“War declared on mob riots,” says the front page of The Australian, reporting that NSW Premier Morris Iemma announced a series of new police powers,
including increasing the penalty for rioting from five years to 15, as the
number of officers on the streets was trebled. The changes come after more than
48 hours of lawlessness and admissions from both the police and Muslim leaders
that they have been unable to control the angry mobs of young men.

The Oz‘s front
page also carries a message for the rioters from Catholic Archbishop George
Pell
:
don’t target Christmas celebrations. Pell’s entreaty goes out to all “gangs of
Middle Eastern descent,” after families were abused and gunshots fired into
cars at a primary school’s carols night in the west-Sydney multicultural suburb
of Auburn on Monday.

Away from the race riots, the first national abortion
figures
also top news at the paper – showing that more than 84,000 pregnancies are
terminated each year, or one in four pregnancies. The 2003 figure also shows
the rate of abortion is less than the controversial figure of 100,000 used by
anti-abortion Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott.
And on the back of news that Bradley John Murdoch has been
found guilty of the murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio, the paper’s
Sue Williams delves into the story behind the convicted killer, beginning with the line:
“Murdoch was a mistake from the moment of conception.”

There’s a picture of a shocked Bradley John Murdoch at The
Sydney Morning Herald
, with the news that he’s been found guilty of murdering British backpacker Peter
Falconio, as well as assaulting his girlfriend Joanne Lees and depriving her of
her liberty. After eight hours of deliberations, a Supreme Court jury in Darwin
unanimously found 47-year-old Murdoch guilty, and Chief Justice Brian Martin
sentenced him to life imprisonment, with a minimum of 20 years before parole.
Falconio’s girlfriend, who says she’s “delighted” with the verdict, has pleaded with
Murdoch to reveal the location of Falconio’s body – but that’s unlikely, with
Murdoch’s legal team planning an appeal.

“Fortress Cronulla: no way through” – an extra 450 police
took to the streets of south and west Sydney last night, anticipating a third
night of
racial tension. The plan was to
impose a “virtual blockade” on Sutherland Shire, erecting checkpoints on every
main access road to prevent the scenes from Cronulla on Sunday. And State
parliament will be recalled tomorrow to give police emergency powers to lock
down parts of Sydney, ban the sale
of alcohol, conduct random searches and confiscate vehicles. But despite the
measures, a motorist was bashed with a baseball bat and five people were
arrested for carrying weapons last night. And it’s not yet known if a fire that destroyed a
Uniting Church
at Auburn
in Sydney’s
inner west was linked to the recent spate of racial violence.

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph’s running a petition against the actions of the rioters, urging readers to
pledge: “Today, on behalf of the law-abiding citizens of NSW, we say the beach
belongs to everyone. Our suburbs must be safe. Stop the violence.” And during
the lockdown
of Sutherland Shire, drivers had to show licences to give a reason for
entering
– and Japanese businessman Shunji Miyahara was one of those singled out
after
revealing he wasn’t a Cronulla resident. But despite the potential new
powers police will have to target hoodlums, the paper reports that the
state’s failed bail laws
means that “every
single lout – from both sides – arrested in this week’s riots will be back on
the street almost immediately.”

As well as pondering why it’s not, yet, happening in Melbourne, The
Age
‘s coverage of Sydney’s race riots leads with a report that Prime
Minister John Howard
has come under attack over his response to the Sydney riots, with claims he is
burying his head in the sand by denying the potential for harm to Australia’s
international reputation and refusing to blame racism for the explosion of
violence between white and Lebanese Australians.

And binge drinking is on the rise among young Victorians,
says the paper,
with one in six having more than 20 alcoholic drinks a day at least once a
month. “Alarming,” says Rob Moodie, chairman of the Premier’s Drug Prevention
Council. Indeed.

Bradley John Murdoch’s frowning countenance dominates the
front page of the Herald Sun, beneath
a huge headline: GUILTY. In other news, hundreds of police crime scene
photographs
have been found in a suburban Melbourne
dumpster in the latest serious breach of privacy to hit Victoria Police and the
Bracks Government. The gruesome images,
“seen by the Herald Sun,” include
close-ups of Irish tourist Nicholas NcNulty, 28, who was stabbed with a hunting
knife in 1997
and the murder of young Melbourne mother Corie Ralston, 20, who was stabbed 30
times and had a rock dropped on her head in 1997.

“GUILTY,” screams the front page of The Advertiser,
with the news that Murdoch faces a life sentence, four-and-a-half years
after Falconio went
missing. The paper
reports that Murdoch showed no emotion as the verdicts were read, while
Ms Lees put her head in her hands and was supported by Mr
Falconio’s brother, Paul and his parents, Joan and Luciano. And there’s
more on
David Hicks at the Tiser
, after the news that the South Australian terror suspect could be
released
from Guantanamo Bay within weeks
after a British court last night upheld his right to British
citizenship – meaning there’s little to stop his eventual return to
Australia.

It’s more on the Murdoch guilty verdict at the Northern
Territory News
,
which reports that the sentence comes at the end of the longest murder trial in
the Territory’s history. And the guilty verdict is the first without a body
since Azaria Chamberlain disappeared 25 years ago. After the trial, Joanne Lees
thanked Territory policewoman Libby Andrew for her help through the ordeal and
also singled out the truck drivers who saved her on the night her boyfriend was
murdered.

The West Australian
also leads with Murdoch’s guilty verdict, but in local news, mini-buses could
be coming to town – to ferry people from train stations to their houses in a bid to reduce
“horrendous taxi queues” during the festive season. The Taxi Council of WA has
admitted it’s struggling with demand, and Infrastructure Minister Alannah
MacTiernan says she’s looking at several options to deal with the “taxi
shambles.”

“Falconio’s murderer gets life behind bars,” says the Courier-Mail, but someone who would’ve
been happy with that sentence shares the paper’s front page with Murdoch, with
a report from Los Angeles that Stanley “Tookie” Williams,
the 51-year-old ex-leader of the LA Crips gang who killed four people in 1979,
was executed last night, after California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
rejected final appeals to spare his life. Williams has always maintained his
innocence and claimed he had been reformed from his gang life but
Schwarzenegger said the 51-year-old’s lack of remorse was one of the reasons he
decided against clemency.

And the ACT’s anti-terror laws will expire after five years,
as opposed to ten as with the Commonwealth’s and those of every other Australian
jurisdiction, reports The Canberra Times. Attorney-General Jon Stanhope will present a draft of the ACT’s arm of the
anti-terror laws tomorrow, agreed to at a meeting in September of Prime
Minister John Howard and state and territory leaders.