It’s a “new blow to Howard’s defence” at The Oz which is going hard on the AWB scandal. The Howard Government has known for years that
Australia’s wheat exporter, AWB, was ordered by the UN to reduce the
inflated prices on its wheat contracts by 10%, says the paper today.

That’s why it’s time to end AWB’s monopoly, says the
Australian Grain Exporters Association which will lobby the Howard
government for the $3.5 billion wheat export trade be opened up, with a
regulatory body set up to register bulk exporters.

“Cartoons that rocked world,” leads this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald,
reporting on the cartoons of Muhammad that have caused a violent uproar
within the Muslim world. New Zealand became the latest target for after
two papers published the six-month old cartoons, while the country’s
Prime Minister, Helen Clark attacked the decision made by Fairfax
publications The Dominion Post and The Christchurch Press to publish
the inflammatory cartoons.

And a provocatively titled piece (“Joyce invites Labor to attack government”) reports that rogue Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce,
who seems to be back in the government’s good books after the McGauran
defection, has told Labor to attack the government as much as they like
over the AWB investigation – because nobody gives a damn. Joyce told
the ABC that “it’s one of those typical Canberra things – an argument
for the elite but not for the street.” Catchy.

A Jaws-esque photo and a very tacky lead make for a joke of a story
about a shark swimming somewhere a long way away. “James Pittar never
saw the shark that halted the Cole Classic North Head Challenge, and it
was not just because he is blind,” says the SMH. One shark was seen 15km away, and another unconfirmed sighting was just as uneventful. No shark and no story.


“Bad girls,” screams The Daily Telegraph
this morning. According to the Tele, female students are beating up
their teachers and committing “brutal robberies,” as they rampage
through classrooms causing havoc and chaos. The story was sparked by
the alleged murder of a Sydney Taxi driver by a couple of 14-year-old
girls. Like the SMH, a great shark hunt.

Over at The Age, with
police Chief
Commissioner Christine Nixon on the verge of being reappointed by the
state government, she’s laying down her plans for a second term,
including a new traffic policy targeting drivers aged 18 to 25, higher priorities for domestic violence, sexual assault
and child protection and ore female and ethnic recruits to ensure police
represent the broader community.

And more domestic issues at the Herald Sun
with the proposal of a $2 billion-plus super road and rail tunnel under
the West Gate Bridge to ease traffic gridlock. A freight train
line would run through the tunnel as would major utilities, including the Hobsons Bay main sewer and telecommunication lines.

More construction news in Canberra where
Opposition Leader Brendan Smyth will today unveil his party’s master
plan
for a new convention centre precinct as part of a push to capture
a bigger slice of the lucrative convention and trade show market in the
nation’s capital. The $600 million Convention Central plan includes a
3,000-seat convention centre with views of the lake and parliamentary
precinct, two 300-bed hotels, a residential and office block, and a new
swimming pool and fitness centre.

In Queensland, Peter Costello is under pressure from
the Government’s back bench to more than double grants for first-home
buyers to $15,000, reports the Courier-Mail. But 14 weeks ahead of the May budget and the Treasurer is being non-committal about the idea.

In Western Australia meanwhile, Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan has reignited debate on
prostitution law reform, challenging new Police Minister John D’Orazio
to legalise the sex industry or stamp it out.

And what’s going on with South Australia’s high-profile Export Council? asks The Advertiser. It emerged yesterday that Industry Minister Paul Holloway
unceremoniously dumped the 13-member body two months ago without
explanation, says the paper – and without any public plans as to how the State
Government would replace it.

The battle to save Recherche Bay from logging is won, announces The Mercury simply. And “Crocs surf where we swim,” says the NT News, which is giving the sharks a day off.

And vale Betty Friedan, the American feminist crusader and author whose
first book, The Feminine Mystique,
ignited the contemporary women’s movement in 1963 in the US and around
the world, who died at her Washington home on Saturday, her 85th birthday,
of consumptive heart failure. With its impassioned yet clear-eyed analysis of the “problem that has no name”
that blighted women’s lives in the decades after World War II The Feminine Mystique is widely regarded as one of the most
influential nonfiction books of the 20th century, says Margalita Fox in The New York Times.

Friedan’s was a voice that was loud, insistent and sometimes
divisive, says Patricia Sullivan in The Washington Post. Her affinity with mainstream
values was the foundation of her authority, says Elaine Woo in the Los Angeles Times. Her emphatic belief that
women should have equal rights – but not at the expense of alienating men –
distinguished her from many feminist leaders who emerged later. Sure, Betty was never as
radical as some of her peers, says Friedan’s cousin and Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon, but “her views
have proved more durable.”

Peter Fray

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