An Australian news roundup

Savvy mother wrestles backyard croc: "A crocodile was captured in a Sydney swimming pool yesterday after it bailed up a woman hanging out her washing. Instead of locking herself in her Belrose home, in northern Sydney, the middle-aged office worker took on the 55cm reptile, eventually capturing it by binding its snout with a bandage and putting it in the bath until experts arrived to take it away. While the woman did not want to be named, her son Michael Higgins said she received a small bite during the tussle but did not need hospital treatment. The find comes less than three weeks after a 60cm saltwater crocodile was found at Cromer, on the Northern Beaches. Mr Higgins, 26, said his mother was putting the washing on the line when she heard a violent thrashing sound coming from the swimming pool. "She must have spooked it because it jumped out of the water and on to the grass," he said. Explaining why his mother decided to deal with the crocodile herself, he said: "We lived in Papua New Guinea for a few years and there are a lot of reptiles and stuff over there. "Mum's a bit shy when it comes to the media but the crocs don't bother her. "It gave her a little bite near her thumb but it won't need stitches. "She just put it in the bath and called the Australian Reptile Park who came and collected it." The 55cm-long Johnsons freshwater crocodile was collected by Australian Reptile Park staff and taken back to the park at Somersby on the Central Coast, which is also serving as home to the Cromer croc.

TV bosses to lose cosy monopoly: "Communications Minister Helen Coonan has sent a clear signal to Australia's free-to-air broadcasters that they can expect no further protection from government after the switch-off of analogue TV in 2012. The free-to-air networks have been the beneficiaries of licence exclusivity for 50 years, and stiff regulatory constraints on competition from new media since 2001 when a moratorium on new licences, a strict anti-siphoning regime and a ban on multi-channelling came into force. Under the Coonan plan unveiled this week, there will be some minor relaxation of the rules - but only until the analogue switch-off date. Then, it will be a case of all bets off. In an interview with Media, Senator Coonan said the analogue switch-off - scheduled to start in metropolitan areas in 2010 and be completed in the regions by 2012 - was a "natural end point" for current regulatory restrictions. "It was not an option for us to immediately deregulate the whole market," she said. "How can you with all the inter-related settings, ranging from multi-channelling to anti-siphoning?"

Pizza chain thinks outside box to get into schools: "A national fast food chain has found a way to get pizzas back into Queensland schools, despite a state government program to stop students eating junk food. The Queensland Government singles out pizzas as one of the main causes of child obesity in its Smart Choices program, aimed at curbing the sale of junk food in school tuckshops and encouraging healthy eating. But the Brisbane-based Eagle Boys pizza company has had three of its varieties - Hawaiian, chicken supreme and veggie delight - checked for nutritional value by the testing company Food and Agricultural Laboratories of Australia. Eagle Boys marketing director Greg Bowell said the testing company found the three varieties met the nutritional guidelines set by Smart Choices. "This will allow our franchises to negotiate with schools to sell these three varieties of our pizzas at their tuckshops," Mr Bowell said yesterday".

All the smart Kiwi men have left for Australia: "A "man drought" in New Zealand is forcing its women into the arms of dumber, poorer partners. A shortfall of men aged 20 to 49 in the Shaky Isles has sparked a wave of "marrying down" by desperate women, researchers say. They found New Zealand women in that age group outnumber males by 33,000 to 53,000, making a good Kiwi man even harder to find. Government demographer Paul Callister said this meant more professional women were marrying men with less schooling and cash. This was largely because of a lack of eligible men of equal educational or economic status, he said. The worst imbalance was in the 30 to 34 age group with nine per cent more females. Auckland hairdresser Amy Winter, 27, said the dearth of decent blokes meant it was man-dregs or nothing. "There's far too many beautiful girls compared with how many boys there are," she said. "On Friday nights I usually hang with my girlfriends and go into town, but there don't seem to be many boys around. "The blokes that are around aren't up to standard - they're not the full package, they might have one thing out of 10.""

Sick Victorian justice: "Police officers and victims' rights groups are outraged that a youth charged with attempted murder after a violent stabbing incident was released on bail. The youth, 15, was arrested after a 50-year-old woman woke to find a youth armed with a knife standing over her bed about 1am on Monday. The attacker bashed the woman and stabbed her several times. In defending herself, the woman, who lives alone in an outer Melbourne suburb, received multiple stab wounds and fractures to her face. After her attacker fled, she managed to ring for help. Paramedics and police arrived soon after and rushed her to hospital. Detectives arrested a 15-year-old youth several hours after the assault. They interviewed him before charging him with aggravated burglary and attempted murder. The youth, who cannot be identified because of his age, appeared before an out-of-sessions court hearing on Monday. Sources said the investigating officers were shocked when the bail justice granted him bail. But he was in custody last night after appearing before a Children's Court yesterday. Armed offenders squad detectives yesterday opposed continuing the youth's bail and applied for his DNA. The magistrate gave police permission to take DNA and remanded him in custody. [Probably a "minority" kid. We must go easy on minorities, of course]


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