“Qantas threat to export jobs,” says The Australian‘s front page, the paper reporting it has learnt the airline plans to send
3250 of its 6900 engineering and maintenance jobs overseas to meet cost-cutting
targets, unless it gets concessions from its workforce. The front page also has
a photograph of the famous Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles – the subject of an IR Commission investigation following complaints from
Qantas crew that they’ve been exposed to drug deals, threats of violence, noise
and lack of privacy since the airline started putting them up there. And a
feature by Caroline Overington looks at the debate over whether families employing nannies should be given a
tax break similar to the childcare rebate.

The Sydney Morning
Herald
leads with Hurricane Wilma and – unable to avoid the Flintstones reference –
makes the obvious statement that this most intense storm ever recorded in the
Atlantic is, unlike its cartoon namesake, neither patient nor gentle.” Tourists
have been ordered out of the low-lying Florida Keys, and
thousands of residents are preparing to flee, with weather experts expecting
Wilma to hit land on Sunday, somewhere between Key West
and Tampa.

And “No way out of tunnel torture,” says the SMH‘s front
page headline,
with the news that the NSW government would have to buy out the Cross City
Tunnel operators and pay expected profits of up to $100 million a year for the
next 30 years if it broke undertakings to funnel cars into Sydney’s much
maligned tunnel. And in bird flu news, the paper reports that Australia
will ban the import of birds from Canada
until an provided an adequate explanation about how pigeons that tested
positive for avian flu antibodies reached Australia.

The Daily Telegraph
leads with a slightly different version of Sydney’s
Cross City Tunnel story, reporting under the huge headline “black hole” that the State Government has signed
a secret deal with tunnel operators to pay them as much as $45 million if
improved public transport hit tunnel profits. Also splashed on the front page,
a picture of Joanne Lees, with the story that the 32-year-old Brit demonstrated
in Darwin’s Supreme Court yesterday
how she escaped from the alleged killer of her boyfriend Peter Falconio, in Australia’s
outback three years ago. And there’s the news that lawyers for former buddies tennis ace Lleyton Hewitt and Adelaide Crows superstar
Andrew McLeod faced off in the Federal Court yesterday over a DVD
documentary Hewitt plans to release – Lleyton Hewitt: The Other
Side
– that the Indigenous McLeod claims uses footage of Aboriginal sacred sites.

With a huge photo showing a worker disinfecting a train in
Romania, where avian flu was recently detected, The Age reports claims from an Indonesia health official Indonesia covered up a bird
flu epidemic in its poultry industry for nearly two years until the disease
began infecting people. The paper also focuses on the Falconio trial, with
Lindsay Murdoch reporting from Darwin that Joanne Lees has angrily denied wrongly identifying the accused – Bradley John
Murdoch – saying she’d recognise him anywhere. Murdoch also recounts Lees’s courtroom Houdini
act, in which she deftly slipped her bound hands from behind her back to the
front, in a calm, seconds-long reenactment of her actions three years ago, when
she hid under a bush after escaping from her attacker.

Under the huge headline “Bird Fear,” The Herald Sun‘s front page has a photo of opera legend Luciano Pavarotti, in Melbourne
as part of his farewell tour of the world. The famous tenor, who is retiring from
opera having just turned 70, has a soft spot for Melbourne, says the paper:
“Christ!” he said yesterday, “I became an international singer here… “I found my diaphragm here – the voice I was born with.”

The Advertiser leads with the news that Adelaide’s
Anglican Archbishop-elect Jeffrey Driver has moved decisively to weed out
pedophiles in the church by introducing strict new screening and professional
standards. While The Canberra Timesreports from the Miss Australia reunion, held at the ACT’s National Museum of
Australia as part of yesterday’s 60th anniversary of The Spastic Centre,
which shared in more than $90 million raised by the Miss Australia Awards, held
from 1954 to 2000.

“They’re desperate,” says the Courier-Mail‘s
front page, the paper reporting that the Beattie Government will today roll out
its painful solutions to Queensland’s
hospital crisis, including its plans for raising the rest of the $1.5 billion
he needs to inject into hospitals each year.

The West Australian
leads with a report
exposing the “true extent of the crisis in WA hospitals,” revealing that Health
Department figures show 31,000 people are waiting to see surgical specialists,
which is the first step to being placed on the official surgery waiting list.
And while many of those may not be referred to surgery, the official waiting
list could be expected to double according to shadow health minister Kim Hames.
Meanwhile, the state’s dairy farmers are considering adopting a new scheme that would give them a higher return for
milk products. The scheme, which is used in Europe,
would see local milk being branded with a gold medallion and a slightly higher
price, to guarantee that a set price will go to farmers.

It’s more about Tasmania’s
favourite Princess, Mary of Denmark and her little “Kingaroo,” at The Mercury. Alongside a picture of the beaming royal couple and their as-yet unnamed
child, is the story that local 55-year-old Annie Morley of Berriedale, “one
of the most creative knitters of the Country Women’s Association,” will be
entering a competition to dress the Danish heir. And the Northern Territory
News

leads with the latest from Darwin’s Supreme Court – but the biggest
local story concerns the Federal Government’s plans to combat
illegal fishing in northern Australian waters.

Peter Fray

Save up to 50% on a year of Crikey.

This extraordinary year is almost at an end. But we know that time waits for no one, and we won’t either. This is the time to get on board with Crikey.

For a limited time only, choose what you pay for a year of Crikey.

Save up to 50% or dig deeper so we can dig deeper.

See you in 2021.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

SAVE 50%