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MPs demand debate on future oil needs

MPs demand debate on future oil needs

The World Today - Thursday, 19 June , 2008 12:10:00

Reporter: Sabra Lane

ELEANOR HALL: But we go first today to Canberra where the Prime Minister has rubbished the idea
from a Liberal backbencher of cutting petrol taxes by 10 cents a litre.

Chris Pearce wants his own party to double its promise of a five cent cut and this morning he
called on the Prime Minister to take up that policy, but Kevin Rudd says the 10 cent cut just shows
that the Coalition's petrol policy is totally inconsistent.

And the Greens have denounced both major parties, saying what the country really needs is a
national discussion about weaning itself off oil.

In Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: In Melbourne and Adelaide yesterday the price for unleaded petrol broke through $1.70 a
litre. Liberal backbencher Chris Pearce, whose electorate of Aston is on Melbourne's suburban
fringe, says the Coalition should consider cutting fuel excise by 10 cents a litre to ease the pain
on commuters.

Brendan Nelson promised a five cent cut in his Budget reply speech last month. On AM this morning,
Chris Pearce said he'd like to see Dr Nelson adopt his idea and double the promise.

CHRIS PEARCE: Yes, I would like that.

But actually what I would like is for Kevin Rudd, Kevin Rudd is the Prime Minister, it's Kevin Rudd
that I would like to go into the House of Representatives today and to actually bring immediate
relief to the Australian families and businesses that are hurting as a result of the cost of
petrol. I want Kevin Rudd to reduce the fuel excise by 10 cents a litre.

SABRA LANE: Mr Pearce hasn't discussed the idea with his colleagues and if the Liberals' Andrew
Southcott is an example of thinking within his party, the 10 cent excise cut will remain just an
idea.

ANDREW SOUTHCOTT: The policy of the Liberal Party is for a five cent a litre cut in excise, and
this is a demonstration that when you face rising petrol prices you can watch or you can act. And
the Liberal Party has decided to act and that's why we've proposed cutting the excise for petrol
five cents a litre.

SABRA LANE: The Prime Minister though was quick to condemn it.

KEVIN RUDD: What we've had I think from the Liberals today is probably their third position. One is
what Dr Nelson has said, and then there's been Mr Turnbull saying that he wouldn't necessarily
implement what Dr Nelson has said. Now we have another proposal on top of that. So I don't think
frankly the Liberals have a consistent position on this at all.

SABRA LANE: Labor's Daryl Melham wasn't as careful in choosing his words to denounce the idea.

DARYL MELHAM: Chris Pearce can say whatever he likes from the Opposition back bench and try and
garner sheer votes but what it shows is he's a dope, in terms of the responsibility.

Five cent cut in petrol will cost $1.8-billion a year. Who is going to suffer? Hospitals,
education, a whole range of areas in relation to services. Ten cents a cut would devastate
spending.

SABRA LANE: Mr Melham says the solutions need to go beyond petrol prices and excise cuts. He says
motorists ought to be thinking about changing their habits.

DARYL MELHAM: I'm amazed that people aren't looking at some long term solutions, and it's about the
habits of people amongst other things.

In my electorate I saw a whole range of people leaving a show, The Wiggles, picking up their kids
and going home and they were all in four-wheel-drives and petrol guzzlers. I mean what do they need
that for in Revesby and Panania? You know, you watch the M5 and everyone going to work there's one
person in a car.

Like there's a few other more fundamental things that we have to look at, you don't just keep
throwing money at a solution that's just going to have people guzzling and guzzling and guzzling.
You've got to change people's habits, you've got to have a proper public transport system.

SABRA LANE: Greens Senator Christine Milne says that's what the debate should be about - discussing
how the country weens itself off oil.

CHRISTINE MILNE: The fact is that the age of cheap, easily accessible, plentiful oil is over. The
idea is: reduce demand, increase public transport use and make the cars that are still on the road
more efficient and more people in them.

SABRA LANE: That's what you've been calling for. You've been calling for a national high level plan
to deal with this. Exactly what do you mean? Are you talking federal, state governments, local
governments?

CHRISTINE MILNE: I'm talking, yes, about Prime Minister Rudd saying to the country, this is two
decades too late but we have to start somewhere. We have to recognise that the behaviour of this
country has to change in the face of the world running out of cheap oil and in the face of climate
change.

How are we going to do it? There are so many things you could be doing, but it needs to be top down
and it needs to be the Prime Minister being straight with the nation.

Stop this populist nonsense of suggesting to people that a five cent or a 10 cent cut in the excise
is going to do something. Stop pretending that measuring one or two cents' difference in prices is
going to change because the reality is there are people right now who are having to consider
whether they give up their job or whether they don't, because the cost of driving to work is so
great.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Greens climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne ending that report from
Sabra Lane in Canberra.

PM Beijing-bound, despite criticism

PM Beijing-bound, despite criticism

The World Today - Thursday, 19 June , 2008 12:13:00

Reporter: Simon Santow

ELEANOR HALL: It may not make any difference to the medal count but Australia's athletes will have
some high profile barrackers in their corner at the Olympic Games in August.

The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, has ended months of speculation by confirming that he will attend
the opening ceremony in Beijing and the first couple of days of competition, and the
Governor-General Michael Jeffery will also be there.

But in accepting the Chinese Government's invitation both men have disappointed human rights
advocates who say they should stay away in protest at abuses in Tibet and other parts of China.

Simon Santow has our report.

SIMON SANTOW: For Kevin Rudd going to Beijing was simply a matter of finding the time in a very
tight prime ministerial schedule.

KEVIN RUDD: We've made it work and I'll be going to the opening ceremony and I'll be there for a
few days after that and come back, I think all together about three days.

SIMON SANTOW: And he insists his delay in deciding to go wasn't intended as some sort of diplomatic
snub aimed at upsetting China, and he didn't think that's the way it had gone down in Beijing.

KEVIN RUDD: I'm unaware of any of that so I'm just pretty relaxed about going. I think it's, the
Chinese Government have extended the invitation, the Australian Olympics Committee have been
supportive of the decision to go, I think it's the right thing to do, and more importantly just to
cheer for the Australian team and to respond positively to the invitation which has been extended
to me personally by the Chinese President.

SIMON SANTOW: The Prime Minister announced he'd be going to the Games while addressing Institute of
Sport athletes in Canberra this morning.

Kevin Rudd regaled the Olympians with his own sporting and cultural exploits.

KEVIN RUDD: It's great to be with you today. Did you like the Tai Chi demonstration before? I
thought I was pretty good.

When I was studying Chinese at university we all had to do a bit of Tai Chi. My teacher told me
this story that, this is 25 years ago, and he was learning Tai Chi himself in his backyard in
Yarralumla. He was doing those exercises, you know you do that, and then about 45 minutes later an
ambulance pulled up with the people from the psychiatric ward at the hospital (laughter) because
the neighbours had dobbed him in because they thought he'd lost it completely. Things have changed
and it's good to see that they have.

The closest I got to competitive sport in Beijing was playing for Australia in the Australian team
in Beijing in cricket. There were only 12 Australians in China at the time (laughter) and I was
selected as 12th man. As our captain said, I never troubled the score keepers much.

SIMON SANTOW: While the Prime Minister may have been self-deprecating in his manner, some of his
political opponents don't see anything funny about his decision to attend the Games.

BOB BROWN: The pollution of Beijing strong-arm politics has reached the Prime Minister's office
here in Canberra.

SIMON SANTOW: Greens leader Bob Brown says going to Beijing gives the Government there credibility
when it should be criticised for human rights abuses, particularly in Tibet.

BOB BROWN: Mr Rudd should be not going to the opening ceremony unless there was a real breakthrough
for the Tibetans in negotiations between Hu Jintao, the top Communist leader in Beijing, and the
Dalai Lama and his representatives.

It's not much of an ask, but even that's been dropped by Kevin Rudd on the altar of appearing to
grace the dais with Hu Jintao in Beijing at the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

It's not just a pollution here that's affecting our ability to have the full team at the opening
ceremony, and quite a few of the athletes will be looking after their health by waiting until the
track events, but there is a political pollution that is very, very damaging here and that is the
sheer trade power and the dollar power and the money power and the political power of the Beijing
bosses.

SIMON SANTOW: Senator Brown's argument has been bolstered by Amnesty International's claim
overnight that as many as 1000 detainees from the riots in Tibet in March remain unaccounted for.

Spokeswoman Roseann Rife:

ROSEANN RIFE: For Amnesty International simply the story is that hundreds, over 1000 people are
unaccounted for in the Tibetan autonomous region and the neighbouring Tibetan populated areas.

The Chinese Government, through official media reports, has told us about numbers who have
surrendered, who have been detained and then who have been charged and sentenced, and there's a
huge discrepancy and those hundreds of people are unaccounted for.

SIMON SANTOW: Amnesty International says that under Chinese law it's possible to be held in
detention for four years without being charged.

ELEANOR HALL: Simon Santow reporting.

Govt to push ahead with NT intervention

Govt to push ahead with NT intervention

The World Today - Thursday, 19 June , 2008 12:16:00

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government has signalled today that it is likely to continue with the
controversial intervention in the Northern Territory that was put in place by the Howard government
a year ago this week.

The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minster Jenny Macklin has now released a 12-month report card on the
intervention that she says shows that progress is being made.

But while the Labor Party has continued with the intervention, it has always insisted that it will
review the system before it guarantees support for it into the future.

The Minster announced the make-up of that review committee earlier this month and she spoke to me a
short time ago about the Government's plans for the intervention.

Now Minister your response so far to the 12-month report card on the Northern Territory
intervention suggests that you're satisfied with the way that it's progressing. Does that mean that
you're not going to wait for the results of the review that you announced earlier this month before
deciding whether to continue with the program?

JENNY MACKLIN: There certainly are some positive signs coming out of some of the measures.

For example, we're getting reports back from a number of the stores in many of the Indigenous
communities in the Northern Territory, that there has been an increase in the amount of food being
purchased.

There is some evidence that some of the children at school, particularly as a result of the school
nutrition programs, that children are putting on weight that they needed to put on.

So there's some indication also of some improvements in attendance at school, but I'd have to say
there's a lot, lot further to go in that area.

So there's some evidence of some improvement. There's other areas where we really are expecting to
see, and are going to need to deliver, significant improvements, and I'd certainly say that's the
case in relation to school attendance because we've got to get the children attending school and
attending school on a regular basis.

That said, we certainly are looking forward to the major review that we've just announced. We
expect that review to look at the evidence, to look at what's working and to look at what's not
working and to advise us about the way forward.

ELEANOR HALL: Well the outgoing head of the task force, Sue Gordon, says there's a lot of
uncertainty in Aboriginal communities and she's asked for you to put some guarantees in about the
future of the intervention. Can you make any guarantees about future funding right now before the
review team you've appointed reports?

JENNY MACKLIN: We announced just after the election in February that we would put additional
funding into a range of new measures in the Northern Territory. So for example we have funded 200
extra teachers to be placed in schools in these 73 communities in the Northern Territory, so we
recognise that that needs a long term commitment so the money we've made available is over the next
four years.

We also announced in April, I achieved a major agreement with the Northern Territory Government to
spend over $600-million to build new houses and upgrade a significant number of houses. That will
be done over the next five years.

We know that we're going to need an ongoing commitment in relation to a number of other issues but
I think that demonstrates that we understand we're in it for the long haul.

ELEANOR HALL: If you're in for the long haul, if you're going to continue with the intervention
anyway, why bother with a review? Why not just allocate funding and give people already working
there some certainty?

JENNY MACKLIN: Because I'm sure you would agree and everyone else would agree, you've got to get it
right. You've got to look at the evidence, look at what's working.

Where it is working of course continue those measures; where it's not working or where there are
improvements that need to be made, we should make them. I think we should always work on the basis
of evidence and that's the purpose of the review.

ELEANOR HALL: What's a review going to give you though that this 12-month report card hasn't
already given you?

JENNY MACKLIN: Take for example the area of food security. We've been getting anecdotal reports
about improvements in the quantity of food being bought, but we want to know exactly how that's
proceeding.

We've been getting anecdotal reports about reduction in alcohol consumption; we want to know if
that's the case across the board or whether we need to make different arrangements to keep pressing
the point that we have to better control the consumption of alcohol.

The issues around policing, the issues around school attendance - there are a number of areas.
Particularly I go back to this issue of school attendance. Yes there are some places where there's
been some improvement, other places not very much improvement. So I would suggest that we have a
lot more to be done in this area of getting children to school.

ELEANOR HALL: Let's have a look at some of the numbers in your 12-month review. The health checks
still haven't reached all communities; that was the prime reason for this intervention. A leaked
report to Crikey dated just in mid-May showed that only 63 per cent of children in remote
communities had received health checks. What's the percentage now a month later?

JENNY MACKLIN: I've got the actual numbers here and what we've got is that almost 11,000 child
health checks have been done and we've had some follow-ups occur. So there have certainly been, I
think around 700 children have received follow-up audiology tests. We've also had some operations
done, some surgical operations done for ear nose and throat and for dental treatment.

But this is another area where we certainly need ongoing commitment. There is additional funding in
this year's Budget for ongoing health follow-ups to be done for children.

But you're right, this is an area where we do need to continually work and the Government and
Nicola Roxon in particular, the Health Minister, is determined that we really embed this issue into
improved primary health care in the Northern Territory.

ELEANOR HALL: And yet the intervention has been roundly criticised by the Australian Medical
Association president Rosanna Capolingua. She says that the Government should be funding this
properly and not relying on voluntarism from doctors. She says non-Indigenous Australians don't
have to rely on charity for their healthcare.

It's a fair point isn't it?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think what's important, I don't intend to play politics with this issue, I think
what's important is to recognise that there are many doctors around Australia who want to be able
to contribute and deliver their services and be paid for it.

But to come into remote parts of Australia to deliver the health care that these children, and
certainly in many cases their parents as well, need, we know that there's a very serious shortage
of doctors across Australia and of course it's hard to get doctors into remote parts of Australia.
I know this is a big issue for us. We want to work with the medical profession to make sure that we
get the services delivered that children need...

ELEANOR HALL: How damaging is it then for you that the AMA has withdrawn its support for the
intervention and is no longer recruiting doctors?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think the important thing is that we work with the profession broadly and
that we make sure that we do get these services delivered both by doctors, nurses and other health
professionals.

We're going to need the support and services of a wide range of different health professionals. We
understand that that's critical for these children and that's why we'll be working with many, many
different parts of the health professional workforce.

ELEANOR HALL: Now income management was another controversial area of the intervention. Your
12-month-report suggests it's now operating in 52 of the 73 communities, but there has been a lot
of criticism about it being a sort of nanny-style intervention. How do you respond to that
criticism?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think it's important when considering the effectiveness of income management that
we listen to the people who have actually been part of it for the last six to nine months, and of
course their experience varies depending on where they live.

This will be a critical part of the review, to look at the effectiveness of income management, to
see whether or not it has actually delivered.

What we're hearing anecdotally certainly has helped in some communities. I'm hearing from
particularly women in communities that they now have more money that they can dedicate to food and
clothing, the things that children really need.

And the other thing that a number of women say to me is that they're less likely to be humbugged,
they're less likely to be harassed for money because everybody knows that half of their money has
to be spent on essentials for children.

But this will be a critical part of the review - to look at the effectiveness of income management
and see whether or not it really is delivering for children.

ELEANOR HALL: Minister thanks very much for joining us.

JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin speaking in Canberra
a short time ago.

QANTAS passengers facing turbulence

QANTAS passengers facing turbulence

The World Today - Thursday, 19 June , 2008 12:19:00

Reporter: Alison Caldwell

ELEANOR HALL: QANTAS has confirmed that next week's aircraft engineers' strike will delay flights
and disrupt passengers, but the management at the airline says it won't negotiate with a gun to its
head.

The union though counters that for 18 months QANTAS has refused to change its tune on the pay
dispute and the union now has to resort to drastic action.

In Melbourne, Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: Just when you thought you could rely on QANTAS to get you from one place to
another on time, a series of rolling strikes will disrupt flights from Monday next week.

KEVIN BROWN: We've offered to meet on several occasions now and at least on two occasions they've
threatened us with strike action, having said we'll meet. And we've said we won't meet with a gun
to our head and we're not going to change our position on that.

ALISON CALDWELL: Kevin Brown is QANTAS' executive general manager of people. He says the airline
expects to fly the majority of its network and get people to their destinations on the day they
choose to fly but:

KEVIN BROWN: There will be some delays. It's a little hard to predict exactly how long those delays
will be.

Last time when the ALA decided to disrupt our customers and impose their strikes, what we found was
that about half the people travelled within 15 minutes of when they planned to but the other half
were delayed by, in our international operations, up to six hours and in some cases domestically
about an hour and a half.

ALISON CALDWELL: Members of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association will walk off
the job from 2am 'til 6am in Melbourne on Monday.

In Sydney, afternoon and evening flights will be delayed and possibly cancelled by the strike
action. In Cairns flights will be disrupted all day due to the engineers' strike. Perth and
Brisbane will be affected Tuesday, with rolling strikes expected throughout the week.

It's the result of an 18-month long pay dispute during which both parties have refused to budge.
The union wants a five per cent wage rise on behalf of its members. QANTAS has only ever offered
three.

Overtime bans and strikes are affecting QANTAS' bottom line, but it won't say by how much.

Kevin Brown was asked if the strike was costing more than the entire cost of the union's pay claim.

KEVIN BROWN: No. At this stage, no it's not. And nor do we expect it to be. Our issue is that we've
got a very large workforce, 38,000 people, and if we flowed a two per cent pay increased on top of
the three we're already offering, remembering we're offering three per cent pay plus one per cent
into super, so if we offered another two per cent on top of that it would cost us $360-million
cumulatively over three years, which a huge number.

ALISON CALDWELL: The union recently offered a deal that would involve staff moving through the
career grading system faster. QANTAS says it would inflate their pay claim to 5.7 per cent.

Kevin Brown again.

KEVIN BROWN: They continued to ask for more and more and until we can meet and sort through this
properly, which is not going to happen while ever they threaten us with strikes, it's unlikely that
we're going to get to closure.

STEVE PURVINAS: It's nice to hear the words of Kevin Brown who had a 40 per cent pay rise himself
last year, 10.5 the year before, seven the year before and 111 per cent wage increase the year
before that.

ALISON CALDWELL: That's Steve Purvinas, the federal secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft
Engineers Association. He says next week's strike action won't be as bad as people think.

STEVE PURVINAS: We've constructed it in a way that we think is responsible. We've said in the major
ports - Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne - that only half the workforce are going to come out at any
one time.

We've got some serious concerns about safety if they go down the path of the other option, that is
deploy the strike breakers.

Strike breakers were deployed several weeks ago when we had some stoppages and carried out many
unsafe acts that we wouldn't see from a normal QANTAS engineer.

Like for example, the very first aircraft they went to push out, they forgot to take out the blocks
of wood that sit behind the wheels and they tried to push the aircraft. So it's, when you're making
fundamental mistakes like not removing the chocks behind the wheels well then you've got real
problems.

ALISON CALDWELL: The union blames QANTAS for escalating the dispute.

STEVE PURVINAS: And they start docking people's wages for doing things that they're not legally
allowed to do in the first place such as carrying out duties on aircraft that they're not licensed
to work on. They've been asked to carry out these duties and then when they say no they say, well
you're not following our direction, we're going to take some pay off you today.

ALISON CALDWELL: The World Today sought a comment from the Workplace Ombudsman. In a statement it
said it was unaware of the specifics surrounding the case, however, it said "to the extent that
employees have rendered service which has been accepted by the employer, the employee should be
paid".

QANTAS' Kevin Brown contacted The World Today to respond.

KEVIN BROWN: I say to any comment from anyone, first of all, one, we'll comply with the law and the
law requires that employees are docked four hours' pay when they participate in industrial action.
And the second thing is that when employees participate in illegal action, we'll use the full force
of the law available to deal with that.

ALISON CALDWELL: Shouldn't they be paid, let's say an employee works six hours, then you say, we
want you to work overtime and they say no, I've worked my six hours, that's all I'm going to do -
shouldn't they be paid for that six hours?

KEVIN BROWN: We have asked people to do additional overtime which they've refused to do. We
actually need to get them to work the overtime because our planes are late coming out of the sheds
because of the go-slow program. In our view that's illegal action on their behalf and we'll work
within the law as to our actions.

ALISON CALDWELL: Isn't it the case that you're asking some of these employees to do things that
they're not licensed to do?

KEVIN BROWN: No, we're asking employees to do things for which they're both qualified and
experienced to do, as we have always done at QANTAS.

ELEANOR HALL: That's QANTAS' general manager of people, Kevin Brown, speaking to Alison Caldwell.

US 'making progress' against SE Asia terrorism

US 'making progress' against SE Asia terrorism

The World Today - Thursday, 19 June , 2008 12:22:00

Reporter: Kim Landers

ELEANOR HALL: It wasn't long ago that the Bush administration considered parts of South-East Asia,
particularly the Philippines, as dangerous havens for terrorists, but as the US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice plans a trip to Asia later this month she has been praising counter-terrorism
efforts in the region.

Senior Bush administration and intelligence officials agree that progress has been made but they
also caution that the threat in the region remains, as Washington correspondent Kim Landers
reports.

KIM LANDERS: The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to travel to Asia later this
month, a visit that could include stops in Japan, China and South Korea. But today in Washington
she's delivered her first major speech in some time about US policy in Asia, praising
counter-terrorism efforts in the region.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: If you think about the terrorism threat in South-East Asia, it was really
considered on the rise when President Bush came into office. It is still there, we still have work
to do with countries like the Philippines and others, but I think we've made real inroads against
terrorism in that part of the world.

KIM LANDERS: Dr Rice says at one stage the Mindanao region in the Philippines was considered quote
"a runaway terrorist haven", but that improved intelligence and US military assistance has made an
impact.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We've seen real improvements there and the Abu Sayyaf group has been seriously
hurt.

KIM LANDERS: American intelligence officials have been noting progress too. Earlier this year the
director of the National Counterterrorism Centre, Michael Leiter delivered a speech saying that,
quote, "South-East Asia continues to be a concern, although not nearly that which we might have
envisioned two or three years ago".

And while he's acknowledged that Jemaah Islamiah still has both the capability and the interest to
carry out attacks in multiple countries, he says, quote, "the situation in South-East Asia
continues to be a bright spot in the war on terror".

With the presidential election looming, the Democratic and Republican candidates have been sparring
over national security and terrorism.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who supports Republican John McCain, is accusing the
Democratic nominee Barack Obama of being inexperienced and naive.

RUDY GIULIANI: I call it a pre-September 11 mentality that he wants to return to.

KIM LANDERS: National security and foreign policy have traditionally been Republican strengths, but
Barack Obama has enlisted a group of seasoned experts to bolster his credentials. They include
former secretary of state Madeline Albright and former defence secretary William Perry.

And Senator Obama has been quick to respond to the Republican attacks.

BARACK OBAMA: For all his talk about civil debate and bipartisanship, Senator McCain has shown that
he's going to use predictable, petty and divisive attacks to try to score a few political points on
national security.

And if these attacks seem familiar it's because they are. They come from the same tired political
play-book that George Bush and Karl Rove have used for eight years.

KIM LANDERS: But today in Washington, the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered this
reminder about US efforts to fight terrorism.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: And I know that as the memories of September 11th have faded we feel safer, but
if we're going to stay safer it requires extraordinary vigilance, it require extraordinary
defensive measures. But it also requires meeting them on their own turf.

KIM LANDERS: But she's also acknowledged that people are debating whether the Bush administration
has fought terrorism in the right way.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.

Britain's military urged to negotiate with Taliban

Britain's military urged to negotiate with Taliban

The World Today - Thursday, 19 June , 2008 12:25:00

Reporter: Rafael Epstein

ELEANOR HALL: While the British Government is planning to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan,
there are more voices in the UK saying that the military effort has reached its limits and that
it's time to start negotiating with the Taliban.

Nine British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in the last 10 days, but the British
Government says its plans to put more soldiers into the country will continue.

This report from Europe correspondent Rafael Epstein.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: In Edinburgh the British Army held a memorial service for 24 soldiers from the 52nd
Infantry Brigade.

(Bagpipes playing.)

The latest to die were killed by a landmine that destroyed their jeep in southern Afghanistan. The
three men were in the SAS; the woman was from the Intelligence Corp and she was the first female
member of the defence forces to be killed in Afghanistan.

In London in the House of Commons the Prime Minister was explaining why he stood alongside
President Bush earlier this week to boost the UK's troop numbers to more than 8000. He says Taliban
fighters have imported tactics from Iraq.

GORDON BROWN: They are no longer fighting as an army, they are fighting as an insurgency and that
is why we are seeing mines, we are seeing roadside bombs and indeed we are seeing suicide bombs,
and we are seeing Iraqi-style tactics practised by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Britain's Defence Secretary says the Taliban are losing, but some analysts say NATO
is in a stalemate - enough troops to keep the Taliban at bay but not enough to win, or at least
ensure they don't hinder the country's development.

The solution for some is opening up talks with the Taliban. The British Government has previously
cautiously welcomed this idea, but with big caveats. They don't want to step on the toes of the
Afghan Government and they lean towards only talking to fighters and not so much the commanders,
and perhaps only once they've put down their guns.

But it seems even that idea is going nowhere, much to the dismay of Adam Holloway *(See editor's
note), a former soldier who is now a conservative MP.

ADAM HOLLOWAY: We have to really be realistic. We have to do something we can sustain in the long
term. You know, we can't have people dying all the time, billions of pounds a year for 20 years.

I'm not saying disengage militarily. Have teams of our guys on the ground but massively focus on
them, massive development in areas that want it. And then in specific local areas, we make deals
with the local tribesman because in very large part, who are the Taliban apart from the foreigners?
They are the normal, local tribesman of the south and we've got to be pragmatic.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: The Taliban have made another push into the important southern town of Kandahar.
The area is currently run by Ahmed Wali, the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

When the Taliban broke into the jail in the city last week it was a severe embarrassment for the
President and his family.

Now NATO and Afghan forces have started another offensive near Kandahar.

Mark Laity is the spokesman for NATO.

MARK LAITY: The jail break was a bad day. Now we've got 400-odd Taliban who have been decanted into
the south when they were in prison, and obviously that's a problem we have to deal with. And I
think the population feel, you know, they've lost a little bit of faith and we've got to rebuild
that faith and we've got to rebuild their confidence.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: The Taliban claim that some of those who escaped from the jail last week are now
back fighting NATO forces.

ELEANOR HALL: Europe correspondent Rafael Epstein with that report.

*This transcript has been amended to correct Adam Holloway's name from Andy Holloway, as broadcast.

ACCC takes legal swipe at ABC Learning

ACCC takes legal swipe at ABC Learning

The World Today - Thursday, 19 June , 2008 12:28:00

Reporter: Peter Ryan

ELEANOR HALL: Things are going from bad to worse for the Australian childcare operator, ABC
Learning.

The competition watchdog today announced that it has launched legal proceedings against the company
accusing the childcare operator of failing to sell two of its centres as required four years ago.

Business editor Peter Ryan joins us now with the details.

So Peter, what specifically is the ACCC alleging?

PETER RYAN: Well Eleanor the ACCC issued a tightly worded statement this morning confirming the
legal action. It is claiming ABC Learning failed to comply with a court enforceable undertaking
agreed to back in 2004.

Now that undertaking required ABC to sell two childcare centres in Geraldton WA - the Kidz Retreat
and the Little Buccaneers Childcare Centre. This order was issued after ABC bought the Peppercorn
childcare group which in the ACCC's view at the time created pricing competition and market share
issues, not just in Geraldton but in other areas around Australia.

And by the way, the acquisition of Peppercorn's 450 childcare centres made ABC Learning Australia's
biggest childcare operator, so that was significant.

ELEANOR HALL: This is about two childcare centres though in a regional city. Could it have been an
oversight by ABC Learning?

PETER RYAN: Well not according to the ACCC. There's an allegation that ABC Learning failed to
offload the childcare centres even though the deadline was extended several times, resulting a
breach of the undertakings.

And the Federal Court will also hear claims from the ACCC that ABC interfered in the role of an
agent appointed in 2006 to help speed up the two sales and that further, the agent was not given
any assistance by ABC.

And there's a final claim that ABC failed to maintain the two Geraldton centres as, quote, "fully
operational, competitive, going concerns to ensure good will was preserved". In other words it's
claimed ABC did nothing to ensure the centres would be worth buying by an independent competitor.

ELEANOR HALL: Now ABC Learning hasn't been having a good year. What damage has today's announcement
of legal action done to the company?

PETER RYAN: Well ABC Learning shares fell as much as 13 per cent his morning when the news hit the
share market. They've recovered a little after the initial shock of more bad news and a short time
ago they were still down around 10 per cent. This is on a day when the overall share market is also
down but by less than one per cent.

So far, there's been no response from ABC Learning. They've simply re-posted the ACCC's statement
to the share market. The case itself goes before the Federal Court on the 8th of August so we can
only assume they'll outline their defence then.

ELEANOR HALL: And how much have ABC Learning shares fallen roughly over the year?

PETER RYAN: Well today's fall will add to a 76 per cent share price plunge after an initial
battering earlier this year when a surprise slump in earnings raised concerns about ABC's ability
to repay its debt. The company however recently sold a 60 per cent stake in its US operations to
the investment bank Morgan Stanley as part of a survival deal.

But all this comes as the Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard is putting pressure on childcare
operators about their fee structures, amid concerns about possible price rises in the sector.

ELEANOR HALL: Business editor Peter Ryan, thank you.

Australian breastfeeding rates drop

Australian breastfeeding rates drop

The World Today - Thursday, 19 June , 2008 12:31:00

Reporter: Lindy Kerin

ELEANOR HALL: Research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies has found that the rate of
breastfeeding among Australian women is well below national and international benchmarks.

The World Health Organisation and the National Health and Medical Research Council recommend that
babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives.

Today's research suggests that only 14 per cent of Australian babies are meeting those guidelines.

But while breastfeeding experts say this means more support is needed for women, some mothers say
there's too much pressure to comply with the guidelines.

Lindy Kerin has our report.

LINDY KERIN: Researchers from the Australian Institute of Family Studies tracked 5000 children to
find out how many at six months old were exclusively breastfed. It found just 14 per cent of babies
were given just breast milk.

Diana Smart is the institute's general manager of research.

DIANA SMART: At one week 88 per cent were fully breastfed. This dropped over time so that at one
month it was 71 per cent, two months 62 per cent, and by the time the children reached six months
of age only 14 per cent were exclusively breastfeed.

LINDY KERIN: Diana Smart says the fall in breastfeeding rates comes despite several campaigns to
promote the practice, and she says the figures cannot be linked entirely to women returning to
work.

DIANA SMART: We did find that mothers who hadn't returned to work or those who were self employed
were able to keep exclusively breastfeeding for longer, but the trends were not tremendously strong
here, so probably only one factor amongst a whole range of factors.

LINDY KERIN: The Australian Breastfeeding Association's national president Margaret Grove says she
isn't surprised by the report's findings. She says it's evidence more needs to be done to support
breastfeeding mothers.

MARGARET GROVE: People want to breastfeed because the initiation rates are really good, but then it
drops off rapidly. And I think what's happening is that women get to some sort of problems, they
think they haven't got enough milk or you know they might have problems with sore nipples or
something like that, and they don't know that you can fairly easily fix these problems so what
happens is they give up.

LINDY KERIN: Dr Jenny James is a lecturer in midwifery at RMIT University and the vice-president of
the Australian Lactation Consultants. She's told ABC Radio's Deborah Cameron there's too much
pressure on women to comply with prescribed standards.

JENNY JAMES: Mothers generally put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves. You know, it's the
ultimate guilt trip being a mother I've decided, and if we don't do everything perfectly then we're
a failure.

DEBORAH CAMERON: But are we setting mothers up for failure if we say to them: breastfeed
exclusively until the baby is six months? Is that just impractical in today's world?

JENNY JAMES: That's over-simplistic. I think that the reality is that from a baby's perspective,
they need to be breastfed exclusively for six months. What we've got to do is look at ways of
supporting women to succeed at doing that because our society does not treasure new mothers.

There is pressure for them to go back to work from a whole lot of areas, they get sneered at if
they try and feed their baby in public even though it's legislatively protected.

LINDY KERIN: And that pressure was clearly evident in the response from talkback callers in Sydney
this morning.

CALLER 1: If you can't breastfeed your baby for whatever reason, what other choice do you have? And
the angst is just mind blowing. I've got a friend who's actually still on antidepressants because
of the way she was actually made to feel by the 'nipple nazis', as we call them around here.

CALLER 2: We went through the private hospital system, we had lots of support, but my wife, going
into it we knew she had some complications with cysts in her breasts and she had a lot of trouble
breastfeeding and she got mastitis a couple of times and there was incredible agony.

But even throughout all that, we just felt that we were being pushed and pushed and pushed almost
to breaking point by the people that were supposed to be supporting us to continue to breastfeed.

ELEANOR HALL: Callers on talkback radio on ABC in Sydney this morning ending Lindy Kerin's report.

Inquiry to examine suicides by paramedics

Inquiry to examine suicides by paramedics

The World Today - Thursday, 19 June , 2008 12:34:00

Reporter: Jennifer Macey

ELEANOR HALL: The suicide of at least four paramedics in two years has raised concerns about the
welfare of ambulance officers in New South Wales.

State Upper House MP Robyn Parker says she's been inundated by complaints and she's now launched an
inquiry into the ambulance service, as Jennifer Macey reports.

JENNIFER MACEY: There have been 10 inquiries into the New South Wales Ambulance Service since 2001
but Upper House Opposition MP Robyn Parker says the service is still racked by problems.

ROBYN PARKER: Bullying and harassment about roster issues, about stress, we've had anecdotal
information about high numbers of suicide, and untrained staff and in my own region in the Hunter,
single crew ambulances. So there's a whole raft of issues that really make it so much more
difficult for them to do the job that we need them to do.

JENNIFER MACEY: She says the poor treatment of staff is so bad that she's heard of four paramedics
who've taken their own lives, so she's initiated an Upper House inquiry into the management and
operations of the New South Wales Ambulance Service to get to the bottom of the problems.

ROBYN PARKER: I guess the aim of the inquiry is to get people to come forward with that information
so that we can address that, we can put pressure on the Government to really support the ambulance
service and come up with some answers.

JENNIFER MACEY: So far the inquiry has received 14 submissions from ambulance workers - most of
them have asked for their names to be suppressed for fear of retribution. The submissions outline a
culture of bullying by management, low staff morale and high levels of fatigue

VOICEOVER 1 (reading out statement): The catch-22 is that without the large overtime payments
generated by the on-call system, many officers would find themselves in serious financial
difficulty. Hence, most officers tend to keep quiet about the fatigue issue as any adjustment to
the present system would impact on earning capacity.

VOICEOVER 2 (reading out statement): There seems to be little support for us in the wider community
any more and we're no longer held in the high esteem that some people seem to believe. Violence
against us is on the increase and grievance, harassment and bullying in the workplace is also on
the rise.

VOICEOVER 3 (reading out statement): Morale, well it's very poor. As a junior officer it's very
difficult to hear so many negative things about the service from more senior officers who are
simply frustrated with lack of officers and resources. These people who have tremendous experience
and skills are so tired from the workload that they find it hard to remain positive and constantly
share to all how much better the Ambulance Service New South Wales was in the past.

JENNIFER MACEY: John Hall is the vice-president of the Australian College of Ambulance
Professionals. He says the workload of paramedics is growing all the time.

JOHN HALL: The job is very difficult. Shiftwork that the ambulance officers work, fatigue in
shiftwork, is very well documented. We all know that the workloads of ambulance services across the
nation are increasing by seven to 10 per cent nationally, per year. This is due to the ageing
population and other problems that are in the health system.

JENNIFER MACEY: A spokeswoman for the New South Wales Health Minister Reba Meagher says the inquiry
is a waste of taxpayers' money because these issues are already being addressed by a review of the
ambulance service which will be handed down next month.

But Opposition MP Robyn Parker says that inquiry won't go far enough.

ROBYN PARKER: It's nearly always communication issues, it's nearly always system failures and not
the people involved, not the healthcare providers. But the Government really is on notice, they
really are on notice to do something better in terms of health service delivery right across the
board.

ELEANOR HALL: MP Robyn Parker ending that report by Jennifer Macey.

Miners rush to capitalise on underwater volcano find

Miners rush to capitalise on underwater volcano find

The World Today - Thursday, 19 June , 2008 12:37:00

Reporter: Felicity Ogilvie

ELEANOR HALL: Mining companies are scrambling to work out how to retrieve the riches from two
underwater volcanoes that are spewing smoke laden with valuable metals into the ocean.

The volcanoes were discovered by Australian scientists who were mapping the ocean floor near Fiji.
But while the discovery was unexpected, the volcanoes are hard to miss - they're 50km wide and
almost 4000m tall, and they're releasing smoke containing lead, zinc, copper and gold, as Felicity
Ogilvie reports.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The scientists sailed into the Pacific to map the sea floor near Fiji. What they
found surprised them.

Fred Stein is the director of the CSIRO's research ship, the Southern Surveyor.

FRED STEIN: The purpose of the trip was to investigate the geology of the sea floor between Tonga
and Fiji. Because it's so active the way the tectonic plates are tearing apart, Richard Arculus
from the Australian National University is investigating that geology and serendipitously
discovered these two huge, previously completely unknown volcanoes.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Fred Stein says the team of scientists didn't expect to find a volcano when they
started mapping the ocean floor.

FRED STEIN: The vessel was moving from one research area which was targeted, to another, and the
ship has an instrument called a multi-beam swath mapper on board which creates a three dimensional
image of the sea bed as the ship moves along.

And we never turn the instrument off, we're always trying to get a high resolution data of the
shape of the sea bed, its depth, the bathymetry. And as they were going along they gradually saw
the image of this volcano build up, completely unanticipated.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Then a medical emergency forced the ship to sail in a new direction and geology
professor Richard Arculus found another volcano.

RICHARD ARCULUS: Just by pure chance, one of the engineers had a chronic back problem and it was
decided to take him to Samoa, basically get him off the ship and get him to some other medical
care. And we set off for Samoa and as we sailed east of our target area, we came across another
volcano.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Professor Arculus has named the two volcanoes he's found: Dugong and Lobster. The
volcanoes are 50m wide and rise 4000m from the seabed to within 1000m of the surface.

RICHARD ARCULUS: Well the volcanoes are striking. They're quite remarkable. They, enormous 40km
diameter features with a central dome area. The ones we've seen have a large caldera several
kilometres across dominating the summit. And then tentacles, ridges reaching out in all directions
from that central dome area.

So all the ridges are covered with hundreds and hundreds of individual volcanic domes and cones and
mounds.

FELICITY OGILVIE: There's no pictures or sounds of the volcanoes yet, just pictures from the sonar.
But two years ago a team of American scientists watched another underwater volcano exploding in the
Pacific.

AMERICAN SCIENTIST: Oh wow! I can see rocks that are falling out of the eruption cloud...

FELICITY OGILVIE: CSIRO scientist Fred Stein says the newly discovered volcanoes aren't erupting
but they are active.

FRED STEIN: They've got a variety of levels of activity. They're not actively erupting but they are
actively giving off plumes of hot fluids.

Now these are very highly mineralised fluids, they're not quite water. There have been times in the
past where they've been volcanically active but at the moment it's mainly these black smoker hot
fluids which are pushing up from deep within the earth and leaving very highly concentrated mineral
deposits behind.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The black smoke leaves behind minerals that contain lead, zinc, copper and gold.
Professor Arculus says it's the same process that happened millions of years ago, leaving behind
precious minerals in places like Mount Isa in Broken Hill. He says several exploration companies
want to mine the underwater volcanoes.

RICHARD ARCULUS: A couple of those companies in a joint venture were sponsors of the second part of
our voyage on the national facility - a company called Nautilus and another company in a joint
venture with Nautilus called Teck Cominco, and they're interested in the modern analogues.

They're not only working examples of what is mined from all deposits but also in themselves very,
very high grade in terms of the metals they contain.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Professor Arculus says the companies are already preparing to mine other
underwater volcanoes that have been found near Papua New Guinea.

ELEANOR HALL: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.