The Australian

is all over the story of Perth’s proposed “mega-uni” – a merger of
three West Australian universities which would combine assets and
resources to compete aggressively for students in other states. The Oz also reports that Sydney Morning Herald journalist Paul McGeough
got it wrong when he claimed that Australian raids on the home of Sheik
Hassan Zadaan had delayed efforts to free Douglas Wood from his
captors, when they actually made “no difference” to Wood’s fate. And
senior Labor figures have told Kim Beazley
to sharpen up his act as the Opposition fails to make any inroads
against the Coalition and an “element of despondency” descending on the
caucus.

The Sydney Morning Herald
leads with the two incoming National Party senators who are threatening
to block the Federal government’s legislation to outlaw student unions
– potentially derailing one of the prime minister’s ideological
goals. Also on the front page is a photo of Senator Brian Harradine
surrounded by his 13 children who came to parliament to witness their
father’s farewell after 30 years in the Senate devoted to defending the
“dignity of the human person.” And a Herald investigation
reveals that two state politicians organised a $50,613 taxpayer-funded
trip around the world to find out about genetically modified food, but
found when they got there they had arranged to meet the wrong person.

The Age
goes big with their exclusive: “Melbourne water crisis to get worse,”
which stems from a CSIRO report on a worst-case scenario for
Melbourne’s water supply over the next 45 years. Meanwhile the
State Revenue Office has discovered hundreds of Victorians have falsely
claimed the first home buyer grants totalling $4.1 million and are being pursued for repayment. And The Age reports that one of the great feuds
of Liberal Party history – Jeff Kennett v Peter Costello and Michael
Kroger – appears to be over in a truce described as a “boon” for
Costello, who’s no longer hampered by a divide among senior party
figures in his home state.

The Daily Telegraph splashes with Japan’s defeat at the International
Whaling Commission after member nations rejected Japan’s bid to lift
the ban on commercial whaling. And Malcolm Farr reports that Kim Beazley has charted a recovery course
for Labor – which includes taking up issues even if they aren’t vote
winners.

The Herald Sun
reveals thousands of small businesses are facing a cash crisis because
Bracks government departments and agencies have failed to pay up to $2.6
billion worth of bills they have run up. The Hun also reports that Liberal Party backbenchers are in a lather over Ten’s Big Brother Uncut, which depicts “full-frontal nudity and lewd behaviour” which may spark a Federal government review of TV censorship.

The Mercury
doesn’t lead with the departure of the veteran Senator Brian Harradine,
but does note that the man who “never wanted to be a senator” found
himself holding the
balance of power during some of the most significant political
decisions of recent times. The Courier-Mail
reports federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison disputed Premier Peter
Beattie’s claim that it is “very difficult” to extradite a US citizen,
claiming the state should hurry up and charge Dr Jayant Patel if they
wanted to extradite him. The West
follows the story on the possible merger of Edith Cowan, Murdoch and
Curtin universities into a “super university” that would be the largest
in the country. The NT News
reveals that the Territory now has ten female members in its 25-member
Legislative Assembly, which puts it in the top ten examples of female
parliamentary representation in the world.

And with reports of Ron Bakir claiming his damsel in distress, Schapelle Corby, owes him $500,000 for his time and expenses The Bulletin looks at whether Bakir is really the “White Knight” he claims to be. With Schapelle safely behind bars the Bully turns
to Schapelle’s mother Rosleigh who admits she’s not supposed to talk to
other media outlets while she is engaged exclusively to Channel Nine,
but goes ahead and spills the beans away. But as Nine and The Bulletin are both owned by Kerry Packer, she’s probably not going to get into too much trouble.