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7.30 Report -

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(generated from captions) partly cloudy tomorrow with a shower or two and the

chance of a thunderstorm. Light south-easterly winds

early tending moderate

easterly during the day. The

outlook for a possible shower

or two on Thursday. Then a short spell of fine and

warmer weather. A cold front

passes to the south late in

the weekend could bring us

showers on Sunday or Monday

and cooler temperatures.

Before we go, a brief recap

of our top stories tonight.

The Prime Minister has

welcomed revelation thanks

three prominent Australian

Business men have set up

company to promote nuclear

power. The ACT Government has

rejected about a dozen

recommend days made by the

bush fire coroner in her

report on the 2003 firestorm.

That is ABC News. Stay with

us for Kerry O'Brien and the

'7.30 Report' coming up next

and I will be back with a

news update later this

evening. Nor now, goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

CC It's just unfair and

they're still sitting up there

getting their bloody weekly pay

and these ones just being

booted aside. Tonight on the

7:30 Report, brazen rort or

legitimate investment. The tax

thousands of jobs on the system crack down putting

line. It was devastating to our

company and staff. These people

have almost developed a hand

out mentality. These point

breaks were formed over million

os years. The creator made

these places. And the surf

legends campaigning to restore

a legendary surf break. I look

over it every day and it's a

crying shame when I look at it.

Welcome to the program. A

nuclear industry may seem a

long way off for Australia and

the debate just starting to

simmer but some at the top end

of town have already decided to

take the prospect very

seriously and since one of them

is the Liberal Party's former

top fund raiser with close

links to the Prime Minister, as

revealed in a newspaper report

this morning, it didn't take

long to exercise minds in the

parliament. It seems three of

Australia's richest businessmen

have already form add public

company and begun examining the

viability of building the

nation's first nuclear power

plant. The chairman of the

Fairfax media group and former national treasure of the

Liberal Party Ron Walker is one

of them and that brought

accusations of cronyism from

the Opposition, particularly

after Mr Howard admitted he had

discussed the company's plans

with Mr Walker as far back as

the middle of last year. He

scoffed at suggestions that

that might be unusual. But the

day has highlighted one

uncomfortable political reality

with the nuclear debate - the with the nuclear debate -

pros and cons get swamped by

the question of where a nuclear

power plant might go. Political

editor Michael Brissenden

reports.

As the climate change debate

hots up, the nuclear energy

option has become one of the

defining policy fissures. For a

government struggling to shrug

off a perception that it is

still a reluctant convert to the global warming crisis,

nuclear power provides a

powerful platform to at least

be seen to be proactive and

engaged. It's clear the public

wants their politicians to act

and to take the issue

seriously. The politicians have

got that message loud and

clear. If we are serious about

climate change, we are not

going to deal with climate

change and produce solutions by

producing nuclear waste. If

Australians want serious action

on climate change, they want to

see action to reduce greenhouse

gas emissions now , they want

to see investment in energy

efficiency and they don't want

to see nuclear reactors dotted

around this country. I think

this nation, if it is serious

about climate change, has to

look at the nuclear option. I'm

not frightened of that, I'm not

ruling out power stations

anywhere in this country, that

is a juvenile, idiotic game to

play, Mr Speaker. If those who

sit opposite, if you are

interested, Mr Speaker f you

are interested, if you are

interested in a serious debate,

you will embrace it and I do

not intend to be diverted from

a rational discussion of the

nuclear option by this kind of

childish scare tactics. For a

Prime Minister often accused of

being poll driven, this is

another of those issues, like

Iraq, where he's chosen to take

a strong stand seemingly

against popular public opinion,

a stand designed to portray

leadership strength and define

a political vision. It helps

that the nuclear issue has been

an explosive one inside the

Labor Party as well. The Labor

Party will formalise its shift

on uranium mining at its national conference in April

but there will be no shift on

nuclear power. It may be a

popular list position but

Labor's going to ride it for

all its worth. Poll after poll

has shown no-one wants a power

station anywhere near its own

backyard. Where will

Springfield be in Australia?

Who will be Mr Smither an who

will be Mr Burns. What will the

government do about it? Aaaah,

it's my problem, we're

doomed! Sector 7 G is now being isolated. Homer Simpson's nightmare reverberate tlus

lounge rooms across the nation

and headlines today revealed

while we may not have Mr Burns

himself, three of Australia's

richest men are certainly keen

to find their own Springfield

somewhere soon n Victoria or

South Australia it seems. Two

of them, Ron Walker and Hugh Morgan have impeccable Liberal Party connections, together

with the Adelaide businessman

Robert De Crespigny, they

formed a private company called Australian Nuclear Energy Pty

Ltd. The Opposition says the

kecks raise some serious

questions. Have there been any

meetings between senior cabinet

ministers and these three

businessmen, they need to be

clear and transparent with the

deserve to know where John Australian people today. We

Howard and Peter Costello stand

about Ron Walker's plans. And

that was Labor's pursuit inside

the House as well. Minister,

the question is have you had

any discussions with any

individual from Australian

Nuclear Energy Limited? Representing

Australian Nuclear Energy

Limited, no. Has the Minister had discussions with any

individual with an interest in

Australian Nuclear Energy Limited including Mr Ron

Walker, the former treasure of

the Liberal Party, Minister,

what is the Minister got to

hide? It took six questions

but eventually the Industry

Minister cleared it up. I have

not met with the, I have not

met with representatives of the

company about this issue and I

have not seen a proposal on a nuclear power station from

them. But perhaps they didn't

need to. Under further questioning the Prime Minister

revealed he had discussed the

matter with Mr Walker last

year. I had a discussion with

Ron Walker, I'm very happy to tell the world that one

Saturday morning when Ron rings

me, it's not with racing tip,

neither of us are very

interested in racing but it's about something else and he

said to me about the middle of

last year, he said that he and

Hugh Morgan and Robert De

Crespigny have decided to register a company that could

be interested in nuclear power

and I said, "Well that's a

great idea Ron, because you

know my view on it." I don't

know what this St All about. My

view and the view of the government about nuclear being

an option has been well

known. What it's all about is a

Labor charge of cronyism. Labor

says the timing of it all is

suspicious. The three businessmen established their

company on June 1 last year,

five days before the Prime

Minister established the Minister established the swited

cow skrk inquiry that

eventually found if the

conditions were right,

Australia could have as many as

25 nuclear power stations

across the country by 2050.

It's a charge the Prime

Minister dismissed as trivial. I would have thought

instead of alleging in a

childish, juvenile fashion that

there was something sinister in

my having a discussion, with

perhaps having a discussion, he

can speak for himself, they

would have had a serious

debate, Mr Speaker. The last

hour has revealed the Labor

Party who sits opposite as

inadequate and inte leak chully

deprived participants in the

climate change debate in

Australia and I ask that

further questions be placed on

the notice paper. There will

certainly be more questions and

they may well be dismissed as

juvenile. The bigger political

problem for the Prime Minister

though probably won't be his telephone conversations with

his friends, but rather his own

intrance gents. He has locked

himself in behind the nuclear

option and no really serious

debate about that can be had without consideration of where

to place the power plants when

they come, whoever it is who eventually builds

them. Political editor Michael

Brissenden. And now to the

latest political drama from the

west and the fall of yet

another State Government

minister. This afternoon John

Bowler became the fourth

minister sacked or demoted from the Carpenter government in the

past year, the third connected

to the Brian Bourke skand am as

the Corruption and Crime Commission juggernaut can'ts to pound the Government. On Sunday, Environment Minister

Tony McRae resigned over his

links with former Labor

minister turned lobbyist Julian

Grill, a business partner of Mr

Bourke's. Premier Alan

Carpenter was forced to act

today after the CCC played

tapes of Mr Bowler

conversations at the home of Mr

Grill. He was dismissed by his

Premier late this afternoon.

Where will it end? Yet

another bombshell from the

Corruption and Crime Commission

has left yet another Carpenter

Government minister staring

into the abyss. No sooner has

Labor Minister John Bowler

denied discussing sensitive

cabinet decisions with lobbiest

Julian Grill than the CCC

played its trump card - secret

conversations it had recorded

between Mr Grill and Mr Bowler

after bugging Mr grill's

home. Have you anything to

say? Certainly not. John Bowler

had been caught on tape talking

about a propose add railway

line through an Aboriginal

heritage area in the bill bra.

Mr grill and his business

partner Brian Bourke were

representing the mining company

which was proposing the line.

Cabinet initially rejected the

railway plan but here Mr Bowler

reveals the Aboriginal Affairs

Minister, she'llia McHail had

opted to reverse the decision.

Look, I don't change my

friends, I regret how our friendship, my friendship may

have been used but I don't change my friends.

Today, appearing again as a

witness before the CCC, Mr

Bowler came close to tears as

he launched an extraordinary

attack on CCC lawyer Stephen

Hall, saying he felt

intimidated and threatened and

that Mr Hall's tactics had gone against his sense of fair play

and juss justice. I don't think people realise this has been

the worst month of my life. I

think I'm an honest man and

every decision I've always made

has been honest. The CCC has an

important role to play and to

acquire phone taps or the

bugging of people's homes they

have to get appropriate

authorisation through judicial

sources. We therefore know

there is at least circumstantial evidence that

allows them to do that. I see

nothing wrong wit. It holds our

politicians to account. It's

just unfortunate for those very politicians if they're going to

wrong thing. Political analyst

Peter van Onslan believes with

his cabinet in disarray Premier his cabinet in disarray Premier

carpenter will be scraping the

bottom of the barrel to find experienced ministers to

replace them. He may yet lose

more through the CCC hearings.

The Liberal Opposition is

travelling so poorly in this

State that he doesn't have

electoral concern, what he has

got is public confidence

Kearns. He can alay those by

launching a full scale reform

of the party not trying to sack

ministers one by one. If Alan

Carpenter isn't feeling enough

pressure from the CCC, today

State Parliament turned up the

heat. How much longer do we

have to go on? He has is

crooked as they come. That's

what it is, Mr Speaker, as

crooked as they come. He's as

bad as Bourke, he's as bad as

Grill. Late today the

inevitable became reality. Mr

speaker, a short while ago I

met with the Member and

demanded his resignation from

the cabinet and from the State

parliamentary Labor Party. He

has agreed to provide

both. Yes, I've just advised

the Premier that I've resigned

from my position as a minister. The Premier also asked me to

resign from the Australian

Labor Party and I've agreed to

do that. I've got to say my

first preference would be to

stay on, however I've agreed to

do. That I've been duped and

been used at times and because

of that I've got to pay a

price. Hamish Fitzsimmons

reporting from Perth. Are they

simply brazen tax avoiders who

are making life difficult for

traditional farmers or are they

legitimate investors whose

capital is creating much needed

agricultural opportunities for

rural Australia? So-called

managed investment schemes in

agriculture and aquaculture

have this month been entangled

in a political frack a in

Canberra. Having at first flourished with approval there

the Government and the tax office. Then the government

announced recently it would

join with the Australian tax

office to try to end tax

deductions allowed under such

farming skeeps in all but the

foresty industry by tend of

June. But faced with a party

room revolt or the threat of a

party room ve volt, the Prime Minister has pledged to

consider a phase out period of

around 12 months although that might alay the Government's

political problems in an

election year, tax experts

suggest it's unlikely to

resolve the issue. Greg Hoy

reports. It's just like that,

they're gone. Workers at a Victorian olive tree nursery

who have lost their jobs and

former work-mates who fear the

same fate. We've done over a

million cuttings just before

Christmas and they really

worked their butts off for me,

hey. They never complained

once. Now it's just all sitting

there, they're going to

waste. The human cost of a

heated debate over the legitimacy of managed

investment schemes in

agriculture and aquaculture where investors have been

granted tax refunds of 100%

over three years on investments

made in rural production.

Everything from timber to

mangos, tomatoes to well, you

name it, in fruit, vegables and

meat and in aquaculture, even

the production of pearls. In

the future, if Australia is to

really make an attempt to be

the food bowl of Asia or

develop export markets in a

raichck of agribusiness

products, you know, we're going

to need, we're going to need sophisticated management and

with the Government putting a

question mark over this form of

funding activity, A, it's near

sighted and probably B, it's -

they're taking a huge political

risk. MISs just been a very,

very effective tool for raising

capital into the agriculture and horticulture industry which

other investors seem to shy

away from because it's such

long lead times with getting a

return on your investment. Like

the Government, the National Farmers Federation is now

divided on the virtues of such

schemes which some primary

producers argue are unfair

competition for farmers and a

brazen tax rort. The Government

is subsidising high net worth

city-based people to put money

into agribusiness schemes,

there's no audit process which

focuses the pros on best

practice therefore the projects

do not necessarily ever deliver

on a broad scale the type of

outcomes that they outcomes that they forecast. I

know dha our projects are going

to have great outcomes for

those people who have put money

into them. I mean we've proven

that we can get the yields, our

prices we budget on are very

conservative. This stacks

up. Leading the opposition,

agribusiness consultant Sam

Patton commissioned by a group

of traditional primary

producers found a sympathetic

ear in Federal Treasury. They

then invited me on a couple of

telephone hook ups to clarify a

few things and I opened up some

dialogue with some senior

officials in Peter Costello's

office and fisheries an

forestry and I must commend

Peter Costello's office. He's

always been available, proactive. Indeed, Treasurer

Peter Costello is seen as

leading the campaign to shut

down tax relief for managed

investment schemes to bolster

the budget's bottom line.

Surprising in that it was the

same Treasurer who six years

ago introduced that very tax

relief, which, with six subsubsequent favourable rule

frtion the tax office, promoted

strong growth in the sector.

Then this month came the shock announcement that after so-called extensive discussions

with the industry, at the end

of the financial year the tax

office would disallow refunds

on such investments for all but

the timber industry. We

expected a period of

consultation and review which

didn't seem to happen and, you

know, the weekend before the

decision was made we heard that

there was some discussions taking place and something

might happen and on Tuesday

they announce basically the

finish of non- forestry MIS and

it was just devastating to our

company and our staff. It's

just unfair, it really is. I

mean these kids have gt lives

too. It's alright for them,

they're still sitting up there

getting their bloody weekly pay

and that and these ones just

been booted aside. I think

these people, these MIS

promoters have almost developed

a handout mentality, that it's

almost like welfare in reverse

in so far as they've come to

expect that there's just this

lump of money that's going to

be deducted on behalf of

investor commitments an they've

set their business models up on

that basis, on huge scale and

there was never any undertaking from the Federal Government

that was necessarily going to

persist. If it's such a viable

business, why does it need the

taxation incentive to make it

stand up? Look, investing in

agriculture there are low

returns. This is an emerging

industry so it has the risks

associated with agriculture

plus an emerging industry. So

it has to be some incentive to get this investment into the

bush. In one form or another,

these things have been around

for decades. But the latest

argument has reverberated off the walls of Parliament House

and the Coalition's joint party

room including today. Hardly

desirable in an election year,

that's why the Prime Minister

stepped in overruling three ministers pledging to consider

a phase out period of around 12 months, though the Treasurer has insisted that should be

less and the industry is crying

out for more, or even for a

stay of execution. For those

who have already lost their

job, it's getting ridiculous

and the confusion is by no

means over yet. If one of the

rating agencies is correct and

that there are 10,000 people

that are going to be put out of

work in Victoria alone, it's

going to add up to a lot of, a

lot of lost votes for the

conservative forces. So,

companies promoting such

managed investment schemes are

to be outlawed, even if cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull

himself is a foundation

shareholder of one such

company, Arafura

Pearls. Minister Turnbull was a

foundation investor in

Arafura. And through his

private company Wilcrow, he

still is. And Arafura says

managed investment schemes are

essential to develop

agribusiness in rural

Australia. If that sounds messy

enough, wait till it gets to

the courts. This is not the

aggressive tax planning basket.

These are people who are

actually going to make some

sort of commercial return.

Well, are hoping to make some

sort of commercial return. It

will, it seem, fall to the

courts to decide if investors

in MIS are conducting a

legitimate business, or as the

ATO says, they should be

dismissed as just passive investors ineligible for

upfront tax refunds. They've tried that, they've run many,

many cases. We've had a series

of four or five cases over the

last five or six year where

they've run the argument that

these distant investors are

simply pasive investors.

They've failed basically on

every occasion and they've - I

just - they really haven't

received any support from the

courts. In my view, it's very

un likely a tax office is going

to succeed on this. It's a bureaucratic and political

pickle that may not be

clarified before the election.

That might be good news for the

Government but bad news for

those next in line for

retrenchment in the bush,

anxiously awaiting some sense

of certainty. I've come to

enjoy my job, look forward to

getting here every day and the

prospect of being back in the

unemployment line, looking for

work, at my age of 42 and

competing with all the

youngsters, it's very

daunting. We need our kids to

be employed in rural based

activities and given some

certainty and given some

training and given a future.

That report from Greg Hoy. The

first event of the association

of professional surfers world

tour is under way on the Gold

Coast today. In the past, this

type of event was often held at

the legendary Kirra Beach with

its near flawless waves. But at

least partly thanks to man-made

intervention , Kirra today is a

shadow f its former self-and

the Quicksilver Protournament

this year is based just south

at Snapper Rocks. While some

argue it's only a matter of

time before a big storm

reshapes the beach and brings

the waves back to Kirra, a

group of surfing champions

think otherwise. Peter

McCutcheon reports.

These point breaks were

formed over millions of years.

The creator made these places

but they're also our theme

park. This was Kirra Beach on

the Gold Coast in its prime. A

sacred site for surfers around the world.

But visitors to Kirra today

see a very different beach. We don't only have a wide beach,

we've got a very, very shallow

bay. And very poor surfing

conditions. Yeah. A man-made

flood of sand has all but

destroyed Kirra's famous point

break and a group of

influential surfer s wants to

restore the Beach to its past

glory. Are we left with rotten

situation in per pe tuity

because of a mistake. I'd like

to see something done to get it back. But not everyone is

longing for the Kirra of old. I

think it's bet tore have more

sand than no sand.

Kirra's golden age runs from

the 1960s through to the mid

1990s when film-maker Jack

McCoy shot this sequence on the

Gold Coast beach for his 1994

film 'Sikjoy'. Well in the

last 10 years the surfers have

just given up on the place.

Wayne Bartholomew was once an

early morning fixture at Kirra

but these days he's usually

seen to the south off Snapper

roctions. The 52-year-old

former world surfing champion

says the Kirra he grew up with

has gone. The swells keep

marching into the place but

it's disconnected now. You

can't make it end to end. This

obvious culprit is this bypass

project which has been taking

sand south from the Tweed River

in NSW since 2001 and pumping

it to the north jut over the

State border. This joint

project, funded by the State

Governments and two local

councils, has ensured the Tweed River remains open to

commercial and recreational

boating and has protected Gold

Coast beaches against erosion.

But these aerial photos show

how much Kirra has changed

shape. The major reason the

surf break has disappeared is

that it's been drowned in that it's been drowned in an

excess of sand. There's too

much sand on the beach, there's

too much sand in the near shore

zone. Neil Lazarow from

Griffith University's Centre of Coastal Management has been

engaged by the Gold Coast

Council to look at ways of

improving surf quality. Beaches

by their very nature are

dynamic What's to say the Kirra break won't return next year? There's nothing to say

the break won't be here next

year. A big storm could quite

easily come in and shift some

of the sand around, we could

get some fur surf. The thing to

remember is that there is so

much sand in this bay that

under natural conditions we

won't see return to the surfing

conditions that the surfing

community has seen in the past and would expect and would

consider to be high quality

surf.

But many surfers say Kirra's

decline predates the sand

bypass project, arguing waves

like these disappeared in the

mid-1990s, soon after the Gold

Coast Council shortened a break

water, known locally as the big

groyne in order to build up the

beach. There is a broader issue

here, it's not just about surfing, although that's

important, it really is about

the community. Former Gold

Coast deputy mayor and local

businessmen, Peter Turner,

points out that although Kirra

had great waves in the past, it

didn't always have a great

beach. In fact, there were

times when it had almost

completely eroded. He's not in

favour of any drastic action,

arguing nature should be

allowed to take its course. We

haven't had a cyclone for a

long, long time. As soon as we

get a big blow and we get some

very large swells, those

beaches will cut out, the sand

banks will erode and we will

get natural realignment. This

is a great turn out, thanks for

coming down here tonight. Neil

Lazarow presented the findings

of his study of the Kirra surf

to a public meeting at the Coolangatta Bowls Club last

month. One of his

recommendations was to look at

sending up to three Quarters of

the NSW sand further north

through a new bypass outlet.

But this option doesn't come

cheaply. It would cost about $4

million to construct and

approximately $100,000 a year

to operate and

maintain. Despite the cost,

most of the audience was impressed. It's definitely

worth it. Kirra's you know was

one of the best waves in the

world and I do live on top of

there and I look over it every

day and it's a crying shame

when I look at it. Of course,

there is still surfable waves

on the Gold Coast and the sand

bypass project has created new

breaks. The State Governments

and bypass operator says the

excess sand is the result of

unusually calm weather and

should naturally correct over

time, although they welcome any

suggestions about improving

surf quality. Wayne Bartholomew

fears the Kirra of old will

never return unless action is

taken soon. Man has tinkered

with this place once too often.

No-one intendsed to destroy

Kirra, but in the process

that's what's happened. I have

fond mem rtious of that beach

but that was a very long time

ago. Peter McCutcheon with that

report and that's the program

for tonight. Tomorrow night we have another of our election

year debates, this one on

education, head-to-head with

Julie Bishop and Steven Smith.

In the mean time, goodnight. Closed Captions by

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