The news that John Howard has flagged sweeping changes to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, after yesterday’s visit to one of the nation’s most depressed communities, leads most of the papers today. As The Australian reports, the PM declared that all indigenous people should be able to “share in the bounty of this country” and own their own homes.

Elsewhere, the The Courier-Mailreports that electric hot water systems will be banned in new homes under a state government plan to relieve Queensland’s beleaguered electricity network. In Melbourne, the Herald Sunsplashes with the ‘body in the boot’ saga that has gripped its pages for over a month, with a court report that “Maria Korp fought for her life as Joe Korp’s lover tried to strangle her with a bag strap before leaving the unconscious woman locked in a car boot for almost five days, police were told.” “Don’t let the bitch come out of here alive,” Korp is alleged to have said.

Crime also occupies the front page of the HobartMercury, which reports that lawyers for “child killer and Tasmania’s longest-serving prisoner” James O’Neill believe The Mercury was attempting to keep him in custody through “trial by media”. And The Mercury also runs with a witty report from a Hobart literary event, where Liberal senator Eric Abetz “felt about as much at home among the arts community as an Antarctic penguin in Bangkok” as he presented a $40,000 prize to Dr Margaret Scott, who said “it’s a bit like Cardinal George Pell presenting Camilla Parker-Bowles with an award for prolonged fidelity.”

Miranda Devine on the SMHop-ed page analyses on Nicole Kidman who, she says, is looking more and more like one of Lauren Bacall’s Hollywood clones: “toned, teased, styled, straightened, bleached and who-knows-what-else to become indistinguishable in a sea of blonde Versace satin sheaths with American orthodontist jaws.”

BRW magazine publishes its annual list of top earners in the Australian entertainment industry.Topping the list is The Wiggles, earning $45 million in 2004, followed by Nicole Kidman ($40m), Russell Crowe ($27m), AC/DC ($18m), Naomi Watts ($17m), Hi-5 ($15m), Cate Blanchett ($13m), Hugh Jackman ($13m), Heath Ledger ($12m) and Powderfinger ($10.5m). Kylie Minogue is Australia’s richest singer ($6m), TV’s Rove McManus reportedly earned $5.5 million, and ex-gardener Don Burke earned $7.2 million.

From New York, The Australian’s correspondent, David Nason, reports that ashes of writer Hunter S Thompson will be “blown into the Colorado sky by a giant cannon in August, a final, bizarre farewell to the hard-drinking, drug-taking eccentric who gave literature the form known as gonzo journalism.” And the New York Observersays that actor Warren Beatty is set to join “a lineup of liberal all-stars who will ‘group blog’ on a website to be launched next month” that includes fellow liberals Senator Jon Corzine, David Geffen, Viacom co-chief Tom Freston, Barry Diller, Tina Brown and Gwyneth Paltrow – in competition to the right-leaning Drudge Report.

From London, that wedding can’t stay out of the news. The LondonSunreports that “millions of punters were stunned” by the news that the start of the Grand National horse race has been put back 25 minutes so it doesn’t clash with the BBC’s coverage of the Charles-Camilla wedding on Saturday – but The Timessays the Queen, an avid racing fan, will be “quietly pleased” by the news.

Finally, the yarn of the day in the Northern Territory Newsruns under the heading “I was mugged by a croc”, and tells the story of Tennant Creek bushman, prospector and poet Jimmy Hooker who says he was mugged by a crocodile after hearing “a strange barking sound” while walking home from work.”It was a vicious little thing and was definitely trying to get hold of me,” says the victim.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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