Political rumblings dominate at The Australian, which reports that
Labor left-wing powerbroker Martin Ferguson is urging a split in the party line
on environmental issues. Ferguson
has told his party to renounce the Greens, abandon the political correctness of
the environmental movement, and support the Howard Government’s climate
partnership. He says it’s time to recognise the role of Australian business in
providing jobs – opening a split in the party and the Left after acting Labor
leader Jenny Macklin yesterday criticised the six-nation Asia-Pacific
Partnership on Clean Development and Climate talks in Sydney.

And maritime boundary negotiations between Australia and
East Timor have been put on hold, The Oz reports,
thanks to a deal to share the Timor Sea’s petroleum riches. In the new treaty,
which was signed yesterday, an extra $11 billion in revenue is transferred to East
Timor, with up to $25 billion in cash expected to flow into the
fledging democracy thanks to the deal.

Meanwhile, Lleyton Hewitt was knocked out of the of the Sydney
International, suffering a quarter final defeat at the hands of Italy’s
Andreas Seppi. The loss marked his least convincing lead-up to the Australian
Open since a bout of chickenpox curbed his progress in 2002 – though Hewitt is
playing down the implications of the loss, saying he’s still out of shape
following a stomach virus, and he’s still hungry for success in the Grand Slam.


The Sydney Morning Herald
reports that at least 345 have
died and up to 1,000 are injured after a stampede to take place in a stoning
ritual during the annual festival of hajj at Mecca.The crush occurred as
tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims headed toward al-Jamarat, a series of
three pillars representing the devil that the faithful pelt with stones to
purge themselves of sin. The annual pilgrimage is often marked with deadly
stampedes – the site is a notorious bottleneck, and this year’s crush occurred
despite Saudi efforts to improve traffic of the 2.5 million pilgrims at the
site.

As investigations continue into the bus crash which killed six Australian in Egypt,
it seems driver fatigue, human error and a potential head-on collision with a
car may have caused the bus to crash in treacherous weather. A policeman who
arrived on the scene shortly after the accident said the bus had begun to skid
coming out of a bend on the three-lane Desert Highway
43 km from Cairo. And new to the
paper’s website this morning: four Australians injured in the crash have been
released from hospital, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. But another 22
Australians are still being treated, with four of them in intensive care.

And for the first time in three years, first-home buyers in Sydney
have a realistic chance of being able to afford a property, the paper reports. A survey by the Housing Industry Association and the Commonwealth Bank has
found that thanks to steady interest rates, rising incomes and falling house
prices, housing costs are now just over a third of an average homeowner’s
income.

“Best mates,” says the front page of The Daily Tele with a picture of 14-year-old Drew Ritchie, who died along with his father
Mark, 48, and four other Australians in Wednesday’s Egyptian bus crash. For
Julie Ritchie, the double tragedy is made worse by the fact that she lost
another son, Leigh, to a heart condition in 2002. And the other story making
the front page at the Tele is that Hollywood’s
super couple “Brangelina” – Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – are expecting a
child. The persistent fact was first reported as
fact by US
magazine, People, and yesterday Pitt’s publicist confirmed Jolie is expecting a
child, as well as filing papers to become the legal adoptive father of Jolie’s
two adopted children.


The Age

reports that the sixth victim of the Egypt
bus crash has been named as Melbourne
plastic surgeon Warwick Lorne Greville. Dr Greville, 68, ran the Ashbrooke Cosmetic Surgery in South Yarra, and had
two children. His family say the death is “a private matter.”

And a high-powered deal struck in Sydney
yesterday may push some of the world’s biggest polluters to improve their
performance, reports the paper.
Australia and the United States pledged almost $445 million over five years to cleaner energy
projects under the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate –
but analysis revealed it would fall short of avoiding dangerous climate change.

“Days of tears,” screams the Herald Sun,
with a dramatic front page dedicated to pictures of Victorian victims
of the Egypt bus crash – who include Mark and Drew Ritchie, police
officers
Sen-Constable Kristi Olsen and Sgt George Panayiotis, plastic surgeon
Dr
Warwick Lorne Greville. And the Hun has a local angle on the stampede at Mecca,
reporting that an Australian woman was among the injured. But it’s believed she
suffered only minor injuries and his been discharged from hospital, according
to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


It’s “strife in the fast lane” at The
Mercury

which reports that a major Hobart Highway is “dangerous and deadly”
thanks to the speeding habits of
thousands of Tasmanian drivers. There have been 77 crashes on the
Brooker Highway since last July, six serious smashes and a fatal one –
and
speeding drivers at to blame, police say.


The Advertiser
reports that Schapelle Corby has been cleared of any link to the Adelaide
man facing drug charges with whom she was photographed in Bali’s Kerobokan
Prison. Malcolm McCauley, the man pictured in the controversial photograph, has
broken his silence to the ‘Tiser, saying he had visited Corby twice last year
in Bali, but only as a tourist to offer support during her drugs
trial.

Nearly 70 patients have been killed or
seriously harmed in WA hospitals over the past two years because of medical
errors, reports The West Australian.
The paper got it’s hands on an alarming new Health Department report under
Freedom of Information laws and found that 43 patients died and 25 were left
seriously ill as a result of human error in public and private hospitals between
October 2003 and July 2005 – and that includes operating on the wrong patient
or body part, administering incorrect drugs and surgical instruments and
materials being left inside body cavities.

There’s hope on the horizon for aspiring home owners, says The Courier-Mail,
with lower house prices and flat interest rates making Brisbane homes
the most affordable in three years. Prices fell 2.2% across Brisbane,
with the median Brisbane house price falling to just under $343,000,
while housing affordability increased 4.4%. And the new Hollywood film Brokeback Mountain,
in which Aussie Heath Ledger plays a gay cowboy, won’t be screened in
parts of northern and central Queensland. Cinema operators say it’s
because of the film’s “limited release” status, but gay activists have
attacked the decision not to show the film in places like Townsville.

The Northern Territory News has a local angle on the Egyptian bus crash, as a Territory police officers
tells how she risked her life to save passengers from the bus wreckage.
Detective Senior Constable Carmen Butcher was one of the first to rush to help,
pulling victims from the bus and suffering a fractured pelvis when the roof
collapsed on her.

It’s big news at The Canberra Times,
with the report that up to 17,000 ACT Public Service staff were left wondering
where their pay was, when a Commonwealth Bank computer error meant their pay –
collectively worth $40 million – didn’t come through in time.

And some creative spelling from yesterday’s Hervey Bay City Independent: