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ABC Midday Report -

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Live.

Signs of a new era - Aung

Sang Suu Kyi set to enter parliament for the first

time. Last election the political parties have many

restrictions and the people are

intimidated. They are afraid.

But not now, this time. No

relief in sight for thousands

of victims of Fiji's flood

emergency. And a worrying trend

for sufferers of chronic

pain. We've seen a very

significant increase in the

amount of prescription opiod

pain medicines prescribed over

the past decade.

Hello and welcome to ABC News

across Australia. I'm Ros

Childs. On the local share

market, the big miners are

getting a lift from better-than-expected factory

figures out of China:

More finance later in the

bulletin. Burma appears to be

on the verge of major political

change. The National League for

Democracy is claiming

overwhelming success in a

series of by-elections held

yesterday. Its leader Aung Sang

Suu Kyi has reportedly won 99%

of the vote in her electorate,

and the party says it's on

course to take all 44 seats it

contested, but the Election

Commission is yet to confirm

that result. A typical morning

of the late, dry season, but

one where freedom edged forward

in Burma. 85-year-old Dorla was

born under British rule. She

has seen world war,

dictatorship and now democracy.

Bun of thousands who have made

their way to the polls across

the country today. "I voted for

Aung Sang Suu Kyi," Dorla told

me. " She is door fem. That's

why I love her." The pro-democracy leader was south

of Rangoon in her constituency.

Queues had been forming since

dawn. By the end of the day, Aung Sang Suu Kyi's seat would

be won, despite her misgivings

about electoral fraud

elsewhere. How do you feel

today?! At this Rangoon polling

station, the civil servant in

charge displayed around empty

ballot box. Nothing suspicious

here, he said, yet for some

voters it's hard to trust the state. You don't believe the government? No, I never

believe. Why? Why? They are not

thsh they are not freedom. We

are always suffer ing from

their control. But all day they

kept coming. Seeking their

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) names on the voters' lists.

At the pro-democracy

headquarters this evening,

unofficial results were

APPLAUSE) announced. (CHEERING AND

Many constituencies showed

their candidates winning. There

was joy... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

..though parliament will for

now still be controlled by the

military. Heavy flooding in

Fiji has killed at least four

people and forced thousands

from their homes. Food and

water supplies have been cut to

many areas and holiday flights

from Australia to the islands

have been cancelled and more

bad weather is on the way.

Locals, though, are putting on

journalist for Radio a brave face. Bruce Hill is a

Australia They're getting kind

of used to it by now, which

sounds like a terrible thing to

say, but it's basically the

truth. They've had floods off

and on quite a bit in Fiji. The

last big ones were in 2009, but

they've had plenty of practice

in putting their emergency

disaster program into action

and they're all working

hand-in-glove to get food and

aid to people. Everyone knows

where the emergency evacuation

centres are, but it's fair to

say that everyone I have spoken

to today say this is for worse

than 2009 and a lot worse than

anyone can remember, so it is

putting a strain on the

communications. Road transport

is a problem. A lot of bridges

have been wiped out, sometimes

they are open, sometimes they

are not. You don't know until

you actually get in the car and

physically drive up to see.

People working as hard as they

can to try to am mealate the

situation, especially for the

thousands in the emergency

evacuation centres. So four

people confirmed dead. Is that

number expected to rise? I

would have to say yes. Previous

experience of flooding in Fiji

would indicate that that death

toll will rise. When the

floodwaters start to subside,

we may start finding perhaps

extra bodies. Fruitless to

suspect on how many, but I

suspect four will just be the

beginning. Fiji is a popular

holiday destination for Australians. I understand that

all Australians are accounted

for, but are there plans in

place to get them back home? I

believe there are. The Fiji

Government has, I think, very wisely said planes with

tourists shouldn't land. They

don't want more tourists at the

moment because that will add to

the backlog because getting

tourists physically to Nadi

where the international airport

is has been impossible except by helicopter. They want to

clear the backlog of tourists

first, because a lot of

tourists had been able to get

into Nadi but flights for

whatever reason haven't been

able to take off. Nadi has a

finite number of hotel rooms so

they don't want tourists

sleeping on the floor at the

Nadi Airport, so flights must

come in empty and must leave

full. If you've booked a Fiji

holiday and you see your plane

taking off from Melbourne or

Sydney without you on it,

that's the reason why. Bruce

Hill, good to talk to you,

thank you My pleasure. A luxury

cruise ship stranded at the

weekend after a fire on board

has limped safely into a port

in Malaysia. The 'Azamara

Quest' was escorted in to shore

after a fire broke out in the

engine room. One crewman had to

be taken to hospital. The

passengers said the incident

was nothing like the 'Costa

Concordia' disaster off Italy

in January. I cannot say enough

about the crew, and the

captain, and all the people and

how they took care of us. They

did double duty. They worked so

hard without sleep. The ship

was carrying hundreds of passengers, including

Australians, on an island

cruise. More than half a

billion dollars in federal

money is being put towards

better education for Indigenous

students in the Northern

Territory. The Federal

Government says the funding

will provide more than 200

teaching positions over the

next 10 years. It's aimed at keeping teachers in Indigenous

communities, giving them places

to stay and providing nutrition

programs for Indigenous

children. The gap between our

Indigenous and our

non-Indigenous students is

still too high, and we also

know that there are still not

enough Aboriginal kids

consistently attending at

school. Peter Garrett says the

funding will help schools and

teachers keep up to standard. A

boat carrying 43 asylum seekers

and two crew has been

intercepted off the Northern

Territory coast. The boat was

stopped north of the Tiwi

Islands and the passengers will

be taken to Christmas Island.

The Federal Opposition says

16,000 asylum seekers have now

arrived since Labor was letted.

It is a heady mix of gambling,

State politics and alleged

sexual misconduct. A public

inquoo I ri into Sydney's Star

Casino begins today looking

into the events that led to the

sacking of the casino's

Managing Director, Sid

Vaikunta. The political angle

concerns emails and texts sent

from the Director of

communications from the New

South Wales Premier's office.

Peter Grimshaw used to work at

the casino and he has one of

the first to appear. Reporter

Brigid Glanville joins me now

from outside the inquiry. I

believe we have some problems with the link at the moment. We

have to come back to Brigid as

soon as we re-establish the technology. Surf Life Saving

Queensland says it doesn't

place money and sponsorships

before safety. There is

mounting pressure to relocate

the sport's national titles

after 14-year-old Matthew

Barclay died while competing

last week. He is the third

teenager to die at the Surf

Life Saving Championships at

Kurrawa on the Gold Coast since 1996. Surf Life Saving

Queensland denies the event is

kept at the beach to satisfy

sponsors. We have moved

carnivals since time

immemorial. I have been in

competition for 40 years and

carnivals move at a drop of a

hat. It is a non-issue. Police

are investigating the circumstances surrounding

Matthew Barclay's death. World

leaders have supported new

measures to end the

long-running violence in Syria

and help rebel groups in their

fight against President Bashar

al-Assad. Wealthy Gulf states

have agreed to pay salary to

rebel fighters and set up a

fund for the opposition

campaign. It is one of several

measures discussed at a Friends

of Syria meeting in Turkey

which has brought foreign

leaders from all over the

world. Middle East

correspondent Anne Barker

reports. The Syrian conflict

erupted briefly in Istanbul

where those for and against the

Assad regime rallied outside

the so-called Friends of Syria

meeting. Inside, more than 70

Western and Arab foreign

ministers called for a strict

ultimatum on President Assad to

implement the recent peace plan

and stop the year-long

violence. The The world will

not waiver, Assad must go, and

the Syrian people must be free

to choose their own path

forward. But with pro Assad

forces still shelling Homs and

other rebel strongholds,

leaders in Istanbul turned to

other options. Some Gulf states

have agreed to fund wages for

rebel fighters and soldiers who

defect from the Syrian Army,

but they've stopped short of

agreeing to supply weapons to

Syria's Opposition.

TRANSLATION: My people need

help. We want a buffer zone to

protect civilians. We want you

to provide more help to the

Free Syrian Army which is

fighting for its people. Other

states want tougher sanctions

against Syria's leaders. So the

idea is to coordinate the sanctions and to check that

they are really implemented on

the ground and are also we also

try to convince the other

members of the group of Friends

of Syria to implement the

sanctions against the people

involve ed in the

repression. The Syrian

Government has dismissed the

gathering in Istanbul as

enemies of Syria and says its

troops are close to crushing

the uprising for good. Bit by

bit they're weakening the rebel

cause as daily funerals like

this one attest. In the past 36

hours alone, at least 40 people

have been killed across the

country. The US coastguard has

flown in to try to help a

stricken yacht off the coast of

California where four sailors, including an Australian, have

been seriously injured. The yacht is the 'Geraldton Western

Australia', seen here leaving

Britain at the start of the Clipper Round the World Yacht

Race last August. It was on the

China-to-California leg when

disaster struck at the weekend.

A giant wave hit the boat about

640km off the Californian

coast. The steering wheel was

snapped right off and the yacht

is now heading for San

Francisco and a secondary

steering. The wave was

reportedly bigger than these,

filmed from one of the yacht's

competitors. The coastguard has

dropped medical supplies but an

attempt to lower rescuers had

to be abandon ed. Queensland

farmer Max Wilson is one of the

injured with suspected broken

or cracked ribs. New research

reveals more patients are

relike on strong painkillers

because they can't get access

to pain management serveries. A

study revealed today shows

patients are having to wait on

average for up to five months

and in many cases the wait is

up to a year. Sophie Scott has

more. Annabelle Gilbert was hit

by a drunk driver nine years

ago. She was left with injuries

to her leg and chronic nerve

pain. It is a very aching,

burning, sharp but not stabbing

- it is a sharp, burning

pain. Initially she relied on strong painkillers to get

through the day. Now she is

being treated at Royal

Melbourne Hospital's pain

clinic. I feel like my pain is

more managed. I feel supported

and I have a lot more knowledge

and know what to do. The latest

research into chronic pain

reveals that patients are

having to wait too long for

help. We found the median time

to wait for access it a

publicly funded pain service

was five months. And while

they're waiting, many are

relying on strong opiod

painkillers instead, which can

lead to addiction to the

medication. We've seen a very

significant increase in the

amount of prescription opiod

pain medicines prescribed over

the past decade. It would be at

least a threefold increase in

that time and for some medicines, much more than

that. Dr. Doctors say having to

wait in pain for treatment can

make injuries worse. Overseas literature demonstrates that people who wait for greater

than three months and generally

six months have a deterioration

in their psychological and

physical health. They say GPs

need access to a wide variety

of services to help pain

patients, instead of relying on

strong painkillers. The CSIRO

is celebrating the successful

conclusion of its 7-year Wi-Fi

patent battle. Wi-Fi technology

was invented by five CSIRO

scientists in the early 1990s

and now it's used in billions

of devices. The trial in the

United States against 8

companies for pay tency

infringement was due to start

today, but the three laptop

makers, three mobile carriers

and two wireless chip makers

have just settled outof court

for $220 million. In 2005 CSIRO

won $205 million from the likes

of Dell, Microsoft and Intel.

Nigel Poole is Acting Chief

Executive, Information Sciences

at the CSIRO and he has just

returned from the United

States. Today April 2nd was

going to be the day that the

trial started so here I am in

Sydney and ideal delighted to

be here and not in Texas. So

you've collected nearly $430

million over this. Given the

importance and prevalence of

Wi-Fi, some may argue that that

amount is just simply a drop in

the ocean compared to its real

worth? Yes, I've heard that

suggestion, but I can tell you

from CSIRO's perspective, we're

delighted with the amount of

money. It is the largest amount

of money we will receive or

have received for any invention

that we have created and it is

a very significant amount of

money that any invention has collected worldwide. Yes, there

have been a lot of devices

sold, but we're focusing on the

amount of money we brought back

to Australia and we're absolutely delighted with that

amount. Have you worked out how

you will spend that money? We

haven't. We've literally just

got back to Australia. There is

lots of discussions going on.

Of course, the minister

announced yesterday that half

the money will go to the

Government, we've got no

problem with that. The taxpayer

and the Government is our stakeholder and so we will work

that out over the coming months and obviously we're still yet

to collect the money, so we

shouldn't be thinking about

spending until we've collected

it. Would you say that

inventing Wi-Fi is one of

CSIRO's greatest

achievements? We do. We've

talked about that question a

lot and obviously we've worked

in a range of areas over the

last 80 years but I think it's

clear that the adaption of -

adoption of this technology, 3

billion devices worldwide,

going to 5 billion by the end

of next year, that means the

use of this technology eclipses

our previous greatest

widespread inventions which I

would call Relenza, the

anti-flu job, invented in the

1990s as well, and also polymer

bank notes, obviously more

polymer bank notes out there

than Wi-Fi devices, but it's

only in 28 countries, whereas wireless technology is

everywhere you go. Doesn't

matter where the hotel or cafe

is, there are people surfing

the Internet and with their

mobile devices. Nigel Poole,

thank you Thank you, Ros. Back

to the Star Casino inquiry,

reporter Brigid Glanville joins

me now. What exactly is the

inquiry looking at? Ros, it's

looking into the allegations

that were made against the

former Managing Director of

Star Casino Sid Vaikunta. Two

sexual harass mental gations

made against him. He was sacked

and it's looking into what the

casino knew about these allegations, what they did

about these allegations and

whether or not the casino told

the right authorities. That's on one hand. On the other hand

it's also looking into Peter

Grimshaw who is currently the

Director of communications for

New South Wales Premier boorl

but used to be the head of

media and government at Star

Casino when Sid Vaikunta worked

there and it's looking into

whether or not Peter Grimshaw

used his political position to

interfere with the inquiry and

actually effected the removal

of Sid Vaikunta. What did Peter

Grimshaw had to tell the

inquiry? He was on the stand

this morning. He was first up.

He spoke about his relationship

with Mr Vaikunta. He actually

worked under Sid Vaikunta at

the casino for around six

months. He was there while some restructuring changes were

going on. He said that he

actually didn't like Sid

Vaikunta and that he he didn't

think that he was the right

person to run the casino, but

that he didn't use his

political position to remove Mr

Vaikunta. Peter Grimshaw told

the inquiry that he actually

approached the inquiry to

provide information about Star

Casino to so the inquiry could

come to the right decision.

Ros, the inquiry also heard

about a number of emails and

text messages that Peter

Grimshaw sent to his girlfriend

who also worked at the Star

Casino, where he River referred

to Mr Vaikunta as Mr Nasty, and

he said that these comments

were made, they were a bit

flippant and he could see that

in print they might not look

very good, but they were a bit

flippant and really weren't

supposed to be taken anything

out of a text message between

he and his girlfriend. As we

speak, Mr Grimshaw is still on

the stand in the inquiry. And

who else is due to appear,

Brigid? Also this afternoon

we're expecting Norm Lipson to appear, who is the press

secretary for the Gaming Minister in New South Wales,

George sour Rhys. We're also

expected to hear obviously from

a number of people who worked

at Star Casino. Brigid, thank

you. Figures out today show

builders and other tradies

doing it tough in February.

Build ago provals took an

unexpected tumble, off almost

8% due to a slump in new

apartments and renovating.

Retailers in the centre of

Darwin say business is at an

all-time low and of this'

criticised the Darwin City

Council for not doing enough.

As stores continue to close

their doors, the incoming Lord

Mayor says more needs to be

done. The traders want more

immediate action and are coming

up with their own

solutions. When a cruise ship

docks in Darwin, the Smith

Street Mall is trance

formented. Traders are

beaming It's good to have so

many people in town. We

certainly need it. But pull the tourists out and day-to-day it

is a different place. Retailers

here say business has never

been this flat. It's incredibly

quiet. It's actually quite

scary. A lot of the traders are

hurting. People aren't spending

and supporting the

locals. Around 10 stores have

closed since June last year and

getting new ones in is a tricky business. This real estate

agent has only leased three

shop spaces in the past four

years. I think there is

probably a number of problems.

I think the location, the

density of Darwin and there

isn't a big drawcard as well.

Your typical Myer, David Jones,

Harris Scarf, something along

those lines. Park something

still a contentious issue in

the CBD. The incoming Lord

Mayor says the council should

rethink its Saturday parking

fees and has called for a

moratorium. I definitely think

we need to work harder in the

city space and to make it or

encourage it to become its full

potential. A group of retailers

has banded together to organise

events that attract locals back

to the city. We want to make it

a place that gives people a

surprise and some delight and

that they can engage in. It's

one step in bringing life back

into the heart of Darwin. Let's

go to some of the other stories

making news in business - home

prices in capital cities ib

creased slightly last month

according to a private sector

survey. The RP Data Rismark

home value index rose 0.2% with

prices up the most in Perth and

in Hobart. Australian

manufacturing activity fell

flat last month, putting an end

to three months of expansion.

According to the Australian

Industry Group, the clothing,

footwear and furniture sectors

led the decline as firms

complained about soft demand

and the high Australian

dollar. And when the Reserve

Bank board meets tomorrow to

consider interest rates, they

will likely note that inflation

is well under control. The

latest monthly reading by TD

Securities puts March inflation

at half a per, but for the year

it's coming in at 1.8% and

that's below the RBA's target

range of 2-3%. Let's take a

check of the markets with

Juliette Saly from CommSec. A

pretty good start to the week? Absolutely, Ros, a great

start to the week rs the

trading month and the quarter

and that follows on from a really good start to the

trading year, in fact, the best

start to the trading year since

2006 with the March quarter up

by around 7% on the stock

market. We're seeing really

good gain as cross most of the

board today. The All Ordinaries

index up by around half a

percent today. The miners one

of those having a good day

today? Certainly one of those

performing well today.

Better-than-expected trading

data coming out of China over

the weekend. BHP Billiton is up

by 2.5%, so doing most of the

work for the miners , but the

materials sector is the best

performer, up by almost

2%. Qantas is lower, though,

Juliette, how come? We heard

over the weekend Qantas saying

that jet fuel is one of its

biggest operational costs. It's

currently paying the highest

level in jet fuel costs since

2007/2008. As such, it has

increased fuel surcharges for

the first time in 8 weeks and

that's seen Qantas subject to a

broker downgrade today. Qantas

shares have been up by 20%

since the start of the year,

but down by 3.5% today to

$1.72. And the banks how are

they faring? They are a little

bit mixed. A little weakness

coming through. Westpac is

looking pretty good but the

other majors are flat.

Macquarie Group is up by about

1%. The overall financial sector not moving too high,

though. To the week ahead on Wall Street and commentators

are talking about a possible

pullback. The big indexes may

be running out of steam, the

logic goes, after their best

quarter in 14 years for the S&P

500. So at the close of trade

last week:

To other stories making news

around the world - six

teenagers have perished in a

nightclub fire in Serbia. The

blaze began near the stage

during a live performance and

spread quickly, triggering

panic as an estimated 350

people inside rushed for

exits. Police have clashed with pro-democracy protesters in

Hong Kong. The trouble came

during a march through the

city's streets by thousands of

people, angered by alleged

Beijing interference in the election of Hong Kong's next

leader. And hundreds of

fishermen have been rescued off

an ice floe in Russia. They

became stranded when an ice

block separated from the main

ice pack, boats and helicopters

were used to reach them. In

remote Aboriginal communities,

dogs play an important role in

Dreamtime stories, but they

also pose significant health

and safety problems with some

dog attacks proving fatal. Now

a group of vets from Canberra

has travelled to the Red Centre

to help an Aboriginal community

control its dogs. Allyson Horn

reports from Utopia about 350km

north-east of Alice Springs. In

the Central Australian

community of Utopia, there are

more dogs than people, but with

the nearest vet four hours

away, keeping the pets healthy

is nearly impossible. That's

where these people come in. So

what we do, we come up and

manage to desex a lot of

animals to control the numbers

out here and also to worm them

and look after their general

health. This week about 15

people travelled more than

halfway across the country to

set up a surgery in the

community and go on a one-week

dog blitz. The program has been

jointly funded by the local

health clinic. It says

healthier dogs mean healthier

people. Obviously if someone is

sleeping with their animal that

is unhealthy and has skin

problems, that can transfer.

Starts out as cuts and lesions,

the wound can get infected ort

the scabies can cross over and

that sort of thing. The

Aboriginal residents of Utopia

say dogs are important in their

culture and Dreamtime stories.

And it's not only the dogs

that end up happier. The ironic

thing about Utopia being called

Utopia, is that it is a bit of

utopia. You come back and the

red dust gets into your blood and you see the

benefit. Funding for the

program is quickly running out

and that means any future work

will solely relie on

volunteers. To the weather now

and the satellite shows cloud along the New South Wales coast

which is triggering a few

showers and storms in the

Hunter and on the mid north

coast. Thick cloud is

stretching across South Australia and the Western

Australia interior along a

trough, generating clouds and

storms, and cloud clipping

south-west WA is bringing a few

showers. A low pressure trough

stretching into New South Wales

and Victoria will trigger

isolated showers tomorrow while

a front will bring a front to

Tasmania. A trough will trigger

storms in WA as westerly winds

bring showers to the

south-west. And the forecasts:

Let's go back to the Stock

Exchange for a final check of

the markets and it is a good

start to the week:

That's the news for now.

There is continuous news on ABC

News 24 and also news online.

Our next full bulletin on ABC1

is at 7 o'clock this evening.

We leave you with pictures from

the Falk Lands - Falkland

Islands - from the Falkland

islands, of events marking the

30th anniversary of of the day

local soldiers were mobl Biced

ahead of the invasion by Argentina.

THEY SING 'Language is one of the most amazing things that we humans do. 'It separates us from the animals, 'gives us theatre, poetry and songs. 'It shapes our identity and allows us to express emotions.' CROWD ROARS 'It makes us laugh. It makes us cry.' 'It allows us to record our histories and imagine our futures.' Oh, my goodness! This is magical. In this programme, I'm going to explore language's physical incarnation, our greatest invention - writing. Since its birth 5,000 years ago, the written word has given us civilisation and technology. I'm going to reveal how it's transformed the way we interpret and explore our world, how we organise our religions and governments and how we spread our ideas and our laws. How writing allows us to listen to the past and to speak to the future. But is writing here to stay, or is it just a flash in the pen?