Most papers today have front-page reports on the massive
Live 8 concerts around the world. Apart from that, The Australian claims that “a resurgent National Party”
has put corporate giants Woolworths, Coles Myer and McDonald’s on notice that
it expects a better deal for Australian farmers “as part of a new wave of
protectionism that threatens Coalition unity.” This follows the
appointment of Peter McGauran as agriculture minister in a revamped Coalition
front bench yesterday, in a “limited ministerial reshuffle” that according
the paper’s chief political reporter, Steve Lewis, followed “an 11th-hour
attempt by the Queensland Nationals to secure an extra position” in the Howard
cabinet.

The Sydney Morning Herald reveals that
“more and more councils in NSW are taking up the water challenge where
the state government has failed,” with schemes to use hundreds of
millions of litres of storm water a year that include building small dams, capturing
rain water to use on golf courses, parks and sporting ovals, pumping rainwater
out of Telstra’s underground maintenance pits for recycling, and building
wetlands to purify waterways.

The SMH also reports
on a new university study that says Labor’s reliance on the ethnic vote and
inner-city professionals – not fear of interest rate rises – is the main
reason it lost last year’s federal election. “Amid damaging
recriminations within Labor over Mark Latham’s demise and the election defeat,
the analysis has cast a stark light on what really influenced voters,”
says the Herald’sAdele Horin. And on the same theme, one of the paper’s political
gurus, Mike Seccombe, says that although “the cry has gone up” for “fresh
hands to the pumps” in the Labor Party, “no-one, so far, is running
to the pumps.”

Over at the Daily
Telegraph
, page one is filled with the headline “SACK HIM NOW”
– the story of a primary school teacher caught with hundreds of child
pornography images who has not been sacked from his $70,000-a-year job because the
NSW Department of Education and Training fears he could sue them. Notably not splashed over page one of The Tele, after days of front-page stories on
the subject, is Simone Warne’s confirmation last night that she was
separating from her husband. “Due to the increased interest and
misinformation, I wish to confirm that Shane and I are separating,” said a
statement by the spin bowling star’s wife.

The Age
is still on Warne
watch, too, with the story that his “stature as one of the greatest
cricketers of all time and his friendship with Nine Network boss Kerry
Packer
are expected to ensure he has a future with the network despite
embarrassing
publicity over his extra-marital affairs, television insiders believe.”
And in financial news, the paper reports that “Australians
will see their wealth decline for the first time since the last
recession as
housing prices fall,” according to a warning from investment bank ABN
AMRO.

Elsewhere around the unlucky country, the Courier-Mail reports that several Gold
Coast homes with “million-dollar views and price tags to match” are
now worthless and in danger of collapsing after a landslip during wild storms
last week,
while the Adelaide Advertiser reveals
that 30 victims of the Black Tuesday bushfires on the Lower Eyre Peninsula are
to lodge a multimillion-dollar class action against the Country Fire Service
over its handling of the disaster that killed nine people.

The Hobart Mercury
reports that the state government is considering weekend detention for minimum-security
Tasmanian prisoners, and the NT News leads with the
story that the mother of a Territory soldier who killed himself was threatened
by a senior army officer with jail if she spoke publicly about her son’s death.

The West Australian
reports that “the prosecution of a 17-year-old youth accused of a brutal
bashing which left a single father in a coma has been thrown into doubt after a
police interview in which the youth confessed to the crime was ruled
inadmissible.”

Elsewhere in the world, The
Observer
reports on the intriguing tactics of a group called Newsbreakers,
who say they’ve “had enough of TV stations feeding viewers an
insipid diet of minor car accidents, petty crime and house fires in which
nobody gets hurt.” So in an attempt to get “real news’”back
on the agenda, the group has a team of technicians, actors and a former
journalist who hijack live reports “with an array of characters including
Cheese Ninja, an alcoholic religious correspondent called Dizzy Monk and the
Reverend Utah Snakewater, who delivers on-air exorcisms.”

Peter Fray

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