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(generated from captions) Tonight - the family way. off to bring up their children. Parents win the right for more time I think it's fantastic. when you first become a parent The more flexibility you're given as far as I'm concerned. the better, that long, Obviously not everyone would want it's a real plus. but for those who do But employers remain cautious Commission decision. over the Industrial Relations this decision What's important is that unreasonable expectations. does not create in theory Decisions like these sound good to implement. but they can be difficult This program is captioned live.

I'm Maxine McKew. Good evening. Welcome to Lateline. joins us tonight The ACTU's Sharan Burrow that all policitians have a stake and makes it clear industrial relations debate. in the forthcoming And the central question is for their constituency? will they stand up Will we have workplaces, to stand up to John Howard, because they've had the courage are underpinned by rights where dignity and respect for our kids and grandkids an Australia where John Howard says or will they deliver us to sign here, it is okay for the boss or you don't get the job? to tell people to sign here but first to the headlines. That interview coming up, is worth two in the bush. A bird in the hand Nationals $2 billion future fund The Treasurer ticks off on the for Telstra. are being secretly recorded Unions claim their representatives by a Federal Government taskforce. on building sites And looking for a stamp of approval calls a snap election Japan's Prime Minister

to sell the post office fails. after his bid In what could be the last test case Commission, by the Industrial Relations time off to bring up their children. parents have won the right to more

about the decision, Employers are nervous extra leave but they will be able to refuse will suffer. if they can prove their business in the United Kingdom The changes are similar to new laws Government has told Lateline and a former advisor to the Blair success for businesses there. the changes have been a surprise conditions will be of little use But unions warn the family-friendly in Australia

doesn't adopt them if the Federal Government overhaul. as part of its industrial relations Rachel Carbonell reports. with two young girls. Julie Clayton is a lawyer more flexible working conditions She says to new parents. will make a world of difference

Well, I think it's fantastic. that you are given I mean, the more flexibility when you first become a parent, the better, as far as I'm concerned. everybody, Obviously it's not going to suit not everybody will want that long that long, but for the people who do want I think it's a real plus. Industrial Relations Commission Today's ruling in the Australian be able to request means parents will now a range of new leave provisions, unpaid leave including an extra 12 months until their child goes to school. and part-time work parental leave requests Employers will be able to refuse if it costs their business too much or there aren't enough staff. What's important is unreasonable expectation. that this decision does not create in theory, Decisions like these sound good difficult to implement. but in practice they always can be the commission has applied today, Even with the cautious approach management issues it will present some for small and medium businesses. businesses were also uneasy In the UK,

there two years ago. when similar changes were introduced

Government, Jenny Earle, But former adviser to the Tony Blair for employers as well as workers. says the laws have been successful The experience in the UK is showing

the prescribed steps that if the employer goes through in considering the application, that it is workable, then they are very likely to find that it is acceptable and most requests are being granted. to be led to such changes. But she says employers do need and on promoting best practice Relying on voluntary arrangements is just not going to reach with caring responsibilities the majority of workers in our lifetimes. of governments to regulate, And it really is the responsibility to accelerate the pace of change. That's what being done overseas, it can't happen here. I don't see why a toothless tiger. The decision could yet be an escape clause, Not only have businesses been given but unions and the Labor Party fear doesn't adopt it if the Federal Government its industrial relations reforms, as part of could mean very little. the new family-friendly measures the Commonwealth They're now calling on as minimum standards. to guarantee the changes The challenge we have now will respect this. is to see whether the government Howard and Kevin Andrews' court. It's fairly and squarely in John into their minimum conditions? Will they put these new standards isn't revealing The Federal Government the IRC decision what weight it will give when it implements it's IR changes. consider The government will obviously

Relations Commission the decision of the Industrial the detail of the legislation in terms of considering and that detail will be provided the Parliament in October. in the bill which comes into of the decision, And it played down the significance brought kicking and screaming denying that employers need to be to such changes. was to say, What the IRC was really doing at the end of the day, a matter of negotiation things like that are between employers and employees. of our policy approach That is a reinforcement and what I would say is it is far more likely that under our policy, those sorts of benefits. that employees will get Government have also taken heart Employer groups and the Federal from the IRC's decision to reject a range of other leave claims made by the unions. Rachel Carbonell, Lateline. Tomorrow 14 new senators will be ushered onto the red leather benches as Parliament resumes after the 6-week winter recess. While the government will have a majority of one in the Upper House, the balance of power belongs to its junior Coalition partner. And the Nationals aren't afraid to exercise their new-found power, demanding a $2 billion trust fund from the sale of Telstra and grants to regional universities to make up for the abolition of compulory student fees. Dana Robertson reports from Canberra. The night before their first day in parliament the Government's new senators joined John Howard for dinner at the Lodge. And at the end of the 6-week long winter break the Treasurer's holding out an olive branch of sorts to those worried about what the sell-off of Telstra could mean for services in the bush. He's indicated he might wear the Nationals' demand for a $2 billion trust fund to be set up to pay for future service improvements. I think Mark Vaile has put forward a policy which as I said is certainly worth considering. There are other people in the National Party that have put forward other policies but I think what Mark Vaile put forward is certainly worth considering, yes. That's won over the Nationals' senate leader. I think it will be terrific. But the fate of the Government's plans turns on the vote of each one of its senators and Queenslander Barnaby Joyce has previously said he thinks $5 billion is closer to the mark. There is a trust fund to cover the hole between the Universal Service Obligation which only covers basic telephone-on-the-wall, 56kb download speed and payphones in regional towns, now there's a hole betwen that and mobile phones and broadband and that is what the trust fund has to cover. As the Treasurer placates the Nationals over the sale of Telstra

the Government's also moving to head off the party's angst over the introduction of voluntary student unionism and its potential negative impact on services at regional universities. Rural and regional MPs are holding talks tomorrow with the Education Minister Brendan Nelson to lobby for grants to be paid to needy campuses. That is what we want and that's what we're asking, we don't care how it gets there as long as the universities have the facilities and are able to look after their sporting fields and libraries and counselling and things like that. The indications are they'll get their way. As the political deal-making heats up ahead of Parliament's return, the debate about the withdrawal of Australia's troops from Iraq has reignited,

thanks to the former chief of Defence, Peter Cosgrove. Barely a month out of the job, the retired general is at odds with the Government over the link between the presence of Australian soldiers in the Middle East and the risk of a terrorist attack. We gotta train the Iraqis as quickly as we can to a point where we take one of the focal points of terrorist motivation away and that is foreign troops. He's even suggested a timeline for withdrawal. I figure that if we could get that done by the end of 2006 that would be really good. This is clearly something the Government has to now start talking about that is setting out details of our mission in Iraq

and when that mission is going to be completed. The Prime Minister maintains no date will be set for a departure. Dana Robertson, Lateline. The nervous waiting for NASA goes on tonight with the landing of the space shuttle 'Discovery' postponed

for at least one day.

'Discovery' had separated from the International Space Station and was preparing for re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. But just hours ago, Mission Control ruled out a landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida due to poor weather. MISSION CONTROL: We just can't get comfortable with the stability of the situation for this particular opportunity, so, we are going to officially wave you off for 24 hours. OK, Houston. We copy that. We'll be a wave-off for today. We copy all the weather. Good, copy.

'Discovery's mission has already been extended to allow the crew to repair minor damage sustained during lift-off. It will be the first shuttle to attempt to return to Earth since 'Columbia' was destroyed on re-entry in 2003. Japan is headed to the polls after its parliament rejected plans to privatise the country's post office. The reforms are about much more than delivering the mail. The 25,000 post offices also function as bank branches, providing an almost bottomless fund for government pork barreling. Overhauling that system has been a pet project of the Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, who is now following through on a threatened snap election after government MPs crossed the floor to vote against the bill. From Tokyo, North Asia correspondent Shane McLeod reports.

The vote was always expected to be

close. The upper house was the

close. The upper house was the final hurdle for Junichiro Koizumi's pet

project. CHEERING But it failed

project. CHEERING But it failed to clear and a high number of

clear and a high number of dissident government MPs made it decisive.

Reforming Japan post has been a

cherished goal for Mr Koizumi

throughout his political career. It

controls nearly 3 trillion US

dollars in assets, making it the

world's largest savings bank, yet

world's largest savings bank, yet it spends a lot of that money for

spends a lot of that money for loans for inefficient government spending.

That spending makes it political

popular and it claim Japan's post

and its workers deliver up to 1

million votes for Mr Koizumi's

party. The Prime Minister vowed to

split up the post office and sell

split up the post office and sell it off but it siems it was too much

off but it siems it was too much for some of his MPs to swallow.

TRANSLATION: They overroad the

Opposition and did it forcefully.

They said they would listen to the

opinion, but carried on. They

opinion, but carried on. They pushed the policy unilaterally and

therefore they had no option but to

oppose it. Mr Koizumi is following

through on his threat to bring on a

snap election. Even though it was

upper house MPs that defeated the

bill, it's lower house members that

will face the electorate and the

government's fortunes are flagging.

Finance markets have reacted

cautiously to the tour mile. After

opening the day lower the Tokyo

exchange bounced back. This spells

disaster for Japan, in my opinion,

because the reform story is what

foreign investors had been buying

into. That reform story will be

into. That reform story will be dead with this bill not passing today.

The main result is likely to be a

radical re-shaping of Japan's

political landscape, but it's not

political landscape, but it's not as if the country wasn't warned. When

he became Prime Minister in 2001,

the unconventional Mr Koizumi

the unconventional Mr Koizumi warned he would destroy his party if it

he would destroy his party if it did not embrace reform. For many of his

back benchers they may fear that

prophecy is coming true. It has largely escaped outside scrutiny, but an Islamic insurgency in southern Thailand is fast becoming one of the world's most deadly conflicts. Since the beginning of last year, more than 800 lives have been lost in shootings, bombings and beheadings blamed on separatists demanding independence from Buddhist Thailand. Attempts to quell the rebellion have failed and the government has resorted to emergency powers that some say give the security forces a licence to kill. The ABC's South-East Asia correspondent, Peter Lloyd, is in southern Thailand for Lateline and filed this special report from the troubled region.

On the shores of tropical southern

Thailand, it is sun, sand and

shooting. These men are being

shooting. These men are being armed and trained by government troops

helping civilians set up

village-based militias tot fight

back against an unseen, but lethal

opponent. Why are you here? Who is

the enemy TRANSLATION: I don't

know at all . The army is in no

doubt. Near daily attacks in the

south since last January have

variously been blamed on feuding

crime gangs and drug traffickers.

High road with a squad whose

High road with a squad whose mission is to search out and destroy who

is to search out and destroy who the military believes are the main

culprits - young Islamic radicals.

This region has a long simmering

Muslim separatist movement, but for

reasons no-one can quite explain,

the rebel yn has escalated stharply

in the last 18 months. Police are

also on the front-line. In towns

across the south, it is their job

across the south, it is their job to "stop and search" young men.

REPORTER: What is it you areeason

to be on edge. Almost half the

number of people killed here in

southern Thailand have been members

of the security forces and these

types of night-time patrols are

highly vulnerable to sneak attacks

and drive-by shootings which have

become the hallmark of the

rebellion. Police stations have

become security fortresses. They're

guarding against suicidal attacks,

such as one mounted last April by

members of a cult-like separatist

youth movement who'd been

indoctrinated to believe they were

invisible. In all, 105 attackers

were killed. Many wore shirts with

were killed. Many wore shirts with a verse from the Koran, proclaiming

there is no God except Allah. This

previously unseen video tape shows

previously unseen video tape shows a survivor under interrogation for

survivor under interrogation for the first time. What did they tell you

to do TRANSLATION: To take guns.

And what did they say they will

give you? I was told to come here.

That's all. It is a campaign of

terror. This bombing at a

terror. This bombing at a restaurant in a city killed the owner. While

there is no firm evidence that

foreign extremists have joined the

rebellion, there are worrying clues.

This boom failed to go off, leaving

in tact the detonating device, a

mobile phone programmed not in Thai,

but the language of Malaysia and

Indonesia. Do you know for a fact

that foreign extreme

that foreign extremists are here

Yes, they are here. Nidir Waba is

a leader who says there's a

well-worn path to Thailand.

well-worn path to Thailand. They come from the Middle East to

the Philippines, Indonesia, Aceh,

Malaysia and from the Malacca

Straits into Thailand. History

shows that radical Jihady groups

like Jemaah Islamiah have at the

very least used tie & as a refuge

and meeting place aided by

geography. That bridge back there

serves as the official border with

Malaysia but a determined person

Malaysia but a determined person who wants to stay low-profile nearly

wants to stay low-profile nearly has to cross this river. This is

to cross this river. This is exactly how some senior members of JI got

how some senior members of JI got in and out of Thailand when they were

planning the Bali bombings. The

government says some Islamic

teachers in the south have been

stoking the fires of separatism.

This school was closed after a

police raid allegedly uncovered an

al-Qaeda-training video, munitions,

a weapon and evidence that trees

a weapon and evidence that trees had been used for target practice. The

operators say it was a set-up.

TRANSLATION: The al-Qaeda video

TRANSLATION: The al-Qaeda video was butt at the market. Almost every

house has it. If weapon belonged to

the village head. The police put

the village head. The police put the gun and bullets in the room here

gun and bullets in the room here and took pictures. It had nothing to do

with our school. The majority

Muslim population here says they

Muslim population here says they are being terrorised by the sometimes

brutal response of the security

forces. It is a charge the

government in Bangkok has been slow

to acknowledge. Yes, they are

scaishd because there's no justice

in the system. Some have

disappeared. Some have been killed

and some taken away for

interrogation. Unchecked tit for

tat violence has made the south one

of the most dangerous regions in

South-East Asia. There is mutual

suspicion on all sides and little

agreement on how to restore peace.

In southern Thailand, Peter Lloyd, Lateline. Tomorrow, the Federal Government will reintroduce its legislation tightening restrictions on union access to building sites. Up until now, the changes have been blocked in the Senate. The government says the new laws will counter the CFMEU's reputation for standover tactics.

But now the union is accusing the watchdog - already set up by the Federal Government to monitor its activities - of secretly taping its officials. It claims the recordings have been done on the instructions of the Building Industry Taskforce, but this has been denied. Hamish Fitzsimmons reports. CFMEU official Fergal Doyle only became aware that his visit to a Melbourne building site last year had been recorded when the Building Industry Taskforce brought an obstruction charge against him which was dismissed. In their witness statements, the witness statement of the foreman they had said, for the first time, that they had a concealed tape in the breast pocket of the foreman and that tape, we found out in the court, was actually to record everything I had to say during the course of that health and safety inspection. The CFMEU says builders and contractors are under instructions from the taskforce

to tape meetings with union officials. Secret recordings are commonly in place in the industry, unfortunately, as a result of advice that the taskforce are giving to builders. For its part, the taskforce says it hasn't yet approved any recordings. To date, there have been no occasions where we have given permission to covertly tape. Nigel Hadgkiss is a former head of the Australian Crime Commission and long-time law enforcement officer. The royal commission into the building and construction industry is now in session. The Building Industry Taskforce arose out of the first report of the royal commission into the building and construction industry and began in 2002. The taskforce will investigate and, where necessary, refer for prosecution anyone, anyone - union official, contractor or sub-contractor - reasonably suspected of operating in this industry in breach of the law.

In June last year, amendments to the Workplace Relations Act gave the taskforce coercive powers akin to a national security agency. You cannot refuse to attend, you cannot refuse to answer their questions. You cannot, sort of, say on the grounds of self-incrimination, "I've got a right to silence", you can't decline on any of those bases. You must produce any documents they demand you hand over. It's all secret. You cannot tell your wife, your husband.

You cannot tell anybody that you were called in for the interrogation.

You cannot reveal the substance of the interrogation. But the taskforce says these powers are needed to fight widespread violence and intimidation in the industry. A large percentage of people that we interview who are victims of this thuggery tell us that they will be happy to go to court if forced to, but if they are seen to be cooperating with law enforcement agencies then retribution will come about and, in many instances, violence or they simply lose their business. This is common practice. Civil libertarians have described the powers of the building industry taskforce as excessive and say they got too far for a body not conducting criminal investigations. Well, the only other place in Australia that has these sorts of powers are anti-terrorism agencies and the Australian Crime Commission. Surely the building industry isn't the same as the sort of matters that involve the Australian Crime Commission. I've got little doubt they'll be rolling out the same kind of technique to try to turn ordinary workers and ordinary managers into criminals because we won't cooperate with their particular industrial relations agenda. The Construction Union says the taskforce is a failure because it's only had one successful prosecution. But the head of the BIT claims that's wrong. As of today, we have 14 matters A total of 26 matters have appeared before the court. The CFMEU says the taskforce's coercive powers are part of a wider anti-union campaign by the Federal Government, but the taskforce's chief says he's simply trying to break the back of "a sordid culture of intimidation". Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline. As we've heard, a win for the ACTU today with an industrial commission ruling that will help working parents. The right to request part-time work and an extra 12 months of unpaid parental leave brings Australia into line with changes that have been introduced in the United Kingdom. But with significant changes being flagged to our entire industrial framework, it's unclear whether these new conditions will ever be a feature of the workplace. ACTU president Sharan Burrow is skeptical as she prepares for a week of intense lobbying in the national capital. I spoke to her a short time ago from our studios in Canberra. Sharan Burrow, to today's IRC decision on parental leave.

How do you see the effect of these changes? This is a great day for working parents. The effect is to give working parents a capacity to request the right to part-time work on return from parental leave, up to two years in unpaid parental leave and indeed a capacity for up to eight weeks for simultaneous leave for both parents at the birth of a child. It really does bring us into the 21st century. It's effectively the British legislation, which has worked so well that employers are confident that they would be prepared to think about extending it to employees beyond those with preschool-aged children. So the right to request flexibilities at work for working parents underpinned by a "not unreasonable refusal" test for employers. So where an employer can genuinely not do this, that is accepted. But in the British case we see 88% of requests actually endorsed. So it's good news all round and we hope that employers will embrace it. The real challenge, Maxine, is for the Prime Minister.

Will he put this in his minimum standards now so working parents in Australia know that he's serious about work and family balance? Of course it is an additional consideration for employers at a time when the Government is aiming to simplify awards. So I suppose there's no guarantee these rights will or this right to request, as you say it is, will see the light of day. What the Government is actually aiming to do is shift as many people as possible on to individual contracts

to deny collective bargaining rights, except where the employer agrees, where we could, of course, guarantee these conditions and take awards as the comprehensive "no disadvantage" test out from under those individual contracts. That means you put the employer at the helm. Now, given our employers' almost dark-age mentality in terms of their representatives about guaranteed rights to request, hardly a radical approach, but one we endorse, one what works for everybody, a fair go all round, if you like, for both working parents and employers, then we'd be very worried that the evidence to date of individual contracts and the evidence that will stack up in the future for non-managerial staff will mean more hours, rather than less hours, and less flexibility

that works for working people. Anyway, it shouldn't be about patronage. It actually should be about the right to request which makes up for a modern workplace, keeps women in the workforce, attached to the labour market, retains skills for employers and, as we've seen through the British evidence, actually works for productivity. In terms of this decision today, how do you see it in practical terms?

You've been saying today for instance that it's no cost to employers, but I would have thought only organisations of a certain size are really going to be able to accommodate things like these requests for permanent part-time work, certainly until your child is of school age. Well, that's not the evidence in Britain, but it is the test of "not unreasonable refusal". So as well as putting it in the minimum standards legislation,

John Howard needs to keep this role for the Industrial Relations Commission so that either employers or employees can actually test disputation in this area. We would think that overwhelmingly this would be settled by request. It should shift the culture and like has happened in Britain, both employers and employees would see a way to work around their needs. is one that actually works for employers as well and the Commission should be the arbiter of any disputation. Is that a concession, though, that you would think that not that many small employers will be able to meet these kind of requests? I think you'd be surprised about how flexible small business can be and if they know there's a way of keeping a very skilled employee attached to their enterprise, then I think that flexibility of permanent part-time work,

security for the business, security for the working parent,

will actually enhance productivity and enable them to train up someone else by dent of support for the employee that's got those skills, but also it provides for a good mix all round. So I'd be very surprised if a lot of small businesses weren't actually very enthusiastic about this. They tell us they're worried about losing skilled workers, particularly at a time of increasingly full employment. That being the case, is there a need to to be prescriptive about this in a tight labour market?

The latest figures I've seen are interesting.

It says the BCA, Business Council, now says that over 70% of its members do offer some kind of maternity leave. Yes, but it's very limited and, of course, we're not talking about paid maternity leave, but that's still very limited. This will work in award terms right now

for a third of the private sector workforce where there are women involved. When you add to that their partners, then that's a very good guarantee of the confidence that working parents need to request the kind of hours and arrangements or the length of parental leave that will work for them. We would hope that it will work for business.

Certainly the evidence is in in Britain

and when you've got confident parental attachment to the labour market, as well as, of course, the capacity for them to balance their family commitments, you've got to have increased productivity. So we'd say to employers,

we already know it's in good corporate practice, but to the broader employer community, give it a go. That's what this is all about. The Commission has said that it will review the implementation, just as they did in Britain over time, and we want it to work. We want it to work for all parties. But, you know, when working women tell you - 60% of full-time working women tell you they'd rather work in a permanent part-time capacity and when you look at the individual contract evidence to date

and it's simply not there, then this has got to be a great day for working people and we only hope the Prime Minister has the courage of his own commitments to actually stand up for working parents across the country. I just want to turn now, if I can, to workplace agreements. The AWAs you mentioned this a couple of minutes ago and they're anathema to the union movement, the Government, of course, is committed to expanding them. Individual contracts do you not concede do suit all sorts of people who don't easily fit within some kind of industry category.

Why not a compromised position whereby you retain the ability

for people to choose workplace agreements they want,

instead of this all-out abolition which the ACTU is advocating? There are common law individual contracts. We couldn't anyway, but we've never opposed the existence of such contracts. But when you take the experience with individual bargaining as the Government calls it, when it's a, "sign here or you don't get the job", when the evidence is in that individuals have been, in fact, pressured to trade off holiday leave, sick leave, all manner of entitlements, when the Government wants to explode the five-day week, when there's a capacity because of that, therefore to urge people to work 38 hours across Monday to Sunday without compensation through award entitlements like shift allowances,

etc, overtime pay, penalty rates more generally, then what you get is potentially more hours, less pay and we say to John Howard, who's minding the kids?

Collective bargaining rights where people set those extra conditions are flexible enough if the employer will bargain with his employees. But the Minister's own department now has the audacity to have on the bottom of all new ads

"be prepared to sign an AWA" so no new starter can choose a collective agreement. No new starter can stand with other employees in the workplace and that's no choice. But it's not just an argument with John Howard. I mean, Labor leader Kim Beazley is certainly stopping short of committing a future Labor Government to complete abolition of workplace agreements. He says only that AWAs should not undermine collective bargaining. Why haven't you convinced him about this point? Because that's a rock-solid guarantee

that the primacy of collective bargaining will be guaranteed through law and that AWAs will not be used to discriminate where there is a collective bargaining arrangement by choice of the workplace, by choice of the individuals in that workplace standing together. That means, ultimately, that there will be no place for individual contracts in workplaces where collective bargaining rights are guaranteed and that's Kim Beazley's commitment. I know it's technical, Maxine, but I'm confident that if Labor was here right now, not only wouldn't we be having this argument, but we'd have workplace laws that absolutely give those commitments to a unique system of awards, to collective bargaining rights, to the kinds of minimum wage entitlements that are not about patronage by government, about who's apointed on the panel,

what the terms of reference are and the like. There's no argument with us -- There may not be between, say, you and Kim Beazley, but certainly Unionists in NSW, like John Robertson for instance, they have been saying they are disappointed with Kim Beazley's position

that he's not categorical about this saying abolish AWAs, which is the union position. I think they are asking Kim for a clear statement and that's fair enough. But look at Labor policy and look at what Kim Beazley is guaranteeing. Primacy of collective bargaining rights, and you know, Maxine, if the Labor Party was about to contest an election, then you would absolutely have a demand for an even clearer statement, but right now this is about John Howard. It's about every politician in this country. They are all law-makers for me. They were all elected by working people and their families. The central question is will they stand up for their constituency? Will we have workplaces because they've had the courage to stand up to John Howard where dignity and respect are underpinned by rights for our kids and grandkids or will they deliver us an Australia where John Howard says it is OK for the boss to sign here, to tell people to sign here or you don't get the job? That's not about decency. It's not about fairness. It's certainly not about rights. Sharan Burrow, for your time tonight, thank you very much. Thank you, Maxine. Senators have lashed out at Immigration Department officials after uncovering an email describing the ex-husband of Vivian Solon as "Anthony Hopkins from the film 'Silence of the Lambs'". Ms Solon was wrongly deported from Australia four years ago and her former husband Robert Young contacted the Immigration Department two years ago. An officer then sent an email to his colleagues. Didn't sound irate or annoyed. Sounded more like Anthony Hopkins from 'Silence of the Lambs' and it's signed by the officer. Both Liberal and Labor senators have questioned the way bureaucrats handled the case. Liberal David Johnstone said public servants appear to have been influenced by an unfounded rumour that Ms Solon was a sex worker. To the markets now. The All Ordinaries broke new ground today, after the RBA indicated interest rates would remain on hold

in the coming months. Woodside Petroleum rose more than 5% on news of its liquified gas project in Western Australia. Mining stocks made solid gains

and the Commonwealth Bank was up 68 cents. In the region, both the Hang Seng and the Nikkei have advanced. London's FTSE is also firmer. Now to the weather. And that's all for this evening.

If you'd like to look back at tonight's interview or review any of Lateline's stories or transcripts, you can visit our website at: I'll be back tomorrow night, so please join me then.

Goodnight. Captions by Captioning and Subtitling International.