An Australian news roundup

A Leftist who really backs the troops: "Sending 200 more Australian troops into Afghanistan was the right thing to do to battle terrorism, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley said today. "I think it's the right thing to do. Afghanistan is terror central," Mr Beazley said n Perth today. "We got involved in Afghanistan after the 9-11 events and we evoked the ANZAS alliance and we sent troops." Prime Minister John Howard yesterday announced deployment of a 200-member Australian Defence Force provincial reconstruction team (PRT) into Oruzgan province in south-central Afghanistan. The announcement came as General John Abizaid, commander of the US Central Command, warned Mr Howard of a rising tempo of violence across southern Afghanistan.

Students out to quench flag-burners: "Some University of Queensland students aim to put a dampener on moves to set fire to an Australian flag. The university's Liberal Club president Julian Simmonds says he has several buckets of free water available today to anyone who objects to "the madness". Youth Socialist group Resistance has been selling $5 flag-burning kits in the Great Court of the university's St Lucia campus. "We have seen them around, they have been selling them but no-one has lit up any flags yet," Mr Simmonds said. "We are just trying to show people this isn't the way to go. "So, if someone exercises their free right to burn the flag, we will exercise our free right to throw water around." "They haven't been game enough to burn a flag yet, but we will be watching them." The Federal Government, the Opposition and the RSL have denounced Resistance's plan to sell the kits."

The ultimate public-service job: "The [NSW] State Government faces intense pressure to dump a scheme in which hundreds of "displaced" public servants are paid full salary even though they have no job to do and which costs taxpayers more than $17 million a year. An audit of the Government's finances is expected to heavily criticise the displaced person's list when it is released tomorrow. Almost 300 public servants who have left or been sacked from their jobs are employed by the Premier's Department under the displaced persons list. More public servants feature on similar lists in other departments but the Government has so far refused to reveal how many. Heavy-hitters who were on the list include: the former RTA chief executive Paul Forward, who spent two months on the list on a $342,000 salary before receiving a payout from the Government; and the former Housing Department chief Terry Barnes, who was sacked last month and was on a salary of more than $290,000. Sue Sinclair, who resigned as Sydney Ferries chief on Friday, is on leave but will go on the unattached list if the Government does not find her a job on her return. She is on a salary of $265,000. The list, also known as the unattached list, was introduced by the Carr Government in 1996.


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