Treasury has secretly told Peter Costello the workplace
relations reforms will deliver smaller wage rises for low-income earners and
cut productivity in the short term as employers hire greater numbers of less
efficient workers, reports The Australian. The paper got its hands on the confidential documents under under Freedom of
Information laws – and the verdict is the effect on employment growth will be
“not huge” and the impact on productivity growth will be
“slow” and is “difficult to quantify.”

Meanwhile, five white supremacists – dressed in camouflage
gear and carrying the equipment to make Molotov cocktails – were arrested in
the Sydney suburb of
Brighton-le-Sands yesterday, along with two men travelling to Bondi
Beach with petrol bombs, and five
men of Middle Eastern appearance carrying offensive weapons. But overall, Sydney’s
western suburbs remained quiet, after a call for a full day’s curfew by
Lebanese community leaders.

In Hong Kong, the meeting of the World Trade
Organisation achieved only one thing, says Alan Oxley
: “a further dumbing down of the world body’s free-market mission.” And it’s
probably only going to get worse – so we should start to fear for the future of
the WTO, he says.

“City faces Christmas lockdown,” says The Sydney Morning Herald‘s
front page, with a report that Sydney
faces a summer lockdown
as beaches, the city centre and suburbs are flooded with police armed with new
powers in their fight against continuing
threats of racial violence. Over the weekend, alleged white supremacists and
isolated groups and individuals of various ethnic backgrounds were arrested as
police seized weapons, cars, phones and bomb-making materials.

The paper also looks
at the mysterious death of an Australian man in India
nine months ago. Parmanand Mishra, a 46-year-old father of three, was found dead on 1 March in
room 107 of the Amar Hotel in New Delhi’s Paharganj district. The dead man’s
wife, Anthia Mishra, refuses to accept the word of the Indian authorities, who
claim he died from “acute cerebral and pulmonary oedema,” a swelling
of the brain and fluid on the lungs – after she found bloodstains on her
husband’s pillow and a ripped jacket stuffed in his bag.


The Age

reveals that one of seven men arrested with petrol bombs at Sydney
over the weekend had travelled from Melbourne
to become involved in the racial violence. By last night there had been about
60 arrests at the weekend and almost 200 charges. Police had also seized 22
mobile phones, 13 cars and weapons including swords, knives, iron bars,
baseball bats and axes.

The paper also covers the WTO talks,
saying that ministers from 149 states saved the long-running global trade talks
from collapse with an interim deal to end farm export subsidies by 2013 and
open rich-country markets a bit wider to the world’s poorest nations. The Hong
Kong pact was described as “disappointing” – not enough to make
the meeting a success, but enough to save it from failure.

And in breaking news on the paper’s website this morning, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a minor stroke today
and was rushed to hospital, where doctors said he was in stable condition.

Front page at the Herald Sun
is the news that a senior member of a Hell’s Angels bikie gang has won a
six-figure payout from Victoria Police after they seized property on suspicion
of it being stolen. Peter Hewat, a Hell’s Angels Victoria sergeant-at-arms,
claimed damages and costs for the seizure, saying it had been unlawfully held.
Victoria Police settled out of court, meaning taxpayers will foot the compensation bill.

A powerful new management authority is set to take over
responsibility for water policy and planning in Queensland’s drought-hit
southeast, reports The Courier-Mail. The plans are part of the Government’s South-east Queensland Water Supply
Strategy, due to be finalised next year, and committed to ensuring a more
reliable water supply for a region expected to absorb a million new residents
over the next 15 years. Meanwhile, there’s a wee bit of chest beating
as senior police declared it a “proud day for Australia”
after feared race riots failed to eventuate on the Gold Coast yesterday.

“NUCLEAR DUMP FOR THE NORTH” screams the front page of The
Advertiser
, with the news that South Australia’s
nuclear waste will be stored at the Far North uranium mine, Olympic Dam. The
move to store low-level and intermediate radioactive waste comes under a plan
agreed to by the State Government and the Environment Protection Authority on
the recommendation of a 12 month study. The state government will now will
begin talks with mine owner BHP Billiton to
convince them to store the waste.

At The West Australian, the Australian Medical Association warns that women should consider having
children younger to avoid the high emotional and financial cost of conceiving
via IVF as they age. WA Federal AMA councillor Rosanna Capolingua says limiting
access to the treatment should be debated in light of a report for release
today by the University of New
South Wales, which shows IVF is three to four
times more expensive for women over 40.

Members of different faiths gathered in Canberra
over the weekend, in a display of “heart-warming unity” in the face of the Sydney
riots, reports The Canberra Times
. But a sign leading into the capital was sprayed with an anti-Muslim message,
while at least three cars were vandalized in Beechwood Estate in Florey on
Saturday night.

In Tasmania, a
bus strike looms, says The Mercury
as metro bus drivers are threatening strike action early in the new year
because of concerns about pay and dangerous working conditions. Bus workers
have called for prompt action after a female driver was terrorized on a Metro
school bus as it was vandalized on Friday afternoon.

And four people were arrested for drink driving in the
Northern Territory at the weekend, reports the Northern Territory News, with one man losing control of his car and ending up in the the trees outside
a Territory police station in the early hours of Sunday morning. The man gave a
blood alcohol reading of .122 – while another man, arrested for driving
erratically, blew .211, and a 19-year-old man caught “doing burn outs”
registered .125.

Peter Fray

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