Cairns braces as Cyclone Yasi hits category 5

The Australian
Tropical cyclone Yasi has been upgraded to category five as it nears the north Queensland coast. The Bureau of Meteorology in Brisbane said that at 5am AEDT Yasi was about 650km east-northeast of Cairns and 650km northeast of Townsville moving west southwest at 30km/h. “The cyclone has now reached category five and will continue to move in a west-southwesterly direction during today,” the BoM said on its website.

Hosni Mubarak must go by Friday, says Mohamed ElBaradei

The Australian
Friday is set as D-Day - departure day - for Egypt's embattled President, Hosni Mubarak, Mohamed ElBaradei, who is emerging as a leader of anti-regime protests, declared last night. Dr ElBaradei asked for a "safe exit" for Mr Mubarak. "What I have heard (from protesters) is that they want this to end, if not today, then by Friday maximum," he said, adding that Egyptians have marked Friday as "Departure Day". "I hope President Mubarak goes before this and leaves the country after 30 years of rule . . . I don't think he wants to see more blood."

Afghan asylum pact in chaos

The Australian
The Gillard government's much-trumpeted agreement to return failed asylum-seekers to Afghanistan was in disarray last night, with Canberra and Kabul directly at odds over whether or not the agreement covered forced returns. Barely two weeks after Immigration Minister Chris Bowen signed the memorandum of understanding, Kabul's envoy to Australia, Amanullah Jayhoon, insisted it only applied to voluntary returns. "The MOU does not say anything, it is very clear about voluntary re-admitting," Mr Jayhoon told The Australian.

Baillieu's high stakes in child protection 'fix'

The Age
Playing the blame game won't help the Premier deliver on his promise. Ted Baillieu wants to fix child protection, a system he says was permitted to ''fall apart'' under Labor. But it remains unclear precisely how he will do this. The Premier this week acted on an election promise to hold a judicial inquiry into child protection. Opinions are divided about whether there is a need to scrutinise once again a system that has already been subjected to two thorough reports by the Ombudsman - one on child protection in 2009 and one on out-of-home care, including foster care and residential care, last year. The Victorian Law Reform Commission also completed a 500-plus page report on the role of the Children's Court last year, an investigation triggered by the Ombudsman highlighting concerns about the adversarial nature of the court process.