The Fin Review
leads with the Queensland state Budget as Premier Peter Beattie’s
projected $934million Budget surplus from the state’s coal and property
boom, revives the debate on the unfair distribution of GST between the
states. But in his analysis, the Fin’s Alan Mitchell
warns that even “boom states have their political hazards.” Beattie has
been increasing expenditure in line with a revenue boom, but in the
coming financial year, revenue growth is budgeted to stall. On current
government policies, the operating surplus will fall from about
$3 billion in 2004-05 to just $220million in 2008-09.

The Courier-Mail
also leads with the state Budget, in particular the government’s
decision to spend a record $8 billion on infrastructure in a “massive
spending program” which will cut the Budget surplus down to less than
$1 billion in the next financial year. Other Courier-Mail Budget headlines include, “Bonanza almost too much to bear,” “Regions on the move with $1.2b” and “More officers to hit the streets.” However the paper also notes that Treasurer Terry Mackenroth‘s Budget bonanza was aided by “the benign gods of economic cycles.”

The Australian
leads with the $200 million upgrade of airport security and the former
British minister, John Wheeler, who has been hired to undertake a
high-level review of the airport. Meanwhile Kim Beazley
is being pressured to dump his Treasurer Wayne Swan as part of a
widespread reshuffle of his front bench when the new Senate is sworn
in. And on the Queensland state Budget, Mike Steketee
writes that the degree to which Australian states are growing apart can
be seen in their most recent budgets, with WA, the
best-performing state.

The Sydney Morning Herald
leads with the rise in airfares to pay for tighter security at the
nation’s airports, in the government’s fourth attempt to tighten
aviation security since September 11. Paul McGeough
tell the story of Australian security contractor Chris Ahmelman who was
killed along with two of his colleagues on the dangerous stretch of
road near Baghdad International Airport. And after Chinese diplomat
Chen Yonglin lodged another application for political asylum directly
to Alexander Downer, the foreign minister has said the request should
be considered on its merits.

The Age also leads with the improved security measures at Australia’s ports and airports, which could see airfares go up. And Melbourne University Private
has shut down following losses of $20 million over eight years and will
merge with Melbourne University where all existing students will
complete their courses.

The Daily Telegraph
leads with the $17-a-week pay rise for
low-income workers, but it’s also expected to be the last by the
Australian Industrial Relations Commission before the federal government’s planned workplace relations overhaul. The Tele also
reports that Sir John Wheeler, the man in charge of making Britain’s airports terror proof, has been appointed to investigate Australian terminals.

The Herald Sun splashes with angry actor Russell Crowe under the headline “I HAVE A PROBLEM.” And the average price for a pot of beer in Victorian pubs may top $3 from today after yesterday’s national wage case decision, combined with other rising costs.

The Advertiser
reports former minister Mark Brindal has nominated high-profile former
Crows star Nigel Smart as a possible leader of the SA Libs if
opposition leader Rob Kerin loses the next election. The West
reports that communities in WA’s Goldfields say they are open to the
idea of uranium mining and a nuclear waste dump and want an informed
debate on the issue, despite continued state government opposition. The
NT News
reports that the large amount of ground water being used by rural
residents is drying up the Howard River, a leading
hydrogeologist has warned. And The Mercury
announces Tasmania will have legal brothels for the first time with the
introduction of the Sex Industry Regulation Bill, which will legalise
the activity and regulate to protect workers and the community.

In the UK The Independent
reports that a joint statement has been issued by the leading
scientific academies of the world, calling on G8 governments to
take urgent action on the greatest danger facing humanity – global
warming. The statement was released as Tony Blair met George Bush
in Washington to discuss international efforts to combat climate
change, but there’s little sign that the Bush administration will
accept the growing scientific evidence about the problem, says The