Peter Costello’s “secret tax plan” is the lead story in The Australian today, the paper reporting that documents obtained under FOI reveal Costello’s
Treasury Department had secretly costed plans for a flat tax and a top marginal
rate of just 30% in the lead-up to the May budget – this, just days after the Treasurer savaged Malcolm Turnbull’s plan
to slash the 47% marginal rate.

The paper’s front page also carries the news from Russia that more than 60 people were killed as at least 150 Chechen rebels launched
simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings in Nalchik, the capital
of Kabardino-Balkario, a republic near Chechnya. While in Zimbabwe,
news has emerged that President Robert Mugabe’s guards briefly detained the US
ambassador to Zimbabwe
after he entered a restricted security zone near the African leader’s
residence.

And Sir Donald Bradman‘s family is considering legal action against the Bradman Foundation, fearing it
could turn the cricket legend into “a brand name like Mickey Mouse”
after it approved plans by an Australian company to sell “Bradman’s
chocolate-chip cookies” in India.
The biscuits are being sold on a trial throughout India
by Melbourne-based manufacturer Unibic. If successful, the company plans to
market them to cricket lovers in Pakistan
and Britain.

The Sydney Morning Heraldleads with the findings of the NSW Ombudsman’s annual report, that children as
young as two weeks old have died and others have been left in grave risk of
abuse thanks to under-resourcing, and poor judgements by the Department of
Community Services. And as news emerges that the deadly bird flu strain that’s killed more than 60 people in Asia
has been detected in chickens in Turkey, the SMHreports that Australian researchers plan to test a vaccine for regular human flu on
2,000 toddlers in child-care centres, amid fears that children’s lower immunity could
promote the spread and mutation of the virus in any future major outbreak.

And in sport, the Heraldreports that 19-year-old jockey Kathy O’Hara will become the second woman to race in
Melbourne’s Caulfield Cup, and the race’s first female apprentice, when she
bursts out of the barriers on Wild Iris tomorrow afternoon.

A photo of the young, blonde female jockey – who comes from
Goulburn NSW – also adorns the front page of The Daily Telegraph, while the paper’s lead story, “Cross city grovel,” reports
that Sydney’s roads are set to remain as clogged as ever with further
closures unable to be ruled out, after the Cross City Tunnel operators
came up with a “gimmicky” and “limited cave-in” for angry motorists
yesterday
– scrapping its over-priced toll for three weeks from October 24.

The Age leads with the news that four years in offshore detention is about to end for
almost all remaining asylum seekers on Nauru after Immigration Minister Amanda
Vanstone decided yesterday to bring them to Australia. Vanstone will announce
today that 25 of the last 27 asylum seekers will leave the cash-strapped
island, possibly within ten days, after 13 were found to be refugees. The
decision, writes the paper’s national editor Michael Gordon, means the
centrepiece of the Government’s Pacific Solution — processing asylum seekers
offshore — will no longer hold significant numbers of asylum seekers, though
the Government intends to “re-activate” the two camps if people
smuggling resumes.

And in response to yesterday’s story that the number of late term abortions in Victoria had doubled over the last
year, David Grundmann – one of two doctors regularly conducting late terminations
in Melbourne – is far from apologetic, says the paper: “It’s not because we
want to do abortions late. We do them late because patients find themselves in
that situation.” In IR news, The Age reports that the prime minister has appointed Ian Harper to chair the Fair Pay Commission,
handing the conservative economist the power to set wages for millions of Australia’s
worst-paid workers.

Beneath a huge photo of Desperate
Housewives
star Eva Longoria – who will be gracing Melbourne’s Caulfield
Cup tomorrow as the face of Myer’s Spring Racing Carnival television campaign
(“The Herald Suncan reveal the ads show Longoria arriving at the Melbourne Cup carnival in a limousine” –
wow!) – the paper reports there is a new lead in the investigation into the deaths of Jennifer Tanner and Adele
Bailey, with a Victorian prisoner
claiming to know the identities of two people present when Tanner was murdered.

A picture of Australian model Michelle Leslie, dressed in white robes and
veil, dominates the front page at The Courier-Mail today. The paper tells of the
“harrowing story” that played out across Bali yesterday
as the Bali Nine faced court, Schapelle Corby “cried herself sick in jail” at
the mere five-year reduction to her jail term, and Michelle Leslie was moved
from a Denpasar police cell to Kerobokan jail. Locally,
WorkCover Queensland has
established a $200 million payout pool for Asbestos sufferers to meet the dramatic jump in the number of workers claiming compensation for
incurable mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Some 225 sufferers
received payouts last financial year compared with 149 the previous year.

“EVIL WAYS OF DRUG LORD” screams the front page of The Advertiser.
Reporting from Denpasar, Cindy Wockner tells that Andrew Chan was
yesterday
“painted as the supreme and meticulous organiser behind a
plot to bring more than 8kg of heroin to Australia,” in the latest
developments in the trial of the Bali Nine. Meanwhile, in the battle
over the SA Liberal leadership, current Opposition Leader Rob Kerin has given challenger Martin
Hamilton-Smith until this morning to drop his challenge – or Kerin will call a
special party meeting to vote down his bid. Regardless of the outcome, Hamilton-Smith
can wave goodbye to his Shadow Cabinet position – he’ll be moving to the
backbench and losing a handful of shadow portfolios.

The Canberra Times leads with the swinging attack on the federal government’s new anti-terrorism laws by
top judge, ACT Chief Justice Terence Higgins. In what the paper calls an “extraordinary judicial
intervention into a current political debate,” Higgins said, “The question that
we must ask is this: can we still claim to live in a democratic state if we do
not have the most basic democratic rights?”

Geoff Gallop was drawn deeper into the Kucera shares affair,
reports The West Australian,
after it was revealed yesterday that his government knew as early as August 18
about concerns over former Seniors Minister Bob Kucera’s share portfolio and a
possible conflict of interest in Cabinet.

“Axe murder,” screams The Mercury‘s front page, with the news that a Lenah
Valley man who smashed another
man’s skull with an axe on a drunken night in January, pleaded guilty to murder in Hobart’s
Supreme Court yesterday – changing his not guilty plea on
the morning his trial was due to start.

And it’s “NUCLEAR WARFARE” in the Northern Territory – where the government has vowed to fight “tooth and
nail” to stop a nuclear waste facility being built in the NT. The Northern
Territory News
reports that the Federal Government yesterday moved to build a
waste facility near Alice Springs or Katherine within five years – and they’ll do it “through
brute force,” introducing legislation to head off any challenge from
governments, indigenous owners or green groups.

Peter Fray

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