The Australian

is still hot on the trail of Reserve Bank director Robert Gerard,
reporting that he struck an
insurance deal in a Caribbean tax haven that lacked any legal or
financial credibility, according to a “damning report” by an eminent
reinsurance
expert prepared for the Australian Tax Office. The findings put further
pressure on Peter Costello, who yesterday resisted calls for Gerard
to step down
from the nation’s peak economic body, saying tax disputes between
companies and the tax commissioner were common.

And in overnight news, John Howard has cleared the way to have his
far-reaching workplace legislation passed by both houses of parliament
and declared law after settling on minor amendments with his Coalition
back bench last night. A special Coalition partyroom meeting agreed to amendments to stop
employers abusing the 38-hour week and giving employees the right to
refuse to work on public holidays. The legislation, which will overhaul Australia’s
century-old industrial relations system, is expected to be introduced
into the Senate in amended form today.

It was a busy night in Parliament last night, the SMH reporting that after a meeting with coalition backbenchers,
Prime Minister John Howard said the sedition provisions would
remain, although there would be some technical changes to them. Civil libertarians, media organisations and a bi-partisan Senate
committee have called for the sedition section of the anti-terror
bill to be removed. Under the measure, anyone convicted of urging a group to use
force or violence against another group could be jailed for up to
seven years.

And the media momentum is building in the lead up to Van Tuong Nguyen’s execution,
now certain to take place tomorrow morning at approximately 9am our
time. Singapore’s
High Commissioner to Australia Joseph Koh has said Singapore
understands Australians are driven by a deep sense of
compassion for the man facing execution in Changi jail, reports the
paper. But Singapore has a responsibility to protect the many lives
which would otherwise be destroyed by drug syndicates, he said.

“House prices world highest” is the headline splashed across the front of The Age this morning, with the OECD reporting that Australia has by far the most overvalued houses in the Western world,
with prices 52% higher than justified by rental values.

And Kim Nguyen, the mother of Van, will find out today whether she will be allowed to hug her son
one last time before he dies. A decision on whether prison authorities will allow an
exceptional contact visit for Kim Nguyen is understood to be being made at a very senior
level at Singapore’s Home Affairs Department. The visit will be the last time Kim Nguyen and Nguyen’s brother
Khoa see him alive. And a photo of children dancing in a village in Malawi dominates the paper’s front page, with a report on the country marking the eve of World AIDS Day.

The Herald Sun
leads with the Nguyen story, reporting that his fate was sealed
yesterday
when Singapore’s hardline leader ruled out a last-minute reprieve from
the gallows. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the young Melbourne
drug trafficker would hang at dawn tomorrow. “We think that drug
trafficking is a crime that deserves the death penalty,” Mr Lee said.

“Farewell my son,” leads the
Daily Tele
, with a report that Kim Nguyen says she is
“drawing strength” from her son as she steels herself to say her
final goodbye. Nguyen’s best friend Kelly Ng said the final week had taken a huge toll
on Mrs Nguyen, who she said was suffering physically as well as
emotionally.
The
Courier-Mail
focuses on Queensland’s health system, reporting that it’s been exposed as
Australia’s worst because of a long-running culture of government
secrecy and an “obsession with saving money.” In a final report, Health Commission head Geoffrey Davies has
recommended criminal charges against Dr Jayant Patel, the rogue surgeon
whose botched operations at Bundaberg Hospital sparked the inquiry.

The Canberra Times
reports that, two men who visited Nguyen yesterday, his lawyer Lex Lasry QC and
independent documentary maker Kim Beamish, say the 25-year-old is
accepting his grim fate with remarkable self-possession. Mr Lasry said his client was “resolute, calm, composed”, even able to
laugh and be “optimistic” during their more than one hour together.

“High Hopes,” reads the front page of The Advertiser,
reporting that Adelaide Airport operators hope the polluted
fuel system of the new terminal could be given the all-clear as early
as tomorrow. Problems with the fuel system have caused
embarrassing delays for the terminal’s operator and last week the
federal and state governments urged the public to be patient, in the
interests of air safety. The opening of the terminal to domestic
flights so far has been delayed for 43 days.

And The Mercury bypasses Nguyen and the new sedition laws for the headline “Sex Shame of Mary’s Cousin.” The
paper reports that a Tasmanian cousin by marriage of Princess Mary was
behind bars last night after being found guilty of three sex charges. Brendan Johncock,
a former teacher at Launceston’s St Patrick’s College, is married
to Jacqueline, one of three Donaldson cousins of Princess Mary who
live in Tasmania. They were guests at the Copenhagen wedding of
Mary Donaldson to Prince Frederik in May 2004 despite the sex charges
having been laid in December 2003.

The
West

continues to run with the no-school, no-welfare scheme story, reporting
that the federal government will announce it is considering a national
roll-out of the controversial scheme for remote
Aboriginal communities when it reveals today that it will reinstate the
highly successful program in Halls Creek. “Teen killed in work accident,” reports the NT
News
. Eighteen-year-old refrigeration apprentice
Stuart Goodwin was killed after receiving an electric shock trying to
jump start a vehicle.