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PM pays tribute to fallen commando

PM pays tribute to fallen commando

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:11:00

Reporter: Sabra Lane

ELEANOR HALL: The Prime Minister has paid tribute to the Australian commando who was killed
overnight in operations in Afghanistan.

Twenty-seven-year-old Lance Corporal Jason Marks was killed during a gun-battle with Taliban
soldiers in Oruzgan province, where Australian forces are helping locals with reconstruction work.
Four of his colleagues were wounded in the incident.

Mr Rudd says it's a sad day for the nation but he's also warned Australians to prepare for more
losses in a year, he says, will be difficult and dangerous.

In Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Australia's Defence Force Chief, Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston was woken at a
quarter to one this morning with news that 27-year-old Lance Corporal Jason Marks, a commando, had
been killed in action.

Just after dawn, the Defence Force Chief was delivering the news to the nation that Australia had
lost its fifth soldier in combat in Afghanistan, since 2001.

ANGUS HOUSTON: He died during the conduct of a patrol which was engaged by Taliban extremists in
Oruzgan province approximately 25km to the south-east of Tarin Kowt. The engagement in which he
died was characterised by a heavy exchange of small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades.

Four other soldiers were wounded by small arms fire in the same action.

SABRA LANE: The soldier enlisted in the army nine years ago, he became a commando in 2005. Prior to
joining the special forces, he'd been a medic.

The officer was based at the 4th RAR (The Royal Australian Regiment) Battalion in Sydney. He was
married with two small children.

ANGUS HOUSTON: The commandos were involved in a deliberate assault. They were out in the open and,
as they were doing their preparations, they were engaged by the Taliban. There was a heavy exchange
of fire.

Now, you're bound to ask me, how many casualties did the other side sustain? At this stage we don't
know because we haven't done battlefield clearance and obviously we were concerned with taking the
fight to the enemy and then getting our wounded and deceased member out of there.

SABRA LANE: The army says the four soldiers' injuries are not considered life threatening, but they
may need to be evacuated if they need advanced medical treatment.

The next of kin have been informed, but no details about the soldiers will be released, unless
their families agree to it.

The Defence Force Chief says he doesn't have many details about what happened, and what went wrong
and he's reluctant to share what does he knows because he believes that information could be used
by the Taliban.

ANGUS HOUSTON: I am not going to go into too much detail here because clearly what I respond with
could be valuable to the Taliban. Suffice it to say that they were, they were preparing for a
deliberate assault against a target and they were out in the open when this engagement took place,
and that's as far as I'll go.

SABRA LANE: The Defence Force says F-16 fighter jets and apache helicopters gave assistance, as the
four wounded soldiers were air-lifted to medical help.

The Defence Force Chief says Australia's troops in southern Afghanistan come under daily attack.
But he says their work is essential if Australia is to help the country back on its feet.

ANGUS HOUSTON: If we're to make progress against the Taliban and help the people of Afghanistan
realise that a brighter future, these types of operations remains essential.

Our troops remain fully committed to this important work, in conjunction with our Coalition
partners and the Government of Afghanistan.

SABRA LANE: The Prime Minister extended his condolences to the commando's family and friends and
wished the four wounded soldiers a speedy recovery.

KEVIN RUDD: This is a sad day for the nation, it's a sad day for the Australian Defence Force, it's
a tragic day for the family of Lance Corporal Jason Marks.

SABRA LANE: The attack came just a day after the Taliban launched an assassination attempt on
President Hamid Karzai in the heart of Kabul.

(Sounds of gunfire)

SABRA LANE: In a major embarrassment for the Afghan Government and foreign powers who say security
is improving in the nation, Taliban fighters carrying machine guns penetrated heavy security
surrounding the military parade.

The parade's supposed to celebrate the expulsion of Soviet forces in 1989, instead it became
Taliban propaganda as the assault was broadcast to the nation via live TV.

The Prime Minister says Australia must be prepared for more bad news as Afghanistan is now entering
the tradition fighting season, when the Taliban becomes active in the spring.

KEVIN RUDD: Therefore, 2008 will be difficult and dangerous and bloody and the Australian nation
needs to prepare itself for further losses in the year ahead.

SABRA LANE: He says he'll not pledge more troops but the recent Afghanistan strategy agreed to by
NATO partners in Bucharest must be reviewed frequently if Australia is to remain part of the
multi-national effort.

KEVIN RUDD: Nothing is a blank cheque here. We, therefore, as I indicated in Bucharest, we'll be
reviewing the effect and the strategy on an annual basis, and we'll be doing so nationally even if
there is a reluctance to do so corporately, though I've not encountered the reluctance so far.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, ending Sabra Lane's report.

The plan for Afghanistan

The plan for Afghanistan

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:14:00

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: So what does the deadly Australian operation overnight and the Taliban attack on the
President's parade this weekend reveal about the success or otherwise of the NATO strategy in
Afghanistan?

A short time ago I spoke to Canberra-based defence consultant and former head of the Defence
Department's International Strategy Division, Alan Behm.

Now, Alan Behm, Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston said this Australian soldier died during a
deliberate assault by Australian forces. It sounds like the Australians were out there seeking out
the Taliban. Aren't Australians in Afghanistan for reconstruction purposes and the special forces
are only defending the reconstruction teams?

ALAN BEHM: Eleanor, that's completely correct. But of course seeking out the Taliban would be part
of protecting the reconstruction forces. In operations of this kind, the Australian Defence Force
will always seek to take the initiative, so I would assume here that on the basis of pretty strong
intelligence, the infantry forces went out after the Taliban, thereby to protect the reconstruction
engineers. There's no contradiction in this, though a deliberate assault, I know, does sound a bit
more dramatic.

ELEANOR HALL: It's not a change in tactic though?

ALAN BEHM: Definitely not a change in tactic, in fact, this is precisely what you'd expect the
Australian forces to do if the engineers are to be properly protected. They would want to get out
on the front foot and deal with the Taliban before the Taliban attack them.

ELEANOR HALL: Tell us a little more about this area where the Australians are deployed. Is it
considered one of the more dangerous areas in Afghanistan?

ALAN BEHM: Look, all of Afghanistan is dangerous, even areas that people think aren't dangerous can
be subject to very surprising attacks and we saw that only a couple of days ago with the Taliban
attack at the parade that Prime Minister Karzai was attending.

Where the Australians are is in the sort of south-western part of Afghanistan it is very dangerous,
the Taliban evidently are very active there and until there is a much higher degree of social
reconstruction and political reconstruction within Afghanistan we are going to have to expect much
more of this.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, this is only the beginning of the fighting season. The Prime Minister is
warning Australians to brace for more casualties. Are we really likely to see a lot more deaths in
the coming months, do you think?

ALAN BEHM: Very hard to tell and I wouldn't want to sort of attract the wrath of Gods here, but the
Prime Minister is absolutely right in warning the Australian community that the operational
circumstances in Afghanistan are very dangerous and that the probability is that we will take some
more causalities.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, we also saw over the weekend, as you said, the attempt at assassination of Hamid
Karzai. Were you surprised by the boldness of that attack?

ALAN BEHM: I was, I'm not surprised by the boldness of it, I'm surprised that it was actually
successful in that I would have imagined that the security forces would have taped that place down
pretty tightly, given the number of dignitaries who were there.

But the fact that the Taliban are able to emerge from within the community is quite extraordinary
and it just again, illustrates what a dangerous, foe they are.

ELEANOR HALL: Does it indicate that the Taliban are more powerful now than they were at the start
of last year's fighting season?

ALAN BEHM: They are certainly very resilient. I don't know if they're more powerful but it's
evident, Eleanor, that there is a very steady supply of arms, munitions and money into the Taliban,
most probably from Pakistan.

So that whether there were stronger than they were last year is probably moot, but they're still
very dangerous and very effective and I think that the western coalition is in Afghanistan for the
very long haul.

ELEANOR HALL: One of the biggest weaknesses in security in Afghanistan has been that problem with a
lack of control along the border with Pakistan. What should the NATO forces and the Australians and
others there do about that?

ALAN BEHM: It's a very difficult problem because it can only be dealt with effectively by the
Pakistanis themselves and as we've seen just in the last month, the Government of Pakistan is in
pretty considerable disarray and the internal security forces do appear to be very divided.

So, it's hard to read exactly what Pakistan is going to do about it. I guess that the United States
and the rest of the NATO allies will continue to pressure Pakistan to try to control the border
better and at the same time they'd be looking at it sort of two-pronged attack within Afghanistan
itself.

The first would be fairly significant investments in social and political reconstruction and the
other of course would be ongoing military operations to try to deal with the Taliban before the
Taliban get to further erode public confidence.

ELEANOR HALL: Should Australia change its strategy in Afghanistan in any way as a result of today's
attack?

ALAN BEHM: There would be some technical questions for the Australia Defence Force there and I'm
absolutely certain that they'll be dealt with. I would certainly think that there will be some sort
of revision of some of the tactical considerations in managing these sorts of conflicts.

ELEANOR HALL: And when you say that this is a long fight, how long do you think it is?

ALAN BEHM: Who knows? Not long ago, the head of the Office of National Assessments was suggesting
that we could be there for ten years and quite frankly on the basis the rest of the international
experience that we've had with counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, ten years
sounds to me like a bit of an underestimate.

ELEANOR HALL: And you were mentioning that the real danger with the Taliban is that they can just
melt back into the community. I mean, how do you counter that sort of an attack?

ALAN BEHM: Look, it really is for the community to manage that itself. So the community has to be
fully in support of what the western allies are seeking to do, and that is, the restoration of a
stable political system and a stable economic system so that the people of Afghanistan can
participate in sort of prosperity.

That's a huge call and it's in that area I think that further work does need to be done if the
Taliban problem is to be removed and Afghanistan is to be restored to be stability.

ELEANOR HALL: Alan Behm, thanks very much for joining us.

ALAN BEHM: A pleasure, Eleanor.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Alan Behm, a Canberra-based defence consultant.

New laws to help ACCC target predatory pricing

New laws to help ACCC target predatory pricing

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:19:00

Reporter: Peter Ryan

ELEANOR HALL: Big businesses which try to squeeze out smaller competitors through what's know as
predatory pricing will now be reined in by tough new laws that were announced today.

In the biggest reform to the Trade Practices Act in 35 years, the consumer watchdog will be given
sharper teeth to crack down on businesses which abuse their market power.

The Competition and Consumer Commission, which has been conducting inquiries into supermarket and
petrol pricing, now has a greater chance of winning when it takes predatory pricing cases to court.

The ACCC's chairman Graeme Samuel has been speaking to our business editor Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: Graeme Samuel, will these new laws put an end to predatory pricing in Australia?

GRAEME SAMUEL: Yes they will. They're a very important suite of amendment that reflect the
recommendations that the ACCC made to a Senate committee, examining the application of the Trade
Practices Act to small business, which conducted hearings in 2004.

I think they deal with a series of amendments that we considered were appropriate and indeed
necessary to make section 46 of the Trade Practices Act, which deals with misuse of market power by
dominant businesses and deals with predatory pricing, but to amend the section of the Act in a way
to make it operable.

For the past 35 years, it's been clearly evident the section has not been achieving the purposes
that were intended by Parliament when it was enacted back in 1974 and decisions of the court, the
Federal Court and the High Court have largely rendered that section inoperable.

PETER RYAN: In tactical terms, what will you be able to do now that you weren't able to do before?

GRAEME SAMUEL: Litigate. Frankly, we will be able to take matters to court that in the past we have
simply following extensive investigation formed the conclusion that we had no chance of success in
the court. This will enable us to take matters to court and to bring to heal what are clear cases
of predatory pricing or misuse of market power by big business in dealing with small business.

PETER RYAN: So do you have a number of cases lined up ready to go, once the new laws are passed?

GRAEME SAMUEL: Look we don't talk about our investigations, but what I can say to use it that we
have had a number of matters that we've been investigating over the past three or four years which
frankly, following completion of investigation, we have had to put into the bottom drawer because
our legal advice, best legal advice was that they had no chance of success in the courts.

Now, these are matters that may be able to be brought out of the drawer, but certainly current
investigations that we might be dealing with at present will be dealt with in a different light in
regard to the laws that we are now having to look at.

PETER RYAN: So you'll be re-opening the files on a number of cases you've been examining over the
last few years?

GRAEME SAMUEL: It may be difficult to re-open the files because the legislation of course will not
retrospective, but certainly where there exists any continuing conduct by business that would
breach the laws as they'll be enacted, if these amendments are passed into law, then we'll of
course be able to address those.

PETER RYAN: A lot of this is focused in the supermarket sector where we have two very big players
who would be the focus of your attention. Do you have any messages for them?

GRAEME SAMUEL: We've been investigating both bear operations and the operations of a number of
another players in the grocery industry as part of the grocery inquiry. I don't want to pre-empt
the findings of that inquiry, I think we'll see a number of very interesting revelations when we
produce our report on the inquiry which is due on the 31 July.

PETER RYAN: So this is all very timely for the release of that grocery inquiry report?

GRAEME SAMUEL: Again, I think for me to make comment on that would be to pre-empt that report.
Let's wait and see what the report reveals. Suffice to say, in a range of areas, not just
groceries, where we discover any evidence of predatory pricing or misuse of market power, then I
think we're confident that the amendments proposed by the Government will enable us to take those
matters to court in circumstances where in the past we've simply had to put the matters onto the
shelf or into the bottom drawer, as being highly unlikely to ever succeed if they were litigated.

PETER RYAN: Could these new powers extend to petrol pricing, which you've also been taking a very
close look at?

GRAEME SAMUEL: You will note that in our petrol report, we indicated that we were concerned with
some aspects of misuse of market power, provisions in the Trade Practices Act, and in particular,
the Birdsville amendments.

Now I'm pleased to see that the Government are addressing the recommendations contained in the
petrol report, so far as the Birdsville amendments are concerned. And that I think will be
important in removing confusion and uncertainty that may have been created by those amendments when
they were brought into law last September.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the chairman of the ACCC, Graeme Samuel, speaking to our business editor Peter
Ryan.

No immediate relief from food prices

No immediate relief from food prices

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:23:00

Reporter: Brigid Glanville

ELEANOR HALL: The ACCC might have sharper teeth, but consumers may have to wait at least another 12
months for the price of food to start falling in supermarkets.

Good rain in wheat growing areas in Australia and the United States has forecasters hopeful of a
bumper crop which could see the price of grain fall. But with record prices for corn, wheat and
sugar around the world, analysts say it will still be some time before that flows through to the
consumer.

Luke Chandler is the senior commodities analyst with Rabobank and he has been speaking to Brigid
Glanville.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: World wheat prices have been at a record high. How will Australia's significant
wheat crop affect world wheat prices? Will it have any impact at all?

LUKE CHANDLER: Yes, it certainly will. Obviously we've had two successive, drought-affected crops
here in Australia which have reduced our influence in terms of world exports and participation on
the world market and we've also had other areas of the world that have had below average production
in the last couple of seasons as well, which has really added to the supply tightness that we've
seen in the past six to eight months and that's why we've seen these record prices for world
markets.

The expectation of a rebound in Australian production, but also world wheat production next year to
around 630 to 640 million tonnes is really going to see world stock levels rebound from their very
tight levels currently. So, the expectation of this crop coming online is why we've seen prices
starting to ease in recent weeks.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: And what about across the board with other food prices? Because food prices have
been going up around the world, and we've seen particularly shortages with rice. What's the outlook
there?

LUKE CHANDLER: Yeah, in a number of the grain markets, we've seen very tight supply situations.
This has been caused by a number of contributing factors, one of them is things such as the drought
in Australia but also we've seen increasing demand from China and India and we've also seen some of
the grains moving into the bio-fuels markets which have been an extra dimension in terms of the
demand side of the market.

So, over the next 12 to 24 months we're really looking to see production rebound due to the
incentives that's provided by record high prices, provided obviously that we get beneficial weather
during that period.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: So, could consumers expect to see food prices for many of the staples, like corn,
wheat and sugar, coming down in the supermarket in the next 12 months?

LUKE CHANDLER: It may take longer than the 12 month period. We're expecting prices to remain well
above average levels over the next couple of seasons until we get stock levels rebuilding to a
level that where consumers can be comfortable but supplies are available if they need them.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Do you expect prices to rise or to filter out?

LUKE CHANDLER: In the short term, price is really going to be dependant on weather. In the northern
hemisphere we've got a very large wheat crop in the ground which is maturing at the moment and will
be harvested in the next sort of three to four month period.

If that crop is able to be harvested without too much adverse weather, then we will see quite a lot
of downward pressure on wheat prices in the second half of 2008.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Luke Chandler, the senior commodities analyst at Rabobank, speaking to Brigid
Glanville.

Smoking tax rise would 'hurt the poor'

Smoking tax rise would 'hurt the poor'

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:28:00

Reporter: Ashley Hall

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government is relying on basic economics to try to deal with the problem
of binge drinking. It has raised the price of ready-mixed drinks, in the hope that fewer teenage
girls will buy them.

Now a public health expert wants the Government to lift the price of cigarettes too, in order to
encourage more people to quit smoking.

But welfare groups are warning that it will be the poorest people who would bear the cost of such a
strategy.

Ashley Hall has our report.

ASHLEY HALL: Any talk about raising the price of cigarettes or alcohol is sure to spark a volatile
response in Australia.

And these callers to ABC Local Radio in Melbourne are a prime example.

CALLER 1: The kids are really not that fussed. If they want to drink, they'll have a drink, the
dollars are just going to be another bucket the Government's coffers, really.

CALLER 2: I have spent the last six years in Sweden where they have an alcohol monopoly and
enormous taxes on alcohol, and it does not affect the levels which people drink.

CALLER 3: I'm 15 and I don't think the Government should do that because not just for kids, but
adults are going to get annoyed that it's going up and kids are, you know, $2 extra isn't that
much.

ASHLEY HALL: They're responding to the Federal Government's move to increase taxes on pre-mixed
drinks to curb binge drinking, especially by teenage girls.

So will it work?

Dr Anthony Shakeshaft is a senior research fellow at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

ANTHONY SHAKESHAFT: Whether that specifically will impact on young people as opposed to the
population generally, is an open question.

ASHLEY HALL: The chair of the Federal Government's Preventative Health Task Force, Dr Rob Moodie is
a lot more positive.

ROB MOODIE: I think it's a very, very good idea. We know that by increasing taxes on harmful
products, then the potentially harmful products that will decrease consumption.

ASHLEY HALL: And Dr Moodie wants to extend the plan to cigarettes.

He says increasing taxes on cigarettes could raise $400 million a year for the Government, and it
could cut smoking related health costs too.

ROB MOODIE: It hasn't increased over the last 10 years. It's now the time we did increase the cost
of cigarettes, after all, the major killer in Australia and we know that if for example we added an
extra 2.5 cents to every cigarette stick, that would across the board, that would drop consumption
by nearly three per cent.

ASHLEY HALL: But the plan is causing concern for The Australian Council of Social Service.

ACOSS president Lin Hatfield Dodds says increasing the price of cigarettes could unfairly target
poorer people locked in a tobacco addiction.

LIN HATFIELD DODDS: People with not very much discretionary come at all, who are spending a
proportion on cigarettes are going to find it harder to make ends meet in terms of their rental
obligations, in terms of all the extra bits the need to send their kids to school.

ASHLEY HALL: Professor Simon Chapman of Sydney University's School of Public Health questions that
logic.

SIMON CHAPMAN: I think this is a particularly perverse argument because of the corollary of it of
course is that if he didn't want to harm the poor with price rises, you'd put the price of
cigarettes down.

ASHLEY HALL: ACOSS wants any money raised by increased taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to be
funnelled into programs to help poorer families.

LIN HATFIELD DODDS: Going straight into the essential supports and services that low income and
struggling Australians need to assist them to make ends meet.

ASHLEY HALL: Hiking the tax on cigarettes is an idea that was floated by health experts at the 2020
Summit. They argue the money raised could help fund preventative health strategies.

Simon Chapman agrees.

SIMON CHAPMAN: The most obvious thing to do would be to open up a scheme such as we've seen in the
city of New York and also in New Zealand where people are given free access to nicotine replacement
therapy for a limited period of time.

ASHLEY HALL: A spokesman for the Federal Minister for Health Nicola Roxon says she has no further
plan to boost the price of alcoholic drinks or cigarettes.

And he says she'll wait to see the full details of Dr Moodie's call to increase cigarette taxes
before she enters the debate.

ELEANOR HALL: Ashley Hall with that report.

US envoy calls for Zimbabwe sanctions

US envoy calls for Zimbabwe sanctions

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:33:00

Reporter: Jennifer Macey

ELEANOR HALL: As the post-election violence intensifies in Zimbabwe, the top US envoy to Africa
says the time has come for the international community to impose sanctions.

It's been four weeks since Zimbabwe's parliamentary and presidential elections and still no
official result has been declared.

The country's electoral commission says the presidential recount may be completed later today and
the results released later this week.

But in the meantime the harassment of the population continues, as Jennifer Macey reports.

JENNIFER MACEY: Each day brings more reports of violence against those who voted for the opposition
in Zimbabwe's elections.

The opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change says it has video footage of people with
bruises, burns and broken bones.

MDC SUPPORTER: They hit my nose with a stone then I fell off on the ground, then they said, "You
can't stand up because you are a doggie, why are you supporting MDC? We need you to come back to
Zanu-PF."

JENNIFER MACEY: MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa accuses the Government of backing a violent campaign
against its supporters.

NELSON CHAMISA: We have a regime whose lust for power far outweighs the love for the people and
they would go even to serious lengths to try and eliminate and liquidate those characters who are
perceived anti status quo.

JENNIFER MACEY: And the violence has prompted a tough response from the US. American's top diplomat
to Africa, Jendayi Frazer, says the US embassy in Harare has received evidence of more than 450
people who've been beaten.

She's called on the international community to intervene.

JENDAYI FRAZER: The region needs to speak very, very loudly and very clearly to President Mugabe
and his government to say that the violence must come to an end immediately. It's unacceptable to
beat people just because they've decided to go out and vote - and apparently to vote for change.

JENNIFER MACEY: Ms Frazer says UN sanctions may help persuade the Mugabe regime to stop beating its
own population. But getting all five permanent members of the UN Security Council to agree to
sanctions is another matter.

ANU academic Dr Jeremy Farrall worked at the UN Security Council four years ago and has just
released a book on UN sanctions and the rule of law.

JEREMY FARRALL: China has historically been very reluctant to acknowledge a threat to international
peace and security when really what is going on is a domestic matter. They don't want situations
that are within domestic jurisdiction to be seen as threats to international peace and security.
And also, traditionally, they've been reluctant to approve sanctions.

JENNIFER MACEY: Dr Farrall says he's more concerned about reports that countries are exporting
weapons to Zimbabwe. On the weekend, Angola refused to allow a Chinese ship bearing arms to dock.

Such an arms embargo, says Dr Farrall may be more effective than economic sanctions.

JEREMY FARRALL: In recent times, the Security Council has been quite weary of applying
comprehensive sanctions as the type that were applied in Iraq, and have moved more to targeted or
what are often referred to as "smart sanctions".

And one example of smart sanctions is an arms embargo where you just try and prevent the flow of
arms to and from a particular target, in this case Zimbabwe. Other forms of sanctions would be to
apply a travel ban or an assets freeze against key policy makers in the area.

JENNIFER MACEY: And still Zimbabwe's population wait for the finals results of last month's
presidential polls to be announced. The electoral commission says results will be published this
week.

But the commission chairman George Chiweshe has first invited both sides to verify the recounted
tallies.

GEORGE CHIWESHE: So far as verification and collection is concerned, each party is going to work
out its own figures and they will then compare notes in the presence of observers. If they all have
one and the same figure then that is likely to be the accepted result.

JENNIFER MACEY: One result is already clear.

A partial recount of the parliamentary election has confirmed the opposition has won a majority in
the Parliament for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980.

But the power still lies with the President.

ELEANOR HALL: Jennifer Macey with that report.

'Women in cellar' case strikes a nerve in Austria

'Women in cellar' case strikes a nerve in Austria

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:38:00

Reporter: Barbara Miller

ELEANOR HALL: Police in Austria have visited the cellar where a woman was allegedly held captive
and sexually abused by her father for more than two decades.

The authorities say the woman and three of her children were held in a series of specially
constructed small rooms with cooking and sanitary facilities.

The case is provoking a good deal of soul-searching in the country where just two years ago another
woman emerged from a cellar after being held captive for more than eight years.

This report from Barbara Miller.

BARBARA MILLER: A man, who's now 73-years-old, kidnaps his daughter, keeps her locked up for 24
years in a cellar, during which time he sexually abuses her, resulting in the birth of seven
children.

In Austrian news bulletins the case is being described as shocking and gruesome.

(Excerpt of an Austrian television news bulletin)

And the tale just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.

Police say three of the children born to the captive daughter were brought up by her father and his
wife.

Using a series of forged letters, the man apparently gave his wife and authorities the impression
that his daughter had run away but returned periodically to leave babies on her parents' doorstep
saying she was unable to care for them.

A fourth child is reported to have died shortly after birth. Three further children were kept in a
windowless cellar with their mother.

It was only when one of these children was taken into hospital with a serious illness that the
truth began to come to light.

The head of the Lower Austrian Bureau of Criminal Affairs Franz Polzer says the father has been
cooperating with police.

FRANZ POLZER (translated): He told the police officers that there was a small hidden door in a
garage that could only be opened electronically with a code which only he knew. He agreed to
divulge the code and it was therefore possible for the investigators to gain access the rooms.

BARBARA MILLER: Franz Polzer says the rooms where the missing woman and her three children were
kept were small and basic.

FRANZ POLZER (translated): We've discovered that there's a very narrow corridor, that the floor is
uneven, that clearly over the years the rooms have been converted and added to, that there's not
just one room here but several. There's a room for sleeping, a room where it's possible to cook,
and a room with sanitary facilities.

BARBARA MILLER: In the small town of Amstetten, west of the Austrian capital Vienna, neighbours
said they can't believe what's been going on.

NEIGHBOUR 1 (translated): All is know is that the mother, Mrs Fritzl, was a very pleasant woman,
who always took good care of the children. Everything was always impeccable. I can't say anything
else, because it's simply awful.

NEIGHBOUR 2 (translated): What I just don't get is that he gets his wife to look after the children
he's fathered with his own daughter. I mean how cold-blooded would you have to be? It's incredible
if you think about it.

BARBARA MILLER: But this isn't the first time Austria has been rocked by such a case.

In 2006 an 18-year-old woman Natascha Kampusch escaped from a cellar where she'd been held for more
than eight years by a man who kidnapped her on her way to school.

MARK COLVIN: A girl in Austria has been restored to her family after eight years apparently spent
as a prisoner in a man's garage. The disappearance in 1998 sparked a massive search across Austria
and into neighbouring Hungary.

BARBARA MILLER: Now as then Austrians are asking themselves how it could possibly happen.

The Standard newspaper asks, "What does this say about this wealthy, self-satisfied society, that
for a quarter of a century no-one saw or heard anything?"

"What does this tell us about the neighbours, relatives, friends, about the authorities who were
dealing with the family?"

"This whole country must ask itself, what is fundamentally wrong here?"

"It simply won't be possible," the commentary in the Standard concludes, "to go on as normal."

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller reporting.

RAMSI raises Solomon Islands tension: report

RAMSI raises Solomon Islands tension: report

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:43:00

Reporter: Karen Barlow

ELEANOR HALL: It's been keeping the peace in Solomon Islands since 2003, but the Australian-led,
Regional Assistance Mission, may have outstayed its welcome.

That is the finding of a report commissioned for the group AID/Watch which warns that RAMSI's
presence is fuelling resentment in the local population.

Australia has spent $1.3 billion on the mission since violence erupted in the Solomons four years
ago. But the AID/Watch report's author is now calling for an exit strategy for RAMSI, as Karen
Barlow reports.

KAREN BARLOW: Just over two years ago in Honiara, rioting and looting broke out in the capital's
Chinatown.

Political instability and resentment against Chinese businesses fuelled the fire and Australian-led
soldiers and police eventually restored order.

While Solomon Islanders appreciate RAMSI's security role, its accompanying soldiers, police, aid
workers and companies have created a wealthy enclave of foreigners.

TIM ANDERSON: It has really created a duel economy and it has created a type of apartheid system
there which is understandable in the short-term but it is very undesirable to keep on going.

KAREN BARLOW: Dr Tim Anderson from the University of Sydney was in the Solomon Islands earlier this
year.

The Associate Professor of Political Economy has drawn on his own interviews and previous reports
by AusAID and the Solomon Islands Development Trust to find that local resentment against RAMSI is
growing.

TIM ANDERSON: There is significant inflation in Honiara for a start, but the benefits of RAMSI are
largely, well let's say the economic input of RAMSI, the social input of RAMSI is largely in
Honiara. It's pretty cloistered, there's significant inflation in parts of Honiara, the capital.
There's whole suburbs that really, Solomon Islanders can't afford to rent or buy in anymore.

KAREN BARLOW: Tim Anderson says inflation on house prices and services is running at about 300 per
cent for locals, but he says food prices are relatively safe from rises as a lot of food staples
are grown locally.

He says there is a clash of views on what RAMSI is about. Dr Anderson says Solomon Islanders want
basic infrastructure and services and some Australian sectors are touting the mission as "state
building".

Dr Anderson says local tensions are rising again.

TIM ANDERSON: RAMSI has become a de facto government in some respect, a parallel government. And
particularly the Australia police, for example, are seen to have been rather remote and not really
concerned about some local issues. There are, the mission is dominated by Australians, there are
other groups there and they do have different reputations.

KAREN BARLOW: What really is at risk here, especially for Australia?

TIM ANDERSON: Well, the good relations with Australia. We saw over a couple of years very strained
with the previous government of the Solomon Islanders and now both the Solomon Islanders Government
and the Australian Government have changed since then, so there is a chance for a new start.

But there is a significant amount of confusion about the role of RAMSI there and a lot of the
people in it that are earning a lot of money. I mean, let's be real about this, most of the money
is going straight back into Australian pockets.

KAREN BARLOW: The Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has been unavailable for comment. But
RAMSI's assistant special coordinator Mataiasi Lomaloma has defended the mission.

MATAIASI LOMALOMA: There is no such thing happening on the ground here in the Solomon Islands. I am
basing my statement on the facts that I have, the feedback that we get from them is that, you know,
they want RAMSI to stay.

But on our part, we have told them that we are not here to resolve all the problems, you know. At
one point, in time, we will have to leave after we have completed the task that we came here to
perform.

KAREN BARLOW: Well, there is a call for the RAMSI mission to be phased out at some stage. It has to
be replaced in the future, the report says. Is that what you believe?

MATAIASI LOMALOMA: That's all part of our objective in here. We are not here to stay until the end
of the world. We will have to accept at one point and we are doing a lot of things to try and
identify when will that point be.

ELEANOR HALL: That's RAMSI's assistant special coordinator, Mataiasi Lomaloma, speaking to Karen
Barlow.

Hanson under scrutiny over electoral fund transfer

Hanson under scrutiny over electoral fund transfer

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:47:00

Reporter: Donna Field

ELEANOR HALL: She was jailed and later cleared of electoral fraud. Now, Pauline Hanson is facing
new scrutiny over the use of electoral funding.

Ms Hanson is accused of transferring more than $200,000 from her United Australia Party's account
into a personal account. The Australian Electoral Commission gave the party the funds after the
last election but it's now being asked to investigate whether the money is in the right hands.

In Brisbane, Donna Field reports.

DONNA FIELD: Last year, Pauline Hanson stepped back into the spotlight launching a new political
party and another tilt at the Senate.

She was unsuccessful but secured enough votes to make her United Australia Party eligible for
electoral funding. The Australian Electoral Commission handed over more than $200,000 in January.

But what's happened with that money is causing concern. It's alleged the funds have been taken from
a party bank account and transferred to another account controlled by Ms Hanson and another member
of the party.

The Special Minister of State John Faulkner says the allegations need to be investigated.

JOHN FAULKNER: They'll certainly ask the Australian Electoral Commission to have a look at the
allegations and investigate them if they're not already doing so.

DONNA FIELD: Senator Faulkner says the Government is working on ensuring that any money claimed
from public funding has to be spent on campaign expenditure.

JOHN FAULKNER: We must close that loop hole in the Commonwealth Electoral Act and I've announced
that the Rudd Government intends to do just that before the end of the next Parliamentary session.

DONNA FIELD: Bruce Whiteside is a member of the United Australia Party. He's been with Ms Hanson
since the beginning, founding the Pauline Hanson Support Movement in the mid-1990s and supporting
her when she was convicted of electoral fraud and jailed in 2003. Those convictions were later
quashed.

He says this latest allegation is concerning.

BRUCE WHITESIDE: I think she's gone a step too far this time but I feel very, very sad about the
people who put their integrity on the line and their finances and their work only to be disregarded
and tossed aside like so much rubbish.

DONNA FIELD: So you feel quite let down?

BRUCE WHITESIDE: Well look over a million people voted for her and I'm quite certain they all feel
the same way about it, because she had marvellous potential very early in the piece and if she'd
stuck with the people instead of getting involved with people who were only interested in their own
agendas and their own way of doing things, she'd have been a power in politics today.

DONNA FIELD: Mr Whiteside says many people have put a lot on the line for the party, including
their own money.

BRUCE WHITESIDE: I think the money should remain there as it is to the party. I mean it's like when
John Howard lost his place; did he walk off with all the finances of the Liberal Party? He
certainly didn't, and we've got to look at this.

DONNA FIELD: And despite his long-term admiration and support, Mr Whiteside says Pauline Hanson may
finally have lost her appeal with him.

BRUCE WHITESIDE: Pauline, I told her many, many years ago. I said, "Don't drop the chalice, the
chalice, the crystal chalice because if you do I said you've lost it." And she's lost people.

I mean when she's lost people like myself and Graham McDonald and John Pasquerale and dozens and
hundreds of others, I mean, you've got to say there's something wrong with Pauline Hanson, there's
something wrong with the woman's character to treat people like that and we feel very hurt by it.

DONNA FIELD: Ms Hanson hasn't responded to The World Today's request for an interview.

ELEANOR HALL: Donna Field in Brisbane with that report.

Business confidence lowest in seven years

Business confidence lowest in seven years

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:51:00

Reporter: Peter Ryan

ELEANOR HALL: There's more bad news on the health of the economy today, with business confidence
falling to its lowest level in seven years.

The National Australia Bank's business confidence index confirms decade-high interest rates are
biting.

With more on this, I'm joined in the studio now by our business editor Peter Ryan.

So Peter, a dramatic drop in business confidence. Is this more evidence that the economy is
slowing?

PETER RYAN: Eleanor, it's certainly confirmation that the series of interest rate rises that we've
seen recently are taking a toll on confidence for small, medium and large companies when you
consider that the cash rate is now at a 12-year high of 7.25 per cent.

And particularly, those back-to-back interest rates rises we saw in February and March have been
especially tough, and the survey shows that people just didn't expect interest rates to go this
far, up a year ago.

So the survey which based on the views of 1,700 firms taken in February and March is at its lowest
level in seven years, that's down 10 points to minus four points for the June quarter.

And you have to go back to the dot com correction in 2001 to see a similar level of confidence.
Now, all businesses are being hit, with only mining companies bucking the trend because of the
resources boom.

ELEANOR HALL: Unsurprisingly.

PETER RYAN: That's right, yes. And also, unsurprisingly, finance and insurance companies are the
least upbeat, with a confidence reading of minus 15.

ELEANOR HALL: How important has the high cost of fuel been in driving down confidence?

PETER RYAN: Well, business have clearly be hurt by the higher price of oil which hit a $US120 a
barrel last week. And only last Thursday, the head of Caltex, Des King, was predicting oil on its
way to $US200. So, we're seeing an average price for unleaded at $1.50 a litre and out in the
outback, a $1.80 a litre. So, there's a bit of bowser stress going on there.

And this isn't just on the ground, the airline Qantas said today it was, "Accelerating initiatives
to protect its profitability" as fuel prices continue to hit record highs. They have been hedging
at $US90 a barrel, but this hasn't been enough for Qantas so it's increasing its airfares.

From the 9 May, domestic fares will increase by approximately 3.5 per cent, and international fares
will increase by three per cent. Qantas says that Jetstar is also reviewing its fare levels and
increases to Qantas fares sold outside Australia are also under consideration.

So, part of this, and this was buried in the, at the end of press release, Qantas decided that it's
going to suspend its share buyback, which it announced last year and commenced in September 2007.
That's already returned $500 million to shareholders but from a Qantas' point of view that's quite
enough for now.

ELEANOR HALL: Business editor Peter Ryan. Thank you.

Secret to growing truffles is in the soil

Secret to growing truffles is in the soil

The World Today - Monday, 28 April , 2008 12:56:00

Reporter: Felicity Ogilvie

ELEANOR HALL: A farmer in Tasmania says he has finally discovered the secret of growing truffles.

The black truffle variety that Tim Terry grows in northern Tasmania comes from France. But for
years, his truffles refused to thrive no matter how hard he tried to replicate the French growing
conditions.

Then he looked at the problem from a different angle, as he told our reporter, Felicity Ogilvie,
when she visited his Truffle farm in Deloraine.

TIM TERRY: Look, we're just beside a tree here that's got a little bit of aroma. There's a truffle
here that we can see, it's pushing the ground up quite strongly. The best way I think for you to
get a handle on the truffle is why don't you get down there on your hands and knees and have a
smell, and you tell me what you think it smells like.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Okay.

Hmm, I can actually smell it, it smells quite sweet and almost nutty. Is that how most people think
it smells?

TIM TERRY: Um, yeah look, that's not a bad analogy.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The black truffle looks like a potato, but it's worth a lot more.

Restaurants in Melbourne and Europe pay up to $3000 a kilo for the black truffles that grow on Tim
Terry's farm.

There are 80 hectares of oak trees on his plantation, but until recently truffles would only grow
under a few of the trees.

TIM TERRY: Things weren't in balance. Now we've applied a lot of lime to the soil here and to get
it, to be calcareous like the French and the Italian truffle growing regions and by putting on so
much calcium, it's put things out of balance, so we have to get everything back into balance again,
so mother nature's happy.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The new soil management system has been developed by Ted Mikhail at his Melbourne
Laboratory.

TED MIKHAIL: Forget about the French soil, forget about the French system, we are having now our
own system in Australia, could cover the whole world in black truffles.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Because truffles are worth a lot of money, Mr Mikhail is keeping his formula
secret. An agronomist, Larry Palmer, used the formula to change the soil on Tim Terry's farm. While
the details of the formula are secret, Mr Palmer reveals it does contain things like fish oil.

LARRY PALMER: Generally speaking, it's the mineral content as well as the microbial status. You
know, how they interact and what the balance between those are.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Mr Terry says the soil treatments worked. Truffles are now growing under trees
that had never produced truffles before.

TIM TERRY: Since we've applied this technology to where we are standing, we've found over 150 new
trees just in this little section that we're standing in now that we can see that have got truffles
under them, let alone the ones we can't see.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Tim Terry will know exactly how many truffles he's got when the fungi is dug up.
The truffles usually become ready to eat between June and August.

ELEANOR HALL: Felicity Ogilvie reporting on the secret to truffle growing.