8 news bites for Monday (17 Oct): Hugh Jackman could be the next Bond

1. Tony Abbott would win an election in a landslide if it were held as voters oppose carbon tax

A clear majority of voters, 60 per cent, believe the Opposition Leader would have the electoral and moral authority to repeal the tax. With the government’s asylum seeker policy also in disarray, the Coalition’s primary vote has now soared to a crushing 51 per cent, according to a Galaxy poll commissioned by The Daily Telegraph.

It is the largest primary vote the coalition has enjoyed in any poll since 1996 – when John Howard defeated Paul Keating – with Labor now stuck at a morale-sapping 29 per cent. The devastating figures suggest the government’s jubilation over the passage of its carbon tax through the lower house last week has backfired.

Willow Bryant

2. How a garden slug killed this happy little baby

For three weeks Willow Mae Bryant fought for life. The 10-month-old’s condition had doctors around the country scrambling to diagnose and treat her but not once did any of them suspect she had eaten a poisoned slug. It wasn’t until the autopsy that her family learned she had contracted rat lungworm from an infected slug, most probably from crawling across its trail.

“That was hard to come to terms with,” mother Cate Bryant told The Sunday Telegraph. “I lost it at that point; I thought I’d killed my daughter. It was something that could have been avoided and not just some random virus that she just happened to be unlucky to get.”

Ms Bryant, who is pregnant with her fourth child, wants to raise awareness about rat lungworm. “I don’t want to frighten people, as not every slug is infected, but … I think if I had known that there was a way Willow could have got sick from snails or slugs, I would have taken precautions so there were no slug trails.”

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3. Equal pay for Jetstar and Qantas pilots is ‘unrealistic and damaging’ – Qantas

Qantas has denied a union claim that it is walking away from negotiations with pilots as the pay dispute between the parties continues. However, the airline’s CEO has said that the dispute is unlikely to be quickly resolved.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said he can’t see the disruptions to the airline and its customers getting better “anytime soon”, because of ongoing industrial action by three unions. “I have to say it is tough, you know, some of the action that the unions are taking is continuing to cause us real damage,” Mr Joyce told Sky’s Agenda program. “We don’t see this getting any better any time soon. If anything, this is getting worse.”

The airline is facing off with engineers, pilots and ground staff over pay and working conditions. Late last week, the airline announced it has cancelled 400 domestic flights over the next month following the grounding of five aircraft.

Gaming Minister Michael O’Brien

4. $12,000 fine for insulting Victorian Gaming Minister Michael O’Brien

The Victorian Parliament is set to pass new legislation making it a criminal offence to “insult” Gaming Minister Michael O’Brien. Fines of up to $11,945 will be given to anyone found guilty of upsetting the minister and his staff under the new offence.The amendment proposed to the Act will make it an offence to “assault, obstruct, hinder, threaten, abuse, insult or intimidate” the minister or authorised persons exercising “due diligence” in monitoring gambling systems such as pokies.

A spokeswoman for Mr O’Brien, Emily Broadbent, said that the provision protects officers of the gambling regulator from bullying or intimidation. “The minister can look after himself, but does not believe that those working on his behalf should have to put up with harassment.”

5. Passports revoked in terror tourism crackdown

More than 50 Australians have had passports revoked or refused by ASIO to prevent them going overseas for terrorist training holidays. Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan top the list of “favoured” terror tourism destinations for those who have had passports revoked since the September 11 attacks.

“Withholding passports is an important means of preventing Australians from travelling overseas to train, support or participate in terrorism,” a spokesman for the Attorney-General Robert McClelland said. “It may also be used to help prevent an Australian already overseas from participating in activities that are prejudicial to the security of Australia or another country.”

6. Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners … for one soldier

This is an interesting case study in the value of a human life. Israeli people have 48 hours to appeal to the country’s highest court over the planned release of almost 1000 prisoners over two months. The first will include 450 men and 27 women, some of whom were imprisoned for carrying out fatal attacks, to be released immediately in return for one Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He was captured after Hamas operatives tunnelled into Israel from Gaza in 2006 and has been held in their camps ever since. Some prisoners will be sent back to the Gaza strip while others will be ‘exiled abroad’.

Hugh Jackman

7. Hugh Jackman could be the next Bond

In London for the making of his new film Les Miserables, Jackman admitted he had been approached in the past to become British spy, James Bond, the Sunday Express newspaper reported.

“I got a call from my agent saying ‘there’s some possible interest in you for Bond, are you interested’?” Jackman said.

“At the time I wasn’t. I was about to shoot X-Men 2 and Wolverine had become this thing in my life. But I think every male at some point thinks about playing Bond. So it was not right then but it may be right if it comes back. As an actor you’ve got to keep taking risks.”

8. WTF moment of the day – sexy Halloween costumes that probably shouldn’t be sexy

The end of October is approaching and Halloween celebrations are underway. Jezebel and Huffington Post have both done articles dedicated to the worst sexy Halloween costumes out there – take a flick through our gallery and see what you think.

Today’s news was brought to you by Nat.

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