 2,000 square nautical miles from the air and sea and that will be continuing today. Family members have been out on the land nearby looking as well. Local fishermen have been helping with this search. We understand that the three members of this family were locals from the Kingston area so obviously this would be very concerning for everyone in that region but, still, many people are on top of this story, they are trying to find them and this is still a search and rescue operation but, as I said, obviously the more hours that go by, the more concerning the situation is.Nicola Gage reporting from Adelaide. Another tourist has died on the Great Barrier Reef in Far North Queensland. Police say the 75-year-old Japanese woman was pulled from the water at Moore Reef off the coast of Cairns around 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon. She was on a day trip with Sunlover Cruises. Three tourists died last month while snorkeling on the Reef in the far north including two French nationals. A report will be prepared for the coroner. US President-elect Donald Trump has confirmed he has chosen Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson to be his Secretary of State. In a morning Tweet, the President-elect described Mr Tillerson as one of the truly great business leaders of the world. Washington correspondent Zoe Daniel has more. It is kind of the worst-kept secret in history. Rex Tillerson's nomination as Secretary of State. Known as T-Rex, he is head of Exxon Mobil. He is a prominent businessman. In fact, Donald Trump has described him as one of the best business men in the world. I guess that goes to part of the controversy. The questions that are being raised about this nomination go to the fact he is a business man but has no diplomatic experience whatsoever and much of the business he has done - he has spent his entire career with Exxon Mobil, he is from Texas, he has worked for them from the 1970s - has been making international deals in difficult countries, difficult environments in Africa, for example, and in Asia but also specifically in Russia. I guess this happens amid existing controversy both around Donald Trump's desire to build a closer relationship with Russia and with President Vladimir Putin who Rex Tillerson apparently has a good relationship with. But also there is investigations and there is suspicions that Russia and the Russian Government were directly involved in email hacks during the campaign with a view to getting Donald Trump elected so with all of that swirling, Rex Tillerson's appointment is controversial. It is not a fait accompli yet. It has to go through Congress, that has to go through a committee process, then a vote on the Senate floor so there is substantial debate to come about this. There will be push-back. That's inevitable. Republicans like Marco Rubio, for example, who ran for the presidency, who is a Senator from Florida, have already said they have serious concerns about the idea of Rex Tillerson being the Secretary of State. That said, it would be almost unprecedented for his appointment not to go ahead. What will happen, though, is through this committee process, through the foreign relations committee and then through that Senate debate, is that any potential conflicts of interest that Rex Tillerson may have, the fact, for example, that it would be in Exxon Mobil's interests for sanctions against Russia over Ukraine and Crimea to be lifted because Exxon Mobil, apparently, has lost around a US$1 billion because of those sanctions so those sorts of questions will be raised during that committee and Senate debate process. But I think the expectation, in the end, is he probably will be endorsed as Secretary of State because all of those Republicans will come in behind the appointment. The widow of an Indonesian policeman has rejected an offer of compensation from the Australian woman accused of his murder. In a handwritten note, Sara Connor expressed her deepest sympathy to the family of the dead Bali officer offering them 25 million rupiah or $2,500. The widow told the Denpasar court she wanted Ms Connor and her boyfriend to be punished severely. They face 15 years in jail if found guilty. The UN has ended its campaign with comic book hero Wonder Woman less than two months after her appointment sparked outrage. In October, the superhero was declared an honorary ambassador to promote messages about women's empowerment but Wonder Woman's sexualised appearance was deemed inappropriate by 45,000 people who signed a petition to end the campaign. A UN spokesman says programs linked to fictional characters usually last a few months anyway. Unhappy with some of the options for homeless people in the UK, one man has decided to come up with his own solution. Kevin Newton has used his own money and crowdfunding to transform a double-decker bus into a homeless facility. All aboard for what could be a revolution in housing for the homeless. This is the double-decker bus that's doubling up as accommodation.Yeah, yeah. This is where the heart of the action is. This is where the beds are.Paul has lived rough on the Isle of Wight for months but he is now one of 14 homeless people with a permanent berth on board. What difference has the bus made to your life?Loads, loads. It has enabled me to be grounded in one place. Just to have a base to start from.Top deck, the seats are out and the beds are in. Men at one end, women at the other. Downstairs there are more beds, fully-fitted kitchen, even a wood burner. All approved by the fire service. They actually found the bus on eBay and paid £7,000 for it. One of the most ingenious things is what they've done to the bell that used to stop the bus. Now it's a water pump. The £20,000 to convert it mostly came through crowdfunding, also the personal savings of Kevin Newton, the man who thought up the idea on when the island's only permanent shelter closed. He even gave up his job to finish the job by Christmas.A lot of exhaustion. Blood, sweat and tears. It is satisfying to know that no longer will anyone on the Isle of Wight have to sleep rough because we now have this bus.Kevin has already had dozens of calls. Two decks to help solve one problem. The shelter bus. After sweltering through months of an unpleasant build-up, relief may be on the way for the Top End. A monsoon trough is forming off the coast of the Territory and it is tipped to bring cooler weather conditions over the coming weeks. These ominous dark clouds over Darwin Harbour are a welcome sight for those in the Top End.Finally we are seeing the first signs of the monsoon trough developing in our neighbourhood.The trough is expected to move into the Arafura Sea north of the Territory and strengthen at the end of the week. The Bureau says it will then continue south.The actual cooling effect of the monsoon trough locals not only know but appreciate, I'm sure. I'm over these 35 degree days. He is not the only one.Excited, I suppose.Hopefully it is a normal wet season where we get lots of rain.Glad I got my cyclone kit ready from last year.A monsoon could bring a diverse range of weather including daily rainfalls up to 100mm and flash flooding but could also bring the right conditions for cyclones to form.We pay close attention to the monsoon trough and how it develops.As for the weather on Christmas day? It is still too early to predict. Christmas Day, could be a range of things depending on how the monsoon evolves.But the arrival of the monsoon is a sign it is likely to be a wet Christmas. Time for a check of a bit more of the weather. Good morning to Aimee Amiga who has got some shots of a damn big wave for us. What's that?I do. This is not, unfortunately, the wave I was wanting to tell you about but there are other beautiful waves. A new record has been set for the highest wave in the world. The UN weather agency has said it recorded a 19m wave in a remote spot between Great Britain and Iceland in February 2013. That's taller than a 6-storey building and almost 4.5 times the height of a double-decker bus.But unfortunately no shots?No, they didn't have any photos of it! It has been hot in Australia?It certainly has. Sydney has broken a record. Officially the hottest night in December ever on record. We hit a low of 27.1 degrees at 6:34 this morning. That's almost one degree higher than Sydney's hottest December low which was recorded on Christmas Day in 1868. It also makes it the second hottest nights for all months falling just short of Sydney's February 2011 of 26 degrees.It was magic on the beach at 8:30 last night. There are severe weather warnings?There are. It will be hot in NSW before a cool change. That heat together with dry and fresh north-westerly winds is prompting total fire bans. In Tasmania, there are severe weather warnings too for damaging winds and abnormally high tides.Around the States and Territories today?On the satellite today, cloud and storms extend from WA towards coastal parts of SA and associated clouds cover Victoria and Tasmania. Meanwhile, hot air ahead of a trough is taking heat to eastern Victoria and much of NSW. Taking a closer look at Queensland:

The top stories today - reports from the Syrian city of Aleppo say there have been no sounds of fighting in the past few hours after rebel groups reached a cease-fire deal with the Russian and Syrian Governments. The rebels will have around 24 hours to leave the city by bus under a deal made without the approval of the United States or the United Nations. A new energy report says the average power bill will increase by nearly $80 over the next two years. The Australian Energy Market Commission says customers will have to deal with higher prices due to the closure of Victoria's coal-fired Hazelwood plant and SA's northern power station. This latest report puts added pressure on State and Territory energy ministers meeting in Melbourne today. The search for a couple and their son who were on a boat which is missing off the south-east coast of SA is entering its second day. The couple in their 50s and their son in his 20s set out on their boat from Cape Jaffa on Monday but did not return. Police say they still hope to find the three alive. It is official. Sydney's had its warmest December night on record. Also the second warmest night on record for any month. The Weather Bureau says the temperature at Sydney's Observatory Hill reached 26.1 at 6:34 this morning. UN officials say Syrian civilians are being massacred in the city of Aleppo. Syrian government forces backed by Russia have re-taken almost all of the city's east. Conditions are dire for the people fleeing the besieged enclave. A warning - this story contains some images viewers will find distressing. Exodus. Life here is gone. Destroyed in the most brutal of battles. The little they still own, they carry as they flee heading who knows where. People too old, too ill, far too small to embark on this most frightening of journeys out of East Aleppo. "May God help us and protect us", says this man. "May he save our country". More terrifying still to be trapped in this last hellish corner still held by the rebels. These scenes were filmed on a mobile phone after a Syrian Army attack. Most too gruesome to show. There has been, since the UN, a complete meltdown of humanity.We are being killed, that we are facing one of the most difficult or the most serious or the most horrible massacre that is in the new history. In these last hours of battle, every day brings new reports of atrosities committed by all sides but with the rebels cornered, human rights groups accuse the Syrian Army and its allies of the worst of abuses.We have been receiving multiple reports of some of the most appalling atrocities, if proven to be true, of civilians, including children, being executed.As Syrian soldiers advance into one neighbourhood after another, they speak of liberating these areas but today came a charge that 82 people were shot dead in cold blood by pro-government forces. The Syrian military denies it all. TRANSLATION: These reports are totally baseless and untrue. The Syrian Arab Army would never do such things. In reality, the army is helping to secure the evacuation of civilians. The army is also helping to secure the departure of any fighters who surrender. This is an attempt to tarnish the image of the Syrian Army after its victory.What a victory. Even the historic heart of the city is back in the government's hands. The rebels, sop linked to the west and others to al-Qaeda, are now squeezed into a few neighbourhoods. A moment for President Assad supporters to celebrate. They hail it as a victory over terrorism. For many, there is relief, a brutal battle for this city is drawing to a close but so much has been lost and so much of Syria is still at war. War-torn Afghanistan is struggling to cope with yet another tide of human suffering this time coming into the country. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans who had previously fled violence to Pakistan are returning to uncertain futures having been told they're no longer welcome by their neighbour. Aid agencies say the upheaval is seeing young girls forced into marriage and warns of long-term consequences. 18-year-old Mohammad Zahidullah is Afghan but life as he knew it was across the border in Pakistan. TRANSLATION: I was in high school in Pakistan. I was in grade 10. I had good friends. We used to play cricket together. We have nothing here.His family was among 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees who had made homes, lives in Pakistan desperate to escape war. Up to a million more have lived there undocumented. Pakistan demanded they all leave earlier this year. For months now, hundreds of thousands have been pouring back to an uncertain future.Combined we are looking at a really large amount of people, many of whom need assistance. It is something that I think hasn't been seen for many years in Afghanistan and it is certainly at crisis levels.The UN says the returnees join a record number of people fleeing violence within Afghanistan Save The Children say they face grim prospects. Young boys are likely to be pulled from school to work and young girls married to save money or attract a doury.Forced marriage would be the No.1. It is becoming a No.1 issue that's being faced by the children. This man knows that, at 18, he will have to start working but he wants his brothers and sisters to keep studying. TRANSLATION: I have made a promise to myself that I will support my siblings to continue their education even if I can't study myself.Aid agencies say for him to keep his promise, the international community mustn't abandon this teetering country. Australian researchers have found that pregnant women who are vitamin D deficient are more likely to have children with autistic traits. Professor John McGrath is the lead author and joins us from Brisbane. Good morning. What was the structure of the study?Hi Joe. We know vitamin D is not only good for healthy bones but healthy brain. We have worked with colleagues in the Netherlands. They followed up 4,000 children from before they were born to age 6. We measured vitamin D when the mothers were pregnant and we asked the - the mums and dads were asked when the children were six what type of symptoms related to autism these children. The mothers who had low vitamin D, their offspring had an increased risk of autism.Which countries from around the world?This study was done in Rotterdam. Like 7 Up, they have been following their children all their life. Many people of different ethnic backgrounds. The prevalence of low vitamin D was much higher than it is in Australia. The interesting thing about this type of research is that vitamin D is preventible. We can take safe, cheap, publicly acceptable interventions. Many of your viewers will know folate - the use of folate supplements has reduced the incidents of spina bifda. We are hoping if we optimise the levels of vitamin D in pregnant women, we could prevent or reduce the incidence of autism.How much of a factor was vitamin D deficiency? Autism is a poorly-understood group of brain disorders. There are genetic factors. A whole range of other factors so we are not suggesting low prenatal vitamin D is the main cause, probably one of thousands of causes but we measured at 20 weeks, in the middle of the pregnancy, the women gave blood. When the babies were born, we had blood and measured vitamin D. 4,000 children were assessed at aged 6. Do they make eye contact? Good at communicating? Odd repetitive behaviours? It wasn't just autism yes, no. It was a continuous measure. We found those that had low D had a three or fourfold increase risk of scoring very highly on this measure. It is quite a startingly finding. We adjusted for genetics, ethnicity, a whole range of things. The findings were quite stubborn and persistent. This is the biggest study ever done in the field. It is another piece of the jigsaw puzzle. We can't prove it definitively but it is another little bit of the evidence we are understanding the causes of autism.Are you able to extrapolate from this that vitamin D is particularly important at any particular stage of pregnancy or not?Yes we can. We particularly found that blood levels during the middle of the pregnancy were linked to autism. We have done other studies looking at schizophrenia. We found levels at birth were linked to schizophrenia. We think there is a whole range of adverse brain outcomes related to the developing brain that may be linked midgestation and late pregnancy vitamin D levels.You are not suggesting this could be a major cause of autism and there are many factors that come into play. What are some of the other factors apart from what you think vitamin D might be?We know confidently genetics are a factor. Some are common variants we all have, some more rare. There are things like prenatal infection, pregnancy and birth complications, maternal birth weight. They tend to load up slightly. As the brain develops, if there is something missing, like not enough vitamin D or oxygen, that may tip a vulnerable brain over. There is a lot more work to be done but the important thing about the vitamin D finding is we can do something about this. This is very easy to treat from a public health perspective. Researchers are very drawn to things you can change. This is a theory you had and you went to these people in the Netherlands because you knew they had a large study and you put it through the study?My colleagues and I at the Queensland Brain Institute have found low vitamin D is linked to schizophrenia. We had done that in Danish studies and done an awful lot of animal studies that have convinced us beyond a shadow of a doubt that vitamin D is important in brain development. The animals studies have known that. We went with funding to the National Health and Medical Research program to cohorts in Rotterdam. Thousands of children have been followed up from birth. We got the blood sent from the Netherlands to Brisbane, measured the results and put them together and the findings were more robust and stubborn. It is quite an important signal for us.Can you take this any further in terms of looking at the importance of vitamin D or other factors of autism?These children are having brain scans over the next few years. We will be able to look at did low vitamin D alter the brain? We have funding in Denmark and we will be measuring vitamin D. What needs to be done sooner or later is a randomised control trial where some pregnant women are given extra vitamin D. That may never happen because it is no longer ethical to leave pregnant women on no vitamin D. We are building up a case from animal research and epidemiology that suggests that to have a healthy baby you need not only lots of iron and folate but we need vitamin D to get everything working optimally for the brain.As you mentioned, this is something that can easily be addressed with important public health information, I will give you that opportunity now if there are pregnant women watching, what are those keys to ensuring you get enough vitamin D?I live in Brisbane where we have plenty of sunshine. We don't encourage women to go out in bright sunshine so I think they need to look at having a healthy diet with fish and also vitamin supplements. We are most worried about women who have dark skin, women who don't go out in the sun, women who are veiled. They are at particular risk for low vitamin D. Even if our theory about brain development turns out to be wrong, we know vitamin D is important for the bones. I suggest women check with their GP, get their blood levels done and perhaps take some supplements.Really interesting talking to you. Congratulations on your work.Thanks very much.Sydney is in for another hot day after experiencing a very warm night. The Bureau of Meteorology has done the sums to work out if last night was the hottest on record for December. Jordan Atar is a forecaster with the Bureau and he joins us now. Good morning. What have you come up with? We actually got 27.1 degrees in Sydney. We did break the December record which was 26.3. However, we also were the second warmest minimum temperature for Sydney all-time.How do you come up with those figures and comparing them to previous? Is it an average of the overnight temperatures? How do you do it?It is a measure of the 9:00am to 9:00am temperatures so we take the minimum of those. We did see quite warm temperatures early yesterday morning, though we did see that minimum of 27.1 early this morning. Why has this happened?We had quite a hot day yesterday. The lack of sea breeze or late sea breeze allowed temperatures to rise quite high to 38 degrees in Sydney. Temperatures didn't drop very quickly so we had at least 30 degrees around 10:00pm and slowly dropping through the night. We got to about 27.1.What's the situation for the month of December now as well for Sydney?We are above average for December for our maximum temperatures. As for what we are seeing in the coming days, though, these actual temperatures are going to be much lower with 22 degrees as our maximum temperature as we have a southerly change coming through late today. What's been happening around the rest of the nation this month? Has it been hotter than usual?It has been hotter than usual in December. We are expecting similarly in January hotter than expected climate averages for January as well. It is a climatal thing that will happen. Thanks for talking to us this morning.Thank you.A valuable Aboriginal painting that went missing in the Northern Territory in the 1980s has turned up in an unexpected place. Amazingly, it only endured minor problems. Alastair Shields was trying to jazz up his new office when he put up Indigenous art work when lying around the headquarters of Tourism NT in Darwin.I know it was hanging around in a number of store rooms for Tourism NT in this office and previous offices. Survived and ended up on the wall here.But an expert pair of eyes realised the piece of furniture was a missing piece of the Northern Territory's art world.It wasn't until I had a meeting with Angela Hill from Arts NT we might be on to something special.I had just come back fa the desert and looking at early Papunya boards. It was interesting when I had the meeting with him, I immediately recognised it was what I thought was one of those early works.Travelling Dreaming by Mick Namararri Tjapaltjarri was leant to the office of the Northern Territory Chief Minister sometime after 1978 but disappeared in 1981. It is worth around $150,000 and is part of a collective of boards credited with bringing Aboriginal art to the rest of the world in the 1970s.It is an amazing thing. You occasionally read about beautiful stories of discovering an art work in an attic in France. This is one of those stories. There is two figures that are singing up a story and the others are listening. It is about their travelling journeys. Travelling Dreaming today moved out Tourism's offices and into the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery where it will undergo work to remove water damage believed to have been caused by Cyclone Tracy. A famous painting hanging right under the Government's nose. John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John have 100 years of experience in the entertainment industry between them. They've been friends for decades but only sang together for the first time in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics. This year they've recorded an album of duets called Friends For Christmas. Leigh Sales spoke to John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John. Lovely to meet you.Thank you.How did you two first meet each other? We have been trying to remember this for the last few interviews.We have started making stuff up.You met in prison!We can't remember when we very first meet. I am pretty sure you are right when you said in England. If not, we have told that story so many times it has become an urban myth.We were teenagers, or almost 20, at least I was when I first met John and Jill in London. With this particular project, where did the idea come from?Dennis Hanlon, the head of Sony he here. According to John, he plied him with beautiful wine and asked him... Because it was 46 years ago.I was really pleased when they bought brought that up.He was a child.Of course, I was 8. He said would you be up for making a Christmas album? I said that would be fun. He said "Do you think Olivia because he had done the Two Strong Hearts tour, so I text "Do you want to make a Christmas album?" . Got back in seconds "Yes". # Sleep in heavenly peace # Sleep in heavenly peaceJust because you are friends doesn't necessarily mean you will have chemistry on stage or work together as an act. Can you figure that out before trying out or can you only work that out in the studio or on stage?We tend to bring out the best in each other. I used to like mucking around with my phrasing and she'd look at me (Mutters). Some of the harmonies she would come up with or amazing. We had a great time.I love his voice, always admired him as an artist and a singer.When Whispering Jack came out, you were on the bones of your bum at the time?Absolutely.Labels passed on it?Yep. In fact, yeah, I was originally with EMI. Because I wasn't doing much, kind of lapsed, dropped me, and Wheatley mortgaged his house for me to make that album. We had to put it out in a brown paper bag. Johnny Farnell, are you kidding, no -- Farnham, are you kidding, no way we will play it. Fortunately it got through.Olivia, have you had thoughts in your career, maybe it's done?All the time. Particularly I think in 2000 after I did the Olympics, it was like I thought "That's the pinnacle. There is not going to be anything after this". I really believed it. Then I was offered a bunch of stuff and it just kept going. I often think that. Now I'm open to... I'm really loving singing and performing. I never used to like live performance but I have been enjoying it.Given you have both had peaks and valleys over long careers, what do you think you have learnt about life through those experiences?Oh gosh.Nothing is forever but I think that's just basic commonsense. What we do isn't brain surgery, it's not brain surgery. It's entertainment. I try not to take myself too seriously. There are guidelines and I know she is the same. For us, it is about connecting with people and trying to move them some way, whether it is moving them to boo or moving them to shout "Hoorah" but not to sit there and give you nothing. It is not an ego trip but it is in its way but people come up to us all the time, say "Sorry to bother you". No bother at all. We have spent 50 years of our lives trying to get people interested in what we do and entertain them. When they are, why would we say "We want to be alone, leave me"?Like John, I like to sing a song that will make somebody feel something about somebody. I do a song about trees, rain forests, dolphins, things I care about, that can make people feel something or entertain them, make them laugh, jump in their seat. That's a pleasure for us.It is.It has been a pleasure to meet both of you. Merry Christmas.Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.A hard act to follow but here is Paul Kennedy.Just a day before Pakistan take on Australia at the 'Gabba. Both teams are predicting... They are saying they are nice and confident. Pakistan in particular looking forward to knocking off Australia. It wouldn't be the first time Australia had lost a match at the -- it would be the first time Australia has lost a match at the 'Gabba since 1988. Wahab Riaz yesterday said he is looking forward to bowling aggressive bowling and bouncers at the Australians. He did so just three years ago when he was here last time. People will remember the duel with Shane Watson. The bowlers from Pakistan are confident. Usman Khawaja thinks that long unbeaten streak going back 28 years is a heavy burden for the local team and he is feeling the pressure but believes Australia can perform at its best in the day/night test with the pink ball. Kate Palmer has been appointed CEO of Australian Sports Commission. She comes to the role replacing Simon Hollingsworth after 10 years in charge of Netball Australia, formerly Netball Victoria as well, she has overseen an unprecedented period of success for netball, both in participation and also commercially. Those are the two fronts that she will want to get things going from the Australian Sports Commission with the winning edge formula and so on as they look forward to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and, beyond that, Tokyo but also the participation numbers that we were talking about last week. Yesterday the Brownlow Medal for the 2012 count was finally given to Sam Mitchell and Trent Cotchin. Of course, this was a very small ceremony, friends and family only allowed here because Jobe Watson, the original winner, has had to give the medal back to the league - not physically, they still don't know what's happened to the medal - but the honour certainly and Cotchin and Mitchell were corunners-up in the medal count and they are Brownlow Medallists. Tonight the best of the best of sport will get together for an award ceremony. The AIS Sports People of the Year awards. That involves the ABC because the ABC has personality of the year and team of the year to which some 20,000 people have recorded their votes. But there was one particular award that might be more emotional than the rest, it goes to Gary West, the coach of Anna Meares and track cycling since 2008 will be inducted a very elite group, called the best of the best. It will be emotional because Anna Meares will be up giving that award to her coach who has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. He has struggled with his speech since about February. He has only been diagnosed after the Rio Olympics. He thought he had a treatable auto immune disease at the Olympics. His condition has slightly deteriorated. He has been diagnosed with MND. He and his family and his athletes including Anna Meares are still coming to terms with the diagnosis. Anna Meares has started on a fundraising campaign. They have set up a Facebook page called Cycling Cares. Anna Meares and the rest of the cyclists who have known Gary West will be raising funds and awareness into MND. .Here is the weather with Aimee Amiga.Good morning. Cloud and storms extend from WA towards coastal parts of SA and associated clouds cover Victoria and Tasmania. Meanwhile, halt air ahead of trough is heat to Victoria and NSW. A closer look at Queensland:

Thanks, Aimee. Stick with us on ABC News 24. Going for a short break now, we'll be back soon.

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This program is live captioned by Ericsson Access Services. Today - Aleppo finally falls to Bashar al-Assad amid accusations of atrocities.My government is innocent of the charges of such crimes.Even if it is the end of the siege in Aleppo, it is not the end of the war in Syria. It will go on.

Power bills set to rise across the country from next year, according to a new report. The search for a couple and their son off the South Australian coast enters its second day. And Sydney in for a scorcher after experiencing its warmest December night on record. Hello and welcome to Mornings. I'm Joe O'Brien. Taking a quick look at the weather in the capital cities around the nation: