“Long Bay diet – less porridge, more freedom,” jokes The Sydney Morning Herald‘s
front page this morning, as news of Tuesday’s prison break by convicted
armed robber Robert Cole spreads across the country. Cole, who is mentally
ill and considered dangerous, escaped from Sydney’s Long Bay Prison
after starving himself down to only 56 kg and slipping between a tiny
gap he had chiselled next to the bars in his cell on Tuesday night.
There were no security guards watching the perimeter at the time, and
Cole easily slipped over the security walls and on to freedom. He is
still on the run.

And AWB managing director, Andrew Lindberg,
continued to face scrutiny yesterday as he was grilled about how the
company planned to continue to pay bribes to some “influential people”
in Iraq just months after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime with the
help of BHP’s joint venture partner, Tigris Petroleum. Having already
been directly implicated in the scandal, Australian officials from the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are supposedly fully
co-operating with authorities, and will make any relevant documents
available to the inquiry.


And “driving to work can make you fat” says the Herald,
as it reports on a new NSW study that found people who drive to work
each day were 13% more likely to be overweight or obese than those who
cycled, used public transport or walked – no matter what income bracket
they fell into. This was the first study in the world that has specifically
examined the relationship between modes of commuting and body weight,
although a link has been suspected for quite some time.

How to tackle the ballooning cost of healthcare in the country? Well, The Australian
says that a report commissioned by the Howard Government has slated
the option of opening up Medicare to nurses, physiotherapists and
speech pathologists without forcing patients to go to their GP first.
The Productivity Commission Report has been rejected by the doctors’
lobby, which called the proposal unacceptable.

And in the United States, President George W Bush
has been shot down, after the Supreme Court ruled that the
administration had gone too far when it stopped doctors from helping
terminally ill people die comfortably in the state of Oregon, which
allows physician-assisted suicide.

The Age leads with a report on the 43
asylum seekers
from the troubled Indonesian province of West
Papua who landed by boat at Cape York yesterday – threatening the Howard
Government with a potential new flashpoint in relations with Jakarta. It’s only
the third boat of asylum seekers to reach the Australian mainland in four
years, and by reaching the mainland, they’re automatically eligible to apply
for refugee status. Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone confirmed yesterday
that 30 men, six women and seven children had arrived, while an Indonesian
embassy spokesman said the activists weren’t persecuted and had no grounds for
asylum.

Meanwhile, the paper has a photo shoot
documenting the Socceroos’ expected stay in Germany during the World Cup – where they’ll be put up in a luxury converted
summer palace
in one of the country’s wealthiest regions. The hotel features bathrooms “the
size of some New York apartments,” a one-star Michelin restaurant, and a Finnish
sauna.

“Get out of jail free,” crows the front
page of The Daily Tele,
running a photo of Premier Morris Iemma alongside the line, “Let’s see, you
messed up roads, trains, policing, state taxes, public hospitals… how about the
prisons?” The paper reports that rapist and armed robber Robert Cole is on the
loose after escaping Sydney’s Long Bay jail – forcing a humiliating admission from Iemma that for
several years the Long Bay watchtowers haven’t been staffed in the evening.

The Herald Sun splashes with the story of the two disabled men who were ordered out of their
wheelchairs and forced to crawl to their cars at a Melbourne
shopping centre. Ross and Tony Costa, who both have muscular dystrophy, may now seek
compensation at the Equal Opportunity Commission for the humiliating
experience. The incident occurred when Ross was told to get out of a hired
wheelchair by a security guard at Westfield Fountain Gate – he crawled to the
car while Tony was carried by his sister, Sandra.

“Alert on emergency ward closure ignored,” leads this morning’s Courier-Mail,
after the paper reports that Queensland Health Minister Stephen
Robertson ignored a warning given to him almost two weeks ago that the
Caboolture Hospital’s emergency department would be forced to close,
according to a local mayor. Caboolture Mayor Joy Leishman said
Robertson had ignored the warning, although Robertson denies he ignored
it, saying he was just acting on advice from his department.

“First the Queen, now our Ted,” says this morning’s Northern Territory News,
who reports that following his successful caricature of the Queen, Rolf
Harris is now set to paint the Territory’s popular administrator Ted
Egan. Rolf Harris arrived in the Territory yesterday to film a segment
for his popular British television art show, Rolf on Art, which will
feature Harris painting his old friend Egan.

Oh what an embarrassment! The Advertiser
reports that Adelaide Airport management has been told to clean up its
disgraceful old airport terminal, as the new $260 million dollar
terminal is not yet ready for use. There’s litter all over the place;
peeling paint; broken toilets; and filthy public phones. Visitors have
described the airport as very shabby, with one anonymous staffer saying
the old terminal is even a danger to some of the passengers.

Today’s Mercury has more on Tasmania’s rising road toll, but
with a particularly tragic twist – three people are dead after two crashes on
Tassie roads over a sixteen-hour period. The crashes take the 2006 road toll
from zero to three, after a head-on crash killed two people on a four-lane
highway in Launceston, and a Tarago travelling along Coles Bay Road killed a Victorian woman and an Ulverstone man.

The man considered most likely to take
over as WA Premier is keeping quiet on the topic, reports The West Australian.
State Development Minister Alan Carpenter arrived back in Perth from his
European holiday yesterday, but would only say his name had been mentioned “in
the discussions” about WA’s new leader. “I haven’t spoken to many of my
colleagues, I’ve had a couple of conversations, but honestly not many, and I
want to talk to all of my colleagues, first all my Cabinet colleagues, and
obviously the caucus people and the Labor people to decide where we go from
here,” he said.

Canberra motorists could be hit with petrol prices of up to $1.40 a
litre
within weeks, as fears over Iran’s oil output
and threats to refineries in Nigeria push the price of crude oil to a
three-month high. The Canberra Times reports that ACT motorists are already
suffering among the highest petrol process in the nation – currently hovering
around $1.25 – second only to the Northern Territory.

Peter Fray

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