The Australian

leads with the revelation that Osama bin Laden funded last year’s
bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta because of its support
for the US in Iraq. The Oz also reports that the Queensland Nationals stopped short of endorsing a $2 billion Telstra fund
put forward by Mark Vaile last week to buy regional support for the
sale of Telstra and pay for service improvement in the bush.

The Age
also leads with the proposed Telstra fund to finance future
telecommunication upgrades for regional and rural areas, reporting that
Barnaby Joyce has pledged to use his Senate balance of power to insist
on conditions for the full sale of Telstra. Meanwhile The Age reports that Rupert Murdoch
sided with his US deputy Peter Chernin, when his son Lachlan
quit, noting that Lachlan and Chernin haven’t always seen eye-to-eye.

The Sydney Morning Herald
says the police are seeking “extra powers” from the premier and have
put together a plan to evacuate Sydney’s city centre as part of their
anti-terrorism strategy. NSW’s new premier Morris Iemma
plans to keep his cabinet changes to a minimum and would resist pressure
by factional colleagues for ministerial promotions until after the 2007
election. Also front page news is the environmental impact of the
average Mosman resident
following a survey to raise awareness among some of Sydney’s most
affluent and conspicuously consuming residents about the impact of
their lifestyle choices on the environment.

The Daily Telegraph
splashes with Morris Iemma’s nickname “THE PHANTOM PREMIER,” which he
earned after clocking a record for the number of sick days, and leave
taken, by any MP during his 14 years in Parliament, raising concerns
about how the new premier will handle his demanding new job.
Meanwhile three new NSW MPs have become eligible for the “outrageous” pension-for-life scheme,
which continues to cost taxpayers $15 million a year, despite a pledge
by outgoing premier Bob Carr to scrap it more than 18 months ago and
bring NSW into line with other states. And another day, another
photo of Schapelle Corby
in her cell, accompanying a report that Corby’s lawyer Hotman Paris
Hutapea dismissed the efforts of Justice Minister Chris Ellison, who is
flying into Jakarta to offer assistance.

The Herald Sun goes big with news of a tough new law to allow
Victoria’s worst child sex offenders to be monitored for up to
15 years when they are released from jail. Meanwhile accused attempted murderer Joe Korp will face Melbourne
Magistrates’ Court today for a committal hearing, while his wife and
victim Maria lies in hospital just days from death. And a former Westpac manager has said he was bewildered by the bank’s
eagerness to pay Steve Vizard $2.8 million that he claimed was stolen
from his accounts, saying the bank bosses were influenced by Vizard’s
celebrity status and power.

The Courier-Mail
says the latest Brisbane television and print marketing ad campaign has
shunned representations of the sun in the “sunshine state” in favour of
a more sophisticated image promoting the nightlife, restaurants, arts
and shopping. And The West Australian
reports that a leading WA judge has re-ignited the debate on sentencing
by criticising lengthy jail terms as “counter-productive” and
“ruinously expensive,” saying that jail was not the complete answer to

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey