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Canberra Mornings Live: Monday August 26

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Bringing you breaking news from across the capital and beyond, including weather, traffic updates and what the capital is talking about.

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That's it from us today Canberra. We hope your week is off to a good start.

Here's a wrap of the five most clicked stories of the morning.

1. Ferguson no-show adds to team low

The Canberra Raiders' week from hell hit a new and unexpected low on Sunday with star centre Blake Ferguson tangled in a bizarre off-field drama.

2. Battle of water loo at plush tax office

A row over toilets at plush new tax department offices in Melbourne is heading for the industrial tribunal with staff alleging that things are getting dirty in the workplace.

3. Roof collapses during blaze at home in north

Fire fighters extinguish a housefire at Nicholls, putting out hot spots and assisting a fire investigator.

4. Labor fails to ring voters' bells in Eden-Monaro

Graziers Howard and Anne Charles are craving a free trade agreement with China but not even Kevin Rudd's mandarin or farming roots can prompt them to vote for him.

5. Canberra-Sydney high-speed rail link backed in advisory group's report

An Australian government report recommends a Sydney-to-Canberra high speed rail link be up and running in 17 years, with a $23 billion price tag and a fare of $42 to $69 to compete with the airlines.

Cronulla Sharks star and former Raider Todd Carney, left, and current Raiders star Blake Ferguson, right, with a fan at Clovelly Hotel on Saturday night.

Cronulla Sharks star and former Raider Todd Carney, left, and current Raiders star Blake Ferguson, right, with a fan at Clovelly Hotel on Saturday night.

The road is now clear after that accident on Norman Lindsay St in Conder.

Up at the National Press Club today, Federal MP Bob Katter, founder of Katter’s Australian Party, debates Clive Palmer, founder of the Palmer United Party.

Should be an interesting one - we'll bring you story on the homepage after 12.30pm.

You can keep up to date with federal election news today, via Stephanie Peatling's Federal Election Live blog.

Bob Katter meets a cow at the Ekka.

Bob Katter meets a cow at the Ekka. Photo: Kim Stephens

Big news for fans of The Boss.

Tickets for Bruce Springsteen's next tour of Australia go on sale today!

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band return in February.

February 7 - Perth Arena

February 11 - Entertainment Centre, Adelaide

February 15 - AAMI Park, Melbourne

February 19 - Allphones Arena, Sydney

February 22 - Hope Estate, Hunter Valley

February 26 - Entertainment Centre, Brisbane

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen Photo: Reuters

Fleta Page: Traffic is still affected after an earlier two-car accident in Conder. One of the cars is still on the road on Norman Lindsay Street, near the Woolworths petrol station awaiting a tow, with oil and glass also needing to be cleaned up.

Police are still advising drivers to avoid the area, with Norman Lindsay Street closed heading toward Tharwa Drive.


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You can also keep up to date with market moves today, via the Markets Live blog.

The Australian market looks set to open higher following gains on Wall Street which enjoyed a jolt from Microsoft’s announcement that chief executive Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months.

Meantime, the Australian dollar was a third of a US cent higher after solid gains on Wall Street on Friday.

Earlier this morning, the local unit was trading at 90.39 US cents, up from 90.03 cents on Friday.

It seems Tony Abbott's daughters stole the show at the Liberal Party's campaign launch in Brisbane on Sunday.

“Today we want to tell you about our dad,” Frances began Sunday afternoon as the Coalition formally launched its election campaign in Brisbane.

“Like all dads, our dad has been known to embarrass us.”

You can follow today's election news live via Stephanie Peatling's Federal Election Live blog.

Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (2nd R), his wife Margie (2nd L) and daughters Frances (L) and Bridget (R) greet party members during a Liberal party election campaign meeting in Brisbane on August 25, 2013.  Australia's conservative Liberal party, which is tipped to win September 7 elections under leader Tony Abbott, held its centrepiece rally of the campaign on August 25. AFP PHOTO / Patrick HAMILTON Click to play video

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Abbott girls a secret weapon

Tony Abbott's daughters, Frances and Bridget are being used "to great effect" by the opposition leader as they "humanise him" by painting a picture of a daggy dad.

PT2M7S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2sjoj 620 349

Jon Tuxworth brings us the story this morning that Canberra's Nick Kyrgios' rapid rise is set to continue with a debut selection in Australia's Davis Cup squad.

Australia coach Josh Eagle has confirmed the teenager will be included in a five-man squad to play Poland in Warsaw next month.

Australian junior tennis star Nick Kyrgios.

Australian junior tennis star Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Aussie masters champion Adam Scott has closed with a bogey-free five-under 66 to win in the opening US PGA Tour playoff event.

Scott posted in at 11-under par early at The Barclays on Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey with a host of big name challengers hunting him down, but no one could reel him in.

Adam Scott of Australia tees off on the 17th hole.

Adam Scott of Australia tees off on the 17th hole. Photo: Getty Images

Michael Clarke has explained his angry reaction to being pushed away by umpire Aleem Dar during the fifth Ashes Test, saying he had asked the Pakistani official not to touch him.

Dar was seen to push Clarke away from him and fellow umpire Kumar Dharmasena, who were checking the reading on the light meter that would lead them seconds later to abandon the day's play with the Test ending in a draw and England taking the series 3-0.

"I can't remember what I said. I remember Aleem touching me and I asked him politely to not touch me because if I touched him I'd be suspended for three matches," Clarke said. "That's all I can remember, coincidentally."

Umpire Aleem Dar pushes Michael Clarke away before taking a light reading.

Umpire Aleem Dar pushes Michael Clarke away before taking a light reading. Photo: Getty Images

There's been a two-car collision at the intersection of Norman Lindsay Street and Tharwa Drive in Conder.

Delays are expected - avoid the area if you can.

Fleta Page:

Fire fighters are still on the scene of a housefire at Nicholls, putting out hot spots and assisting a fire investigator.

While the cause of the fire is still unknown, Commander Mike Cochrane of the ACT Fire Brigade said the house was completely destroyed.

Neighbour Lilly Bogojevic woke about 5.30am this morning to the sound of people screaming and could see flames billowing from the house behind hers.

She called the fire brigade but was told they were already on their way.

"It was so scary, I thought do I use my hose? But it's nothing (compared to the fire)"

Ms Bogojevic knew the Korean family who lived in the home, but was too shaken to go around and see what was happening.

One man was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation, but four occupants of the house had got out by the time the fire brigade arrived.

"Luckily they're all right ... it could have been much worse," Ms Bogojevic said.

The scene of a house fire at Numbat Place in Nicholls.

The scene of a house fire at Numbat Place in Nicholls. Photo: Fleta Page

Andrew Robb.

Andrew Robb. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

The latest Newspoll shows Labor’s primary vote rose three percentage points to 37 per cent, the highest in three weeks, while the coalition’s was unchanged on 47 per cent.

Based on preference flows at the last election, the coalition still leads Labor 53 per cent to 47 per cent two party-preferred, compared to last week’s 54 to 46 per cent result.

The coalition will be ‘‘running scared’’ until the last minute, Liberal frontbencher Andrew Robb says, despite its lead in the opinion polls.

Blake Ferguson... again.

Ferguson was a no-show at Canberra Stadium for the second week in a row as the Raiders' finals dreams were put on the brink following a 36-22 loss to Manly.

Instead of watching from the stands, Ferguson spent a night out in Sydney with former Raiders' bad boy Todd Carney.

Interim Canberra coach Andrew Dunemann has made the stunning admission that Ferguson could have played - and injury was not the reason behind his absence.

Cronulla Sharks star and former Raider Todd Carney, left, and current Raiders star Blake Ferguson, right, with a fan at Clovelly Hotel on Saturday night.

Cronulla Sharks star and former Raider Todd Carney, left, and current Raiders star Blake Ferguson, right, with a fan at Clovelly Hotel on Saturday night.

Jenna Clarke: In entertainment news, the MTV Video Music Awards are set to kick off in the US later this morning.

If you're unfamiliar with the show, it's the place where Britney Spears staged her comeback and "performed" Gimme More in 2007 and where Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech after winning Best Female Video.

Join us later this morning as we live blog the 2013 #VMAs from 11am, until then let me introduce you to our Aussie contender, provocative Sydney-born rapper Iggy Azalea.

The 23-year-old model/femcee is nominated in the Artist To Watch category. Before you YouTube her work be warned that while her music is awesome, the content is not exactly safe for work.

The MTV Video Music Awards pre-show begins at 10am AEST and the awards ceremony starts at 11am. Giles Hardie and Peter Vincent will be live blogging from 11am and live coverage will also be on MTV.

Campaign material amongst the weekend's junk mail in Canberra's north.

Campaign material amongst the weekend's junk mail in Canberra's north.

Hamish Boland-Rudder:

Elizabeth Lee is keeping it tight after a rather lavish ACT campaign last October with a single slip of paper detailing the liberal's plans for real action.

But Kate Lundy spares no expense on her three double-sided pages of 'community news', which includes no fewer than eight pictures of the Labor senator, often handing out money in some form to the local community.

Have you been receiving much campaign material in the mail, online, by phone, or even in person? What's the most effective campaigning method?

The scene of a house fire at Numbat Place in Nicholls.

The scene of a house fire at Numbat Place in Nicholls. Photo: Fleta Page

A home in Canberra's north has been seriously damaged by fire this morning, and a person has been transported to hospital suffering smoke inhalation.

Fire fighters were called to the blaze in Nicholls at about 5am this morning.

The fire has caused an estimated $450,000 in damages after the roof of the home on Numbat Place collapsed.

Four people evacuated safely but a fifth was taken to Calvary Hospital for smoke inhalation.

The United Nations says its experts will start their probe of an alleged Syrian chemical weapons site today.

The UN says in a statement Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has instructed the mission currently in Damascus, to focus its attention on ascertaining the facts of the 21 August incident as its highest priority.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will be campaigning in Sydney today as the countdown continues to the federal election.

With less than two weeks to go, Mr Rudd is expected to focus on jobs and pursue the coalition on its policy costings, as well as plans for the federal budget if it wins government on September 7.

Meantime, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will be in Brisbane, following the official launch of the coalition’s election campaign on Sunday.

Tony Abbott and family embraced by Julie Bishop at the Liberal campaign launch in Brisbane. Click for more photos

Election 2013 - Day 21

Tony Abbott and family embraced by Julie Bishop at the Liberal campaign launch in Brisbane. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

In India a fourth and fifth arrest have been made over the gang rape of a 22-year-old photojournalist who was attacked while on assignment for an English-language magazine, the police in Mumbai reported Sunday.

Indian police arrest rape suspects (Video Thumbnail) Click to play video

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Police arrest Mumbai rape suspects

Indian police detain the remaining two of five suspects accused of gang raping a photojournalist in Mumbai.

PT1M5S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ske3 620 349

Overnight the fifth Test has ended in a dramatic draw with umpires taking players off the field for bad light just as England looked set to complete a thrilling win that would have given them a first-ever 4-0 Ashes series victory.

Graeme Swann of England hits out. Click for more photos

Fifth Ashes Test: day five

Graeme Swann of England hits out. Photo: Getty

  • Graeme Swann of England hits out.
  • Stuart Broad of England is bowled by Mitchell Starc of Australia.
  • Mitchell Starc of Australia celebrates after taking the wicket of Stuart Broad of England.
  • Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin of Australia watches the ball run to the boundary.
  • Ian Bell of England bats.
  • Brad Haddin of Australia catches out Ian Bell of England.
  • Nathan Lyon of Australia looks on after missing a catching chance.
  • Michael Clarke of Australia jumps to gather a ball in the slips.
  • Matt Prior of England stumbles after fending off a bouncer from Ryan Harris of Australia.
  • Matt Prior of England hits out watched by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin of Australia.
  • James Faulkner of Australia celebrates after claiming his first test wicket by dismissing Ian Bell of England.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has officially launched his bid to be Prime Minister in an American-style campaign launch in Brisbane, framing the September 7 election as the most important in a generation and a chance to kick out "the worst government in Australian history".  

In a pitch to to young voters, he promised a scheme to provide $20,000 interest-free loans to help apprentices in areas of skill shortage buy tools and equipment.

In a bid for the vote of older Australians, Mr Abbott promised to index eligibility thresholds for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card so that more self-funded retirees could  access cheaper medicines, as well as promising a Coalition government would provide $200 million for dementia research.

Mr Abbott said on day one of a Coalition government, he would instruct the public service to prepare legislation to repeal the carbon tax, and give the directions to start Operation Sovereign Borders, the Coalition’s military-led plan to combat people smuggling.

ELECTION 2013: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott greets former Prime Minister John Howard during the Federal Coalition Campaign Launch at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane on Sunday 25 August 2013.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Click to play video

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Coalition promises no 'nasty surprises'

Tony Abbott tells hundreds of Coalition faithful at their campaign launch in Brisbane on Sunday that he will spend money wisely if elected Prime Minister.

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To world news, and more than 1000 gay rights supporters have protested in Amsterdam, waving rainbow flags and chanting slogans criticising the Russian government's homosexuality policies.

Activists gather on the Museumplein in Amsterdam, The Netherlands for the 'To Russia with Love' concert and protest against the gala concert organised by the Russian state on the same square later the same day.

Activists gather on the Museumplein in Amsterdam, The Netherlands for the 'To Russia with Love' concert and protest against the gala concert organised by the Russian state on the same square later the same day. Photo: AFP

Fire fighters have put out a blaze at a single storey home in Nicholls this morning, that has caused an estimated $450,000 in damages after the roof collapsed.

Four people in the home at Numbat Place evacuated safely but a fifth was taken to Calvary Hospital for smoke inhalation.

The blaze was reported shortly before 5am and was extinguished before 6.20am.

Fire fighters remain at the scene mopping up.

The cause will be investigated later today.

Tegan Osborne: Good morning Canberra and welcome to another week.

We have lots of news coming up for you, including the details of a house fire in Nicholls this morning that's caused an estimated $450,000, and the latest on the lead up to the federal election. 

Let's get right to it.