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Day one for new Senators

Day one for new Senators

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:10:00

Reporter: Lyndal Curtis

ELEANOR HALL: But we go first to the national capital... And as Parliament sits for the first time
today since the winter break, the Coalition has thrown up more problems for the Government by
extending the list of budget measures it will vote against.

This means the Government will have to enter a series of negotiations with minor players in the
Senate. But Opposition leader Brendan Nelson has rejected Government claims that the Coalition is
being irresponsible.

In Canberra Chief Political Correspondent, Lyndal Curtis reports.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The first day of the new session and new senators such as the Greens Sarah
Hanson-Young arrived on time and on message.

SARAH HANSON-YOUNG: Yeah I've been waiting eight months for this day and what a wonderful
opportunity to raise the plight of the Murray.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Others such as Nationals senator John Williams had a welcoming party from his

JOHN WILLIAMS: It's good to see you.

COLLEAGUE: I'm not going to kiss you mate.

JOHN WILLIAMS: How are you mate, oh please don't.

COLLEAGUE: I'll kiss your missus.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And on his first day, Independent Nick Xenophon, hit the nail on the head.

NICK XENOPHON: I think this is a whole new ball game for all of us and I think we'll get an idea of
how it works in the next couple of weeks.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Getting an idea of how it works means making new friends out of old enemies, with
the Government and Opposition already courting the balance of power players.

Senator Xenophon and fellow South Australian Liberal Senator Nick Minchin haven't seen eye to eye
in the past. But in a joint interview on ABC local radio in Adelaide this morning the veteran
Liberal was happy to back a proposed inquiry by Senator Xenophon and the Greens into saving the
lower lakes of the Murray and the Coorong.

NICK MINCHIN: We are supporting this Senate inquiry, we've proposed some amendments to the terms of
reference which I think the greens and Nick find acceptable.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Government's told the Greens leader, Bob Brown it's happy to look at it as well
and Senator Brown is getting some attention from Labor and its senate leader Chris Evans.

BOB BROWN: I'll be talking with Chris Evans in a while in fact in 10 minutes I think. We're having
interest from the Government now.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And the new best friendships extend the other way with Senator Minchin saying the
coalition will be courting the cross benches as well.

NICK MINCHIN: And of course we'll be seeking to get Nick Xenophon's support in those cases where we
would like him to join us in stopping Labor doing things which we think are bad for the country.

So we'll work with Nick, we'll work with Steve Fielding and indeed we'll work with the Greens.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Greens, Family First and Senator Xenophon are the senators of the moment because
they hold the balance of power and with the Opposition's decision to vote against a number of
budget measures, the fate of those bills will stand and fall with the seven senators.

The Coalition is meeting today to formalise its opposition to two more budget measures. One, the
tax exemption on condensate; a light crude oil extracted from natural gas and the tax increase on
luxury cars.

NICK MINCHIN: What an extraordinary notion to say that the Government is fighting inflation and
it's doing so by putting up the price of cars, putting up the price of gas, putting up the price of
private health insurance. This is a nonsensical approach to economic strategy.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Government is accusing the Coalition of risking the surplus an attack taken up
this morning by backbencher, Jason Clare.

JASON CLARE: The key question is, are they going to act responsibly? Are they going to pass the key
measures that the Government has put forward in the budget? Or, are they going to cut a $6 billion
hole in the Government's budget?

Now in these uncertain international economic times, in these difficult times where inflation's a
problem and where the people in my electorate want interest rates going down, not up, the pressures
going to be on the Opposition to act responsibly.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Senator Minchin has dismissed the criticism telling AM it's a complete exaggeration
because the measures amount to just point five of one per cent of Government revenue.

NICK MINCHIN: The Government will still have huge surpluses even if we do vote against these and
defeat these tax measures for which there is no case and which are quite incoherent and without

LYNDAL CURTIS: With the trouble between the parties, there's also trouble inside them. Some Labor
MPs have criticised a Government plan to stop welfare payments to parents who don't send their
children to school and they've also criticised the decision to keep the construction watchdog, The
Australian Building and Construction Commission until 2010.

Labor MP Dick Adams says a caucus committee is now looking at that issue and he's arguing for the
powers of the commission to be watered down.

DICK ADAMS: I don't think we need to keep this at the extreme end of where it is at the moment. I
think we should be able to wind that back somewhat.

LYNDAL CURTIS: On the coalition side, it's still dogged by leadership speculation. Its leader
Brendan Nelson isn't making headway in the polls and some frontbenchers on Four Corners last night
sang the praises of leadership aspirant Malcolm Turnbull.

Tony Abbott was one of those, but he's told Radio National Dr Nelson is doing a good job.

TONY ABBOTT: He's doing a good job under difficult circumstances and the last thing we want to do
is develop a tradition of knifing our leaders.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The leadership, caucus rumblings and the machinations in the senate will all play
out over the next few weeks. And with new friends and alliances and new numbers in the senate, it
will all make for a decided change of pace in this session of parliament.

But how long will the new friendships last?

NICK MINCHIN: You two are very chummy, I wonder if after three years of horse trading and the
cutthroat Senate politics of deal making, you'll be chummy. I wonder if you'll be too friendly in
three years time.

NICK XENOPHON: Look I think we'll be pretty good for this week anyway.

ELEANOR HALL: Senator Nick Xenophon and Nick Minchin laughing there ending that report from Lyndal

Woolworths says consumers are resilient, despite downturn

Woolworths says consumers are resilient, despite downturn

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:15:00

Reporter: Peter Ryan

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's leading supermarket chain, Woolworths, has shrugged off concerns about
tough economic times by delivering a big jump in its annual profit today. The retailer's chief
executive, Michael Luscombe, said that while consumers are hurting from higher interest rates and
higher food prices, the demand for life's basics is showing no sign of slowing.

But he warned that because of the falling Australian dollar, motorists would be seeing little
relief at the petrol pump. This report from Business editor Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: When it comes to winning hearts and minds in Australia's supermarkets, Woolworths
continues to outclass its chief rival Coles. Today, it delivered a 26 per cent increase in annual
profit of $1.6 billion in line with expectations.

But that doesn't mean Woolies customers are exactly dancing in the aisles.

MICHAEL LUSCOMBE: We've certainly recognised that Australian consumers are doing it tough at the
moment, so in all of our businesses we made deliberate decisions to try and ease the pain a bit.

PETER RYAN: Woolworths Chief Executive Michael Luscombe has been in the supermarket business for
around 30 years. But he says that despite the downturn and plunging retail sales in other sectors,
customers are resilient and after an initial shock, have recalibrated their lives.

MICHAEL LUSCOMBE: We're in the business of selling the basics of life for the vast majority of our
business and if you're out there delivering good value then clearly customers will vote with their
feet and their wallets. And you have a look at July, you have a look at the last year, the year
before, you know clearly our customer count numbers, our comp customer count numbers have been
really, really strong and then in July they were even stronger again.

So irrespective of what might be said from time to time, in the end you know we go to the ballot
box everyday and customers come in not just to put a vote, but they actually put their hard earned
money on the checkout and they're doing it more and more in our stores.

PETER RYAN: As one of the nations key petrol retailers, Woolworth's is at the centre of the
Government's controversial FuelWatch scheme. Today Michael Luscombe had a warning for motorists who
are enjoying slightly cheaper prices with crude oil now hovering around US$115 a barrel.

The falling Australian dollar, he says, means any bowser relief could be brief.

MICHAEL LUSCOMBE: Our best guess is that the barrel of oil will probably stay around about $120 per
barrel between now and Christmas. However we need to take into mind that the Aussie dollar's you
know from 97 to 87, that 10 per cent gap has meant that it actually adds about $15 onto the price
of barrel in US dollars.

PETER RYAN: Woolworths is forecasting a profit increase of 11 to 14 per cent in the year ahead and
Michael Luscombe confirmed the company is well positioned for local and international growth.

MICHAEL LUSCOMBE: Yes we are looking for acquisitions both domestically and internationally, but be
rest assured, we're going to be very prudent, we're going to be very careful.

PETER RYAN: With Woolworth's Dick Smith electronics business under a cloud, one target said to be
in the company's sites has been the booming music and electronics chain JB HI FI. But it's clearly
a sensitive matter, and Michael Luscombe was quick to hose down the speculation.

MICHAEL LUSCOMBE: We're not in discussions with JB HI FI.

JOURNALIST: You've never been in discussions with JB HI FI?

MICHAEL LUSCOMBE: We have conversations with literally dozens of firms every year and they're doing
on the basis of confidentiality and I'm not ever going to betray that confidentiality.

PETER RYAN: One critical regulatory issue for Woolworths remains competition in the grocery
business, and dealing with the pressures of GroceryWatch.

MICHAEL LUSCOMBE: I think we should give GroceryWatch the benefit of a settling in period because
the government made a commitment and I think we should let the government govern and get on with
it. And we can judge the results in the fullness of time.

PETER RYAN: This time last year, Woolworths was tarnished by claims of "green washing" unable to
prove some products were friendly to the environment. Despite union claims to the contrary, Michael
Luscombe says the matter is now closed, and the business relationship with the supplier Asia Pulp
and Paper is almost at an end.

ELEANOR HALL: Business editor Peter Ryan

Fairfax to cut five per cent of full-time workforce

Fairfax to cut five per cent of full-time workforce

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:20:00

Reporter: Brendan Trembath

ELEANOR HALL: One of Australia's biggest media companies is preparing to sack 550 of its employees
as part of what it says is a "business improvement program". Fairfax Media's announcement that it
will cut about five per cent of its workforce has shocked many employees who are in the process of
negotiating with management over a new enterprise agreement.

The company's Chief Executive David Kirk said the group needs to be "lean and agile" in a modern
media world. But the Journalists' Union has condemned the job cuts, saying they will affect the
quality of journalism.

Brendan Trembath has our report.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The company has tried to break the news gently. In a one page announcement to the
stock exchange Fairfax Media calls its latest move a "headcount reduction". In simple English it
means job cuts.

About 550 employees will go in Australia and New Zealand, roughly five per cent of the full time

DAVID KIRK: This is a wide ranging program across many of our businesses. It affects corporate and
group services; it affects a wide range of our businesses in the Australian publishing and printing

It affects Fairfax New Zealand. The program will deliver around 50 million in annualised cost
savings, around 25 million of which of the savings will flow in the 2009 financial year.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The Fairfax Media Chief Executive David Kirk speaking on a conference call with
media industry analysts.

DAVID KIRK: A good deal of the cuts are in the newspaper production area. It's journalism in the
sense that it's subediting the paper, an important component. But we do believe for a range of
structural and other reasons that we can be more productive and it'll have absolutely no impact on
the quality of the papers.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Reporters were invited to listen in on the conference call but could not ask
questions. And the company did not immediately schedule a news conference. But this analyst did ask
one of the questions which would have been on reporters lips.

CONFERENCE CALL OPERATOR: Your next question comes from the line of Fraser McLeish with ABN Amro.

FRASER MCLEISH: Thanks very much, just a quick one from me. Just what are you thinking in terms of
likely industrial action and are you expecting big disruption?

DAVID KIRK: No we're not. We clearly it's not within our control but we have a very constructive
and open relationship with the staff and we've communicated directly with them.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Fairfax staff expected the company would announce a round of redundancies. But
the timing is a surprise because Fairfax Media has been negotiating a wages agreement. The Media
Entertainment and Arts Alliance has branded the planned job cuts as short-sighted.

The union's Federal Secretary Chris Warren was on his way to a meeting to discuss the redundancies.

CHRIS WARREN: This sort of cuts by corporate management at one of Australia's largest companies is
going to have a very serious affect on the quality of the journalism that's produced by the
company's papers and websites and magazines.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Will it result in industrial action?

CHRIS WARREN: I think it's a bit early to tell that stage. I think the really important question
here is the sort of damage this is going to do the company for a bit of short term benefit a bit of
short term cost saving.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Chris Warren the company though says it needs to be lean and agile in a modern
media world. Many companies trim staff, what's wrong with this?

CHRIS WARREN: Well I've got absolutely no idea what the company actually means by that. You can't
produce the sort of quality product that are so essential in this day and age by cutting costs.
Don't take my word for it. What's Rupert Murdoch doing? He's not engaging in these sort of
short-sighted cost cutting measures.

He's investing in journalism and it's only by investing in journalism that companies can position
themselves for the long term.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: While Chris Warren is not impressed, the job cuts announcement was welcomed on
the stock market. Fairfax shares rose more than 2.5 per cent in morning trading.

ELEANOR HALL: Brendan Trembath with that report.

Alarm over Sydney hospital deaths

Alarm over Sydney hospital deaths

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:25:00

Reporter: Michael Edwards

ELEANOR HALL: There's alarm today over the state of health care in New South Wales with the
revelation that 61 patients died over a two year period in hospitals in Western Sydney because of
inadequate care.

The internal Health Department review found that surgical materials or instruments were left in
some patients, others were wrongly diagnosed and there were operations performed on the wrong
people or wrong body parts. The New South Wales Opposition says it is appalled by the revelations
but the Health Minster is so far refusing to comment.

Michael Edwards has our report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The Sydney West Area Health Service covers one of the heaviest populated regions
in the country. Professor Steven Boyages is its chief executive.

STEVEN BOYAGES: In any one year we treat 190 000 in-patients, over 3.5 million out-patients, we
deliver about 23 000 babies and we do about 45 000 surgical procedures.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Professor Boyages says it's a service that operates efficiently despite the
pressures placed upon it. However, internal Health Department documents have revealed over previous
two years as many as 61 people died in Western Sydney hospitals because they didn't receive
adequate care.

The problems included surgical materials or instruments being left in patients, wrong diagnoses and
operations performed on the wrong people or wrong body parts. Professor Boyages says while the
deaths are regrettable, they represent less than point one of a per cent of all deaths in the
system each year.

And he says the Health Service's notification and reporting system works well.

STEVEN BOYAGES: The message that comes across consistently is that the notification system is
working well. Our investigating teams are working well, the patterns of care that we identify are
becoming much more robust and the learnings that we adopt from these types of investigation are
then being fed back into the organisation.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The New South Wales Liberal Opposition Health Spokeswoman Gillian Skinner says the
situation is unacceptable.

GILLIAN SKINNER: This is appalling, the fact that these were avoidable deaths, that these patients
went to hospital to get better, not worse that so many of them are attributed to the staff not
picking up on a deteriorating condition of these patients.

The thing that worries me is that Reba Meagher has been warned time and again by doctors, nurses
and others that a lack of resources particularly a shortage of acute care beds, a shortage of
experienced nursing and medical staff and a failure to invest appropriately in IT and other
communications technology would have a terrible impact on hospitals. Well here it is.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: And doctors are also alarmed at the situation. Dr Tony Joseph is from the
Australasian College of Emergency Medicine. He says it's an indication some doctors are lacking
training and supervision.

TONY JOSEPH: Certainly from the point of view of misdiagnoses or delayed diagnosis, you often find
that these involve junior staff, both medical and nursing who are working unsupervised. So without
proper supervision and often don't quite understand when patients deteriorate or some of the
clinical signs that patients may present with which may signal some sinister underlying problem.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Dr Joseph says the New South Wales Government must develop a better safety system
within its public hospitals.

TONY JOSEPH: Well I think that they need to actively promote an air of safety that is we need to
really look seriously at the adverse events that are occurring in our public hospitals. There needs
to be mandatory reporting of these. Then they need to go about providing a safe system, so we know
that you have senior staff involved early in the management paces, there's less critical incidents
and better outcomes for patients.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The New South Wales Health Minister Reba Meagher is not commenting on the deaths.

ELEANOR HALL: Michael Edwards in Sydney with that report.

Life before bars for wife murderer

Life before bars for wife murderer

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:30:00

Reporter: Zoie Jones

ELEANOR HALL: Now to the Northern Territory where an Aboriginal man has just been sentenced to two
life terms in prison for the brutal rape and murder of his wife during a prolonged, drunken rage.
Ronald Djana was charged with murder rather than the lesser charge of manslaughter and will spend a
minimum of 27 years in prison.

As Zoie Jones reports his case has raised questions about the process of plea bargaining for male
Aboriginal offenders. And a warning, this story has some graphic content.

ZOIE JONES: During the trial of 33 year old Ronald Djana, the evidence at times was so gruesome
that members of the jury broke down in tears. Last month a Supreme Court jury found Djana guilty of
murdering and raping his wife in one of the Alice Springs town camps.

The crimes were committed in May last year after a drinking binge that began in the Todd River, a
dry river bed that's often home to chronic drinkers. Fuelled by beer and jealousy, the court was
told that Djana began beating his wife that afternoon.

He threatened to kill her, punched and kicked her, stripped her naked and dragged her limp body
over rough ground to the couple's house. Then he raped her with a metal rod causing severe internal

The ordeal ended at two the next morning when Djana rang an ambulance to get help for his bloodied
wife. The court was told that when the medics arrived, Djana cradled his lifeless wife and cried.

The violence in this case prompted the Crown Prosecutor Nanette Rogers to reject any plea
bargaining for the lesser charge of manslaughter and instead push ahead with the charges of murder
and rape.

It was Nanette Rogers who spoke out about child sex abuse that helped provide a catalyst for the
Federal Intervention. In the Northern Territory, the number of manslaughter cases far outweigh
those that end up in court as murder cases.

Des Rogers is a campaigner against domestic violence in Aboriginal communities and says the charge
of murder should be applied more often in drunken attacks by men on their partners.

DES ROGERS: Unless we've applied the full force of the law in such cases, we're never really going
to achieve anything. Now I'm not a great advocate for prison sentences, but certainly for these
sorts of cases we have to apply the maximum that's required regardless of your past and regardless
of your race as well.

ZOIE JONES: So is there a problem within the Alice Springs Aboriginal legal aid in that they do
push for manslaughter rather than murder? Or they have in the past?

DES ROGERS: Well I wouldn't point the blame purely at them, I think it's just the system that's
created, that perception that there is an excuse there because of somebody's upbringing, or the way
they were treated in their younger years. And certainly I don't believe that that warrants a gain
certainly from murder, for a charge of murder down to manslaughter. I think it's just appalling.

ZOIE JONES: Richard Coates is the director of Public Prosecutions in the Territory and it was his
decision that Djana face murder.

RICHARD COATES: If the evidence is there then the matter would proceed as a murder trial, this idea
that some sort of sympathy for the accused comes into that, those deliberations is just not right.

ZOIE JONES: Unfortunately this case doesn't stand out as a unique case, in terms of a prolonged
bashing, alcohol fuelled and a domestic violence situation turning into a death. In future cases
are you able to comment, will the DPP apply for murder rather than manslaughter?

RICHARD COATES: You've hit the nail on the head when you talk about alcohol fuelled violence, but
quite often the other witnesses to the incident are also affected by alcohol and often we haven't
got the sort of evidence that we would like to prove that the person intended to cause death or to
cause serious injury.

If there are no admissions to that we've got to be able to prove it from other objective evidence
and sometimes that's not available.

ZOIE JONES: An Alice Springs woman who's in contact with the victim's family says they're relieved
that Ronald Djana will be put away for a long time.

ELEANOR HALL: Zoie Jones with that report.

Olympic athletes come home

Olympic athletes come home

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:35:00

Reporter: David Mark

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's Olympic athletes returned home to an emotional and highly staged
homecoming in Sydney this morning. The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was there to greet the athletes
and so were their families and friends.

The Australian team brought home 46 medals, 14 of them gold. But even as they touched down from
Beijing, the sights of many of them were already set on the London Games in four years time.

David Mark has our report.

DAVID MARK: The scene is more a movie set then an aircraft arrival lounge. A massive hanger, a
television lights and camera's everywhere, waiters with coffee and pastries, even a choir as an
expectant group of friends and family braved the early morning chill to greet Australia's Olympic

Jerome Carrigan was waiting for his daughter the road cyclist, Sarah Carrigan.

JEROME CARRINGAN: Oh mate, great, we were here four years ago when they came in and what they do
here is magnificent. It's very emotional, it's real good.

DAVID MARK: The homecoming was a reminder that those left behind share the emotional highs and lows
of the athletes themselves. Melissa Ashby is the wife of the tornado class sailor and silver
medallist, Glen Ashby.

MELISSA ASHBY: I think a lot people probably don't quite understand you know it's left them a
little bit empty and very hungry. They're very proud of their silver medal don't get me wrong. But
I think it has left them hungry to go back and finish the job.

DAVID MARK: What are you going to say to him when you see him walk along the red carpet here in a
few minutes?

MELISSA ASHBY: Oh it really is exciting; you know to see him here and to be here right now, this is
amazing yeah. It's very, very special.

DAVID MARK: It wasn't a long wait. As the team's 747 taxied slowly into the hangar The Prime
Minister, Kevin Rudd, was on the top step to greet the first athlete out of the plane, Australia's
newest swimming sensation, triple gold medallist, Stephanie Rice.

STEPHANIE RICE: It was amazing the step off the plane I mean I've been wanting to come home for
quite some time and see the family so I mean what a great reception.

DAVID MARK: The Rower, James Tomkins, carried the flag for Australia in the Beijing Opening
Ceremony. It was his sixth Olympic Games, but at 42, the rower hinted the Olympic drug was so
powerful he could be back for more.

JAMES TOMKINS: Well it's almost confirmed it walking down the stairs, when you get off the plane
and you get a welcome like this, it's addictive, you know it's hard to give it up and I would
absolutely love to be there, but I mean it may well become untenable, so who knows.

DAVID MARK: The Beijing Games were notable for the success of the lesser lights in the team; like
rower, David Crawshay who won gold in the men's double sculls.

DAVID CRAWSHAY: In terms of being low profile I have absolutely no problem with that, I don't care
if I become, if I'm low profile for the next four years you know.

I think it's a good way to be you know, it sort of makes you hungry and stuff.

DAVID MARK: What about financially? You know we've heard so much about Stephanie Rice and you're
rowing probably James Tomkins, but Stephanie Rice in particular and other high profile athletes
will do very well out of this sport. How does a gold medal translate for you?

DAVID CRAWSHAY: A gold medal for me, look I'm not going to question their motives at all you know,
they're in a you know, someone like James Tomkins, he's had a pretty long apprenticeship. For me a
gold medal just is, is just that. It's a gold medal. It means respect from your peers. I sort of
look at my career as being separate from my rowing and I'm pretty sure that they're going to stay
that way for the next four years.

DAVID MARK: Australia won 46 medals in Beijing including 14 gold. But the message, loud and clear
from Australia's sporting and political leaders is that the team wants more in London in 2012. The
Chef De Mission of the Australian team, John Coates.

JOHN COATES: And you can be assured that as one Olympiad ends, the planning to win back the ashes
in London has already begun.

DAVID MARK: Part of that planning is looking at the millions of dollars it takes to run Olympic
sport. Kevin Rudd says Australia will consider a lottery to raise funds.

KEVIN RUDD: We want to have another look at it because it's a positive constructive idea, let's see
if it works. And as I said before in my remarks when they got off the plane, the preparation for
London 2012 begins today.

DAVID MARK: For some. One person who won't be back in four year's time is Australia's softball
captain and bronze medallist, Natalie Ward. She's retired after 14 years playing for Australia,
while softball has been dropped from the Olympic program.

NATALIE WARD: Yeah I mean I haven't really had a chance to process it yet, I think when we slow
down, I'll be like oh wow that's amazing that it's come to an end and I guess it feels a little
hollow and a huge disappointment for the girls that can't actually go to London and the first
timers and get another chance at this Olympic journey cause it's so, so special to be a part of.

DAVID MARK: Now though it's time to go home. Natalie Ward's mother Helen drove down from Newcastle
to pick up her daughter.

NATALIE WARD: We're just arguing now over who's going to drive home because we've both only had
half an hour's sleep.

DAVID MARK: So normal life resumes?

NATALIE WARD: Yes that's right, immediately.

ELEANOR HALL: That's retiring Australian softball captain, Natalie Ward, ending that report from
David Mark.

Push to overhaul laws on start time for school

Push to overhaul laws on start time for school

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:40:00

Reporter: Felicity Ogilvie

ELEANOR HALL: Parents in Tasmania are lobbying the state government to give them more say on when
their children start school. Under state law children have to start school by the time they turn
six. But Tasmania and South Australia are the only places in Australia where parents don't have
some flexibility in holding their children back from school.

And a psychologist who's made a living telling parents that boys develop later than girls says the
law should be changed. In Hobart Felicity Ogilvie reports.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Tasmanian Psychologist, Steve Biddulph, travels the world advising parents to
hold their sons back from starting school. He gives that advice because he believes boys develop
slower than girls. But in his home state of Tasmania children have to start school by the time they
turn six.

STEVE BIDDULPH: I hadn't been doing many lecture tours in Tasmania and I was speaking on the
north-west coast and some parents came up after the lecture and said did you know your advice is
against the law?

And they in fact were parents of little boys who were having to start school in this coming year
and they were really upset about that because they were very young for their cohort and not really

FELICITY OGILVIE: Mr Biddulph says Tasmania and South Australia are the only states that don't give
parents the option of delaying their child's first day of school. In the rest of the country
there's a window of six months to a year before a child has to go to school.

STEVE BIDDULPH: Really the calendar is a very poor guide to school readiness in children generally.
Some children are ready and some are not, but on the whole boys are about six months and sometimes
even 12 months less developed in their fine motor skills which is writing and holding a pencil and
doing neat work. So they're really not ready for what school does and have a lot of problems.

And teachers complain all the time about the little girls are doing what they're meant to do and
paying attention and the little boys are sticking their pen in their navel and crawling around on
the floor.

FELICITY OGILVIE: So is this just boys? Or is it girls as well that might need to wait to go to

STEVE BIDDULPH: It would involve a percentage of boys and a smaller percentage of girls as well. So
we think that basically every child should be looked as an individual case.

FELICITY OGILVIE: His opinion is shared by The President of the Tasmanian State Schools Parents and
Friends Association Jenny Branch.

JENNY BRANCH: If you look at the Finish model which we've all been talking about lately, they're
all starting school later. You know I think there's all sorts of arguments about how we're going to
look at schooling for our children for the future and maybe we just have to look at some different
ways of doing things to suit the individual child rather than putting them all in one box.

FELICITY OGILVIE: One Tasmanian parent who's got special permission for her children to start
school later is Jane Wells. Ms Wells and her husband have twins, a boy and a girl.

JANE WELLS: It's difficult with twin because if they don't go together, then there may be a stigma
attached to that later on.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Do you see any difference at all between your daughter and your son in terms of
how ready for school your children are?

JANE WELLS: Absolutely, I think the social development, that ability to interact with peers and be
confident socially seems to come slower to boys or to our son in particular.

FELICITY OGILVIE: So you can see a difference, what do you think will be the benefit for your son
in starting when he's a little bit older?

JANE WELLS: I think the most important thing for children to have when they begin their school
journey is confidence. And I don't believe our son would have had that confidence.

FELICITY OGILVIE: There's no word yet from the Tasmanian Government about how it will respond to
the campaign.

ELEANOR HALL: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.

Another Pakistan crisis after coalition collapses

Another Pakistan crisis after coalition collapses

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:45:00

Reporter: Barney Porter

ELEANOR HALL: Heading overseas now and Pakistan today is dealing with yet another political crisis
with the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, pulling his party out of the ruling coalition
overnight. The move has come just a week after the coalition parties celebrated the resignation of
President Pervez Musharraf, who was facing impeachment.

And while analysts say the country won't have to head to the polls immediately, they agree the
political intrigues are diverting the Government's attention from escalating security and economic

Barney Porter has our story.

BARNEY PORTER: The coalition is led by Pakistan's biggest party the PPP, previously headed by the
assassinated former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. Mr Sharif joined with the PPP to oppose Pervez
Musharraf, but now he says it's repeatedly broken promises on resolving a long-running judicial
dispute and on who should be the country's next president.

And he's laid the blame squarely with the PPP leader, Mrs Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari.

NAWAZ SHARIF: We joined the coalition with full sincerity and commitment to steer Pakistan towards
full restoration of democracy, independence of judiciary and constitutional governance.
Unfortunately all promises made with us were not honoured.

BARNEY PORTER: The last straw was the passing of a deadline to reinstate 60 judges General
Musharraf had purged last year. Critics have said the PPP may not want to restore the judges,
because they could overturn an amnesty on corruption charges that allowed Mr Zardari to return to
Pakistan last year.

On the streets, Pakistanis have been less than supportive of the latest political developments.

PAKISTANI 1 (translated): Today they say they are in coalition, tomorrow they say they are pulling
out of coalition. What kind of coalition is this? Had they formed this coalition just to get rid of

PAKISTANI 2 (translated): The issue is not where does Zardari sit or where Nawaz Sharif. The issue
is just one, that where will the people eat from? Where will they earn their living from? And where
will they live?

BARNEY PORTER: Professor Marvin Weinbaum is a former Pakistan analyst for the US State Department
and is now a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington. He says the collapse of the
coalition wasn't necessarily inevitable.

MARVIN WEINBAUM: But it wouldn't have happened if Mr Zadari hadn't concluded that he could put
together a government without Nawaz Sharif and that's what we've seen now. So he baulked at going,
at keeping his promise I should say. He baulked at that because he felt that he was able to cobble
together a group of minority parties that would enable him to govern and to be elected as

BARNEY PORTER: And that's the other divisive issue that led to Mr Sharif's decision to leave the
Coalition. The PPP announced last weekend Mr Zardari would be its presidential candidate.

But Mr Sharif says that violated an earlier agreement for a non-partisan candidate if the
presidency retains certain powers, including those to dismiss parliament. Mr Zardari has a
different view.

ASIF ALI ZARDARI (translated): For the sake of democracy, for the sake of Pakistan, I bear witness
to the people of Pakistan and say, that my friends, my brother and my sisters, I have to lead this
country through very difficult times, and Nawaz Sharif you have to be with us too.

BARNEY PORTER: Members of the four provincial assemblies and the two houses of the national
parliament will elect a new president early next month. But as the politicians bicker, militant
violence has surged in Pakistan considered one of the front lines in the campaign against

BARNEY PORTER: Professor Marvin Weinbaum says if Mr Zardari is elected president, it will be
difficult for him to rule.

MARVIN WEINBAUM: The new coalition is going to be a group of parties that are really only together
because they all want to have a share of power. That's all that really ties them together and until
that happens and even while it's happening, the problems of the country specifically with respect
to it's economy and the challenges that are being presented from the frontier by the Pakistani
Taliban, there's very little likelihood that they're going to develop coherent policies to deal
with those challenges.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Professor Marvin Weinbaum from the Middle East Institute in Washington, ending
Barney Porter's report.

Mrs Obama opens Democrat convention

Mrs Obama opens Democrat convention

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:50:00

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to Denver in the United States where Michelle Obama is giving the key
address at the Democrat convention that will officially nominate her husband, Barack Obama, as the
first black American to run for the White House for a major party.

It's been one of the most tightly contested primary races in US history, with many Hillary Clinton
supporters still unhappy with the result. And the national opinion polls are showing that the race
between Senator Obama and his Republican rival, John McCain, is now much tighter than many
Democrats were predicting.

This has made the convention this week even more critical for Democrats as they launch their
Presidential candidate. Our Correspondent Kim Landers joins us now from the Convention floor in
Denver. So Kim just how much pressure is on Michelle Obama as she makes this speech, what is she
expected to achieve with it?

KIM LANDERS: There's a lot expected from Michelle Obama. Her job is to convince voters that she and
her husband are an all American story. Despite Barack Obama's funny sounding name, his father from
Kenya, his upbringing in Hawaii and Indonesia and his over the top former church minister.

It's really an effort to counter some of those internet rumours and some of the conservative talk
show radio hosts who suggest that Barack Obama isn't American enough or patriotic enough to be
President. Her challenge is to show Americans that the Obama family shares their values, that
they're a loving family orientated hard working couple from humble beginnings, just like everybody

ELEANOR HALL: So how is she meeting the challenge? Millions of Americans are watching Michelle
Obama's speech on national television right now. What is she telling them?

KIM LANDERS: The crowd is actually going wild, there's lots of applause for her, there are standing
ovations throughout it. She's been telling the story about how she grew up on the south side of
Chicago in a family of four, how she lived in a little one bedroom apartment and she's really been
trying to draw these comparisons between her average American life and Barack Obama's life.

He had quite a different family upbringing, but she's trying to weave this narrative of how her
family and his family are just the same. That their family values are the same; their families have
very similar themes. So this is really her challenge. Let's have a little bit of listen to what
Michelle Obama has been telling the crowd.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my
protector and my lifelong friend. And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he
will be an extraordinary President.

And I come here as a mum, as a mum whose girls are the heart of my heart and the centre of my
world. They're the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I
think about before I go to bed at night. Their future and all our children's future is my stake in
this election and I come here as a daughter.

Raised on the south side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker and a mother who
stayed at home with my brother and me.

ELEANOR HALL: There's Michelle Obama's speech there at the Democrat national convention. Kim she
was hitting a few buttons there; the working class background, the strong family values. There's
been talk though that it may have been a bit risky for democrat organisers to put the prospective
first lady on first.

She's known to be quite outspoken and she has had some notable slip-ups hasn't she?

KIM LANDERS: Well she has, I mean during the long nominating contests between her husband and
Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama was dubbed the closer for her ability to persuade voters to come on
board. So now to see her as the opening act if you like for her husband, it's a little bit of a

And as you've mentioned in an age where candidate spouses face scrutiny too, Michelle Obama has
been copping some flak. Critics pounced when she told an audience earlier this year that for the
first time in her adult lifetime she was really proud of her country. And there was that seemingly
playful fist pump with her husband on stage one night that was called a terrorist fist jab.

Opinion polls too are showing that some Americans think she's too opinionated, that she's not as
popular as Cindy McCain, the wife of the republican candidate John McCain. But so far gauging the
reception of the crowd here at this basketball stadium in Denver, Michelle Obama is really winning
them over and as I mentioned at the beginning, her challenge is can she and her husband win over
the American electorate?

ELEANOR HALL: What about the Hillary supporters there? They've been quite vocal, are they looking
as enthusiastic as everyone else?

KIM LANDERS: Well I haven't heard anybody booing and I haven't seen anybody walk out. I mean the
Hillary Clinton supporters that I've spoken to, some of them are reluctantly throwing their support
behind Barrack Obama, it's inevitable.

The polls are showing that about 30 per cent of them are saying that they want to support
republican John McCain or not vote at all, but many in the Democratic Party are hoping that that
sort of unity will materialise in the Democratic Party. That there won't be this mass exodus from
the Democratic Party because Hillary Clinton is not going to be the nominee.

Some people are saying to me, look when the push comes to shove, when people walk into that ballot
box in November, do you really think that somebody who supports the Democratic Party's values is
suddenly going to switch to John McCain just because Hillary Clinton is not on the ballot?

People are saying that that is just not going to happen. But there is a lot of effort going in from
the Obama camp certainly to get those Hillary Clinton supporters on side. In fact Michelle Obama is
referring to those supporters. She's referring to them as those 18 million people who put the
cracks in the glass ceiling for women, so that sons and daughters can dream a little bigger and aim
a little higher.

So even acknowledgement from Michelle Obama of Hillary Clinton's historic campaign.

ELEANOR HALL: Kim Landers in Denver at the Democrat national convention thankyou and we'll be
crossing back to Kim through the week as that convention continues.

Anwar tests political chances in Penang

Anwar tests political chances in Penang

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:55:00

Reporter: Karen Percy

ELEANOR HALL: Lets go now to Malaysia where Anwar Ibrahim is set to make history today with a
return to parliament, after a decade in the political wilderness. In 1998 the then Deputy Prime
Minister was sacked by Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammed and jailed for sodomy and corruption;
charges that Anwar Ibrahim claimed were trumped up.

Now the man who is determined to run for Malaysia's top job is facing new charges. But voters in
the northern state of Penang are still widely expected to re-elect him in today's by-election.

Anwar Ibrahim's political comeback has been made possible in large part by his wife, Wan Azizah
Ismail, who carried on his work while he was in jail and in exile. As South East Asia Correspondent
Karen Percy reports from Penang.

KAREN PERCY: At 55 years of age Wan Azizah Ismail has endured more than the average political wife.
When her husband, Anwar Ibrahim, was sacked from office in 1998 and then jailed, she not only stood
by her man, she took up his seat and his political agenda.

As she's been going door to door in villages around the constituency of Permatang Pauh over the
past 10 days, she hasn't been asking them to vote for her. This time she's asking the people to
vote for him.

WAN AZIZAH ISMAIL: Because the time has come, the time is right and the time has come for Anwar to
take over.

KAREN PERCY: Anwar Ibrahim is grateful for what his wife has done.

ANWAR IBRAHIM: Azizah only been a very reluctant politician, she does not rejoice to be in the
public domain. She was pushed in the circumstances to seek justice for me and then brought up this
whole weave of reformacy, clambering for democracy, freedom, rule of law and she's been able to
handle this actually well.

KAREN PERCY: Back in 1998 Mr Anwar was convicted of sodomy and corruption.

He served six years in prison. The sodomy charges were quashed but in recent months new allegations
have surfaced.

WAN AZIZAH ISMAIL: The voters tell me that you know how can you believe them? How can you believe
those allegations? You know the last time it was also proven to be wrong and this time it is so
clear that it is all trumped up, fabricated against him.

KAREN PERCY: Very soon Wan Azizah Ismail will be able to take a break from the cut and thrust of

WAN AZIZAH ISMAIL: I will be probably an advisor still and then I will have more time for myself
and my children, especially my granddaughter.

KAREN PERCY: So there will be no husband and wife team here but your daughter Nurul is in
parliament. What do you hope for her? Or what are your fears for her given the nature of Malaysian

WAN AZIZAH ISMAIL: Well of course as a mum I want to protect my children from any harm and danger
but I think she has been able to fend for herself. She's grown up in a time when things are not
easy for a young girl of 17 and then having matured now, so I think she is able to face all those
challenges. Then I will leave it to her because I'm very proud of her.

KAREN PERCY: Already Mr Anwar is planning his first political moves and they're aimed squarely at
unseating the Government that unseated him. If he's successful retirement for Wan Azizah Ismail
might be short-lived.

This is Karen Percy in Permatang Pauh, Penang reporting for The World Today.

Parishioners stare down church threat

Parishioners stare down church threat

The World Today - Tuesday, 26 August , 2008 12:59:00

Reporter: Donna Field

ELEANOR HALL: Now to the latest on the story we brought you yesterday about the future of a
Catholic parish in Brisbane. Last night 500 parishioners turned out at St Mary's South Brisbane and
decided to stare down the Archbishop who's questioned their loyalty to Rome.

The parishioners voted to stay as part of the Catholic Church, but to do so they face some tough
decisions. As Donna Field reports.

DONNA FIELD: After sharing soup and bread on a cool Brisbane night parishioners from St Mary's
South Brisbane filed into the church, the pews were full and late comers had to sit on the floor.

They came to discuss the Church's future, after a three-page letter from Brisbane's Catholic
Archbishop John Bathersby who questioned whether St Mary's was in communion with Rome.

PARISHIONER 1: I don't think Bishop Bathersby is wrong in what he's saying I think he's just, he's
got a pretty, he's in a pretty tough situation really. And I think he can carry us forward too.

DONNA FIELD: St Mary's is no ordinary Catholic Church. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags
adorn the entry. Women have been known to preach and gay and lesbians receive blessings. The mass
is delivered with parishioners standing around the altar instead of sitting in the pews.

As one church goer put it the church has a few dilemmas but they're not insurmountable. The media
was not allowed to record the spirited and sometimes emotional debate inside the church. Outside
spokeswoman Karen Walsh said the consensus was to work to address the Archbishop's concerns.

KAREN WALSH: Clearly to work with the process that the Archbishop has given the community and there
are lots of ideas and lots more work to be done but the community really wants to reassure the
Archbishop that that's what they want to do.

DONNA FIELD: Archbishop John Bathersby hasn't given St Mary's a time frame in which to toe the
line. The Church has formed groups to address his main concerns namely the matter of the church's
faith, its interpretation of liturgy and prayer, its governance and its failure to conform with the
Roman Catholic Church's structure.

Parishioners say the issues are serious but there needs to be give and take.

PARISHONER 2: What brings us here is the sense that we are really very active, involved, deeply
thoughtful church and you don't come here because you want to hop in do your Sunday duty and pop

You come here because you feel caught up in the process and we feel welcomed by this process and we
feel welcomed in a way that we don't feel welcomed in many of the mainstream Catholic Churches and
I've been a lifetime Catholic.

DONNA FIELD: Church Spokeswoman Karen Walsh says it was a wonderful meeting and she hopes the
issues can be worked out.

KAREN WALSH: Well it tells you that people are very proud of this parish and that it is a really
important part of their lives and sustains them in their faith.

ELEANOR HALL: Karen Walsh from St Mary's Church speaking to Donna Field.