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Torch relay pull-out a 'peaceful protest' says Smith

Torch relay pull-out a 'peaceful protest' says Smith

Reporter: Jane Cowan

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has described the withdrawal of a
high profile Olympic torch bearer from Thursday's relay in Canberra as a fine example of peaceful
protest.

Mr Smith refused to criticise the ACOSS President, Lin Hatfield Dodds, for pulling out of the event
and instead said others opposed to the relay should take a leaf out of her book.

But the relay organisers say they don't expect anyone else to pull out.

In Canberra Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: Lin Hatfield Dodds never intended to become the first torch bearer to pull out on moral
grounds.

But she says as the National Director of Uniting Care Australia and the President of the Australian
Council of Social Service her conscience got the better of her.

LIN HATFIELD DODDS: Because of the changed symbolism of the relay, the issues surrounding it are
very complex but I've made the decision not to run because my personal commitment to standing with
those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged and the leadership positions I hold in both the United
Church and ACOSS, I think make it important to ensure that my actions don't leave any doubt about
our commitment to human rights.

JANE COWAN: Lin Hatfield Dodds emphasises she's always been an enthusiastic Olympic supporter.

LIN HATFIELD DODDS: I hope it doesn't send any particular message to Australia's athletes. I hope
it sends a message to the world at large that human rights matter. That it matters that we have
communities in which everybody can belong, participate and be valued. That it matters that where
countries or citizens or agencies disagree that we can resolve that in a way that does not involve
physical violence.

JANE COWAN: The Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says he's not disappointed at Ms Hatfield Dodds'
decision.

It was among the first questions asked of him at a press conference at Parliament House this
morning.

On the contrary he's applauded Lin Hatfield Dodds for taking a stand peacefully.

STEPHEN SMITH: I'm not disappointed at all in her conduct for this reason. It's a very good
example, a very good example of peacefully making a point.

We've seen today an Australian citizen express a point of view consistent with Australia's
commitment to freedom of expression, to peacefully express a point of view. That's her point of
view. She is entitled to it. She's entitled to make that point without anyone intimidating her.

JANE COWAN: He's hoping others will follow her lead on Thursday.

STEPHEN SMITH: If you want to make a point about a personal view that you hold, make it but make it
peacefully. Don't seek to impose or intimidate others and I hope that we don't see counter or
contrary examples.

JANE COWAN: Stephen Smith has also reiterated the security arrangements for the flame.

STEPHEN SMITH: The Prime Minister has made it clear and the ACT relevant authorities have made it
clear that the flame attendants will have no role in security. There is a requirement for the flame
to be attended to when it is exchanged. That has been detailed by the ACT authorities but they will
have no role in security and we are absolutely firm on that point.

It will be, it will be the Territory authorities who will be responsible for security. They will
have no role in security.

JANE COWAN: Organisers of the Canberra relay say they always expected some torch bearers to pull
out as the controversy around the torch mounted.

The head of the relay taskforce Ted Quinlan is making no judgements.

TED QUINLAN: We were prepared for it. We respect her decision. It is a little disappointing that it
happens at this time when we have done all our publicity and literature but she's come to that
decision and we fully respect it.

JANE COWAN: And there's no shortage of willing replacements.

Ted Quinlan says Olympic softballer Joanne Brown will take Lin Hatfield Dodds' place in Canberra on
Thursday.

TED QUINLAN: There is quite a number of former Olympians that are willing to run and waiting for
the opportunity as I understand it. I haven't spoken to Jo directly but I think she is as pleased
as punch.

JANE COWAN: As the barricades go up around the nation's capital, and security officials go through
their paces, organisers say there's no sign of cold feet among other torch bearers.

Cold feet there might be though among Canberrans, who - the day before the Anzac Day long weekend -
are being urged to get to work early to avoid roadblocks.

ELEANOR HALL: Jane Cowan in Canberra.

Bank of England announces $100b rescue plan

Bank of England announces $100b rescue plan

Reporter: Peter Ryan

ELEANOR HALL: In the latest evidence that the global credit crunch is continuing to bite, Britain's
central bank has unveiled a $100-billion plan to rescue its ailing home loan market.

Shadowing recent emergency action by the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England will allow some
struggling banks to swap their mortgage backed assets for much safer government bonds.

The intervention comes as Britain's second biggest bank is seeking a massive cash raising from
shareholders as it prepares for more sub-prime losses.

This report from Business editor Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: The tremors from the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States infected Britain
last September, when growing fear and suspicion caused a run on the Northern Rock Bank.

Two months ago, the British government was forced to nationalise the mortgage lender and guarantee
deposits after two privately funded rescue packages fell through.

And today, Britain's finance minister Alistair Darling underscored the depth of the crisis,
unveiling a $100-billion plan from the Bank of England to boost liquidity and get banks lending to
each other once again.

ALISTAIR DARLING: What it will do is effectively lend banks money to unfreeze the situation we've
got at the moment where basically, banks because they don't yet know the exposure that the other
banks might have to the American sub-prime mortgage market and to other mortgage backed securities.

What we are doing is we're trying to un-bung that situation.

PETER RYAN: The Chancellor of the Exchequer as he's also known was joined by Britain's Prime
Minister Gordon Brown, who spoke of the economic, financial and social threats being posed by the
credit crisis.

GORDON BROWN: We will make sure as we have done today that there is enough liquidity in the economy
so that we can continue to lend money for businesses and lend money for people to buy their own
houses so that we can get markets working again in a way that we can ensure that jobs can be
continued and of course, businesses can have the finance they need.

PETER RYAN: Although lax lending standards around the world are the primary cause of the sub-prime
mortgage meltdown, Gordon Brown denies the measures are a "bailout".

And Stephen Koukoulas, chief global strategist at TD Securities in London, told Radio National's
breakfast program the Bank of England won't be taking any risks on the type of mortgage securities
it swaps for government bonds.

STEPHEN KOUKOULAS: First of all, the only mortgages that the Bank of England are going to be taking
are those that are rated AAA and that means that they are high quality credit. It is not the junk
sort of loans that were out there. There is that. There is a penalty payment that the banks have
got to pay the Bank of England each time they tap this market.

It is not completely free. It is not a subsidised interest rate. It is rather just getting the cash
back into the system.

PETER RYAN: Central bank watchers believe the liquidity injection is a step in the right direction,
but probably too late.

RALPH SILVA: It seems like an awful lot of money but in fact it is just a drop in the ocean. It is
a trillion dollar market. It is an enormous market so this is just simply not enough.

PETER RYAN: Ralph Silva, senior research analyst at the Tower Group, believes the Bank of England
will eventually have to top up the rescue package, possibly doubling the cash on offer.

But will even that work?

Ralph Silva is sceptical.

RALPH SILVA: This is not very creative solution here. It is in fact a copy of the solution applied
in the United States. But guess what, it didn't work in the United States.

Are we expecting a different answer? It is going to be the same thing. This is not the solution.

PETER RYAN: Injections by the US Federal Reserve failed to prevent last month's near collapse of
America's fifth biggest bank Bear Stearns, which was rescued by JPMorgan Chase in a firesale.

That level of crisis is yet to hit Britain, although it's second biggest bank, the Royal Bank of
Scotland, has been hard hit by the credit crunch and it's exposure to sub-prime mortgage assets.

So the bank is now taking some drastic action, according to London stockbroker Jeremy
Batstone-Carr.

JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR: It's expected that given the substantial amount of write-downs that Royal
Bank of Scotland will have had to have taken, that it will go to the market to raise, what is
estimated to maybe be 12 billion pounds in order to sure up its capital ratios on its balance
sheets.

That would, of course, be the largest capital raising of all time by a UK company.

PETER RYAN: Ralph Silva of the Tower Group says the Royal Bank of Scotland is desperate to restore
confidence in a suspicious market.

RALPH SILVA: I'm somewhat surprised that they have been able to last this long without making the
write-downs. Consider, of course, that the British banks have been invested in the US since the
1500s so this should not come as a surprise.

ELEANOR HALL: Banking analyst Ralph Silva ending that report from Business editor Peter Ryan.

Govt, Opposition rule out increasing GST

Govt, Opposition rule out increasing GST

Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

ELEANOR HALL: The Prime Minster has given it his support and the pressure is now on the Federal
Government to launch a high powered review of Australia's tax system.

Business groups are on side, and one leading tax expert has declared that if the Government is
serious, it must consider lifting the GST rate above 10 per cent.

But both the Government and the Opposition have been quick to rule out a higher GST.

Meanwhile the former Treasurer, Peter Costello has caused a stir by revealing that he'll soon
publish his memoirs. It is confirmation for many that he will soon leave politics.

In Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Prime Minister has declared the time has come for a root and branch look at tax
boosting momentum to the push from the 2020 summit for major reform of the tax system.

For business, the sooner the tax system is reviewed the better saying it is long overdue.

The Opposition's Treasury spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull who got in first by commissioning the
Coalitions own review earlier this year, sees Mr Rudd as a welcome latecomer to the idea.

The Ergas Review will look at all taxes but Malcolm Turnbull says increasing the GST is off-limits.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: No, no absolutely not. No the aim of our review is to make taxes more efficient,
more equitable and to lower the tax burden so the GST is well accepted.

It is one of our more efficient taxes. It was a genuine piece of tax reform and it certainly
doesn't need to be increased.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Tax expert Professor Neil Warren though, says any tax review must consider raising
the GST because Australia's rate is one of the lowest in the world but for the government, like the
Opposition, it is off limits.

Treasurer Wayne Swan has reaffirmed through a spokesman, Labor's commitment not to increase the
level of the GST.

But for many of the economic summiteers, everything should be on the table. Tony Cole, a former
Treasury Secretary in the early 1990s, now with Mercer Investment Consulting, says he can't see any
good reason for waiting until the end of the year when Mr Rudd has promised to respond to the 2020
proposals before implementing a review.

TONY COLE: The sooner they start looking for somebody to head the review and put together a team
and get on with it the better.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And do you think the GST should be part of that review?

TONY COLE: Yeah, I think the review should cover every tax we have now both at federal, state and
local level. It should look at all the taxes we don't have that other countries might have.
Consider their rates, consider the way they are implemented. Basically consider their purpose and
whether they are efficient taxes or not and then make recommendations.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Now everyone wants to pay as little tax as possible, do you think there is a
possibility that any of the taxes that are looked at, should be increased?

TONY COLE: Yeah, that is quite possible. If a tax is deemed to be efficient and another one is
deemed to be inefficient, collecting more of the former and less of the latter seems to me to be
the logical thing to do.

The overall issue of how much tax people pay in toto is something that you have to tie back to how
much governments spends so it may be that over time we don't need quite as much tax revenue as we
are getting now but that is a separate decision from the way in which the taxes, you know what
taxes are levied and how they are levied and the balance of one tax versus the other.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: As federal politicians start wrestling with tax, the former Treasurer Peter
Costello has caused a stir with a revelation he will soon publish his memoirs. It's confirmation
for many of his colleagues that he will leave politics.

Since the Coalitions election loss, Mr Costello's taken himself off to the backbench. Today's
Newspoll has him just behind Malcolm Turnbull as the best placed to lead the Liberal party but some
Liberal MPs point out that reflects voter's recognition factor, not reality in the Coalition.

Callers to the ABC in Melbourne this morning were keen to suggest to presenter Jon Faine titles for
the memoirs.

JON FAINE: Tony says "There Could Have Been", Mel suggests "Always the Bridesmaid". Another
suggestion "Almost" or "2IC". Smirk. "Malvern Starr" says Simon - that is witty.

John from Bundoora says "I Did it His Way".

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Peter Costello spoke to Neil Mitchell on commercial radio, pledging his support for
Dr Nelson as leader and on his book;

PETER COSTELLO: I am writing a book about the Australian economy and about the events of the last
20 years and I think it will be a good read and I think it will contribute to an understanding of
where we were, where we've come from, where we've got to go.

NEIL MITCHELL: Yeah, but you're not that old.

PETER COSTELLO: And in addition to that, I serve the people of Higgins as I said I would and I find
that very rewarding actually.

NEIL MITCHELL: Fair enough. Would you see out the term?

PETER COSTELLO: Well, as I said I am working on this book at the moment...

NEIL MITCHELL: Yeah but that's go nothing to do with it.

PETER COSTELLO: ...and I am serving the people of Higgins and if I've got any further news, I'll let
you know then.

ELEANOR HALL: Former Treasurer Peter Costello not answering that question. That was Alexandra Kirk
with that report.

Nelson speaks about Costello memoir plans

Nelson speaks about Costello memoir plans

Reporter: Rachel Brown

ELEANOR HALL: A short time ago Coalition leader Brendan Nelson spoke to reporters in Melbourne,
including The World Today's Rachel Brown about Peter Costello's plans and the Prime Minister's
taxation review.

BRENDAN NELSON: A little bit like the old cartoon character Crusader Rabbit has gone from the
bionic eye and one stop child care in 2020 to now telling us that he suddenly wants to see tax
reform in Australia.

We have already announced that taxation will be a major platform for the alternative government for
the next election.

We have already embarked on the process of review of Australia's taxation system but it is worth
remembering that the last significant reform to Australian taxation that was undertaken by John
Howard and Peter Costello was vehemently opposed by Mr Rudd.

Mr Rudd said the day that the goods and services tax was introduced; he said it was a day of
"fundamental injustice". I mean what kind of fraud is Mr Rudd pretending to be when he suddenly
turns around, the day after his 2020 talkfest and says that he is now a convert to root and branch
reform of the Australian taxation system.

RACHEL BROWN: Dr Nelson, today's announcement of Peter Costello's memoirs on October 1st, that
suggests he may have left Parliament by that stage. Have you had any discussions with him as such?

BRENDAN NELSON: Well, look, Peter Costello has served Australia extremely well. He and his family
have made extraordinary sacrifices to make Australia the confident, prosperous country that it is
today.

He has since his re-election as the member for Higgins worked tirelessly and in an exemplary way
for the people of Higgins and I will expect he will continue to do so.

RACHEL BROWN: Have you had any talks about him leaving though?

BRENDAN NELSON: I talk to all of my colleagues about working very hard to make Australia even
better than the country that it is today.

RACHEL BROWN: Is it disheartening that he is still preferred as Opposition leader according to the
polls?

BRENDAN NELSON: Well, look what I think. I don't intend to comment specifically on the polls but
the one thing that I will say is that Australians and Australian families who look at their
children going from school, to Uni, to TAFE, to apprenticeships, to jobs owe Peter Costello an
enormous debt for what he had done over the last 12 years in particular but throughout his public
life to make Australia the country that it is today.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Coalition leader Brendan Nelson speaking to reporters in Melbourne.

Lift investors may get some money back

Lift investors may get some money back

Reporter: Brigid Glanville

ELEANOR HALL: Investors in the collapsed stockbroking company Lift Capital have this morning been
told they may in fact get some of their money back.

Lift Capital was a margin lender which under the weight of the downturn in the sharemarket was
unable to finance its debts.

The firm deals in shares and managed funds and followed a similar model to the other stock broking
house which collapsed more than a month ago, Opes Prime.

Brigid Glanville is at the creditors meeting and joins us now.

So Brigid, what has the administrator told investors this morning?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Eleanor, the administrators said that of the money that is there to hand out,
there is around $270-million to go to creditors and that they should receive more than 50 cents in
the dollar.

The investor meeting has just finished and I spoke to a number of investors just quickly while I
was waiting to speak to you on the phone and they had smiles on their face and they said it was
better than they expected.

ELEANOR HALL: So what was the mood of investors before the administrator spoke to them?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: A couple of them who I spoke to beforehand, a couple of them were angry but some
of them were reasonably calm. I was quite surprised.

They were a bit perplexed as to why this had happened and a lot of them as investors were quite
savvy sort of investors and did look at the fine print and the just couldn't see and nor could
their financial planner, this sort of model, this business structure that means that once they got
a margin loan with Lift Capital, the person who, the institution where Lift borrowed that money
from, now own the shares. So in this case, Merrill Lynch became the owner of the shares.

ELEANOR HALL: So was it simply the sharemarket downturn which led this company to collapse?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: That was part of it. What happens is Lift Capital is a margin lender so when
someone takes out a margin loan, they go to a stockbroker and say well I'd like to borrow money to
buy some more shares and they use their existing share portfolio as equity or capital to do so.

Now normally when this happens, that stockbroker, in this case Lift Capital owns your shares until
you sort of pay back that margin loan but what Lift Capital has been doing was borrowing money from
Merrill Lynch and transferring the ownership of the shares. The stockmarket has had major downturn
in January. Lift Capital hasn't been able to pay back Merrill Lynch for that money that it then
lent on to its clients.

ELEANOR HALL: Brigid Glanville thank you. That is Brigid Glanville at the creditors meeting in
Sydney for Lift Capital.

Private school girls start popularity club

Private school girls start popularity club

Reporter: Matt Wordsworth

ELEANOR HALL: It sounds like something right out of the TV series "Summer Heights High".

Girls at an exclusive private school in Queensland have started their own even more exclusive club
which ranks its members on looks and popularity.

It's called Club 21 and members display numbers on their wrists showing their rank within the club.

One child psychologist says he has never seen such overt behaviour before and that it is an
indication this generation is more tribal than ever.

In Brisbane, Matt Wordsworth reports.

(Excerpt from Summer Heights High)

JA'MIE: And seriously I don't want to be a bitch but she's like the fuggliest girl I have ever met
in my life.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Most people can see the reality in Chris Lilley's classic character of Ja'mie, the
snobby private schoolgirl on exchange in the public system but she's supposed to be a grotesque
exaggeration....

(Excerpt from Summer Heights High)

JA'MIE: And in my group I am like the hottest girl so I attract all the guys and that. That is
going to be so good for you.

MATT WORDSWORTH: However life is imitating art at St Patrick's College in Mackay.

A group of Year 11 girls have reportedly set up Club 21, also known as Big 21, where members are
believed to be ranked on their looks and popularity with boys, even displaying their number on
their wrists.

The local paper, The Daily Mercury, posted a question on a website asking about the existence of
Club 21.

One respondent said: "Yes, but it's a secret. Ugly girls need not apply".

Child and adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg says it's classic teenage girl behaviour.

MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: What we've generally found is these groups operate like little platoons.
There's a chain of command and at no other time in your life is the desire to belong to such a
group so strong.

MATT WORDSWORTH: But he says by making the conditions of entry so overt this group is something
else.

MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: These girls are really quite unique in that they have got themselves into this
highly stratified social system and they exist merely to exclude other people. And it's very, very
tough. If you're on the outer from day one it's incredibly difficult to break back in.

MATT WORDSWORTH: The school says it's aware of the issue and is dealing with it.

Yesterday afternoon Principal Eamon Hannan sent a letter home to the parents of every student.

In it Mr Hannan says he's been monitoring and dealing with the issue for some time.

He says: "I believe that we have taken the appropriate steps to support all students in working
through the difficult issues of peer pressure and adolescent friendship groups that have existed
since schools began."

And he adds "You can be assured that any inappropriate behaviour in relation to hurt or harm being
caused to any student will not be tolerated and appropriate action will be taken."

But Dr Carr-Gregg says he's got his work cut out for him.

MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: This is the most tribal generation of young women I've ever come across and I
think that's enabled absolutely by the technology. I have no doubt about that at all. Young women
today will come home and disappear behind this emotional firewall called MSN or MySpace, some
social networking site and that means that they can be in touch with each other 24 hours a day -
totally different from when I was growing up.

MATT WORDSWORTH: And to those who are number 22, in Club 21 don't fret, Dr Carr-Gregg says be left
of the list could be the luckiest position of all.

MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: The reality is that many of the queen bees as they're referred to, the leaders
of these groups, actually crash and burn once they leave school because they no longer have that
support which was in fact very artificial.

ELEANOR HALL: Dr Michael Carr-Gregg ending that report from Matt Wordsworth.

Close contest for Democrat candidates in US presidential race

Close contest for Democrat candidates in US presidential race

Reporter: Michael Rowland

ELEANOR HALL: In the United States the Pennsylvania presidential primary is shaping up as a
cliff-hanger for the Democrats with Hillary Clinton enjoying only a narrow lead over her rival
Barack Obama.

Opinion polls taken on the eve of the vote show, Senator Clinton leading Senator Obama by an
average of five points.

But just weeks ago the former First Lady was leading by nearly 20 points.

And even if she wins this primary, a close result may spell the end of Senator Clinton's
presidential bid.

In Philadelphia, North America correspondent Michael Rowland reports.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: For Barack Obama the final day of campaigning in Pennsylvania wasn't all hard
work.

(Sound of trumpeter playing jazz music)

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The Democratic candidate stopped to enjoy some waffles and jazz at a diner in the
northern city of Scranton.

Across town Hillary Clinton was being serenaded a different way.

CLINTON SUPPORTERS (chanting): Madame President, Madame President.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Supporters at a Scranton rally interrupted the former first lady's speech with
chants of Madame President

HILLARY CLINTON: This is more like a pep rally than a political event (laughs).

MICHAEL ROWLAND: And Senator Clinton can afford to laugh.

She's widely expected to win the Pennsylvania primary after a bruising six week campaign.

In fact she has to win it.

A loss would effectively kill her White House hopes.

HILLARY CLINTON: But now we need to really bear down. The last day is here and the entire world is
watching and I appreciate your having my back. I appreciate that very much.

Here's what I want you to know. As your President I will have your back and I'll have America's
back.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The margin of Senator Clinton's expected victory is shaping up as even more
important than the win itself.

A decisive win, say in the double digits, could re-shape the democratic race by giving the Clinton
campaign some much needed momentum.

It would also help Senator Clinton make ground on Senator Obama in the race for those crucial
nominating delegates.

But the latest polls show Senator Clinton leading by only five or six points with a lot of
Pennsylvanians still undecided.

If the win is only a narrow one the former first lady is likely to come under renewed pressure to
pull out of the race in the broader interests of the party.

OBAMA SUPPORTERS (chanting): Obama, Obama, Obama.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Over the last 48 hours The World Today has gauged the mood of voters across this
large and diverse state.

Philadelphia, with its large proportion of black, affluent and well educated voters is fertile
territory for Barack Obama.

PHILADEPHIA WOMAN: He is the first black man and he needs to be President because he is going to
make a change for the black community. A great person. He is going to make a change for the people
and that is what we need - change.

CLINTON SUPPORTERS: Would you like a Hillary sticker?

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Five hundred kilometres to the west lies the old steel city of Pittsburgh - a
bastion of so called "Reagan Democrats". The white, blue collar workers, traditionally loyal to the
Clintons.

PITTSBURGH MAN: Well, we had eight good years with her husband and with his experience in the
background and her in the forefront, it is a winning ticket. When you have that kind of experience
and he was a good man and she is going to be just as good, if not better.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Hillary Clinton needs to win the Pennsylvania primary not just to replenish her
political stocks - the Clinton campaign has revealed it's raising only half the amount of money as
Barack Obama and is now nearly $11-million in debt.

In Philadelphia this is Michael Rowland reporting for The World Today.

Expert makes predictions eve of Pennsylvania presidential vote

Expert makes predictions eve of Pennsylvania presidential vote

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: A short time ago I spoke to our regular commentator on the US election, Professor of
Politics at Stanford University, Dr Simon Jackman, for his views ahead of tomorrow's vote.

ELEANOR HALL: So Simon Jackman, how critical is this primary - Pennsylvania primary - for both the
Democrat Senators?

SIMON JACKMAN: It's critical for Hillary Clinton to win this one. I think she has been able to stay
in this race because she has been able to sort of eke out a win at critical moments and this is
another one of those critical moments.

ELEANOR HALL: Hillary Clinton was always expected to win Pennsylvania by quite a large margin. She
is still ahead in the polls but what is your assessment of how much she must win by to stay in the
race?

SIMON JACKMAN: I think any win frankly at this point. It has been interesting watching that
critical margin sort of get ratcheted down by either Hillary Clinton herself or people speaking on
her behalf.

At one point it was, oh Hillary needs to win by 10. Now it has become she needs to win by five and
you know, that wouldn't be a bad guess frankly. That she will win by somewhere between five and 10
per cent. That is sort of the consensus of a lot of the polls out there at the moment and funnily
enough, that is the number that the Clinton camp have pegged it as the threshold she ought to win
by in order to keep her campaign going.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, that won't be making Senator Barack Obama very happy with the Clinton camp
recasting victory. It doesn't look like Hillary Clinton is going to leave this race easily,
whatever the result tomorrow, does it?

SIMON JACKMAN: No, not at all. She has signalled for a while that she is in for the long haul.
Every utterance, every move by that campaign suggests that they are settled in for the longer haul
here.

ELEANOR HALL: This is the longest primary campaign since Iowa and the strain does appear to be
showing. Barack Obama has issued a couple of significant clarifications over his comments about
bitter voters and about saying that John McCain would be a better President than George Bush. How
damaging have these been for him?

SIMON JACKMAN: I think the line he uttered out here in San Francisco and that got replayed over the
air waves about the bitter voters clinging to their guns and to their god. That line does not play
at all well in rural Pennsylvania.

So that seemed to have stopped some momentum that he seemed to be closing Hillary's lead in
Pennsylvania pretty steadily and that seems to have petered out so that has hurt him and has
prompted some people to just take a second look and dear oh dear are the Democrats about to
nominate someone who the Republicans could tag as "elitist". That has been a sort of winning
formula for a Republican presidential campaigns and so I think some people have sort of taken pause
with that remark by Obama. Not just for the indiscipline of the moment but maybe we are actually
learning about something, the way the guy really thinks about the world.

ELEANOR HALL: And what about his comments about John McCain being a better President than George
Bush going somewhat against the general Democrat party line.

SIMON JACKMAN: Yes, that is not the party line is it? And of course, Hillary Clinton and her camp
immediately onto it and desperate for some traction in this last 24, 48 hours before the polls.

ELEANOR HALL: The negative campaigning has really intensified in the last week or so and for Barack
Obama in particular, that is a change in tactic isn't it? Is it working?

SIMON JACKMAN: Well, it is hard to say. I mean what he would really, really love to do is to be
able to beat Hillary in Pennsylvania. Now if he could do that it would be a knock out blow. It
would be an end to this run of saved by the bell primary wins by Hillary and would also signal to
the super delegates who are frankly the major audience at this point.

It would signal to the Democratic super delegates that look, I've won a state that is a must win
state in November. A blue-collar state and I've taken that away from Hillary - at this point, isn't
it over and I think that is what is underlying this strategy of going a little negative on Hillary
Clinton. If they could knock her out now, we could get on with the main game and focusing on John
McCain and the election in November.

ELEANOR HALL: And what's your polling showing? Does he have a chance of doing that?

SIMON JACKMAN: Um, not really. I think Pennsylvania is probably headed, that momentum that he had
built up has been checked a little and I think Clinton may eke out yet another one of these wins.
That will be enough for her to stay in the race and it is people in the Obama camp say you don't
ask the king and queen to leave nicely. You've basically got to have a beheading here. A definite
end to it and they haven't been able to deliver that knock-out blow yet.

ELEANOR HALL: So what do you think? Will it be decided before the convention in August?

SIMON JACKMAN: I tend to think so. I tend to think that we will get to the end of the scheduled
primaries in June (laughs). In June. At that point I think the pressure on the super delegates to
sort of declare will be fairly enormous and I think that if the Democrats weren't at war with one
another right now, the fundamentals of this cycle would have asserted themselves.

That is it is a very good environment to be a Democrat running for President right now and that the
only reason it is particularly close in the national polls is precisely because the Democrats
haven't settled on who their nominee is.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Dr Simon Jackman from Stanford University - our regular commentator on the
US election speaking from San Francisco.

Govt rejects authorities obstructing East Timor shooting probe

Govt rejects authorities obstructing East Timor shooting probe

Reporter: Anne Barker

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government has rejected accusations that Australian officials obstructed
investigations into the assassination attempt on East Timor's President, Jose Ramos-Horta.

The President has accused Australia of dragging its feet in providing telecommunications records
that could help find the financial backers of the rebel group that gunned him down.

It's emerged that the rebel leader Alfredo Reinado - who was killed in the attack - had up to a
million dollars in a joint bank account in Darwin, with his Australian-born lover.

But the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says Australia has made it clear it's ready to give any help
asked for by East Timorese investigators.

In Darwin, Anne Barker reports.

ANNE BARKER: Before he was shot the East Timorese president showed enormous patience in dealing
with the rebel leader Alfredo Reinado in negotiating to have him surrender and even asking
Australian led forces in Dili not to hunt him or his rebel group down.

But since Reinado led the attack against him in February, which nearly killed the President - Jose
Ramos-Horta is now on a mission to have the remaining rebels brought to justice.

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: It is their activities among others that almost led me to be killed, the
democratically elected President of this country. So I will not rest until the truth is totally
uncovered and if necessary I will take the matter to the UN Security Council as it happened with
the assassination of the Lebanese President Prime Minister Hariri.

ANNE BARKER: In particular the President is determined to get to the bottom of allegations that
Reinado and his rebel group made phone calls to 47 people in Australia in the hours and days before
the attack and that Reinado had a joint bank account in Darwin with his Australian born lover
Angelita Pires - which he says held one million dollars.

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: Alfredo Reinado - an army deserter, involved in destabilising the country, he
managed to get a million dollars. We will find out who gave the money. That we will go to the very
bottom of the truth, otherwise I will take the matter to the Security Council in New York.

ANNE BARKER: But the president is also angry that Australian authorities haven't done more to
produce the financial and telephone records that might show where the money came from, and who in
Australia has given the rebels support.

The Foreign Minister Stephen Smith - at a press conference in Canberra this morning - denied
Australian authorities have in any way been obstructing the investigation in East Timor.

STEPHEN SMITH: In the case of telephone records, my understanding is that has been made available.
In the case of financial records, all the East Timorese authority need to do is to follow the well
set-out, appropriate procedure and that information will also be provided to them.

That has been made clear to the East Timorese authorities since the middle of March.

ANNE BARKER: Stephen Smith made it clear that Australia has already given assistance to East Timor
and stands ready to do more.

STEPHEN SMITH: I feel nothing but regard, affection and sympathy and concern for the President. We
were deeply shocked, deeply shocked when he was attacked. We were deeply concerned and moved when
we thought that he might lose his life.

I understand entirely the frustrations of the President but I am just simply making clear that if
the East Timorese authority follow the appropriate procedures, the relevant information that they
want to be made available to them for the purposes of their investigation, will be made available.

REPORTER: If the Australian authorities, how quickly could that information be provided once they
go through this procedure?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, it is a matter for the Attorney-General's department. It's a matter for the
relevant authorities. I am simply saying if they follow the procedures, the information will be
made available to them as have the telephone record information which they previously requested.
That was requested when they followed the appropriate procedure.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, speaking to reporters in
Canberra.

Tentative support for low interest loans scheme

Tentative support for low interest loans scheme

Reporter: Ashley Hall

ELEANOR HALL: When a national program of low cost loans for the nation's poorest people was raised
at this weekend's 2020 summit, it seemed to have significant support.

The summit heard that the system of micro-financing that already exists in some parts of the
country could help lift people out of poverty around the nation.

But now some are raising concerns that the scheme could be ruined if it gets too big.

Ashley Hall has our report.

ASHLEY HALL: Micro-finance works on a simple principle - low cost, low interest finance to give
financially struggling people a leg-up.

Overseas, it might involve lending money to a village to buy a cow. Here it might involve lending
money to a single mother to buy a household appliance or a car.

The one thing it is not, is charity.

Ahmed Fahour is the chief executive of the National Australia Bank.

AHMED FAHOUR: You know the old saying. How it goes rather than, when somebody is hungry, rather
than give them fish, why don't we help them buy fishing rod and teach them how to fish and they'll
have a lot more and actually as a matter of fact, it will give them great self esteem.

ASHLEY HALL: But instead of buying fishing rods, Mr Fahour decided to offer low cost loans.

In 2006, the NAB allocated $30-million over three years to micro-finance projects.

The money is administered by the Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service in Victoria, which offers
no interest loans of between $800 and $1200 and step-up loans of between $800 and $3,000 with
interest at about seven per cent per annum.

Michael Yore is Good Shepherd's executive director.

MICHAEL YORE: We know of a mother of four who was hand washing in a housing commission, public
housing flat. Handwashing for four children. The no-interest loan which she secured from Good
Shepherd enabled her to purchase a brand new washing machine.

This not only eased the burden of washing but she would say, it actually gave her so much more time
to spend with her children. To help them with homework. Just to sit and watch TV with them. The
whole quality of her life changed.

ASHLEY HALL: Michael Yore says many of the loan recipients use the money to buy a car, which in
turn helps them to get a job.

But is it a smart idea to offer loans to people who might struggle to pay them back?

MICHAEL YORE: People on low incomes, people struggling with financial hardship are not actually bad
managers of money, they just don't have the money that they need to live the kind of life that we
take for granted in a society like Australia.

ASHLEY HALL: When the money's paid back, it can be lent to other borrowers.

And it's not just individual borrowers who benefit.

The bank's also targeting people with viable business ideas, with what's called micro-enterprise
loans of up to $20,000.

Ahmed Fahour again.

AHMED FAHOUR: For example, single mums who live at home tend to be terrific examples of
micro-finance and they don't want to be welfare dependent. They'd like to start up a small business
and they don't want to necessarily go to a loan shark and they want somebody who is going to
provide mentorship and so forth.

ASHLEY HALL: At the weekend summit, Mr Fahour called on the Federal Government to take over the
scheme and turn it into a national loan foundation.

But not everyone has welcomed the proposal.

While Good Shepherd's Michael Yore says he can see plenty of benefits flowing from a national
micro-finance scheme, he's concerned that the program might founder, if it becomes too big.

MICHAEL YORE: Most successful micro-enterprise, micro-finance, micro-credit or micro-savings
schemes tend to be very community focused and trying to find the balance between I suppose a well
organised system that administers such loans whilst making sure that they really meet community
needs and are anchored in local community and are flavoured by the needs of local community would
be quite a challenge.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Michael Yore, the Executive Director of the Good Shepherd Youth and Family
Service. That report by Ashley Hall.

Warning to carefully cost community corps idea

Warning to carefully cost community corps idea

Reporter: Sara Everhingham

ELEANOR HALL: One of the other big ideas to emerge from last weekend's 2020 summit was a community
core program that would see university students pay off their HECS debt through community service.

The Prime Minister has already indicated that he'll consider the idea.

But there are warnings from others that the program would need to be carefully costed and that
students from low socio-economic backgrounds could miss out.

Sara Everingham has our report.

SARA EVERINGHAM: It was one of the proposals put forward by the productivity stream at the 2020
summit - giving university students the option of doing volunteer work as a way of paying off their
HECS debts.

Tit's an idea that's welcome news to the CEO of Volunteering Australia Cary Pedicini.

CARY PEDICINI: We were very interested in the concept when we saw it and we welcome the Prime
Minister's response to broadly saying that we do need more volunteers.

SARA EVERINGHAM: According to Volunteering Australia about 30 per cent of people aged between 18
and 24 already do some form of volunteer work.

But Cary Pedicini says there are 10,000 volunteer positions still unfilled in Australia and he says
the community core program would be a good way to get people involved in volunteering at an earlier
age.

CARY PEDICINI: I think our experience has been that if people have an early experience whether it
is through a school volunteering program, they experience the benefits and remember the benefits
are not just to the community, the organisations or the individuals they are helping.

SARA EVERINGHAM: How do you think something like this could work?

CARY PEDICINI: Well, firstly the number of over-riding principles I think that are important that
if it is to be voluntary initiative, it needs to be consistent with the principles of volunteering
- that it obviously needs to be of benefit to the community and to the volunteer and that it must
be at the volunteers own free will and without coercion and I think we would have to be very
careful that those two things were preserved.

I would also be very mindful that students already have a heavy burden in their years of study just
managing to survive and work and study so I wouldn't want to see something like this be initiated
until after students had completed their studies.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The National Union of students agrees the scheme should only kick in once students
have left university

But even then NUS (National Union of Students) President Angus McFarland is worried it could still
be unfair.

ANGUS MCFARLAND: Some law firms I know, top tier law forms with mandate community service or
volunteer work. Now if people are able to accredit that towards these HECs discount, is that really
fair if you compare that to say a teacher or a nurse who works full-time and in a sense, their
work, well it is not volunteer work because they are paid but it is such a great community service.

SARA EVERINGHAM: He also says it's unlikely the scheme would help more students from lower
socio-economic backgrounds go to university.

ANGUS MCFARLAND: If you are from a low SES background, you are far more likely to struggle to
survive as a university student and live in poverty as a university student and therefore your
ability to give up time on top of that for volunteer work is very limited because you would be
struggling to pay your rent, just pay your basic food costs and study expenses.

So, I think actually low SES students are the ones that are least likely to be able to access HECS
discounts if they were for current university students doing volunteer work.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And then there's the question of how much it will cost.

The Director of Education and Training for the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mary
Hicks says it's something that will need to be carefully considered.

MARY HICKS: At the moment you've got a whole system that's been based on money going to
universities to support student places and then a repayment method that repays that money at a
later point in time and there is a certain effect on the economy that that would have and on the
government budget if that was to be changed.

ELEANOR HALL: Mary Hicks is the Director of Education and Training at the Australian Chamber of
Commerce and Industry. She was speaking to Sara Everingham.

Party balloon priest missing

Party balloon priest missing

Reporter: Barbara Miller

ELEANOR HALL: Rescue workers are searching the waters off the coast of southern Brazil for a
Catholic priest, who went missing during a stunt involving helium-filled balloons.

Reverend Adelir Antonio de Carli was trying to break a record for flying with balloons in order to
raise money for charity.

But it's thought that strong winds pushed him off course and out to sea as Barbara Miller reports.

BARBARA MILLER: Sunday in southern Brazil, was dull and rainy and visibility wasn't great but
Reverend Adelir Antonio de Carli was confident his flight would go well. When asked by a reporter
if it wasn't a little stubborn to take off in the rain, he gave this reply.

ADELIR ANTONIO DE CARLI (translated): There will only be good weather during my flight.

BARBARA MILLER: And as supporters cheered, up he went.

With a silver thermal layer under his flying suit, Reverend de Carli was lifted into the sky by
1,000 red, green, white and yellow helium-filled party balloons.

He was trying to break a record of 19 hours of flying with such balloons.

The stunt was being used to raise money for a spiritual rest-stop for truckers.

But things didn't quite go to plan.

Soon the priest was calling port authorities asking for help.

ADELIR ANTONIO DE CARLI (translated): I need to get in touch with the ground crew so that they can
teach me how to use this GPS tracking device. It's the only way I will be able to transmit my
latitude and longitude co-ordinates in order for them to know where I am.

BARBARA MILLER: That was the last that was heard of Reverend de Carli.

(Except of news report in Spanish)

BARBARA MILLER: Brazilian news channels are now reporting that an air and sea search has been
launched for the priest.

Some pieces of balloon are reported to have been found in waters off the state of Santa Catarina
close to where his co-ordinates were last registered.

He's been missing for more than 24 hours but rescue workers are not yet ready to give up:

RESCUE WORKER (translated): As long as any realistic possibility of finding him exists, we will
continue looking for him.

BARBARA MILLER: There's optimism too from a parish spokeswoman.

She's being quoted as saying the priest was fully prepared for any kind of mishap and was strapped
to a buoyant chair.

We are absolutely confident, the spokeswoman says, that he'll be found alive and well, floating
somewhere in the ocean.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller reporting.