The tragic death of six teenagers, killed in an horrific
hit-run incident in Victoria’s
north-west, dominates the front pages of most of the nation’s papers today. The Agereports that the driver of the
car, Thomas Graham Towle, has been charged with culpable driving, negligently
causing serious injury and failing to stop and render assistance after
careering into a group of 13 partygoers near Mildura on Saturday night.

In the words of one policeman, it was a tragedy “beyond
comprehension,” reportsThe Australian.
Five of the
teenagers died at the scene and a sixth victim died in hospital in
Adelaide
last night, reportsThe Sydney Morning
Herald
.

Among the injured, a boy was in a critical condition in the Alfred hospital
last night while a 14-year-old boy was in a stable condition in the Royal
Children’s. Five other teens were hurt, reports the Herald Sun.

Reports say Towle – who will appear in the Mildura
Magistrates’ Court today – refused a breath test when arrested about five
hours after allegedly running from the vehicle, leaving behind his children,
aged ten and four, saysThe Advertiser. Towle’s brother, Darren, said he had spoken with him after the accident and
told him to turn himself in. “He said that he was in fear of his
life,” he said.

In other news, Prime Minister John Howard has strongly
criticised aspects of Muslim culture, warning they pose an unprecedented
challenge for Australia’s
immigration program, reportsThe Australian.

“Ten years up, Howard’s on a high,” saysThe Age. Despite Howard’s bad handling of health, education, the war in Iraq
and IR changes, Australians “like the Prime Minister”. Mainly because he’s done a good
job managing the economy, reportsThe SMH.

Meanwhile, up to a third of teachers in NSW’s most-difficult-to-staff schools
left their posts before completing the last school year, says the paper.

“Circus Oz shows called off,” says The Canberra Times, the paper reporting an acrobat was injured
during a matinee yesterday, resulting in the cancellation of performances last
night and today.

The Courier-Mail
also leads with the Victorian road tragedy, following up with a report that
two investment property spruikers tarnished by the collapse of rental unit
schemes in Brisbane are back
selling over-priced real estate in southeast Queensland.

And according to the Herald
Sun
, there’s an upside to being shot dead in your prime, with murdered
gangland figure Mario Condello apparently escaping justice in a swoop on a
heroin smuggling ring.

Confused and unable to find work since being released from a
Bali jail, Michelle Leslie is now considering leaving Australia,
reports the Daily Telegraph.

The West Australianleads with the news that West Coast football club is in turmoil, following the resignation of the AFL
club’s captain Ben Cousins after it was revealed last Friday he had pulled up
short of a booze bus and fled from his Mercedes four-wheel-drive.

The Mercuryreports that Tassie’s state election campaign turned nasty over the weekend as
a testy Premier Paul Lennon lashed out at the Opposition’s “smear and
innuendo” tactics.

An Australian Navy patrol boat has fired on an Indonesian vessel
thought to be illegally fishing 25 nautical miles inside Australia’s
economic exclusion zone, reports the NT News.

In international news, American marines began assisting today in the
search for survivors from last week’s deadly landslide in the eastern Philippines, reportsThe New York Times. Local officials have listed about 900 people as
missing, but officials believe about 1,000 to 1,800 villagers were buried in
the avalanche.

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW