“Suspect offered terror deal,” says The Oz, with the news that police have offered fugitive terror suspect
Saleh Jamal a deal to return to Australia if he turns informant on six
men he is alleged to have recruited to jihad and pleads guilty to
planning an attack on Sydney Harbour. From the prison north of Beirut where he is serving five years on
weapons charges, Jamal told The Australian
that three officers – two
linked to the NSW Police counter-terrorism command and another from the
Australian Federal Police – visited him just two months ago to make
the offer, which involved him serving at least 10 years in a NSW
prison. Meanwhile, in a move to distance himself from the Gerard
affair, John Howard has revealed the idea to appoint
Robert Gerard to the Reserve Bank board was Peter Costello’s.

More terror in the SMH. But on our shores this time, with “Saddam’s minder in our midst.” Men suspected of terrible war crimes remain free in Australia
for years while other asylum seekers, innocent of everything except
arriving illegally, are being locked up or fast-tracked out of the
country. One of Saddam Hussein’s former personal bodyguards, Oday Adnan
Al Tekriti, has been given temporary safe haven after initially
being refused a visa when the Department of Immigration found there
were serious reasons to consider he had committed crimes against
humanity. And “Lay Down Sally ready to rise again for Olympic redemption,” says the SMH, with Sally Robbins speaking about her attempt to return to
international rowing and her desire to again compete at the Olympic
Games.

In Victoria, state schools have been warned not to force parents to pay
“voluntary” fees as fears grow that students are being
disadvantaged, reports The Age. Education Minister Lynne Kosky has written to all school
principals and school councils laying down the law on the
“voluntary contributions,” which in some cases have become de facto
school fees. The move follows complaints from parents about contributions,
which range from less than $200 to more than $800.
And following the hanging of Nguyen Tuong Van, his lawyer, Lex Lasry,
QC has arrived back in Melbourne after losing the battle to save the
life of a man who he said had become like a son to him. Despite the
emotional toll, “if the opportunity arose to
take another death penalty case,” he said, “I wouldn’t hesitate to
do it.”

“Evil at the school gate,” leads the Daily Tele,
with children being being
regularly stalked and assaulted on their way to and from school in an
alarming outbreak of “stranger danger,” according to confidential
Government reports. Predators are targeting students as young as six
around schools despite intensified security. But sometimes, it’s the youth causing the problems, with the Herald Sunreporting
how teenage terrorism suspects will be held in a new high-security jail
at Victoria’s main youth detention centre. Planning has started on the
special unit at the Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre in Parkville.

In the sunshine state, a war is looming between
the gardening and pool industries in southeast Queensland, reports The
Courier-Mail
. Nursery owners are asking why pools will be unaffected by
the next
level of water restrictions while the gardening industry could be
“brought to its knees.”
Owners of permanent pools and spas will still be allowed top-ups
with unattended hoses three days a week under level three restrictions
– but gardeners will no longer be able to use hoses or sprinklers but
must use buckets.

ACT service workers will continue a massive mop-up operation
today in the wake of the devastating storm front that tore through the
capital on Friday, says The Canberra Times. Experts warned yesterday that the total damage bill could reach tens of
million of dollars, but it will take days, if not weeks, for a more
accurate estimate to emerge. In 20 minutes of fury, starting about 4.30pm, the ferocious,
tornado-like winds, which gusted to more than 100km/h and flung whole
trees through the air, killed a man in Curtin and damaged hundreds of
homes and businesses.

“Councils seek huge pay jump,” in Adelaide’s Advertiser.
The Local Government Association has written to the State Government
asking it to consider a new formula to calculate council allowances,
based on the size of their budget and population.
If endorsed, mayors in 56 of the state’s 68 council areas would
have their salaries increased, in some cases up to 600%.

Controversy in Tassie, where Christmas decorations in Hobart’s CBD have
been slammed as dull and unfestive, retailers and shoppers say. A
survey of shoppers in Elizabeth Mall yesterday revealed most were
uninspired by the banners, gold stars and tinsel-wrapped Christmas
trees. Many had not even noticed the decorations, reports The Mercury.

In the NT News, UV alerts will be issued in the same way as
storm and bushfire warnings from today as part of the ongoing campaign
to reduce Australians’ risk of developing skin cancer. The weather bureau will issue an alert when the UV index is expected to
hit three or more – the level when sun damage can occur – as well as
the times when people should either avoid the sun or take measures to
cover up.

And Peter Costello wants to take automatic welfare payments away from
parents who neglect their children and give the money to other, more
responsible adults in the family, says The West. The Treasurer’s plan – using the extended family to ensure proper care
for children – comes just days after the Federal Government announced
it was considering a national roll-out of a controversial no-school,
no-welfare scheme for remote Aboriginal communities.