09/10/2001 - 22:00

Missile strikes spark fresh terror concerns

09/10/2001 - 22:00


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THE “war on terrorism” became a reality this week when United States and British forces launched military strikes on Afghanistan.

Missile strikes spark fresh terror concerns
THE “war on terrorism” became a reality this week when United States and British forces launched military strikes on Afghanistan. Throughout the week, US air force planes and British submarines bombed the Afghan capital Kabul and the cities of Jalalabad and Kandahar, locations identified by the US as military targets and guerilla training camps. While about 20 people died in the attacks, the prime suspect for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Osama bin Laden, was not among them. In a video aired after the US-led attacks, bin Laden said Americans would never know peace until Islam did. “I swear by God, neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it in Palestine,” bin Laden said. The message has prompted concerns about further terrorist attacks, while the US-led assault on Afghanistan has raised fears of an anti-Western backlash in Islamic countries. The Federal Government has put Australia on heightened security alert and stepped up protection for leading politicians, airports, public buildings and diplomatic missions. Australians also have been warned against travelling to Indonesia where a radical Muslim group, the Islamic Defenders Front, has threatened to hunt down foreigners.

THE international drama has all but overshadowed the federal election announced by Prime Minister John Howard last week. That’s good news for the PM, whose popularity has enjoyed a rise amid the war on terrorism and the Tampa refugee incident. But it’s not so good for Labor leader Kim Beazley, who is facing his own battle to draw the focus of the election to the domestic issues of health and education. Mr Beazley has released details of a $266 million families’ package, which includes a home visit program for parents and parent information lines. The ALP also pledged $100 million to reform the public dental system. As the ALP stepped up its pitch to families, Mr Howard signalled that future income tax cuts would be tailored towards middle Australian couples with children.

IN the first few days of the election campaign Prime Minister John Howard announced an extension and some changes to the successful first home owners’ grant. Starting from November 10, the new package extends the requirement for builders to start construction within 16 weeks of signing a contract out to 26 weeks and extends the completion deadline from within 12 months to 18 months. And, as of January 1, the grant to buy or build a new home has been reduced from $14,000 to $10,000. Housing Industry Association WA executive director John Dastlik welcomed the extension of the package and said it would provide a timely confidence boost and help sustain the industry’s recovery. The first home grant for the purchase of established housing will remain at $7000.

THE WA Government has committed $18.4 million over four years to economic and social infrastructure needed for the development of BHP Billiton’s proposed $945 million Ravens-thorpe Nickel Project. The funding is subject to the Federal Government making a contribution at least equal to that of the State’s, together with the company engaging its work force locally and making a financial contribution. State Development Minister Clive Brown said the nickel project would employ 300 people for more than 20 years and would be a huge benefit to the Shire of Ravensthorpe. BHP Billiton is expected to make a decision on whether to proceed with the project by the end of next year.

A BOATLOAD of Iraqi asylum seekers ordered to leave Australian waters last weekend has been rescued by the Royal Australian Navy after their vessel began to sink off Christmas Island. The group of 187 was picked up by the HMAS Adelaide and remain on board while their future is debated.


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