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ABC News 24: 12 Noon News -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) Today the Queensland Today the Queensland Premier,

Anna Bligh, is about to receive the final report into last

year's deadly floods. This is

the scene live at state

Parliament in Brisbane. We'll

bring you comprehensive

coverage of the findings of the floods floods inquiry and the reactions from the people who

are affected by the disaster.

This Program is Captioned Live.

Also today - retailers cry

poor, claiming our love poor, claiming our love affair with internet shopping will

create a $6 billion hole in the

economy. The Taliban pulse out

of peace talks in Afghanistan.

And Ian Thorpe is back in

business with a spot in the

semifinals. hello, you're

watching ABC News 24, I'm Jane

Hutcheon. After weeks of delay, the Queensland floods

inquiry is about to hand over

its final report to the Premier, Anna Bligh. No-one,

including the Premier, has been given an advance copy of the given

shots at state Parliament in report. You're seeing live

Brisbane where the Hanover is about to happen. Once Anna

Bligh has had time to read the

report, she's expected to hold

a news conference in about an

hour's time. Our reporter will

receive receive a copy of the report at

the same time as the Premier

and just as soon as she's had

time to digest the key details

we'll bring them straight to

you. We're also going to be

people crossing live to some of the

people who survived the deadly

floods of 2010, so stay tuned

throughout the day. 2011 of

course. The inquiry has supposed to hand down its

finding last month. The

hearings were reopened after

allegations the inquiry wasn't

told the truth about how Brisbane's Wivenhoe

Brisbane's Wivenhoe Dam was

operated last summer.

Engineers were accused of

disregarding the dam's manual, then colluding to hide the truth.

truth. We're seeing live pictures of the state Parliament as I speak and if

the Commission finds the manual

was breached, the Queensland

Government could be liable for

compensation. Today's report

will cover insurance, land

planning and other aspects of

the imaginary emergency response. We'll cross to

Queensland as soon asse see

something happening. Bob Brown

has just held a media

conference in Canberra and we'll bring that to you right

now. I want to begin by

endorsing the sentiment that

some new blood is needed in the

Future Fund. I think when you see that there are five

appointees by Mr Costello, well - We're taking you live now to

Queensland where Anna Bligh has

just received the floods record. This this is a very

important piece of work. I

look forward to reading your

findings and recommendations. look findings and recommendations.

I know it has been a I know it has been a very

intense period of time and I

thank you for your work. May thank

I just say anybody who is

genuinely interested in how we manage flood risk will read it

closely, all parts of it. I look

look forward to reading it and

making some comments on it

later. I do sincerely on behalf of the people behalf of the

Queensland thank you and all of

your team at the Commission.

These are very important events in the life of our State.

These documents I hope will

stand up to scrutiny and will be as I expect them to be, rigorous, intensively researched researched and provide researched and provide us with

a blueprint. Thank you for

providing them to me. Thank

you for providing them in the

time frame that you committed

to and I look forward, as I said, to examining it and

making some comments on making some comments on it as

soon as possible. Thank you.

You had a lot to say in your

closing statement about what you - I'm no longer Commissioner. Thank you.

Judge. We want one photograph of the four.

Thank you. One more time, please. The actual handover. Goodness, who knew there was so much to it. Thank

you. Do you wish to make you. Do you wish to make any comments? Disglompblingts no,

No, I do not. We have seen the

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh

receiving the weighty report on

the Queensland flood disaster.

It was delayed for a month after further hearings after further hearings took place. What's going place. What's going to happen now Anna Bligh, the Premier

will have time to read will have time to read the report. She's expected to will

a news conference in about an

hour's time. This report

actually has been released to

everybody right now. It is the

first time anybody has seen it.

Our reporter, Donna Field, is going to receive a copy of the

report and she's going to have

time to digest the key details and we'll bring those to you as soon as we can. soon as

as I said, was supposed to hand

down its findings last month.

The hearings were we The hearings were we opened after allegations the inquiry

wasn't told the truth about how Brisbane's Wivenhoe Dam was

operated last summer. operated last summer. The engineers were accused of

disregarding the dam's manual

and then colluding to hide the truth. If the Commission finds

the manual was breached the Queensland Government could be liable for compensation. We

have just been seeing live

pictures there of the release of the Queensland of the Queensland floods

inquiry. Of course, those details should be trickling out

any moment now. Let's go back

to Greens leader Senator Bob

Brown who was holding a Brown who was holding a media

conference a short time ago in

Canberra. We'll bring that to

you again. I want to grin by

endorse begin by endorsing the sentiment that new blood is

needed in the Future Fund. I

think when you see that there

are five appointees by Mr

Costello, well, four appoint

cease by Mr Costello to the Board and himself, at least one

of those didn't recommend that

the new chief should come from

incumbent members, there's even

within the Board a clear indication that there should indication that there should be

an injection of some new talent

from outside. I saw Mr

Costello's performance on 7.30

Report last night and I think

there's rarely been such hub brings demonstrated by anybody

in Australian politics, and of

course that's something saig

something. This Future Fund

belongs to the and you

Australian people, not to Peter Costello, Costello, and it is there Costello, and it is there to foster the future of the

Australian people, Australian people, not Peter

Costello. We have - I'm with

Nick Minchin in thinking that we shouldn't have political

appointees, that is, past politicians front ranking appointments to important posts

like the CEO of the Future

Fund. I think we've got to do Fund.

better than that. We can do

better than that. I think the appointment the appointment the Government has

made does do better than that. Senator, should Penny

Wong or the government removed

Mr Gonski from the advisory

role then if they were role then if they were planning

on putting him into the chairmanship. It's something

that's evolved, isn't it. He's

got the chairmanship having

ended the advisory role. I'm

not the expert here, but he's

got a rolled gold business

career behind him. We think that

that the Future Fund does

deserve to move on and Richard

will make some comments in a

moment about the need for it to

bring itses thinking into the

21st century. Ale ask you to

do that now and get on to

another few topics. Many another

people aren't aware under the stewardship of Peter Costello

the Future Fund has invested

over $150 in big tobacco.

Companies like British American

Tobacco, a number of others, are receiving Australian

taxpayers' dollars and essentially supporting the

tobacco industry. We've got

$150 million, over tobacco

million, of Australian taxpayer dollars dollars going into big tobacco.

We've got a similar amount going into companies that

manufacture nuclear weapons. That's happened under the

stewardship of Peter Costello.

I've good a bill before the

Parliament that will ensure we

no longer invest in big tobacco and

and nuclear weapons

manufacturers. It is out of

step with the majority view of

the Australian community. Australian

Australian people are horrified

when they realise their hard

earned cash is essentially

going into these companies that

make cigarettes. It is completely out of keeping with the Government's the Government's really positive approach to positive approach to tobacco

reform in other areas, plain

packaging for example. On one

hand, we've got the former

Health Minister who pursued a very ambitious reform agenda

when it came to plain packaging and on the other hand we have

Peter Costello as a Board

member overseeing the investment of dollars in the tobacco

industry, completely unacceptable. unacceptable. One of the

things I'll be doing is writing to the new chairman of the to the

Future Fund, Mr Gonski, and

asking him to show some

leadership in this area, leadership in this area, to

show some leadership that says

we no longer accept that it we no longer accept that it is an acceptable ethical standard

to be investing in big to be investing in big tobacco

when we've got many people who die from those product pans

we've got a government we've

committed to reform in some

areas and we've got areas and we've got Australian

community who say we don't want

it. We expect that Mr Gonski,

with some new ideas, a bit of

fresh thinking, will show that

leadership. We hope that he

does. I will be writing to him

to ensure that he does that.

If that fails, then we'll be pursuing our bill in the

Parliament to ensure that its mandated that the Future mandated that the Future Fund

can no longer invest in big

tobacco, a nuclear tobacco, a nuclear weapons manufacturers and in fact developing a developing a broader ethical framework that will guide framework that will guide the fund. Peter Costello leave the

Board given your comments

today? My view is very clear. He was one of a number He was one of a number of

people who oversaw what most Australians would say is a

completely unacceptable investment of their taxpayer

dollars. Unfortunately, the fund has

fund has made a decision that I

think is out of keeping with

what most Australians view as

appropriate and an appropriate investment, and I think what

needs to happen is we need to

get the new chairman involved,

we need to get some fresh thinking - I'm asking you whether he should leave the

Board? That's not a view that

a take. It is not something

that I'll be pursuing. that I'll be pursuing. My

focus as the health spokesperson

spokesperson is very clear.

Wasn't to I want to see Future Fund get out of big tobacco,

get out of the manufacture of

nuclear weapons, I want the new

chairman to show leadership on

this issue. The make up of the

board is not a decision for me but government. Most Australians think it is crazy.

On one hand you pursue an

ambitious reform agenda, something that leads the world

in terms of plain packaging and

on the other hand you propping

up companies that run up companies that run lawsuits

against you. It makes

absolutely no sense. We need

to get out of big tobacco. Would David Gonski

have a conflict of interest

being the consultant on the and become the candidate?

Wasn't there a conflict of

interest. That's a point of

view you have and it is one view you have and it is one - no, you were making no, you were making a statement, not a question. Do

you think there's a conflict of

interest? I think that the big

conflict of interest here is with Peter Costello and with Peter Costello and his political bias. As Richard

said, he's on the Board, let

him stay there, and the

Government can itself Government can itself maintain

there's not a conflict of interest,

interest, let it defend that.

We had no role in this

appointment and I'm saying it is a bet area appointment is

Peter Costello. Would you like

to see a Senate inquiry into Peter how the Future Fund is operating, its investment decisions, appointments to the

Board and things like that?

That maybe worth pursuing? No.

If you want a Senate Inquiry

you can canvas that with you can canvas that with the

members of the Senate. We run

our own agenda. We don't have

them evolved at press

conferences by members of the

press gallery. It is just

another question. The answer is

is no. Leave me free and open

to make future decisions based

on a evaluation of the

information. I'm information. I'm not looked

into that. Should the

government release the advice

that Gonski gave them? I think

there's difficulties there. In any thoroughgoing assessment of candidates for Future Fund,

personalities become judged and

certainly if I was a member of

a potential - a potential

member or applicant for the

position I wouldn't like an

assessment of me put out into

the public a Arena. I might

adhere I'm not a potential contender

contender and won't be. Tony

Abbott said this morning that

every cent in the Future Fund was put in there by Peter

Costello. Do you have a

perspective on that? I think

Nick Minchin as the Minister

for finance had a role there as

well. Every crept that was put into that fund was put in there

by the people of Australia. I think Peter Costello - I notice

he said he legislated the

Future Fund. No, he didn't. The Australian Parliament did.

We'll leave Bob Brown there

speaking in Canberra and return to

to our main story of the day,

that is the release of the

final report into last year's

Queensland floods. Of course,

we can tell you some rather

explosive and Misconduct Commission should investigate further the

conduct of Wivenhoe Dam flood

engineers. I believe that's a

key finding of the report. To

tell us more our reporter Donna

Field is at state Parliament in

Brisbane. She has had a chance

to read some of the findings of

the report. Thank you very

much. You can please elaborate

on that point of the investigation being taken

further into the action of the

flood engineers? Yes, hello

Jane. What the report is

saying, and it is a pretty

hefty report, there are two volumes of information here,

this is one of the recommendations. The Crime and Misconduct Commission should

investigate the conduct of

three of the engineers recommendations.

Wivenhoe Dam in relation to their preparation of their preparation of documents

that they gave to the

Commission of inquiry. As

you'll remember, the Commission

of Inquiry had to reconvene

after concerns that what they

were saying department measure

up to their submissions. This

is now being recommended to be investigated by the State's Crime and Misconduct investigated by Commission. This is pretty explosive

explosive to say the least,

isn't it? Look, it is being referred to the Crime and

Misconduct Commission. The Commissioner does not say that there's any evidence there's any evidence of misconduct. She's saying it is worth investigating. I think

that's a key point that worth that's a key point that to be made and certainly when the Commissioner handed over the report, she said that

everyone who looks at this

report should read it very

carefully so it is not leaving

the gates open for a class

action. It is not saying that

there was official misconduct.

It is saying that It is saying that this should

be pursued, but certainly that's something that it is that's something that it is not

an open and shut case. She's

saying there's room for

for us right now, Donna, is

looking at the list of looking at the list of key

recommendations. Can you recommendations.

us if you've had the time to look

look at them, what some the

other key findings have been?

What I will say is that the

Commissioner has made some overriding comments which are very interesting. She's saying in those comments that there's a

a good deal of room for

improvement in planning for

emergency response and the

recommendations in this report

demonstrate that, but she also

says that the disastrous floods which strukt South-East

Queensland to a large degree were handled to the best of the capabilities with the systems that

that were in place. She says

that that should provide some

sense of comfort for the people

affected by the floods. She

also says, though, as to how

the floods are managed, there's

doubt sthait took doubt sthait took an approach

to a State accustomed to

drought, not flood. She said with

with a dam such as Wivenhoe Dam

it has a limited flood

mitigation capacity when a

volume of water entering such

as that entering in January

last year is greater than its storage capacity, so it was

further limited by the fact

that other floodwaters were

flowing into the catchment and

so what is concerning, though,

she says, is the lack inertia

of government when the

possibility was possibility was raised. She's

basically saying this was a pretty unprecedented disaster

that struck parts of the State. Is

Is it too early to say yet what

the implications of this report

are going to be? Obviously, a

lot of people around the State

at the moment are going to be

doing exactly what you're

doing. That's right. Look, it

is 700 pages long. There are

two volumes. The Premier is

taking an a hour and a half taking an a hour and a half to

have a look at it before she

comes back with her summary. I think it will be some time

before the key players, the

insurance council, the people representing those people considering a class considering a class action

against the State Government,

before they have time to digest

what is in this weighty tome of

information and they come

forward with what they think

forward with what they think it all means for their cases. Donna Field, we really

appreciate you giving us the

first glimpses of that report.

We look forward to speaking to

you later. Many thanks.

Thanks, Jane. Turning to Thanks, Jane. Turning to other

news now, it has been labelled

a smem and dirty politics by the the Opposition, but a former Liberal Minister thinks the Government made the right decision not to appoint Peter Costello as the chair of the Future Fund. Nick Minchin says

it would have been most unwise

and believed the fund's Board was naive to think the former Treasurer was a suitable candidate. From Canberra Nada

Gilmore reports. He was the Gilmore reports. He was the man

most likely once again overlooked. The Future Fund was something I conceived, I

legislated it, and I put every

dollar of capital into it.

Every dollar. A shemozzle is how Peter Costello describes

the process used to appoint

David Gonski as Chair of the 73

billion dollar Future Fund. A

case of sour grapes according to

to the Government. I don't

think it comes as a surprise to anyone that Peter Costello

thought he was the best person

to head the Board. He's all had it had it being kets had it being kets on himself. The former Treasurer

was the preferred choice of the

fund's board, a view David

Gonski himself made clear to

the government. They chose him

inDadaab stead. Having got the

the confidence of the Board

don't you think he should have

ruled himself as ruled himself as a candidate. From the former Prime Minister to the current Opposition

Opposition leader there is Opposition leader there is been

no shortage of those defending Mr Costello's credentials. Peter Costello was Australia's best he was

Treasurer. He walks Treasurer. He walks tall on

the world financial stage. He

was appointed to the Board was appointed to the Board by

the Rudd Government. He was clearly the preferred candidate. The man who helped

the former Treasurer set up

the former Treasurer set up the

fund doesn't think so. In a letter to the Australian

newspaper, former Finance

Minister, Nick Minchin, says

the fund's Board is naive to

think the government could,

would or even should would or even should appoint

Peter Costello as chairman. He

says the fund must be

independent and completely

above politics and that appointing

appointing a former appointing a former politician

would be most unwise. Nick Minchin

Minchin agrees the process used

to appoint David Gonski was flawed, calling it flawed, calling it utterly shambolic. But in the end it

was a good choice. Peter

Costello says he's not

criticising because he missed

out on the job, but because the international reputation of the

fund has been damaged he says

he wants to protect it and has ruled out quitting his position ruled out quitting his position on the Board. The United

States has suffered a double

blow to its campaign blow to its campaign in Afghanistan. The Taliban has

announced that it is pulling

out of talks with the United

States which were aimed at

easing the transition after

foreign combat troops withdraw in 2014. The Taliban cited

America's shaky, erratic vague standpoint as the reason.

It comes as Afghan President

Hamid Karzai told US Defence Secretary, Leon Secretary, Leon Panetta, that

he wants the handover to happen

a year earlier and for all NATO

troops to leave the villages

and stay inside their bases. The decision by bases. The decision by the

Taliban to send representatives

from its mountain hideout to

talks with Americans in Qatar

was always seen as a gamble by

both sides. The US offered both sides. The US offered the

group an inducement - five high

value prisoners wobbliesed from

Guantanamo Bay to live in

Qatar. It looks like the Taliban Taliban have given up waiting

for this to happen.

The US Government wanted the

Qatar negotiations to lead to

talks between the Taliban and the Afghan Government.

Washington hoped this would

help secure peace hereafter foreign combat troops withdraw

in 2014. The US strategy in

Afghanistan looks like it is unravelling. There are problems on the American side.

There are problems on the

Afghan Government side. Afghan Government side. Of course, the way forward is completely

completely unclear. There's a

lot of uncertainty on the part

of the US presence here and on the part of the after the part of the after gone

government deal with the US presence here. The presence here. The short answer to the question is yes answer to

it is in a mess. We don't

exactly what is going to

happen. In another fwlo for the Americans, the Afghan President

told the US Defence Secretary

to pull his troops out to pull his troops out from

Afghan villages. Hamid Karzai

gave Leon Panetta his ruling

after a US soldier shot dead 16

Afghan villagers last week.

Keeping a small number of US

and Afghan soldiers in and Afghan soldiers in key

villages had been successful in

keeping the Taliban out. The situation in Afghanistan is

going from bad to worse for the

Americans. Already the burning

of copies of the Koran and of copies of the Koran and the

killing of 16 villagers by of

soldier has cemented the view

in the minds of many after

in the minds of many after gaps

that the US military has

outstayed its welcome. Now the

ending of nascent talks with

the Taliban has blown a hole the Taliban has blown a hole in Washington's political strategy

as well. Nothing seems to be going to plan. Alicia Barry is

here with the here with the day's business news. How is the sharemarket

looking. Falls in the mining

sector are dragging down the

local sharemarket midway

through the session. That's despite gains on offshore markets overnight. The called

ordinary index is down around two 10th of one percent two 10th of one percent as is

the ASX 200 index. BHP

Billiton is down 1%. Fortescue

Metals has slipped 2%. The Commonwealth Bank is the worst

of the big four. It is down

around half a percent except.

Going the other way, defensive

stocks are food retailers and

Telstra A cross the region,

trade is unwinding for day's

session. Japan's Nikkei is

down a few points as traders

lock in gains from the week's

recent rallies. On to Wall

Industrial Average was pushed

up by better than expected jobless factory and inflation

figures.

The Australian dollar is off

its recent lows again the US

dollar and is currently buying

105.1 US cents. Financial sanctions against Iran are

intensifying over its contested nuclear

nuclear program. European Union nations have moved to

limit the flow of money in limit the flow of money in and

out of the country. As a

result, the society for

worldwide interbank financial

telecommunication, or SWIFT,

which connects thousands of banks around the worldings has been instructed to cease

dealings with most Iranian

institutions. The measure is expected to make trade with Iran even for difficult and put

upward pressure on global oil

prices. Retailers have again

called on the Federal

Government to shut down a GST

exemption for imported goods

bought online up to the value

of $1000. The latest research of

into the retail sector reveals

that 118,000 jobs will be lost across the sector in the across the sector in the next

three years. The figures come

from a six month inquiry led by accounting giant Ernst & Young for the National Retail

Association. Executive

director, Gary Black, says

33,000 of those jobs will be

direct result of rising online

sales. Ernst & Young's

modelling specifically looked

what the would happen if the

Government did nothing or what

would happen if the Government

acted to remove the threshold.

In their modelling, it informs

us if we do

us if threshold and level the playing

field, then we will save 33,000

Australian jobs. That's the

most critical finding of this

report and that's the finding that

that we're communicating to

Government and asking the Government to act. Australia's

computer tablet market received

another boost late last night

as consumers queued at midnight

to be the first to own the to be the first to own the new

Apple IPad. While Australians

are the first to own the

product, Apple wasn't the first

to tell sell it here. Telstra opened its stores early to

indicate per for the indicate per for the rush.

Apple's shares have advanced to

45% this year. That's the latest from the markets. I'll be back with more next hour. Excellent, many thanks. Tasmania's lobster

export industry is under threat.

threat. The Tasmanian

Conservation Trust is preparing

a legal case to have lobster

exports shut down. The trust

says the industry is in crisis. It is a lucrative

industry but Tasmania's rock lobster fishery is played with

problems. Declining fish stocks and the encroachment of

the long spine sea urchin the long spine sea urchin are

among the most serious. It is

an economics and ecological

disaster, as well as an environmental

Tasmanians conservation trust

is unhappy the rock lobster fishery

fishery has been given fishery has been given export approval by the Commonwealth.

The approval is reviewed every five years. The trust claims the Federal Environment

Department has ignored evidence

the industry is on the verge of

collapse. We've been trying to

work with Government and

industry for many years to the industry meaningful management regimes

in place and that simply hasn't

happened. The trust plans to

take the Commonwealth to the

Federal Court to explain its

decision. If the Minister is found to have not followed found to have not followed the law, then the approval is overturned. Won't that be

wonderful. We have an wonderful. We have an $80 million export industry. What

are we going to do with the

fish if we catch them? 90% of the Tasmanian product is

exported to Asia. This would

cause massive volume problems

to. Compete with WA who put a

lot of product into Australia

at a cheaper rate. It at a cheaper rate. It would devastate us. That's the best

word to use. It's serious. Industry is scathing

of claims nothing has been done to rescue the fishery. We spend

millions of dollars into the long-term to ensuring

sustainability of tour

fishery. Neither side is giving ground. We can either do

something now and fix the industry

industry and fix the problem or

let it go. The Tasmanian conservation

conservation society has no

expertise in running a fishery. They are not scientists. The

science indhad the issue looks

set to be tested in court. To

sport with Lucy Carter.

There's a bit of chlorine mania

heating up as Ian Thorpe is not

doing too badly. Yes. It looks

like Ian Thorpe it back, not in his best form but certainly back in-form. Five time

Olympic gold medal Ian Thorpe

has cruised into the semifinals of the Australian swimming

championships in Adelaide this

morning. He finished equal second in his heat of the 200

metres freestyle. Thorpe swam

a time of 1.49.1 seconds. He was leading for a large part of

his heat and looked comfortable

enough to take his foot right

off the pedal a bit in that

final lap. . COMMENTATOR:

He might sneak into second. It

is a great time. He's finished

third. That time will be good

enough to get him into the semifinals. Results from other

heats mean Thorpe qualified for

the semifinals in equal fifth spot behind Ryan Napoleon and

Karl Richardson. Very happy heats with this morning's swim. I

wanted to go out pretty fast

with the 150 and get through in

a good position to the

semifinal. It is a pretty

decent time. I'm happy with that swim this morning. Also