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Lateline -

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Closed Captions produced by Captioning and Subtitling International Pty Ltd Tonight - enemy at the
gate - tabloid TV takes on Jack Thomas.

So are you Australian or a Muslim?

I'm Australian.

But find he's only human. After all -

If you don't mind, I'm trying to get back from breaking point and each time I go back to prison, I
go closer back to breaking point. I'm trying not to go back there, if you don't mind.

Adventurer, terrorist or family man? Jack Thomas is living under the microscope. This program is
captioned live. Good evening. Welcome to Lateline. I'm Tony Jones. Also tonight, the crown
prosecutor Nanette Rogers sparked a national debate when she unburdened herself of horrific details
of violence and sexual abuse against Indigenous women and children in Central Australia. Then came
Suzanne Smith's graphic story of a paedophile who'd operated in the Mutijulu community swapping
petrol for sex with young girls. The Federal Government responded in July by establishing an
Australian Crime Commission task force with powers to gather intelligence and compel witnesses. So
what's happened to it? And how is it operating? We'll cross live to Darwin to speak to the Justice
Minister, Chris Ellison. That's coming up, first our other headlines. A tale of two cities - John
Howard's new model for energy-efficient living and his dream of a return to urban sprawl. The
arrest of one of America's most wanted - the polygamist religious leader, described by his
disciples as a "prophet". And on 'Lateline Business' - the High Court puts business on notice that
class actions against shonky behaviour are set to increase.

Thomas tells of curfew frustration

Thomas tells of curfew frustration

Broadcast: 30/08/2006

Reporter: Helen Brown

Jack Thomas has spoken out for the first time since being released from jail, venting his
frustration at the Government imposed curfew and treatment by the media.

Transcript

TONY JONES: Jack Thomas has spoken for the first time since being issued with a control order
earlier this week. Mr Thomas says he's not a terrorist and has never intended to mount an attack
against Australia or its allies. The interview was carried out by reporters from the Seven network,
who talked their way into the Thomas home in suburban Melbourne today. It was passed on to the ABC
as part of a pool arrangement, and Mr Thomas' lawyer now says he's angry about the way the
interview was obtained. Helen Brown reports.

HELEN BROWN: Media interest in Jack Thomas has been intense, and this morning, reporters from
Channel Seven's news and 'Today Tonight' program managed to obtain an interview.

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: (Knocks on window)

WOMAN INSIDE: Who is it?

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: Oh hi, it's Siobhan speaking from Channel Seven.

WOMAN INSIDE: Yes?

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: I'm just hoping for a word with Jack if he's about.

WOMAN INSIDE: I beg your pardon?

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: I'm wondering if Jack-

WOMAN INSIDE: Sorry, what was your name?

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: It's Siobhan, from Channel Seven, and we're hoping to have a word to Jack.

WOMAN INSIDE: Oh, hang on a second, just in the shower.

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: Oh, is he?

WOMAN INSIDE: Yes.

JACK THOMAS: It's just that, I'm not allowed to say anything.

WOMAN: We're not allowed to say anything.

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: That was just being explained. I will give you an undertaking that I won't
ask you anything that will get you into trouble with the authorities. I've spoken to Rob, so I do
appreciate that there's some things that can and can't be said.

HELEN BROWN: Mr Thomas' lawyer, Rob Stary, says although he'd spoken to the journalists, it wasn't
about giving permission for an interview with his client. But he says that was the impression the
journalists gave to Mr Thomas and his wife. The executive producer of Today Tonight, Neil Mooney,
says the journalists knocked on the door and were invited on to the property, and did not
misrepresent the situation.

JACK THOMAS: Rob...What's the story?

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: Well, why don't we, any questions that you don't want to answer, don't
answer.

JACK THOMAS: It's not that, it's just...

MALE CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: Is it good to be home? Just give us a second, if that's alright. Give
us a second, if that's alright. Sorry, cause I didn't realise. I just came to put the nappy in the
bin.

(To daughter) Good girl, good girl.

HELEN BROWN: In an often rambling interview, Jack Thomas said the thought of being home with his
family was the only thing that had kept him going. Mr Thomas said the accusations had hit hard and
he has post-traumatic stress disorder.

JACK THOMAS: You would've found me dangling from the end of a string if I had have been found
guilty of attacking my own country. Or any other - or anyone else's country.

HELEN BROWN: He says his detention in Pakistan drove him to breaking point.

JACK THOMAS: It's not a good look to talk about those times. It's just not good. It's just not a
good...

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: What is it that upsets you?

JACK THOMAS: (Cries) Just...being home. That's what always...trying to get back here.

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: So what is it about that time that upsets you the most, is it the
accusations, is it the...

JACK THOMAS: Look, it's obviously...I'm sorry Shannon, if, if you don't mind, I'm trying to get
back from breaking point.

HELEN BROWN: But he doesn't feel anger about people who don't believe him, or wonder about his
allegiances.

CHANNEL SEVEN REPORTER: So are you an Australian or a Muslim?

JACK THOMAS: I'm an Australian. Well, obviously I don't worship my country, I worship the creator
of all the worlds, the different worlds. So obviously I'm a fifth-generation Australian, I'm of
Irish descent, so what does it make me? I don't know.

HELEN BROWN: Jack Thomas said after seven months in the training camp in Afghanistan, he realised
there were evil elements in the Taliban.

JACK THOMAS: That's why we'd packed up and were ready to leave before September 11. Then, we'd had
enough. I'd had enough. I'd seen what I'd - I'd been and done what I needed to do to fulfil my, you
know - well, curiosity killed the cat, I guess. But you know, and we'd packed up ready to leave and
then two aeroplanes hit the buildings in New York and Washington. So you're trapped, I was trapped
and...basically branded.

HELEN BROWN: And denies that he's a terrorist.

JACK THOMAS: In my heart, I know I haven't done the wrong thing, alright? And I'm not opposed to or
rebellious against the Australian Government or the Australian authorities, indeed I do my best to
do all I can.

HELEN BROWN: Jack Thomas is attempting to build a business, constructing an industrial kitchen and
trying to get on with his life. And says he denounces al-Qaeda and hadn't even heard of them before
the September 11 attacks.

JACK THOMAS: Absolutely. I out and out denounce everything, everything that they do and the way
that they are doing it. Out and out. It's not the way.

HELEN BROWN: He also gave credit to his wife.

JACK THOMAS: Looking after three kids by yourself, let alone paying the mortgage and all the
bills...she's a very strong woman.

HELEN BROWN: The first court hearing in regards to Mr Thomas' interim control order is listed for
tomorrow morning. Tonight, Jack Thomas made his second visit to a police station as a condition of
those orders. Helen Brown, Lateline. Search Lateline

PM calls for greater urban sprawl

Tonight, Jack Thomas made his second visit to a police station as a condition of those orders.
Helen Brown, Lateline. The Prime Minister has called for a return to greater urban sprawl to make
housing more affordable for families. On a day when he pledged millions of dollars for modern
solar-powered cities, John Howard has confounded environmentalists with his suggestion that more
land is needed to give suburban families a traditional backyard. From Canberra, Greg Jennett
reports. Taking all power under the sun - this Adelaide development has been chosen as the model
for energy efficient living. With $15 million from the Federal Government and nearly $40 million
from the private sector, thousands of solar panels and hi-tech meters will be placed on homes and
businesses across the city.

It's estimated by the consortium that if residents take advantage of all of the offerings made then
there'll be a saving of some $200 a year in the average electricity bill.

Sustainable living is a theme John Howard's picking up on, at a time when power, fuel and water
costs have never been higher.

We're grappling perhaps for the first time - for any Australian generation - we're grappling with
the reality that a lot of these things are no longer limitlessly available at a modest cost. That
time is...changing.

But when it comes to urban land use, the PM prefers a more traditional approach.

I think we do have to be willing to see an even greater urban sprawl. Of course we do.

Harking back to a time when all houses were built on big blocks, Mr Howard has challenged the trend
of recent decades towards higher density living in the suburbs.

I am a great believer in that old Australian ideal of having a bit of - a backyard for your
children to run around in. That is still what the young of Australia now want. We have to find a
way of accommodating that - not telling them, "Sorry you've missed out."

It's difficult to escape the conclusion that the PM's views are fossilised in a previous era.

In an address marking the 40th anniversary of the Conservation Foundation, Ian Lowe says new
thinking is needed on urban planning, he says a consumer lifestyle is already putting too much
strain on land, and Middle Australia either doesn't know it or doesn't care.

Each year on average we use more energy, travel further in larger and less efficient cars, live in
larger houses, consume more resources and produce more waste.

If overcrowding in the cities is unsustainable, there's always the option of moving somewhere else.
That's something the Government is actively encouraging, with a trial of cash payments for
unemployed people to move to booming regional areas in desperate need of workers. A pilot program
will offer up to $5,000 cash to people prepared to travel to leave areas of high unemployment in
the east and travel to places like Darwin or the Kimberley.

They'll probably be single but they may not be, and the idea is that they will be keen to do these
jobs.

This is about giving access to people. It's about removing a disincentive to people to take the
"risk" out of moving out into those remote areas.

The trial is for just 15 to 20 workers. Greg Jennett, Lateline.

US cult leader jailed for child sex offences

US cult leader jailed for child sex offences

Broadcast: 30/08/2006

Reporter: Tom Iggulden

In the United States, one of the FBI's ten most wanted men is behind bars tonight. Warren Jeffs was
wanted for child sex offences and is the leader of a religious cult claiming links to the Mormon
Church.

Transcript

TONY JONES: In the United States, one of the FBI's ten most wanted men is behind bars tonight.
Warren Jeffs is the leader of a religious cult claiming links to the Mormon Church. He's been on
the run from police, who've charged him with a string of child sex offences. But many of Jeffs'
10,000 followers have remained loyal and claim he's being persecuted. Tom Iggulden reports.

TOM IGGULDEN: The FBI hasn't been the only one looking for the man regarded as one of America's
most dangerous criminals.

AMERICAN REPORTER: Can you tell us where to find Warren Jeffs?

CULT MEMBER: Just go to hell.

TOM IGGULDEN: Since going underground two years ago, he's been harboured by the estimated 10,000
members of the cult, based in isolated communities throughout the Rocky Mountains. The cult
practises polygamy. Jeffs has 75 wives, some of whom he inherited from his father, who founded the
cult and died four years ago. He's wanted for sexually assaulting his teenage brides and for
arranging forced marriages of other under-aged wives.

RECORDING OF WARREN JEFFS: And ladies, build up your husbands by being submissive.

TOM IGGULDEN: There's been a $100,000 reward for his capture, but in the end, his downfall was the
eagle eyes of a Nevada highway patrolman who noticed his license plate was smudged. An inspection
of the car revealed all the signs of a man on the run.

STEVE MARTINEZ, FBI: Everything from a large number of cellular telephones, laptop computers, three
wigs, quite a bit of cash in excess of $50,000 in cash.

TOM IGGULDEN: After giving a false name, Jeffs came quietly.

STEVE MARTINEZ: We are very, very pleased that this was resolved without any violence.

CULT MEMBER: You back off! Back off!

TOM IGGULDEN: In recent months, the fundamentalist Church of Jesus and Latter Day Saints has become
a target of authorities, especially in Utah where the legitimate arm of the Mormon Church has
rallied against its fundamentalist offshoot. The Attorney-General there has confiscated $100
million of the group's assets and put them in a public trust. Now, he's hoping the arrest of Jeffs
will undermine the cult even further.

MARK SHURTLEFF, UTAH ATTORNEY-GENERAL: I think what it will tell them is he is human, he is subject
to police authority, he is not invincible.

TOM IGGULDEN: This woman was a former child bride, forced to have sex with older male cult members.

FLORA JESSOP, FORMER CHILD BRIDE: We have the American Taliban right here. And this is Jihad on the
streets of America.

TOM IGGULDEN: The cult is large and well resourced, despite the poverty of its followers, who have
resented the recent intrusion into their lives.

CULT MEMBER: I have a right to worship any damn thing I want and wear any damn clothes I want and
I'm sick of hearing how stupid and retarded we are!

TOM IGGULDEN: TOM IGGULDEN: And that has many fearing a repeat of the 1993 standoff between the FBI
and the Branch Davidian cult that left 74 dead. Tom Iggulden, Lateline.

Annan urges end to Lebanon blockade

Annan urges end to Lebanon blockade

Broadcast: 30/08/2006

Reporter: Matt Brown

A meeting between the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert has failed to resolve sharp differences over southern Lebanon.

Transcript

TONY JONES: A meeting between the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert has failed to resolve sharp differences over southern Lebanon. Israel's Prime
Minister is insisting that international forces be deployed along Lebanon's border with Syria, to
stop what he says is a route for arming Hezbollah. But Kofi Annan says there may be other ways of
blocking the route and he's urged an immediate lifting of Israel's blockade of Lebanon. From
Jerusalem, Middle East correspondent Matt Brown reports.

MATT BROWN: When Kofi Annan flew into Israel, he knew he had his work cut out for him. He and
Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert were able to put on the usual show of warmth for the cameras, but
the two are at loggerheads.

Ehud Olmert sent his nation to war in Lebanon to free the two Israeli soldiers captured by
Hezbollah and end Hezbollah's rocket attacks on Israel. He has failed to guarantee either outcome.
And Kofi Annan's now pressuring him to lift Israel's blockade on Lebanon without delay.

KOFI ANNAN: It is important, not only because of the economic effect it is having on the country,
but it is also important to strengthen the democratic government of Lebanon, with which Israel has
repeatedly said it had no problems.

MATT BROWN: But Ehud Olmert is under intense pressure on the home front and he's made the release
of the two Israeli soldiers a make or break issue.

EHUD OLMERT: The most important aspect of implementing Resolution 1701 is the unconditional release
of the abducted Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

MATT BROWN: Israel wants the new UN force in southern Lebanon to go much further than the
contributing nations are prepared to go. It wants the UN troops to help the Lebanese army to disarm
Hezbollah and run an arms blockade to stop Hezbollah from getting fresh weapons sent in, ready for
more attacks.

EHUD OLMERT: I think that the most effective way is to deploy the international force along the
border.

MATT BROWN: But neighbouring Syria says it would see that as a hostile act. Israel is still
occupying Lebanon and until the new UN troops are deployed in force, it will not withdraw. Ehud
Olmert has hinted that he may be holding an olive branch just out of sight.

EHUD OLMERT: And we certainly hope that conditions will change rapidly in order to allow direct
contact between the Government of Israel and the Government of Lebanon in order to hopefully soon
reach an agreement between the two countries.

MATT BROWN: And Kofi Annan did meet the families of the two soldiers and repeated his calls for
their immediate release.

KOFI ANNAN: I am a father; I am also a brother, a husband. And listening to their stories, I could
feel their pain.

MATT BROWN: But the cease-fire and the recovery in south Lebanon are in jeopardy. Israelis have
little faith in the UN - if they can't get two Israeli soldiers back, how, they ask, can there be
lasting peace on the border? And that will make it difficult to leave what Israeli leaders have
called 'the Lebanese quicksand'. Matt Brown, Lateline.

Jailed East Timor rebel leader escapes

Jailed East Timor rebel leader escapes

Broadcast: 30/08/2006

Reporter: Tony Jones

International police in East Timor are conducting a massive man hunt for 55 prisoners who escaped
from jail in Dili this afternoon. Among the escapees is Alfredo Reinado, leader of a group of rebel
soldiers blamed for some of the violence which wracked East Timor's capital earlier this year.

Transcript

TONY JONES: International police in East Timor are conducting a massive man hunt for 55 prisoners
who escaped from jail in Dili this afternoon. Among the escapees is Alfredo Reinado, leader of a
group of rebel soldiers blamed for some of the violence which wracked East Timor's capital earlier
this year. In late May, Reinado led a group of fellow military police into the mountains behind
Dili, refusing to give up their weapons until the then prime minister Mari Alkatiri resigned from
office. Major Reinado was being held on charges including attempted murder for his role in a
gunfight near Becora.

Tony Jones speaks to Senator Chris Ellison

Tony Jones speaks to Senator Chris Ellison

Broadcast: 30/08/2006

Reporter: Tony Jones

After attending a forum in the northern suburbs of Darwin to hear concerns of a community hit by
crime, The Federal Justice Minister, Chris Ellison, talks to Tony Jones.

Transcript

TONY JONES: Well revelations on this program of abuse against women and children in Indigenous
communities in Central Australia moved the Federal Government to establish a task force to address
the issues. When he announced the plan, the Justice Minister Senator Chris Ellison likened the
problems of substance abuse and sexual violence in Indigenous communities to 'organised crime',
with codes of silence, non-reporting of crimes and intimidation of witnesses. The Australian Crime
Commission has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence, but will it be used in child abuse
cases? And as we've just heard also, there's been a massive prison breakout in East Timor today
with the rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado among those on the run. Senator Ellison of course, is
also in charge of the Federal Police and we'll be asking him about that.

He's now in the Northern Territory to talk about gang violence among community policing - and
community policing - and he joins us now from our Darwin studio to discuss both of those issues.

TONY JONES: Chris Ellison, thanks for being there.

SENATOR CHRIS ELLISON, JUSTICE AND CUSTOMS MINISTER: Good evening, Tony.

TONY JONES: Can we just start with the jail break in East Timor. Fifty-five prisoners on the run.
We presume the Australian Federal Police on the ground are involved in their attempts to recapture
them?

CHRIS ELLISON: Yes, the Australian Federal Police certainly are involved in those efforts to
recapture these prisoners who are on the run. We understand there was a mass breakout at about 3pm
Dili time this afternoon. As a result of that, police have swung into action. International police
- including the Australian Federal Police, working at the order of the United Nations - are now
trying to capture these prisoners who are on the run and of course Elfredo Reinado is amongst that
number. He's one of the leaders, of course, who was involved recently involved in disturbances. So
it is a serious situation. Australian Federal Police are on the ground working and with other
police and trying to bring this back to order and bring these prisoners back to custody.

TONY JONES: It must be particularly worrying that Major Reinado, as you say one of the leaders of
the rebels, has escaped. Among the others who've escaped, are they his followers?

CHRIS ELLISON: We're not sure at this time, Tony, it's breaking news. But we do understand that the
majority of these people, if not all of them, were involved in recent disturbances and of course
that is a matter of concern. To have a breakout in this number is also of grave concern and it can
only destabilise the situation in East Timor. The UN mandate, of course, has just been put in place
and we are working with the UN. We also have of course 1,300 Australian Defence Force personnel
there as well and they can be used if needed.

TONY JONES: Is there any news on how they managed to escape and whether they got weapons in doing
so?

CHRIS ELLISON: As I understand, Becora Prison was looked after by the East Timorese authorities.
We've never had control over that prison. We don't have that detail to hand just yet. Our main
priority of course is to recapture these prisoners who've escaped and put them back into custody.
But certainly, there will be inquiries in relation to how they escaped.

TONY JONES: Alright. Let's move on to the reason we brought you here tonight to talk to you in the
first place. In July, you announced the formation of a national Indigenous violence and child abuse
task force. Is it up and running yet and what is it doing?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, we hope to have our Australian Crime Commission intelligence task force in
place within the next week or so. Our headquarters in Alice Springs will be up and running by the
end of the month. We have a commander and deputy commander in place and we're also looking to put
police in place at all our ACC offices around capital cities around Australia. But the headquarters
for this task force will be in Alice Springs and we're working with the Northern Territory police
in relation to that. I spoke about this with Paul Henderson, the Northern Territory Police Minister
this evening, and we're happy with the way things are going.

TONY JONES: How do you suppose they will be operating and why choose Alice Springs as the base of
operations?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, Alice Springs was as the result of discussions with Northern Territory and
other police commissioners. I think it is a fairly central location. We also have accommodation in
Darwin. But as I say, we have police around the country. The main thing of course is we that have
the participation of all state and territory police services. And, indeed, the officer in charge of
the task force is a Northern Territory police officer and the deputy is from South Australian
police, all working with the Australian Crime Commission and other police officers. But we have at
our disposal the Australian Crime Commission, which is a truly national body in that it has all
police commissioners on its board of control, and I think that that is a very important part of it.
As well as that also, the coercive powers of the Australian Crime Commission can be made available,
should the board determine that that is necessary. And I think that's an important part of the
firepower of this task force.

TONY JONES: Indeed, you told 'The Australian' that substance abuse, sexual abuse and violence in
Indigenous communities had the hallmarks of serious and organised crime. What did you mean by that?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, the hallmarks of serious crime, in the way that you get a code of silence,
where you have witnesses and victims who are intimidated, who through fear will not report a crime
or give evidence. And that was what I was getting at, that that is what you usually find when
you're dealing with serious and organised crime. And we're finding communities, and across
Australia the situation is fairly much the same, that you have this climate of fear and a lack of
reporting. And that is why it's become so important to act in the national manner and the way we
have. But of course, the question of whether coercive powers will be used is a matter for the
Australian Crime Commission.

TONY JONES: Are you talking specifically about Indigenous communities? It obviously sounds like you
are.

CHRIS ELLISON: Yes, oh, definitely. This is in relation to the task force that we set up as a
result of the summit that we had in Canberra and as a result of the agreement of COAG and the
Australian Police Ministers Council. The Australian Crime Commission has a number of other areas of
investigation, of course, but we felt that this body was the best able to deal with this and the
police commissioners met at the Australian Police Ministers Council in late June and thought that
this was the way to drive it forward, and I agree with them.

TONY JONES: Now, how will the Crime Commission, how will this task force, be attempting to break
down the barriers that you're talking about - the barriers of the codes of silence, the refusal of
people through fear to report others for crimes like the sexual abuse of children?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, we'll certainly be working with elders, with women's groups and we've had some
successful experiences in the past, Tony, in dealing with bush meetings, particularly ones aimed at
women themselves. And that can take some time to get their confidence, to get them to come forward
with the reports of violence and sexual abuse. But certainly, we'll be working with elders in the
community, women in the community and the Australian Crime Commission has already consulted with
the Northern Territory Child Abuse Unit. So it is really a very broad approach to this. We'll be
dealing with intelligence gained from across the board and comparing it. The Australian Crime
Commission has a database which can accommodate this and it's tailor-made for that sort of thing.
And then once we gather their intelligence, we'll be able to act. But in the first instance, it's
intelligence-led policing and it has to be.

TONY JONES: But you can imagine circumstances, because you put the power in place, where the powers
offer the ACC to compel witnesses to testify, and suspects to testify, could be used in cases like
this?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, certainly the ACC has those powers at its disposal. It's the board who
determines whether they're used, not the Government, not politicians, but the board - which is made
up of all state and territory and Commonwealth police commissioners, the head of Customs, ASIO,
ASIC and the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department. So that you have a broad cross-section
of people who are on the board of the Australian Crime Commission and they determine whether those
coercive powers are used and they are best placed to do that. They have those powers available.
They'll make that decision if it's appropriate.

TONY JONES: But you've put these powers police because you think they may be necessary?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, the powers haven't necessarily been put in place by determination. It's there,
it doesn't have to be. It's available to the ACC as a result of other determinations that are in
place. One in particular, dealing with serious crime. And the advice I have is that a further
determination is not necessary. The power is there. It simply requires the decision of the board.

TONY JONES: It is an extraordinary power: it's sort of a legal blunt instrument. You'd be aware
there will be claims you are discriminating against Aboriginal people if you use it against
Aboriginal people and only Aboriginal people in these kind of circumstances?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, Tony, I would reject that. We've used these coercive powers in a whole range
of areas and dealing with the wider community, whether it be - well, we've seen them in operation:
Wickenby, dealing with tax fraud; we've seen them with organised crime; outlaw motorcycle gangs;
organised drug dealers. So, really, across the board where there is serious crime, we've used these
coercive powers. We're not singling out anyone because of their race, creed or religion. We're
dealing with an instance which has arisen, a very serious situation and we've said with support
from across the nation that this needs to be stopped and we'll use what powers we have to use to
stop it.

TONY JONES: You'd be aware of the reaction to some of our own reporting on this, claims that the
problems are being exaggerated, that violence and sexual abuse against children is not widespread
at all. Are you aware of the scale of the problem?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, I think that, for a start, the intelligence gathering by the Australian Crime
Commission with the cooperation of all state and territory police will give us that accurate
picture. But, can I tell you that in the feedback I've had, dealing with people across Australia,
I've had no-one say to me that this is exaggerated and our own National Indigenous Council, which
advises the Government, has said this is the way to go. Leaders in the Aboriginal community have
said this is the way to go. We have a situation where in my home state, for instance, there was a
whole inquiry centred around the abuse of young Aboriginal girls - in fact, one who took her own
life tragically - and that resulted in the Gordon Inquiry in Western Australia. So certainly across
Australia we're seeing a lot of concern in relation to this and the feedback we're getting is that
this is warranted.

TONY JONES: OK. We have recently seen the example of a Northern Territory police investigation
trying to get evidence against the man who we reported had been swapping petrol for sex with young
girls in the community of Mutitjulu. Are you aware of the results of that investigation?

CHRIS ELLISON: No, I'm not. But that would be a matter for the Northern Territory police. I
wouldn't comment even if I knew where that was at, because it's a matter for the Northern Territory
police. It's an operational matter and I don't comment on those.

TONY JONES: OK. It's been reported that potential witnesses were made to sit out in the open
outside police stations in full view of people who might take reprisals against them. It seemed
precisely the sort of way you wouldn't operate if you wanted to get the cooperation of potential
witnesses. Would your task force take lessons from that kind of operation?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, certainly the task force is going to be made up of police officers from around
Australia with experience in dealing with Indigenous affairs. We made it very clear at the outset
that the Australian Federal Police has not had that experience and that's why we used the
Australian Crime Commission as a national body to facilitate that action. But we'd be relying on
experienced police advice as to how we deal with these situations and, as I said, we're working
with elders in the Aboriginal communities and women's groups, so we'll be guided by that advice. I
can't comment on the particular situation you've raised. You'd have to ask the Minister for the
Northern Territory police.

TONY JONES: I understand that. The same police, though, were also criticised for not even seeking
the advice or the help of the NPI women's council, the very people who've been dealing with the
victims of crime. Would you imagine the task force will deal with groups like that?

CHRIS ELLISON: Most certainly. The information that I have is that we've already made contact with
the child abuse team in the Northern Territory and we're making contact with the Aboriginal elders
and that the women's groups will be factored into the work of the task force and that is something
which is extremely important. I've had feedback from some of the groups that have been consulted in
Western Australia, for instance - a women's group at bush meetings where important information has
been gathered because it's not something you can just walk in and ask someone to give you an
interview and information. You have to build that trust, build that relationship with these people,
particularly the women concerned, so they have confidence in you and will come forward and give you
the information that is so vital and of course you've got to instill that confidence in them that
if they do give you that information you will act.

TONY JONES: When you say you will act will you be actually looking for offenders and seeking to
prosecute them? Is that the way you will act? Or will you be looking to somehow have a truth and
reconciliation commission type of approach, where you go into communities, find out who the
offenders are and talk to them and try to get them not to do this anymore. I mean, how are you
going to act?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, my clear understanding is this will be aimed at bringing offenders to justice
and nothing more, nothing less. These are - this is a serious situation where there are allegations
of very serious criminal behaviour and those who are guilty should be brought to justice and
there's no question about that. I'm not aware of anyone else who thinks we should do it in any
other way or that the goals should be any different. Certainly the feedback I have and at the
summit and at the police ministers' council was that anyone guilty of this sort of behaviour should
feel the full force of the law.

TONY JONES: Does it worry you at all that you'll end up filling the jails with Aboriginal men who
are accused of these kind of crimes which are in some communities quite widespread?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, you should only fill jails with people who've been found guilty, not accused.
If they're accused, they're on remand but if someone is found guilty of these sorts of offences, it
would be very hard to imagine where abuse of a child or a sexual assault would not go without a
term of imprisonment. Now, look, the question of the jails is secondary. The primary consideration
here is to bring offenders to justice where there are very serious allegations, indeed, of sexual
assault, child abuse and abuse of women.

TONY JONES: Chris Ellison, we will have to leave you there. We obviously will be back in touch as
this task force is up and running, but we thank you very much for telling us about it tonight.

CHRIS ELLISON: It's a pleasure. Thank you, Tony.

very much for themming us about it

UN praises refugee legislation rejection

UN praises refugee legislation rejection

Broadcast: 30/08/2006

Reporter: Karen Percy

The UN's top refugee official has praised the "collective conscience" of the Australian people for
rejecting legislation that would have meant all refugees arriving by boat were processed offshore.

Transcript

TONY JONES: The UN's top refugee official has praised the "collective conscience" of the Australian
people for rejecting legislation that would have meant all refugees arriving by boat were processed
offshore. Antonio Guterres made his comments during a visit to one of seven refugee camps on
Thailand's western border. More than 150,000 Burmese refugees are living in the camps, including
many from the Karen ethnic minority who have long been persecuted by Burma's military regime. Some
of them will be making a new home in Australia, as South-East Asia correspondent Karen Percy
reports from the Thai-Burma border.

KAREN PERCY: Tham Hin camp is home to more than 9,500 Burmese refugees. Many of them are ethnic
Karens, some of whom have been living here since the camp opened in 1997. For the first time, the
UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, is seeing for himself what it's like to live
in camps like this one along the Thai-Burma border. With him is the American Assistant Secretary of
State, Ellen Sauerbrey, who today is overseeing the departure of more than 60 refugees to the
United States.

ELLEN SAUERBREY: So welcome. Do you know where in Maryland you're going?

KAREN PERCY: One of the key concerns for refugees and the agencies that assist them is the number
of new refugees that are crossing the border from Burma, just 10km from here. One thousand new
refugees have made it to this camp this year, fleeing increased hostilities between the Burmese
Government and Karen rebels. That's putting additional pressure on living conditions and the
programs within the camp.

The Thai authorities who run these border camps have been asked to ease the restrictions imposed on
these people so they can leave the camp to work or perhaps study. And Antonio Guterres says the
West needs to take more refugees.

ANTONIO GUTERRES: When we see 10,000 people living for 10 years in these extremely harsh
conditions, we understand how important it is for the rich countries of the world to establish or
to enlarge their resettlement programs.

KAREN PERCY: The United States will accept about 2,700 Burmese refugees this year. Australia's
intake will total 1,200 - up from about 900 last year. The UN is pleased with the additional
Australian quota, and it's also welcomed the withdrawal of legislation that would have meant the
offshore processing of all unauthorised arrivals in Australia.

ANTONIO GUTERRES: I think that demonstrates that there is, in Australia, collective conscience,
that protection should be granted to refugees.

KAREN PERCY: That's exactly what Daniel Zu and his wife Beh are counting on. They hope to take
their six children to Australia later this year.

DANIEL ZU: Our feeling is democratic country care, and then they love to help people in need.

BEH ZU: Here in the camp, you know, the living condition is very strict and very crowded, so we
want to leave the camp.

KAREN PERCY: One hundred and fifty refugees from this camp will undergo medical examinations in the
coming weeks in the hope that they, too, can soon call Australia home. Karen Percy, Lateline.