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Newsline With Jim Middleton -

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Hello, and welcome Newsline, I'm Jim Middleton. Hello, and welcome to

Coming up - the bugs bite back. Coming up - the bugs bite back.

Doctors warn of new germs

antibiotics are powerless stop. Unfortunately, it is antibiotics are powerless to

going to be people in rapidly developing countries where we're antibiotic resistance and we're seeing these issues with

unfortunately people are going

to die from these to die from these antibiotic of resistant organisms. Revenge

of the superbugs later in the

program. In a little over two program. In a little over two

weeks, Burma will hold its

first elections in 20 years, however, been barred and foreign however, foreign observers have

journalists have been told they journalists have

will not be granted visas report the election. Not only that, Aung San Suu Kyi whose

party scored a comprehensive

victory in 1990, but was not allowed to take office,

barred from taking part this

time round and remains under

house arrest. Thousands of political prisoners are behind

bars. Human rights groups fear

the military junta in Burma is

simply using the poll to cement

its authority. Kesha West

reports. The pre-polling pictures coming out of Burma

this week give the impression

next month's election there

will be like any other.

Election officials display and seal ballot boxes for the

cameras as mock voters show how

the ballots will be lodged on

the day, but very few people believe this election will be

the democratic poll that Burma's military junta environment doesn't generate promised. The election

environment doesn't generate a

level playing field which is

neutral between all parties

participants in any sense. There is censorship operating

and candidates and parties are not allowed to say certain

things, they're not allowed to criticism the government policy. In so ways it falls far short. Human

rights groups and many in the international community concern the poll is merely international community are

about further entrenching

military rule under a new civilian guise. There will be a new Parliament, there will be an elected

actually in terms of the actual

governance of the country,

nothing is going to change. It nothing is going to change.

will remain an abusive will remain an abusive and non-democratic non-democratic system. That scepticism seems increasingly justified. This week the

military junta foreign observers would be military junta announced

barred from monitoring the barred from monitoring the 7 November poll. TRANSLATION: will arrange a tour for November poll. TRANSLATION: We

diplomats and UN representatives representatives based Myanmar

on the day the elections are

held. As these diplomats

represent their respective

countries, we do not think foreign observers. The news was

hardly spukd, nor was the

announcement that foreign

journalists would not be

granted visas to cover the poll. Election officials

insist there'll be plenty of

local reporters in the country

to cover the historic election. So if the election process is to have if it's to have any credibility even less than perfect

should have allowed credibility, they certainly

should have allowed some

international observers to be

there, so it's going to leave a

very big question mark over whole election. But Burma's

leaders continue to insist these elections will these elections will be free

and fair. Critics , though, and fair. Critics ,

argue the entire election

process is skewed in favour of

the military regime. A quarter of the seats Parliament have been reserved

for serving military officers.

That's 56 out of the 224 seats

in the Upper House, and 110 of

the 440 seats in the national level Parliament. So in

addition to the 25% of seats allocated

allocated for the military,

there are a large number of

military members of the

just taken their uniforms off, government who served as

retired from the military and civilians. are standing as so-called

Prime Minister civilians. Among them, then

Soe. It's quite clear that the Prime Minister General Thein

military intends for its favoured party the Union Solidarity and Development Party to win the election and

they are taking steps to ensure

that happens. Essentially it seems the entire State apparatus is serving as party. The junta has also electoral machine for that

ignored international community to ignored calls from the

release the more than 2,000 political prisoners being held

across Burma in time for the

election, including Nobel Peace

Prize-winning Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The United Nations has said repeatedly

that the elections will not

have any international

credibility unless Aung San Suu

Kyi, who has been under house arrest for most of the past two decades,

party the National League for decades, is released. Her

Democracy won the last election

in 1990, but was never allowed

to take party. The N LD is one

now been effectively barred of about ten parties that have

from the election. By excludeing the most popular

Opposition party it's a recipe

for building up for building up political tensions in the future. Aung

San Suu Kyi has urged the Burmese people to boycott the Burmese people to boycott l. poll. In a new report

presented to the general

assembly, the United Nations

human rights envoy to Burma

elections there are said conditions for genuine

under the current circumstances. Mr Quintana

goes on to say that the

potential for these elections

to bring meaningful change and

improvement to the human rights

situation remains uncertain. The country's ethnic minority groups, too, groups, too, aren't expecting

better things to improve for the

better after the election. In

a taped Newsline by an Newsline by an international

NGO with links to the Koren people, the Secretary-General of the Koren spoke of her doubt about the poll. That will not poll. That will not change

anything in Burma, because we

believe that the election believe that the election will

not bring any peace and any

democracy into Burma. democracy into Burma. The Karen National Union is concerned Thailand will follow through on a promise to repatriate all refugees after the November the November election. The refugees should not be returned

unless the country is really in

peace and stable. If repatriate these people, these

people will be arrested and they will be prosecuted. The

refugees should be given the right to settle outside the

country and remain outside the

country until there is a

genuine political process in Burma that can put the country

back on a

politically open footing. But

Morten Pedersen , who spent years on the ground in Burma as a researcher a researcher for the International Crisis Group says

even among the most persecuted groups in the groups in the country, there is still some hope for this

long-awaited election. For long-awaited election. For the

first time ever in Burmese

history there will be 14 local

governments, including local governments in each of the main

ethnic areas and these leaders

are hoping that if they can win significant numbers of seats in

the local parliaments, that

they will be able to use those local governments to begin to

work for change at least in the

day-to-day life of people

living there. Kesha living there. Kesha West reporting. The Burmese

military have rejected recent

requests from UN

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit their country. to visit their country. Tomas

Ojea Quintana , the UN special rapporteur on human rights

inBurma has also been refused

entry since early in the year. Tomas Ojea Quintana welcome to the program. My

pleasure. This election is

nothing short of a farce, isn't

it? That has been also part of my report to the general

assembly. These elections

won't be fair, won't be free

and won't be inclusive. That's

a problem in terms a problem in terms of

recognition from the human rights point of view. Do you

think that nevertheless it is a

step in the right direction ,

even given the constraints and restrictions imposed by Burmese regime? These elections

will take place after 40 will take place after 40 years of military governments, so

this is a change. This is a

possibility for a change in the future which brings, for

example, respect for human

rights, however, my assessment rights, however, my assess

at this moment is this is

uncertain. Yes in your annual

report you say that conditions for genuine elections limited and the potential for improvement for human rights remain uncertain - that would have to be a significant

understatement, would it not? Well, the real situation

is that the government is

putting all their efforts for these elections according to

what they reported to the General Assembly, all the

authorities are busy preparing

for these elections. My

conditions do not meet the international human rights

standards, so we will see after

7 November, the date of the

elections, how the facts develop in the country. What

difference would it make if

Aung San Suu Kyi were released

from house arrest and her National League for Democracy were allowed to take part in the election? An the election? An important

difference, between she and other political prisoners in

the country, more than 2,000

in these elections. There are people who are committed to people who are committed to the country, they are committed to

democracy and have been

incarcerated. So if government release prisoners of conscience, political prisoners

in the country, it will be an

important sign and message to the international the international community.

There is limited time left

until the election. On the basis of what you basis of what you know, do you

see any chance of Aung San Suu

Kyi being released before Kyi being released before the election, that prisoners will be released and

that those parties that wish

will be allowed to take part in the election? Regret ably, I

don't see any possibility for that. In the case of Aung San

Suu Kyi, even her case law

shows the government won't

release her before the elections. The Burmese military say they will say they will release Aung San

Suu Kyi after the election. Given your record Given your record do you believe them? It's not a matter to believe or not to believe. I think the government has an obligation to release her and

the question is under what conditions they will conditions they will release

her after the elections.

say she will be released, but

this release will be controlled

by the government so she by the government so she won't

be able even to participate, have have political participation. Would be

satisfied with anything less than unconditional release? Of course the improvement rights is a process in Myanmar

and any steps towards improvement is welcome from my

point of view. Z the point of view. Z the human rights

other prisoners mandates they have to be released unconditionally. Why do you think it is that the United

Nations has not responded to

your call to establish a commission of inquiry into the behaviour of the Burmese

regime? That has to be seen

yet. Today I presented my report to the General report to the General Assembly,

22 States took the floor. That

shows a lot of interest on my recommendations and we need to see afterwards the adopted by which will be in a couple of

weeks how the General Assembly

of United Nations will react.

Not only to my report, Not only to my report, but also

to the suffering of

in Myanmar. But there's been little public support for the idea of a commission of inquiry from key countries including China and China and the nations of the

EU. Are you disappointed by

that? I told today to member States this proposal, States this proposal, the big

issue here is justice and

accountability to be done in

Myanmar after 40 years Myanmar after 40 years of violations of human rights. I

said it primarily is the responsibility of responsibility of the government in Myanmar to address justice address justice and

accountability but also the

international community has a

responsibility if the

government fails. What hope is there of the taking any notice of the international community when countries like China and India

in particular treat the military almost as if they've

done nothing done nothing wrong? Well, I think the international community should act by

consensus, try to reach

consensus, try to reach an ement agreement among member States. Of course the government of

Myanmar has dealt with the

they know very good how to operate. The if the General Assembly during

these sessions will take a common approach and show that

Myanmar is starting this process towards democracy, process towards democracy, show that the new government has to respect UN principles, human rights UN principles. What sort

of framework would there be for of framework would there be fous

consensus for action, which if

it does not actually produce a

commission of inquiry puts

pressure on the Burmese

military to military to take notice of the

UN human rights convention for example? First I think a

resolution of General Assembly

should include expressly the call for accountability. Second, I

think also this resolution

should include some kind of

action, concrete action in this regard, calling for example to

the office of the Secretary-General to start

studying the issue within the Human Rights Council. So I

think this will be a way really to let the

Myanmar know that if there's Myanmar know that if there's no answers, response in the

country with respect to punish and look for justice and accountability, then the international community will react and commission of inquiry

is one of the possibilities. Burma is a member of member of the Association of South East Asian Nations. Are you disappointed that you disappointed that ASEAN

hasn't done more to push hasn't done more to push the Burmese military to change

their ways, especially their ways, especially that ASEAN now has rights charter? ASEAN has been

very clear calling for free,

fair and inclusive elections.

That's very important, and I appreciate and appreciate and I praise that decision. However I think ASEAN can do more, especially

prisoners who have been held in

prison for many years just for

expressing their

has an important role to play

in this immediately and also

after the elections. Tomas Ojea Quintana , thank you very much. My pleasure.

It's been over half a century since the medical world declared victory over infectious bacteria with the developed of commercial

antibiotics. But now doctors warn that the clock turned back with the emergence turned back with the emerg

of new forms of germs resistant

to modern medicine. One

particular threat is emerging

from India. Called NDM-1, it's

a gene that gives common bugs a

shield against the most

powerful antibiotics. Gavin

Fang reports. For 60 years, antibiotics have been the

front-line weapon in the war

against back tiera. It's against back tiera. It's often compared to an arms race, with drugmakers trying to

of evolving more dangerous

germs. But lately there's been a significant shift of power, with new

bacteria getting the upper hand. I guess what's frightening about this new kind of a resistance is that of a resistance is that we really are down right at the

bottom of the barrel and that we know that the pharmaceutical

industry doesn't have anything

coming in the middle term to deal with them. Normally we

can see 5-10 years out in terms of antibiotic development. At

the moment, we

nothing. It's into this

environment that the environment that the latest strain of antibiotic resistant bacteria has emerged. bacteria has emerged. It's

from India and it's caused by a gene called New Delhi Metallo

Beta Lactamase, or NDM-1, and

in the past few months its

spread has caught the attention

of global health authorities.

In India and Pakistan there

have been more than 100 cases,

mainly in Chennai and Haryana.

Another 37 in the UK, and Europe and Canada. Three in

Australia, and in the past

month, new infections in Taiwan

and Japan. NDM-1 is very much a different thing from pandemic

influenza where there is clear and rapidly contagious person to person spread with influenza. On the other hand

with the NDM-1 producers what

we know is that the spread is

slower and it's typically

occurring in hospitals and so, for example, NDM-1 producing organism may be

looked after by a doctor looked after by a doctor or

nurse who doesn't clean their

hands properly and then goes to

another patient and transmits the organism that way. NDM-1

works like this, take a

common bug like the stomach bug

E-coli or the bacteria E-coli or the bacteria that causes pneumonia and add in the NDM-1 gene. This gene makes

the bacteria produce an enzyme which breaks down some of which breaks down some of the

most powerful antibiotics most powerful antibiotics ,

making them ineffective. Put the bacteria in other strains and the NDM-1 gene can jump over to form new

antibiotic resistant bugs. Professor Peter Collignon is

one of Australia's leading specialists on infectious diseases. He says the diseases. He says the new

NDM-1 gene gives bacteria the equivalent of a bullet proof

vest. So for that type of

bacteria, if you're unlucky

enough to get infected you're

back in the 1920s or '30s and

the real concern is when you look and China not only with these

type of strains, but with many other strains that have

slightly different types of

resistance we are back in the pre-antibiotic area. We are

basically saying we have effective therapy to kill these

germs and the real worry is how

common these germs are

becoming. It's the most vulnerable patients that are

more at risk from NDM-1 altered

bacteria, the likes of cancer patients and those recovering

from complicated surgery.

There are some antibiotics that

have been used to treat this

resistant bacteria, but also toxic. Well, some of the

antibiotics are one called ka listen for instance, that was

an antibiotic found many years ago but wasn't used because it

was toxic. So in some of these cases we are cases we are using these antibiotics but we have a lot

less data on it and we know

it's a lot more toxic or

damaging to our body from side effects than the simper antibiotics we've got. antibiotics we've got. Health

authorities here in Australia

have yet to lay out any

specific instructions for the treatment NDM-1 bacteria, but other

countries are taking more immediate steps. The United Kingdom has sent out an alert

warning of the appearance of the bacteria and China's ministry of health has issued

warnings. Professor David

Paterson was a co-author of a

recent paper in the British Medical Journal 'Lancet' that

described the emergence of

NDM-1 One of our concerns is if the NDM-1 the NDM-1 becomes very widespread in India, including

in the general population in India outside of India outside of hospitals,

could people who are going to

foreign countries acquire foreign countries acquire the organism just from tourism, let alone those people going alone those people going into hospitals? So in other words,

people who don't go people who don't go into hospitals may potentially hospitals may potentially be

acquiring the organism as a

result of result of food or water consumption. The Indian

Government has rejected Government has rejected claims that its medical system is the source of new resistant germs,

but Dr John Turnidge says the

reasons behind the emergence of

these tougher bacteria in India are well documented. One of the

real problems in India now is

an extremely well heeled middle

class who can afford to pay for

good quality health care, but

in the setting of totally

unrestrained antibiotic all doctors both inside and

outside the hospital. There is

essentially no controls over

antibiotic use and they're

using up all the latest and greatest antibiotics and driving this resistance. Overprescription

of antibiotics isn't confined

to India. Professor David

Paterson says it's up to individual countries to tighten

their own regulations, but he

says it's developing countries

like India which will bear the

brunt of the increase in drug

resistant bacteria. Anywhere in

York City or Rio or Athens York City or Rio or Athens or New Delhi, if we have a situation where firstly antibiotics are being used

inappropriately and excessively

and secondly, where infection

control is not up to par, that

is a recipe for increasing resistance. Unfortunately, it

is going to be people in rapidly developing countries

where we're seeing these issues with antibiotic unfortunately people are going to die from these antibiotic

resistant organisms. That

report from gavb, and

all for now. For program information you can visit our website at

You'll find a link to send us

your views on our coverage your views on our coverage and

you can watch some of the major stories and interviews we've

had on the program. I'll be back at the same time on

Monday, with another edition of

Newsline. I'm Jim Middleton. Thanks

now. Closed Captions by CSI This program is not subtitled This program is not captioned. Tonight - the Shadow Treasurer

branded reckless for his plan

to punish the banks. Just

another one of their lunatic

fringe-type ideas, Mr Speaker. An emotional homecoming as

Australian troops return from their deployment in

Afghanistan. A state of relief

as NSW gets the all-clear as NSW gets the all-clear from a decade-long drought. And,

more trouble for Toyota as 1.5 million vehicles are recalled

worldwide. Live across

Australia, this is ABC News 24,

good evening I'm Nick Dole.

The Shadow The Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey is threatening legislation to

punish the banks if they raise

rates above the official

increases. The Government has