The Australian
leads with the story that taxpayers will underwrite the $150 million cost of delivering essential
drugs to the bush, and new pharmacies will be free to operate in big
shopping centres and 24-hour medical centres, under a landmark
agreement with the nation’s 5,000 chemists. Alongside runs a picture of an Indonesian fisherman picking through his haul of shark fins.
Another two Indonesian boats were picked up by the HMAS Bunbury patrol
boat close to the Arnhem Land coastline in the Northern Territory on
Friday and Saturday – part of a two week operation that has seized 31
boats and led to 59 arrests. And Nobel Prize-winning author JM Coetzee has launched a thinly veiled attack on Australia’s proposed anti-terrorism
likening the Howard Government’s controversial reforms to human
rights abuses under apartheid in his native South Africa.

Sydney Morning Herald
leads with the Boeing 737 that crashed in
south-western Nigeria, killing all 117 people on board. The Bellview Airlines flight lost contact with the control tower
minutes after taking off from Lagos in a storm en route to the
capital Abuja on Saturday night, and rescuers found the smouldering
wreckage 30km from Lagos. In Hurricane Wilma news, six Australians,
including four National Rugby League players, who took shelter from
Wilma in an
underground car park at a Mexican resort have been moved to a
hotel. The hurricane was slowly moving away from the Yucatan
peninsula as furious winds and rain continued to punish Mexico’s
Caribbean coastline
, where at least six people were killed. Mexico’s famed Caribbean resorts were knee-deep in water
yesterday after Wilma roared past, uprooting trees and smashing
homes as the storm set a new course for Florida. And in Sydney news, a 22-year-old man has been charged with murder after a teenager
was stabbed during a street fight in Sydney’s south-west.

PARKING FINES SCANDAL, screams The Daily Telegraph, leading with the report that motorists are “under siege
on every main street as councils “go berserk
with parking fines,” issuing 60% more infringements over the
past two years. Meanwhile, according to the Tele, doctors are also
“under siege,” but this time it’s from patients who want to stockpile
the anti-viral medicine Tamiflu as panic about a possible bird flu pandemic sweeps the nation. Tamiflu’s manufacturer Roche Products has confirmed the $50-a-pack drug
is temporarily out of stock in Australia and new supplies won’t be
available until next month.

The Age
leads with a photo of the teary mother of a Melbourne man about to hang in Singapore. Kim Nguyen has
begged the Australian Government not to give up the fight to save
his life and said her heart would stop if Tuong Van Nguyen, 25,
was executed on a heroin importation charge. Meanwhile, businesses have been told to prepare contingency plans for the
potential impact of an outbreak of bird flu that could incapacitate
a third of their workforce. The paper also features a photo of singer-songwriter Missy Higgins, who became “Queen of the
ARIAs,” last night, taking home five awards, including best female artist,
highest-selling album and album of the year.

“Diva fever: a chance for her third Cup,” trumpets the Herald-Sun,
reporting that still delirious from the mare’s Cox Plate victory,
Makybe Diva’s owner wants the champion mare to run in the Melbourne
Cup. And in more bird flu news, Victorian health officials and police
sweeping powers to confine people in their homes and fine them $20,000
for breaching orders if a deadly flu pandemic strikes here.

, reporting that seventy-five of the state’s top scientists have
issued an alarming warning that unless attitudes change towards
Adelaide’s environment, it will become an “urban wasteland” devoid of
much of the plant and animal life existing today. While The
Canberra Times
reports that
Canberra is Australia’s most expensive city for rental housing,
further raising concerns the
sky-high cost of living is deterring people from moving to the capital.

Queenslanders who use large amounts of
electricity will have to pay higher prices for the privilege under a
new tariff regime to be announced in tomorrow’s mini-Budget, reports The Courier-Mail. The change is expected to hit businesses and homeowners who run large,
power-hungry appliances such as air conditioners and water heaters

West Australian

reports that the peak body representing Australia’s vegetable growers
has launched
an extraordinary attack on homebrand products sold by big supermarkets,
saying they are a cancer eating at the sustainability of WA farmers.
AUSVEG WA representative Jim Turley said the push towards more
homebrand lines was motivated solely by profit and no loyalty was shown
towards local producers.

The Mercury leads with ‘Spirit III’s dire straits,’ reporting that the struggling Spirit of Tasmania III
ferry service to Sydney will never be profitable unless it is 90% full on all voyages, with each passenger paying more than $385
one-way. More likely, according to top-secret Treasury estimates, retaining the regular Spirit III
service to Sydney will cost $420 million over the next six years, with
probably only $275 million to be recouped in fares. And the Northern Territory News
reports that their jail numbers out of control: the Territory has a
higher prison rate than international crime hot spots Kazakhstan,
Belarus and South Africa.

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Peter Fray
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