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Gatto to track down Opes investors' cash

Gatto to track down Opes investors' cash

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:10:00

Reporter: Jane Cowan

ASHLEY HALL: It's not every day that a figure with links to the underworld offers to help investors
who have lost money in a stockbroking collapse.

But the man responsible for one of Melbourne's most high profile gangland killings has flown out of
Melbourne today, vowing to find millions of dollars lost in the failure of the Melbourne
stockbroking firm, Opes Prime.

Mick Gatto says he's working for a group of anonymous investors and his methods have more chance of
working than more conventional channels. But Mr Gatto assures investors his negotiating tactics
will be non-violent.

Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: A few years ago, Mick Gatto shot a man dead in a Melbourne restaurant. He was acquitted
of murder on the grounds of self defence.

These days he calls himself a "consultant for the construction industry". But he's still talking

MICK GATTO: It's either our way or the highway, you know. If they want to recover their money, they
got to jump on board with us very quick.

JANE COWAN: Mick Gatto runs a company called Arbitrations and Mediations and says he's been
approached by a few "friends and sophisticated investors" who have lost money in the millions in
the Opes Prime collapse.

He says his company has more chance of recovering the money than any number of lawyers and

MICK GATTO: All I can say is they're good, strong leads and the more that jump on board, the
stronger it'll be, because we're only going to get one crack at this. History shows that if you
leave it with the lawyers and the receivers they stretch it out for years and then investors get

So our motive is to sort of try and fast-track all that, and get as much as we can back to the
investors, and it'll be a win-win for everyone.

JANE COWAN: But others are sceptical.

KEN FOWLIE: (laughs) We'll see. Look, I mean, you know it's for people to make their own calls as
to how they want to pursue things and it's a matter for them. But it's not the way we're pursuing

JANE COWAN: Ken Fowlie is one of the directors at Slater and Gordon, the legal firm that's started
a class action on behalf of investors.

KEN FOWLIE: I think Mr Gatto might have talked about his track record, but we've got a pretty proud
track record ourselves.

The situation with Opes Prime is obviously a terrible situation. A lot of people have lost money
and unfortunately my experience with these things, there are no quick fixes to it.

JANE COWAN: As Opes Prime investors out of pocket more than $500-million gathered for briefings in
Melbourne this morning, Mick Gatto was boarding a plane to Singapore. He vows to have money back in
investors' hands within six months.

MICK GATTO: I'm not sure what we'll be doing at this stage, but we'll be visiting lots of offices.
But Opes Prime mightn't be one of them at this stage. We're looking for the money, not the company.

JANE COWAN: How do you intend exactly to track the money down?

MICK GATTO: Well, we've got leads that we're following at the moment, but I mean it's all
confidential and I can't really say because everyone else will jump on board. But we're one step
ahead of the posse.

JANE COWAN: What sort of methods will you use? Will they be conventional recovery methods?

MICK GATTO: Well, you know, we can't divulge our methods you know. Otherwise, you know, everyone
else will be doing it. But we get the results, put it that way.

JANE COWAN: Mick Gatto admits he won't be using the tactics favoured by receivers and banks, but he
says there will be no violence.

MICK GATTO: We never use violence. It's always amicably and there's no evidence that I've ever used
violence ever. I would have been charged in a heartbeat. I've had more taskforces on me than is on
the Chief Commissioner's desk. Yeah, you know, we do things the right way.

JANE COWAN: Many of Mick Gatto's friends did die in Melbourne's underworld war. And he freely
admits he once ran Victoria's illegal gambling industry. But he says that has nothing to do with
his current endeavour.

MICK GATTO: That's all the in the past, and I mean it was something that was blown up out of
proportion, it's not quite true the way they carry on about all that. I walk around with my head
held high, and I don't worry about anyone and we do our own little thing.

And in reference to the Carlton Crew and all that nonsense, I mean, I used to get around every day
of the week with an 80-year-old pensioner that's since died. So, that was the Carlton Crew. In
answer to your question, it's just all nonsense.

JANE COWAN: Even though your company is called Arbitrations and Mediations, you've been quoted as
saying that you don't know much about arbitration, but you know how to make problems go away.

MICK GATTO: Yeah, I mean I'm not an arbitrator, but that's the name of my company. But I mean, we
fix sticky problems and people come to me with all sorts of problems. They have for many years now,
and it's not true, they sit down and chat and (inaudible) and have a coffee with me, that's not
quite true.

But, you know, we've got results for lots of people and people keep coming to me. I don't advertise
anywhere. It's all done through word of mouth and, you know, I'm quite happy with that.

JANE COWAN: All the fuss does little to comfort investors like John who called in to ABC Radio this
morning, telling how he lost $200,000 of super through Opes Prime.

JOHN: Something that we haven't lost, they haven't got any rights over it.

JANE COWAN: This investor for one is loath to put his faith in either the lawyers or Mick Gatto.

JOHN: I'm not really preferring either because both of them are going to charge a lot of money to
do something.

ASHLEY HALL: Investor John, ending Jane Cowan's report.

Labor giant John Button dies

Labor giant John Button dies

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:15:00

Reporter: Brigid Glanville

ASHLEY HALL: One of the great characters of the Hawke-Keating era, John Button, has died at the age
of 74 from pancreatic cancer.

John Button was the minister for industry, technology and commerce during the Hawke and Keating
governments from 1983 until 1993. He is remembered for the reforms he made to Australia's heavily
protected industries, including steel, manufacturing, and textiles, clothing and footwear.

By all accounts, John Button was a popular politician who spoke his mind and had a sense of humour.

Brigid Glanville looks at his life.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Not all politicians are remembered for being a straight talker with a sense of
humour. But friends and colleagues remember John Button as a man who spoke his mind.

Mark Bannerman is a reporter with the ABC's 7:30 Report and was an adviser to John Button from 1986
to 1989.

MARK BANNERMAN: The one really terrific story that I remember is we were going to do a shoot to
open Fashion Week and it was going to be a front cover photo of John Button on the cover of Mode

And the photographer had worded me up saying "We're going to get some really tall models", because
John Button was quite short in stature, as I am. And we were going out to the plane and John said
to me, "Some of those models are pretty tall aren't they?"

And I said, "Yes Minister, they are".

And he said, "I'm pretty short".

And I said, "I know Minister".

And he said, "Do you think the photographer knows how short I am?"

And I said, "Minister, everyone knows how short you are. It's one of your more endearing

And he let me have it with an expletive, which I won't recount (laughs).

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard, says the Labor Party is mourning his loss.

JULIA GILLARD: He was short in stature, but he was a legend of the Labor movement. And I would note
coming from Melbourne's west as I do, when I go and visit local car plants like the Toyota factory,
both the managers and the workers still talk about the Button Car Plan and there is still an
acknowledgement by them that the industry would have been unlikely to still be here today if it
hadn't been for the visionary work of John Button.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Former Labor minister for communications, trade and attorney-general, Michael
Duffy, served with John Button and remained a close friend.

MICHAEL DUFFY: As a leader of the Senate, the minister for industry and commerce, he did an
extraordinarily good job. And I think that that has been well acknowledged in this community where
sometimes people don't get credit for what they do, and I think he certainly got that and he should

He was a person of enormous intellect and a great personality, a tremendous person to be with. I
think anyone who was ever bored by his company had a problem, it was their problem, not his because
he was a person who was extremely innovative, he was entertaining, he was a very good bloke.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: John Button's political career spanned almost two decades.

After growing up in Ballarat in the 30s and 40s, he graduated in law at Melbourne University and
then joined the law firm Maurice Blackburn and Co, specialising in industrial law.

Then in August 1974, in the dying days of the Whitlam government, he entered the Senate. In 1982 in
the lead up to federal election, it was John Button who tapped his good friend Bill Hayden on the

Soon after, Bob Hawke became prime minister and appointed John Button as minister for industry,
commerce, and technology.

In 10 years as industry minister, John Button embarked on an ambitious program of market reform and
deregulation. In his sights were the steel, heavy engineering, textiles, clothing and footwear

Heavy job losses sparked fierce opposition to his plans from trade unions, but John Button's
reforms are acknowledged as a contributing factor in the significant growth in manufactured exports
since 1986.

JOHN BUTTON: There are 170 people employed here and like all component manufacturers in Australia,
they are very concerned about the policy environment for the automotive industry in the future.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: John Button's best known policy was the Button Car Plan, which was aimed at
consolidating the industry and cutting the number of car models made in Australia.

John Button spoke to George Negus on the ABC in 2004.

JOHN BUTTON: The automotive industry was a good example of the state of protectionist thinking in
the 1980s. And they were in considerable difficulty at the time, a lot of jobs being lost,
businesses losing money and things like that.

There were 13 different models of cars being made and what we set out to do was to reduce all that
down to a sizeable industry and it worked.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: John Button retired from politics in 1993, but didn't retreat from public life.
His memoirs and Quarterly essays were known for their sharp political insight and humour, and his
support for the Geelong AFL Football Club legendary.

JOHN BUTTON: Yeah, there is a comparison between football and politics - they're both competitive
activities. You need a good full-forward. You need people who can kick goals. You need a team.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: John Button is survived by his partner Joan Grant, sons James and Nick and one

ASHLEY HALL: Brigid Glanville reporting.

Bob Hawke pays tribute to John Button

Bob Hawke pays tribute to John Button

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:20:00

Reporter: Ashley Hall

ASHLEY HALL: As we've heard, John Button was a long standing minister in the Hawke government.

I spoke to Bob Hawke a short time ago, and asked him for his lasting impressions of John Button.

BOB HAWKE: My last impression, my last impression was on Sunday when I went down. We knew he didn't
have long to go and I was going overseas on Wednesday, so Blanche and I went down and saw him.

And that last impression I have is one of the same sharp, acute intellect and courage, which he
showed in those last few hours. But that was the nature of the man. He was, as you say, he was very
small, but a giant in many ways, certainly a giant in the history of the Labor Party.

ASHLEY HALL: And a very funny man, by all accounts?

BOB HAWKE: Yes, he had a lovely almost whimsical turn of phrase and he could lighten up a very dark
debate too, out of the blue.

ASHLEY HALL: Now, you mentioned his stature as a politician. He played a key role in your
ascendancy to the party's leadership.

BOB HAWKE: He did. I was sitting at my home in Sandringham. It was January, I remember, in 1983. I
was sitting down in my swimming costume by a pool and he turned up with a colleague of his and said
he'd reached a point where ... which is a very hard one for him because Bill was one of his closest
friends. And anyway, he made that decision, and we know what went on from there.

ASHLEY HALL: Would you have made it to the leadership of the party if not for his support?

BOB HAWKE: Well, perhaps so, but it was critically important and it accelerated. And of course the
important thing was the timing of it. We caught Malcolm with his trousers down, politically
speaking, by the timing.

He went and saw ... John went and saw Bill. We had the meeting and as the executive made the
decision to switch to me, that was the very moment that Malcolm was going to Government House to
call the election. So, his timing was impeccable.

ASHLEY HALL: But it wasn't just politics that he was a master of. The policy itself, he is regarded
as a master of policy itself. As a minister, he pushed through a comprehensive range of reforms.

BOB HAWKE: He was an outstanding minister of industry. He was ... it was funny, when we won, as
leader of the opposition in the Senate, he had the right to nominate the portfolio. I mean, I
wasn't bound to give him what he wanted, but he had that entitlement to say what he wanted.

And for Johnny, he took an unusually long time to make up his mind and tell me what he wanted, but
when he said he wanted industry, I was a little bit surprised, but it turned out to me an
absolutely inspired decision because he did a quite outstanding job in that portfolio.

We would not have been able and successfully as we did to undertake that fundamental restructuring
of the Australian economy if it hadn't been for the job he did in that role.

ASHLEY HALL: It wasn't universally popular though. He copped a lot of flack from unions and you
included. How did he stand up against that?

BOB HAWKE: He is very strong. He knew that what we were about was right, and he went out and sold
it to both sides of industry. And no one could have done it with greater intelligence and integrity
than he did.

ASHLEY HALL: How will you remember him now?

BOB HAWKE: I'll remember him as one of the most talented of ministers in an extraordinarily
talented cabinet. So, I'll remember him for his ... the job he did for his country, and not just
for a Labor government, but for his country.

I'll remember for his strength of character in helping to reform the party and make it electable.
Back there in the 70s, late 60s to 70s, and then again later on.

And I'll also remember him for his marvellous sense of humour and one of the things that we'll
always remember about him is the fact he was talking about it on Sunday when I was with him, the
absolute unqualified passion he had for the Cats.

ASHLEY HALL: (laughs) For the football team?

BOB HAWKE: Yeah, the Geelong Football Club, I think was ... apart from his personal life, his
family, the two great loves of his life were Labor and the Cats.

ASHLEY HALL: The former prime minister, Bob Hawke.

Homeless youths plea for help

Homeless youths plea for help

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:25:00

Reporter: Michael Turtle

ASHLEY HALL: We're tenacious, we're creative, don't give up on us. That was the plea from a young
man who became homeless at the age of 16 at the launch of a national report into youth homelessness
this morning.

The report is the result of a year long independent inquiry by the National Youth Commission, which
found that 36,000 young Australians are homeless on any given night.

Dwain is 20-years-old, and has been homeless for most of his teenage years.

Dwain is speaking here with youth affairs reporter Michael Turtle.

DWAIN: I went through a lot of tragedies in my family. In a short period of time, a lot of family
members that were close to me passed away. Like, our family is very close because we migrated from
Wales and we only have like immediate family here that lives with me.

So, I went through those things and I got really mixed up, got a bit vulnerable, and hung with peer
people because my parents ... peer pressure, like friends, my peers. And because my family was like
going through the same difficulties, like they didn't have much time to really be able to focus on
me so much.

They had their work to get through the grief as well, and ended up with people who were doing
drugs, things like that. And before you knew it, I became too much for my family, you know,
reluctantly had to put me out.

MICHAEL TURTLE: What's it like when you get caught up in the wrong crowd that you mentioned, and
you start taking drugs and the like?

DWAIN: Like, you got all these grief and pains that you just want to put away and you end up doing
stupid things to get attention and taking drugs to just put your mind in a place where you don't
have to think about the problems, so you kind of like disengage.

Hanging with those people, you know, you don't realise what you're getting yourself into until you
get to the end, until it gets to the end, until it gets really bad and you hit rock bottom.

MICHAEL TURTLE: And then when you found yourself without a home, what did you do to sleep at night?

DWAIN: I don't know, sometimes I would just stay on the train and go to a far destination. End up
getting tickets sometimes, and stuff like that, but it was shelter. Sometimes you'd be out in a
park and you'd make fires to keep yourself warm and put like ... get yourself in like a sleeping
bag or something, if you had, or whatever you could find, any kind of material to cover you, to
keep you warm.

And put like a bin bag or something over you and except for like the holes where you breathe, like
your nose and that to stop mosquitoes and rain getting on you. And just hide in a place where you
don't get seen.

MICHAEL TURTLE: Did you find that if you looked for help at shelters or crisis accommodation that
things were available for you?

DWAIN: It was very, very hard to get into accommodation. Most of the time that I rang the homeless
person's line, there's no vacancies. And when I finally did get through into a refuge, I'd end up
in an adult's refuge, because this is after I was 18, and it was very scary because you had
40-year-olds dealing with mental illness and stuff like that themselves, and it was just a very
unpredictable environment and I actually felt better off, more safe, on the streets.

MICHAEL TURTLE: What kind of things do you think would have helped you when you were sort of
reaching out for some help and some accommodation?

DWAIN: If the organisations were able to just make a bit more of an outreach to let people know
where these places are and make it a bit, you know, funky to catch attention, I think that would
have helped too.

And have ... I think there needs to be more vacancies. Like, there's just such a list of people
that I know that are homeless and you know, there's a list ... there's a line of people waiting to
get into a place and it's just ... it's ridiculous.

I mean, we're in ... we're not in a third world country. We've got a lot of money, but the money is
not being used to get, to rope these kids in to catch them, you know. And they've fallen.

ASHLEY HALL: Dwain from the Oasis Youth Centre in Sydney, speaking with youth affairs reporter,
Michael Turtle.

Federal Govt pledges action on homelessness

Federal Govt pledges action on homelessness

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:30:00

Reporter: Barbara Miller

ASHLEY HALL: The Rudd Government says it has made reducing homelessness a priority. It will publish
a White Paper on the issue later this year, and it's given an initial commitment of $150-million to
tackle the problem.

The Federal Minister for Housing, Tanya Plibersek, was at the launch of the Youth Commission's
report into homelessness this morning in Sydney, where she spoke to our reporter, Barbara Miller.

BARBARA MILLER: Tanya Plibersek, your offices are right across the road from the Oasis Youth
Centre. You can't be surprised to learn about the extent of youth homelessness in Australia.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Look unfortunately, I'm not surprised at the numbers of homeless young people and
homeless people generally. I suppose the real shock for me is that after 17 years of economic
growth, we are actually seeing higher numbers of homeless people, including homeless children, than
we did 20 years ago.

BARBARA MILLER: You talked a lot in your speech at the launch of the report today about faith, why
should we have faith that 20 years on from the Burdekin Report that anything is going to change

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Your question is about really what can governments do, I suppose to tackle
homelessness and there aren't any easy solutions. There are no overnight fixes.

But with concerted effort with the three levels of government, with the community and
not-for-profit sector and the business community all working together, we can begin to turn this
around. I don't want to overpromise or pretend that this is an easy task, but it is something that
over time, we can really tackle.

BARBARA MILLER: What concrete steps will the Rudd Government take to try and address this?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, we've announced already that we'll spend an extra $150-million on building
new homes for homeless individuals and families and our new approach means that people, once in
those homes, won't have to move.

They're not going to crisis and then transitional and finally longer-term housing. They'll go
straight into the new housing that we're building with this money and they'll be supported to stay

But that's just a first step. We'll be releasing a White Paper on homelessness later this year,
after extensive consultation with people who work in the homeless sector with homeless people
themselves, with the state and territory governments, with the business community, to make sure
that we get the long-term solutions on homelessness right.

BARBARA MILLER: The report identified a number of key drivers behind homelessness. One of them was
family conflict. What can a government do to address that kind of issue?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Look, there are some very successful homelessness prevention programs, including
the Reconnect Program that was begun by the previous government.

Unfortunately, they're very thin on the ground around Australia. So supporting homelessness
prevention programs will certainly be a priority of this government.

BARBARA MILLER: You said there are no overnight solutions, but how will you measure your progress
on this program?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, the White Paper will include not just how we're going to tackle homelessness
but how we'll measure our success. But plainly, we'll be looking to not just reduce the number of
people in Australia who are homeless, but reduce the effects on those people who become homeless,
help them into secure housing more quickly and connect them with the other services, the health
services, the mental health services, job finding services that they need.

BARBARA MILLER: One of the authors of the report called the situation a "national disgrace". Would
you go that far?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it's fair to say that a country like Australia shouldn't tolerate
homeless children and homeless teenagers. I think that most Australians would agree with that

ASHLEY HALL: The Federal Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek speaking there to Barbara Miller. And a
documentary on the Salvation Army's Oasis Youth Centre will be screened on ABC Television on
Thursday evening.

White Zimbabwean farmers claim new crackdown

White Zimbabwean farmers claim new crackdown

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:35:00

Reporter: Peter Cave

ASHLEY HALL: The main organisation representing white farmers in Zimbabwe says Robert Mugabe has
launched a repeat of the 2000 and 2002 bloody crackdowns on the country's remaining white farmers.

The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union says more than 25 farms were invaded on Monday by thugs
calling themselves war veterans. The head of the farmers' union, Trevor Gifford, spoke by phone
from Harare to our foreign affairs editor, Peter Cave, who is in neighbouring South Africa.

And Mr Gifford said the only word to describe the latest crackdown is apartheid.

TREVOR GIFFORD: The farmers are being given a very limited period of time to remove themselves.
They're being told that whatever is on the farm now belongs to them and will be shared amongst

And for me, it's really sad to see that in Mashonaland Central, 24 hours after the first report to
the police, we still have had no reaction from the police, and the police have been refusing to
take any record of it and give a report number.

PETER CAVE: Why don't you think the police are up to the job of protecting the farmers?

TREVOR GIFFORD: Well, the reason being that they're following orders from above and also many of
them have been promised land and other bits of our members' lives.

PETER CAVE: Is it too early to say we're seeing a repeat of what happened in 2000 and 2002?

TREVOR GIFFORD: No, I think we are seeing exactly the same. If you listen to the state broadcasting
authority or listen to Zimbabwe news on the radio, it's very apparent that this is a racial attack.

Many of the white Zimbabweans here, or third, fourth, fifth and sixth generation Zimbabweans and
they are African. They may just differ in skin colour, but they are truly African.

PETER CAVE: You used the word "apartheid" today.

TREVOR GIFFORD: Apartheid is definitely what I see happening in Zimbabwe. It's regrettable; it's
not the choice of the majority. It's the choice of a minority, but that was the same in South

It was the choice of the minority which basically pushed the apartheid policy, and we're seeing
exactly that happening in Zimbabwe.

PETER CAVE: Are the lives and welfare of the families of the farms being invaded, in danger?

TREVOR GIFFORD: Yes they are. Nothing is changed from 2000, you know. Every single farmer who was
violently evicted from their business not only lost their business, their whole business, but also
lost their life and their livelihood and their ability to earn a decent, honest living.

PETER CAVE: Do you believe that the orders to do this are coming right from the top?

TREVOR GIFFORD: If they weren't coming from the top, I find it hard to believe that we would have
not sorted the problem out already. But the whole reason we're not able to get a grip of this is
because it's coming ... the orders are coming from a senior source.

PETER CAVE: President Mugabe and some of his senior spokesman have said that white farmers are
preparing to take back the farms, the farms that were taken over by war veterans and others in 2000
and 2002.

Are there plans afoot to do that? Is that happening?

TREVOR GIFFORD: No, it's absolute nonsense. Look, we have always realised that there needed to be
land reform in Zimbabwe. We've always played a very proactive role, but the problem is it is more
than land reform; it's mainly one ethnic group which are being targeted and abused.

ASHLEY HALL: Trevor Gifford from the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union speaking with foreign
affairs editor, Peter Cave.

Former militia leader to enter Indonesian politics

Former militia leader to enter Indonesian politics

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:40:00

Reporter: Geoff Thompson

ASHLEY HALL: One of the most notorious leaders of the militia violence in which 1,400 East Timorese
people were killed in 1999, has been released from a Jakarta jail after serving only two years of a
10 year sentence.

Eurico Guterres is the only militia member ever to be jailed for the violence co-ordinated by the
Indonesian military and intelligence agencies. And he capitalised on his release with an
announcement that he's planning to run for the Parliament when Indonesia goes to the polls next

Jakarta correspondent, Geoff Thompson, reports.

(Sound of protesters yelling)

GEOFF THOMPSON: Waving the red and white flag of Indonesia, Eurico Guterres emerged late last night
from Jakarta's Cipinang Prison, where East Timor's current Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao spent seven
years behind bars.

Eurico Guterres spent only two, despite actually being caught on tape in 1999 ordering his militia
men to find and kill independence supporters. Late last week, his appeal against the conviction and
10-year sentence he received in 2006, was upheld by Indonesia's Supreme Court.

Judge Iskandar Kamil even declared that Guterres was "entitled to rehabilitation of his name and
receive compensation from the state".

Surrounded by a small band of zealous acolytes, some who imitate his long hairstyle and beard,
Guterres was jostled into a car and away to a cafe where he announced his political intentions.

(Eurico Guterres speaking)

"I'm ready, I'm ready to do that," he said, "I belong to that world. What I'm going to do is openly
run and let the people decide who they would choose. I'm going to run for the province in West


It's not an idle ambition either. Sitting next to Guterres, was Zulkifli Hasan, the
Secretary-General of the moderate and secular National Mandate Party known as PAN, which was
founded by Amien Rais after the fall of Suharto.

(Zulkifli Hasan speaking)

"No law can prohibit Eurico running for office. He could run for parliament, he could run to be
regent, or even governor," said Zulkifli Hasan.

"According to Indonesian laws on political parties, there's no prohibition. It's different if the
person was involved in criminal cases. We believe that Eurico is not a war criminal and he is not a
killer either. We believe Eurico is a warrior for the red and white flag. He's a warrior for

He does have powerful friends. Before leaving prison last night, Suharto's son-in-law and former
Kopassus commander, Prabowo Subianto, paid Guterres a visit.

(Prabowo Subianto speaking)

"I come to congratulate Eurico Guterres, I heard he's going to be released soon and I'm happy
because finally a patriot, an Indonesian man who is loyal to the red and white flag, is given

As Kopassus chief, Prabowo himself was accused of human rights abuses in East Timor. Perhaps
Guterres political aspirations should not be surprising in a country where Yunus Yosfiah, the man
who ordered the killings of the Balibo Five, remains in Indonesia's Parliament today.

ASHLEY HALL: Geoff Thompson reporting from Jakarta.

Independent MP rejects Coalition offer to run in Vic seat

Independent MP rejects Coalition offer to run in Vic seat

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:45:00

Reporter: Sabra Lane

ASHLEY HALL: The head of the Nationals in Victoria has poured cold water on a plan to install a
joint candidate in the by election for the seat of Gippsland, which is being vacated by retiring MP
Peter McGauran.

The state president of the Nationals in Victoria, Bill Baxter, says he's not sure a merger of the
parties would be accepted in Victoria.

This morning, the independent Victorian state MP Craig Ingram confirmed he'd been approached by
Senator Bill Heffernan to run in the seat as a joint party candidate, but he says given the
reaction to the idea, he won't be making the jump to federal politics.

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: This morning on AM, Liberals Senator Bill Heffernan said a merger of the Liberal and
National parties must happen before a by-election in the Victorian seat of Gippsland.

The seat is being vacated by Nationals MP Peter McGauran, who announced he was quitting last week,
after 25 years in parliament. Victorian independent state MP Craig Ingram confirmed earlier today
that Senator Heffernan had approached him about being that candidate.

CRAIG INGRAM: Yeah look, I was approached by senior Liberal Party members, Bill Heffernan last week
to contest the Gippsland by-election as a joint Liberal Party-National Party candidate to, you
know, and in my view that was a genuine approach and it's interesting that that approach is also
... I've found out today that approach has also been made to other independents in other states.

And it's yeah, it's been an interesting day now it's become public.

SABRA LANE: Are you going to accept it?

CRAIG INGRAM: I think the feeling of what's happening in Victoria today it's, you know ... that
both the Liberal Party and the National Party at a state level have ruled that out and now that's
fine, that's what they want, that's fine.

SABRA LANE: Did Senator Heffernan work on behalf of Brian Loughnane, did he say he had Mr
Loughnane's permission in making the approach to you?

CRAIG INGRAM: It is my view that the approach had the endorsement of the ... basically of the
senior people within the other coalition, and I spoke to other senior federal members of the
Coalition and, you know, basically they all bucked concern that would be the case.

So, it's interesting that I think yes, there was a genuine position put forward, it was a genuine
offer. You know, I think it had the endorsement if not entirely of the Federal Liberal Party. It
was ... it had been floated around certain quarters in the Federal Liberal Party.

SABRA LANE: And Senator Heffernan is not winning any friends in the Nationals by making the offer.

Bill Baxter is the State President of the Nationals in Victoria:

BILL BAXTER: Bill Heffernan is well-known to me of course, a senator from New South Wales. I'm not
surprised by anything that Bill might do, but I suppose I am surprised that he would take it upon
himself to come to Victoria, make an approach to an independent Member of Parliament off his own
bat without any consultation with us. So to that extent I'm surprised, yes.

SABRA LANE: And you don't welcome this move?

BILL BAXTER: Well, I'm happy to have discussions with members of the Liberal Party on a formal
basis, on a structured basis. But I'm not happy to have individual MPs from elsewhere approaching
prospective candidates, particularly candidates who would not find favour with the Nationals in

We have to remember that Mr Ingram is the man who by his vote in the Parliament, put Labor into
office in Victoria.

SABRA LANE: He says the party should wait for former Nationals leader John Anderson to complete his
review of the party, which is due mid-year. And he's also criticised the speed at which Senator
Heffernan wants the merger to happen.

BILL BAXTER: I'm not happy to have the Nationals absorbed into the Liberal Party. I mean, it's not
real world stuff to think with a by-election in probably six weeks time that all the constitutional
requirements that would be necessary, all the negotiations that are needed, can be achieved on that
time scale. That's simply not real world stuff.

SABRA LANE: Is there support in Victoria for such a move, a merger?

BILL BAXTER: I don't think there's support for a merger. There are some people who believe that
consolidation of conservative forces in one form or another is a matter that we should consider,
but I don't think too many people in the Nationals want to join the Liberal Party in Victoria and
vice versa.

ASHLEY HALL: The President of the Nationals in Victoria, Bill Baxter, ending that report by Sabra

Era of low interest rates over: BIS Shrapnel

Era of low interest rates over: BIS Shrapnel

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:50:00

Reporter: Peter Ryan

ASHLEY HALL: To the economy now and there's a gloomy forecast for anyone who has a home mortgage or
is hoping to get one. A leading forecaster warns the recent era of low interest rates is over and
there's little prospect that historically cheap housing loans will return in the near future.

BIS Shrapnel says despite signs that the Reserve Bank's rates hiking strategy is working, the
inflation genie will stay out of the bottle for several years to come.

The firm's senior economist and chief forecaster, Richard Robinson, has been speaking with our
business editor, Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: Richard Robinson, are the days of low interest rates over?

RICHARD ROBINSON: Yeah, they probably are. I don't think we'll get back to the interest rates we
had earlier this decade actually.

PETER RYAN: The official rate went as low as 4.25 per cent in December 2001. What would it take now
to make that possible again?

RICHARD ROBINSON: Probably a recession to get back to those sort of levels. Those sort of levels
were in response to world downturn and also a downturn here which was cause probably by too much
exuberance in the late '90s and running into the Olympics and then followed by the GST.

So, after that we had a downturn and they pushed rates right down. They're not likely to go back to
those levels.

PETER RYAN: It's probably understandable that there can be some short memories when it comes to
what we had in 2001.

RICHARD ROBINSON: Yeah, I think so. The Reserve Bank doesn't want to drive us into recession or
into a downturn, but they are trying to slow the spending in the economy.

The way I think the Reserve Bank is looking at it though, will take housing as a collateral damage.
So, the outlook for growth is strong. The problem is, we're on a tight capacity and inflation is
going to remain close to that three per cent or even above that three per cent level.

It's hard to see it going back towards, you know, the two per cent we had earlier this decade. So,
the Reserve Bank is going to remain on the inflation watch, and unfortunately what that means is
that there's not a lot of scope to cut interest rates.

The only way they can cut interest rates is really when employment or the unemployment rate goes
over five per cent, and that's not likely for at least another year.

PETER RYAN: So, you're not expecting any immediate or in the short-term blowout in unemployment
that would provide the impetus for a rates cut?

RICHARD ROBINSON: No, this investment boom has still got too much momentum. There's still a hell of
a lot of work in the pipeline, just in resources engineering, construction, and even some of the
non-residential building.

So, that's ... you know, there's enough work just to sustain that for another year, even if things
tail away.

So, that will sustain the employment growth. China is likely to offset the weakness of the United
States and that will still continue to pump a lot of money into our economy.

PETER RYAN: Even if as the Reserve Bank predicts inflation does fall back to three per cent in June
2010, could we expect the Reserve Bank to dramatically cut rates then?

RICHARD ROBINSON: It does give them a bit of scope to cut rates. I wouldn't say dramatically cut
rates. I wouldn't expect rates to come back very far. So what that really means is the housing rate
is probably going to remain over nine per cent for the foreseeable future.

It may go below nine per cent, but that's going to be accompanied by some sort of rise in

PETER RYAN: But nothing until June 2010.

RICHARD ROBINSON: It may occur earlier, but certainly it's not going to happen within the next, you
know, year or 18 months. Late 2009, early 2010 is probably about the earliest you're going to get a
rate cut.

PETER RYAN: And is there a risk of Australia having a major downturn at this point? Given that the
economy is very strong and unemployment at a 33-year low?

RICHARD ROBINSON: I rate it as a fairly low probability, but if things slow down quickly and things
get out of hand, yes, the Reserve Bank may be faced with a dramatic downturn.

But it's that housing investment that's waiting in the wings, which will take over from business
investment if that dramatically slows. And that's the thing that will keep us afloat.

That's why I don't think there's going to be a major downturn. We've got a lot of pent-up demand
for housing. If we have a downturn and rates come down, then housing will take off, and that will
keep the economy running strongly for at least the next five years.

ASHLEY HALL: BIS Shrapnel's chief forecaster, Richard Robinson, speaking with our business editor,
Peter Ryan.

NFF seeks new farm worker visa

NFF seeks new farm worker visa

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:54:00

Reporter: Donna Field

ASHLEY HALL: The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) says there aren't enough Australians to keep
the nation's farms working, so it wants the Government to introduce a new visa so Pacific Islanders
can take the jobs.

The Federal Government says it will look at how a similar scheme is working in New Zealand before
making any decision. Workers from Pacific Islands helped establish Queensland's sugar industry in
the 1900s, but many of those people were brought to the country forcibly and used as slave labour.

The Farmers Federation says any new scheme would ensure the workers are treated and paid fairly.

Donna Field reports.

DONNA FIELD: The National Farmers' Federation says the need for extra seasonal labour in Australia
is dire, and without about 20,000 to 30,000 more workers, food won't make it to market.

DENITA WAWN: It's something that has been of concern in terms of labour shortages for the
horticulture sector for a number of years, but certainly it's becoming more acute as climate
conditions return to more normal levels, and hence there is significant concern held by the sector
that as production increases, they will simply not have the labour available to get that product
off farm and into the marketplace.

DONNA FIELD: Denita Wawn is the general manager of workplace relations at the National Farmers'
Federation. Ms Wawn says the organisation wants the Government to introduce a pilot program of a
new visa category for entry level workers.

DENITA WAWN: There's a call from many Pacific Island nations that they believe that they have an
opportunity to provide labour to Australia to meet our labour shortage needs. And the World Bank
has also endorsed that program to enable an increase in income in those countries, an increased in
agricultural training opportunities to take back to their own countries.

So, the plan is we focus on Pacific Island countries, particularly those receiving aid from
Australia, whereby they can be specifically selected to work in specifically selected districts in
Australia where there is a need that can't be met by Australians to work for three to six months
during a season.

And certainly the NFF believe strong safeguards need to be implemented to ensure that we are ...
there is no exploitation and that also Australians aren't displaced.

DONNA FIELD: Those safeguards include selecting workers who are unlikely to overstay, carefully
selecting employers and ensuring they pay market rates, provide good working conditions and are
constantly monitored.

When Kingsley Forrester's father was brought to Australia from a South Sea island in the early
1900s, there were no safeguards.

KINGSLEY FORRESTER: He was about 17, and he was the only one of that trip that was taken from
Mehetia Island, and brought to Bundaberg to work on the sugar cane. See in those days too they used
... the ships weren't all open, they had panels and that built in them, you know, where they put
blokes and lock him in there I suppose, so they can't jump ship. They were brought out here.

DONNA FIELD: And what was your father's experience when he got to Bundaberg? His working
conditions, that kind of thing?

KINGSLEY FORRESTER: Yeah, he said it wasn't very good at all. A lot of the times, they never got
much to eat and I think half of them never got paid.

DONNA FIELD: Like nearly 60,000 men over a 40-year period, Mr Forrester's father helped establish
Queensland's sugar industry. And despite his father's experience, Mr Forrester says the visa is a
good idea.

KINGSLEY FORRESTER: I think they'd snap up the idea of coming here and working, you know, and being
able to take money back to their own islands.

DONNA FIELD: And you don't see any problem with that that they might be treated badly by some
people in Australia or you think it would be a pretty good thing?

KINGSLEY FORRESTER: No, I think they would be pretty good now, yes. It would be excellent.

DONNA FIELD: So, we've come a long way sir?

KINGSLEY FORRESTER: Oh, we've come a long way yes, yeah a long, long way.

ASHLEY HALL: Kingsley Forrester ending Donna Field's report.

Grandparents fight for rights

Grandparents fight for rights

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:57:00

Reporter: Karen Barlow

ASHLEY HALL: The relationship between children and grandparents may seem like one of the most
natural things in the world, but it's often a family law minefield.

When divorce, violence or abandonment shatters a nuclear family, grandparents can find themselves
without support or legal options. Many of those have come together today at a conference aimed at
giving grandparents support and to lobby for change to protect their rights.

Di Underwood developed a support group, GRANS (Grandparents Rights Needs Support) after struggling
to maintain contact with her only grandchild.

She spoke to Karen Barlow about her 14-year campaign.

DI UNDERWOOD: Well, the flame started in '93 and I'm still carrying it and yes, the passion is
there and the flame is burning very bright as far as people and what they want. I don't know
whether a great deal has changed. I've got concerns about the relationship centres, about the
people that are manning it, about their qualifications, have they got life skills because it is raw
emotions that they're dealing with.

I would like to be optimistic to say, yes, changes are happening, but I'm getting feedback it's not
happening. There's a culture that was so entrenched for so many years.

I've heard the stories all before and it just goes on and on as time goes on, and it's an age, well
it is an age-old problem and it always will be.

KAREN BARLOW: What rights do grandparents have in Australia?

DI UNDERWOOD: Well, I'd like to say what rights to grandchildren have to us in Australia? And it's
difficult, it's very, very difficult and until, you know, there is some accountability for those
that make false allegations, until there's some ... and I've always said there's got to be
accountability and there's none.

And you can say whatever you like, but at the end of the day, you can fight for these children and
because they've been so influenced by those who wish to keep you apart, will these children ever
love you?

KAREN BARLOW: When it comes to violence, abandonment and divorce in a family, you're telling me
that it's not legally set in stone for grandparents?

DI UNDERWOOD: No, not at all. No, they're experiencing it every day. There's still that frustration
there, and I don't think there's a complete understanding of the situation, I really don't. I don't
think even politicians understand it, the depth that it actually goes.

KAREN BARLOW: But are grandparents always the best option when there is such strife in families?

DI UNDERWOOD: Not at all, not at all. But I can't concentrate on that, I only concentrate on the
loving, and the caring. They're the ones that I'm supporting and they're the ones that I believe

And I believe that that love will keep you strong and that's why I want the national grandparent
register, because some will go to their grave never seeing their grandchildren again. But hopefully
with a register, they may seek them out and come back to those who have never given up loving them.

KAREN BARLOW: So with that register that you want to set up to keep people in touch, what's setting
you back at the moment?

DI UNDERWOOD: Resources (laughs). Resources.

KAREN BARLOW: You want this register because it's an alternative to the court proceedings?

DI UNDERWOOD: It's when all else has failed. You heard those stories in there where they can't have
contact. But, you know, the grandchildren are now 14 and whatever. You only have to hope that one
day they will seek out the grandparent and they will, you know, they will establish the contact.

If they've been denied it, there's nothing more that can be done as far as a grandparent go, you've
exhausted your resources, and there's nowhere else to go, but this gives you ... there was a lovely
lady, many years ago, her name was Kath. And it was her own daughter denying her contact.

Kath had lymphoma ... is it lymphoma? She lost her battle, but this is what she wanted. She said,
"One day, I want my granddaughter to know how much I loved her". And this is what it's about. We
just want to leave that legacy behind, you know, that is our legacy to say, "We loved you, we
always loved you, we never gave up on you".

ASHLEY HALL: Di Underwood from GRANS, or Grandparents Rights Needs Support, speaking there with
Karen Barlow.