Business leaders are demanding the Howard Government use its massive
budget surplus for structural tax reform instead of another round of
“half-hearted” tax cuts, reports The Australian this morning. Unveiling a 30% increase in the projected budget surplus this
financial year to $11.5 billion, Peter Costello joined John Howard
yesterday in talking up the chance of further tax cuts in next year’s
budget.

“Terror fails to keep Iraqis from polls,” reads another headline, as Iraqis streamed to the polls last night
to select their first long-term rulers of the post-Saddam era, in an
election that will set the balance of power in the war-ravaged nation
until 2010. Election observers were expecting almost 90% of Iraq’s 15 million eligible voters to cast ballots.

The paper reports that the election is by far the most meaningful of the three polls Iraqis have faced this year.

The riots still dominate the SMH‘s front pages, with the paper
reporting that a police task force, armed with new powers, has arrested
19
people in a night of unrest in Sydney in which an elderly man was
bashed with a crowbar, a molotov cocktail was thrown at police and
one officer was injured in a brawl.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has confirmed it will go ahead with plans to
prosecute accused Australian terrorist David Hicks
by military
commission for “violations of the law of war.” The US military’s
comments came after the British government quashed Hicks’s hopes of an
early release when it announced overnight
it would appeal a High Court ruling that Hicks be granted British
citizenship.

A photo of Joanne Lees dominates the Daily Teles
front page, under the headline “I’m so lonely without Pete.” “This
crime ended our dreams of travel, marriage, children – a future,” she
told Darwin Supreme Court. “I never imagined not being with him and not
sharing my life with him.” She said that since the day Bradley John
Murdoch had shot Mr Falconio: “It is lonely being me.” Ms Lees made her
emotional victim impact statement as NT Chief Justice
Brian Martin sentenced Murdoch to a minimum 28 years in jail.

Tax heads the Ages front page, with the paper reporting that another round of personal income tax cuts is at the top of the
Federal Government’s agenda for next year after confirmation that
it is on track to amass more than $40 billion in surpluses on the
back of soaring tax collections. Costello yesterday was struggling to dampen
expectations of tax cuts in the face of the booming budget figures,
warning that “neither I nor the Government has any stomach to go
back into deficit.” And in news out of the Murdoch trial, a judge yesterday urged Bradley John Murdoch to reveal where he
buried Peter Falconio’s body, but said that given Murdoch’s “current attitude,” and
that he had not shown “one hint” of remorse, he was not hopeful he
would reveal the location of the body in the vast territory
outback.

The image of football personality Sam Newman sprawled across a banana
yellow Lamborghini (wearing matching banana yellow shoes) is spread across the
front page of the Herald Sun today. “Sam at 60,” promises the paper, “Newman on plastic surgery, finding peace, and his new love.” “FORT MCG,” is the corresponding headline – with a report on the ‘huge anti-terror clamp for Games.'”

Organised criminals are sending millions of
dollars worth of stolen Queensland property to interstate and overseas
buyers, reports The Courier-Mail this morning. Law enforcement agencies had intercepted a $5.5 million shipment of stolen computers bound for Sri Lanka.

The Advertiser

runs with a photo of Listeria victim Richard Formosa under the headline
“We were told he would be fine.” The family of the man, who was killed
by food poisoning
while he was a patient at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, was told he
would
be “coming home” just days before his death. Formosa, who was being
treated for diabetes at the RAH, was
admitted to the hospital on October 11 and died on October 31, four
days after his 53rd birthday.

The Howard Government can’t hide behind the
Telstra board over a backflip on its guarantee on jobs for Tasmania,
says former independent senator Brian Harradine, according to The Mercury. Harradine, who retired in June, says he is disgusted the telco is
cutting jobs in Tasmania so soon after he left the Senate.

The man who will reap hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars in
compensation for injuries he received while lying drunk on a road
yesterday defended his payout, saying the tow-truck driver who ran over
him should have seen him, reports the West Australian. On Wednesday, the High Court ruled that Iain Alexander, 29, was
entitled to compensation for the serious injuries he received in the
accident. The decision ended a five-year legal battle.

“We’ve been SCROOGED,” roars the NT News, reporting that Darwin
City Council was yesterday branded a scrooge for skimping on Christmas
decorations. Smith St traders accused the city fathers of lacking
Christmas spirit
after only a fraction of the usual amount of decorations were put up in
the shopping mall.