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.
Lateline Business -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) alive. My mother and brother, I

hope, that they are still

there. But I am waiting

for. Aftershocks disrupted some

rescue operation, the terror

survived the main returning for residents who

earthquake. Three people were

found alive here

found alive here yesterday,

there are four people trapped

in the rubble. Up until this

point the rescue effort has

focussed on digging with bare

hands. Careful not to disturb

anything in the hope that one

or all might be found alive.

The decision has just been

taken to bring in the heavy

machinery. An international

relief effort has been planned,

but tens of thousands of people

will never fully recover from

the human loss this earthquake

has brought. Back to Australia,

and the swimming career of Nick

D'arcy could be over. The

National butterfly champion has

been kicked off the Australian

team for this year's - world

titles in Rome. Swimming

Australia has taken the

hardline stance taken by the Australian Olympic Committee

which banned Nick D'arcy from

the Olympic Games. It raises a

question of how long you can

punish sun for the same I don't understand what's going punish sun for the same thing,

on at the moment. There's a lot

of questions that have to be answered. Two weeks ago Nick

D'arcy received a suspended D'arcy received a

jail sentence of 14 months for

causing grievous bodily harm to

swimmer Simon Cowley, after

last year's Olympic last year's Olympic trials.

Swimming Australia says there's

no avenue for appeal. Well, a

movie shot in a converted Melbourne factory with stars

made of clay is proving an

unlikely success unlikely success story, Mary

and Max is attracting interest

overseas after being chosen to

open the

open the prestigious Sundance

Film Festival, the first

feature by Australia's Oscar

winning animator, Adam Elliot,

based on a friendship with an

unusual penpal. Anna Marie

Nicholson reports. I wish it

was my boyfriend and we could

be in love. Mary is a lonely

8-year-old living in suburban

Melbourne voiced by Australian actor Toni Collette. Unfortunately in

America babies are not found in

cola cans I asked my mother,

she said they came from eggs

laid by Rabbis. Max is a middle

aged Jewish man with as

berger's living in New York

voiced by Phillip Seymour, Adam

Elliot created the characters

first in his head based on an

American penpal and then in

clay, the Budget $8 million,

good will and favours, it's

taken five years to bring the

film from script to screen. I

said a few times making this

film is like making love and

being stabbed to death at being stabbed to death at the

same time. More than 100 worked

in the St Kilda factory

converted into a studio. The

gamble is starting to pay off

before the film has been

released. Mary and Max was

picked to open the Sundance picked to open

Film Festival festival, the

first Chance Elliot's parent

had to view the partly

autobiographical movie Mum and

dad same to Sundance to be with

us at the world premiere, but

they knew nothing about the

film and dad is in the film, he

was upset on the big screen

when a tidal wave took I am out

so see. Adam Elliot and Melanie

Coombs already have film ced

picking up an Academy Award for picking up an Academy Award

Harvey Krumpett, best animated

short film, it proved an short film, it proved

advantage when it came to

finding backers. People

returned our phone calls , it

meant we'd get any manager,

agent we wanted in Hollywood.

It helped. Mary and Max opens

nationally at Easter. A quick

look at the weather - clearing

showers in Melbourne, afternoon

shower or storm in Darwin, fine

and warm in Perth, dry in the

other capital cities, that's

all from us, Lateline Business

coming up in a moment. If you'd

like to look back at the

interviews with Senators Nick

Minchin or Stephen Conroy, or

review Lateline stories or review Lateline stories

transcripts visit the web site abc.net.au/lateline. Here is abc.net.au/lateline. Here

Lateline Business with Ali

Moore. Tonight - down to a

49-year low, interest rates cut

again, will business get the

benefit this time? When home

loan rates decrease ed lots loan rates decrease ed lots of

business rates have increased.

That's a concern for us. Build

it - they will come. Business

keen to take part in the

Government's new broadband network. It allows things like

electronic health to come to

the fore and allows smart

education, smart use of power

metering and so on. Financial

emergency, last ditch efforts

to save the failed company

behind the heart device

Ventracor. You don't walk away

from that organisation without from that organisation

maintaining some degree of

passion, I believe in it and

the people and technology, and

think it's worthwhile saving.

To the markets, and the All

Ords fell more than 1%, dragged

down by more production duts by

mining giant Rio Tinto, and

talk of a potential rights

issue if the Chinalco deal

falls through. The ASX was

done by almost 1.5%. In Japan

the Nikkei dropped marginally

ending a four day run of gains,

the Hang Seng fell and FTSE

down in early trade. Reserve

Bank cuts interest rates to

their lowest level in 49 their lowest level in 49 years.

They are now at 3%, a drop of a

quarter of one personnel point.

The big retail banks are not

feeling so generous, the

Treasurer calls on them to pass

on the cut in full, two of the

big four decided not to. Simon

Palan reports. Economists were

divided on whether interest

rates would go lower. RBA cut

rates by 25 basis points. Something's better than

nothing. Already at 40-year

low, the Reserve Bank decided

more relief was needed, cutting

the cash rate to 3%. All of

these rate cuts will help cushion the Australian economy

against the push, if you like, against the push, if you

of the global of the global recession. The

Reserve Bank acknowledged the

Government's $900 stimulus

payments could make a

difference and noted signs of

global economic improvement but said:

Unemployment is the big

thing, the Reserve Bank is

trying to lower rates to try to

support the economy to minimise unemployment. We'll see

pressure on Reserve Bank to cut

rates pretty well every meeting

more or less for the next year

or two. The Treasurer put the

major banks on notice, urging

them to pass on the cut to

customers in full as quickly as

possible. The banks say it will

be difficult, blaming high

funding costs. Banks are

constantly challenged by these

big falls in interest rates to

do the best by their customers. The Commonwealth is

only passing on 10 of the 25

basis point cut. The NAB won't

change its variable rates at

all. Telstra appears unfaced by

a prospect it could lose its stranglehold on communications,

the Government stunning the

industry rejecting all tenders

for a National Broadband

Network in favour of its own

$43 billion scheme. Business

groups largely welcomed the

proposal but questions remain

about how the massive project

will be carried out given the

private sector is called upon

to contribute half the

to contribute half the funding. Neal Woolrich reports. The

Government is touting it as the

new Snowy Mountain Scheme for

Australia, and

telecommunications players are

hoping the National broadband

plan will revolutionise the

industry We'll see a rapid

change to the way in which the

market is regulated, you'll see

an enhancement of competition through stronger powers of the

ACCC, Telstra effectively

separating into wholesale and

retale division, that will lead

to a transition to a new

broadband network wholly

wholesale. Among the big

surprises in the $43 billion scheme the Government will control the project and control the project and the

scope increased with a fibre to

the home network. Macquarie

Telecom's Matt Healy says

before the network is built

there'll be vibrant wholesale

retail markets and choice of

services. As of today we have

good quality broadband if some

areas, it's patchy, what the

announcement today does is

leapfrog the patchy approach we

have today towards an ubiquitous broadband ubiquitous broadband single

pipe into the home with pipe into the home with a

variety of retailers hanging

off the pipe. It allows us to

think about think about transformation,

transformation of existing

processes in businesses, of the

way we live our lives from a

societial and community aspect.

It allows things like

electronic health to come to

the fore and allows things like

smart education, use of smart education, use of power,

metering and so on. The

Government aims to raise half

the $43 billion cost from the

private sector. JP Morgan

telecommunications analyst says

that'll be no small task in the

current economic climate What

the Government signals is they

are ready to address the

shortfall currently in the

market by contributing a lot

more of taxpayers money towards

this network. But Ian Birks

from the Australian information

association is confident that

the industry transforming

nature of the project will make

it an attractive investment

proposition. It's no longer I

believe a case of technology

being to the side or as an

external process, it will be so

integrated in everything we try

to achieve on the high speed

broid band network that itself

will get competition excited

about participating within

it. The project has a long Time

with completion expected to

take up to eight years raising

a prospect that the network

will be superceded before it's

built. Some argue fibre to the

home is the best chance of

future proofing Australia's

Internet structure. Wireless

has limitations around speck

rum and access technology,

fibre to the home is giving you

10-15-20 years ahead in terms

of technology of technology advancements. The

Federal Government says it

decided not to go with any of

the national broadband bids

because none represented good

value for taxpayers, former NSW

Treasurer Michael Egan chairs

the terrier consort yim, his

bid was one of those rejected.

Teror got what it wanted from

the process. We made what we

thought was a good bid. I think

today's decision is better for

the nation, particularly the nation, particularly fibre

to the home, I think that

really will be - that means

Australia will be in the lead,

not lagging behind other

countries, Telstra appears to

be a winner from the

announcement. The new structure

designed to open up designed to open up competition

in the broadband market, making

Telstra's copper network

redundant. The telco's shares

jumped four and a third percent

on the news, and Telstra will

consider the announcement but

won't change the prove it

guidance this year or next

financial year. This

announcement reopens the door

for the Government to re-engage

with private companies,

including Telstra in the

context of their new fibre

network plan. That may be the

next battle in Australia's telecommunications industry

which the Government hopes will

be on a much more level playing

field. For a closer look at

market reaction to today's

interest rate and broadband

news I spoke to news I spoke to stockbroker

Marcus Padley. Telstra had a

big gain despite the negative

market was it a relief rally Absolutely, rally Absolutely, the National Broadband Network

Broadband Network announcement

seems to have done it good. We

were expecting brokers to have

a positive outlook on Telstra

tomorrow morning in the

research, you have to bear in

mind in a time when Telstra

announced they haven't put in a

proper tender, and were going

to be excluded the share to be excluded the share price

fell 11.3%, at one point it was

lower, it's gone up 13%, it's

about 24%, 5% under the market

since they dropped out of the

process. You are going to

expect some catch up. It was up

at 2.78. It's down 2.93 and

3.35. Halfway on its way back up. It is obviously reasonable

positive for them, it will be

interesting to see the

Government working closely hand

in hand with Telstra. Indeed, in hand with Telstra. Indeed, I

was going to ask you, is it

necessarily positive for them,

because yes, they are

potentially back in the game,

but once this network is

but once this network is built,

it will be a fairly significant

competitor to them, won't

it. Absolutely, it will render

the copper network possibly

obsolete. But there are all

sorts of assets they have with

a copper network. They are

talking about pipes and ducts

that are becoming highly

valuable, and we are - we saw a

lot of brokers downgrading lot of brokers downgrading when

they were excluded. They have

to change their view. At a

time, I think, when the market

started to pick up and people

think they've missed stocks,

Telstra will look like it's

Telstra will look like it's one

of the stocks that's cheap. The

other big decision was interest

rates. Did the market like the

25 basis point cut. No, it

didn't. We were looking OK down

about 20 points when the the

announcement came out, we were

down 50. The market fell. On

the back of the announcement we

saw the Aussie dollar rise

sharply. It was around 70 cen,

it closed to 71.5 cent, big

rally in that, and we also saw

bonds fall over with bond

yields going up sharply. The

net impact is that people now

think that a rate cut is less

likely rather than more likely

in the months ahead, because

the RBA basically continue this

line that there's enough

stimulus in the system to get

things going again. So the

bottom line is that there's

less chance of a rate cut after

the announcement today. the announcement today. The

market was down over 1%, Rio

Tinto was down around 10%

announcing big job cuts and

production cuts. What was

driving the hefty share price

fall. What is driving it is

fall. What is driving it is the

United Kingdom press overnight,

last night, which said that

basically if the Chinalco deal

didn't go through, that they

were going to do a US$10

billion rights issue and

they've been canvassing

institutions in Europe,

particularly the United Kingdom

about that prospect. We are now

thinking that maybe Rio are

preparing for the Chinalco deal

not to go through, the share

price has, of course, jumped

from $32 - it hit $60 recently,

it's down to 53 now, it's been

up 48% in the March quarter,

98% off the bottom at a time

when the market looks peaky,

you can see bad news, and the

smashing of the share price

which very have seen in a lot

of resources where we had big

rallies today, share price

falls, I wouldn't say the fall

is that big, if you put it in

context of how much it's risen.

There's a lot of traders in the

market. It's a trading market

and profit. Thanks for bringing

us up to date Marcus Padley. To

the other major movers on the

market. Iluka Resources

plunging 11% after the Western

Australian mining company

announced it will axe 215 jobs,

5 workers and 80 contractors to

go. Flight Centre slumped 4

boy 5% on news it will have a

75% fall. One of Qantas's

senior executives is quitting

after 36 years. Group after 36 years. Group executive

John Borghetti will step down

next month: on currency:

Well, what does today's

interest rate decision mean for

the country's biggest

employers, small business. And

with will today's reduction be

the last for some time. For

their views I was joined their views I was joined by

Jaye Radisich, the Chief Executive Executive of Council of Small

Business of Australia, Business of Australia, and

Matthew Drennan, the investment

director with Zurich Financial

Services. Jaye Radisich, Services. Jaye Radisich, and Matthew Drennan, welcome Matthew Drennan, welcome to

Lateline Business. Thank

you. Before we get to interest

rates, if we can start with the

other big decision, the one

where the Government

where the Government has decided to build decided to build the National

Broadband Network itself and

fund it through fund it through the Building Australia Fund and infrastructure responds. Jaye

Radisich, if I start with you,

from a small business

perspective is that a good

decision. It's a decision that

came upexpectedly. The IT

industry was pretty surprised

by today's dags, is it good for

small beside, building the NBM

is good, who builds it

is good, who builds it though, I don't think matters. There'll

be a lot of opportunities for

small business to get involved

and help with the instruction,

it should be a win. Matthew

Drennan, funding with

infrastructure bonds,

Government guarantee will it be popular. Very popular, we've

seen it once the Government

extended the guarantee to the

major banks, they had little

trouble raising finance

offshore, I expect the same

will be true of this. will be true of this. The

problem is for those looking to

borrow and don't have at

Government guarantee it

squeezes them out of the market

further. It's a big problem for

small business, I suppose in

particular. It will depend how

quickly thy borrow. They start

with a chunk of money from with a chunk of money from the Building Australia Building Australia Fund and

then borrow the rest. The hope

is the market will have freed

up by the time these up by the time these things

will be issued. Even so, I will be issued. Even so, I mean

one of the reasons for

extending for example the

guarantee to the major banks

was so they could help to

replace the gaps filled by

foreign lenders who were moving

out of the Australia. Now, out of the Australia. Now, it

tends to suggest that there is

going to be a gap there, and

that gap is going to be sucked

up largely by a lot of this

Government guarantee debt. So

it makes it harder for those

that aren't able to avail themselves of that Government

guarantee. Do you think

potentially it could Cana

ballise the funds that small

business is dispralent to get

hold of We are start -

desperate to get hold of. We

are seeing that. Some second

tier banks have to 80% more

than the big four. It's

creating issues, small

businesses are having businesses are having to

consider whether to stay with

somebody like Bendigo or

Suncorp or Bank of Queensland

when they are going to be

charged more if they want to

avail themselves of the

guarantee. We are going to look

at small business funding in a

minute in the context of the

interest rate cut. The cut today there was disagreement

before it happened, we got 25

basis points. Do you think it

was a compromise cut. I was a compromise cut. I think

it was, I think the Reserve

Bank is recognising that

there's stimulus from fiscal

cuts and housing stimulus cuts and housing stimulus and

so on. What they are trying to

signal to the market is the

days of the big 1% cuts are

over, we are moving back to

quarter of a percent range when

we look at cuts. I think it's

unlikely it will be followed up

any time soon by yet another

cut. I think the best you could

hope for is something in the

third quarter of a similar

size, not too far from the end

of this cycle. If you look at

the language of the statement,

the bank referred to tentative

signs of stabilisation, money

policy and fiscal initiatives

providing significant support.

It wasn't exactly gung-ho. No,

it's what they are trying to

signal. Australia is in a

better position than most

western economies around the

world. It's very much a

compromise cut and wait and see

how the economy fares, and

whether the things are

sustained in terms of the sustained in terms of the turn

around we are starting to

see. Raad Jaye Radisich, do see. Raad Jaye Radisich, do you

think it's the right decision looking at it from looking at it from the point of

view of your members. The thing

that we are conscious of is the

cut to the cash rate we have to

make sure, we'll be watching

the banks to make sure it

doesn't result in an doesn't result in an increase

in the loan rates for small

business,, what we have business,, what we have seen

over the last year when home

loan rates decreased business

loan rates increased, that's a

concern for us when access to

credit is already being restricted. Is that what the

banks are doing. There's

elements of that happening, it

was interesting in today's RBA,

they cited the fact that one of

the things around that is that

small business and business

generally is getting lower

rates They did, lower rates

than average they said. It's

true in an absolute sense. The

margins that they are paying

have gone up significantly,

some of that is probably, you

know, the banks reacting to the perceived risk around some of

these businesses, it's a

difficult environment to be

facing those increases, when

revenues are under so much

pressure. How do you balance

that, there's no question that, there's no question that

there are far more businesses

in arrears with their loans

than there are mortgage

holders, businesses are a

higher risk, how do you balance

that and call for cuts to be

passed on. Lots of people who

contacted the council of small

business suffer from third

party defaults. So their

business has been touted as a

high risk when, in fact, their

operations are just as good as

ever. No-one a paying

them. People aren't paying

them. There's a big flow-on

effect. There hasn't been a

decrease in credit card

interest rates. I represent

people who or small business

owners who employ less than -

fewer than 20 people, lots of

those businesses are run off

the credit card, so when

there's been massive cuts in

interest rates to everything,

except credit cards that's a

problem for small

businesses. Is there a broader

issue, if, as the policitians

call for, this is meant to be

passed on to mortgage holders,

it's not happening, it's not happening, the

National Australia Bank says

it's not moving, Commonwealth

by half, what will that do to the effectiveness of the

cut. It dilutes the

effectiveness, if they don't

pass on much of the cut. You'll

have increased pressure on

small business as well as your

average householder not getting

the benefits of the cut. What

should be done. I think we have

to look at all of these things

in a global context in terms of

what happens now when there'll

be rising unemployment, people

are laid off. Even though

there's marginal rate cuts and

cash savings to a household or

small businesses, there's

income losses, the Government

needs to have a good hard look

at everything happening in the

economy, and we say the coming

Federal Budget is an

opportunity to invest in a

third tranche stimulus package

and invest in small

business. Bren, we know the

Budget will be difficult, is

there room to give help to

small business it economically

sensible. I think it is, what

we have seen in the housing

sector is a lot of specific

measures designed around, you

know, the average how's know, the average how's holder,

I don't see a reason if the

Government is thinking down

those lines, why they shouldn't

think down a small business

line, particularly if the rate cuts are not having the desired impact. The problem that impact. The problem that you

have is that, you know, if you

look at the economy as a whole,

unemployment is the most

agreejous problem facing

agreejous problem facing us

over the next 12 months. By

looking at the sector which

employs the most number of

people, the best employer in

terms of growth and unskilled

labour and all those things,

the infrastructure programs the infrastructure programs we

are seeing rolled out. There is

room to stimulate that room to stimulate that sector

of the economy directly. As

you point out 4 million people

in Australia are employed

in Australia are employed by

small business, which is in

fact the country's largest

non-government employer, when

we bail out big multinational

companies who might need to

sack 400 workers here and

there. What about small

businesses when there's a big

potential for maybe half a

million people to lose their

jobs if people go jobs if people go badly.

Matthew Drennan, and Jaye

Radisich, thank you for joining

us. Ever since the management

of heart device maker Ventracor

pulled the plug pulled the plug shareholders

have been keen to keep the

company alive. company alive. Administrators

Ferrier Hodgson held a rare

information session today to

provide the company's large

retail investor base with an

update. Desley Coleman

reports. In the field of

medical innovation, Ventracor

was a great local success

story, with its heart device

extending the life of 400

patients around the world. As a

business it's struggling to

survive with the company's shareholders hoping at least

some of their investment can be

saved. $265,000, and I've lost

my house over this at the

moment. I'm pretty angry. I've

been with the company about

three to four years now, I

think. I have invested in think. I have invested in terms

of the share purchase plan,

I've probably got $150,000

sitting in this company. My own

father has heart disease, father has heart disease, and

sort of there's a personal

connection we think it's the

right thing to do to invest in

companies doing something

socially and morally good. Not

even social and moral good

could attract a serious

injection of much-needed

capital on 19 March Ventracor pointed Ferrier Hodgson,

floors. We thought it was

important to give important to give the

shareholders an opportunity... They took the

sep of providing shareholders

with an informal briefing

session. We had to address

their interest in the company,

giving them facts and figures,

and secondly, if they have an

interest to saving or

participating in the company,

guiding them if some way as to

how it should be

framed. Shareholders engaged

lawyers Slater & Gordon on

disclosure concerns and seeking

advice on a deed of arrangement

which could keep the business

going in a different form. The

Opposition will need to be

presented to administrators

before 20 April. If we put a

plan to the administrator from

the shareholders, we are

prepared to put more money in

we'll keep those employees in a

job. If you were to, worst

case scenario, it's a bleak

assessment. Hopefully we won't

get near that, we'll pursue options. Ventracor's product

has approval in Australia and

Europe, it struggled to get FDA

approval in the United States.

That delay has drained company

funds and starved it of a new

income stream. However, the

administrators say there is a

chance Ventracor can

survive. We've had a number of

ongoing discussion in parties

who have expressed an

who have expressed an interest

to the company before we were involved, they are active.

We'll see how it plays out over

the next 7-10 days. Michael

Spooner was the Chief Executive

from 2000 to 2003. Shareholders

asked Mr Spooner to help

residue Ventracor from a fire

sale. Clearly I've had a lot of

passion around from building

the company, going from Ground

Zero to the highest performing

ASX 200 company on the stock

market. You don't build that.

People are there, they'll be

um. You don't walk away from that organisation without

maintaining some degree of

passion, I believe and I

believe in the people in the

technology, I think it's

worthwhile saving. The second

creditors meeting will be held

on 30 April, where on 30 April, where the

administrators will decide on

the life or sale of Ventracor

the company. 11th hour the company. 11th hour efforts

are made to prevent the wind-up

of stricken toll road builder

BrisConnections, they've received notification received notification that

Macquarie Group and Deutsche

Bank are discussing a proposal

to put to retail unit holders,

hinging on the defeat of

wind-up resolution toss be

voted on, at a meeting next

week. The banks hold out a

promise that retail unit

holders may not be pursued for

a $1 on each unit due at the

end of the month. Tomorrow's

business diry -

business diry - the Australian Office of Financial Management

will hold a tender more May

2021 bonds worth $700 million,

Australia's Bureau of

Statistics will release housing

data. Westpac Melbourne

Institute consumer sentiment

out. Before we go a look at

what's making news in the

business sections of tomorrow's

papers, The Herald Sun

examining the figure's billion

dollar broadband network and

the effect on Telstra. The

Australian - China to recover

from the downturn next year

stabilising the Australian

Pacific region. The Financial

Review reporting the major

banks going into battle with

the Federal Government over the

refusal to pass on the full

value of the interest rate cut.

The Sydney Morning Herald says

Telstra could be forced to sell

its stake in Foxtel because of

the new broadband network.

That's all. As I leave you the

FTSE down 72 points, or 1.8%,

the do you, opened for 9

minutes down - Dow opened for 9

mints down 1.8%. I'm Ali

Moore, goodnight. Moore, goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

. THEME MUSIC Brown and Flashman are fighting, sir. So I can see. Do you know why? Something to do with young Arthur, sir, you know, the new boy. Shall I go and stop it, sir? (BOYS YELL ENCOURAGEMENT) No.

Give me the dusters. NARRATOR: The bully embodied so memorably by the odious Flashman in the Victorian novel 'Tom Brown's Schooldays' is back with a vengeance. (BOYS YELL ENCOURAGEMENT)

Tom, are you alright? KNUCKLEDUSTERS CLANK

All's fair in love and war. (BOYS YELL) Today there are still fist-fights, knuckledusters, and schoolyard brawls. Everyone was hanging around there

watching me, m-making bets wh-who would win.

But bullies have new weapons of choice - mobile phones, YouTube, cyberspace. Flashman, nowadays, is just as likely to ambush his victims

from behind a computer screen as he is to come out and fight in the real world. Isn't sending threatening messages bullying behaviour? Well, yeah. And you sent him threatening messages? Well, doesn't everybody? By virtue of technology the bully not only follows you home

but is invited into your house and if you allow technology in your children's bedroom, into your child's bedroom, the one place that they should be safe. Bullying can kill.

Perpetrators and victims alike will often conceal it with potentially dreadful consequences. We always assumed our child's home with us and he's safe, he's in his bedroom and he can't get hurt. But, um, we seriously failed as parents on that one, seriously.

I would like someone to take the lead on what I consider to be the most important public health issue impacting on adolescent mental health in Australia today. Tonight on Four Corners, an age-old problem requiring new solutions.

My name is Elijah. I'm a 12-year-old in year 7 and I have Tourette's and Asperger syndrome. Tourette's is a disorder that makes me do uncontrollable tics, some being noises and some being movements. At school nearly every day I'm teased and laughed at. Elijah Vetma is in Year 8, and he's a battle-scarred survivor of four years of bullying which started in Year 3 at primary school. Everyone started teasing me and everything. And what did they do, what - did they call you names? Yeah, they called me names, they like - like they say I have germs or something

like kids do and they wouldn't let me play with them really. No-one wanted to sit next to him. They used to spray him if he walked past. Um, disinfect themselves or spray themselves and spray him like as if he's a germ. Have a good day at school. OK. See you, Mum. See you. Be good.

For Elijah, the daily trip to school became an ordeal, and his time at primary school an unhappy one. Usually I used to walk around the schoolyards.

Just on your own? Yeah. And did you feel very left out, very lonely? Yeah, I really felt lonely.

Like many bullying victims, Elijah Vetma fought back. But his parents say the teachers at his primary school were unsupportive and failed to take his medical condition into account. One teacher said, "Well, you know, all kids tease, all kids, you know, tease - it's just part of being a kid." So was it a struggle to get the school and the department to acknowledge... A 4-year struggle.

..that he was being bullied? A 4-year struggle.

At this very minute there's a girl sitting alone in a cubicle in the girls' toilets. She's sitting there with her lunch on her lap, with tears pouring down her cheeks.