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A retired general calls for

Australia to send more troop s

to Afghanistan after the United States commits to another

17,000 soldiers. Going to the

heart of the financial crisis,

Barack Obama puts his stimulus

plan into action by targeting

merge's em battle ed housing

market. Surveying the damage

with NSW floods with six

council areas declared disaster

zones and more rain is on the

way. And Ritchie Benaud called

stumps on an illustrious

cricket commentating career.

Good morning, it is Thursday,

the 19th of February, I am Joe

O'Brien. I am Virginia Trioli.

The top story on ABC News

Breakfast. A retire the

Australian general who helped

command Coalition forces in

Iraq says Australia should be

prepared to commit more troops

to Afghanistan. Retired

General Jim Molan was speaking after US President Barack Obama

said he was sending an extra

17,000 soldiers. President

Obama wants a stronger

commitment from NATO countries

and other close allies,

Australia has 1,000 troops in

Afghanistan, but is so far not

offering anymore. A - aNATO

Defence Ministers are gathering

in Poland and Joel Fitzgibbon, Australia's defence minister

joins us now on the phone. If I

can apologise in advance for

any background noise, I'm in a

security motorcade in the heart

of Krakov Poland there. Is not

much I can do that I'm ore.

That's fine, because you are

attending that NATO meeting and

overnight possibly when you

were on the plane retired General Jim Molan made that

observation he thinks

Afghanistan can be won, the

security situation can be

tamped down in that country, if

the NATO countries, and

Australia commit more troops.

What's your view? We all of

course hope we can meet with

success in Afghanistan and I

have the upmost respect for

what Jim Molan has to say. He

is obviously a very experienced

in these matters. And he is

absolutely correct to say that

success will only come with

significant additional troop

numbers. On that basis the US

announcement was very timely,

occurring just head of

tomorrow's summit, our time.

It will act to energyise the

summit but will also act to put

pressure on those uncommitted

NATO countries to do more

themselves. Your position

hasn't changed.

Notwithstanding what

Major-General Jim Molan is

saying. You are still

committed to four key points

having to be met, and in

particular more of a commitment

by other NATO countries before

Australia will commit more

troops. That's your unchanged

position? Well, first of all

this is where Jim and I might

differ just a little. There is

no point in pointing in

additional troops just for the

sake of it. Australia could

double its troop numbers tomorrow, and without additional significant

contributions from others it

would make no difference. And

indeed without some real

strategic mean ing it would

make no difference. So nothing has changed for the Australian

Government. We have always

said this is not about num

Erics, but it is about ensuring

that before we even consider

doing more that those NATO countries, which I believe are

under committed, are prepared

to do more. In addition to that

ensuring that there is a new

political, civil and military

strategy for better success.

Again, a strategic

justification for doing more

and I have always said probably

most important of all, we

always apply rigorous and

robust risk analysis. We want

to make sure that anything we

might do in addition meeting

our risk assessment needs. But

surely the most - the clearest

strategic plan and strategic

success, and example has been

in the surge in Iraq. So when

vastly more troops were

committed in that country the

security situation turned

around v very, very quickly.

Isn't that the best example.

Isn't that the example here to

follow in Afghanistan? Well

you have got to be a bit

careful. Iraq and Afghanistan

are very different places.

However it is true that the

surge was successful in Iraq

and it's clear one of the very

important parts of a new

formula is significant

additional troop numbers.

There is no doubt about that.

I said that the announcement by

the timely in that it will put

pressure on NATO nations to do

more. And of course I don't

believe our allies will be

turning it first-hand to

Australia, because one, we are

not a NATO country, but two, we

are certainly not

undercommitment. We are

punching above our weight. We

are the largest non-NATO

contributor and I think we will

be doing more than our

share, Do you think you will be

leave anything NATO - leaving

this NATO meeting with a

commitment from NATO countries to a commitment with

Afghanistan. Is that a like

outcome? The additional troop

commitments won't necessarily

come tomorrow. But as I move

amongst my European partners I

do sense a mood change since

the change of the

administration in the United

States of America. These

countries need to - like us -

need to be able to taken their constituencies with them and I

think the election of Barack

Obama has sort of given new

confidence within those

constituencies that success can

be achieved. And on that basis

I think you will find a number

of those European nations now

prepared to do more. How much

more, we don't yet know. But I think they will be prepared to

do more. You said yesterday

that Australia had received no

formal request for more troops.

I am just wondering what

informal conversations may have

been held. No, neither the

PM nor I, nor minister Smith

have had any even informal

conversations with any of our

counterparts. The media for

some time now has been sort of

revving this idea up, that we

will be asked to do more. And

look, we may be. But I am very

confident that we will be well

down the queue. I know that

from talking to my counterparts, secretary Gates

on a wrecklar basis, and -

regular basis, and indeed his

uniform people, they are very

appreciative of what we do.

They know we are making a substantial contribution for a

non-NATO country. They know we

have capacity constraints,

given in places like East Timor

as well. So I don't believe we

will be at the top of the list

as the new US administration

looks to countries do more.

Minister fits gibyon, finally

in Afghanistan our 1,100 troops

are there for quite some time

to come are we? I believe so.

There's a huge challenge and we won't meet that challenge

without a properly co-ordinate

ed resource, military and civil

and political effort. No-one

expects we will meet with

success there any time soon T

is important all of the

partners acknowledge that and

make a long-term commitment.

So are we talking years? I'm

sorry, years? Yes, of course

the reality is we are talking

years. How many years we don't

know, because, one, we don't

yet now how much will there is

among the NATO partners to

achieve success. And I will

hopefully have a better feel

for that after tomorrow's

summit. We don't know how much

yet people are prepared to

properly resource and

co-ordinate those military,

civil and political plan s I

was talking about. Until we

have a better idea of that, it

is really difficult to assess

how long it will take. Thanks for joining us this morning.

That's a pleasure Virginia.

In other news this morning, a

day after sign ing in his law

his $1.2 trillion plan,

President Barack Obama says he

will spent on the housing

market. He said the plan will

benefit 9 million people and it

will be spent on refinancing

mortgages and help reduce

repayments. The NSW coast is

bracing for another round of

flooding. Ex-tropical cyclone

Innis from Lord Howe Island is

pushing towards the mainland.

Six NSW council areas has been

declared national disaster zones, the number of people

killed in Victoria's bushfires

is expected to be lower than

feared. 201 people are

confirmed to have died,

including Canberra firefighter

David Balfour. The figure is

unlikely to rise much higher,

police have said they have

found nearly all the missing,

victim identification teams are

focusing on Marysville as they

search for more bodies. Israel

has ruled out a peace deal with

Hamas in Gaza until an Israeli

soldier kidnapped by

Palestinians three years ago is

released. Israel has closed

all of Gaza's borders and has

been launching air strikes on

Palestinian tunnels allegedly

used for smuggling. Hamas says

the issues cannot be linked.

Britain's High Court has ruled

a radical Muslim cleric can be

deported to Jordan. A Jordan

court has sentenced Abu Qatada,

said to be Osama Bin Laden's

right-hand man, to terrorism

charges. Returning to the US

now and Barack Obama's plan to

rescue the troubled housing

market. The US President

unveiled the details at a

speech at an Arizona high

school. Let's listen to what

he had to say. In the end all

of us are paying a price for

the home mortgage crisis and

all of us will pay an even

steeper price if we allow this

crisis to continue to deepen.

A crisis which is unravelling home ownership, the middle

class, and the American dream

itself. But, if we act boldly

and swiftly to arrest this downward spiral then every

American will benefit. Barack

Obama speaking just a short

time ago. For more Mark Simkin

joins us on the phone from Washington. Good morning.

It's another staggers sum of

money. Take us through the

details. Well there are two

main planks to this plan. One

is to help people, around 4

million people, to refinance

their mortgages. And the

government is going to provide

about $75 billion US. That's

more than $100,000 billion

Australian to try to help these

people refinance and try to

keep them out of foreclosure.

And then there is another plank

as well, and that's going to

help people who are supposedly

underwater. This is about more

than one quarter of all the

mortgage holders in the United

States. Are in this state.

They are basically in at

situation where their house

prices have plunged so much

they are paying off a mortgage

that is bigger than their house

is now worth. And so there is

going to be a plan there to

help them basically refinance

as well. And try and get out

of the trouble that they're in.

It is an ambitious plan, it's a costly plan and there are

millions of Americans, they say

about 9 million Americans who

could benefit who are very much

hoping it works. Looking at

the money then and where it

ultimately ends up, it is more

money that goes back to the

banks then? Some of it will.

In terms of this refinancing

and trying to lower the

repayments option for example,

basically the money's going to

be split, I suppose. Some will

come from the banks, some will

go to the home owners from the

government. But it is another

way of certainly helping the

banks here. They will benefit

from this as well as the home

owners themselves. And this is

new money this. Is in addition

to the stimulus package that

was signed off on yesterday?

Or is it drawn from that

package? Yes, and no. It's

in addition to the stimulus money but it's money that's

been sourced from the bank bail-out plan that's already

gone through. That $700

billion US bank bail-out plan.

So it's not a huge new cost for

the government, but on top of

of course the $1 trillion

stimulus it is just another

example of the staggering sums

that the government is throwing

at this very stag rg problem.

It will surely be popular amongst those American whose

are really struggling or just

have their noses above water.

But for those mortgage holders

who have done their best and

met their payments and who

aren't near foreclosure or even

those Americans who have

decided they can't afford to

buy and are rent ing there is a

strong possibility they could resent taxpayers money being

spent on this situation. That's a really good point and

already you are hearing people

in both categories putting

inclusion their hands and say

their piece. Some people are

saying this is brilliant. We

need all the help we can get.

Our American dream is slipping

away. Again that's about 9

million people who stand to benefit according to Barack

Obama from this plan. But

Australia say there are other

people - as you say there are

other people who say "hang on,

we have done all bit. We have

made our repayment, we have

battled through, we have

scrirched and saved and how

come we don't benefit from

this". And Barack Obama is obviously well aware of the

political niceties here and he

stressed in his speech that

this wasn't a handout for the

greedy, this wasn't a handout

for the people who got in over

their heads because they were

trying to speculate and you

know make money on the side.

He is saying this is mainly

aimed at main street. But

there will be certainly people

who will be resent ful, as you

say. Good to talk to you,

thanks so much. Thank you.

For more on flood ravage the

NSW we are joined on the phone

by Phil Campbell at the state

emergency services

headquarters. Good morning.

First of all what are the

flood levels like at the

moment? We have heard they are

going down, is that still the

case? Flood levels are

beginning to fall. A couple of

the river system, the Bellingen

and Manning at minor flood

level, we are monitoring inland

flooding in NSW, particularly

in Morree and entering the

Bourke area. There are still

people ice laid the Late -

isolated and towns? We have

people in the Bellingen valley

isolated and in the upper

Kalang valley isolated. We are

monitoring a few people in

areas of north-western NSW

affected by the torrential

downpours last Friday and they

may face isolation this

weekend. What is the SES doing

for those people who are

isolated? The key thing for us

is to ensure their well their

and that is to make sure we

have things such as helicopters

available, SES volunteers with

flood boats and high clearance

four-wheel-drives. We have

done a number of drops of

medical supplies as well as

food. We are working closely

with the department of primary

industry to look after the

welfare of stock. It is

necessary until such time as

the floodwaters recede. What

has the demantd been like on

the SES over the past couple of

days? The last few days easing

in weather conditions things

have been a lot better for our

volunteers. That's also been a

factor with the resilience of

country people who do prepare

themselves well in advance for

these events, Specially in

places like Bourke and places

like that? They to as a matter

of course stock up for many

weeks or many months, but they

do sometimes run out of things

such as essential medicines,

that's where the SE sex and

volunteers come to help. I

don't think we have heard of

any road fatalities in relation

to these floods, you have to be

happy with that result. We

are. We have had nine rescues during the course of this flood

event and in a number of cases

people drove deliberately

around road closed signs. One

of the key messages the SES and other emergency services are

trying to get out is the dangers floodwaters and the

importance of obey ing those

road closed science. We have

heard there is a bit more rain

on the way. Are thereany

concerns about that causing

more flooding? We have some

very wet catchments,

particularly on the north east

coast of NSW. Fortunately tropical cyclone Innis has

moved a bit further east than expected overnight. Which has meant Lord Howe Island has had

a reprieve. But it means we do

have further heavy showers that

may develop over the next day

or two. We will be watching

that very closely, as will the Bureau of Meteorology. Thanks

for talking to us. Thank you. Still very high waters even

though they are receding. Just

amazing pictures there. And

great to see. Let's take a

look at the front pages of the major newspapers. The

'Financial Review' says self

funded retirees will benefit

from the government's

superannuation shake-up as it

attempts to manage the nation's

retirement savings. Peter

Costello vows to state put

after a week of steklation

about his future. The 'Age'

reports Australia will come

under pressure to step up its

commitment to the war on

terror. After the US President

Barack Obama's decision to send

another 17,000 troops to

Afghanistan. Meanwhile Indian

students will be advised to

speak softly in their native

language to combat a recent

spate of racially motivated

attacks. The hurn says ACT

firefighter David Balfour, who

was killed fighting the

Victorian bushfires, died

repaying a debt of honour after

the 2003 Canberra fires. The

'Canberra Times' reports Mr

Balfour was a 47-year-old

father who will be remembered

as a passion nats man who

thought of others first. The

'Daily Telegraph' says homes and lives will be under threat

after a decision to cancel half

of NSW hazard reduction

burnoffs in bushfire zones. The

smefrld says Australia's coal

exporters face price cuts of

between 30 and 50% and the

paper also reports kindergartening are

experiencing report numbers of

enrolments as parents seek

relief from high childcarefy -

fees. The aeldz Advertiser

reporting on mic Rann's you

turn on the new hospital

renaming. The Western

Australian says the State

Government has been left in the

dark over the impact of the

national emissions trading

scheme on the local economy

because the Rudd Government

refuses to hand over crucial

information. The 'Mercury'

reports hundreds of public

service jobs are due to be cut

in the next two years as the

Tasmanian government wades

through tough economic

times And the Northern

Territory news says anglers

could end up as crocodile bait

as they foul - folio fishing

guidelines to hold fish

underwater and wiggle them

about. You wouldn't be doing

that very long in the Northern

Territory. If the croc was

quick that might set them off.

But you think they will move

quickly enough. There is no

way I would be dangling's

bleeding fish on the side of a

tinny. I bow to your greater

knowledge on that one. If you

would like to send us your

feedback send ug emails to -

send us emails to -

And can you also talk about

the show on line, at Twitter.

I particularly would like to

hear your views on dangling

bleeding fish over the sides of

tinnies. I reckon there has

got to be some good stories out

there on that. The top stories

ob ABC News Breakfast - defence

minister Joel Fitzgibbon says

Australian troop s will be in

Afghanistan for some time to

come but won't be boosting

levels any time soon. He was

speaking from Poland where he

will be meeting NATO ministers.

US President Barack Obama says

he will spend $117 billion

helping up to 9 million people

in America's troubled housing

market. The money will be

spent on refinancing mortgages

while helps to reduce the

monthy payments of struggling

home owners. The mid-north

coast of NSW braces for another

round of flooding. Six NSW

count council area has been declared national disaster

zones, the State Government is offering financial assistance.

Some finance news now and the

decision by US car make General

Motors to axe 50,000 jobs is

raising fear it is could have

an impact on the Australian arm

Holden. But the industry

minister Kim Carr says the

outlook for Australian Holden

staff is much better than that

of other car intd industry

workers in the region. The Australian operations of

General Motors are doing quite

well. By international

standards the Australia's

performance is a net positive

for the company and it

highlights the success of the

new car plan. It highlights

the fact that the investment,

the co-investment arrangements

we have made with the new delta

platform has insured that the

company will have a much

stronger future in Australia

than by comparison to the

situation in Thailand or India.

Industry minister Kim Carr

speaking there overnight.

Let's look at the markets now

and the US markets have fallen.

A short time ago the Dow was

trading lower. The nasz - NASDAQ is up.

In a few minutes Vanessa

O'Hanlon will be hear with a look at the national weather. And also ahead we will

have a review of some of the

newspapers and this morning we

will be joined by the Editor-In-Chief of 'The Age'

newspaper Paul Ramadge. Now with sport here is Paul Kennedy

and the end of an era. That's

right. Benaud says he will finish his commentary career

next summer. The former

Australian captain has called

some of cricket's most memorable occasions. Probably

almost all of them. The

78-year-old was formally the

voice of BBC cricket, he will

quit Channel Nine after his

47th year as a broadcaster.

The Australian cricket team

has trained for the first time

in South Africa. Sleepy head

late arrival Bryce McGain is

now with the squad. They will

play a warm-up for the text

next week. South Africa will

use the tour game to watch

closely NSW opener Phillip

Hughes. Victoria will host the

one-day domestic final as well

as the shield final this year.

SA last night foiled

Queensland's attempts to finish

on top of the one-day ladder.

Klinger cling scored 7 70 to

help the Redbacks make 258.

Queensland could only make 210

in reply. The Bulls still

finished the competition second

and will play off for the

trophy. England has set the

West Indies a target in

Antigua. The Windies are 0 for

47 at the moment in the third session on day four. Let's

look at some of the English

wickets to fall this morning.

Starting with the

wonderfulfully unpredictable

Kevin Pieterson of the slencht

caught behind now. So

Pieterson trying to switch hit.

Bowled him this time. This

is trouble. It's going to end

with a run-out of Stuart Broad.

Catch him. He has got him.

And with that final blow, Har

ve, - Harveson goes to 7. And

still with cricket in the west intdys, Allen Stanford that

bloke who paid tens of millions

of dollars in prize money for

his own Twenty20 competition

involving the English team has

been charged with investment

fraud. Only $8 billion worth.

The England cricket board had

signed a five year deal with

Stantford. That deal has now

been frozen. That's an amazing

story. He is basically accused

of running something like a

Ponzi scheme similar to Berni

Madoff. I certainly hope those

cheques to the wins teams they

clear the before all of this

happened. It was the car -

Caribbean side that won wasn't

it $20 million. There is more

to this story. There are

people lining up in banks in

Antigua at the moment trying to

get their money out because his

money is in there and they are

fearing the banks will

collapse. There was a story on

the wires about an hour ago,

some report that Stantford's

tried to flee the US and been

denied. He tried to charter a

flight out of houseston to go

back to the West Indies. But

he is now somewhere in Texas.

A big place. Didn't it all

seem a bit suss from the very

start when he first bounce -

came on to the scene from

nowhere and landed in a

helicopter on the cricket oval

for the launch of that series?

It all seemed a little bit

crazy. Wouldn't you think

"where is all this coming

from". I thoughtity time he

signed a five year deal to pay

$20 million each year to the

winner of the Stantford super

series. As he was called it.

I thought that was a bit far

fetched. $100 million in prize

money. There was controversy

when a couple of the English

players wives were up in the

stands with him. He had one of

him on his lap. He was

flirting with the others. So

turns out they did it all for

nothing. That's what money does

to you. It turns you very

silly. The one day final, the

Vics are now going to play

Queensland and in the shield.

No surprises for guessing who

you will be supporting in that?

Well, Victoria it is funny,

Victoria is now had an rae of dominance similar to the

Queensland side of a few years

ago. The only dink there is

Victoria routinely loses

finals. They will be hoping to

turn that dominance into

trophies this season. Chokers. Well no, I wouldn't

say chokers. There are some

other good teams out there but

Tasmania's now leapt to second

on the shield final ladder. So

if they keep going the way they're going it will be

Victoria and Tasmania. Thanks

a lot Paul. ABC News Breakfast

can be watched live on the web

from anywhere in the world. If

you vest ore website - click on

the watch live icon and there

is a nice little red screen

like that that pops up. Here

is Vanessa O'Hanlon with the

weather and more information on

the flood situation in NSW.

Thanks. I doubt we will see

the same extent of heavy falls

we have seen over the last

couple of days but there is

moist and unstable easterly

winds that will persist over

the next week and there will be

some falls but they are likely

to be more isolated as we go to

the satellite and we can see

cloud is forming near an

offshore low and upper trough

that. Is causing isolate the

showers over the NSW ranges and

coasts. Cloud is bring the odd

storm to southern Queensland

and with cloud streaming over

WA and SA there is patchy rain

in the south and storms in the

north. A weakening trough and low is expected to cause

isolated showers over the east

of Victoria and Queensland and

throughout NSW. A low will

weaken in WA causing the showers to ease and warm

northerlying are expected in

the south-east ahead of a cool

change for SA.

The top story on ABC News

Breakfast, a retired Australian

General who helped command

Coalition forces in Iraq says

Australia should be prepared to

commit more troops to

Afghanistan. Retired General

Jim Molan was speaking after US

President Barack Obama said he

was sending an extra 17,000

soldiers. President Obama

wants a stronger commitment

from NATO countries and other

close ally, Australia has 1,000

troops in Afghanistan but is so

far not offering anymore.

Earlier we spoke to Defence

Minister Joel Fitzgibbon and he

says he has great respect for

the retired Generals views. We

all of course hope that we can

meet with success in

Afghanistan. And look I have

the upmost respect for what Jim

Molan has to say. He is

obviously very experienced in

these matters. And he is

absolutely correct to say that

success will only come with

significant additional troop

numbers. On that basis the US

announcement was very timely,

occurring just ahead of

tomorrow's summit our time. It

will act to energyise the

summit but will also act to put

pressure on those undercommited

NATO countries to do more themselves. So Joel Fitzgibbon

was saying there that he is

hopeful that the mood among the

NATO countries has changed and

there will be a willingness or

there may be a willingness to

send more troops. But he

doesn't think the pressure will

be turned on for Australia

because it's already punching

above its weight. What do you

think? Should Australia send

more troop, here is how you can contribute to ABC News

Breakfast. E mails to -

In other news this morning, a

day after signing into law his

$1.2 trillion stimulus plan American President Barack Obama

has announced he will spend

$117 billion on the troubled

housing market. The money will

be spent on refinancing the

mortgages of up to 5 million

home owners. It will also help

reduce monthy repayments for a

further three million to four

million Americans. While most

floodwaters are recedes in the

Mid-North coast of NSW is

bracing for further rainfall.

Ex-tropical cyclone Innis hovering near Lord Howe Island

is pushing towards the

mainland. The State Government

is offering financial

assistance for six council

areas. 201 people are

confirmed to be dead in the

Victoria bushfires, including Canberra firefighter David

Balfour. The figure is

unlikely to reach higher, with

police saying they have found

nearly all of the missing.

Israel has ruled out a peace

deal with Hamas in Gaza until

an Israeli soldier kidnapped by

Palestinians three years ago is

released. Israel has closed

all of Gaza's border and has

been launching air strikes on Palestinian tunnels allowingedly used for

smuggling. Hamas says the

issues cannot be linked. And Britain's highest court has

ruled a madral Muslim cleric

once described as Osama bin

Laden's right-hand man in

Europe can be deported to

Jordan. They have sentenced

Abu Qatada in absena to life imprisonment on terrorism

charges. He has expressed

fears for his safety if he is

deported from the ik to

jortdan. The Sri Lankan

government has began ferries

supplies to civilians caught up

in battles. 200,000 civilians

are trapped in Sri Lanka's

northern war zone according to

aid agencies. The UN says they

are in dire need of assistance.

The government is preparing

to send 50 tonnes of relief,

and its promised to ship more

soon. This government agent

says the food here is being

sent to people in Mulativo

through the international Red

Cross. Parliamentans who

support the Tamil tigers

accused the government of conducting genocide in

Molativo. They are getting

worse by the day. More and

more people are being

displaced. More and more

people are being killed. More

and more people are being

injured. The Red Cross has

evacuated hundreds of sick and

wonned people - wounded people.

While the US has called for

fighting in heavily populated

areas to stop. India has

offered to help get civilians

out. We have sent relief

supplies to the civilians and

the internally displaced

persons, facilitated access by

international and UN

organisations. And for

civilians to escape from the

area. A fresh call for a truce

by the Tamil national alliance

has been rejected by the

government. The military says

it has the rebels cornered and

they will be crushed.

The US Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton has promised to

listen more to the concerns of

Asia. Mrs Clinton is in

Jakarta on the second leg of

her Asian tour and says the

Obama administration wants to

reach out from the world. And

in a break from the Bush years

the US government will look at

signs Asean's treaty. With

President Barack Obama's

childhood in Indonesia now well

chronic eled the US Secretary

of State was always going to

get a warm welcome. Climate

change, the economic crisis and

terrorism were all on the

agenda during an hour-long

meeting with Indonesia's

Foreign Minister. A new commitment to the partnership

of Indonesia was how Mrs Clinton described the approach

the Obama administration was

taking. And on the question of

whether Indonesia could be a

bridge to the Muslim world she

said the US wanted to work with

all countries that shared the

values of democracy and respect

for human rights. We believe

that there are opportunities

for us to engage with nations

that have similar values and

visions of the kind of future

that we can share. While the US and Indonesia have differed

on the way to deal with Burma,

both countries have agreed to

renew the push for Democratic

reform there. Together,'sa

countries - ASEAN countries

will work together in a more

comprehensive manner. With a

hope that this will eventually

bring Myanmar to... Mrs Clinton

said sanctions favoured by the

US and engagement, which has

been Indonesia's approach have

failed. And there needs to be

new thinking. And in a further

break from the bish years, dush

Bush years the US will now

consider signing ASEAN's

treaty, an agreement to not use

force to settle despite puts in

the region. As the victims of

Victoria's firefighters come to term with how difficult

rebuilding will be the

insurance intd industry is

estimating up to a third of those who lost their homes

weren't covered. It's a problem

that will likely end up at the

feet of the government. The

Victorian Government is already

distributing emergency loans to

businesses and as people start

talking about how they will

rebuild they are asking if the

homes that survival the blaze

should be the models for the

future. Rafael Epstein

reports. Traumatic. Scary.

Marilyn Joan is like many. A

little bit of luck and some

hard work and their house

survived. None of her

neighbours managed to save

their homes. Six months of the

year they work to fire proof

their home. We start August,

September. We maintain it all

year. We have prune back. We

cut back anything. On the fateful day after years of

work, and a few hours heavy

soaking, they left their home

to fate. Just an hour before

the fire hit. Left them

running until we felt there was

enough water around. And then

turned them off because we knew

we might need water when we

came back. Put out water for

the animals. Threw bird food

everywhere and then jumped in

the car and left. They have

removed native trees and that sometimes angers the local

council. They plant fire

resistant maples and they cut

the grass as short as they K

the home is built facing the

way most fires will come. And

it's cut into the hillside in

the hope the flames will go

over the top. There is more

than 100,000 litres of

rainwater to protect and soak

the property. They were

forced to wait for seven days

and it was only then they

finally found out their home

was safe. A bit of help from

upstairs. A bit of a guardan

angel but we really work hard

here. We just non- stop. It

takes up a lot of time. We

should be doing something else.

We haven't tiled the bathroom

because we haven't had time to

tile the bathroom, we are too

busy cutting this and raking

it. No one ras protecting the

property when the fire came and

the flames made it close to the walls. Some people didn't do

hard work and I don't want to

lay blame here or say anything,

but you have to do it. Have

you got to. Maybe you can e

create a by of your own luck.

Absolutely. Absolutely. When

fires come again and it is

seems clear they will, you have

to think it's smart to learn

lessons from people who created

this home. A house that can

withstand flames when they have

come to within metres of

destroying it. But there will

be other tough lessons for

some. Rebuilding's OK if have

you insurance but now it seems many will not have that

option. Of concern also is that

those figures are starting to

indicate there must be a large proportion of people down in

the affected areas that don't have any insurance at all.

Because the numbers coming

through aren't sort of matching the number of people who we

have been told have lost their

property . The industry is

putting a figure around 30%.

As well community lawyer

Dennis Nalphorpe fears many

residents will have insurance but they won't have a policy

that covers the true value what

they have lost. When they come

to rebuild they will find the

amount they are sctd to pay -

asked to pay is significantly higher than what that insurance

is. They will have got that

amount oven from the insurer or

they would have had a guess.

That's something the insurance

industry can and should solve.

The fires have also wiped out

businesses. On this farm they

lost 750,000 dollars worth of

fish. The fire came through

and the water stopped flowing.

The log fell across the river

and the pump was burnt out.

And the next day the remabder

of the stock were polluted by

the ash and eucalyptus in the

water. That is our entire

business finished. The

Victorian government is hoping

its emergency grands will help.

To assist with clean-up or

restoration and then on the

basis of further information

are eligible for a further

$20,000 taking the grant to

25,000, Low interest loans will

also be available. The state

opposition wants the government

to waive regular fees, taxes

and charges for affected

businesses. Rafael Epstein s

there. The credit crunch is

continues to bite hard into

WA's resources sector with

mining company Fortescue metals

turning to China for help as it

attempts to meet its debt

commitments, the attempt by FMG

to attract Chinese investors

comes as another mine in WA

faces closure with the loss of

hunts of jobs. Andrew it seems

China is taking a lot of

opportunities out of this

global financial

crisis Certainly the companies

here are looking for hair help.

FMG is just the latest we are

told, companies like Rio Tinto,

Oz Minerals that have got their

hand out for Chinese investment

as they try to deal with cash

flow and debt problems. FMG

revealed it yesterday. It said

it was in plim discussions with

a couple of international

companies which it said had has

received investment proposals.

That did bring short-term

relief to FMG's share price

which has taken a real tumble

in recent months. Its share

price was up 24% at one stage

yesterday. But it's also

attract ed some criticism.

Analysts are saying some of

these companies risk selling

off some of the nation's best

resource asset as they try to

get themselves out of trouble.

But if you are running one of

these companies the prospect of

staying afloat with Chinese

help is much more preferable to

going under . It seems every

other day we cross to you, we

are talking about another mine

in WA that's going to close.

Well, this latest one is

Windamurra mine, this hadn't

even got into production. It was still in the development

phase. But then a syndicate of

investment banks called in

receivers, so they are now

pouring over the books to see

whether this project can be

saved. This snort 300 jobs,

only two days ago we were

talking about 350 jobs being

cut out of a nickel mine.

About 200 workers left the mine

last night. Another 100 are left wondering if they will

have a job. It brings to about

6,000 the jobs that have been

global financial crisis lost in WA alone since the

started. As we talk about

these things each morning, day

announcements come thick and after day after the

fast it is easy to forget hint

every one of those losses say

real story. The workers at

Ravensthorpe are still haggling

with BHP about their redundancy

payments and some of them are

going to face the prospect of

paying back very substantial

incentive payments to BHP, in

sos of some cases $50,000.

There was one property

developer down there who is facing multi-million dollar

losses. He has had to cut the

price of his block s from

$270,000 back to $70,000 just

to clear them. While the

announcements are popping up

every other day the impact of

these announcement s will be

felt for a very long time.

Thanks very much for that

Andrew O'Connor. Are you warping ABC News Breakfast.

The top stoshs now - Joel Fitzgibbon says Australian

troops will be in Afghanistan

for some years to come. But

won't be boosting troop levels

any time soon. Joel Fitzgibbon

was speaking from Poland where

he will be meeting NATO Defence

Ministers days after United

States said it was senting

17,000 more soldiers to

Afghanistan. The US President

Barack Obama says he will spend

$117 pillion helping up to 9

million people in America's

housing market. It will help

to reduce the monthy payments

for struggling home owners.

While most flootd waters are

receding the Mid-North coast of

NSW is bracing for further rain

fall. 6 council areas have now

been declared natural disaster zones.

For a look at the national papers today. We are joined by the Editor-In-Chief of 'The

Age' newspaper Paul Ramadge.

Good morning. Good morning

Virginia. What's caught your

attention today? As you have

been talking this morning about

Afghanistan, no critical

decisions made in regard to

Australia yet. But Australia

finds itself within the next 48 hours in a very critical

position. It seems likely, as

we report today, that there is going to be more pressure for

Australia to put troops in.

And what's all this about?

Well, Afghanistan seems to be getting more complex. The

Taliban seems to be resurgent

rather than being reduced in

its power. It is coming at a

time when there's appeasement

for the Taliban in Pakistan as

well. So this story for

Australia, if we are putting

more troops in seems to be

getting more and more complex

and I think as the minister

point ed out to you this

morning, it maybe for the

longer run as well. Maybe this

will go on for quite some time.

So a critical point for

Australia, more troops to Afghanistan seems likely, Joel

Fitzgibbon was pointing out

this morning he was optimistic

the pressure wouldn't be on Australia to increase its

troops but you have to think

that's a pretty fore Lorn hope

if everyone else sin creasing

troops. It is not just about US-Australia pressure. The

Dutch have now flagged for some

time their concern and their

likelihood of withdraw ing

troops from the southern

provinces where the Australians

are. They give air support

etc. So everything seems to

point to, and given the

Australian Government's stand

at this point to say "this is

really important. We believe

in Afghanistan" and I don't

think many people are opposing

that view, it does point to,

you would think, Australia

committing some more troops, It

is slightly nebulous but the

minister did say he sensed a

mood change within NATO.

Probably fom owing on from the

election of Barack Obama and his emphasis on Afghanistan.

So therefore there will be a

willingness to recommit. As he

acknowledged in the interview

the surge worked in Iraq. So

following the same logic and

even accepting the two

countries are very different.

At a minimum you need something

like a surge. . It seems so.

It absolutely seems to. And it

has been complicated. It is

not spelt out inasmuch detail

this morning but has been

complicated by what happens in

the south of the country, what happens in the north. What

each of the NATO partners

actually does. Whether it is

actually on the front line or

in the support mechanism. So

an important 48 hours for

Fitzgibbon in the NATO

talks, You mention Pakistan

there and the appeasement to

the Taliban and vat Swat Valley

introducing Sharia law there

but it to wedge the local

Taliban and al-Qaeda Taliban.

The US is apparently privately

supporting that move but

publically not. Privately some

support there. The issue is to

what extent is it appeasement.

The reporting on the Taliban in Afghanistan says they are

mainly in a stronger position.

If they are, and if there is a

high level of apeace ment in

Pakistan for Australia, looking

to commit more troops that

would be of concern I would

think. What other papers are

you looking at today? I was

drawn to 'The Australian'. I

think the Costello story, it is

- It just doesn't stop. Every

day, every year. To use that dreadful sporting cliche, this

really does seem to have turned

into what's described as an

own- goal on behalf of Malcolm

Turnbull. He was handed an

opportunity to recast the front

bench and settle it all down

and by taking on Peter Costello

he has stir the it right up.

That's exactly right. 'The

Australian' in continuing the

reporting on this now

establishes, and in terms of

other papers, kind of backs up

what's been reported elsewhere

as well. But it very much

seems that Peter Costello got a

call before Julie Bishop had

decided to stand aside as

Shadow Treasurer. And it is

this very question that had

been offered, it seems, prior

to Julie stepping aside. Where

did that leave Joe Hockey?

What sort of damage has had

done to hockey, to Turnbull's

and to the party at a time when

Australia, for heaven's sake.

Do we want a vibrant aggressive

opposition in this financial

crisis? Yes, we do. And we

desperately need it and why

can't the opposition get beyond the the Costello issue and start

doing what it's meant to do and

take on the government. Think this report in 'The Australian'

draws us back to that very

question. If in fact that leak

did come from turn bum's office

it - Turnbull's's office it demonstrates by playing those

stupid games can back fire horribly. Peter Costello has

his supporter and he knows how

to play this game. He has

played it longer than most

people. One Victorian MP who

is quoted in 'The Australian'

today. And described what Malcolm Turnbull was doing in

also taking on some of the

senior executives in the party

leadership. Mostly Victorians.

This MP described it as

Turnbull's's war on everything.

And a war he doesn't seem to be

winning. And Costello is still

there. And you have got the

'Herald Sun' there as well.

The 'Herald Sun' obviously

lead with the firefighter and

it say story that's, This is

the ACT firefighter who was

killed. Yes. And Victorians,

well we are just continuing to

be very deeply touched on all

of these stories. So this

story which played in most

papers quite prominently is

deservedly on the front of the

'Herald Sun'. I am also drawn to the Ritchie Benaud story on

pg.3 of the 'Herald Sun' and

they do it quite well with

pullout quotes and famous lines

from the man of 50 years.

There is a great shot in

there, if we can get that back

of a black and white of Donald

Bradman giving Ritchie Benaud

some advice from the 60s I

think it is there. 1962. Yes.

And if you just stay with that

shot you can see there some

head shots there of those who

are touted as possible

replacements for the possibly

irreplaceable Ritchie Benaud.

Shane warn is among the

commentators. His commentating

on Channel Nine for the cricket

has been terrific. Really

knowledgeable. Surely his

coaches is really strong too.

He will have so many

commitments there he won't have

time for commentary. And a

third life even. I am not

buying into this. Paul good to

have you on board. Thanks so

much. A reminder now you can

watch all of ABC News Breakfast streamed live every morning. The address is -

Now here is Paul Kennedy with

sport. Thanks we have just

been talking about Ritchie

Benaud says he will finish his

commentary career next summer.

The former Australian captain

has called some of cricket's

most memorable occasions, the

78 year-old was formally the

voice of BBC cricket. He will

quit Channel Nine after his

47th year as a broadcaster.

The Townsville Crocs runtd the

party for the Perth wild cats

last night. Rilley shot the

points and it was a physical

game and Perth fought hard

until the end. But the final

score was 19 - 103-94. Greg

Norman has described the course

for this week's golf classic in

Perth at average at best. The

53 year-old is competing at the

vines starting today. He won

the same event in 1994 when it

was played in Thailand.

Normalman says the bunkers of

the course will make the game

challenging. And so Ritchie

Benaud to go. As someone said,

back in the 1920s - say it

ain't so Joe. Have you been a

fan over the years. Everyone

loves Ritchie Benaud. I

started to pay more attention

to him, it has to be said, when

the 12th man CDs came out.

That really lifted his

profile. I am pretty sure Ritchie Benaud wasn't that

happy with that. He apparently

always intensely disliked those

kotd comedy records. Tony

Greig who is the only comment

ator who ever mentions it and

has a laugh at himself. But

Ritchie Benaud was a

magnificent captain as well and

was the captain of the test

against the west Indies in the

60s where he and Garfild Sobers

lead for the push for cricket

to retain its sportsmanship.

He was a great leader in that

aspect of cricket as well.

What was interesting also was

during that tumultuous time of

Kerry Packer taking over the

broadcasting of cricket. Which

really divided the

cricket-watching community in

Australia, he was sort of the

sole dignified aspect of that.

Whereas you could look at it as

this dreadful commercial

enterprise and suling the great

name of cricket. His presence

actually gave it this wonderful

strength and bearing and lifted

it above all that a bit, He has

never been one to be weighed

down by the history of the

game. He seems to move forward

all the time. Has never spoken

out against Twenty20 or the emergens of world series

cricket. He has always been

one to move on and I think

that's kept him in the game for

so long. Here is Vanessa

O'Hanlon way look at the

weather. It has been very hot

in Adelaide. But that is set

to change. Temperatures will

be back in the 20s for the

weekend. On to the satellite,

and cloud is forming near an

offshore low and an upper

trough. That is causing

isolated showers over the NSW

ranges and coast. Cloud is

also bringing the odd storm to

southern Queensland and with

cloud streams over both WA and

SA there will be some light

patchy rain throughout the

south and storms up in the

north. Weakens trough and low

is expected to cause isolated

showers over the east of

Victoria and Queensland. And

throughout NSW. A low will

weaken in WA causing the

showers to ease and warm

northerlies are expected in the south-east ahead of a cool

change for SA. Queensland has a

few showers and thunths over

the south east. They will

become isolated and mover east

wards. Isolated showers over

the eastern tropics. NSW, a

weak trough will stay fairly

still causing showers and

stormses over the north-east

quarter mainly for this

afternoon. Victoria a hot day

for the mallee and women -

Wimmera districts. A fire

weather warning is current.

Tasmania isolated showers about

the north and east. Showers are expected to develop over

inland parts during the day.

Otherwise mild to warm

conditions. SA, a total fire

ban for a large portion of the

state. Isolated shores in the

west extending to the central

and eastern parts. To WA where

it is disrie and very warm in

the west with easterly winds.

and up in the north -

Thanks so much vannessa. We

are all Twittering today and

asking what you think about the

military effort in Afghanistan.

Geoff has twitter the in with -

it is more justified than Iraq

but since Germany France and

Europe get the heroin problem

more first. from the Taliban they should do

Still ahead on ABC News

Breakfast - we talk about how

coping. Stay with us. those bushfire survivors are

Going to the heart of the

financial crisis, Barack Obama

puts his stimulus plan into

action and target s America's

embattled housing market.

Australia won't be boosting

levels in Afghanistan but Joel

Fitzgibbon says a change in

mood among NATO Defence

Ministers could be a sign they

are ready to back US call

fierce surge. Surveying the

damage of the NSW floods with

six council areas declared

disaster zones and more rain is

os the way. And Ritchie Benaud

calls stumps on an illustrious career commentating cricket.

Good morning, it