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Crisis talks aim to end political stand-off in East Timor

Broadcast: 30/05/2006

Crisis talks aim to end political stand-off in East Timor

Reporter: Scott Bevan

KERRY O'BRIEN, COMPERE: Welcome to the program. Despite the best efforts of foreign troops,
sporadic gunfire and gang violence continued to flare on the streets of East Timor's capital Dili
today. Over the past 24 hours, Australian soldiers have confiscated more than 400 weapons, but
youths armed with machetes looted and burned buildings near the city centre. Adding to the chaos,
tens of thousands of people have fled their homes and many have been queuing up desperately at food
warehouses. Just 100 metres away from the worst of the violence, President Xanana Gusmao has spent
most of the day in crisis talks with Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and community leaders in a bid to
end the political stand-off which sparked the crisis. In a moment we'll cross to Dili for the
latest. But first, this report from Scott Bevan who gained an exclusive interview with East Timor's
Australian-born First Lady, Kirsty Sword-Gusmao.

SCOTT BEVAN, REPORTER: The journey to the presidential home of Xanana Gusmao and his
Australian-born wife, Kirsty Sword-Gusmao, takes only about half an hour in the car. However, after
driving out of Dili past military roadblocks - We have an interview with the First Lady at 8:30.

SOLDIER: Not a problem. Have a safe ride.

SCOTT BEVAN: High into the hills, the strife ripping into the capital city far below seems distant.
But not to the President, who this morning was setting off from his compound for more top-level
meetings, seeking an end to this crisis.Nor does it seem distant to Kirsty Sword-Gusmao.

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: I feel very much as though my heart is down there, even though physically I've
been obliged to remain here.

SCOTT BEVAN: First Lady, how did it get to this?

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: It didn't need to get to this. There are actually, I believe, no deep-seated
divisions amongst the community, but these political problems and the failure of the Government to
address them in a timely manner has, you know, led to this crisis.

SCOTT BEVAN: Today on the streets of Dili, gangs confronted each other before the Australian
military arrived to disarm them.

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: To be meeting again with some of the soldiers who were here as part of
INTERFET in 1999 is a bit of a sad reunion, really. While we are glad to have them here and
grateful to the Australian Defence Force for sending them to our aid to help restore peace, it
couldn't be sadder for all of the Timorese people and the leadership that things have got to this
that we've actually required this assistance yet again.

SCOTT BEVAN: Kirsty Sword-Gusmao doubts these violent episodes of the community turning on each
other are politically motivated.

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: I think it's a consequence of the political crisis, but I think basically
there is a degree of opportunism. People are hungry, hence the looting of shops. I think there are
groups within the community that have possibly been armed.

SCOTT BEVAN: By whom, First Lady?

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: It is difficult to say. I think that will all come out in the wash.

SCOTT BEVAN: Hunger has driven people to queue for hours for rice. And yesterday crowds looted a
warehouse until Australian troops arrived to reimpose order. Well, it seems the government is
losing support not only through the people's hearts and minds, but also their stomachs. At this
rice depot, many may have got what they came for, but many more are walking away empty-handed and
they are angry. VOX POP: The Government close eyes, they close eyes.

SCOTT BEVAN: Do you believe a humanitarian crisis is looming or is it already here?

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: It's here already, I would say, you know with reports yesterday there are
1,000 people camped out at the airport and being forced to eat grass. A total of 50,000 internally
displaced people currently being housed in 35 locations across the city. I mean, this is a
humanitarian crisis of quite huge proportions.

SCOTT BEVAN: Outside the council of state meeting yesterday President Xanana Gusmao assured the
crowd things would get better. Yesterday the President told the people, "That we promise to make
national unity." How do you do that?

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: Obviously a question for the politicians, but I think national unity is about
making sure that the principles of democracy are respected and that everybody's voices are heard,
not just from the ruling party, but from all parties and that even has a say in determining the
solutions to the current crisis.

SCOTT BEVAN: As for the future of Xanana Gusmao - before this crisis he said he wouldn't be
standing again at next year's presidential elections and he apparently wants to become a pumpkin
farmer but all of that might change now.

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: Obviously there will be greater pressures on him now, given the present
problems to reconsider that. I've seen how his life and his role has evolved over the last 10 years
or so and I've seen how it's affected him emotionally, morally, psychologically and I think he's in
desperate need of a rest. As he's always done, he's always put the interests of the people first
and I think that will be difficult for him to change course and to start putting his own personal
interests first at the present time.

SCOTT BEVAN: So he may remain president after next year?

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: I'm not sure. We'll have to see how things shake down after this present
crisis. What the political outcomes of it all are, too.

SCOTT BEVAN: Is it possible he'll want to step down before then?

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: It will depend on what the people demand of him?

SCOTT BEVAN: The President and the First Lady have three small children. From their home they could
hear the gunshots and explosions last week.Have you considered at any stage evacuating yourself and
the children to Australia?

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: No, no, not at all. I think it's obviously a time that Timor needs us and
particularly Xanana needs us around and it hasn't even crossed our mind. Obviously we're in a very
privileged position here with security provided for us. I have been far more concerned over the
past few days for the well being and safety of ordinary citizens.

SCOTT BEVAN: Kirsty Sword-Gusmao says the tumultuous past few weeks have deeply affected the

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: It's been extremely distressing for him to witness the actions of the armed
forces, in particular, in response to these problems, particularly given that some of those are
former members of the Falantil who were previously under his command and who fought alongside him
during the war against Indonesian occupation.

SCOTT BEVAN: Do you believe East Timor is sliding into civil war?

KIRSTY SWORD-GUSMAO: I don't believe so. I think the worst of it is over. I believe it can be
resolved at a political level and probably the reason that I have confidence is that is the fact
that people have confidence in Xanana and clearly he's at the helm in terms of resolving this
crisis now. I think what people want is a reassurance that the Government is committed to the
people and to putting the people's interests first. People I think have had enough. They want an
assurance that things are going to get better. They've been patient for a long, long time.

(c) 2006 ABC

Gangs continue to threaten Dili

Broadcast: 30/05/2006

Gangs continue to threaten Dili


KERRY O'BRIEN: And to update a still fluid situation in Dili, Scott joins me now via satellite.
Scott, we'll go to the latest in the attempts to break this political crisis that are going on very
close by tonight. But, first, what is the latest on the streets as Dili enters nightfall?

SCOTT BEVAN, REPORTER: Well, as you can see, Kerry, the sun is setting, it is becoming dark, but
the gangs have not gone home. Just before about half an hour ago, a group of well, thugs with
machetes, with knives, with rocks and it seems also with tear gas, curiously, launched an attack on
shops and on passing traffic, not far from the Australian embassy. As I say, that took place just
half an hour ago and that's been taking place all through the day in pockets, in neighbourhoods
right around Dili, where there have been these flare-ups of incidents, very small, but no doubt for
those involved, very scary incidents.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well, Brigadier Slater has been sounding optimistic yesterday and going into today.
What's he been saying lately?

SCOTT BEVAN: Well, you called it a "fluid situation" and he seems to see it that way as well, in
terms of being a glass half full view in terms of what's going on in Dili. He said yesterday was a
turning point here in Dili - that there had been the least amount of violence here yesterday.
However, he went on to say that today has been the second best day, meaning that there has been
more violence on the streets today. Now in the face of that, Brigadier Slater says there's now
enough troops here to deal with the problems and with the agreement with the East Timorese
Government. That agreement is to bring peace and security back on to the streets here and more
importantly, into the lives of the people who are still scared. He says that a lot of them are
scaring themselves through rumour, but it is more than rumour. People are seeing these incidents
flare up right around this city and that's fuelling their fear.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So, what is the latest while that's going on - what's the latest on President
Gusmao's attempts to resolve the political crisis of a government in free-fall?

SCOTT BEVAN: Well, as you saw in that report just then, President Gusmao left his house early this
morning for meetings. Those meetings have been going all day with Prime Minister Alkateri, with
community leaders, with religious leaders. There's no outcome yet, although I'm told that Prime
Minister Alkateri left the meeting just under an hour ago through a back way so there was no
comment from him. We don't know any outcome yet except Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta said at a
press conference just an hour ago that he thinks there will be an agreement reached either tonight
or tomorrow that could lead to the solution of the crisis.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Now, he's also suggesting that you are going to see very significant changes in
Cabinet. Was he any more forthcoming about what those chains might be?

SCOTT BEVAN: No, he wasn't, but he did use an ominous phrase. He said there will be "inevitable"
resignations of ministers. He did say that he's aware that people are keen to see not only wisdom,
but quick action by the so-called Council of State, these leaders that are meeting. But he says
that the reason for not so much the delay, but the pace is not only the number of parties that have
to be involved and consulted. It's also any implications, any consequences of any decisions made.
Now, later on he was asked more specifically, "Do you believe that one of the outcomes of all of
this should be the resignation or the ousting of Prime Minister Alkateri?" He wouldn't go there. He
wouldn't say one way or the other, but he did reemphasise that any move in that way, once again the
implications, the consequences, of Alkateri going have to be very seriously considered.

KERRY O'BRIEN: What we know of course is that the Prime Minister Alkateri is under severe pressure
right now. Scott, thanks for that.

(c) 2006 ABC

Coalition parties mull action against Qld merger plan

Broadcast: 30/05/2006

Coalition parties mull action against Qld merger plan

Reporter: Heather Ewart

KERRY O'BRIEN: And back in Australia, Queensland Nationals leader Lawrence Springborg has been
meeting tonight with Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile to thrash out the controversial bid to merge
the State Liberal and National parties in Queensland. At the same time, the Prime Minister called a
meeting of Queensland and Federal Liberal MPs and senators to lay down the law that he's not happy
about a merger. The motivation for amalgamation in Queensland is driven by a desperation to end
Labor Premier Peter Beattie's dominance at the State election next March. Coalition forces in every
other State and Territory have the same problem unseating Labor governments, but there the
comparison seems to end. Heather Ewart reports.

HEATHER EWART, REPORTER: Whatever happened to the days when Liberal and National Party premiers
reigned supreme and had an iron grasp on power for years and years and years?

SIR HENRY BOLTE, FORMER PREMIER VICTORIA (NEWSREEL): Can we be bought off? No. The answer is no.

SIR ROBERT ASKIN, FORMER PREMIER NSW (NEWSREEL): In some cases, if necessary to handle people
firmly, perhaps a little roughly.

can. Isn't that lovely, Mr Premier."

HEATHER EWART: These were the tough men of Conservative politics, at the height of the Cold War.
The likes of them will never be seen again because not only has the world changed, but so has the
nature of State politics in Australia. The landscape of 2006 is one the Knights of the Round Table
- Sir Henry Bolte, Sir Robert Askin, Sir Charles Court and Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen - would have
found unthinkable.

elections in a row. Something ain't working.

JOHN HEWSON, FORMER FEDERAL LIBERAL LEADER: I think the Liberal Party, generally, with one or two
exceptions, is failing to attract good candidates. I mean, most self-respecting people wouldn't
stand for politics today. I mean, why would you?

IAN VINER, FORMER WA LIBERAL PARTY PRESIDENT: If you're all the time a loser, it's very hard to
persuade people to come and join you.

NICK GREINER, FORMER NSW LIBERAL PREMIER: Look, I think the only answer for the Liberal Party is,
in fact, to fight for the middle ground.

HEATHER EWART: Around the country, the Conservative parties have been battling for years to make
headway against Labor's stranglehold on the states. But the latest idea in Queensland to merge the
two parties is not one that's gathering speed in other states, where the Liberals are the dominant
Conservative force, and the main game is how to address their downhill slide. They regularly change
leaders and strategies. Nothing seems to work. So, what's the problem?

NICK GREINER: I hate to say it; I think it's probably John Howard and Peter Costello and their
success. In a perverse way, the truth is all of the State governments have been coasting on the
coat tails of the Australian economy for the last seven or eight or perhaps even a few more years,
and that's the fundamental problem for all of the State oppositions.

MICHAEL KROGER: I think the parliamentary parties have to do some things differently. I think
politics has changed immensely in the last 10-15 years. I think politics, at a state level, is more
local Government than it ever was. You know, you see industrial relations powers going to Canberra,
the Federal Government getting stronger and more powerful, and I think State politics has changed
and I don't think our state parliamentary parties have reacted to that as they should of.

HEATHER EWART: The political theory goes that voters want the opposite side of politics running
their state to the one ruling in Canberra, as a kind of balance mechanism. So, the longer John
Howard stays in office, the harder it is for his state colleagues. But does that simply become an
excuse for entrenched failure?

TED BAILLIEU, VICTORIA OPPOSITION LEADER: I am an immensely proud Victorian.

HEATHER EWART: The debate in Liberal ranks in Victoria has been sparked by the recent instalment of
yet another state Liberal Leader.

TED BAILLIEU: The big V drives me.

HEATHER EWART: But Ted Baillieu has been labelled a lame duck because his mate, Jeff Kennett,
thought he might like to make a comeback and, at the time, the Prime Minister thought that was a
very good idea.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: I think it would be a plus for the Liberal Party, yes. I worry about
the state of the Liberal Party at a state level around Australia.

JEFF KENNETT, FORMER VICTORIA PREMIER: Stuck in a traffic jam around the corner.

HEATHER EWART: John Howard was not amused by the Kennett withdrawal, but the damage is done in a
state parliamentary party for years racked by internal divisions between the Kennett and
Kroger-Costello force was one side constantly blaming the other.

MICHAEL KROGER: When you have a sloppy changeover of leader, as all leadership changes are, you
know the more difficult it gets, the less helpful it is.

HEATHER EWART: The fact is, these days, many state Oppositions have become better known for
infighting and backstabbing than anything else.

NICK GREINER: It is the case that sometimes factions put their internal fights ahead of winning
elections and I think there's some evidence in NSW that the faction fights occasionally are seen as
more important by the people fighting them than the question of beating Labor in March next year.

JOHN HEWSON: As somebody said recently "You don't need a skeleton in your closet in the Liberal
Party; somebody will give you one." You know, you spend your life on the back foot and, so, the
good people aren't coming in. And you've got those that are there, in many cases, sort of
second-rate people - without being too unkind - playing stupid games, trying to factionalise the
Liberal Party.

HEATHER EWART: How to attract a higher standard of candidates to state Liberal politics is a
constant complaint in state and Territory branches nationwide.

IAN VINER: When you've got a Federal Liberal Government, you've got dominant Federal politicians
like John Howard and Peter Costello, there's a natural attraction to go to the big scene, and we
see that in Western Australia and I'm sure in other states.

MICHAEL KROGER: People want to deal with the bigger issues and they are betting drawn to federal
politics. I think that's true.

HEATHER EWART: But this former Victorian party president has one solution: if state Liberals
haven't made the grade after 10 years, force them out to bring in new blood.

MICHAEL KROGER: In small business you wouldn't last 10 years in a top job on a losing team, so,
after a decade, the state divisions ought to be saying to a lot of members, who are in safe seats,
"Time to move on."

HEATHER EWART: There's frustration, too, that State oppositions are failing to capitalise on
problems in public transport and other traditional domains of State Government.

JOHN HEWSON: I mean, every aspect of infrastructure NSW is in trouble or in decline. The trains
don't run on time or don't run at all. You know, you've got deteriorating public transport
generally. What they're doing is hosing a real opportunity up against a wall. I mean, and OK, you
shouldn't ask me because I'm going to say what I did, you take a risk. You've got to take a risk.
You've got to actually make a stand.

MICHAEL KROGER: I think, in terms of the parliamentary parties around the country, we haven't
defined ourselves enough, we haven't defined ourselves enough by our values.

NICK GREINER: I do think you've got to take some risks. I mean, if you're playing a football game
and one team is in front by a fair way, and has got the wind behind them, well, simply just playing
along in a normal sort of way is unlikely to be a winning strategy.

HEATHER EWART: The overriding message to state leaders is dare to be different and in taking risks,
call a spade a spade; like their more successful predecessors in the old days. No suggestion,
though, of taking it quite as far as former NSW premier Robert Askin when demonstrators threatened
to mar a visit by US President LBJ in the '60s this was his advice...

"Run, run the bastards over," as I said to LBJ.

(c) 2006 ABC

Warmer Wolf walks into Sydney Writers' Week

Broadcast: 30/05/2006

Warmer Wolf walks into Sydney Writers' Week

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

KERRY O'BRIEN: Naomi Wolf was still in her 20s when she burst on the world in 1990 with a tough
blockbuster of a book called 'The Beauty Myth', arguing that while women had been liberated from
virtuous domesticity in the '70s, they had been trapped again by the beauty myth - that if they
were less than beautiful, they were led to think less of themselves no matter how successful they
might otherwise be. Not every other feminist embraced it. More recently, Wolf sparked controversy
again with an essay two years ago, outing the famous writer and Ivy League academic, Howard Bloom -
her mentor at Yale 20 years earlier - for trying to seduce her as a student. She's come to
Australia for Sydney Writers' Week a somewhat kinder, gentler Wolf, others are saying, with her new
book 'The Treehouse', painting a picture of a highly successful 40-year-old who had hit the wall
and turned to her 80-year-old father, teacher of poetry and creative writing, for enlightenment. I
spoke with Naomi Wolf in Sydney.

Naomi Wolf, before I read 'The Treehouse' I was struck by two comments on the dust jacket taken
from reviews. One said "unexpectedly warm". The other said "Wolf surprises with humour, intimacy
and, of all things, tenderness." Are you surprised that others are surprised by your intimacy and
tenderness or by your unexpected warmth?

NAOMI WOLF, AUTHOR: I'm surprised that it is so unexpected. I think of myself as having been warm
all along, but I can understand that since my other four books have been polemics and social
criticism, that it would be expected for some readers, or some reviewers, that this is a
celebration of the life of my father and warm and loving look at the wisdom that he passed on to
his students and to me one summer that changed their lives and my life. So, I guess the surprise
makes sense, but I wish it were not quite so surprising.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You were clearly close to your father as a child, even as an adolescent, but pretty
much stopped listening to him, you say, for the next 20 years, but then you suddenly turned back to
him at 40 to such an extent that you ended up writing a book about him. Why such a dramatic about

NAOMI WOLF: My dad is a writer and when I was a baby writer I had to do what it is understood that
men have to do when they're in the family business, which is I had to kind of find my own voice and
make my own way. So I did that developmental thing of thinking I have to not listen to him, that
voice in my ear, I have to silence it, I have to go my own way. But when I spent 15 or 20 years
doing polemic and activism then my life changed somewhat when I turned 40, and also in the wake of
9/11, I realised that I needed to learn these 12 lessons that he'd been teaching generations of
students about poetry, but really about the meaning of life. I needed to for my own purposes.
First, he's the happiest person I know, and I kind of hit the wall, as a lot of people do in
midlife. Is there all this is? I wanted to learn what it was he teaches people that makes them stop
doing their high-paying job or their high-status position and go follow their heart. But also in
the wake of 9/11, the world was becoming so divided and so us versus them, I really wanted to learn
his message of humanism. His position is that not only is every one of us an artist, but that every
one of us has the capacity imaginatively to understand another person's life, even if they're of a
completely different race, ethnicity, ideology, that that's the power of literature, that's the
power of the imagination. So for those reasons, I asked him to help me build a treehouse for my
daughter and to also formally teach me his life lessons. And I'm really glad I did, I mean, I have
to say that I'm happier now than I was before I learnt them.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You talked about the midlife thing of hitting the wall.


KERRY O'BRIEN: What was hitting the wall for you?

NAOMI WOLF: What was hitting the wall for me? Well, you know, I'd been doing this politics that was
from the head, us versus them, win that point, score that argument and in the wake of 9/11 a
politics that was coming purely from the head and not including the heart or the spirit, seemed
quite dangerous.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But what was happening in you? Were you confused? Did you feel empty? What was it?

NAOMI WOLF: Well, I was tired. I felt like a lot of people feel at 40 that a part of myself had
been put away. I started out my life as a poet and then I got swept up, and I'm proud of it, in
this kind of go-go polemic activism. But I missed the side of me that was drawn to poetry and to
silence and to tenderness and to creativity. And what I found readers responding to in the 'The
Treehouse' is a lot of us focused on our path in our 20s and 30s and did the right thing all of
these years, but suppressed or put aside that young person who wrote a novel, that young person who
played the flute, that person who is a lawyer by day, but really wants to garden. Whatever our
creative mission is - a lot of us are repressing that.

KERRY O'BRIEN: This is your father saying don't get caught in a box, isn't it?

NAOMI WOLF: Yeah, that's one of the lessons, that you need to break out of the box.

KERRY O'BRIEN: What has he unlocked in you?

NAOMI WOLF: Well, among other things, he says that we have to take the risk of following what our
soul calls us to even if the marketplace rejects it and even if people think we are wrong. I wrote
this book even though it was a departure for me, and one of the lessons is to trust that. Another
wonderful lesson that meant a lot for me is mistakes are part of the draft. We live in a culture
that prizes perfection - perfect relationship, perfect children, perfect career, and it's driving a
lot of us crazy, you know. His teaching is that the human condition is full of error and wrong
turns and things falling apart.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Certainly is.

NAOMI WOLF: Yeah, right?!

KERRY O'BRIEN: Get a politician to admit that.

NAOMI WOLF: Well, it would be a better world if they did and that's part of the richness of the
journey and a lot of people who have had things not work out the way they thought they had, to have
read that chapter and felt a great burden lifted. You know, I went through the end of my marriage,
unfortunately, shortly after I wrote this book and I think that learning these 12 lessons gave me
the serenity and the strength that I needed to get through that and to give my children the sort of
protection of my serenity going through that that I wouldn't have had otherwise because it's just
very sort of liberating to know that imperfections, you know, grief, loss are part of the richness
of the whole work of art that's a life.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Looking back at the book that launched your career, 'The Beauty Myth', if you were
just writing that book now, would you write it differently?

NAOMI WOLF: Nah. (Laughs)

KERRY O'BRIEN: (Laughs). Nothing has changed in all of that for you.

NAOMI WOLF: No, if I wrote it now you mean at 43, is that what you mean?


NAOMI WOLF: Yeah, sure, fine, I would write it differently. There was a time to be - to see the
world as us versus them, black and white. 'The Beauty Myth' is true. Everything in it is accurate.
But, the process of growing up is a process of learning nuance and seeing things more holistically.
So, I think my kind of voice has become gentler, I hope not less interested in social justice, I
hope not less confrontational about injustice, but possibly gentler in looking at the big picture.
I'm a mum, so I think I might have been a little bit less polemical, but I hope not less outraged.
My next book is a sequel to 'The Beauty Myth'. It is about how teenage girls are being sexualised
and commodified by marketers.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Because, really, nothing has changed?

NAOMI WOLF: Some things have gotten better.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Maybe for some individuals, but really broadly speaking it hasn't changed and you
might even argue in some sense it's got worse.

NAOMI WOLF: Yes. Some things have gotten much worse. What have got better is men and women are both
better at being critical of these images and where they've come from. What has gotten worse is the
images have gotten more extreme and they are being targeted younger and younger. I hope that my
next book will be just as angry and confrontational about the bad guys, but it might be a little
more nuanced about the big picture or about really I think what would be more nuanced is I don't
think women are passive victims of this. I think women do a lot of - and girls - do a lot of
negotiating, resisting, interpreting. I think they are more active than I might have thought in
1991. Again, in 1991 feminism was less nuanced than it was now. It was very much the oppressor or
the oppressed. I think we're in a more sophisticated place now with gender issues. It's good.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Naomi Wolf, thanks for talking to us.

NAOMI WOLF: Thank you.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And the extended version often of that interview will be posted soon at our website

(c) 2006 ABC