The AWB coverage continues in The Age today, with Deputy
Prime Minister Mark Vaile on a dash to Iraq
with AWB execs to beg Iraq
to lift its suspension.
Actually, scrap that … Mark Vaile has just returned home following news that his father has died. And Peter Shergold, secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and
Cabinet, has set down some ground rules about who should resign over the
AWB scandal, says The SMH.

Laws stripping Health Minister Tony Abbott of control over
the abortion pill RU486 look set to pass in parliament today, says The Age. The Daily Tele reports that a moving speech from Peter Costello helped sway the undecided ministers, with Costello later denying that the speech was a bid for leadership. And The Oz
ran with the story of Liberal MP Andrew Laming, whose experience as a
doctor performing “harrowing” late term abortions has influenced his
support of the bill.

Bird flu hits the headlines again, and it’s time to get scared, with new figures
predicting up to 214,000 Australians could die in a global outbreak, reports The SMH. And while we’re on dead Australians – almost 1.5
million “active” Centrelink clients are actually deceased, according to The Oz.

The Herald Sun
reports that Melbourne police are successfully cracking down on
graffiti gangs – all part of cleaning up the city for the Commonwealth
games – while making the surprising discovery that some of the alleged vandals
actually have “well-paid full-time jobs”.

South Australia has the lowest birth rate, the oldest population
and is continuing to lose its residents to other states, reports The Advertiser. And at the other end of the spectrum, The Courier-Mailreveals
that Queensland has the highest population growth, at 2.3% per
year – thanks to migration from other states and the
nation’s highest birth rate.

Darwin locals are being urged to check for cane toads in their
backyards after a study has shown the “warty pests” are evolving rapidly and
spreading through the Territory faster than ever, says the NT News.

New houses built in the ACT will have to adhere to a strict set of environmental guidelines, reports The Canberra Times.

Liberals are more “open” to the idea of the Packer empire operating poker machines at the Burswood Casino, says the West Australian.

And an off-duty policeman embarked on a
spontaneous and unauthorised sting operation after consuming 6 beers
and 5 scotches, says The Mercury.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey