The Australian

leads with Telstra chief executive Ziggy Switkowski’s comments on the
eve of his departure predicting the telecommunications giant will face
“tough times.” Health minister Tony Abbott
is still pursuing his campaign to end access to unlimited
Medicare-funded IVF treatment for infertile women in addition to
capping the number of procedures. Meanwhile, in a reflection on Australia’s big wet, The Oz
says that “the heavens are emptying like the spleen of a former Labor
leader,” but suggests this downpour is likely to be more productive
that Latham’s.

The Sydney Morning Herald
goes big with the NSW “big wet” which has seen thousands of residents and
businesses evacuated, with Lismore set to be declared a natural
disaster zone by Premier Bob Carr later today. The SMH says thousands of businesses are unprepared for the federal government’s new superannuation choice regime, which comes into effect today. And this correction in the SMH
is reassuring for all upmarket pet-conscious Sydneysiders: “An item in
the Why Don’t You section of the (Sydney) magazine should not have said
there was only one dog day-care centre in Sydney. There are several.”

The Age
is all over the workplace reform rally held in Melbourne yesterday
after tens of thousands of workers took to the streets of capital
cities in protest over the proposed overhaul of industrial
relations policy. The Age also reports that Jeff Kennett
has made a statement to withdraw the comments he made about Mark Latham
suffering from bipolar disorder after Latham contacted him to demand an
apology and retraction. And the son of an Iraqi man killed after he was
kidnapped with Douglas Wood told The Age he had written to Wood, desperate for information about his father’s last days, but had not received a response.

The Daily Telegraph
splashes with the “exclusive” pictures of Shane and Simone Warne on the
Spanish coast, reporting “it was unclear whether Warne was making one
last-gasp attempt to rescue the relationship or was simply taking time
out with the family.” Aussie actress and animal lover Toni Collette
has written an angry letter to John Howard, demanding the banning of
mulesing after being recruited by the New York-based People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in its fight against Australian
wool farmers.

The Herald Sun
also splashes with the “PAIN IN SPAIN” and the “exclusive” photos of
“Warnie and wife together as sex scandal hits Shane for six.” And “if
ever anyone needed a group hug, it was Kim Beazley,” says the Hun,
“and that’s just what he got from 100,000 burly workers yesterday,” as
he mingled with supporters while walking along Swanston Street during
yesterday’s rally in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, more trouble seems to be brewing in the UK over the photo of Saddam Hussein in his underpants. The Guardian reports that a leading media lawyer is advising the former dictator on how to sue The Sun for breaching his human rights by publishing the photos. The Sun itself has retaliated with the front-page demand: “As Saddam instructs his briefs to sue the Sun
over those pants, we say …YOU AND WHOSE ARMY? (… oops, you haven’t
got one).” Inside, the paper has a picture of Saddam washing his
trousers. The caption: if he goes ahead with the action, “WE will sue
the pants off HIM.”

And The New York Times
looks at Saddam’s burgeoning literary career. “The unpublished
novel Get Out, You Damned One will not win any literary awards,” says
the paper. And it weren’t for its infamous author, nothing would set the novel apart from numerous others
like it in Arab bookstores. Plans to
publish the book have set off a fierce debate. In Jordan, the press and
publications department banned the book, but bootleg copies then
sold out.

Peter Fray

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