Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
7.30 Report -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

(generated from captions) to say their farewells. is facing execution in 11 days. The condemned heroin trafficker drug offender Michelle Leslie And a spokesman for convicted her story to a media outlet. has denied that she has sold

he expects Leslie will be prosecuted Justice Minister Chris Ellison says profiting from her conviction. if it's found she's illegally And that's the news to this minute. The '7.30 Report' is next, at 8:30pm. and I'll be back with a news update Until then, goodnight. International Pty Ltd Captioning and Subtitling Closed Captions provided by

This program is captioned live. very passive experience, you know, Taking the abortion pill is a it's gentle. It seems very natural. of the controversial medication Tonight - a first-hand account that's banned in Australia. It's a very simple process, in your comfort zone. because you can be at home risk or just a political football? The abortion pill - is it a health to register. RU486 would be a dangerous drug to have an overall ban. It doesn't make sense

Welcome to the program. Australian drug smuggler Van Nguyen Just 11 days from now, convicted is due to be hanged in Singapore. of his lawyers, his family The best efforts and the Australian Government

that Van Nguyen deserves clemency. have failed to persuade Singapore is on record as believing Indeed, PM John Howard be done to save the 25-year-old, there is nothing left that can who says he was smuggling heroin his twin brother's legal debts. to help pay are hoping a last-ditch appeal But his lawyers Criminal Court of Justice to the International might bring a reprieve. Van Nguyen's barrister Lex Lasry, In a moment I'll be speaking with from Mary Gearin. but first this report and mother Kim Van Nguyen's identical twin Khoa to Singapore. are tonight on their way to save him succeed, Unless last-ditch efforts of Nguyen's 25-year life. the next 11 days will be the last He will hang for the crime to help pay off his brother's debts. he said he committed the pair has met since his arrest. This will be the first time could offer comforting words, The Federal Government today

that Nguyen could be saved. but no more hope nothing further can be done, The PM says or trade sanctions as a response. ruling out diplomatic I certainly am opposed to saying, As an instrument of policy, Government is going ahead "Well, because the Singaporean to take such and such a position "with this execution we are going "on a trade issue." going to serve any good purpose, That is not sensible and it's not should not imagine but the Singaporean Government is going unnoticed in Australia. that this incident, this issue great conviction in our country There is great feeling and there's death penalty should not be imposed. that on this occasion, the to give up, It's not the Australian way on Van Nguyen, his family but it's also not fair about this case or anybody else who's passionate to offer people false hope. the chorus of calls However, the Opposition has joined International Court of Justice. for Australia to appeal to the It's composed of judges elected Assembly and Security Council. by the United Nations General There's a week or so to go those moves that can be made and I think there's still and the Government should make them. there is hope. I believe where there is life, provides us with hope and therefore, An International Court of Justice to Mr Howard and Mr Downer my strong encouragement this course of action, is to not just explore in deploying it but to exert every effort in Mr Nguyen's interest. to agree You would have to get Singapore the International Court of Justice to a case being brought before that they would do that, and that is remote in the extreme they've heard all the arguments bearing in mind that

for Van Nguyen. in relation to clemency one of the last available openings It would appear to be in a long campaign. Van Nguyen's friends and supporters demonstrations, letter-writing have organised a flurry of street and lobbying, to no avail.

Every single hand that we receive, is somebody's message every single hand tracing support you, this must not happen". reaching out to Van and saying, "I Melbourne man three years ago Singapore police arrested the one of the last available openings It would appear to be as he was heading for a flight home. luggage were 396 grams of heroin. Strapped to his body and in his hand his stupidity and guilt His supporters say he's acknowledged lack of a criminal record but point to his good character, with authorities. and his subsequent cooperation He's scared. the mandatory death sentence Singapore enforced for clemency, and its president has denied pleas

official and otherwise. the fourth Australian citizen Nguyen would be smuggling in the past 20 years - to be put to death for drug Michael McAuliffe in 1993, the most recent being hanged in Malaysia

and Brian Chambers in 1986. as were Kevin Barlow History is against Nguyen. figures, Amnesty International says Although there are no official executed 420 people since 1991. Singapore is estimated to have to have been spared from execution Only six people are reported in the past 42 years. Mary Gearin with that report. of the Van Nguyen case, It says something about the nature like Lex Lasry QC that even a seasoned criminal lawyer client's demeanour and predicament. has been emotionally affected by his Melbourne studio a short time ago. I spoke with Mr Lasry in our at this late stage Lex Lasry, realistically for Van Nguyen? is there any hope Kerry, it's slender, as far as we see it and of course, but there's still some hope left and we keep working on it. we cling to that Do you know the last time

granted a plea for clemency the Singapore Government in a death penalty case? Ah well, they've done it, as late in the piece as this, but they've never done it I would accept that. on our present circumstance, So that obviously has some bearing to persuade them but it's not too late that they're making the wrong decision. You've sought the support of the Australian Government today in a meeting with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer

to take the case to the International Court of Justice. Now I know Mr Downer is considering his answer,

but what are the elements he's considering? Well Kerry, the International Court of Justice is a court for countries rather than people.

It's not something that we can activate. Australia as a nation and a member of the United Nations, would have to activate the cause of action and either try to compel Singapore to go to the court or obtain Singapore's consent to the jurisdiction. Now the Government correctly I think are saying, "Well we'll pursue that, "if we can be made to understand that it's viable." It just can't be done on a whim. They have to be persuaded that there is a genuine cause of action. We think there is, and if there is, the matter can be taken before the court. What do you think is the genuine cause of action? There are probably two or three elements to it. The main one is that a mandatory death penalty in the circumstances that apply to our client is a breach of international human rights law. There are plenty of cases to indicate that that's so, and a breach of several of the United Nations' conventions. We also have open, I think the argument, that hanging as a method of execution is a grossly inhuman and cruel and I think that's almost self-evident.

And there may be another avenue through another convention in relation to transnational organised crime which may enable us to compel Singapore to go to the court. It's fair to say, though isn't it, that if you're looking for Singapore's cooperation to go to the international court that they're hardly going to agree to something which in the end could rebound on their entire approach to the death penalty - not just in this case?

Singapore have said a number of times that the process in this case has been open, transparent and fair. If that's the case and if they have no problem in defending their process, then they ought to be amenable to that issue being determined within the International Court of Justice. n h t w l o s m x e t determine how fair and transparent the process is. And to the extent that you might hold out some hope to compel them to appear before the international court and participate in that, what grounds do you have to compel them? Well under some conventions to which Singapore adhere,

it may be that their appearance before the international court is compulsory the convention and that by having signed in the process. they are obliged to take part of the United Nations. Singapore is a member using the international court Singapore at present are in a dispute with Malaysia. and indeed as a matter of logic, So as a matter of principle the court to determine this issue. they ought to be amenable to you've seen Alexander Downer, But on the same day that to the media, hasn't he, I think he's indicated is all but a lost cause? that he thinks this case sentiment he's expressed today. I think that's certainly the thing that he's been saying. That's the kind of being cautious about this, I understand the Government a country to take another country because it's a big step for to the international court. if the option is open But by the same token, then obviously they should do so, and the basis for it is solid help we could to facilitate that. and we would offer them whatever it is about this case What do you think in Australia that has won public support seems to have done? in the way that Van Nguyen don't often win public sympathy, Because drug smugglers circumstances, do they? even in exceptional thought about the case understand Kerry, I think people who've out of proportion to what he did that this penalty is grossly also recognise the unfairness and I think people being sentenced to death in a young man of 24, 25 to say to an independent judge without being given the chance he shouldn't be executed. why in his case are appalled at the prospect I also think that people so much to offer that a young man with at the end of a rope. is potentially going to die I think that offends anyone about human rights. with a scintilla of concern

you have come to know? Describe the Van Nguyen that a quite dramatic transformation Well, our client has gone through into his wrongdoing, with a significant insight for people around him an amazing compassion who are affected by his conduct, and, of course, a willingness to assist authorities and spiritual insight a young man now with a religious to the community. who would be of great value

of transformations I suspect those sorts occur regularly on death rows,

a transformation like this but I've never seen now for 32 years and I've been in the criminal law with a lot of clients. and I've sat in a lot of cells and at this stage in my career This young man is quite remarkable and by his rehabilitation. I'm inspired by his courage and a privilege to have seen. It's just been amazing to watch to stay emotionally detached I know lawyers are supposed from their client's cases, in this instance? but has that been possible to know Van fairly well, Not now Kerry, no. I've come as Julian McMahon has. with him over the three years. We've spent many hours

to detach emotionally. It's impossible, I'm afraid, to know and like and respect He's someone I've come very difficult for all of us and Friday week is going to be on that day. if in fact, he loses his life has left today to see Van Nguyen. I understand his twin brother

with him entering Singapore, Was there been any problem identified with this case? given the way he has been No, I don't believe so. He has a passport tonight with his mother and he's travelling to Singapore a bit of time with his brother and will spend, I hope, quite over the next few days. obstacles being put in his way, It's tough enough for him without

but so far no obstacles have been

there should be. and there's no reason why what's happened to his brother? Is he blaming himself for of responsibility and concern, Um, I think he feels a level but I want to be clear about this. the motivations of our client were Whatever his role and whatever when this originally happened, to our client, not his brother. Singapore is doing this to carry a high level of guilt And his brother musn't be allowed our client's execution. on the basis of by the government of Singapore. That's being done to him the execution if it does go ahead, Have you been asked to witness and will you do so? present for the sake of our client. We've asked to be allowed to be under consideration That application is still by the Singapore authorities. for you to come to, Was that a hard decision to put yourself in that position? Very hard. at the prospect, I mean, I'm terrified to him to be there but I think we owe it if they'll let us. for him, and as I said before, It's the least we can do to be drawn from his courage, it's a level of inspiration for us and we do draw that inspiration. for talking with us. Lex Lasry, thanks very much Thanks, Kerry. Almost a decade was banned in this country, after the abortion pill RU486 for the Federal Government. the issue has erupted once again by millions of women worldwide Although the drug is used the United States, Britain, in countries such as Ireland, France and Germany, the Government says for Australian women to use. the drug is too dangerous Doctors' groups disagree, and that's prompted concern up in an undeclared moral debate that the whole issue is being swept of abortion. over the rights and wrongs Health Minister Tony Abbott, Not so, says Australia's pro-life

they should take a cold shower. who has told his critics that

But with the PM now indicating on the issue, that he'll allow a conscience vote seems set to gather momentum. the debate Nick Grimm reports.

Six years ago an Australian woman

aged in her mid 20s was in London

a working holiday when she aged in her mid 20s was in London on

discovered she was pregnant.

Resolving she wasn't ready to start

a family, the woman who'll we'll

call "Susan" made the depif

to seek an abortion. But instead call "Susan" made the depif decision

undergoing a surgical procedure she to seek an abortion. But instead of

was prescribed the so-called

abortion pill, RU486. It's a very

simple process, because you can be

at home in your comfort zone and it

was just like a natural period or

miscarriage or whatever you want to

call it. It was a profoundly

personal decision and so "Susan" -

not her real name - has asked us to

disguise her identity. Her direct

account of her experience has been

revoiced by an actor. Six months

after her first termination, "Susan"

fell pregnant again and this time

she had a surgical abortion, which

she found more difficult, both

physically and emotionally. Taking

the abortion pill is a very passive

experience, you know, it's gentle.

It seems very natural and compared

with a surgical abortion where it

can be very traumatic and stressful

on the body, I don't think that

there's any comparison. But the

medication offered to "Susan" is

medication offered to "Susan" is not available here in Australia. The

abortion pill has been banned in

this country for nearly a decade

this country for nearly a decade and the Federal Government isn't about

to change its mind. The medical

advice from the Chief Medical

Officer puts beyond any doubt that

RU486 would be a dangerous drug to

register. Other medical authorities

disagree. In fact, the Royal

College of Obstetricians and

Gynaecologists the Rural Doctors

Association and the Australian

Medical Association all say that

Australian women should be given

access to RU486 - a drug also known

as Mifepristine. It doesn't make

sense to have an overall ban of

something which would be suitable

for the majority of women. So from

your point of view there's

substantial medical evidence that

supports its use? Absolutely.

We would be irresponsible to allow

its ubiquitous use across regional

and rural areas in an unsupervised

way and in a way that might cause

the deaths of women. I don't think

Tony Abbott or myself want to have

that on our hands for the rest of

our careers, knowingly allowing a

drug to be used that could actually

cause the death of an Australian

citizen. Government backbencher Dr

Mal Washer, himself a GP with more

than 30 years experience, believes

Australian women have a right to

Australian women have a right to the drug. This is not about whether you

like abortion. I do not like

abortion. This is about giving

women in an industrialised country

like Australia the same choice or

option of therapy or management of

this extremely difficult problem,

this extremely difficult problem, as women in other industrialised

countries already have. But the man

with the power to lift the ban,

Health Minister Tony Abbott, thinks

his critics should Icalm down.

Everyone should take a cold shower

about this, because no company has

applied to register it in Australia.

Unlike the morning-after pill, an

emergency contraceptive which is

emergency contraceptive which is now available over-the-counter at

pharmacies, RU486 is used up to

pharmacies, RU486 is used up to nine weeks into a pregnancy and would

only be available on prescription.

This is how it works. Pregnancy

relies on the progesterone hormone.

It's what helps sustain the

fertilised sperm in the womb. It

causes the lining of the womb to

break down so that the body

break down so that the body discards the foetal material that would

otherwise grow into a bafnlt often

an injection of Prostoglandin, a

drug that stimulate

drug that stimulates contractions

would be administered two days

later. If there were any concerns

about its safety or effectiveness

they've been expelled with over 10

years experience in other countries

with more than two million

registered users indicating that

it's safe and effective as an

for women who decide for whatever it's safe and effective as an option

reason they need to seek a lawful

abortion. The drug was officially

approved for use in Australia in

1980s by the Therapeutic Goods approved for use in Australia in the

Administration. But in 1996 the

Howard Government introduced the

Independent Senator Brian as a trade-off for the then Howard Government introduced the ban

Harradine's support for the sale of

Telstra. Today, there's only one

major stumbling block for those who

want the ban lifted. It's been the

long-standing practice that this

drug won't be imported or

without ministerial consent. And drug won't be imported or registered

Health Minister tobility has made

clear he's not about to give that Health Minister tobility has made it

consent. Just last week he cited

this report from the nation's chief

Medical Officer Dr John Horvath. this report from the nation's Chief

showed in some circumstances RU486 Medical Officer Dr John Horvath. It

can be deadly for women living in

remote areas, out of reach of

medical care. Tony Abbott declined

speak to the 7:30 Report for this

story, but the parliamentary

secretary for health, Christopher

Pyne - who supports his position -

agreed to an interview. Governments

have to make decisions and so far

Tony Abbott has indicated he's not

confident that this drug could be

licenced without it causing damage

to Australian citizens and it's his

responsibility to look after and

protect their welfare. So how can

there be so much conflict over

whether this drug is dangerous or

not? Well the Health Minister and

his party secretary have been

accused of skewing the medical

advice that they've received on the

subject. In fact, they admit they

only asked the Chief Medical

one very specific question - namely, only asked the Chief Medical Officer

is it safe to be used in remote

areas? Now given that no-one's

actually proposed that women in

remote Australia should be given

unsupervised access to this drug,

that approach has given ammunition

to those who believe that the

Minister has allowed his own moral to those who believe that the Health

stance and his pro-life views in

particular to sway his judgment on

this issue. I'm not going to

pre-judge why Tony brought the

slightly wrong, warped question

forward. It's probably the fact

that it should not be his

responsibility to have to make

decisions. It should be for him to responsibility to have to make these

take advice from expert bodies.

John hore vast as the Chief Medical

Officer, his job is to give the

Government fearless and frank and

medically based advice. I have no

doubt that whether it's advice

avian flu right through to RU486, doubt that whether it's advice about

John Horvath wouldn't be doing his

job if he gave us advice based on

what he thought people wanted to

hear. Faced with vocal d dissent in

his party the PM has indicated he

may allow a conscience vote on the

issue. Bioethicist is the author

'The abortion scaf myth'. She issue. Bioethicist is the author of

argues that pro-life forces in

Parliament will marshal themselves

in support of the ban. Allowing a

conscience vote gives the wrong

about whether this is a debate conscience vote gives the wrong idea

whether abortion should be right or about whether this is a debate about

legal. We're not debating that.

are debating whether or not legal. We're not debating that. We

Australia women deserve the freedom

that women in all the other

countries that are similar to us

have. It's a debate that weighs

heavily on women like "Susan"

She's adamant that RU486 is the heavily on women like "Susan".

course for what is for anyone a She's adamant that RU486 is the best

difficult and unpleasant procedure.

Absolutely. There's no question in

my mind. I don't understand why

it's not available to - there's so

many pills for everyone from weight

loss. There's Viagra available to

everyone who wants it. But then a

woman who wants to have control of

her life, she's not allowed to take

this particular pill. So I think it's very unfair. That report from Nick Grimm. John Benny has been on a quest For the past 50 years, outstanding collection of opals. to amass the world's most It's an obsession that has seen him across the Australian outback. mining on all the major opal fields is now irreplaceable, John Benny's collection valued at up to $40 million. of living in the bush, But after more than half a century the veteran miner plans to retire, up for sale. and he's put his huge collection collection intact, and in Australia. He hopes the buyer will keep the Genevieve Hussey reports. the only true gem is opal. In my opinion, The opal is beautiful. "queen of the gems". Shakespeare wrote

rubies - one colour. Diamonds, sapphires,

They're boring. Opal is never boring. John's collected this over 56 years. are just incredible. Some of the pieces You couldn't replace it. of opal in the world. This is the largest collection Valued at up to $40 million, life-long obsession it's the result of one man's with mining for the perfect stone. that's the beauty of it. Every piece of opal is different - it's not funny. Some of them are so large of these pieces in the opal field I mean, if we ever found some we'd love it so much. we'd go mad, after the Second World War John Benny's adventure began

joined the British Merchant Navy when the former Polish soldier and sailed to Australia. When the ship docked, new and better life in this country. he saw the possibility of making a and boat and went straight bush Came to Fremantle and jumped up till today. and never come out of the bush sinking dip shafts I used to mine by hand, when I got some money, and eventually bulldozers. then I bought heavy equipment, This is very unusual piece. beautiful colour, too. You've got opal around, And natural ashtray. that's how the nature made it. Unusual - across the outback, John Benny's quest took him Coober Pedy and Lightning Ridge. through the opal fields in he began finding and buying As well as opals, artefacts and fossils. thousands of Aboriginal Aborigine to take me to the bush. JOHN BENNY: I used to pay ?1.10 for in the bush They teach me how to live and they also show me where to collect those artefacts. Whoever had any Aboriginal artefacts I used to buy them, because in those days they weren't expensive because nobody wants them.

But today, they are national treasures. 30 years ago, John Benny bought a parcel of rough stones for $3,500. One was an opal he calls 'Picasso', now valued at well over $1 million. I gave it to one Chinese cutter and a few days later he brought me that piece, I was shocked, because it was so beautiful. It's a natural mosaic. Another stone John Benny had carved into what is now acknowledged as the world's largest opal statue - a statue of Moses, held in a vault at the Reserve Bank and worth more than $6 million.

It took almost two years to carve that Moses. It weighs over 34,000 carats. Beautiful, and probably one could never found another piece of opal like that.

John, I've never seen a wall like this size in my life. Frank, it's about 10,000 pieces here.

10,000, yes. It took 25 years to collect it.

Frank Tyne is an opal expert. He says John Benny's collection is priceless. Some of the pieces are just irreplaceable. You can't get them anymore. They're finished

and this is why I think his collection is so unique. But while John Benny's collection is worth a lot of money, he's not a wealthy man. That's why he's finally decided to sell his life's work for a total of $4 million. I haven't got any money and I don't even have a house, I rent a house, because everything what I had is to put in collection and I also would like to help my children, my grandchildren. But there's a catch. He can't bear to see his collection go overseas, or be split up. I have a lot of offers. They want to buy singularly from a lot of countries, America, Japan, Switzerland, Germany. But I don't sell anything. I prefer the full collection goes to one person and stay in Australia and to show everybody the beauty. Because my collection is Australian national treasures. There will be no other country in the world that will have a collection like this. I think it's vital that it stays here. John Benny has moved to the Gold Coast to be near family. But some of his children are still carrying on the family tradition, mining opal in west of Queensland. John Benny has no regrets about devoting his life to opal mining, but now it's time to retire. On 1 January I'll be 81 years of age and it's time to retire now. I'm slowing down. I like fishing, I go fishing. If I had my life again I would start the same thing, because I love bush, and I love nature. If you are good to nature, nature will help you, even help you to find the opal. Genevieve Hussey with that report. for tonight. And that's the program the same time tomorrow, We'll be back at but for now goodnight.

International Pty Ltd Captioning and Subtitling Closed Captions produced by

This program is not subtitled THEME MUSIC For seven generations has been home to the Archer family. Brickendon in Tasmania still live here under the one roof. Today, three generations for nearly 200 years. And that's how it's been I can see that anyone else has done. MAN: There's nothing out there that has been done by my family. Everything I look out there the river to Woolmers And really when I look across that's been there for 180 years. it's the same landscape

BIRDSONG of the valley, Woolmers, on the other side of the Archer family. belonged to another branch where the dynasty began. The ancestral home Woolmers is lost to family forever. But today,

living in isolation and dying alone. The last in line Woolmers has gone to the wall. MAN: It's always amazed me how To think that could happen. of a great colonial family This is the story to hold on to their inheritance. and the sacrifices they've made to go out of family hands, WOMAN: For Brickendon cut off at the knees. Richard would be officially He would be devastated by it. MAJESTIC MUSIC a miller's son from England, In 1813, when Thomas Archer, fertile Norfolk Plains, first took sight of Tasmania's it took his breath away. Prime Aboriginal hunting grounds was just giving it away. and now the colonial government and one thought only. Thomas had one thought, MAN: "This is my chance in life." they wanted responsible people, The government wanted settlers,

they wanted produce they wanted income, an opportunity to miss. and this is too good of the plains to build his home. Thomas Archer chose the pick