The tax debate just won’t go away, with The Australian
this morning leading with the story that Peter Costello faces a demand
from the
Nationals to cut the top marginal income tax rate to 35%
instead of simply boosting family payments in the May federal budget.
The Nationals – long-time advocates of a mix of small tax cuts and
increases in family benefits – are “now shying away from Mr Costello’s
preferred option of a further increase in family benefits, arguing
there is an overriding need to make Australia’s income tax levels
internationally competitive,” reports the paper.

And a photo of an upturned, burnt out bus dominates the front page,
under the headline ‘Aussie bus carnage on the road to Cairo,’ with the
paper reporting that six Australians, including a child and at least
two police officers, are feared dead and dozens more injured after
their tour bus overturned on a desert road on the outskirts of Cairo
yesterday. The bus rolled after swerving to avoid another vehicle during a
visit to the El Alamein battlefields.

‘Teen among bus crash dead,’ reports the SMH, with a teenage boy from Victoria being named as one of the six
Australians killed in a bus crash in Egypt, as driver fatigue
emerges as a possible cause of the accident. The 14-year-old, believed to be Drew Ritchie from Bendigo, was
travelling with his father Mark Ritchie who also died in the
crash. In news closer to home, the paper reports that calculations by the
Australian Scholarships Group,
an education investment fund, show the cost of an elite school
education for a baby born this year will approach $300,000. For that
cost, the paper helpfully points out, parents could pay off a mortgage
on a two-bedroom suburban
Sydney flat. Cheery stats from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show
education fees have been
rising
at 2½ times the rate of inflation for the past 15 years.

‘Death in Cairo’ also dominates the Daily Teles
front page, “It’s a very tragic situation and my department and our
ambassador in
Cairo will continue to do everything they can to assist,” Foreign
Minister Mr Downer has told reporters. In lighter news, there’s
discontent on Bondi beach, reports the paper, with Miss Bondi entrant
Tanya Lazarou getting her “bikini in a knot” after missing out on
prize money that she says
was supposed to be offered in last month’s Miss Bondi contest.

Driver fatigue driver has emerged as a possible cause of the Cairo bus accident, described as “desert horror” in today’s Age headline. And the headline ‘Chicken coop village fights to shed ghetto despair’ chronicles the battle of the remote Aboriginal community
of Palmerston Indigenous Village, 22 kms south of Darwin, to improve
their housing conditions. Council workers wrote the report after a
series of community
meetings. It says the biggest concern for residents is the state of
the government-built houses – they’re “as bad as anything you will
find in Asia’s worst slums.”

The headline ‘TOUR TO TRAGEDY’ splashes across the Herald Sun‘s front page, with the paper reporting that Egypt
has a “horrific reputation for fatal road accidents.” About 6000 people
in a population of 77 million die each year on Egypt’s mostly poor
roads. For
every 100 million km driven, 43.2 people die in Egypt – compared with
0.9 in Australia. And it’s bad news for Kraft workers at the American-owned food giant’s Broadmeadows factory, with Kraft yesterday
sacking 151 Australian workers “in favour of cheap offshore labour,” reports the paper.

The Courier-Mail
elaborates on the grisly details of the Cairo bus crash, reporting that survivors told how the roof peeled
from the bus
as it overturned in heavy rain. And Dr Death is back in the news, with a report that former Bundaberg surgeon Jayant Patel is a step
closer to claiming $22,000 in State Government superannuation after the
Crime and Misconduct Commission ruled out a civil confiscation of the
cash.

Running under that same picture of the Egyptian bus crash, The Advertiser’s
front page tells of another case of listeria in Adelaide’s hospitals,
reporting that a woman who died on Sunday in the Queen Elizabeth
Hospital has tested positive to the bacteria. But the listeria
is not being blamed for the woman’s death, with her treating specialist
saying she died of advanced liver cancer.


‘Lennon hits back,’
reports The Mercury – the beleaguered premier yesterday responded to claims he had
misled parliament over free accommodation he received from Publishing
and Broadcasting Ltd during the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne
last November, denying he had any prior knowledge he would be upgraded to an
opulent six-star suite costing up to $4000 a night during his five-day
stay at the PBL-owned Crown Towers hotel.

The West Australian
runs with the alarming story that documents obtained by the paper under Freedom of
Information Laws reveal a frightening list of substantiated complaints
against WA child-care centres last financial year. A child ate a rat poison bait, a three-year-old choked on bread and
required resuscitation and another child was left unsupervised with a
dog in three of more than 100 child-care centre regulation breaches
“which would give every working parent nightmares,” reports the paper.

And in a local spin on the Cairo bus crash story, the NT News reports that a territory police officer was seriously injured as she went to help the victims of the horror bus crash.
Senior Constable Carmen Butcher, 29, suffered a broken pelvis and
twisted hip when the bus roof caved in on her. Sen-Constable Butcher, who has been commended twice in the past
five years for saving the lives of accident victims, was travelling in
a second bus, mostly full of Australians.