“Revamp to create fast, lethal army,” says the front page
headline of The Australian, with a
report that Australia’s army will be restructured into nine highly flexible “battle
groups” capable of being rapidly deployed to wage war or perform peacekeeping
duties under a $1.8 billion plan to be put to cabinet’s national security
committee tomorrow. The radical overhaul, the biggest
transformation of the army’s organisation since World War II, would see land
forces boosted by an extra 2,500 combat troops – almost 10% – by 2012.

On IR, outspoken Queensland Nationals
senator Barnaby Joyce has given his strongest indication that he would not
block the government’s changes, telling The
Australian
he would not push for penalty rates if the Government guaranteed workers could
not be sacked for refusing to work on “iconic” public holidays like Christmas
Day.

And in a last minute scramble to save convicted drug
trafficker Van Tuong Nguyen, the Australian government was last night seriously
considering whether an appeal could be launched under Singaporean law, says the
paper
.
It’s believed the government is exploring advice, which it would pass on to
Van’s legal team to mount a challenge relating to clemency pleas.

Front page at The Sydney Morning Herald is the story that a length of nondescript
copper wiring, found 20 metres beneath the waves and sand near Lion Island in
Broken Bay may have finally solved the mystery of what happened the Japanese
midget submarine that went missing after it attacked Sydney Harbour 63 years
ago. At least, that’s the story according to Damien Lay, the documentary
filmmaker who’s been investigating the mystery for the past four years, and who
presented his findings on the Foxtel network last night. And it’s a girl! Australia’s
golden couple Bec and Lleyton Hewitt welcomed the birth of their first
child last night. The as-yet-unnamed baby girl arrived at Sydney’s
North Shore Private
Hospital at 1:45am, and mother and daughter are said to be well.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s
hangman says there’s still a chance his Government may grant an 11th-hour
reprieve
to Australian Nguyen Tuong Van, who is due to be hanged this Friday.
As Attorney General Philip Ruddock seeks last minute legal advice to save
Nguyen, Singapore’s chief executioner Darshan Singh told Channel Nine that
Nguyen may still receive a life sentence – while if he is hanged, he wouldn’t
be subjected to prolonged suffering.

Spiralling profits at Australia’s
biggest oil refiner have at last revealed the true extent of the petrol gouge, reports
the lead story in The Daily Telegraph.
Caltex yesterday unveiled a staggering $70 million jump in post-tax profit to
$420 million, built on a 50% leap in refiner margins. Figures show motorists
are still being gouged months after world oil prices retreated from highs above
$US71 to $US56 this week. And Michelle Leslie made two new friends yesterday,
says the paper – an American Staffodshire terrier puppy called Vegas and a celebrity agent
called Max Markson.

The Age leads with an AFL
exclusive from Caroline Wilson: AFL
footballers are considering challenging the competition’s radical new rules
relating to sexual assault, claiming they could erode their fundamental rights.
AFL Players Association chief executive
Brendon Gale confirmed that players will take their concerns about the “Conduct
Unbecoming” rule – which would allow the AFL
to impose a range of punishments to players accused of sexual assault before
their cases have been heard in court – before deciding on a court challenge.

And Coalition senators have delivered a “major rebuff” to the Howard Government, attacking key elements of its new anti-terrorism
legislation. The Coalition-led Senate committee has a new sunset clause, making
the laws expire after five years instead of ten, and wants the contentious
sedition provisions removed completely until they have been publicly examined
by the Australian Law Reform Commission.

A mother of five riding for charity was killed on the Great
Victorian Bike Ride when a strong gust of wind blew her into the path of an
oncoming 4WD, reports the Herald Sun – the first death in the charity ride’s 21 years. Dozens of
cyclists riding with Deborah Gray, 53, watched in horror as strong wind forced
her over the white line on the Murray Valley Highway
near Echuca yesterday.

With a photo from the Australia
v West Indies Test at the Adelaide Oval – where lamentable umpiring together with Shane Warne’s artistry (6/80) conspired to
form a perfect storm that devastated the tourists – The Advertiser leads with the news that South Australia’s Chief Justice
John Doyle has been forced to take urgent action to address record delays in
the state’s justice system, with victims of crime now waiting an average of 13
months for their cases to be heard in either the Supreme or District Court.

The RSL is deeply offended at a proposal for one-minute’s
silence to be observed on Friday when Van Tuong Nguyen is due to be executed in
Singapore for drug smuggling, reportsThe Canberra Times. National RSL
president Bill Crews said yesterday the significance of a minute’s silence was
reserved for commemorative services honouring those who gave their life while
serving their country, or the victims of natural disasters. But
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said he would observe a moment of personal
reflection at the time of the execution. Meanwhile, Prime
Minister John Howard has rejected calls for him to not attend the PM’s XI
cricket match at Manuka Oval, saying it was his duty to be there.

The Courier-Mail
also leads with the news that John Howard’s rush to pass a suite of new laws
before Christmas “is in turmoil,” with Government backbenchers demanding changes
to three key pieces of legislation. And closer to home, Independent Member for
Gympie Elisa Roberts is embroiled in controversy
after she threatened to kill a neighbour’s dog, claiming it killed her
own dog, Popsicle. Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg has called for
an investigation
into the matter, saying it appeard Roberts was willing to misuse
taxpayer-funded resources over the matter.

The West Australian
reports that WA’s four-year building boom is showing signs of running out of
steam, with new home sales falling in October for the second month in a row.
Housing Industry Association of WA executive director John Dastlik warned the
market might have peaked – though the slowdown will probably be moderate, and
bring WA in line with other states.

And on the Peter Falconio murder trial, Joanne Lees was
called back to the witness stand yesterday in Darwin’s
Supreme Court to provide more details about the day her boyfriend Peter
Falconio disappeared, reports the Northern Territory News. The prosecution has also indicated it may close its case
today, leaving open the possibility the defence will call Bradley John Murdoch
as its first witness.

And The Mercury splashes with “sex
predator’s reign of terror.” Paul Ronald Goldsmith, 60, of Hobart,
yesterday pleaded guilty to a string of child-sex offences between1976 and 1987.
Goldsmith, who trained as a priest but was never ordained, faced charges of
molesting 20 boys, at his various homes, on camping trips, and while coaching
athletics at a Burnie high school.