The Australian

leads with John Howard’s announcement of a new class of “enterprise
workers” who are willing to put Australia’s long-term economic needs
before their own, in a speech to the Sydney Institute last
night. Meanwhile James Packer
has told the NSW Supreme Court of his rising panic and shock as he
discovered that his $375million investment in junior telco One.Tel was
becoming a “nightmare.” According to two affidavits obtained by
The Australian, Packer said: “I can recall thinking on a number of
occasions during this time that the information could not get any
worse, but then it continually did.” And John Howard has written
to Schapelle Corby,
reassuring her he was taking a personal interest in her case, but
adding that the Australian government could not compel witnesses to
give evidence.

The Sydney Morning Herald
goes big with the much debated Kurnell desalination plant as the state
opposition parties, environmentalists, academics and John Howard have
all criticised the high energy consumption and greenhouse gases
associated with a desalination plant. According to research by
ABN Amro, Australians have all but stopped using mortgage equity withdrawal – taking money out of their home loans to spend – to go shopping, as
borrowers have become more cautious. And academic Dr Marion
Maddox will warn that fading religious belief
and the sidelining of churches from public debate has left Australia
with little defence against fundamentalist politics in a paper to be
presented at the University of NSW today.

The Age
reveals the number of Australians known to have travelled to
Afghanistan to train under the Taliban is much higher than has
previously been made public according to federal Attorney-General
Philip Ruddock. A third inquest into the death of Moe toddler Jaidyn Leskie
has been opened after gangland detectives taped a telephone
conversation between Greg Domaszewicz and Steven Veniamin discussing
the toddler’s death. And a government report reveals that Aborigines
are more likely to be imprisoned today than they were five years ago as
well as falling further behind on several key social indicators.

The Herald Sun
splashes with the news that a radical Islamic convert with a long
criminal history is running a halfway house for freed prisoners and the
homeless in North Melbourne. He’s quoted as saying: “I don’t want to be part of
Australia. My sympathies lie with the people of Afghanistan.” And
former hostage Douglas Wood
will meet John Howard today to apologise for the anti-government
remarks he made at gunpoint and thank him for the multi-million dollar,
taxpayer-funded rescue mission to free him.

The Daily Telegraph splashes with a picture of Aussie diggers going
“BACK TO FINISH THE JOB” – back to Afghanistan that is, two years after
they last fought there in response to the September 11 terrorist
attacks. And Peter Costello has criticised the hypocritical
treatment of churches in politics, saying conservative churches were
seen as sinister while Left-wing clergy won nothing but praise.

The Courier-Mail
has a photo of Tom Ray on the front page, after the bodies of his
parents Kathy and Brian Ray and pilot Russell Lee were found near the Mt Hotham airport. In Adelaide The Advertiser
leads with a story on uranium enrichment after mining industry leaders
urged South Australia to considered enrichment to better exploit the
state’s prized resource. And for the second year in a row,
notorious bikie gangs the Coffin Cheaters has chosen the Top End for
its annual recreational “run.” reports the NT News, with more than 100 members of the gang expected to converge on Darwin tomorrow.

Meanwhile in the UK, The Guardian
reports that newspapers in the US have labelled London a
“feeding ground for hate” and a “crossroads for would-be terrorists”
where Muslims exploit civil liberties to “openly preach jihad.”
The newspapers describe the UK as a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism
that threatens global security and argue that the government’s
reluctance to enforce stricter surveillance and anti-terror
legislation, for fear of upsetting Muslims, has left the UK and the
rest of Europe more vulnerable to terrorism.

Peter Fray

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