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Tonight on the 7:30 Report, are Australians the poor cousins in the broadband revolution?

More than 80% of Australian households and small businesses already have access to faster

Much of the population that can't gain access to broadband that we would consider sufficiently

Aust left behind on Internet superhighway

Aust left behind on Internet superhighway

Reporter: Greg Hoy

KERRY O'BRIEN: A war of words erupted today over the speed of broadband Internet services in
Australia. The consensus amongst those in the industry is that, despite government assurances,
Australia is very much in the slow lane of the Internet superhighway. The argument arises over how
best to go faster, and who should pay for the new model broadband. On one side, Telstra launched a
vitriolic campaign against the regulation it says is holding back its plans to upgrade its network.
On the other side, a coalition of telcos, the G9 Group, is proposing its own fibre-optic rollout to
fill the gap. Meanwhile, Australia is being left behind in the rush for the rewards offered by the
Internet. This report from Greg Hoy.

GREG HOY: When Rupert Murdoch speaks, the who's who tend to listen.

DICK PRATT, BUSINESSMAN: Best businessman in Australia.


RON WALKER, BUSINESSMAN: He's a great visionary. Always has been.

ALAN FELS, FORMER BUSINESS REGULATOR: The greatest Australian businessman we've had, who has made
it globally.

GREG HOY: But when, on his last visit home, Mr Murdoch described Australia's broadband network as a
"disgrace", the Federal Government scoffed at his views.

SENATOR HELEN COONAN, COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER: More than 80 per cent of Australian households and
small businesses already have access to faster broadband.

GREG HOY: Though James Packer and many in business endorse Rupert Murdoch's view, they were
dismissed as having a vested interest. The Government rejected their call to rally investment of up
to $12 billion on broadband to bring Australia up to speed on the highway for the future, more
important, some say, than any other highway a fibre-optic cable information superhighway to try to
catch up with countries like South Korea.

Germany, their automobile industry was able to have technology advantage because they had the
autobahn, which did not have any speed limits. The Korea of today has competitiveness because of
the broadband infrastructure that we have, which can be compared to the roads that Germany had in
the industrial era.

GREG HOY: No speed limits, no congestion. The need for speed in broadband is accelerating and,
despite government denials, our major telcos and broadband experts agree Australia is lagging. With
businesses in 130 countries, the global IT giant Alcatel Lucent's Technology President is Mike

MIKE QUIGLEY, TECHNOLOGY PRESIDENT, ALCATEL-LUCENT: What is a little frightening is we are seeing a
rapid acceleration of deployments of fibre based networks all around the world, whether it is
Japan, Korea, Europe, US, Canada; we haven't even started that yet in Australia. And there is a
lead time. It takes quite some time to get these networks built. So not only are we 17th now, but
we are likely to fall further behind unless we get on relatively quickly now and start building
these high speed networks.

RHO JUN-HYONG (TRANSLATION): IT is the growth engine that is leading the development of the Korean
economy. The IT industry takes up 15 per cent of the total GDP of Korea and also 35 per cent of
total Korean exports. What is more, when we look at last year and this year, the contribution rate
of the IT industry to the Korean economic growth exceeds 40 per cent and broadband network is at
the core of the IT industry.

GREG HOY: So, what's holding us back? Australia is sparsely populated, it has been argued, even
though 60 per cent of the population live in just five cities. Some 13 years ago, a few business
journalists, including myself, were invited by then Telstra chief executive Frank Blount to hear
his vision for a state of the art fibre-optic broadband network to be rolled out across Australia's
cities and towns to deliver a convergence of the telephone, computer and television. Today, after
more than a decade, Telstra is still spruiking its $4 billion fibre-optic dream, and blaming the
Government and regulators for obstructing an estimated $30 billion a year in lost economic benefit
to Australia.

PHIL BURGESS, TELSTRA SENIOR EXECUTIVE: We have a broadband drought in this country because we have
an addiction to regulation, and that addiction to regulation is stunting investment. We're
whistling past the graveyard. We've done it on water and finally woken up. We've done it on global
warming and people are waking up. They've got to wake up on telecommunications, because we are
headed in the wrong direction and we are headed in that direction because regulation addicts can't
get over their need to tell everybody how to run things.

GREG HOY: The Government says the blame lies with Telstra which, it says, is just trying to
circumvent consumer protection.

HELEN COONAN: I think we really need to deal with the facts and not Telstra's rhetoric. There is no
doubt that we need to do better here with broadband, and we have a plan to achieve that, but it
won't be at the expense of killing off all of the competitors and hurting consumers, which is what
Telstra will propose with rolling back competition.

GREG HOY: And archrival Optus agrees, suggesting if Telstra won't build a fibre-optic network in
cooperation with regulators, Optus's G9 joint venture will.

PAUL O'SULLIVAN, OPTUS CHIEF EXECUTIVE: It is actually the only proposal on the table, and it would
allow high speed broadband and competition.

GREG HOY: So just when you think you know who the ogre is, technologists side with Telstra.

RHO JUN-HYONG (TRANSLATION): For a new service or a new investment to expand rapidly at an early
stage, the less the regulation is the better. In the case of Korea, the reason we were able to
diffuse broadband Internet at a very early stage is because we did not have regulations, that is,
that was the policy measure of the government.

MIKE QUIGLEY: In the end, if the infrastructure isn't built, there is not much to regulate. So, for
example, the FCC in the US decided that they could go ahead and allow the investment to be made in
the broadband fibre infrastructure, without necessarily asking the incumbents who had the
wherewithal to build these networks to unbundle it.

PHIL BURGESS: It is one thing to make your assets available to everybody at a market price. It is
another thing to make your assets available to everybody at a discounted price, where you have to
pay all the overhead costs.

HELEN COONAN: Make no mistake that what Telstra is proposing is all about commercial self interest.
It's not about the national interest, and what we have to do is ensure that consumers don't get
dudded on the way here, with major companies battling each other.

GREG HOY: So, meantime, what are we left with? Telstra has been boasting its deployment of Next G
wireless broadband would deliver cutting edge communications across Australia. While it will
improve Telstra's profit margins, costing around $100 a month more for consumers, is it going to
solve Australia's headache?

GREG TILTON, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE: By no means. Radio frequency is a scarce resource, so in
areas where there are higher population densities it will become ineffective. There is still a
requirement for further investment in fixed line broadband assets.

MIKE QUIGLEY: While wireless has an important part to play in mobility and portability, it won't be
able to provide the tens of megabits per subscriber or per consumer that are going to be needed in
the future.

GREG HOY: Rupert Murdoch has already done well out of the Internet. His MySpace investment - if you
don't know about it, ask the children - has already attracted 130 million subscribers and is valued
at many multiples of the US$580 million purchase price. International commerce is, likewise,
changing apace. Online, the world, they say, is flat. Outsourcing, home sourcing, offshoring all
are opportunities for Australia.

RHO JUN-HYONG (TRANSLATION): In the era of Internet we should not be afraid of competition, but
participate actively in competition. The one with the excellent performance capability will be the
only one who will survive.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Greg Hoy with that report.

Australia, UK on same page on Iraq: Downer

Australia, UK on same page on Iraq: Downer

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

KERRY O'BRIEN: And now the imminent announcement in London that America's strongest ally in Iraq is
about to begin withdrawing troops from the southern provinces in which they are based. Britain's
Prime Minister Tony Blair will tell the House of Commons tonight, our time, that more than one
third of his 7,000 strong force in Iraq will be back home by the end of this year - the BBC says
3,000 by November. The first 1,500 of them are expected to be coming home within weeks. Although Mr
Blair is yet to fill in the details, both the White House and the Australian government have
confirmed that they are aware that this announcement is coming. The decision would leave somewhere
between 4,000 and 5,000 British troops in southern Iraq next year. But one report from London says
they, too, will be gone by the end of next year. The Australian Government, which is in the process
of increasing its numbers in Iraq by some 70 military trainers, has been quick to paint the British
decision as a reduction, rather than a withdrawal. With the government struggling in the polls, the
Prime Minister has been attempting to dent Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd's national security
credentials by attacking his plan to withdraw the 500 plus Australian troops working closely with
the British forces in the south. Britain's decision to reduce its numbers at least muddies those
waters. To discuss the development I'm joined from Perth by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Mr Downer, you seem very keen to avoid the word "withdrawal" or even "partial
withdrawal" with regard to Mr Blair's decision. It does seem, though, that that partial withdrawal
is of some significance. Now, whether you call it a withdrawal, a partial withdrawal or a
reduction, it all means the same thing, doesn't it? I just wonder why you are splitting hairs?

ALEXANDER DOWNER, FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I wasn't really. It was a reflection on the question that
was asked. Let me make this point when the Iraq war began, the British had 46,000 in Iraq. They
reduced that to 18,000 and they reduced it to 8,000 and now they have about 7,100. We expect that
Tony Blair will make an announcement, which is to reduce that number down to 5,200, but this is
because of changing circumstances in Basra. It's exactly what we would welcome; that is, that the
Iraqi security forces will be able to take over more of the functions in Basra, and the British
role will become more similar to the existing Australian role, that is an overwatch role in
assisting with training and mentoring, and that's as it should be. So it's a perfectly natural
reduction in their numbers, but it'll be a reduction to around 5,000. So they will still have 10
times as many troops there as we will have.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But, you're sure it's a reduction to 5,000 and not even, possibly, 4,000?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Look, that's my information. We'll have to wait till Prime Minister Blair makes
his speech tonight and, certainly, the British haven't foreshadowed, as you were quoting in your
introductory remarks, they would be withdrawing all of their troops by any particular time. The
British position and our position is actually identical; that is, we believe that withdrawals
should be conditions-based, not time-based. When the conditions are right, we can reduce numbers.
When the conditions are even better, and the Iraqi security forces can do the full security job,
then there won't be any need for international forces there. Our point is that there shouldn't be a
sudden withdrawal of troops for political reasons, which is what Mr Rudd proposes. There should be
withdrawals of troops for security reasons when the Iraqi security forces can maintain security in
the country.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You say it's for political reasons. I imagine Mr Rudd would argue the toss on that.
The bottom line is

ALEXANDER DOWNER: I'm sure he'd put his case, but he's not here to do so.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The point is that we are going to see the British taking a significant number of
troops home in the next few weeks. We are going to see them take another significant number of
troops home before the end of this year. At the same time, we are seeing Australia increasing its
commitment to Iraq. Now, I know that that's substantially training-based, but nonetheless, those
are the images that we are seeing. At the same time


KERRY O'BRIEN: At the same time you are repudiating Mr Rudd's plan he wouldn't put in effect,
anyway, until after he won the election, if he won the election, at the end of this year.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Sure. The thing about Mr Rudd is, he plays all ends against the middle. He has
every imaginable position. He just snatches out the result that will suit him for the interview.
But, look, Mr Rudd, basically, is arguing that withdrawal of troops should be time based. We are
arguing that withdrawal of troops should be conditions based. Now, in the case of the British,
they've got about 7,100 troops in and around the Basra area. Those people are not just doing
overwatch, mentoring and training, which is what our troops are doing. They are doing patrolling of
the streets of Basra. Now, the Iraqi security forces are at least in sufficient state in Basra to
be able to do that function. So, the British function will be reduced more to the sort of function
that we are performing. I think the British are exactly right. This is exactly what you should be
doing. But I don't think Prime Minister Blair is going to announce to the House of Commons during
the course of our night tonight that the British are just going to give up on Iraq and set a
timeline and then they'll just leave, regardless of the situation in Iraq on that particular time,
and that is essentially the Rudd proposition. Sometimes it's the Rudd proposition, and that
probably is what he fundamentally believes.

KERRY O'BRIEN: By the same token, Mr Downer, although the same reports that said that the final
British withdrawal would take place by the end of next year, and it acknowledged that Whitehall had
hosed that expectation down

ALEXANDER DOWNER: I think they denied that, didn't they?

KERRY O'BRIEN: That Mr Blair would say that tonight. But nonetheless, that doesn't deny the fact
that the reports are there that this is part of a British plan for a complete phased withdrawal by
the end of next year, whether they acknowledge that now or not.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, that's drawing an extraordinarily long bow. I think what the British
position is is that the -

KERRY O'BRIEN: Not necessarily.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, it's a report that has been denied by Whitehall, so let the viewers
understand that. The second thing is, let us understand this: the British position is identical to
our position. Of course, we want to get out of Iraq as soon as we can, but as soon as we can means
as soon as the Iraqi security forces are able to sustain a presence and sustain government in Iraq.
So, we don't know exactly when that time is going to be, but we know when that time arrives and
those conditions are right that we'll be able to leave Iraq, and everybody feels comfortable with
that argument. My debate with the likes of Mr Rudd is that if you have just a time based withdrawal
and you withdraw before the job is done, if you like, before the Iraqi security forces can maintain
security, you will not only cause a complete massacre in Iraq, but you will also give a massive
victory to terrorists, and I know that our position may not be very popular, and I know that Mr
Rudd and others can make debating points against us, but I believe very passionately that our
security depends on the right position in terms of the Iraq issue.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Are you saying that the withdrawal of 500 Australian training troops, largely
training troops, would lead to massacres in Iraq?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: We, I think the withdrawal well, you know exactly what I'm saying, so don't try
to be clever.

KERRY O'BRIEN: No, I'm sorry, could you clarify that, please.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: I'm saying that the withdrawal of all coalition forces would absolutely lead to
massacre. Because, I mean, people say they are concerned about bloodshed in and around Baghdad, and
we are all deeply concerned about it. But if you are concerned about bloodshed surely you wouldn't
want to see the situation get massively worse with the withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq.
Now, of course, Australia's contribution is -

KERRY O'BRIEN: We all know, Mr Downer, that while George W. Bush remains President it is highly
unlikely that American forces are going to be withdrawn, and George W. Bush is going to remain
President, as far as we know, until the end of next year.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Beginning of 2009. I think you will find the American position, the British
position, our position, probably the same with the South Koreans and others who have troops in
Iraq, and there are, I think, 25, 26 or so countries with troops in Iraq, our positions are all
pretty similar. That is, that it is conditions based. I mean, I don't know how quickly the Iraqi
security forces are going to be able to handle security, but what I do know is they are getting
better. Of course, a big test of this is going to be the way they are able to perform in the next
few months in and around Baghdad with the assistance of the American surge, as that comes on
stream. But if you go down to the south of Iraq, where we and the British are, of course our
numbers, the British numbers, our numbers of course are massively smaller than the American
numbers, which are 140,000-150,000, but that's because the security environment there is completely
different. The Iraqi security forces now are able to do a lot of the job in the south. We, though,
need to provide overwatch and support for them if they get into trouble. If we abandon that task
that obviously will jeopardise their capacity to maintain security in all circumstances in the
south for the time being.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But, as you know, Iraq's deputy Foreign Minister said on 'Lateline' two nights ago
that if an Australian withdrawal from Iraq is done in consultation with Iraq, "I don't think it
will create much problem". It doesn't exactly sound like they are relying heavily on Australia.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, in al-Muthanna and Dhi Qar provinces they do rely on Australia. In other
parts of the country, obviously, they don't.

KERRY O'BRIEN: He is saying it specifically about the Australian presence.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: I know. Of course, Australia could just flee from Iraq in ignominy.

KERRY O'BRIEN: He didn't say that.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: No, I'm saying that. And say to the Iraqis and the Americans and the British and
others, "Well, you're on your own. It is politically inconvenient for us to be there. So you fill
the gaps." They would scurry around and try to find a way of doing that as best they could. I don't
it is hypothetical, because they haven't been trying to, and I don't know how they would do it. But
it seems to me, as a serious country committed to making sure that terrorism doesn't threaten our
region any more than it already does, we should make every possible to effort to try to contribute
to a coalition effort to secure Iraq. I mean, between 10 and 12 million Iraqis on three occasions
have gone out and voted for their Constitution and their government. Surely we don't want to see it
all handed over to insurgents and terrorists who represent a tiny minority of Iraqis.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You don't seem to be concerned about the message that this significantly partial
British withdrawal from Iraq, more than one third of their remaining forces there, will send to

ALEXANDER DOWNER: I don't think you will find it is more than one third. I think you will find the
numbers will reduce from 7,100 to 5,200, just as a matter of fact. But, secondly, of course not
because, in the southern part of Iraq, the Iraqi security forces are now much more capable of
handling the job. You don't need to keep more forces there than are necessary and if the British
can do the job in the Basra area with 5,200 rather than 7,100, that makes sense. I mean, they've
had 8,000 there, they've had 18,000 there. They have substantially reduced the number of forces
they've had in the south over quite some period of time.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Then you can say with full confidence that you don't believe that you know that
these withdrawals are not part of an exit strategy by Britain?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, everybody has an exit strategy, but everybody's nearly, well, not quite
everybody, but Britain, Australia, America's and others' exit strategies are conditions based, not
time based. So I'm not saying that the British, the Australians or for that matter the Americans
always want to stay in Iraq, and want to colonise Iraq. Of course we don't. What I am saying is, we
will make decisions on troop numbers on the basis of the situation on the ground. If the American
surge is successful in concert with the Iraqi security forces in and around Baghdad, you'll see a
reduction in American forces in and around Baghdad as well. That doesn't mean they are giving up on
Iraq. That just means that the construction of forces will change as circumstances change.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Alexander Downer, thanks for talking with us.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: It's a pleasure.

Govt wades into Aboriginal remains row

Govt wades into Aboriginal remains row

Reporter: Jocelyn Nettlefold

KERRY O'BRIEN: A British Museum is at the centre of an international legal battle over its right to
conduct scientific tests on its collection of Tasmanian Aboriginal remains, dating back more than a
century. Tomorrow, Britain's High Court will rule whether the London Natural History Museum can
proceed with tests on the remains, before they are returned to Tasmania for traditional burial.
Late today, the Federal Government announced that it will also be represented at the hearing. The
Aboriginal community says any testing would violate their ancestral spirits and last week they
gained a temporary injunction to stop the research. The museum argues that would deprive scientists
of the chance to discover more about a critical chapter in human history. Jocelyn Nettlefold

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: For thousands of years, Tasmania's original inhabitants laid their dead in
coastal burial grounds. In the fledgling colony of Van Diemen's Land, Aboriginal remains,
particularly bones and teeth, were eagerly sought as scientific curiosities or simply souvenirs.

MICHAEL MANSELL, TASMANIAN ABORIGINAL CENTRE: They were effectively grave-robbed. People dug them
up so that they could donate them to institutions overseas.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Some of the remains wound up here at London's Natural History Museum, which is
now at the centre of an international legal battle, pitting ancient cultural beliefs against the
principle of scientific inquiry.

PROFESSOR ROBERT FOLEY, EVOLUTIONARY ANTHROPOLOGIST: To see any of it lost and gone forever is, to
my mind, a very sad and tragic event.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: The museum holds the remains of 17 Indigenous Tasmanians, most of them
unidentified. Records show that one of the skulls in the collection is from a woman shot dead by a
white settler and later decapitated. After fighting for recognition and acceptance at home,
descendents of the original Tasmanians started lobbying for ancestral remains to be returned from
museums and scientific institutions around the world. In 1990, they were the first Indigenous
people in Australia to do so, lawyer Michael Mansell proudly returning from Dublin with the head of
an Aboriginal man named Shiny, which had been pickled in whisky.

MICHAEL MANSELL: Unless we carry out the traditional ceremony, we can't rejoin the spirit that has
been disturbed from the body of the dead.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: An agreement between John Howard and British Prime Minister Tony Blair paved
the way for more remains to be repatriated from the UK. Last year, the Natural History Museum
agreed to surrender its Tasmanian bones, but not before a final round of data collection.

DR MICHAEL DIXON, LONDON NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM: They tell a very interesting story about human
evolution and the evolution of Tasmanian Aboriginals themselves.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Ignoring appeals from the community and Australia's High Commissioner to
London, Richard Alston, the museum's scientists starting testing in December, well ahead of its
original schedule.

MICHAEL MANSELL: The people at the British Natural History Museum are a bunch of cultural vandals
who couldn't care less about Aboriginal cultural and traditional and spiritual beliefs.

ROBERT FOLEY: It is not a simple issue. We are not dealing with people's parents or grandparents.
We are dealing with people who died 150 years ago and, in some cases, died many years before that.

MARK STEPHENS, SOLICITOR: They've extracted some teeth from a skeleton, and also dismantled a

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Armed with a landmark ruling from Tasmania's Supreme Court granting the
community control over its cultural property, solicitor Mark Stephens and human rights barrister
Geoffrey Robertson QC went to the English High Court last week. They secured an injunction
preventing the museum from any further testing on the remains ahead of Thursday's hearing.

MARK STEPHENS: Virtually all other museums who have held Aboriginal remains have returned them
voluntarily, without further desecration. As an Englishman, I have to say that I'm appalled and
embarrassed at the wicked behaviour of the Natural History Museum. It seems to me imperious British
behaviour at its worst.

ROBERT FOLEY: I think they are enormously important, they're very valuable and part of it is the
idea that really we want to have an understanding of the whole of human history.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: The museum won't comment on the legal battle, but scientists like Robert Foley,
a professor of human evolution based at Cambridge, fear a High Court ruling against the museum
would set a legal precedent, restraining anthropological research worldwide. He says tests on
skeletal material can open remarkable windows on the past few hundred years, from what people ate
to where people came from.

ROBERT FOLEY: The techniques are changing all the time. I mean, just in the last two years,
techniques have been developed which have massively increased the ability to take DNA out of bone.
If it goes now, then the techniques that will be developed in the next few years, which would allow
us perhaps to reconstruct entire genomes, will be gone.

BOB WEATHERALL, REPATRIATION ADVISER: Aboriginal people are really anguished over knowing that the
remains have been taken away without the consent of the deceased.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Bob Weatherall is a key Indigenous leader who was involved in the British
negotiations and several international handbacks. He believes, if the Tasmanian Aboriginal
community loses this test case, Aborigines around Australia face losing control over the fate of
more than 10,000 other ancestral remains in Europe and the US.

BOB WEATHERALL: It will be still subject to further scientific investigations, where there will be
no benefits to the peoples of the world or directly to Aboriginal people.

ROBERT FOLEY: That can give us genetic information, so we can link that up to the physical
information; again, to say something about population history, population size and so on. So the
range of information is enormous.

MARK STEPHENS: It may enable one scientist at the Natural History Museum to write an extra paper,
but it's not going to not contribute to sum total of human knowledge, it's not going to prevent
disease. It's not going to do anything which is going to be otherwise irreplaceable to science and,
in those circumstances, there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for this mawkish examination by

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: If Australia loses its High Court case, lawyers plan to take the battle over
the bones to the European Court of Human Rights. An elder from the Tasmanian community and activist
Bob Weatherall are travelling to London for the ruling. They hope to bring home untested remains
for traditional burial.

BOB WEATHERALL: To have the ancestors come back home and place them in their final resting place,
to have the ceremony that they rightfully deserve, Aboriginal people will just feel whole again.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Jocelyn Nettlefold with that report.

We'll be back at the same time tomorrow, but for now, goodnight.