The Australian

leads with the row between John Howard and Australia’s radical Muslim
cleric, Sheik Mohammed Omran, who accused the PM of being
“inflammatory” after Howard singled out the Melbourne-based sheik and
his “appalling” comments on Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile on
the eve of Howard’s 66th birthday a number of Liberal MPs have declared
Peter Costello
should wait a bit longer to become prime minister because Howard’s
experience and international standing is needed to fight the war
against terrorism. And The Oz also reports that National Party senator Barnaby Joyce
has hardened his opposition to a federal takeover of his state’s
industrial relations system, throwing John Howard’s hopes for a single
national regime into serious doubt.

The Age
also goes big with the reactions from Australian Muslim leaders to John
Howard’s comments, who say they are already doing as much as they can
to help Western governments stamp out extremism. The Age also reports that an Australian intelligence officer has revealed that a vital intelligence database was shut down during the East Timor conflict,
coinciding with an rise in violence as militias regrouped, and
atrocities were being reported in refugee camps housing more than
100,000 East Timorese. And an RMIT University study has found
that developers are “squandering” land
for large housing estates in outer suburbs and calls for new laws to
cut average lot sizes by at least a third within four years.

The Sydney Morning Herald
leads with the latest in billion-dollar tax-haven crackdown, revealing
the scheme is far broader than previously thought, with possible links
to investigations into drug smuggling, bribery, abuse of public office
and other serious crimes. Meanwhile John Howard is said to be so
impressed by the UK’s CCTV capacity
that he wants Australian systems enhanced as part of tighter security
arrangements to combat terrorism. And in an interesting development in
the Vivian Alvarez Solon case, the SMH reveals
that a month after she was wrongly deported in 2001, an immigration
official mysteriously wiped her deportation debt – something usually
only the minister for finance has the power to do.

The Herald Sun
splashes with the “one million TV Spy cams” watching Australians
everyday due to the rapid growth in the surveillance industry and that
number is set to rise as the federal government praises the success of
British police capturing images of the four London suicide
bombers. And Steve Vizard’s former bookkeeper, Roy Hilliard,
will face the County Court tomorrow on theft charges that allege he stole $3
million from Vizard’s flagship company. However, Vizard himself is
unlikely to give evidence unless the Office of Public Prosecutions
subpoenas him as a witness.

The Daily Telegraph
says “random bag searches” will be conducted on Sydney trains, buses
and ferries in the aftermath of the London bombing attacks changed the premier’s position on searches. The Tele also reports that Hazel Hawke‘s
Alzheimer’s disease has progressed noticeably in the past year
according to her daughter, but she still walks to the shops, potters in
her garden and goes on outings. And for those who are wondering
whatever happened to Aussie adventurer Alby MangelsThe Tele reveals two Australian fans have set up a website in a bid to find their missing hero.

The Courier-Mail
reports that Queensland will be the hardest hit by the federal
government’s “draconian” welfare-to-work package, with an estimated
45,300 disabled pensioners and single mums likely to be worse off under
the changes. The Mercury
says the truffle industry is enjoying its best season, with record
harvests in Tasmania and new truffle discoveries interstate at
Yellingbo in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, in the NSW Central West village
of Millthorpe. The Advertiser
reports that Cornelia Rau failed to return to Adelaide from Melbourne
yesterday and that if she doesn’t return within the next few days, her
legal guardian would lodge his orders in the Victorian guardianship and
administration tribunal. And the Northern Territory News
reports that two hikers came across a suitcase containing human
remains in a cave in Kakadu National Park. Senior traditional owners
who have seen the human remains believe they belong to a “whitefella”
as they always wrap up their people in paperbark because of the
dingoes.

Peter Fray

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