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Stateline (Vic) -

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(generated from captions) Tonight on Stateline - a

senior Victorian colleague of

Peter Costello launches an

extraordinary attack on the

former Treasurer. Over the past

decade, I think the energy of

the party has gone into

pre-selecting candidates who

will support Mr Costello in his

run for the Lodge. And Premier

John Brumby's decision to send

Victoria down the GM path. I

believe in it. I believe in

what it is doing for our state.

Hello and welcome to

Stateline. Former Treasurer,

Peter Costello, and Liberal

Party power broker, Michael

Kroger, have come under

withering attack from a senior

Victorian Liberal in the wake

of the election loss. A long

serving Victorian Senator has

accused Mr Costello and Mr

Kroger of running the Liberal

Party in this state as a

vehicle for Mr Costello's now

thwarted ambition to become PM.

She accuses them of hijacking

the party and stacking its

decision-making bodies for

their own interests. Josephine

Cafagna reports on a party

turning in on itself. My name

is Peter Costello and I'm

running for Higgins.

Victorian Liberal Party

politics over the past decade

has been dominated by its most senior parliamentary leader,

Peter Costello. These results

in Victoria would simply not

have been achieved without the brilliant leadership in the division given by Peter

Costello. But also dominating

the Liberals in the state has

been a factional power play,

rivalling those more often seen

in the Labor Party. On the one

side, the former Treasurer,

Peter Costello, and his close

friend and former Victorian party president, Michael

Kroger. On the other, former

Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett

and Ted bail ewe. The Costello

forces have had the numbers and

the others have, up until now,

been fearful of speaking

publicly against them. But in

the wake of Saturday's

electoral defeat and Mr

Costello opting out of any

leadership role, those people

are speaking out. Victorian

Liberal Senator Judith Troeth

has lashed out at the role that

Mr Costello and manage Kroger have played in the Victorian division of the Liberal

Party. I think we've had the

cult of the personality whereas

the efforts and energies of the

party became focussed on

getting one individual,

probably, into being PM and all

the energy of the party became

focussed on that to a very dela

tierous result in terms of the

way that other party functions

should be run. Who are you

talking about? Peter

Costello. What specifically has

occurred over the past

decade? Over the past decade I

think the energy of the party

has gone into pre-selecting

candidates who will support Mr

Costello in his run for the

Lodge. And there has been

very little other criteria so

that we have not selected

candidates of suitable merit or

of suitable commitment to the

party and its philosophy, which

should be central to everything

we do. Senator Troeth is a

14-year veteran of Federal

Parliament. She said anyone who

would dare speak out, would

suffer the consequences. If you

were a member of Parliament,

you were threatened in an

intimidatery way. If you were a

member of the party, you would

be eliminated at the first

opportunity by a handpicked

member of that faction to take

your place on the party

committee. Have you personally

been at the end of that threat

or intimidation? Yes, I

have. What happened? Well, my

pre-selection was threatened

first in 1998 an then again in

2003-04. I am proud to say I

have considerable standing in

the party for the right reasons

and I was able to survive that

both times. But it was an unnerving experience. She's

also called on members of the

party to use their numbers at the next Liberal state council

in March to vote for change in

the administrative wing, which,

she says, is stacked with those

from the Costello faction. Now

if almost every party committee

is stacked, and I use that word

liberally in terms of having

people on it who are opposed to

your point of view, what is the

point of spending time doing

that? What is the point of

taking a decision to do

something when the constitutional committee of the

party is composed entirely of

people of one view and you know

that any process you make will

be ruled out of order. Another

Federal Liberal, Greg Hunt,

says Mr Costello has been a

pillar of the Victorian party

and urges against what he says

is the trashing of the party's

history. I think we make a

mistake if we attack our

own. We should look at the fact

that the 20th century and 9

first part of the 21st century

has been more than a century of

liberalism as an ideally of

bringing a better quality of

life to people in

Australia. I'm about bringing

people together. I said that

when I took the job on. I

recognise there have been some

tensions in the past. I think

everybody in the Victorian

Liberal Party understands that.

I don't want to personalise

the issues. What I want to see

is a breakthrough. While

Federal parliamentarians were

voteling for a new leadership

eremarks the state counterparts

were far away in country

Victoria planning policy. They

weren't even allowed to bring

mobile phones into the

sessions. Ted Bailleu says he

hopes it's the beginning of a

era of unity. An end to

factions? I hope. So it is no

secret one group has dominated

the Victorian Liberal Party in

recent years. I hope that group understands the circumstances

have changed and that they let

go and embrace a much wider

understanding of what the

Liberal Party really

means. Would you like to see an overhaul of the administrative

wing? I think there will be

some change. I think that is

healthy. But what we have to do

always is promote people on

merit. Promote talent,

regardless of any past

alliances. We need to ensure

the party is broad-based,

professional and committed. Judith Troeth blamed

the add strif wing of the party

here and in other states of

failing to tell their leaders

in Canberra that policies were

wrong. Many members of the wrong. Many members of

party felt in their own hearts

that some of our policies were

wrong and yet because there was

a cult almost of going - not

going to leaders or people in

authority and telling them that

their policies that probably there was something wrong with

led to a breakdown in

communication. Senator Fifield

denies this. I want to see us returned to Government at the

next election. Do you

acknowledge there have been factions here in Victoria? There are always

groups of people who have

different ideas about different issues, but I think the Liberal

Party in Victoria is probably

the most united that its ever been. Victorian Liberal

director has issued a statement

saying feedback an discussion

within the party is welcome,

but Senator Troeth's comments

against the party who have

given her the opportunity to

serve does not do her credit. I

would say to Peter Costello and

Michael Kroger it is a pity

that the time of the party,

certainly since the end of the

Kennett Government here at

state level and now the end of the Howard Government at

Federal level, it is a pity

that so much of the energy of

the party has been devoted to

the cult of the personality,

rather than pursuing the

Menzies ideal of the party. Mr

Costello declined to respond to

Judith Troeth's

Parliament. Have a good day.

Thanks. REPORTER: Do you

know what Judith Troeth has

said? I've just done 20 minutes

for 'Lateline'. Josephine

Cafagna with that report. Five

years after a small group of

genetically modified food crops

were approved for release in

Australia, Victoria this week

decided one of them, canola,

can be grown here. Debate

continues to rage about the

environmental and health

affects of GM foods, but for

the State Government the only

consideration has been the

economic impact. Premier John

Brumby says that the benefits

outweigh the costs and is

hoping canola will be the first

in a long line of GM crops to

be grown here. While some

farmers have welcomed Mr

Brumby's decision, others say

we'll all pay a price for his

enthusiasm. Our opportunities to sell around

the world will be reduced. At

the moment, Australia has the

world as its markets. With the

introduction of GM crops,

market opportunities will be

reduced. Farmers are looking

for any option they can. We've

had ten crappy years,

basically. We are looking for

new things in farming. If we

don't have new things, the

viability is not there. To

some, the GM debate is about

science versus nature. To

others, it's the nagging doubts

that no level of reassurance

can erase, like nuclear power

or drinking recycled water. But

in announcing this week the end

of a 5-year-old ban on growing

genetically modified canola in

Victoria, John Brumby insisted

it will be about

choice. Farmers will have the

choice about growing a GM

canola or a non-GM

canola. Choice and money. The

economic benefit to the state

over the next eight years of

this decision will be something

like $115 million. Would you do your job please! Typical,

ill-mannered, rude, non-farmers. While the health

risks continue to be hotly debated, the decision about

what can be legally grown here

is made in Canberra by the gene

technology regulator. Victoria,

like all other states, imposed

a ban in response to claims

that going GM could cost us

more than it was worth. Having

commissioned a review, the

Premier says he's convinced Premier says he's convinced

that argument, at least, has

run out of steam. You need to

be able to compete and you need

to be able to maximise your

yields. All of the evidence in

this report shows that GM

canola, which of course is

grown extensively across the

United States and Canada,

produces significantly higher

economic yields than does the

traditional product. Victoria,

along with NSW, would be the

first to lift the ban. The

first to be stupid! Yes, John

Brumby is very keen on it, but

all the evidence is that he is

out of step with the community

and even out of step with many

of his own backbenchers and

probably with some of his

cabinet. So far for Victoria,

GM means canola. And the GM

varieties on offer, able to

resist herbicide or insects or

produce more seed promises

farmers higher returns. I was

in Canada in 2000 talking to

farmers over there. They said

the biggest advantage they were

having is it cleans up weeds in

the crop and they were getting

advantages two or three crops

further on. But as the

Government report points out,

there are risks. The projected

benefits are highly sensitive

to climatic conditions. These

super varieties don't come

cheap. The seed companies

charge an upfront fee and then

take a percentage of the profit

after harvest. Around half of

the extra value generated by

growing GM canola will go to

the multinationals that own the

patent rights. And if a crop

fails, like Gerald Feeny's did

this year, it could end up as

very expensive sheep feed. In

last six or seven years, we've

had three tough canola growing

sns, or winter crop seasons.

Any crop where it costs you

more to put it in up front

there, is more risk involved in

the crop and hence GM canola

will cost more to put in up

front with more risk. Then

there is the choice argument -

the Government's report

predicts that by 2016, more

than 75% of all canola grown in

Victoria will be DM. The

Premier says he's confident

that those that wish to stay GM free have nothing to

fear. These things and these

farmers are able to co-exist.

But opponents say once GM

crops are out in the

environment, they will quickly

become the only choice.

Geoffrey Carracher's crop was

contaminated by a batch of GM

seed two years ago. He said

even if he can stay GM free, he

will pay dearly for the

cost. It is a hell of a cost.

The cost of segregation will be

included. It is gets to the

point where the non-GM farmer

bears the cost of the

segregation, not the GM

farmer. Mick Cattanach says as

more farmers make the switch,

segregation will be harder. It

may be possible for niche

supply chains where it is held

on farm with a tightly managed

niche chain, but I think

invariably in export markets,

that would seem unlikely to be

manageable. For all the fuss

this week you could be forgiven

for thinking canola is much

more than a rotation crop grown

mainly to break up the wheat

cycle. In the GM debate, the

product hardly matters. The

issues and arguments are

essentially the same. And as

Victoria's chief scientist was

happy to point out this week,

there is much more at stake

than canola. If we were to

accede to those who are urging

us to continue the moratorium

for another five years, the

downstream affect would be that

all of the investment,

corporate investment, would go

away. A lot of it has gone away

already. Certainly there is a

sign that there is support for

genetic modification. The

research we are doing has the

support of the Government. The

molecular plant breeding centre

is a joint venture between

Government institutions and

commercial investors. We have

$64 million in investment in

this field. We've been told by

commercial partners that if the

moratorium stayed, they would

be discourage Friday investing

in this research in Australia. That research includes the first Victorian

field trial of a strain of

tolerant wheat near Horsham. tolerant wheat genetically modified drought

Cracking this genetic code is

worth millions, if not billions

of dollars. It is early days

and there is no guarantee of

success, but by lifting the ban

on GM canola, the Government

must hope that drought-tolerant

wheat, or whatever else comes

next, will be more readily

accepted. Canola might be the first genetically modified crop

to be grown here, but it is

clear the Government hopes it

won't be the last. I believe in

it. I believe in what it is

doing for our state and how it

offers choice and how it

empowers individuals. I'm a

believer in science. I'm

optimistic about the future. We

can do things better off the

back of scientific

endeavour. The system at the

moment is a house of cards and

based on asulss. We want it to

be evidence based. There is now

evidence to show that some GM

foods, at least, do have

impacts on experimental animals

and may also impact public

health adversely. We need to

resolve this problem before we go any further.

Victorians are facing hefty

increases in their electricity

bills after the State

Government approved a 17% price

rise. It will take affect at

start of next year, adding $160

to the average family's annual

bill. Energy companies say it costs them more to generate

electricity, but while the

price increase may cover the

higher cost of power

production, what affect will it

have on families. I spoke to

Cath Smith, the CEO of the Victorian Council of Social Services. Thanks for your

time. Were you surprised at a

17% price hike for

electricity? We weren't surprised. Obviously because

there has been big conversations about water shortage. The size of

it? Shock. It will be the shock

of - more for the people who

pay the bill. How will they do

that? People will really need

to be reliant on easy pay and a

range of hardship policies in

some cases in order to make

sure people can be OK with the

situation. People in the peak

electricity time, particularly

for rural Victorians are

reliant on electricity. That

peak electricity bill will go

up $60 to $80 in many cases.

People will need to budget and

who the impact is that for people

who are already covering a wide

range of bills, things will

go. Our concern is really what

things will go and we hope it won't be things that will

support people's well-being and

health, like the negotiable things, making sure there is

good food on the table every

day, social and recrecreational costs. This is electricity.

What about when gas and water

go up? That's our concern. One

of the estimates we've been

looking at four years from now,

across the three major

utilities, we're looking at

increases of up to $1,000 a

year across the three

utilities, depending on the

household. Low income families

what, chance have they got of

having a $1,000 increase in

their take home money? That's

right. We have real essentials

in life, like petrol and rent.

They are going up faster than

incomes. What it means is very

targeted initiatives. I think the structuring of how things

are costed and regulated needs

looking at so we get a clarity

about an affordability

component, if you like, to

ensure the essential

supply. When you say targeted

initiatives, you are talking

about things the Government

should do? What are they? One

of them is concessions. There

is already a well established concessions policy and

framework and we'd be wanting a

commitment from Government that

for every percentage increase

in the utility prices there

needs to be the same percentage

increase in the concessions to

buffer. So if electricity goes

up 17%, so should the

concession? That's right.

That's what we would be

strongly arguing for. The

second thing is returned arj

efficient si. Yes, it is true,

if your home is efficient, you

will save money. But it costs

you money? It does. If you

haven't got the money up front

and low income families that

don't use as much power, they

are already rationing, it will

take even longer to pay off, if

you like. So we are looking at

how we target retro fitting of

older properties and how do we

get investment in there to help

make those houses more

efficient to start with and for

tenants who don't have either

the money or the control with

the rental market the way it

is. How do we encourage or

incentivise owners to make houses more energy efficient. What about the price

of electricity? Now would not

be the time for the Government

to walk away from regulating

prices. You are saying

Government should continue to

regulate the price of

electricity? Absolutely,

yes. Cath Smith, thanks for your time.

Finally tonight, for women

in country areas, getting away

from a violent relationship is easier said than done. Although

limited access to support

services and reporting to

police in a small town are

major hurdles, access to money

is the most common problem.

Now, a rural health service in

Victoria has adapted an innovative financial program

used in poverty stricken

countries like Bangladesh to help country women start over.

There was a lot of verbal

abuse and physical abuse. The

children were hurt. I think you

wake up one morning and realise

you are not going to survive to

see the next day. You don't

have a lot of time. Normally

about an hour. Maybe two if you

are lucky, but you get what you

can and go. No, matter where

you live, the decision to leave

an abusive partner is fraught

with anxiety, uncertainty and

immense fear. For women living

in country areas, those

feelings are magnified.

Isolation, fewer support

services and sometimes limited

access to the police make

fleeing even harder. That's

why it is so hard for women to leave. Because of practical

things. Him saying, "I will

get you." A lot of the time he

does. Whether it be axes or

firearms, they are more

prominent in the country and

those weapons of control are

use without the neighbour over

the fence hearing because the

neighbour often lives several

kilometres away. One of the

biggest issues for women in

rural areas, who manage to get

away from a violent partner, is

money. They often emerge from

their relationship with no

access to the family finances

and go to refugees or shelters

with little or no belongings.

By the end of this year, a new financial assistance program

will have been launched in the

north eastern Victorian town of

Wangaratta, to help women right

across the Hume region break

away from violent relationships. Women's Health

Goulburn North East has set up

a No Interest Loan Scheme,

based on the concept of microcredit. The majority of

these women, especially those

leaving domestic violence have

had their finances controlled

to the tee, right from the

start of the relationship and

have no credit card, have no

joint bank account, anything

like that. So their ability to

walk into a bank is absolutely

zero. Sally and her children

recently escaped an abusive

relationship and can't be

identified for safety

reasons. In the past month,

Sally has been accepted into a

No Interest Loan Scheme, or NILS. It opened doors for me

that changed my life. That

helped me re-establish who we

are as people and re-establish

the confidence as a mother that

I could achieve things that

financially I knew I couldn't

do. There are 50 NILS programs

in Victoria, which loan small

amounts of up to $1 2,00 for

essential household goods like

fridges, washing machines and

cooking items. This will fit

into the kitchen. The system

works on the idea of circular

credit so when a loan is

repaid, the money goes to

someone else who needs it.

Community groups like Good Shepherd Youth and Family

Service run the programs with

funding from local

philanthropic arrangements and

donations. We don't tell people

what they need to buy with the

loans. We encourage them to go

to varies traders or providers

of goods and services and

really make the decisions, make

the choices that we're able to

make as consumers on a daily

basis that. Empowerment is

fantastic. Micro-credit has

long been used to empower those

too poor to be deemed credit

worthy. NILS programs aimed at helping domestic helping domestic violence survivors have been operating

in cities around Australia for

years. But the adoption of the

concept in Wangaratta is a first for Victoria's country

areas and comes at a time when many rural families are under

stress. Not everybody

experiencing drought belts the

wife up or the partner up. So

it is about we have to be very

careful to say, "Oh, but he's going through a

going through a drought." But,

yes, an ek totally, we are

hearing that things have got

worse. In Victoria, community

groups believe using

micro-credit to help women who

have been abused goes a long

way to restoring their

self-esteem and building

confidence and financial

understanding. Nationally our

default rate would be around 3%

to 5%. This is a tremendous

result and I guess a way of

really showing that people

appreciate and respect the

opportunity and really take

seriously their requirement to

repay the loan.

If I've come this far in

such a short time and keep

going down the road I'm on, I

can go anywhere I want in six

months or 12 months time.

That's where the NILS program

has helped - that I can do just

the simple things. And that

brings us to the end of

Stateline for this week. Thanks

for joining us. You can read

transcripts from the program or

send us an email via our

website. We leave you with the

graduate exhibition by students

from the Victorian College of

the Arts. We'll be back next Friday after the news.