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Swan unveils Robin Hood budget

Swan unveils Robin Hood budget

Reporter: Jane Cowan

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan has revealed he'll use this month's budget to take
from the rich to give to working families.

In what's being called the Robin Hood budget, Mr Swan says he'll close a loophole that's seen
corporate executives minimise the amount of tax they pay on their share options.

And, perhaps surprisingly, business groups have been reluctant to criticise the move.

In Canberra, Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: There are a few things Wayne Swan wants you to know about the budget. For a start, he's
not going to talk about it. Secondly, it will be "responsible". And thirdly, it'll be aimed
squarely at working families.

Today, while not talking about it, the Treasurer's revealed another tidbit from the not-so-closely
guarded budget papers.

In his sights, corporate executives with share options.

WAYNE SWAN: Well there's been a loophole in the system, where those with the shares who are
predominantly higher income earners and people who've accumulated shares or rights through their
company, have been able to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

It's been a loophole that's been there for some time and we're going to close it because they've
not been paying their fair share on these options.

They've been able to elect to pay the tax on a lower value, and we're going to close that option
for them.

JANE COWAN: Speaking on Radio National, Wayne Swan called the loophole something that couldn't be
tolerated in a fair system.

That's prompted descriptions of this month's budget as a Robin Hood budget, one that's likely to
hit hardest those who earn most.

The Prime Minister sidestepped that comparison on Fairfax Radio this morning but Kevin Rudd does
seem to be readying his stick for a whack at the top end of town.

KEVIN RUDD: When you look at the sort of tax measures which have benefited many of the super
wealthy, share options for example, in their taxation treatment, then of course you'd expect the
Treasurer to seek to crack down on those sorts of measures.

JANE COWAN: The Prime Minister says the change will send about $70 million back into government

KEVIN RUDD: At the end of the day, you then have got to produce responsible savings, one of which
is to ensure that when it comes to measures which we think artificially advantage those who are at
the highest end of the income spectrum, share options for corporate executives, that's one area in
which you can move.

JANE COWAN: All the same, Kevin Rudd says he expects a fair amount of criticism.

But the Opposition seems to be struggling to come up with any.

A spokesman for the shadow treasurer told The World Today Malcolm Turnbull was unable to comment,
saying given the lack of detail about this measure, it's unclear what Wayne Swan's proposing.

The Rudd Government has already rankled the odd white collar by calling for wage restraint among
corporate high flyers.

But the response from that quarter too has been somewhat muted this time round.

Greg Evans is the Director of Industry Policy and Economics at the Australian Chamber of Commerce
and Industry, which represents more than 350,000 businesses across the country.

GREG EVANS: The Chamber supports expenditure restraint, and we realise that's going to be a big
part of this budget, but one thing, I guess, a word of caution is that we need, at the end of the
day to pay wages and salaries which are competitive.

We are in a global situation where we need to compete with other countries and what they pay their
executives, so we have to make sure that our remuneration packages to senior people are in fact,
well competitive.

JANE COWAN: If that cuts into the packages to the tune of $70 million, as the government is
forecasting, is that too much?

GREG EVANS: Look, by and large, we would support closing loopholes where they are.

But we also support more substantial taxation reform, and that at the end of the day, is about
bringing down marginal tax rates and also reducing the impact of capital gains tax.

JANE COWAN: The corporate executives though, that you represent, surely won't take too lightly to
losing this advantage.

GREG EVANS: As I said, we need to express some caution that at the end of the day we need to have a
competitive remuneration regime.

And that's an important thing to try and preserve because, as I said, we operate in a global
economy, where we need to offer attractive wages et cetera.

But at the same time, Australia needs to have a fair and efficient taxation system and obviously
this is one of the measures that the government's been looking at.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Greg Evans from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Jane Cowan
with our report.

Westpac releases strong profit results

Westpac releases strong profit results

Reporter: Brigid Glanville

ELEANOR HALL: There was relief from investors and banking analysts today, when Westpac announced a
strong half-year profit result.

There were concerns about just how badly the global credit crunch may have affected the bank.

But the first result unveiled by the bank's new CEO Gail Kelly, showed that Westpac's net profit is
up by 34 per cent to $2.2 billion in the six months to March.

Brigid Glanville joins us now in the studio now to look at Westpac's results.

So Brigid, why hasn't the global credit crisis had more of an impact on Westpac's bottom line?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Well Eleanor, unlike some of the large banks in the UK and the United States,
Westpac has fared quite well.

The bank says that's because it's tightened its belt, but there's no doubt it has been affected by
the credit crunch.

The strong result of $2.2 billion is very good, but it's not a record profit result, and the areas
where it did do well, it was in their business lending division.

That grew by 18 per cent, helped by an increase in deposit growth of nine per cent. The New Zealand
arm of the bank also performed well, with 10 per cent revenue growth there.

Consumer lending in New Zealand grew by 12 per cent, and business lending was up 14 per cent.

Gail Kelly said this morning that New Zealand has been even less affected by the credit crunch then
Australia has. Adding also to the profit was the US float of credit card giant Visa, went very
well, and the partial float of BT Investment Management all added to Westpac's profit.

And this morning, Gail Kelly had a briefing and this is what she had to say at the analyst's
briefing this morning.

GAIL KELLY: In a nutshell, we've been experiencing higher funding costs, our short-term markets
have repriced and longer-term funds have been both more difficult and more expensive to source.

Lower equity markets have impacted our wealth business, reducing the returns on our funds and our
capital invested.

We've also experienced more volatility, and this has increased market opportunities and allowed us
to better assist customers in managing their financial risks.

These conditions have accelerated the current credit cycle. It's highly likely that these
conditions will continue for the future, into the foreseeable future.

We really should expect the market to return to what was considered normal just 12 months ago.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Gail Kelly, the CEO of Westpac.

Now, Brigid, just this week the bank jacked up interest rates for its mortgage customers, despite
the official rate not rising.

It's now announced a strong profit. That's going to be hard to explain to its customers, isn't it?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: It may seem like cold comfort when they're struggling to pay their mortgage and
the bank's recording a $2.2 billion profit.

But at the end of the day, it is a bank and it's a business, and it's there to make money. However,
Westpac did say that mortgage income was lower, as Westpac has not fully passed on the increase in
funding costs.

Gail Kelly also said that Westpac has a higher proportion of fixed rate lending, which has helped
it weather that storm.

Just interestingly Eleanor, Gail Kelly, who many people will remember is the former CEO of St
George Bank, she's just started at Westpac, so this is her first result.

She said her three month probation period ended on Monday, so they're keeping her, and she did say
in regards to the Australian economy, she said it's strong, but they're cautious, but confident.

She said the higher interest rate environment will contribute to a dampening of economic growth
throughout the rest of 2008, but she reassured everyone that the bank is in good shape.

ELEANOR HALL: Any guarantees she won't be jacking up the interest rates again?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: She didn't go into that, which I'm sure a lot of people would like to know.

ELEANOR HALL: How did the market react to the news of this profit today?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Just after opening this morning at 10 o'clock, the Westpac result was up one per
cent, but by midday Eastern Standard Time, the result had dropped down 0.8 per cent to $24.47.

ELEANOR HALL: Brigid Glanville, thank you. That's Brigid Glanville who was at the Westpac
announcement this morning.

US rates cutting strategy about to end

US rates cutting strategy about to end

Reporter: Peter Ryan

ELEANOR HALL: The US central bank has signalled that its aggressive interest rates cutting strategy
could be about to end, as inflation concerns compete with the threat of a recession in the world's
biggest economy.

In a sign that the US economy is continuing to falter, the US Commerce Department released sluggish
growth and consumer spending figures overnight that suggest an official recession is only months

But while the US Federal Reserve today lowered rates by another quarter of a percentage point,
higher inflation may mean this is the last of the rates cuts for some time.

Here's our Business Editor Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: This latest move caps seven interest rate cuts since September, when the impact of the
global credit crunch brought on by the sub-prime mortgage meltdown forced America's central bank
into emergency action.

The cutting has been so aggressive that economists like Chris Low of FTN Financial in New York, are
almost conditioned for what's become a monetary policy groundhog day.

CHRIS LOW: I think it was so well anticipated that most of the thinking before the meeting was what
will they say in the statement, rather than what will they do.

No surprise in the rate cut.

PETER RYAN: But as economists deciphered the language in the Fed's statement, there was one line
that stood out.

EXCERPT FROM FEDERAL RESERVE STATEMENT: The substantial easing of monetary policy to date combined
with ongoing measures to foster market liquidity should help to promote moderate growth over time.

PETER RYAN: Economists took that to mean the strategy of cutting rates could now be on hold, unless
the US economy slows even further or falls into recession.

And two key words missing from the statement about "downside risks", that set the tone previously,
put investors on the back foot, according to Chris Low.

CHRIS LOW: There is some surprise in that they removed the forward looking language that up and
until now has suggested more rates to come.

Investors are looking at this and seeing it as an indication that the Fed figures it's done enough,
that rates are where they need to be to get the economy going again.

PETER RYAN: Wall Street surrendered some substantial early gains and closed 12 points lower after
the language, or the lack of it, in the Fed's statement became more clear.

And there was another red flag in the statement that the traditional policy of fighting inflation
is back on the agenda once again, with some board members arguing the rates cutting policy isn't
necessarily working.

RICHARD ILEY: There are these blockages in credit markets key longer term rates in the economy have
not particularly fallen since the Fed embarked upon its very aggressive short term interest rate
cutting campaign.

PETER RYAN: Richard Iley, chief economist at BNP Paribas in New York, says fresh economic data in
the coming months will be crucial in swaying the central bank's sentiment.

RICHARD ILEY: Very clearly, there's strong differences of opinion at the Federal Reserve. There are
two dissenters at this meeting, the same two who preferred a much smaller rate cut at the last
meeting, so we've got at least two of the eight members voting on interest rates, quite opposed to
any further monetary policy ease at this point.

They're much more worried about inflation than the majority of the committee, so that in itself is
a reasonably significant impediment to further rate cuts moving forward.

PETER RYAN: Another piece of unexpected news came in official growth figures for the first three
months of this year.

Instead of the forecast negative result, which would herald the makings of a recession, the US
economy grew with the albeit sluggish annualised rate of 0.6 of one per cent.

But that was just enough for the US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to be cautiously optimistic.

HANK PAULSON: I believe we're closer to the end of this problem than we are to the beginning. I
also believe that there inevitably will be some more bumps in the road before we get through this.

PETER RYAN: But could one, or more of those bumps, be another Bear Stearns - the top five
investment bank which almost collapsed before being rescued by JP Morgan Chase?

Once again, Hank Paulson was being careful with his words.

HANK PAULSON: I sure don't see it, but I need to remind you that Bear Stearns wasn't on the radar
screen a week before the problem.

PETER RYAN: Whatever way you look at it, the US economy is limping.

But some watchers are taking the "glass half full" approach, including Ed Lazear chairman of the US
council of economic advisers.

ED LAZEAR: The way we see it is that this economy is one that's quite resilient and the reason I
say it's resilient is that we've had some pretty major shocks, had credit market problems starting
in the summer, and fuel prices obviously are not helping things.

Despite that, we continue to move along, albeit at a slower pace than we would like.

PETER RYAN: Meanwhile at the epicentre of America's economic woes, the housing meltdown is yet to

Home prices have had their biggest fall on record - down 13 per cent in February.

And builders had less than a million new home contracts in March - the lowest demand in 17 years.

ELEANOR HALL: Business Editor Peter Ryan.

Takeover may signal higher gas costs

Takeover may signal higher gas costs

Reporter: Simon Santow

ELEANOR HALL: First it was the Chinese eyeing off Australian iron ore, now it's the British trying
to get a piece of the nation's gas reserves.

British Gas Group has launched a $13-billion takeover bid for the electricity and gas retailer,
Origin Energy.

Analysts say the offer appears to be good value for Origin shareholders but the Federal Government
still needs to be satisfied that the takeover would be in the national interest.

And as Simon Santow reports, that may prove difficult because the deal could mean significantly
higher gas prices for Australian consumers.

SIMON SANTOW: If you're an Origin Energy shareholder you can't lose right now.

The market likes the takeover talk, pushing prices up sharply.

Then there's the option of taking up the offer to sell to BG at a 40 per cent premium on what
shares were trading earlier in the week.

Utilities analyst David Leitch from UBS Australia.

DAVID LEITCH: Personally I do believe this is what we are calling a knockout bid. It's a
substantial premium to what I, and I believe many others thought Origin was worth previously.

SIMON SANTOW: And what about the regulatory hurdles?

DAVID LEITCH: Well, there's both the ACCC and the FIRB, whilst we don't discount that risk
entirely, from where I sit, and I'm not a lawyer, I think they're only question marks, rather than
major issues.

SIMON SANTOW: It remains to be seen whether politicians, such as the Federal Treasurer and his
Opposition counterpart, aren't a little more sensitive to the domestic agenda.

In particular, there's rising inflation and pressure on household budgets.

Kevin Rudd's working families are coping with higher petrol costs, rising food prices, and paying
more for essentials such as water and electricity might be a bitter pill to swallow.

Analysts such as David Leitch are certain this sort of acquisition will force up prices, but he
says they were on the rise anyway.

DAVID LEITCH: We are seeing a general trend for energy and gas in particular to be more closely
aligned to the international price for gas.

Historically the price of gas on the east coast of Australia has been under $3.50 a gigajoule,
whereas the international price, if you look in the United States, has been over $USD 7 in recent
years. And LNG prices to the Far East are double that again.

We can look forward to paying more for our energy, both electricity and gas in future years,
probably quite substantially more.

SIMON SANTOW: Jason Mabee is another Utilities analyst, he's at ABN Amro.

He sees the deal as good value for everyone except for ordinary consumers, consumers who are about
to wear the effects of global climate change.

JASON MABEE: In the way I see electricity prices playing out in Australia is that they're going to
be driven by whatever the new entrant cost of generation is, and at the moment, with coal being not
that environmentally friendly, that really gas is being looked at the marginal fuel source.

So therefore, whatever your gas price is, that drives what the electricity prices will be and when
you look historically, we've had an abundance of both cheap gas and coal, so we've had cheap

But if that gas price is going to rise to more of an LNG type of net back then obviously
electricity prices have to rise as well.

SIMON SANTOW: And how much do you think the consumers are going to feel that?

JASON MABEE: Well, look, if you are talking about say, a $6 a gigajoule gas price going into a
power station, that's about $65 a megawatt hour, roughly, and the current going rate for a
wholesale price is, let's call it $45 the current long term price, so you're looking at about a 50
per cent impact on wholesale prices - ballpark figures, maybe a quarter closer to retail prices.

And that's just off that issue alone, then of course on top of that you have the carbon
implications as well.

SIMON SANTOW: As to whether BG Group has offered too much for Origin, only time will answer that

But UBS Australia's David Leitch is optimistic there's plenty of room, even at $13-billion, for
profit and growth potential.

DAVID LEITCH: It believes that Origin has a lot more gas than it's so far told the market about,
and because it believes that the price of energy generally, including gas, is going up.

We've seen a tremendous growth in the value ascribed to the coal seam methane resources in
Queensland. I was just looking at some calculations a little while ago, and on 1st of Februrary
2006, Origin bought about half of its coal seam methane business from another company for $70
million and I think its going to be selling part of it, on my numbers, for over $2-billion two
years later.

ELEANOR HALL: That's David Leitch, a utilities analyst at UBS Australia, ending Simon Santow's

Boat crash investigations continue

Boat crash investigations continue

Reporter: David Mark

ELEANOR HALL: To Sydney where police say they still have many questions about the fatal boat
accident on Sydney Harbour at 3am Eastern Time this morning which killed five people and injured
nine more.

They have confirmed that the small half-cabin cruiser on which all those killed were travelling was
overloaded and it is also alleged that it was stolen for a joy ride.

The investigations though are continuing into details like whether the craft was using its lights
when it was hit by a fishing trawler off Bradley's Head, near the place where four people were
killed last year in a collision between a pleasure launch and a ferry.

The New South Wales Coroner is now investigating the deaths, as David Mark reports.

DAVID MARK: The accident happened at around 2:40 this morning, Sydney time.

A fishing trawler on its way out to sea crashed into a 23 foot half-cabin cruiser just off
Bradley's Head near Taronga Park Zoo, throwing many of its passengers into the water.

The trawler's bow has a hole in it, but the cruiser came off far worse - its stern was badly

Inspector Glenn Finniss is the Acting Commander of the New South Wales Police Marine Area Command.

GLENN FINNISS: Well obviously two boats are moving on the water at night time - it's poor
visibility at night time obviously.

There has been a collision involving two vessels, and as a result of that, people have lost their

DAVID MARK: Four women and a man in their late teens and early twenties were killed another nine
people were injured - an 18-year-old woman and eight men in their twenties.

Six have now been discharged, but one of the injured is in a critical condition.

Passing boats and police helped the night-time rescue of those in the water.

GLENN FINNISS: Water police were out there, we had two vessels attending that scene, we had other
recreational vessels that were in that area at the time.

We set up a triage area at Taronga Park Zoo area.

DAVID MARK: The Police say their main aim now is to identify the five who died and prepare a report
for the State Coroner.

No doubt one area of inquiry will be why the cabin cruiser was out at night.

The boat is owned by a Sydney boat repair yard and is used to ferry workers around the harbour, or
for emergency repairs.

The police say the boat wasn't stolen, but the boat's owners have a different story.

John McPherson, the Managing Director of Sydney Ship Repairs and Engineering, says a set of keys
were hidden on board the boat.

JOHN MCPHERSON: Our boats would only go on the harbour at night time if we were called out to an
emergency on one of our client's vessels, and that certainly didn't occur last night.

It appears that somebody has decided that they are going to take our boat for a joy ride, and this
horrible event has happened.

DAVID MARK: All 14 victims were on board the cabin cruiser, which was only licensed to carry eight

Inspector Glenn Finniss.

GLENN FINNISS: Well the boat is designed for a certain number of people, and that'll all be a part
of the investigation.

DAVID MARK: The boat's owner says it would have been overloaded.

JOHN MCPHERSON: The vessel has only two (inaudible) chairs - like one for the driver and one for
the passenger, then a side seat on each side, and the majority of the people would have had to be
sitting in the last two-thirds of the boat, and it would have been low in the water, down at the

DAVID MARK: There are still many questions unanswered. How fast were the boats going? Were they
using lights? Were the victims wearing life jackets? Had they been drinking?

Those questions will be answered in time by the coroner.

In the meantime, many people are also asking why there have been more deaths from collisions on
Australia's most famous waterway.

Sydney Harbour is the city's playground, it's renowned for its natural splendour and sparkling
waters, and yet 11 people have died on the harbour in the past 16 months.

The New South Wales Police aren't drawing any conclusions at this stage about the spate of

But the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has given voice to the thoughts of those who use the harbour.

KEVIN RUDD: So much of that city's life and activity and celebration, recreation occurs on or
around the harbour and so, when these sort of things happen, it's not just the immediate tragedy,
which affects the families of those concerned and those who are still in hospital, but I think all
Sydneysiders feel this because, the harbour is the centre of their life.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ending David Mark's report.

Fatal boat crash raises safety questions

Fatal boat crash raises safety questions

Reporter: Ashley Hall

ELEANOR HALL: Last night's deadly boat accident has sparked calls for better education for boat
users all over Australia.

Twenty-two people have now been killed just on Sydney Harbour in the last seven years. And a marine
safety expert says that while the number of people on the harbour increases every day, most of them
are not well enough trained to handle the traffic. Ashley Hall has our report.

ASHLEY HALL: Like many of the nation's waterways, Sydney Harbour is playing host to an increasing
volume of traffic, both leisure boaties and commercial operators.

And Graeme Taylor from the lobby group, Action for Public Transport has told ABC local radio it's
becoming a much more dangerous place.

GRAEME TAYLOR: Sydney Harbour is becoming an increasingly busy place with more and more boats on
the Harbour and increasingly dangerous.

From small runabouts, people in small yachts who don't know where the shipping channels are on the
harbour, to even the other end of the spectrum, commercial boats like the jet boats which we see
racing around the areas around the Opera House at speed of up to 40 knots.

ASHLEY HALL: Twenty-two people have died in boating mishaps on the harbour since 2000.

In January, a man was killed when his speedboat crashed. Last year, four people died when a harbour
ferry ran into a launch under the Harbour Bridge. Two months earlier, a river-cat ferry collided
with a dinghy. An elderly man had a heart attack and his leg amputated before dying eight days
later. And then, last night, five people were killed off Bradley's Head.

Brad Bishop sells marine safety equipment and is a recreational sailor.

BRAD BISHOP: Boats do not have breaks. They don't have as much control as you do on the road,
therefore skippers need to be a lot more diligent in relation to how they handle their boats.

And boat handling I think is an issue. I think people who have these larger, high-powered boats
don't really have an understanding on how they operate and how to control them.

ASHLEY HALL: He says the casualty list is so long because many boat operators don't have enough

BRAD BISHOP: The recreational boating community are not out on the water all the time. They're not
using their boats on a day to day basis and I would say after they've received their driver's
license for their vessels, which in some cases, can go up to 50km/h, they don't really know the
rules other than what they've had to sit for their boat license exam, which in some cases, you
would say is a fairly simple exam.

ASHLEY HALL: Watercraft are subject to an internationally agreed set of rules which require a
boat's crew to travel at a safe speed, keep a look out for other vessels, and keep an appropriate
distance away from other water users.

Brad Bishop says many skippers quickly forget.

BRAD BISHOP: You could go out there at any point on a Saturday afternoon and pull up a few of the
recreational skippers and ask them the rules of the road, and you'd probably find that they're not
really up to speed on them.

ASHLEY HALL: Whose fault is that?

BRAD BISHOP: I think it's probably, it's a fairly low entry point to get your driver's license for
some of these larger cruising vessels.

I'm a recreational sailor and I sail competitively on the harbour every weekend and it's amazing
how close some of the larger and high powered cruisers come past you.

ASHLEY HALL: Neil Patchett is a spokesman for the NSW Maritime Authority.

He says there is already plenty of focus on educating boat users about the rules of the sea, and
their responsibilities.

NEIL PATCHETT: A lot of work has been done over the last couple of years to ramp up that education
effort, not just of the more mature boaters, by putting in place a far more robust and stringent
licensing process, which now has a compulsory education component.

But we've also introduced in the last 12 months effect or input into the school systems of New
South Wales, not just senior but primary schools and senior schools as well, pushing education.

ASHLEY HALL: After last year's crash between a ferry and a launch beneath the Harbour Bridge, the
Office of Transport Safety Investigations made nine recommendations to improve safety and
supervision on the harbour.

Neil Patchett says maritime authorities are working to implement them all.

NEIL PATCHETT: And they covered things from extra patrols on the harbour, through to the code of
conduct in the cove area, around Circular Quay in particular, where you've got commercial traffic,
through to the lighting on vessels and licensing of vessels.

ASHLEY HALL: But Mr Patchett says the best way to stay safe on the water is to stick to the basic
principles - slow down, keep a look out, and stay away from other vessels.

ELEANOR HALL: Ashley Hall reporting.

Smoking ban begins in Beijing

Smoking ban begins in Beijing

Reporter: Stephen McDonell

ELEANORH HALL: In China anti-smoking campaigners have a long way to go.

People are accustomed to smoking everywhere - from lifts and offices to restaurants and even

But, from today, officials in Beijing have imposed new regulations to restrict public smoking,
ahead of the Olympic Games.

We're joined now in Beijing by the ABC's China Correspondent Stephen McDonell.

So Stephen, is this smoking ban being driven by the Olympics? Is there any doubt about that?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: There's no doubt its being driven by the Olympics, and I have to say from the
outset, a lot of people think this is a bit of a joke, really.

They don't anticipate that they're going to be heavily restricted in terms of their smoking as a
result of these regulations. Partly, it's because of the confusion surrounding the implementation
of these - I was going to say laws - but they're not really laws, they're just regulations.

For example, there's only one newspaper, one major newspaper here, has even reported this today,
that it starts today, and everyone else just seems to be ignoring it.

And in that one newspaper article, they've interviewed several of these sort of I guess inspectors,
who are supposedly going to enforce this, and they've said they don't even know how it is that they
going to be able to enforce it because they've got no sort of punishments to hand out.

So what it's more going to be like is them going around saying, "Now come on, you really shouldn't
be smoking in this hospital emergency room." Maybe something along those lines.

ELEANOR HALL: So is it all a PR exercise?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Look, it could well be. But, you know, to be fair, anti-smoking groups have at
least welcomed it as a first step and yesterday when I was at the Bird's Nest stadium, I did see an
official go up to an American cameraman and say, "You can't smoke here. This is an Olympic venue,
so put it out."

And he did, and the cameraman said, "oh well, fair enough". So I think in and around the Olympic
stadium and all these Olympic venues, it will be applied.

But the idea of getting restaurants, for example, to stop people from smoking, I think is not going
to happen.

ELEANOR HALL: Where are these new regulations meant to apply?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Well, they cover all sorts of places, for example, offices, associations,
enterprises, schools, cultural institutions, and I think in these kinds of places, it may well have
some sort of an effect.

Like I can imagine that if a boss is going to be embarrassed by the fact that some of his employees
or her employees are still smoking when they're not supposed to be, well I think that just by
virtue of the boss walking around and saying, "Come on, put that out, indoors, in our office", it
probably will have an effect there.

Like I said, I think where it's much less likely to have any impact at all would be bars and
restaurants and places where people just expect smoking to take place.

ELEANOR HALL: And if they're just regulations, does this mean that they'll lapse once the games
have ended?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Yeah, I think they do just apply for the Olympic Games, but as with a lot of
things, like the reporting rules for foreign journalists, and other regulations, people expect that
some of these practices will be retained after the Olympic Games and look, it is a long way to go
in terms of reigning in public smoking in China.

But it is a bit of a step in the right direction, and I think that if people sort of get it into
their heads, "Well, hang on, I'm in a library, I can't smoke", or something like that, then there
will be flow on effects, and I think it probably will change people's attitude, at least a little

ELEANOR HALL: I'm sure you'll be able to monitor it for us. Stephen McDonell in Beijing, thank you.


ELEANOR HALL: That's Stephen McDonell, our Beijing Correspondent.

Austrian police investigate incest father over murder

Austrian police investigate incest father over murder

Reporter: Jennifer Macey

ELEANOR HALL: Police in Austria are looking at the possibility that the man who held his daughter
as a sex slave for 24 years may also be a murderer.

They have reopened an unsolved murder case from 22 years ago because Josef Fritzl's wife owned
property at a lake in upper Austria where the body of the 17-year-old female murder victim was

But while Mr Fritzl has confessed to sexually abusing his daughter and fathering her seven
children, he is now refusing to answer police questions, as Jennifer Macey reports.

JENNIFER MACEY: In the midst of the horror surrounding the incest case in Austria, the Fritzl
family took time to celebrate the birthday of one of the seven children being treated in hospital.

Two of the children who lived in the cellar have now been reunited with three other siblings who
were raised by Josef Fritzl and his wife Rosemarie.

Dr Berthold Kepplinger is the clinic director at Amstetten hospital.

BERTHOLD KEPPLINGER (translated): Yesterday we even arranged a small, improvised birthday
celebration for the 12-year-old with a birthday cake and everyone was thrilled.

JENNIFER MACEY: Nineteen-year-old Kerstin Fritzl is still in a coma in intensive, care but doctors
say her condition has stabilised.

Dr Kepplinger says the other children are doing well and talk a lot which he says is normal for
people who haven't seen each other for so long.

BERTHOLD KEPPLINGER (translated): The health of the members of the family, their physical
condition, is relatively good considering the circumstances. But of course one must differentiate
between those who led a normal life outside, and those who were living in imprisonment for up to 24

JENNIFER MACEY: Police are now looking into possible links between a 22-year-old unsolved murder
case and Josef Fritzl.

The body of 17-year-old Martina Posch was found tied up on the shores of the Upper Austrian lake of
Mondsee in 1986.

Fritzl's wife owned a property at the lake and police suspect he may have been there at the time of
the killing.

The chief of police of Upper Austria Alois Lissl says they've now widened their investigation.

ALOIS LISSL (translated): Twenty-two years the murder occurred and exactly at that time, Fritzl and
his wife had a guesthouse at the opposite shore of the lake. And there could actually be a

JENNIFER MACEY: Police are also appealing from people who lived in Amstetten to come forward with
any information.

But at press conferences, they're still fielding questions about how Fritzl managed to lock up his
own children for so long, undetected.

The head of security for Lower Austria Franz Prucher says he doesn't blame local authorities for
failing to discover the case earlier.

FRANZ PRUCHER (translated): Whether responsibility should have been taken by someone cannot be
answered. Presently, I don't see that anyone specific was at fault. The main person responsible for
these shocking offences is of course, the suspect.

JENNIFER MACEY: There was similar criticism when Natascha Kampusch escaped two years ago after
being kidnapped and held in a cellar for eight years.

Both cases shocked the nation and tarnished its image overseas.

The Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer now plans to launch a public relations campaign and insists this
is an isolated case.

ALFRED GUSENBAUER (translated): There is no Amstetten case, there is no Austria case, there is only
a lone criminal involved here who undertook an incomprehensible act of violence.

Therefore, we will use all professional means we can in order to counteract this international
slander it has caused Austria.

JENNIFER MACEY: However some commentators say the country which never dealt with its Nazi past is
inherently secretive and ignores personal tragedies.

Fritzl faces up to 15 years in prison if he's convicted with raping his daughter. And officials are
still considering whether to charge him with murder through failure to act, in connection with the
death of one of the infants.

ELEANOR HALL: Jennifer Macey reporting.

Mt Isa wants itinerant Aborigines sent back to NT

Mt Isa wants itinerant Aborigines sent back to NT

Reporter: Annie Guest

ELEANOR HALL: A western Queensland town has appealed to the Federal Government for help in dealing
with a problem with itinerant people, who are apparently crossing the border into the town from the
Northern Territory in increasing numbers.

Mount Isa is the latest community to complain that it's the Federal Government's intervention in
the territory that has caused a rise in itinerancy.

But the Mt Isa Council says its support services are struggling to cope, and a short time ago the
Federal Government announced a $10,000 fund to help feed the newcomers.

Annie Guest reports from Brisbane.

ANNIE GUEST: They're often alcoholic, hungry and sleeping rough, and they're not wanted in Mount

JOHN MOLONY: The intervention is sending the wrong sort of people here to Mount Isa.

ANNIE GUEST: The Mayor of Mount Isa City Council is John Molony.

He says Mount Isa is seeing the fallout from the Federal Government's emergency response to protect
Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory, known as the intervention.

The alcohol bans and restrictions on takeaway sales came into force in September.

JOHN MOLONY: The people who are affected by it and restricted in their drinking habits and their
availability of money and that sort of thing, and as a result they're moving over here to Mount

ANNIE GUEST: About 21,000 people live in Mount Isa.

Estimates of the number of itinerant people range from 60 to 200.

But they're not all refugees from the Territory intervention. Some are believed to be fleeing the
Queensland Government's grog restrictions in Aboriginal communities.

Mount Isa's support services say they're feeling the strain.

Terry Lees is from the North West Queensland Indigenous Catholic Service.

TERRY LEES: We've been forced into the situation, we've actually had to close down two of those
nights because of the high costs associated with feeding the people that are coming through.

We notice basically an increase by about 50 per cent. We work extremely hard to try and make sure
that we do meet as many of the needs as we possibly can and that becomes very much a driving force.

ANNIE GUEST: The City Council has had enough of the itinerants.

Cr Molony is demanding the Federal Government step in, and remove the newcomers.

JOHN MOLONY: Well, first of all the Federal Government needs to supplement the availability of
money to the welfare agencies in Mount Isa who provide relief for people who need food and that
type of thing.

ANNIE GUEST: And would you like to see them help move these people back to the Territory?

JOHN MOLONY: Exactly, of course.

ANNIE GUEST: And how do you see that being done? For instance, through getting buses and bussing
people back over the border?

JOHN MOLONY: If that is the way it is to be done, there would have to be security on the buses.

ANNIE GUEST: A short time ago, some assistance was promised by the Federal Minister for Indigenous
Affairs, Jenny Macklin.

JENNY MACKLIN: We've just contacted Catholic Social Services in Mount Isa and have informed them
that we will provide an immediate injection of $10,000.

This is just interim funding for additional food, because we do understand that they are under very
significant pressure, so we do want to make sure that people are fed and we're also speaking with
the Queensland Government about making sure we get a coordinated response to this situation.

ANNIE GUEST: The Mount Isa City Council also wants the Federal Government to help take these people
back to the Northern Territory on buses if necessary.

What do you say to that?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well of course, people in Australia have got freedom of movement, so I think we have
to recognise people are free to move wherever they like.

ANNIE GUEST: The problem is not unique to Mount Isa.

Alice Springs, along with towns in Western Australian, South Australian and Far North Queensland
have previously reported waves of people escaping the Territory's welfare quarantining and alcohol

JENNY MACKLIN: This is an issue right across the board that our major review of the Northern
Territory emergency response is going to have to look at because it certainly wasn't properly
considered when the whole intervention was designed.

ANNIE GUEST: But there could be further hurdles ahead before Queensland's itinerancy problems

Yesterday, the State Government introduced legislation that'll ban alcohol from homes in Indigenous

There are efforts to provide greater alcohol rehabilitation services in some areas, but it remains
to be seen how many people can be helped to stay at home, rather than seek alcohol elsewhere.

ELEANOR HALL: Annie Guest with that report.

Vic taxi drivers discuss police concerns

Vic taxi drivers discuss police concerns

Reporter: Rachael Brown

ELEANOR HALL: The Victorian Government's promise to improve safety measures for taxi drivers was
enough to clear a city blockade. But will it satisfy drivers in the longer term?

As we reported here yesterday, 1000 cab drivers brought central Melbourne to a halt yesterday
morning with a protest triggered by the stabbing of a 23-year-old Indian driver.

The government has now promised to authorise prepaid fares and to help fund the instalment of
safety screens.

But, as Rachael Brown discovered when she took some cab rides last night, many drivers are still
concerned about the way the police deal with their complaints.

BHUBINDER KUMER: We are in danger every night.

RACHAEL BROWN: Would you be in support of protective screens?

BHUBINDER KUMER: If we get a screen, they can't like touch us. This screen would be a bit
uncomfortable to drive, as well as to passenger, but the safety is first, I think.

RACHAEL BROWN: Time will tell whether such screens will be the safety fix that taxi drivers like
Bhubinder Kumer (phonetic) fought so vehemently for, in their blockade yesterday morning.

The New South Wales Taxi Drivers Association doesn't think it will.

President Geoff Coates says only about one per cent of Sydney drivers still use screens.

GEOFF COATES: The drivers are generally happy with cameras only.

Screens are very horrendous as far as customer contact, fresh air, road noise.

RACHAEL BROWN: Many migrant drivers say passengers aren't the only cruel ones, arguing that police
are ignoring them and their complaints.

UNNAMED DRIVER 2: One guy here, make accident here on the corner, and he said, "No blood. Sorry I
can't come."



UNNAMED DRIVER 3: A guy broke my rear window. First of all, I called for the police. I wait 25
minutes, 30 minutes, half an hour, nobody came.

RACHAEL BROWN: Last night, both Victoria Police and the State Government refused to be drawn on the

CEO of Victoria's Human Rights Commission, Dr Helen Szoke, hasn't received any driver complaints
about racial discrimination by passengers or the police.

HELEN SZOKE: It's very hard for the taxi drivers to utilise the complaint option because they would
have to be able to identify the passenger.

RACHAEL BROWN: Well then, we're left with the same problem aren't we? Because that's the same
problem they're facing when they take their complaints to the police. Police are sending them away
as well.

HELEN SZOKE: We need a strategy that has many different strands and improved driver training;
better protection against that kind of antisocial behaviour and that indeed seems to have been the
outcome of this blockade.

The other thing I don't think we should underestimate is that once you begin a program of actually
raising awareness about the scrutiny that's given to vilification, and how that impacts on people
like the taxi drivers, that will start to have an effect as a deterrent.

RACHAEL BROWN: What parties do agree on, are the headaches drivers will be spared thanks to prepaid
evening fares.

Sukhchain Singh (phonetic) says most drivers have about two fare evaders every week

SUKHCHAIN SINGH: Last month I pick up a girl from the same rank over here in Collins Street and
dropped in South Yarra.

She told me, "Can you wait for a minute? I'm having some change in my home."

I'm waiting as a fool for 10, 15 minutes, she don't come back. When I go there and knock on the
door, she say, "Go away from my house. Otherwise I will call the cops. You are disturbing me" and
all that. What the bullshit is this?

ELEANOR HALL: Taxi driver Sukhchain Singh ending that report by Rachael Brown.

Qld to set doctor disclosure obligations

Qld to set doctor disclosure obligations

Reporter: Nicole Bond

ELEANOR HALL: Queensland is set to become the first state in Australia to put in place a national
standard on disclosure obligations for doctors in all of its hospitals.

Under the new rules, doctors throughout the state will be ethically obliged to give a full account
to their patients when they misdiagnose their diseases or make a mistake on the operating table.

The system was trialled in the Queensland centre of Bundaberg, in response to the Dr Jayant Patel
scandal that saw dozens of patients allegedly maimed and killed by the rogue doctor.

Now this policy of 'open disclosure' is to be adopted across the country, as Nicole Bond reports
from Bundaberg.

NICOLE BOND: Bundaberg in south-east Queensland's claim to fame until recently was solely the rum
distilled in the town. Now it's synonymous with the name Dr Jayant Patel.

So, it's no fluke the Bundaberg Base Hospital was chosen to trial a program where doctors were
urged to apologise to patients if they'd made a mistake.

Bundaberg Base Hospital was where the now notorious Dr Jayant Patel operated from.

The former surgeon is behind bars in the US state of Oregon while a court considers his extradition
to Australia on manslaughter and fraud charges.

They stem from operations which Dr Patel is alleged to have botched leaving patients maimed,
incapacitated and in some cases dead.

The State's Health Minister Stephen Robertson says open disclosure has been successful overseas,
with 80 per cent less litigation claims reported in some instances.

STEPHEN ROBERTSON: Where a serious issue has occurred, that is communicated to that patient
immediately, that issue is discussed, an apology is offered they are told what has happened, why it
happened and what's being done to prevent it from happening again.

NICOLE BOND: The practice is also carried out in New South Wales.

But there are concerns this form of open disclosure doesn't go far enough.

Former Patel patient and president of a patient support group Beryl Crosby, is a strong advocate of
open disclosure, but she says it needs to be mandatory and penalties imposed on doctors who don't
explain their actions.

BERYL CROSBY: If we're talking about patient safety, I don't see the problem with mandatory
reporting. If you're going to change the culture, don't do it slowly, change the culture. The only
person that would object to mandatory reporting are the people who aren't reporting.

NICOLE BOND: But Health Minister Stephen Robertson says its far too soon to consider legislating
the process.

STEPHEN ROBERTSON: I think it's best that we go down this way, this approach, to get cooperation
and enthusiasm amongst clinicians rather than just using the big stick at this point in time.

NICOLE BOND: Even without the threat of penalties doctors themselves aren't convinced open
disclosure will help.

The Australian Medical Association's Vice President Dr Gary Speck says if the objective is cultural
change there's already been a shift away from the traditional doctor patient relationship.

Dr Speck says it's unnecessary to formalise what's now routine.

GARY SPECK: To add an extra layer of bureaucracy and to try to formalise something that should
happen and be something that flows, doesn't make any particular sense to me.

NICOLE BOND: But Beryl Crosby is sceptical of the AMA's claims about doctors being forthcoming with
their errors.

She says doctors need to be accountable and the only way to do it is to force them to own up to
their mistakes.

BERYL CROSBY: All the complaint bodies that we've got around Australia, there are patients
complaining because something has gone wrong and no body told them. There's evidence there that not
enough doctors are doing it.

ELEANOR HALL: Beryl Crosby is the President of the Bundaberg Hospital Patients Support Group. She
was speaking there to Nicole Bond.