More IR in The Australian with the news that bosses will be forced to explain to workers in
plain language their rights whenever a company moves to terminate award
agreements or switch to individual contracts, under concessions agreed
to by Coalition MPs. A Senate report out today will argue the Government should offer
greater safeguards to protect workers when a workplace agreement
expires or when a new employer takes over a company.

And freed model Michelle Leslie hit back
last night at allegations that she has been faking her devotion to the
Muslim faith. Ms Leslie has said she is a Muslim, despite walking out
of the Bali
prison where she spent three months wearing jeans and a tight singlet,
abandoning the hijab she wore throughout her trial.

Meanwhile, another Australian is not so lucky. The SMH reports that the mother of convicted Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong
Van flew into Singapore late today, ten days ahead of her son’s
expected execution on 2 December. Kim Nguyen, accompanied by Nguyen’s twin brother Khoa, were
escorted through Changi Airport by staff from the Australian High
Commission after arriving at 21:30 local time on a flight from
Melbourne.

And Labor would trounce the Coalition in a federal election held
now – at least according to the latest Herald Pollwhich reveals
growing anger at the Government’s handling of its workplace changes
and the sale of Telstra. The personal approval rating of the Prime Minister, John Howard,
has slumped to a 4-year low while the Opposition Leader, Kim
Beazley, has scored a rise in support, his first since April.

But John Howard has other things to worry about – he made a risky, top secret visit to
Afghanistan to tell elite Australian soldiers fighting the Taliban
and al-Qaeda that their country is proud of them, reports The Age.
Wearing a brown leather bomber jacket and accompanied by defence
force chief Angus Houston, Mr Howard donned body armour and a
helmet to land at Camp Russell in central Afghanistan, home to up
to 190 Special Air Services (SAS) and Commandos sent to the country
in August to stem the rise of insurgent forces.

And it’s not just the federal government attracting ire for
advertising. Victoria’s state Government is spending about $9 million
on a
taxpayer-funded pre-election television advertising blitz promoting
its record in the politically sensitive areas of hospitals, police,
schools and major projects, says the paper.
The Opposition has labelled the campaigns running on Melbourne
and regional Victorian television as a shameful misuse of public
money in the lead-up to next year’s state election. In the biggest
campaign, about $6 million will be spent between now and the March
Commonwealth Games on ads boasting that the Government is “building
a world-class Victoria.”

“Exclusive: I’m not a fake Muslim,” declares theDaily Tele,
claiming that in her first interview since leaving jail, Michelle
Leslie declared last night: “I am not a fake Muslim.” The 24-year-old
catwalk beauty was defiant in the face of
outrage from sections of the Muslim community yesterday, vowing to
continue practising her chosen faith with or without a burqa.

Despite all the Australians facing drug charges overseas, it seems the
seriousness of the problem is not getting through. Three boys from a
private Melbourne school have
returned home in disgrace after becoming the latest young Australians
to risk their freedom by using drugs overseas, reports the Herald Sun.
They were caught by teachers smoking marijuana they bought from a local
man at a Fijian hotel.The 15-year-olds from St Leonard’s College in
Brighton had been “horrifyingly stupid,” their school principal said
yesterday.

Tragedy in Queensland where nine people have died in six separate road
smashes since the weekend, including a man
and two teenagers in a head-on collision, reports The Courier-Mail. Police said the trio – a 21-year-old and two 17-year-olds – were killed
instantly when their coupe and a B-double truck collided on the Warrego
Highway at Plainland, west of Brisbane, about 8.20pm (AEST) yesterday.

In the ACT, a high proportion of young adults affected by the January 2003
bushfires in Canberra have suffered lingering post-traumatic stress
disorder symptoms, a new study has found, says The Canberra Times. And SA brewery Coopers is holding out, according to The Advertiser. Multinational brewer Lion Nathan has put
another $70 million on the table in its takeover bid for Coopers
Brewery – but the head of the South Australian company believes the
family will not be swayed by the extra money.

Tasmania could head to an early election – speculation
is firming that the Lennon
Government will call an early election in late February or early March
next year, more than six months ahead of schedule. Dates looking most
likely are the last Saturday of summer, February 25, or the first two
weekends of March, says The Mercury.

In WA, state schools are not obliged to teach children about the
religious
significance of Christmas but Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich says
she would encourage all schools to teach Christmas traditions. Ms
Ravlich said all school communities should work together on ways to
celebrate Christmas, reports The West.

And the earth moved for people in Darwin after the city was rocked by an offshore earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter
scale yesterday morning. Geoscience Australia duty seismologist Cvetan Sinadinovski tells the NT News that almost
everyone indoors in the Darwin area would have felt a tremor after the
large magnitude earthquake hit at 9.51am.