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Customs seize 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy

ELEANOR HALL: First to the announcement today by Australia's Customs Service that it has made the
world's largest ecstasy seizure.

Customs officers this morning detailed how they seized 4.4-tonnes of the drug and helped police
bust open a major international drug smuggling syndicate.

Today 16 people were arrested across four states and the federal police say the raids will continue
over the weekend, mainly in suburban Melbourne.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland spoke to journalists about this morning's raids and our reporter
Sara Everingham was there for The World Today

So Sara, how did the Attorney-General describe the bust?

SARA EVERINGHAM: First of all he congratulated the AFP and Customs on making the largest ever
ecstasy seizure. He said he was surprised at the size of the bust and he described it as a massive
criminal operation.

He said that this showed that Australia was seen as fertile ground for drug syndicates but this
bust would be a deterrent for drug traffickers.

ELEANOR HALL: Did he say how was the syndicate uncovered?

SARA EVERINGHAM: Well, Customs discovered the 4.5-tonnes of ecstasy tablets last June in tinned
tomatoes in a shipping container from what they say was a known trader.

Now the AFP says that a decision was made at that time to keep the bust quiet and then last month
the AFP seized 150-kilograms of cocaine from another shipping container that arrived last month.

Now as you've said the AFP has made those 16 arrests this morning and they've indicated that more
arrests will be made and Robert McClelland said that investigations would continue overseas as

ELEANOR HALL: And have we heard yet from the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty?

SARA EVERINGHAM: Well Mick Keelty spoke this morning and he said millions of dollars of drugs have
been removed from the streets.

MICK KEELTY: It is classic organised crime and we have done our best to shut down the syndicate.
Those alleged to have been involved will appear before courts this morning. 16 peoples thus far
have been arrested.

About $9-million of cash is involved in the transactions that were operated by this syndicate and
of course, not only was there 4.4-tonnes of ecstasy removed from the streets, there was also
excellent work by Customs to ensure that 150-kilos of cocaine didn't reach the streets.

Our estimation and our intelligence indicates that this syndicate is alleged to be involved in
something in the order of 60 per cent of importations coming into south-east Australia.

It's also our belief that the work of Customs, the state and territory police and ourselves has
saved the Australian community something in the order of $2-billion worth of harm in these joint
operations that have extended over the past 12 months.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty.

And now Sara he said the syndicate was involved in importing 60 per cent of the drugs into the
south eastern part of Australia. Did he say just how sophisticated this syndicate is?

SARA EVERINGHAM: Well the Australian Customs chief, Michael Carmody, was also at that press
conference this morning and he told reporters how the drugs were concealed.

MICHAEL CARMODY: Listen, this is a great result. This is what makes getting up in the morning and
coming to work worthwhile. Just look for more of it.

For all intents and purposes you had reports about a container load of tomato in tins coming from a
legitimate, known regular trader and indeed, when we opened up the sea container we were faced with
a wall of tins of tomato and those tins of tomato obviously, the front contained tomatoes and it
was when our officers unpacked the container that - notwithstanding attempts to make it otherwise -
they noted for example that the weight of the containers at the back, the two thirds of containers
at the back, were slightly lighter than the others.

This was a very sophisticated concealment. Then in the second case it was much less sophisticated.
In this case, the container identified by Customs targetters was carrying bags of coffee beans and
thrown on top within the container of those bags of coffee beans were three vinyl bags which will
be alleged, contained the cocaine.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Michael Carmody, the CEO of the Australian Customs Service, speaking about
what he says is the world's largest ecstasy bust.

Drugs council says bust will dent market

ELEANOR HALL: The Australian National Council on Drugs says that drug seizure announced today will
have put a massive dent in the ecstasy market.

Its director, Gino Vumbaca, has been telling Jennifer Macey that means that the pills sold as
ecstasy could be laced with more dangerous chemicals.

GINO VUMBACA: It is an internationally, a very significant, a very significant seizure. Clearly, I
am just looking at some of the significant seizures last year and I think the biggest one was about
100 kilos or so of ecstasy, so you are talking the biggest seizure last year and probably the last
few years in Australia was 100 kilos and now we are talking about 4.5-tonnes. That is a big bust.

JENNIFER MACEY: Where is it coming from?

GINO VUMBACA: Generally, the production of ecstasy is European-based. I note this one was
intercepted en route from Italy or another part of Europe. For instance Holland has been
traditionally an area of narcotic production, but we are also seeing production in our Asia Pacific
region particularly the Asian region increasing as well.

JENNIFER MACEY: Police say they have seized 15-million pills. What proportion of the market does
that make up?

GINO VUMBACA: Well that's one of the problems we have with measuring the impact of our border
detections and other seizures is that to actually understand how effective it is, you need to know
what the total market size is and to understand how much then you're seizing, what percentage
you're seizing.

Now what we don't know is if, catching this much, what has got in around the other side or some
other way.

JENNIFER MACEY: What does that mean then for supply on the street? Does that mean the price will go

GINO VUMBACA: Well, demand and supply economics will dictate that when supply is restricted, the
price will increase and so potentially that's going to occur. It is hard to know what will happen.
It never did hit the streets. We would estimate this would be a significant dent in the
availability of ecstasy on the streets.

And often what we find is, you know, when you hear about overdoses and unfortunately some
fatalities that occur, people think they're taking ecstasy or thought they were taking ecstasy a
lot of time and they haven't. You know, they have been provided with another drug even though they
were told it was ecstasy. Because of the price that ecstasy can attract, it's higher.

JENNIFER MACEY: Everyone thought that ice is one of the most sought after drugs in Australia and
that that's been coming in, in increasing numbers. Does this now show that ecstasy is still really

GINO VUMBACA: Well I think if you look at the national household surveys over the years, we know
that ecstasy use has been increasing. It is still not as prevalent as cannabis or anything like
that which is the most widely used illicit drug, but its use has been increasing whilst cannabis
and heroin and a range of other drugs has been decreasing.

We know that methamphetamines and ice, the use has stabilised, but ecstasy still, I think it still
holds in the minds of lot of people - particularly young people - holds a position of it being a
relatively safe drug or a safer drug to use and is viewed positively and that increases people's
desire or propensity to use that drug.

So I think that is why we have a bit of a battle on our hands with ecstasy, more so than we do with
methamphetamines and ice, which I think people are recognising now as being quite problematic in
terms of their health and psychological impact on people.

I think what we have to recognise is this is an area, an industry that is worth billions and
billions of dollars and that sort of money attracts criminal activity and attracts a lot of people
into it with the lure of money. And when you have that sort of money available, you know, it's not
something you are ever going to beat.

What it means is that the battle will be ongoing and we need to not only look at restricting supply
but also looking at providing demand reduction and harm reduction services as well and it's not
something that you just have a three year plan for, a five year plan for. It is something we are
going to have to deal with over the very long-term.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Gino Vumbaca, the executive director of the Australian National Council on
Drugs, speaking to Jennifer Macey.

Westpac doing well despite credit crunch

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's third biggest bank has taken a major swipe at credit ratings agencies for
failing to predict the global credit crisis.

In a special market update, Westpac's chief executive Gail Kelly said that despite the toughest
economic environment in 30 years, Westpac was doing better than other banks because it ignored the
advice of ratings agencies.

But while she touted her bank's foresightedness, Ms Kelly refused to guarantee that Westpac would
pass on any official interest rate cuts to its customers.

This report from business editor, Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: In the midst of a global credit crisis where many businesses are playing it safe on the
sidelines, Westpac is still working on its takeover bid for the smaller St George Bank.

Westpac's chief executive Gail Kelly says the deal is still on track, but admits it's a murky

GAIL KELLY: We're not dealing with any of this lightly. In fact, this is a very heavy duty stuff
but we are acutely aware of the risks of a transaction of this size and we're acutely aware of the
need for thorough preparation.

PETER RYAN: But compared to some of it's competitors, such as the subprime exposed National
Australia Bank and ANZ, Westpac says it's on track to deliver earnings of between six and eight per

Gail Kelly told this morning's briefing that while asset quality remains good and there were no new
impaired assets to report, stress loans are on the rise.

But she says that's consistent with a slowing economy.

GAIL KELLY: There is no question that the operating environment that we are working within has
deteriorated at a more rapid rate than we anticipated at the half and we're seeing the impact of
higher interest rates, higher oil prices, rising food prices on consumer discretionary spending and
this is reflected in lower consumer confidence, weaker retail sales and softer business

So all of this is resulting in system credit growth falling quite rapidly.

PETER RYAN: Gail Kelly says there's a good reason for Westpac's limited exposure to risky assets in
the United States, such as the now toxic collaterised debt obligations.

She pulled out a memo from a meeting in December 2006 that effectively says - don't believe what
the credit ratings agencies are recommending.

GAIL KELLY: What it says here is product knowledge is important. Some of the asset classes
mentioned are not ones where we have a natural competitive advantage. Relying on the rating
agencies is one of the mistakes we have made in the past. With a minimum rating of A minus, was not
the protection we thought it was.

I think we built up a decent of CDOs but I wonder if we really know how to manage a portfolio of
student loans, credit cards, auto loans and US mortgages. There are nuances in these markets that
we would need to learn.

PETER RYAN: Westpac's head of institutional banking, Phil Chronican, was more blunt in his
criticism of ratings agencies.

PHIL CHRONICAN: From as early as 2006 we have been recognising the inherent risks in some of the
underlying assets in these structures and have consciously decided not to rely on external credit
ratings to assess credit worthiness of instruments that we acquire.

PETER RYAN: But ratings agencies are not alone in being criticised as the credit crisis continues
to unfold.

Banks including Westpac have been under fire from customers, consumer groups and the Federal
Government for raising interest rates independent of the Reserve Bank to cover the higher cost of
sourcing money.

With the sliding economy in mind, Ms Kelly welcomed Tuesday's indication from the Reserve Bank that
rates could be cut by as early as next month.

GAIL KELLY: I think it is positive that we have a Reserve Bank that is prepared to move quickly and
that we have considerable room to move.

PETER RYAN: So will Westpac follow the anticipated Reserve Bank move and pass on all or most of the
rates cuts?

Gail Kelly was hedging her bets.

GAIL KELLY: We would like to be in a position to pass on the full 25 basis points if that is what
the rate change is but we will just have to evaluate that in terms of all of the factors of
competitive pressures, cost of funds as well as our customers.

PETER RYAN: Would you give a guarantee here and now that you would pass that rate cut on?

GAIL KELLY: I mean I think I have just said that we would like to but that we need to evaluate it
against the cost of funds and we have done that all along and as you have seen in the past eight
months, we have been slow in passing on and we haven't passed on the full amount.

We will also have a look at the competitive arena and very much contemplate and think about the
issues to do with our customers.

PETER RYAN: The key word there is competition - especially for a bank about to swallow one of its
competitors in the form of St George.

Along with the disappearance of non-bank lenders such as RAMS, Westpac and the other big banks, are
playing hard in an environment of dwindling choice.

And despite pressure from the Prime Minister down, no bank will be giving any guarantees on rates
relief until the Reserve Bank delivers its verdict on September the fourth, when the official rate
could be slashed by as much as half a per cent.

ELEANOR HALL: Business editor, Peter Ryan.

AOC chief criticises Beijing about smog


ELEANOR HALL: It's China's big night and final preparations are being made for the Olympics Opening

But on a day when it wanted to put its best face forward, the Chinese Government is dealing with
more criticism over pollution and transport hitches.

Beijing's infamous smog has settled thickly around the venues and with most of the athletes and
support crews now in the host city, travel problems are becoming apparent.

In his harshest words yet, Australia's Olympics chief, John Coates, says China has not done enough
to deal with Beijing's chronic air pollution problem.

Our Olympics reporter, Karen Barlow, is in Beijing and she joins us now.

So Karen what did John Coates say this morning about the smog?

KAREN BARLOW: He can't avoid the smog today or haze, whatever you want to call it. It was bad
yesterday and it is worse today. He was asking if China had done enough to clear the skies and this
is what he had to say.

JOHN COATES: What more they can do? This may well be permanent damage and I'm no world export ...
expert, but to have significant pollution is a problem as you have heard me say.

It isn't particularly causing us any issues and our attitude is just to get on with it. It's really
... it's the outdoor endurance sports that mainly are at risk.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the president of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates.

Karen, what are Chinese authorities saying about this increasing criticism of their pollution

KAREN BARLOW: Well, they're holding a press conference right now so we will soon hear what they
have to say today but they have been saying all along it's going to be fine.

Here we are on the day, D-day of the Olympic Games and I am out here in the Olympic precinct and I
am next to the cube. It is a little fuzzy in my vision. I am about half a kilometre away from the
Birds' Nest Stadium and that is a total blur for me at the moment.

So we'll hear very soon about what the Beijing Organising Committee has to say about what can be
done for today.

ELEANOR HALL: And tell us about the transport problems that are emerging?

KAREN BARLOW: Well, John Coates is concerned about the rowers and canoeists as they are being
driven out to the Shunyi venue. It is a 50 minute drive and it is being done in great heat and
humidity and apparently no airconditioning.

There is also some other transport problems and this is what John Coates revealed a short time ago.

JOHN COATES: Yeah and the basketball girls had a bad experience on a wrong bus or something and
they couldn't rectify it for some time. I hope all of that is sorted out now with the buses have
been operating for two weeks, going to training venues and to the venues. It's ... I hope it is under

ELEANOR HALL: That is John Coates again.

So Karen, presuming that things are sorted out by this evening, are all of Australia's athletes
planning to be there at tonight's Opening Ceremony?

KAREN BARLOW: We understand 230 Australian athletes will be marching out of the total number of
443. It is basically 70 per cent of the athletes that are in the Beijing Olympic Village. It is a
greater number of athletes marching than the numbers that marched in Athens.

Australian is third last in the marching order and badminton player, Tania Luiz, is marching. She
spoke to me last night at the team reception.

TANIA LUIZ: Personally I just think I will get such a real buzz from it and a real lift. I think to
find that something extra special at the Olympics, that's what it will be.

KAREN BARLOW: That's Tania Luiz and not all the athletes, of course, are marching and it is
unfortunate. Many of them want to but it comes down to the fact that many are in the host ... other
host cities like the equestrians in the Hong Kong venue and footballers in Shanghai and there are
competitors like gymnast, Sam Simpson, who have to compete the next day.

Team officials are going to make it up to them and they are going to have an Olympic experience,
Opening Ceremony experience inside the Olympic Village.

SAM SIMPSON: Apparently they are going to have some sort of thing at the village. We will be all
sitting around watching it on TV, I'm sure.

KAREN BARLOW: Would you have wanted to, if you weren't competing the next day?

SAM SIMPSON: Yeah, if I was competing maybe two or three days afterwards, I would have thought
about it but the next day. It is about a six hour march someone told me so I don't really want to
be doing that the night before a competition.

KAREN BARLOW: Looking forward to watching it on TV?

SAM SIMPSON: Yeah, it should be good. It will be interesting to see all the festivities that
they've organised. It will be good to see them all.

ELEANOR HALL: That is gymnast, Sam Simpson.

And Karen, you've had a bit of sneak preview of tonight's festivities. You've been to the
rehearsal. What are we expecting?

KAREN BARLOW: I can honestly say it is jaw dropping. Don't tune in too late. One of the best things
is very early on. All I can is it involves a lot of drums and it's very exciting.

ELEANOR HALL: Karen Barlow in Beijing, thank you.

Chinese Australians gearing up for Opening Ceremony

ELEANOR HALL: As we've been hearing, expectations are building in Beijing ahead of tonight's
Opening Ceremony.

The same is true of Australia's Chinese community, where most people are proud to see their
homeland getting worldwide attention.

David Mark has this report from Sydney's Chinatown.

DAVID MARK: Dixon Street in Haymarket in Sydney. This is the centre of Chinatown in Australia's
largest city, but at a quarter past nine on the 8th of the 8th of '08, things are remarkable quiet.

VOX POP: I don't know but I think it is pretty happy for everyone.

DAVID MARK: Has there been much discussion about it?

VOX POP: Not really (laughs). It's just pretty normal.

DAVID MARK: But inside this restaurant here, it is a different story.

RESTAURANT OWNER: Real excited. I'm proud of it (laughs).


RESTAURANT OWNER: Why? Because this is the first time in China. I just come back from China for one
month only so everybody is really excited. Everybody proud of it because it's the first time, so I
think it will improve the economy and let everybody know about China.

DAVID MARK: Andy is the manager of a large supermarket around the corner in Sussex Street.

ANDY: That's good thing. What this time the first time like that, good for the world and anybody
Chinese people, just so exciting. And Chinese people go in altogether in the world.

DAVID MARK: Today is the 8th of the 8th of '08. It is a lucky day isn't it?

ANDY: Yes, Chinese people the eighth is a lucky day, but I heard the news, 96 pairs will get
married today.

DAVID MARK: He's right. He's right. The New South Wales Registry office on the outskirts of
Chinatown is having a particularly busy day, 96 couples are tying the knot. It's all come together
for this groom.

GROOM: I'm very happy because today is the 8th of August so in China we heralded the 29th Olympic
Games, so actually in Chinese tradition, eight is a very lucky number, so we are very happy today
to take marriage.

DAVID MARK: And who knows know that they're married, the wedding party might head down to one of
Chinatown's expansive restaurants for yum cha.

Connie Chung is the group manager of the Marigold Restaurant and another who's excited about the
next two weeks.

CONNIE CHUNG: It is going to be big event. I am looking forward to it being in Beijing even though
I wasn't born in China but I am of a Chinese background so I do look forward to it.

DAVID MARK: What about the fact that the Games are being held in Beijing? Is that significant?

CONNIE CHUNG: Definitely. The first time the Games have ever been held in China so it is a very big
issue (laughs). Yes, definitely, yeah.

DAVID MARK: Is there a sense of pride?

CONNIE CHUNG: Definitely, I think so. Yes.

DAVID MARK: That China is on the world stage. People are discussing issues such as human rights in
China and so on. That is getting a lot more discussion. How do you feel about that? Is that a good

CONNIE CHUNG: It makes people look at it in different ways. Of course, as I said earlier, people
coming from China, people tend to think of it as still under the iron first but then again stepping
into the modern world with the Olympics, it gives people another perspective.

DAVID MARK: Hi Yen Jao is the manager of a smaller but popular Chinatown Noodle Restaurant.

HI YEN JAO: If she or he is Chinese she will be very proud of this game.

DAVID MARK: Now you get a lot of people coming through your restaurant so you're in a very good
position to gauge the mood of Chinatown about the Beijing Games. Are people talking about it?

HI YEN JAO: Yeah, yeah. I heard people talking about this and at least they will return home early
today to watch the opening of the Olympic Game.

DAVID MARK: Back on Sussex Street - and it seems some of Australia's culture has rubbed off on the
Chinese community - at least when it comes to watching major sporting events.

VOX POP 2: Here in Australia it's really ... I mean, not many activities so just go back home,
watching TV, yeah (laughs).

DAVID MARK: Like the rest of us?

VOX POP 2: Yeah. (laughs) And it is so cold today, yeah. Thank you.

ELEANOR HALL: And that report from David Mark on the streets of Chinatown in Sydney.

Pakistan coalition moves to impeach President

ELEANOR HALL: Pakistan's ruling coalition has moved against the country's President, Pervez
Musharraf, vowing to impeach him.

The head of the Pakistan People's Party and widower of Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari, accused
the former general of working against democracy in Pakistan and damaging the economy.

President Musharraf took power in a coup nine years ago but resigned as head of the army last year
and lost control of the parliament in elections in February.

A short time ago, I spoke to our foreign editor Peter Cave in New Delhi about the impeachment move.

So Peter, how significant is this announcement by Pakistan's ruling coalition that it will launch
impeachment proceedings against the President?

PETER CAVE: Well it is significant as if they say they do, they have 90 per cent of the support of
the Parliament because if they do that means they can get the two thirds that they need to
institute impeachment proceedings.

ELEANOR HALL: What are the grounds they're stating for impeachment?

PETER CAVE: There are a series of grounds. They've drawn up or about to draw up a charge sheet
which they will present to Parliament on Monday and the President will have seven to 15 days to
reply to that but the basis of the charge sheet is the President failed to address Parliament or to
seek a vote of confidence but the main charge is he worked actively to undermine democracy.

ELEANOR HALL: And could President Musharraf use his remaining power as President to stymie this
move against him?

PETER CAVE: Well, he has two options that in theory he could take.

The first is simply to dissolve Parliament. He has that power or he could do what he did in 2007
and declare a state of emergency and effectively suspend the Parliament, so he has both of those

ELEANOR HALL: And what is the coalition, the ruling coalition saying it would do in those

PETER CAVE: Well what Asif Ali Zardari has said, he is the widower of the late Benazir Bhutto and
the leader of the PPP, the largest faction in Parliament.

He says that he doesn't believe and just to quote him directly "that the democracy in Pakistan is
so weak that the President would be game to do that". President Musharraf is highly unpopular.

He is highly unpopular since he sacked the judges before the last election and he is also
particularly unpopular because of rolling power shortages in the country blamed by the majority of
people in the country for the fact that their lights keep going out.

ELEANOR HALL: Could he rely on the military still though?

PETER CAVE: Well, that is the question. He quit as head of the military before the elections
earlier this year and whether the military would at this stage be prepared to support him is
anyone's business. They've said absolutely nothing at this stage.

ELEANOR HALL: And President Musharraf has vowed that he would resign rather than face impeachment.
Are there any signs of that at this stage?

PETER CAVE: He said that he would resign rather than face impeachment. He has also said that he
would fight this move and certainly his supporters in Parliament say that he will fight the move
and that the coalition don't have the numbers.

They have got to get two-thirds. Now to get that two-thirds they've had negotiations over the past
three days and Nawaz Sharif who heads the second biggest party claims that a number of former
members of his party who are now within the pro-presidential party are prepared to cross the floor
and vote and they need those members for the numbers.

ELEANOR HALL: So if that coalition holds, what is the likelihood then of the impeachment

PETER CAVE: Well, if it holds, if the President doesn't use his emergency powers. If the military
doesn't step in, the President will have seven to 15 days to answer the charges which will be
levelled against him at a special meeting of Parliament on Monday. If he can't answer those
charges, a vote will be taken and if they have the numbers, he's gone.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's our foreign editor, Peter Cave in New Delhi.

Kangaroos could play key role in climate change

ELEANOR HALL: It's a proposal which has the potential to substantially reduce Australia's
greenhouse gas emissions.

But one of the scientists who's advocating it has already received hate mail.

The controversial scientific study published in the journal, Conservation Letters, is proposing
that Australia reduce its stock of sheep and cattle by 30 per cent and instead farm kangaroos in an
effort to fight climate change.

The study found that this could reduce Australia's carbon emissions by three per cent and save
hundreds of millions of dollars.

Simon Lauder has our report.

SIMON LAUDER: Australia's love of a good steak is contributing substantially to climate change.
Emission by emission, cattle and sheep are responsible for an estimated 11 per cent of Australia's
total greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr George Wilson says the kangaroo could change that.

GEORGE WILSON: Sheep and cattle have got a large room and it is a fermentation vat. In the process
they produce methane. Now kangaroos have got a completely different system, well not completely
different but it's ... the rate of passage through their system is much higher and as a result they
don't produce methane.

SIMON LAUDER: Kangaroo meat is already marketed as a greener alternative because paws don't have as
much impact on the landscape as hoofs do. Dr Wilson and his team at Australian Wildlife Services
have now calculated the role kangaroos could play in an emissions trading scheme.

GEORGE WILSON: We focused on the rangelands in western Queensland and western New South Wales where
landholders really don't have many options. We could reduce our greenhouse gas liability by three
per cent.

Now there really aren't many other options. I've not heard of any that can do that relatively

SIMON LAUDER: And to do that you're proposing a reduction in sheep and cattle numbers on the
rangelands by 30 per cent?

GEORGE WILSON: Yeah, in those areas, yeah by 30 per cent. This will, as I say, save Australia 16
megatonnes of methane and methane is a particularly dangerous greenhouse gas.

It is 21 times more damaging than CO2, but fortunately it has a shorter time in the atmosphere, so
if you are to do things to get rid of that methane then you can have a profound effect on our
greenhouse gas liability and this is one way to go about it.

SIMON LAUDER: So 30 per cent of our cattle and sheep are really responsible for three per cent of
our entire emissions?

GEORGE WILSON: That is exactly right, yeah.

SIMON LAUDER: To replace that number of sheep and cattle, how much would you have to increase
Australia's kangaroo numbers by?

GEORGE WILSON: If you were to reduce the livestock populations you would create enough pasture,
enough opportunity to increase the kangaroo population to 175-million.

SIMON LAUDER: That's a lot of kangaroos. The current estimated population is 30-million.

In the meat production industry, kangaroo meat is worth relatively little. But it could prove a
lucrative option for farmers who now see kangaroos as a pest. If farmers are eventually to be made
liable for their animals' emissions under a trading scheme, Dr Wilson says they'll have a lot to
gain by doing the switcheroo.

GEORGE WILSON: If you were to save 16 megatonnes of greenhouse gases, this has got a market value
at the moment of about $650-million.

SIMON LAUDER: Dr Wilson says wildlife numbers and habitats have benefited from the managed
harvesting of springbok in South Africa, red deer in Scotland and bison in the USA.

He says the same thing could happen with kangaroos although there are some complex cultural
obstacles when it comes to eating national icons.

(Theme song from 'Skippy')

GEORGE WILSON: We've had some hate emails and fairly well contained and constrained but I can
understand how people have those views.

SIMON LAUDER: It's on our coat of arms, isn't it?

GEORGE WILSON: Yeah but springboks are on the South African coat of arms, well not the coat of arms
but it is certainly a similar national icon and that these sort of changes in Southern Africa over
the last few years have led to substantial increase and security of the national iconic species in
Southern Africa.

SIMON LAUDER: You talked about how much you like the kangaroo. How do you like your kangaroo?

GEORGE WILSON: Quick grilled is the way to go. Absolutely delicious.

ELEANOR HALL: That was scientist Dr George Wilson and that report compiled by Simon Lauder.

New research finds breast cancer trigger

ELEANOR HALL: One of Australia's largest medical research institutions says it has found a way to
"switch off" one of the key triggers for a common form of breast cancer.

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney has been studying a molecule known as Gab2.

Professor Roger Daly leads the team and he spoke to Brendan Trembath about how it felt to make the

ROGER DALY: Relieved in some ways because it was a long journey to identify this mechanism, so it
was incredibly satisfying for myself and also for the scientists, the post auctorial (phonetic)
Tilman Brummer who did a lot of the bench work involved so we kind of worked as a team on this over
the last three or four years.

And so it was kind of, it was very satisfying and I guess it was one of those eureka moments when
you kind of suddenly realise how this molecule, very important molecule, is switched off.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Professor Roger Daly, just what have you discovered?

ROGER DALY: Ok, so we have been working on a molecule called Gab2 which is involved in the
development of breast cancer and also certain forms of leukaemia.

We've identified that the action of this molecule is switched off in the cell by binding of another
protein which acts as a shield and we think that this may well provide a novel therapeutic strategy
for treating breast cancer and also these leukaemias in which Gab2 is involved.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Which women with breast cancer might this benefit?

ROGER DALY: There is a subset of breast cancer patients who have high levels of this protein called
Gab2, so not all women have high levels of this protein, only a subset.

And so we anticipate that for women with high levels of Gab2, this might present a novel way of
treating these women.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: But how soon before you might be able to actually use it?

ROGER DALY: I think it is important to emphasise this is early stage research. At the moment we
have identified that this shield operates to switch off Gab2 signalling.

What we have to do now is to determine the molecular structure of this complex and then based on
that, develop drugs which mimic the action of this shield, so we're really looking at something
probably in a five to 10 year timeframe.

But I think what we are particularly excited about is the novel aspects of this mechanism and also
that it provides a way of blocking both the growth of the cells and also the spread of the cells
throughout the body.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Given that this may be used to create drugs to help treat breast cancer, who owns
the intellectual property at this stage?

ROGER DALY: This is not actually protected at the moment, but I think once we identify the
molecular structure of this complex then we will be protecting the intellectual property and it'll
be the Garvan Institute that owns that intellectual property.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Professor Roger Daly from the Garvan Institute in Sydney with Brendan

Coorong water woes

ELEANOR HALL: The Australian Conservation Foundation has put forward a proposal it says could save
the River Murray's Lower Lakes and Coorong.

It is calling on Federal and State Governments to combine forces to buy six properties along the
Darling River.

The Foundation says this would free up around 300,000 megalitres of water, which could then be used
to flush the lower reaches of the Murray.

A spokeswoman from the Federal Water Minister Penny Wong's office says the Minister is considering
the proposal.

But South Australia's Premier Mike Rann says the water would not make it to the Lower Lakes in
time, and that anyone looking for a quick fix is deluded.

In Adelaide, Nance Haxton reports.

NANCE HAXTON: The Australian Conservation Foundation says buying the six properties on the Darling
River and their water entitlements could provide the alternative to the radical interventions that
are being considered for the Lower Lakes and Coorong, such as building a weir to ensure Adelaide's
water supply, or flooding the lakes with salt water to prevent the soils acidifying.

Rivers campaigner, Arlene Buchan, says after two major floods along the Darling Basin this year,
there's a lot of water available in private storages in the Basin, and buying these properties
would provide at least 300,000 gigalitres of water in the parched system.

ARLENE BUCHAN: This is a case of willing buyers and willing sellers so any government and any
individual could look at buying those properties but given that they are strategically positioned
in the system and they have large water entitlements associated with them, it is a wonderful
opportunity for any of those Murray-Darling Basin ... in government, to use the money which has been
allocated for water buyback and make a really big contribution to the environment.

NANCE HAXTON: The issues facing the Lower Lakes and Coorong are particularly acute. Would buying
these properties really do enough to potentially save these regions from environmental disaster?

ARLENE BUCHAN: Some of these properties have large amounts of water currently in their storages and
it might be possible to transfer that water through the system and into Menindee Lakes and that
could offset water which could be released from Menindee Lakes and would reach the Lower Lakes and

So yes, there is an opportunity for us to look at purchasing those properties or their water
entitlements or leasing the water and using that to get through the system to Menindee Lakes and
offset water from Menindee sent to the Lower Lakes and the Coorong. Really we need to be doing an
audit of all the water availability.

NANCE HAXTON: A spokeswoman for the Federal Water Minister, Penny Wong, says the government is
looking to talk to any willing sellers of water in the Murray-Darling Basin, whether they are small
scale farmers or large operations.

She says that would ride on any proposed offer being at a fair market price and also providing
clear environmental benefits.

The Murray-Darling Basin Commission's acting CEO Les Roberts says buying the properties along the
Darling River would not free up enough water to save the Lower Lakes and Coorong.

LES ROBERTS: The Darling River is now not flowing and as little as 20 per cent of the water that
you would release out of those storages would eventually make it through to the end of the system.
There are very significant system losses.

That's clearly a matter for governments to consider in terms of approaches to water recovery.

All those water recovery measures are viable options and then that water then becomes part of an
environmental pool which can be used.

NANCE HAXTON: South Australia's Premier Mike Rann agrees, saying people are looking for a quick fix
that doesn't exist.

MIKE RANN: I believe that, you know, I have always maintained that there is no place in Australia
in the basin for Cubbie Station but even if that, most of the time Cubbie Station is actually empty
so if you bought it say two or three years ago and people would feel that that was a good thing to
do, but there was no water in it.

And I think it is crazy having rice farming and cotton farming in Australia, but the point of the
matter is, that even if those things happened and they were closed down, that is not going to
release water that would get to the Lower Lakes anyway.

NANCE HAXTON: So you say that you don't want to build the weir but couldn't buying these stations
be an alternative to that? The Australian Conservation Foundation says it could release up to
300,000 megalitres by buying those six properties.

MIKE RANN: If you look at the figures that absolutely ... hardly any of that water would get down to
Adelaide let alone get down to the Lower Lakes to evaporate so, you know, we want to see a buyback
of licences, but anyone who thinks there is an instant fix is a phoney.

ELEANOR HALL: That is South Australia's Premier Mike Rann ending that report by Nance Haxton.

Territorian cattlemen worried postal votes won't be counted

ELEANOR HALL: As Territorians prepare to go to the polls this weekend, the Northern Territory's
peak cattlemen's group is warning that hundreds of voters on remote cattle stations will not have
their ballots counted.

Stations on the Barkly Tableland near the Queensland border are often hundreds of kilometres away
from the nearest polling booth and so most people on the stations lodge postal votes instead.

But with a weekly mail plane service that has to goes via Queensland, the Cattlemen's Association
says it's concerned that many of these votes just won't make it.

Sarah Hawke reports.

SARAH HAWKE: In the Northern Territory, when you talk about the Barkly Tablelands, you immediately
think of large cattle stations often hundreds of kilometres from the nearest community.

It's also in drought and the stations are spending a lot of time looking after cattle, which means
many people can't get away.

While the Territory election is tomorrow, postal votes don't need to be back at the electoral
commission in Darwin until next Friday.

The problem on the Barkly is that some pastoralists say they're still to receive their postal vote
and with a weekly mail service that goes via Queensland, many are nervous they won't make the
deadline, which could affect up to 300 votes.

Luke Bowen is the executive director of the NT Cattlemen's Association:

LUKE BOWEN: Mailbags are dropping off some of the forms at the moment, this week and return of
those postal votes will not be possible until next week. This would be probably Thursday and Friday
of next week, at which point, a day or so later, the ballots have to be in.

Some of these mailbags are actually sent back through Queensland, Mount Isa through to Brisbane and
then onto Darwin. The reality is that a lot of votes would not even arrive in Darwin even two weeks

SARAH HAWKE: Other than the actual postal system, what other options are there for pastoralists on
the ground?

LUKE BOWEN: I think there's about four mechanisms that are currently available. People can record a
pre-poll. There also have been mobile polling booths. Now, we know that there has been quite a bit
of money spent getting polling, mobile polling booths to families of five and six in some

We have ... there are very limited polling, mobile polling booths that have been able to be put out
onto stations.

Bearing in mind that some of these stations cover large areas of countries and have what is
effectively a small township. A number of these stations on the Barkly have 80 to 100 people.

SARAH HAWKE: Luke Bowen says he has written to the Northern Territory administrator to have the
deadline for postal votes extended, but protocol means that's unlikely to happen.

LUKE BOWEN: I guess the issue for us is, whether it's one vote or it is a thousand votes, the
principal about the right of everybody to be able to register a vote is what we are concerned

SARAH HAWKE: Most of the stations affected are in the seat of Barkly which covers an area larger
than Tasmania and Victoria combined.

It's held by Labor with a strong margin but the popular sitting member, Elliot McAdam, is retiring.

Mick Adams is running for the Country Liberals. He believes any loss of votes may affect the

MICK ADAMS: It is a huge, a huge concern. A lot of them are on email now and good computer set ups
and all that so, modern technology, surely they can somehow do a security vote over the internet.

Surely there is something like that they can do now rather than rely on the old postal votes which
is totally out of date and, you know, aeroplanes don't get around as much as they used to.

SARAH HAWKE: Given that the Labor candidate in that seat is retiring and therefore there is a new
set of fresh faces, how much of an issue could this play in the final result?

MICK ADAMS: My particular feeling is that it will affect my seat very much because there is a
couple of hundred votes out there and a couple of hundred votes can obviously swing a seat.

This has been a concern right from the word go and I know that the Country Liberals are in big
discussions with the ... have had some discussions with the Electoral Commission and I know the
Cattleman's Association has had discussions with them.

What the result has been I'm not sure because I have been out and about for the last couple of
days, out of phone range.

SARAH HAWKE: The Northern Territory Electoral Commission says it can't speak publicly during a
campaign, but has issued a statement saying its doing all it can to ensure the votes are counted
and is discussing arrangements with Australia Post.

ELEANOR HALL: Sarah Hawke reporting.

Indie band to play at UN in New York

ELEANOR HALL: It's an unlikely formula for success as a rock band but the musicians in the
Melbourne group, Rudely Interrupted, have used their disabilities, which range from blindness to
autism, as an inspiration.

And it's paying off. The six piece indie rock band is just about to leave the Melbourne pub scene
for an international tour of the US and Britain and they've have been invited to play at the United
Nations in December.

In Melbourne, Alison Caldwell reports.


ALISON CALDWELL: From their first pub gig in Melbourne last year, to Federation Square and the
popular indie Laneway Festival in February, six piece band Rudely Interrupted has come a long way
in just two years.

Now it's about to embark on a world tour, kicking off in New York in December, followed by
appearances in Chicago, London, Bristol and Manchester.

It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity for lead singer, Rory Burnside.

RORY BURNSIDE: It allows us to show off to, well basically the whole world, what we are capable of.

This band has well and truly exceeded expectations. In fact, only about six months ago, I was a bit
worried about if we'd even continue to exist because we were, and still are, on financially shaky

A lot of bands like this do tend to be constantly be operating in the red.

ALISON CALDWELL: In a world first, the band has been invited to play at the United Nations in New
York to mark International Day of People with Disabilities.

Five of the six musicians in the band have a range of intellectual and physical disabilities,
including blindness, deafness, Asperger's, autism and Down syndrome. They write their own music and
say they use their weaknesses as their strengths.

Charismatic frontman, Rory Burnside, was born with no eyes and has Asperger's Syndrome.

RORY BURNSIDE: I also associate words and phrases with colours, mainly traffic light colours. For
example, yes is green. No is red and maybe is orange. It also generates awareness of what
Asperger's Syndrome may be like.

ALISON CALDWELL: What is it like for you?

RORY BURNSIDE: Can be very challenging. Can be frustrating. Can lead to me misinterpreting
something. For example if we have to stop and start in a rehearsal, I often interpret that as a
waste of time or people being a bit slow, where as it could be very important.

And this may sound a bit silly but I was born two weeks late and my belief was that my whole life
is two weeks behind schedule, so I need to make that up.

ROHAN BROOKS: I treat this band exactly like I would any other band. To be honest, when we first
got together I didn't know whether we would be able to play one song together let along you know,
be able to go out and start doing shows and tours.


ALISON CALDWELL: Veteran rocker and guitarist, Rohan Brooks, formed the band two years ago after
the group met during a music therapy session.

He's toured the US and Canada before, alongside Jet, in a band called The Anyones. The big name
recording studios haven't exactly been beating down Rudely Interrupted's doors. Rohan Brooks says
thanks to the internet, people can hear the band's music.

ROHAN BROOKS: The traditional recording contract is totally different these days and I mean they
work their bands pretty hard to break their band I suppose. We don't really need to do that, so
unless they come to us with an offer we couldn't refuse and then I would discuss it but I don't
think that's going to happen.

ALISON CALDWELL: The band needs to raise money over the next five months to help cover the costs of
their tour, including food, accommodation and return travel for the band along with six care staff
and support crew.

ROHAN BROOKS: We feel the will is there. The talent is there. We are just asking the general public
to get on our website which is and make a donation.

I am very motivated to tell the world and tell as many people as possible, you know, how talented
they are.


ELEANOR HALL: Guitarist Rohan Brooks and the band, Rudely Interrupted, ending Alison Caldwell's