Today, The Australian reports that during pre-election
negotiations with Tasmanian timber workers, John Howard agreed to commit $4
million
over four years to the Forest and Forest Products
Employment Skills Company (FAFPESC) – a union-controlled company. The deal,
which was a clincher for Howard’s support in Tasmania, was negotiated between
the Prime Minister’s office and Michael O’Connor, leader of the Construction,
Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), with millions earmarked for skills
and training.

In other news, there’s “The IVF doctor, the affair and
the lawsuit” – Michael McKenna reports that Glenn Sterling, a leading IVF specialist at
Brisbane’s City Fertility Centre,
allegedly had an affair with one of his patients shortly before she discovered
she was pregnant. Sterling is now
facing a $250,000 damages claim from Wendy Pavey’s former husband, who happens
to be award-winning graphic designer Paul Sinclair. And in the latest on the Bali bombings, Indonesian police have named the first of the suicide bombers as
Gareng, believed to be responsible for the suicide attack on Nyoman Café on
Jimbaran
Bay.

The Cross City Tunnel is the big news at The
Sydney Morning Herald
, and after weeks of public criticism about excessive charges, CrossCity
Motorway’s chief executive Peter Sansom yesterday ordered a review of
operations – focusing on administrative fees, marketing and pricing. Meanwhile, in breaking news, the SMH‘s website leads with the
news
of boosted security on New
York’s subway system, after a “specific threat” of a
terrorist attack in the coming days. And there’s been a landmark High Court
ruling for computer game enthusiasts. Playstation owners are now legally allowed
to install “mod-chips,” enabling them to run cheap games bought overseas or
online.

The Age goes big on the Alvarez Solon verdict, with the unlawful
removal of Ms Solon by the Immigration Department branded as
“shameful,” “catastrophic” and “almost unthinkable” by a damning
independent report into the case. With immigration officers facing the
sack after former police commissioner Neil Comrie handed down his
report, a
“defiant” Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has absolved
herself of responsibility, says the paper. And Barry Humphries, guest of honour at the 20th anniversary Committee for Melbourne dinner, last night revealed a deep affection for his home town – and why he doesn’t leave home without his Melways street directory.

Bali II is off the front cover of the Daily Tele, which runs with “THE KILLING MACHINE“: how the death of a three-year-old boy – killed by this modified 4WD on an
ordinary suburban street – has prompted calls from road safety experts
for an immediate ban on the vehicles. Also in the Tele,
a parliamentary travel scheme banned in at least one state is
flourishing in NSW, despite promises it would be reined in. In
Melbourne, 159 days to go to the Commonwealth Games and the Herald Sun
details the security that will be in place
to protect athletes, including a private army of 5,000 security guards
– that’s in addition to the 13,000 police and 1,200 soldiers who’ll be
forming a security shield over the event.

The
Courier-Mail leads with the
latest
on Queensland’s so-called
Dr Death. Health inquiry commissioner Geoff Davies, QC, has indicated that he
will recommend serious criminal charges against rogue former surgeon Jayant
Patel – giving police the green light to charge Patel over 13 deaths at
Bundaberg
Hospital. And in another looming
health crisis, Queensland Health is developing a state bird flu contingency plan. In Canberra, there are concerns that the decision to drastically cut staff at
the planned Bungendore Defence headquarters is the first step towards
scrapping the project, reports The Canberra Times.

According to its own poll, The Advertiser reports
that incumbent premier Mike Rann is coasting toward another
landslide victory at the March state election, while Rob Kerin’s
Liberals are heading for an electoral wipeout. Labor is now ten points
clear of the Libs on a two-party preferred basis – 55% to
45%. Tasmanian police have voiced their concerns about a law to ban
brothels, saying it would be very difficult to enforce and place
demands on an already stretched workforce, says The Mercury.
Meanwhile, the Northern Territory is considering much tougher penalties
for traffic offences, including bigger fines for not wearing seatbelts,
reports the NT News.

Peter Fray

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