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RBA hints at rates cut

ELEANOR HALL: The Reserve Bank has given its biggest signal yet that it's prepared to slash
interest rates in order to avoid a recession.

In its much anticipated quarterly statement on monetary policy, the central bank confirmed that it
does see the Australian economy slowing rapidly and it says the threat of inflation is diminishing.

That has economists now betting that the central bank could cut interest rates as early as next
month and possibly by half a per cent.

Business editor Peter Ryan has just come away from the Reserve Bank's lockup, and he joins me now
in the studio.

ELEANOR HALL: So Peter, how strongly did the statement indicate that interest rates could be about
to fall?

PETER RYAN: Well Eleanor this is a 63-page document but the key words come in the final paragraph
of the executive summary and you don't need to read the tea leaves as it's very direct language. It
says the scope to quote "move to a less restrictive stance in the period ahead" is increasing.

Now there's very little guidance of when the rate cuts could come, but it seems certain we're
talking about the coming months and financial markets have priced in the cut of a quarter of one
per cent for September.

The statement went further saying the board would quote "make adjustments as required to promote
sustainable growth consistent with keeping inflation within the target band of two to three per
cent". In other words it's ready to move as required and it does seem that the Reserve Bank has its
finger on the rate trigger and could be about to use it very soon.

ELEANOR HALL: What evidence is the Reserve Bank using to back up its assessment of a rapidly
slowing economy?

PETER RYAN: Well the statement points to the economic data we've been talking about in recent weeks
which it says confirms a significant moderation in spending and activity is underway.

Importantly, the forecasts are that economic growth will fall by a 0.25 per cent in 2008 and
non-farm GDP will slow to 1.5 per cent over the next year before picking up to 2.75 per cent in

Now I'm told that that 1.5 per cent growth figure does include mining which underlines the state of
the rest of the economy which is reliant on the resources boom.

ELEANOR HALL: Now you mentioned inflation; what does the Reserve Bank say about its inflation

PETER RYAN: Well inflation is the first thing the statement refers to, it refers to the currently
high rate of inflation at 4.5 per cent. Says inflation remains a significant concern and it has
upwardly revised its forecast for inflation for underlying inflation to hit a peak of five per cent
in the December quarter. But it's downwards from there, coming back to three per cent in June 2010
as per the previous forecast.

It says despite recent economic developments, ie. the slowdown, it's still too early to see a
noticeable restraining effect. But the key issue here is wages; the Reserve Bank says wages growth
has remained fairly stable, despite the inflation increases and tighter market conditions.

But the board does seem confident that because of the changing economic times, there will be a
significant reduction in inflation over time and keep in mind, inflation is the reason why rates
have been on the rise over the past couple of years.

ELEANOR HALL: Now the Reserve Bank has previously been fairly optimistic about the global economy,
what's it saying about the outlook today?

PETER RYAN: It points to the impact of the global credit crisis which is now into its second year
and it also refers to the worst housing slump in the Unites States since the Great Depression.
Makes the point of saying that the problems have spread from risky subprime mortgages to the more
traditional prime mortgage market.

The statement says there has been an impact around the world, with the credit crunch potentially
amplifying any economic slowdown. It says that could further weaken financial institutions;
although it does make the point that Australian financial institutions are weathering the storm.

And finally it warns that growth in China has eased somewhat recently, adding to the view that the
global growth could be more subdued and if China does slow, that will have a greater impact on a
global economic slowdown.

ELEANOR HALL: So a suggestion that the greater danger to the Australian economy is a slowing world
economy rather than the danger of increasing inflation?

PETER RYAN: Inflation is a global economic threat, it does appear to be on the downwards move in
Australia because of the pre-emptive action by the Reserve Bank and that's what the monetary policy
is all about. But I does make the point as we were talking earlier about non-farm GDP falling to
1.5 per cent and that resources is included in that figure.

Any lower demand from China could exacerbate that slowdown in Australia.

ELEANOR HALL: And has the Australian dollar moved as a result of this Reserve Bank statement?

PETER RYAN: Well not surprisingly the Australian dollar fell sharply just after the statement was
released to financial markets. It went as low as 88.5 US cents shortly after the release. It's
trading slightly higher given that there are a few people sitting on the fence as to weather or not
a rates cut in September might be a 0.25 per cent or perhaps something more aggressive, 0.5 per

ELEANOR HALL: Peter thankyou. That's our business editor Peter Ryan.

Govt releases pension discussion paper

ELEANOR HALL: To Canberra now and the Federal Government has released a discussion paper this
morning, on the aged and disability pensions and the carers' payment.

The paper shows that many other comparable nations pay higher amounts to their aged pensioners. And
the Minister for Family and Community Services, Jenny Macklin, says a committee will travel around
the country to hear first-hand from pensioners and carers.

In Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Sixty-nine-year-old South Australian pensioner Barb, who doesn't want to reveal her
surname, is grateful to receive the pension and live in public housing. But she says life's pretty
tough on the single age pension.

BARB: I'm very frugal; I was brought up in the country. I don't buy takeaways, my daughter took me
out for takeaway on Mother's day and I would think that's probably the first takeaway I've had in a
long time. I don't live a sort of...I have a car which I manage to run and that's important to me
because it gives me my independence.

SABRA LANE: Single pensioners receive $273 a week. This year, the price of Petrol's jumped; so too
groceries and from next year Barb says, the local water authority's written to tell her she'll have
to pay for every drop of water used and not just the excess. And she believes those costs of living
pressures have a greater impact on single pensioners than on couples or families.

BARB: Because you're old you shouldn't have to reduce your standard of living for all of us.

SABRA LANE: The pension is part of the Federal Government's taxation review.

This morning, Families and Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin has released a discussion
paper on the pension, carers' payments and the disability pensions.

JENNY MACKLIN: There are more than two million older Australians, almost 80 per cent of the
population aged over 65 are either dependent on the age pension completely or are on a part age
pension. More than half of those have very, very low incomes in addition to their pension of less
than $20 a week.

So the vast majority of older Australians are on the pension and a very, very significant number of
those people have very small additional amounts of private income as well as their pension.

SABRA LANE: The secretary of the Department for Families and Community services will be part of the
pension review; Dr Jeff Harmer will also head a reference group which will give advice to the
Government on what level the pension should be. Pensioners, academics and interest groups will be
part of that committee.

Public hearings will be held in capital cities, and in three regional centres: Wangaratta,
Newcastle and Rockhampton to hear first-hand from those struggling to make ends meet.

Minister Macklin says the report will be finished by March next year, she says she knows those on
welfare are struggling, as the discussion paper points out; most pensioners don't have nest eggs.

JENNY MACKLIN: Most pensioners also have very low levels of assets, in fact 30 per cent report
having bank balances of less than a thousand dollars. Just one other very important finding from
this background paper shows that many, many pensioners are either on the Disability Support Pension
or the Carer Payment or the aged pension for an extended period of time.

SABRA LANE: On average, those taking the aged pension rely on that welfare payment for 13 years.

Again, Jenny Macklin.

JENNY MACKLIN: What this demonstrates to us is that it's very important that we get the maximum
rate of income support at a level that enables people to have a reasonable standard of living. What
it also says is for those who are under the retirement age, we need to get the system right to both
encourage and support people to work where it is possible that they can.

SABRA LANE: The Minister says the review will examine the carer and pensioner bonuses and whether
they should be incorporated into regular payments rather than lump-sums.

JENNY MACKLIN: Different people have different views about that, that's the purpose of Dr Hamer
having a reference group, of doing the consultations, of actually making assessments of peoples,
the pressures that people are under on a fortnightly basis.

SABRA LANE: The Opposition says it's about time the Government focused on pensioners and carers,
shadow treasurer, Malcolm Turnbull.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The Rudd Government had the opportunity to improve the lot of pensioners in the
last budget and they chose not to. The pensioners were the forgotten people of the Rudd
Government's first budget.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's the Coalition's treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull ending that report by
Sabra Lane in Canberra.

Georgia could escalate into 'Balkans style war'

ELEANOR HALL: To the conflict in Georgia now and Russia has continued its air strikes after failing
so far to accept Georgia's offer of a ceasefire and peace talks.

Russian jets struck at targets near the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, including the airport, and sank
a Georgian naval boat.

Georgia pulled its troops back from the rebel South Ossetian territory and made a ceasefire offer
on the weekend.

Mediators including the French Foreign Minister are trying to negotiate an end to the fighting but
Russia is demanding an unconditional Georgian withdrawal.

The United States though is accusing Russia of seeking regime change in Georgia.

Dr Kirill Nourzhanov is a lecturer in politics and Russian history at the Australian National
University and he's warning that the conflict could escalate into another Balkans style war.

ELEANOR HALL: Dr Nourzhanov what's your understanding of what's happening now? Are the attacks
subsiding or are we seeing and escalation into an all out conflict between Russia and Georgia.

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: Well attacks are definitely subsiding in South Ossetia, so the capital of the
breakaway republic Tskhinvali is still under random fire but it's nothing compared to what was
going on. The carnage of Saturday and Sunday. When it comes to Russian air attacks, as far as i can
see it continues at the same pace or Russia is definitely trying to knock out vital bits of
Georgian military infrastructure.

ELEANOR HALL: Yes how significant is it that the Russians have bombed the airport in the Georgian
capital Tbilisi?

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: Well it makes perfect strategic sense or military sense because Tbilisi's
airport doubles as a military base, as an air base from where Georgian Government mounted attacks
on Tskhinvali.

ELEANOR HALL: So what do you think is behind Russia's continuing attack on Georgia though if things
have subsided in South Ossetia?

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: I think the Russians are simply waiting for an iron clad offer from the
Georgian President about the ceasefire. We know that such offer has been made but in a kind of
fuzzy oral manner. So the Russians are trying to solicit something more durable on paper, something
iron clad that they can show to the international community. So until that happens, Russia is
likely to continue its attacks.

ELEANOR HALL: What of Vladimir Putin's accusations of genocide - a very serious charge. How
seriously do you take it?

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: It's really difficult to ascertain the validity of this claim, it's not just
Putin, it's actually President Medvedev who came in first and said that their humanitarian
catastrophe was unfolding in South Ossetia.

There's also figures that can be anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 civilians dead in the Tskhinvali
and the city is pretty much raised to the ground and thus this does give some credence to the
statements by Putin and Medvedev.

ELEANOR HALL: So to what extent does the Georgian President bare responsibility for this conflict?

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: Well he's very much responsible for the conflict and it's quite interesting to
see that of course now the shift of the international media coverage moved to Russia's aggression,
as they call it, against Georgia. Whereas of course the root of the conflict is the blitzkrieg
attempt by Saakashvili to bring South Ossetia back to the fold for really barbaric means.

ELEANOR HALL: To what extent though have the Russians been driving the South Ossetian independence

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: Well I wouldn't say that Russia was the locomotive behind this progress because
there's a really long history of pro-independence movement in the South Ossetia actually pre-dating
even the collapse of the Soviet Union.

So Russia can be held accountable for the fact that it didn't do enough over the past 16 years to
bring Georgia and South Ossetia to the negotiations table. Russia simply froze the conflict and
puts peacekeepers on the ground but did very little to expedite a solution.

ELEANOR HALL: Given the devastation in South Ossetia that you've described, given the passions in
the region; Chechnya has already offered a peacekeepers, what's the likelihood of this broadening?
Could we see a Balkan's style war between former Soviet Republics?

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: Well that's a real danger and for instance Zbigniew Brzezinski, a big American
politician and author already referred to the trans-caucus as the Eurasian Balkans. So the
parallels are unmistakable. And as we'll see the conflict is overspilling, South Ossetian's in
flames but Abkhazia is also in a state of a lot endless confusion.

ELEANOR HALL: The Georgian President has called for international intervention. How likely do you
think it is that say the United States will intervene?

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: I think intervention if and when it happens will acquire the form of diplomatic
missions. I don't think the United States or NATO will commit its troops actually on the ground,
because for the simple reason that the United States and NATO are on a shaky moral high ground here
because parallels with their intervention, their humanitarian intervention in Kosovo in 1999 are
absolutely striking.

So Russia says pretty much that well we want to prevent the loss of life, the loss of civilian life
and that's why we bomb the hell of Georgian military installation.

ELEANOR HALL: The US is accusing Russia though of regime change in Georgia, is there a likelihood
that the US will step in to protect Georgian independence if it comes to that?

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: Well I don't think the Georgian independence is in any kind of jeopardy. The
Russian Government will not occupy Georgia, it will not put you know another president in the seat
of power in Tbilisi. Russia's objectives are clearly stated, it wants Georgia to desist in Abkhazia
and South Ossetia, it wants Georgia to basically, completely abrogate the forceful solution to the
separatists dilemmas, so that's it.

ELEANOR HALL: Can you see things being resolved so simply though?

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: Oh, of course not, nothing is simple there. Again it's one of those post-Soviet
conflicts that are really intractable. So this storm may well subside and bloodshed and violence
will terminate but blood will stay and the conflict potential will remain and these hot bits can
flare up anytime in the future.

ELEANOR HALL: The potential for conflict may also be exacerbated by the fact that this region is
part of a critical energy corridor. To what extent is this also a battle between the US and Russia
for control of oil in the region. To what extent is that a factor?

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: I think this is a vastly exaggerated factor, the world markets are not reacting
at all to this imaginary threat. So this aspect of the conflict is exaggerated in my opinion.

ELEANOR HALL: Now the UN Security Council's been meeting for several days, what should the West do?

KIRRILL NOURZHANOV: That's a very good question, in the short-term perspective for the best the
West can do is simply to continue this effort to convince the Russians and the Georgians to come to
some kind of interim ceasefire agreement.

In the medium-term scenario, it would be advisable actually to the West, particularly to the
European Union to take note of South Ossetia and Abkhazia because let's face it, it's really
preposterous that we are focusing all our energy on Georgia and Russia forgetting that it's all
about Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

So perhaps the European Union should concern itself with resolving the issue of separatism and the
perhaps using the Kosovo example as a kind of template for a solution.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Doctor Kirrill Nourzhanov a lecturer in politics and Russian history at
the Australian National University.

Georgia crisis hits oil price

ELEANOR HALL: Well while there wasn't a spike in the oil price when the conflict in the former
Soviet republic of Georgia began, world oil prices are on the rise again now.

The world's second largest pipeline, which carries oil from Central Asia to Western Europe, runs
through Georgia and oil analysts are voicing concerns about its security.

The Georgians say Russian jets targeted part of the network unsuccessfully on Saturday. But while
the oil price has resumed its rise, it's still cheaper than last week.

As Brendan Trembath reports.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: It's scenes like this in the former Soviet Union, a Russian plane attacking a
town in central Georgia that have helped push up the price of oil.

David Moore is a commodity strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

DAVID MOORE: Oil prices have moved somewhat higher in trading this morning, the price oil currently
was West Texas Intermediate, just over $116 a barrel.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Oil tends to rise when people worry its supply could be disrupted or blocked
altogether. The current conflict in the former Soviet Union might threaten the flow of oil from
vast fields in Central Asia.

The oil is piped to the West through a pipeline owned by companies such as BP. More than one per
cent of the world's oil is piped this way. The pipeline is actually a series of pipes and it
stretches through Azerbaijan and Georgia to a terminal on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.

David Moore again.

DAVID MOORE: The pipelines through Georgia are important in carrying oil, one of the pipelines is
actually damaged in a completely separate incident last week that was affecting the supply of oil.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Now it's been reported that part of the pipe network has been targeted by Russian
jets. Britain's Telegraph newspaper cites local reports in Georgia that 51 missile strikes left
craters on either side of a pressure vent. This is at odds with what a BP spokesman says.

He tells the Telegraph that thorough checks disclosed no bombing in the vicinity of the pipeline.
The reported attack raises fears that Russia may be moving to increase its grip on the supply of
oil in this part of the world.

The pipeline bypasses Russia. If the pipes were knocked out of action for some time Russia would
have more control over supplies of oil to Western Europe. Russia has previously denied making moves
to squeeze Europe's access to oil.

While the people who buy and sell oil keep an eye on the conflict in Georgia, there are bigger
concerns to face such as slowing world demand. In slowing economies companies and consumers
generally reduce their oil consumption.

David Moore from the Commonwealth Bank says price gains in the widely-traded types of oil like West
Texas Intermediate crude have been limited.

DAVID MOORE: It's worth noting though that it's still well below the levels we saw for most of last
week. Even last Thursday the WTI price was around $120 a barrel, so at the moment, concerns of
slower international economic growth and also the firmer US dollar have both acted to keep oil
prices at a lower level than what was previously existing.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The former chairman of the US Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan attributes oil's
recent drop to speculators unwinding bets. According to the Financial Times newspaper he says there
is not much of a chance of a renewed spike in oil.

Most motorists would hope he's right.

ELEANOR HALL: Brendan Trembath reporting.

NT election count on a knife-edge

ELEANOR HALL: The major parties in the Northern Territory remain in limbo this afternoon as the
election count continues.

Commentators and analysts were expecting a swing to the opposition Country Liberals in Saturday's
poll but this swing could see a hung Parliament.

So far Labor is ahead in 12 seats and the Country Liberals in 11.

But just 57 votes separate Labor and the Country Liberals in the Darwin seat of Fannie Bay.

As Sarah Hawke reports from Darwin.

SARAH HAWKE: The Chief Minister Paul Henderson was this morning confident Labor will form
government, although a result may not be known until later this week.

PAUL HENDERSON: There are thousands of votes outstanding; I think we'll understand today when the
electoral commission actually validates those absentee votes exactly how many votes are still to be

SARAH HAWKE: Labor sustained a swing against it of nearly nine per cent and at least three
ministers have lost their seats.

Saturday night's result was one the Country Liberals needed given the party appeared to be a fading
identity after gaining just four of the 25 seats in the 2005 election.

One analysts surprised by the result is Professor David Carment from Charles Darwin University.

DAVID CARMENT: Now we do have this happening in Northern Territory elections quite frequently but
like most people, I felt that the CLP was so far behind as a consequence of the last election
result that at best they would pick up four seats.

SARAH HAWKE: I guess you reflecting what a lot of people did think, what do you think went wrong
for Labor?

DAVID CARMENT: Well it's easy I guess to be wise with the benefit of hindsight, but it does appear
that the electorate reacted negatively against the early election; they didn't feel that there were
good reasons for having an early poll.

It also appears that the presidential campaign as some people have described it focusing on Paul
Henderson as Chief Minister did not go down particularly well given that while he's an adequate
performer he lacks the communication skills that Claire Martin had and he hasn't been in the top
job for very long.

Many people I think looking at that campaign would say that it was wrongly focused and it would
have been better to concentrate more on the Labor team including people like Marion Scrymgour the
deputy Chief Minister.

SARAH HAWKE: There were a few questions raised over the Chief Minister's strategy to base his
campaign on the idea of trying to lure a gas plant that may or may not come to Darwin and which had
the support of the Country Liberals. How surprising was that as a foundation stone for the

DAVID CARMENT: I believe that it was a very spurious reason for calling an election given that the
Country Liberals come around to support the Inpex proposal, it meant that there was not much to
differentiate the Government from the Opposition and I've always said in regard to the decision to
go to the polls, that the main reason why the Labor Party decided to have an election before the
end of the year, well before the election was due was because they thought they could win.

And they were also, I think, concerned about what might happen to the Northern Territory economy,
which is currently very buoyant but may not remain in that condition for very much longer.

SARAH HAWKE: There have been numerous observations about the low voter turn out.

The electoral commission says this can't be gauged until absentee and postal votes are counted.

With the boundaries of electorates changing just months before the election many Territorians voted
absentee. Counting of those votes will start this afternoon.

ABC analysts Antony Green estimates this may take the Territory within reach of its normal voter
turn out.

One question that's still creating a lot of debate is what the result means for Labor federally.

Professor David Carment.

DAVID CARMENT: I think nationally it is as Kevin Rudd acknowledged a wake up call to politicians
that they always need to be responsive to the wider community.

And I guess also very interesting is the impact it might have on the Western Australian election
which is coming up quite soon where again an incumbent Labor Government called an early poll and
there are some people wondering whether that was the sensible course of action.

SARAH HAWKE: Given the intervention was it surprising there wasn't more focus on Indigenous issues?

DAVID CARMENT: I was not surprised by that because I think both the CLP at the Labor Party probably
had a good deal to hide in terms of their record on Indigenous policy. But it is very disappointing
and it's particularly disappointing for the 30 per cent or so of the population in the Northern
Territory who are Indigenous.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Professor David Carment from Charles Darwin University speaking to Sarah

Privacy laws set for overhaul

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's privacy laws are set for a massive overhaul with the release today of a
report by the Australian Law Reform Commission.

The commission recommends almost 300 changes to Australia's 1988 Privacy Act to take account of the
changes in online and mobile technology.

The report is so big that the Federal Government says it will have to deal with the recommendations
in two stages and it won't be making any legislative changes for at least a year.

But the report suggests individuals should be able to take media organisations to court for serious
invasions of privacy, and the federal minister responsible for implementing the changes says he
won't be following that recommendation.

The Special Minister for State, Senator John Faulkner spoke to journalists today at the report's
launch and said he hoped the report meant Australians would have a greater guarantee of privacy.

JOHN FAULKER: I think I can say to you that I certainly believe so, the Government's priority our
determination is to bring our privacy laws in to the 21st century. And of course here there's
always a balance; there's always a balance. The capacity for businesses to collect, store, use and
of course even sell large amounts of information, I think has real concerns in the community.

There are also concerns about government use of private information. I say to you as I'm sure
you're all well aware when you see the weighty tome, the weighty report before you that this is a
very complex area of law, my priority is to get these reforms right.

JOURNALIST I: ....of providing massive new challenges, ongoing challenges, is that something where
legislation is needed rapidly?

JOHN FAULKER: Well certainly I've indicated that in the fist stage of our reforms that that
matter's squarely on the table and I can certainly indicate to you that our approach will be to
having identified those areas which I indicated earlier would be the first stage of our response.

The recommendations relating to unified privacy principles; health and credit reporting
regulations; and then more broadly improving education about the impact on privacy by new
technologies. Those are the issues that the Government will be giving a priority to in the first
stage of its response.

DAVID MARK: In terms of the uniform principles, are the other states going to come on board and
will that mean that they'll have to change their legislation as well?

JOHN FAULKER: Well certainly there is need here for harmonisation and I'm confident that with the
processes that are currently in train through COAG that we'll be able to work very co-operatively
with other levels of government: the Commonwealth working co-operatively with both state and
territory governments.

DAVID MARK: How will these recommendations change the way the media can report in Australia?

JOHN FAULKER: Well in relation to that particular matter that I know is of considerable interest to
members of the fourth estate; let me say this: I'll certainly be talking to my colleagues about
that issue, it is obviously a matter that I want to talk to my cabinet colleagues about.

I've indicated and I'll say it again so we're very, very clear about this that I'm not progressing
that recommendation at this stage. Let me say it clearly, that matter is not a priority for me; but
it is something that I will speak to my colleagues about.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Special Minister for State, Senator John Faulkner, with journalists in
Sydney today including The World Today's David Mark.

New research centre for ethics in children's medicine

ELEANOR HALL: The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne is setting up a new centre to deal with
the ethical dilemmas of treating sick children.

The centre will help medical staff make tough decisions, such as whether a dying child has the
right to refuse treatment and whether children should be told they're likely to develop a genetic
condition in the future.

In Melbourne, Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital sees hundreds of thousands of sick children
each year, but every now and then cases come along that pose an ethical dilemma for staff. Early
this year two one-year-old twin girls who were joined at the head were brought to the hospital from

Paediatrician, Dr Hugo Gold, says it posed some tough questions.

HUGO GOLD: They had Hindu parents, they were in a Catholic orphanage and eventually had Catholic
and Muslim guardians appointed. They were brought to Australia for evaluation, separation was
feasible but with considerable technical challenges, uncertain outcomes and the possibility of
devastating complications.

SIMON LAUDER: Why were the people's background relevant? What ethical dilemmas did that pose?

HUGO GOLD: There are different approached to reincarnation of souls and dying, fortunately we were
able to decide to proceed and so far those procedures have been successful.

SIMON LAUDER: Dr Gold is about to take up the position of chair at the hospital's children's
bioethics centre, one of only two such centres worldwide.

Medicine has always involved ethical decisions, but Dr Gold says the days of 'Dr always knows best'
are over.

HUGO GOLD: In the good old days decisions were made by the doctor and passed on to the patient.
These days we have many more stakeholders than the individual doctor who properly have to
participate in the decision; and then of course we do need to respect autonomy of patients and
parents as much as we can do.

SIMON LAUDER: So how will the ethics centre work? Will it do research and then declare certain
practices ethical and others unethical?

HUGO GOLD: No it won't be laying down dictates; it's basically to promote good or promote
competence and good thinking about ethical issues, both on the parts of our staff and on the parts
of the community and parents as well.

SIMON LAUDER: The children's bioethics centre will involve a team of researchers, who will use
their findings to educate staff and parents. Dr Gold says parents don't always have the child's
best interests in mind.

HUGO GOLD: The sorts of things that come up, a child with an advance illness coming towards the end
of possible cures or possible relief may wish to discontinue that treatment and the parents are
unhappy for that to happen and want to press on with treatment. Or a situation in which the reverse
might be the case.

There's another unfortunate situation sometimes in which a child is a victim of abuse and it's
become impossible to maintain that child's life but the abuser who may be able to make decisions
for the child, wants that child to continue living otherwise they might face a murder charge.

SIMON LAUDER: New technology isn't making ethical decisions any easier, Dr Gold says the hospital's
ethics centre will examine the consequences of predictive genetic testing for children.

HUGO GOLD: The impact of somebody being informed at the age of say 15 that they've got a condition
that will end their life at the age of 40 about which nothing can be done is a major concern. In
some instances it's clear that such information could be dangerous and destabilising.

SIMON LAUDER: So ethics in children's medicine seems to come down a lot to how much you tell
children and how much you let them have a choice about something?

HUGO GOLD: You have to always do what's in the best interests of the child and you have to make an
assessment of how much information they can handle, but it's always important I believe to give
children as much information as they can usefully deal with.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Doctor Hugo Gold, the chair of the new children's bioethics centre at
Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, he was speaking to Simon Lauder.

Olympic swimmers win more gold

ELEANOR HALL: China now and Australian swimmer Libby Trickett has given Australia its second gold
medal of the Beijing Games. A short while ago Trickett won the final of the 100 meters butterfly.

Olympics reporter Matt Brown is in the Beijing Water Cube and he joins us now.

So Matt tell us about the race?

MATT BROWN: Well your timing couldn't be any better because Libby Trickett is about to step up onto
the top of the dais to accept her gold medal and it will be her first individual medal. Look it was
a fantastic swim, it was a personal best for her, she just missed out on breaking the world record
but she made her intentions pretty clear from the start.

She went out very hard in the first 50 meters - there she goes getting the cheers from the crowd -
went out very hard in the first 50 and held on strongly to beat the American Magnusson. And good
new for Australia Jessica Schipper, our young butterflyer won the bronze medal, so it's been a good
morning for Australia so far.

ELEANOR HALL: And that caps a pretty good Olympics for Libby Trickett, she did very well in the
relay the other night didn't she?

MATT BROWN: Yes she did, she came home with a bronze medal from that. She had a very disappointing
Athens Olympics and this has been a real mission of hers to make sure she doesn't make the same
mistakes here.

She won a gold medal with the hundred meter freestyle relay team in Athens but was disappointing in
all of her individual events. She's gone from strength to strength since then and at the last world
championships won five gold medals so she's really expected to dominate here in the pool and we're
about to hear the Australian National Anthem, so you really have timed your run well (laughs).

ELEANOR HALL: And what about Brenton Rickard, Matt?

MATT BROWN: Yeah Brenton Rickard finished fifth in the final of the hundred metres breaststroke but
it was a tough, tough race because Kosuke Kitajima the Japanese swimmer actually became the first
man to swim under 59 seconds in that event and actually took 0.2 of a second off the world record,
which in those sprint races is a massive amount, so it was a tough race for Brenton Rickard.

We were sort of hoping he might slip into that bronze medal position, but he ended up in fifth, but
it was still a strong swim.

ELEANOR HALL: And what about other medal prospects coming up Matt?

Leisel Jones won her semi-final in the women's 100 metres breast stroke I understand?

MATT BROWN: And looked very impressive in doing so, if ever there was a certainty for Australia at
these games it was that Leisel Jones would pick up both gold medals in the breaststroke event. I
don't want to put too much pressure on her by saying so, but she clearly is a length or two better
than the rest of the field in that regard.

So her semi-final swim was impressive, Emily Seebohm and Sophie Edington unfortunately missed out
on a place in the 100 backstroke final, but again that was a tough race because Kirsty Coventry of
Zimbabwe broke the world record in the semi-finals and we're about to see the men's four by 100
metre freestyle relay which Australia wasn't expected to be a medal chance in that event but
yesterday they swam under the world record.

Unfortunately two teams; the US and France swam even faster. So three teams under world record
pace, that should be a cracking final.

ELEANOR HALL: It's an exciting time there in the pool Matt, give us a sense of atmosphere amongst
the Australians right now.

MATT BROWN: Yeah look it's fantastic, the Australians certainly get cheers as loud as anybody in
this stadium, there's a lot of green and gold in the crowd, I'm not sure how they got their hands
on the tickets but they did.

And look after a little bit of a flat start yesterday, I think everyone got caught out by the early
start time, the crowds were certainly in here on time today and the atmosphere's fantastic as we
watched Libby Trickett as she's known now and Jessica Schipper perform their victory lap and wave
to the crowd, it certainly is a great atmosphere.

ELEANOR HALL: Matt Brown in the Beijing Water Cube there thankyou.

MATT BROWN: Thankyou.

King of funky soul music dies

ELEANOR HALL: Well there wasn't much that Isaac Hayes couldn't do.

Music fans of all ages and from across the world are remembering the many feats and the deep smooth
voice of the Oscar winning soul singer who died at his Memphis home on the weekend.

Hayes wrote and performed the legendary "Shaft" in the early 1970s and much later became known to
millions of young viewers as the voice of Chef in the TV hit series "South Park".

Simon Santow has been looking back at a celebrated career touched by a little controversy towards
the end.

SIMON SANTOW: You couldn't say that Isaac Hayes was an instant success.

His first album in 1968 disappeared without a trace.

But a year later and the album Hot Buttered Soul with just four songs sold more than a million
copies and heralded his arrival as a major talent.

(Sound of Isaac Hayes singing)

The movie Shaft provided Hayes with a number one hit and a tune that is still familiar almost 40
years after it was recorded.

(Extract of Shaft theme music)

ISAAC HAYES: It was a dream come true because every artist would like to have something that lives
a long, long, long time and I had no idea that this would do that and everyday that I hear it I
used to get burned out back in the late 70's oh I'm sick of this!

But now when I hear it, I say thank God it's still here, it's still here, so I'm grateful everyday.

SIMON SANTOW: Shaven headed, trademark sunglasses, outlandishly dressed and covered in gold chains,
Isaac Hayes was able to laugh at himself in the spoof "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka".

And he provided laughs to a generation of new fans in the 90s and beyond as the voice of Chef in
sharply humoured TV series 'South Park".

(Extract from South Park)

SIMON SANTOW: It seemed nothing was off limits.

South Park's satire was biting and, when it came to prime time TV viewing, always at the edge of

(Extract from South Park)

But the Chef didn't see the funny side when South Park's creators turned their sights on

SOUTHPARK CHARACTER: It all began 75 million years ago, back then there was a galactic federation
of planets which was ruled over by the evil lord Fein.

SIMON SANTOW: Isaac Hayes quit South Park in disgust.

ISAAC HAYES: I'm a Scientologist and that is my religious preference and I should be respected for
that. You don't have to like it or love it but respect it.

SIMON SANTOW: Isaac Hayes' many fans will long respect his musical talents.

There was the voice of course but also the songwriting talent he lent others.

SIMON SANTOW: His greatest legacy will be to funk and soul music and the hit that did so much to
excite the music world.

(Extract of Shaft theme music)

ELEANOR HALL: Simon Santow reporting there on Isaac Hayes.