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Bouquets and brickbats for Costello

Bouquets and brickbats for Costello

The World Today - Friday, 29 August , 2008 12:10:00

Reporter: Lyndal Curtis

ELEANOR HALL: To Canberra where two senior Liberal MPs have re-ignited the leadership issue by
speaking out again about Peter Costello.

Tony Abbott calls Mr Costello the party's "best political asset" in an article published in the
Murdoch press.

And deputy Liberal leader, Julie Bishop, was discussing Mr Costello's future on breakfast radio
this morning.

But while there is pressure on the former Treasurer to reconsider his decision to leave the
Parliament, Mr Costello is about to be honoured by his party in a tribute dinner tonight in
Melbourne, as chief political correspondent, Lyndal Curtis reports.

LYNDAL CURTIS: There's been a lot of praise going around the Liberal Party this week and Tony
Abbott has been at the forefront of that. Indeed he is the sort of guy you would like to have at
your tribute dinner because he seems to have nice things to say about a lot of people.

This week alone he has praised the man who is the Liberal Party leader, Brendan Nelson.

TONY ABBOTT: He is doing a good job under difficult circumstances.

LYNDAL CURTIS: He has also praised the man who would be leader, Malcolm Turnbull.

TONY ABBOTT: He is very determined. He is very focused and at his best he can be a remarkably
charming and genial companion and he is on balance, a very powerful package.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And also the man some in the party would like to be leader, Peter Costello.

TONY ABBOTT: Well, obviously Tony, Peter is a superior political talent. Obviously he was after
John Howard, the colossus of the former government.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Indeed, he used the phrase "superior political talent" about both Mr Costello and Mr

But he has picked one as rising above the pack. In an article to be published in the Quadrant
Magazine, he has described Mr Costello as "undeniably the Liberal Party's best political asset now
that John Howard is gone".

Mr Abbott wouldn't expand on his views today but the deputy Liberal leader, Julie Bishop, was
playing down the meaning of the comments. Telling ABC Local Radio in Melbourne, he is just stating
a self-evident truth.

JULIE BISHOP: In politics, experience counts and Peter Costello is the most experienced
parliamentarian in our Parliament, on both sides.

LYNDAL CURTIS: She says Mr Abbott's tribute to Peter Costello is entirely appropriate but for those
hoping for the former Treasurer to be the "comeback kid" and return to the centre stage of
Australian political life, Julie Bishop says he has had his chance and knocked it back.

JULIE BISHOP: Well let's have a touch of reality. Last year, when Peter had an opportunity to take
the leadership of the Liberal Party, he declined and said he would be retiring from politics.

Brendan put his hand up and was elected the leader of the party. Now Tony can write tribute pieces
to Peter Costello and I think that is entirely appropriate but the reality is, Peter said he didn't
want to stand for leader. Brendan did and he was elected.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And she sounds as though she is expecting him to go.

JULIE BISHOP: That will be a matter for Peter. The timing of his retirement will be a matter for
him as it is for all members of Parliament and the timing of anybody's retirement if they are doing
it of their own choosing rather than not being elected, being thrown out by the voters, is a matter
for them.

And Peter made his position clear. I've not heard him change any statement in relation to it and so
he should be left to continue as the member for Higgins as long as he chooses to do so and for as
long as the people of Higgins wish him to remain.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Over on the other side of politics, the current prime minister was up for a bit of
praise albeit faint, for his current opponent.

KEVIN RUDD: I suppose the case for Mr Costello though is he does prefer to be handed things on a
platter. One thing about Brendan is he took over the job straight after the election loss.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Kevin Rudd has his own hands full managing a slowing economy but he has told
Melbourne radio 3AW that the Government and Reserve Bank are predicting growth will come again to
the Australian economy.

KEVIN RUDD: We believe that into the period of 2009 you will start to see economic growth picking
up. If you go to the forecasts which were released by the Reserve Bank in August, you see growth by
the June quarter 2009 improving to two and a quarter.

LYNDAL CURTIS: One of the measures he says the Government has put in place to help provide a buffer
against the global economic slowdown is the budget surplus.

But this week has seen elements of that more in doubt with the Coalition confirming it will block a
number of budget measures and the Government having to turn to negotiating with the minor parties
and independent Senators to get some, if not all of them, through.

One of those is the increase in the tax on pre-mixed drinks or alcopops. Mr Rudd says it will be
the Liberal Party's fault if the tax rise doesn't get through and the Government has to hand back
the revenue to distillers.

KEVIN RUDD: Once that occurs, then basically the distillers obtain for themselves a windfall and
I've got to say, why do you think the distillery companies have been jumping up and down so much
about this.

And if you look at what we could use that money on, that revenue, we have just been talking in
dollar terms about the amount of money that we are putting out to elective surgeries, $600-million
for this year to assist the states to accelerate the number of cases that they are performing.

This $300-million so far that we have collected by way of additional tax on this category of drinks
goes straight back into the hand of the distillers rather than going to programs like that.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the Prime Minister ending that report by Lyndal Curtis.

And the Distilled Spirits Industry Council says it neither wants nor expects any revenue to be
returned to it if the tax rise is blocked.

It has called for the money to be spent on alcohol-related harm minimisation programs.

Obama under pressure to deliver 'speech of a generation'

Obama under pressure to deliver 'speech of a generation'

The World Today - Friday, 29 August , 2008 12:15:00

Reporter: Kim Landers

ELEANOR HALL: To politics in the United States now where senior Democrats have been paying their
own tributes.

HILLARY CLINTON: I move Senator Barack Obama of Illinois be selected by this convention by
acclimation as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States.

BILL CLINTON: My fellow Democrats, I say to you, Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to
restore American leadership in the world. Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United

JOE BIDEN: I watched how Barack touched people. How he inspired them and I realised he had tapped
into the oldest belief in America - we don't have to accept the situation we can not bear. We have
the power to change it.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's the flavour of the mood at the Democrats National Convention in Denver
with speeches this week by Senator Hillary Clinton, former president Bill Clinton and
vice-presidential nominee, Senator Joe Biden.

And in Denver today Senator Barack Obama will make history by accepting the Democrat nomination to
run for president.

It will make him the first Black American to be a major party nominee for the White House.

And he'll accept the nomination on the same day that civil rights leader Martin Luther King made
his "I had a dream" speech 45-years ago.

Later in the program we'll cross to our correspondent Kim Landers in Denver as Senator Obama makes
his speech.

But first let's hear from our regular commentator on the US election, Professor of Politics at
Stanford University, Dr Simon Jackman.

Simon Jackman, Barack Obama is delivering his acceptance speech today - not in the convention hall
where everyone else has been this week but in a massive sports stadium. How much pressure will be
on him as he delivers this speech?

SIMON JACKMAN: I think he would be under a lot of pressure no matter where he gave it but he is
under an awful lot of pressure. The race has tightened up. The party has rallied behind him with
great political theatrics all week long in the convention centre.

And the table has been set and now it is up to him to deliver perhaps the speech of a generation is
what I think a lot of Democrats will be hoping for from his tonight.

ELEANOR HALL: Why is he not doing it in the convention hall? Doesn't doing it in a big sports
stadium leave him open to criticism that he is more pop star than presidential material?

SIMON JACKMAN: Well that is the criticism. The Republicans playing political jujitsu on every move
he makes at the moment. But look, if he can deliver 80,000 people, fill an 80,000 person stadium
for this speech, that is just magnificent.

I mean the theatrics, the images of this, the sight and the sound of 80,000 people rising in a
standing ovation; this idea of change. So I think that is why they are doing it; it is going to
look great.

ELEANOR HALL: And of course, Barack Obama is also delivering this speech on the 45th anniversary of
Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech - a lot of symbolism there. Would Democrats have
planned for it to coincide with this anniversary?

SIMON JACKMAN: I don't think so. I think it could well have been Hillary Clinton making this speech
tonight had things turned out differently. So I don't think the date was set with a view to
coinciding with Dr King's speech.

But it is interesting nonetheless. It creates sort of a dilemma. The Obama candidacy is, sort of,
got this incredible historical significance to it; the fact that he is now the first
African-American nominee of a, presidential nominee of an American political party. The fact that
the speech is happening on this night.

I think what the Democrats would really love to do is make this less about Obama and more about
what the Democrats will offer the American people in contrast to the Republicans going forward.

But in a way, because the speech does coincide and has all this force of history behind it, you
know, inevitably some of the discussion and some of the talk and the theatrics will focus back on
Obama, the person, the African-American person.

And I think that is something, frankly, that has been actually more of an hindrance than a help in
the last couple of weeks and may indeed explain why the Republicans and John McCain have pulled
level in a lot of the national polling.

ELEANOR HALL: Now you say he is expected to deliver the speech of a generation. How is the issue of
race likely to play in this election?

SIMON JACKMAN: Well, to be frank with you I think a lot of the American commentators over here have
been tip-toeing around the issue. I look back at data that I was collecting and others like me were
collecting back in the primary race between Hillary Clinton and then candidate Obama.

We were finding there that a tremendously powerful predictor of who you voted for among Democrats
right. So whether you voted for Clinton or Obama was your perspective on a bunch of racial issues.
Your attitudes towards affirmative action, towards racial quotas, the extent to which you believe
America was still plagued by racial, a legacy of racial injustice.

That cluster of attitudes was incredibly powerful as a predictor of which way you voted in the
primary season and like I said, I think a lot of the commentary in the United States of late has
tiptoed around this issue that Obama is yet to connect with white working class voters who live
outside of major metro areas, who may be older, who may not be as, who may not be college educated.

I think frankly that is a polite way of saying there is a bunch of people out there, who, if it was
sheer economics, would break for a Democratic this time around. But because it happens to be an
African-American at the top of the ticket, are finding it difficult to give the tick to the

ELEANOR HALL: And despite all the hoopla this week, the polls must be worrying the Democrats. You
have said to us before that the tide is really running in the Democrats' favour given the
unpopularity of the current Republic president.

So why do you think it is that McCain and Obama are so close in the opinion polls?

SIMON JACKMAN: I think the Republicans have had very few cards to play in this campaign so far but
they have played them very, very well. The few dimensions on which McCain is preferred to Obama and
that is issues to do with national security, whether he is a risky bet is, Obama's relative
inexperience compared to McCain.

The Republicans have run with those as best as they can and have made great political headway in
what should otherwise be a very difficult political season for them. Now, and that is partly why
the pressure is on Obama tonight.

I think this speech and indeed some of the lead-in he got from other, you know from the Clintons,
from Joe Biden's speech last night, really focusing this campaign back on what is wrong with
America at the moment and how the Republicans are to blame for much of it. Re-establishing that as
the terms of debate are really important.

ELEANOR HALL: Now there had been some talk that John McCain may have rained on the Democrats parade
by announcing his vice-presidential running mate today and he may even have picked Colin Powell. We
know now that he will be making the announcement tomorrow.

What is your guess on who he will pick?

SIMON JACKMAN: Oh, that is a great question. I tend to think these long shots like Powell or
Lieberman may not be in the offing. The smart money was saying Romney here from Massachusetts. I
would not be surprised if we saw that Minnesota Governor, Pawlenty get the nod in the end just on
the basis of the electoral map. Minnesota would be a very good state for the Republicans to get.

ELEANOR HALL: And next week is the Republic National Convention. Do you expect the fight to really
intensify then?

SIMON JACKMAN: Yeah, I mean the Republicans aren't wasting any time, right. They are going to be
out in front of this, dominating tomorrow's news cycle with the veep announcement by McCain and
they are not going to let the Democrats sort of get too much of a free pass out of what has been a
great week full of political drama and great political theatre for them.

They have backed this race back into a tight position. They would deeply love to keep it there and
we're not past. This is Labour Day weekend in the United States; the historical sort of start of
the fall campaign. America comes back from the beach and the summer homes and the kids are back in
school and the weather starts to turn colder and people start watching more TV and start thinking
about the election coming in November.

And this is where it gets very real and the Republicans have done very well over the summer and
they will want to hang onto that going forward into November.

ELEANOR HALL: Simon Jackman, thanks very much for joining us. And that is the professor of Politics
at Stanford University, Dr Simon Jackman, our regular US presidential commentator and we'll hear
from him again next week from the Republican Convention.

I'll keep you safe, says Obama

I'll keep you safe, says Obama

The World Today - Friday, 29 August , 2008 12:20:00

Reporter: Kim Landers

ELEANOR HALL: Barack Obama has just begun delivering his acceptance speech in Denver and we are
crossing there now to our correspondent before a giant crowd packed into a football stadium.

Barack Obama has accepted the Democrat Party's nomination for president and is telling Americans
that their country faces a defining moment.

He's promising to end the war in Iraq and keep Americans safe from foreign threats.

Our correspondent Kim Landers joins us now from the Mile High football stadium.

Kim, we just heard then that there is enormous amount of pressure on Barack Obama. He is expected
to deliver the speech of a generation. What has he been telling the crowd?

KIM LANDERS: Well Barack Obama is certainly savouring this moment; both for himself and the nation.
Making history here tonight as the first African-American presidential nominee of a major political

He has walked down a long catwalk to his podium. He stood there smiling as the crowd went
absolutely wild and he said with profound gratitude and humility, "I accept your nomination". Those
words Eleanor being drowned out by the cheers of the 75,000 people here in this stadium.

He has quickly hit a couple of major themes. That he understands that people are struggling with
the economy. That he believes the country is fed up with the Bush Republican administration.
Telling people here that they love this country too much to let the next four years look like the
last eight.

He is also going to tackle head on the criticism that he is not experienced enough; that at
47-years-old he is too young to be commander-in-chief. He will be telling this crowd that he will
never hesitate to defend this nation and he said that the Democrats, he says don't tell me that the
Democrats won't defend this country, don't tell me that the Democrats won't keep us safe.

And he is also vowing, of course, to end this war in Iraq responsibly. Eleanor, let's hear a little
of Barack Obama's speech.

BARACK OBAMA: A moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil and the American
promise has been threatened once more. Tonight more Americans are out of work and more are working
harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values

More of you have cars you can't afford to drive. Credit cards, bills you can't afford to pay and
tuition that is beyond your reach. These challenges are not all of government's making; but the
failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of
George W. Bush.


BARACK OBAMA: America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than

ELEANOR HALL: And there you have it. Enormous cheers there for Barack Obama as he delivers that
speech in the football stadium in Denver.

Now Kim, it is an enormous stadium there. Has he made reference to Martin Luther's "I have a dream
speech" which was of course delivered 45-years ago today by that civil rights leader?

KIM LANDERS: Well, he is certainly casting his presidential nomination as proof that no dreams are
too high. He has to, savouring this moment because after this he has to embark on another difficult
struggle to break another barrier for an African-American and that is actually winning the White

We haven't heard him reference Martin Luther King directly yet however throughout the day there
have been a lot of tributes to the civil rights leader. We have heard from his son, Martin Luther
King III, his daughter Bernice King so there certainly has been a lot of savouring of this very
historic occasion here.

I should also remind you that John F. Kennedy was the last president to deliver nomination
acceptance speech in an open air stadium like this. That was back in 1960, Eleanor.

ELEANOR HALL: So again the reference to the Kennedys. Former vice-president Al Gore was speaking
earlier. What was he been telling the crowd?

KIM LANDERS: Well Eleanor, the crowd roared and stomped their feet when Al Gore walked out onto the
stage. He told them that Republicans wrecked the economy; it is time for a change. He said the
Republicans abandoned the search for the people who attacked us; it is time for a change.

And actually his speech was quite funny in parts. He had a really cheeky way of typing John McCain
to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. He said look, Senator McCain would be a continuation of the
current administration's policies and he quipped "now I believe in recycling but that is

ELEANOR HALL: Now Kim, you sound like you are enjoying yourself there. This is of course a moment
of political history. What is it like for you to be there in the stadium?

KIM LANDERS: It is absolutely phenomenal. I don't think I have ever been in a stadium with so many
people. The political pageantry here, I mean we have just had a whole afternoon of entertainment.
Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow. I mean the stage looks like a Hollywood set. It really is sensational.

For Barack Obama though the key is can he connect personally to the people in this audience? Can he
connect personally to the millions of Americans who are watching this address at home? because this
presidential race is very, very tight.

For all of the hoopla, for all of the history that we are watching unfold here on the stadium high
in a sports commentators box, hearing the roar of the crowd, I can't think straight sometimes and
then this is still going to be an absolutely compelling presidential race in November 4th election.

The election for the White House is still a long way off and both Barack Obama and John McCain have
a long way to go. It is going to be a very tough and absolutely compelling contest.

ELEANOR HALL: Kim Landers, thanks so much for that. That is Kim Landers there almost drowned out by
the applause for Barack Obama at the Mile High football stadium in Denver.

Centro, Allco announce substantial losses

Centro, Allco announce substantial losses

The World Today - Friday, 29 August , 2008 12:25:00

Reporter: Peter Ryan

ELEANOR HALL: Two Australian victims of the global credit crisis have posted multi-billion dollar
losses today.

The Centro Properties Group has announced a loss of more than $2-billion in plunging property
values and asset write-down's.

And the Allco Finance Group has reported a loss of $1.7-billion. Only last year it was leading a
take-over bid for Qantas.

Joining us now with the details is business editor Peter Ryan.

Now Peter, it wasn't so long ago that both these companies were the darlings of the share market.
How big a fall from grace is this?

PETER RYAN: Yes, Eleanor we are well way back to earth after our previous story and this is yet
another massive humiliation; but not unexpected in the current market conditions and what's
unfolded during the year.

First to Centro - we are talking about one of the world's biggest property companies. It owns
around 670 shopping malls in the United States.

But it expanded very quickly, perhaps too quickly, during the share market boom when growth was
king. That was before the subprime mortgage crisis developed into a full blown credit crisis.

And now companies with high risk and high debt such as Centro are out in the cold more than ever.

In the case of Centro, that means a full year loss totals just over $2-billion, with around half of
that because of property revaluations. And remember the United States is in the midst of the worst
housing slump since the Great Depression. And interestingly, this time last year Centro posted a
profit of $470-million.

The company's chief executive Glenn Rufrano told analysts that in the face of fire sales, and a
worsening credit situation, Centro had considered asset sales after interest from a number parties.
One would imagine that would include bargain hunters. But he said these offers had been rejected,
possibly as too low-ball, by Centro's lenders.

GLENN RUFRANO: There have been private equity firms that have raised capital around the world. The
United States, Canada, Asia and a number of those private equity firms who were in negotiation with
us at various times over the last few months.

We have also had some government related investment arms that we have had some discussions with and
we have had some operating companies that would be more attuned to the funds management business
that we have in Australia, that had an interest as well.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Centro's chief executive, Glenn Rufrano.

So Peter, can Centro survive these massive losses?

PETER RYAN: Well Eleanor, one would imagine that it is getting down to the wire. Remember the
company has been in deep trouble since late last year, when debts of close to $8-billion were on
the verge of being called in when credit markets first started seizing up.

That, as you'll recall, created an investor panic and Centro shares as a result have slumped 83 per
cent this year. Today after the profit results, Centro's shares are down 2.7 per cent that is 18
cents a share - a very far cry from $8.35 back in September 2007.

And throughout the year, Centro has been struggling to refinance its short-term debt and already
there've been several extensions from bankers.

But just last Monday, Centro warned it wasn't going to secure any equity investment by the December
deadline, bringing it one step closer to collapse. And today's result, while expected, confirms the
fear that the company might not survive the credit crisis.

ELEANOR HALL: And what about Allco Finance. It's had a similar story today?

PETER RYAN: Yes, it wasn't that long ago when we were talking about Allco was leading the
consortium to take over the airline Qantas but those high flying days are certainly over and today
it posted a loss of $1.73-billion and along with Centro, that's one of the biggest losses in
Australian corporate history.

It's lost 94 per cent of its market value this year, after volatile markets cut the value of its

Its shares are down 2.5 per cent today at 38 cents a share. Back on October they were trading at
$9.75. So in the case of both Allco and Centro, more bad news could be treacherous.

ELEANOR HALL: And yet there has been some consolidation in the banking industry with Aussie Home
Loans the latest to be swallowed up?

PETER RYAN: That's right. Australia's biggest home lender the Commonwealth Bank has confirmed it's
done a deal to acquire 33 per cent of Aussie Home Loans. This has been the subject of speculation
for the past fortnight, after the Commonwealth walked away from acquiring the Australian arm of the
investment bank ABN Amro.

And this gives the Commonwealth a strategic holding in Aussie, and it strengthens its supremacy in
the home lending business which could be threatened by the Westpac and St George merger.

However, Aussie will remain independently managed, and under the control of its founder John

ELEANOR HALL: Business editor Peter Ryan, thank you.

Fairfax staff strike for 'future of journalism'

Fairfax staff strike for 'future of journalism'

The World Today - Friday, 29 August , 2008 12:30:00

Reporter: Michael Edwards

ELEANOR HALL: Fairfax journalists say the mass walk-out of staff from one of the country's largest
media companies is not just about jobs but the future of Australian journalism.

Fairfax journalists across the country have walked off the job until Monday in protest against the
company's plan to sack 550 staff.

The company says it will get its papers to the newsstands but journalists say the long-term future
of the publications is bleak if Fairfax does go ahead with the cuts.

Michael Edwards has our report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: It was an angry scene outside the Sydney Morning Herald's headquarters this
morning. Striking Fairfax journalists were told of another big-name casualty in their fight against
the latest round of job cuts announced by the company this week - prominent broadcaster and Herald
columnist - Mike Carlton.

STRIKING JOURNALIST: Mike announced on air this morning that he wasn't filing his column for the
Sydney Morning Herald tomorrow because we are on strike.


The minute he got off air he took a call from Phil McLean, one of the senior executives of this
company who asked him where is your column. Mike said the journalists are on strike I'm not filing
it. And he was told we don't want another one of your columns ever again.

(Crowd booing)

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Fairfax journalists across Australia are on strike until Monday in protest at the
company's plans to cut 550 jobs from its operations in Australia and New Zealand.

Sydney Morning Herald journalist, Ruth Pollard, says the job losses will erode journalistic

RUTH POLLARD: The Sydney Morning Herald and the other newspapers that Fairfax covers are part of
people's everyday life. People rely on us to tell them what is happening in their community. To
tell them what is happening in business and government.

We are not going to have the opportunity to do that if they cut a third of the staff.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: 390 jobs will be lost from Fairfax's Australian operations. The Media,
Entertainment and Arts Alliance says 130 of these are expected to be in the newsrooms of The Age
and the Sydney Morning Herald.

But Ruth Pollard says Fairfax management has kept most the details from staff.

RUTH POLLARD: Well that is one of the most distressing things about what the company has done this
week. They have sent an email out to us saying they are going to do these catastrophic cuts to the
editorial staff and yet they haven't even told us where those cuts are going to come from. All they
have given us is vague numbers.

It is obviously really distressing to the staff to not know what is going to happen with the future
of this company.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Senior Sydney Morning Herald journalist - Matthew Moore - says Fairfax management
has left journalists with no option but to strike.

MATTHEW MOORE: No-one likes taking strike action. We like producing newspaper; we like doing decent
journalism. But really there is no other way you can bring this to the attention of the community.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Fairfax management has put together a special production team to ensure its
newspapers are published over the weekend and on Monday.

The company has also informed the journalists' union that it's withdrawn its sponsorship of the
Walkley Awards - journalism's highest honours.

The federal secretary of the MEAA - Chris Warren - says Fairfax's actions are against the company's
long-term best interests.

CHRIS WARREN: A thoughtless decision was announced early this week by this corporation. To slash
550 jobs is a short-term cost fix that is going to help them get through financially from quarter
to quarter but it is actually not going to deal with the real challenge that newspapers face.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Chris Warren says newspapers face a tough future because of emerging media forums
such as the internet. He says cutting jobs won't help.

CHRIS WARREN: Those newspapers that are going to survive are those that are investing in

ELEANOR HALL: That is Chris Warren from the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance ending Michael
Edwards' report.

Feminists debate 'The Great Feminist Denial'

Feminists debate 'The Great Feminist Denial'

The World Today - Friday, 29 August , 2008 12:39:00

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: It has been pilloried as the preserve of hairy-legged lesbians. It has been blamed
for misleading women by telling them they could have it all. It has even been seen as responsible
for the rise of teenage raunch culture.

But is feminism now simply irrelevant to young women?

A couple of 30-something women say absolutely not.

In their book - "The Great Feminist Denial" - Monica Dux and Zora Simic argue that feminism is
unfairly blamed for much of what troubles women. And they're calling on younger women to continue
the fight for women's rights.

So will those women answer the call?

Joining us now to talk about the future of feminism are three women, all of whom call or have
called themselves feminists but who disagree on just what that means.

One is the co-author of "The Great Feminist Denial", Monica Dux. She is in our Melbourne studio.

In Canberra we're joined by one of the book's targets, Virginia Haussegger. She presents the ABC-TV
news in Canberra and is the author of a passionate and very personal opinion piece in which she
blamed feminism for her failure to have a baby. The huge response to that article led her to write
her 2005 book "Wonder Woman - The Myth of Having it All".

And in our Sydney studio is Jessica Brown. She is in her 20s and is a policy analyst at the Centre
for Independent Studies, where she researches work and family issues.

Welcome to you all.

First to you Monica Dux, you say in your book that it was a question from a 15-year-old to the
feminist icon Germaine Greer that made you and Zora Simic decide to write "The Great Feminist
Denial". Tell us about that?

MONICA DUX: Well, we were really fascinated by the extent to which Germaine Greer is constantly
mentioned by women of all ages as representative of the feminist movement. And "The Female Eunuch"
was written over 30 years ago.

It did have a very big impact on the feminist movement in the second wave but there has been so
much that has happened since then and for us, we found that quite troubling that this is a
stereotype that persists and we really wrote this book as an attempt to address some of the
feminist culpability that gets spread around about feminism and has increasingly been spread around
about feminism.

ELEANOR HALL: And you say a generational chasm opened in the 1990s. What was it that turned young
women off?

MONICA DUX: Well, I don't think it is a matter of women being turned off feminism as women being
told that feminism was a terrible thing. I mean in the 90s you had a lot of generational infighting
which was amplified by the media.

You also had a mainstreaming of feminism where suddenly it belonged to everyone. So anyone could
suddenly be commentator from an opinion piece writer to a 17-year-old girl on the street.

And I think this constant disparaging of feminism which has gone up a notch in the last decade, has
turned women off, not so much feminism because they will most often espouse feminist principles but
it has turned them off what they imagine feminism to actually be.

ELEANOR HALL: Now Jessica Brown, do you agree that many young women like you in their 20s or
younger, were turned off, perhaps not so much by feminism, at least by the way it was portrayed?

JESSICA BROWN: Um, yeah. I think that women, young women today aren't necessarily anti-feminist; it
is more that a lot of young women don't necessarily see the relevance of feminism to their lives.

So much of feminism still seems to be hung up on that victim complex; the idea that women are
oppressed and need to be liberated. And young women today do better than boys at school, have so
many choices about work, relationships, children; that I just don't think it is relevant for young
women to, they don't feel oppressed.

ELEANOR HALL: Do you call yourself a feminist, and feel comfortable?

JESSICA BROWN: I do, I do but I think that um, I think that to overcome this feminism really needs
to update itself and take account of the fact that since the big battles of feminism, the world has
changed and in a large part because of those big battles of feminism. And I think for feminism to
be relevant for my generation, it sort of needs to be updated to take that into account.

ELEANOR HALL: And do you agree with what Monica Dux was saying that Germaine Greer is still the
sort of feminist icon that even young women look to?

JESSICA BROWN: Well, I mean we have seen her only this week in the media. So look, I don't know if
she is the icon that people look to her if she is just you know saturation coverage and she is

ELEANOR HALL: Now Virginia Hausegger you are one of the women criticised in this book for blaming
feminism for your problems. Do you still call yourself a feminist?

VIRGINIA HAUSEGGER: (Laughs) Oh, look Eleanor, here we go again. Yes, I do. I always have since I
was very young and I always will and look I just want to qualify something here. I'm not sure if
Monica has actually read my book and if she has, she has either chosen to fail to understand it or
has chosen to misinterpret it because it has provided a very comfortable punching bag for her book.

But this so-called blame of mine which she very snidely refers to in her book, is actually quite
misrepresenting what I've said. And anyone that has read the book would know that.

ELEANOR HALL: Do you stand by what you wrote in your article "The Sins of our Feminist Mothers"?

VIRGINIA HAUSEGGER: Yeah, of course I do. Of course I absolutely do. Yeah.

ELEANOR HALL: So tell us, what is it that you are saying there? Are you critical of the older

VIRGINIA HAUSEGGER: Look, what I said back in 2002, I said that I was really angry and I felt daft
and I felt foolish and I did and look, you know, for anyone, I mean, anyone that suddenly finds
themselves facing the brick wall of infertility, I don't think that is an unreasonable response.

It just so happened that I went and told the world about it. You know, perhaps I should have shut
up. But the fact that I did has actually opened the door for a lot of discussion and I certainly am
happy about that.

ELEANOR HALL: You got an enormous response to that article, didn't you?

VIRGINIA HAUSEGGER: Yeah, look absolutely and look this is where Monica's book is very
contradictory. On one hand she slaps me around the head and on the other hand talks about how my
argument resonated with so many people.

Well, the fact that it did resonate is an important thing. I still have young women coming up to me
to talk to me about having read my book or heard about it or contacting me to say that they've read
it and it has really made them think.

And look that is a terrific thing. I was actually giving a talk an ANU just two nights ago to a
student group and the number of women, young women in their early 20s that came up to me afterwards
and asked me to sign the book and all that kind of stuff.

And I was saying to them, look, you know, you don't need to worry about this stuff just yet but it
is good that you are thinking about it.

When you plan your futures and make decisions that will shape your futures and your careers, it is
important to think about these thinks - the issues of fertility I am talking about.

ELEANOR HALL: Monica Dux, Virginia Hausegger was just accusing you of slapping her around the head.
What is your problem with her criticism of feminism?

MONICA DUX: Look, I don't and I don't think there is anything actually contradictory in what we say
about Hausegger's work. I do stand by the fact that I think that it did press a lot of buttons. I
was actually in my 20s at the time when that article was published and I found that the accusation
that somehow feminism had let Hausegger down was misleading.

I think that is a fundamental problem of a lot of the way that feminism is being blamed is that it
misses a lot of historical facts about what the feminist movement is and what it stood for and its
continued evolution. And I do think that fertility, we don't deny that at all, fertility and
childlessness is a growing issue for women.

But we need to look at the broader societal factors that bring this into play and not just pin the
blame on the feminists which I think is done quite often.

ELEANOR HALL: Jessica I am going to bring you in a moment but let's just hear from Virginia
Hausegger again because I can hear Virginia wanting to come in there.

VIRGINIA HAUSEGGER: Yeah, that is a terribly simplistic response to what I was saying and it is
totally misunderstanding and it is indeed misrepresenting it.

When I talked about my feminist foremothers, what I was urging us all to do is to take a look at
the messages of feminism. Now Monica's book, in amongst saying many other things, one of the things
it does acknowledge is that motherhood for feminism has been a problem.

In fact she talks about those problems being voluminous and that motherhood has been very
problematic for feminism. That is one of the things that I was really zooming in on.

When I was young in the 70s and in the early 80s when I was at university, motherhood was something
that was shunned. I mean if you go back as far as Betty Friedan and Feminine Mystique that was all
about the shackles of domestic life and motherhood. Now they were the sorts of things I was
responding to.

These are messages that we need to actually talk about and say, you know what, they may not be
appropriate anymore and in fact, they may in fact give people or give young women the wrong

ELEANOR HALL: Let me bring Jessica Brown in here because she is one of these young women. Jessica
Brown, you are in your 20s. Now do you have sympathy for Virginia Hausegger's criticism of

JESSICA BROWN: Yeah, look in a way I do. I do and I don't. On the one hand I think, you know,
people should always take responsibility for their own decisions and their own life but I think
Virginia is accepting that.

Look, I do think that now it has gone beyond that idea, the feminist ideal of the career woman and
now the feminist ideal is the working mother and it is still sort of being put up as you know this
feminist ideal that people should aspire to.

MONICA DUX: I would like to ask Jessica though, see I think there is this problem where often we
talk about the feminist ideal or this feminist way of thinking and who actually are you referring

So often people will talk about feminism without actually citing any feminists or any real
knowledge about what the movement is continuing to represent and what is actually going on with
active real life feminists.

VIRGINIA HAUSEGGAR: Monica's book propagated that.

ELEANOR HALL: Let's have Jessica Brown answer Monica Dux's question. I could just walk away really
couldn't I?

JESSICA BROWN: No, look I think that is a very good point and I don't speak, I think feminism has
really been democratised and I don't speak, you know, as a feminist scholar but rather as a woman
and just talking to you know woman of my generation. And I think that there is this sort of
pervasive message which is coming from the media. It is coming from government policy which is so
focused on things like childcare.

All of these issues which sort of says, the ideal woman now is the working mother and if you are
stay-at-home mum or you remain single and choose not to have children well you are sort of not
really fitting in with that ideal.

I think women are hugely different individuals and we need to, you know feminism really needs to be
about allowing women to make choice and sort of have equality of opportunity - not necessarily the
equality of outcome.

ELEANOR HALL: And Jessica Brown, you do research on the work/life balance question. Do you think
that there are big fights still left for women to have in the workplace?

JESSICA BROWN: I do but I think that a lot of the work/life balance thing is again focusing on this
equality of outcomes for women.

One of the big things at the moment is everyone is talking about the gender wage gap and the fact
that on average women earn less money then men. And that is fine, but a lot of that ignores the
fact that most of the gap is caused by women who choose to take time out of the workforce to spend
time with their kids, you know.

If you want to overcome the gender wage gap well you outlaw stay-at-home mums but you know, do we
really want to take that choice away from women.

ELEANOR HALL: Monica Dux, now your book argues that there is still a real role for feminism in the
workplace. Does Jessica Brown though have a point, that you know, it is individual women making
choices and it is not necessarily about discrimination?

Things like the gender wage gap.

MONICA DUX: Well, look first of all I would say that feminism has always been about choice and
about winding women's opportunities. When we come to the gender wage gap, now that is an issue not
so much for women today. I am a mother, I have a small child and I work part-time. My earnings are
compromised as a result. That is fine.

But in 40 years when I get my superannuation and it is less because I was earning 66 cents in the
male dollar, as a result then there is an outcome of this. We have a large population of Boomer
women who are going to be suffering severe poverty as they head into retirement because their
superannuation balances are not the same as men's because they have taken up care roles.

I am all for care roles. I am all for choice of stay-at-home mothers but we need to be aware of the
outcomes of that and what actually, how are we going to care for our society. And I think this is
what feminism has often discussed and it gets thrown into this idea that it is about hating mothers
or hating working mothers or hating stay-at-home mothers and it is simply not.

ELEANOR HALL: Virginia Haussegger, what is your view? Is there still a glass ceiling in the
workplace that needs to be shattered?

VIRGINIA HAUSEGGAR: Yeah. Look absolutely clearly and extremely and look I read Jessica's piece in
the Sydney Morning Herald and I've got to say I thought it was obviously well put and well argued
but also very naive.

The pay gap, the fact that we have a 16 per cent pay gap, Jessica is relevant. It does matter and
it is not small in the scheme of things.

The fact that we have to few women in senior positions in corporate roles in Australia and business
leadership roles is significant. And to suggest that we want equality of opportunity and not
equality of outcomes is just plain silly. I just think that is wrong.

But look Eleanor, I just want to go back to something. I am really concerned that Monica's book,
whilst there is some good reading in it, also just adds to the general confusion that young women
like Jessica are now feeling. I mean Monica has set up feminism in this book as some sort of
religion or some sort of club and that she and her co-writer will stand at the door and decide who
gets in and who gets out.

I mean she actually says they want to out the impostors and the phoneys and identify the saboteurs.
Now this is really silly, snide, bitching kind of old-style feminist talk - the very thing that
Jessica and her younger cohorts probably find quite appalling.

ELEANOR HALL: Now we are almost out of time. I am going to give a very quick response to Monica Dux
and Jessica Brown. Monica Dux first.

MONICA DUX: I just think if Virginia had read the book closely, she would understand what we meant
by imposters which is a kind of Miranda Devine-esque appropriation of feminism which isn't
feminism. We do need to draw a line and I stand by that.

ELEANOR HALL: And Jessica Brown.

JESSICA BROWN: Look, I don't think young women are really confused in that many ways at all. I
think they are quite empowered. There is a huge variety of choices that women can make and I think
it doesn't help them to be constantly painting them as victims.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, thank you very much to all of you for coming in. We could of course continue
this discussion for some time.

Jessica Brown in our Sydney studio from the Centre for Independent Studies. Virginia Hausegger in
Canberra. She presents the ABC-TV news in Canberra and Monica Dux, the co-author of the "Great
Feminist Denial".

WHO calls for life expectancy gap to be closed

WHO calls for life expectancy gap to be closed

The World Today - Friday, 29 August , 2008 12:50:00

Reporter: Samantha Donovan

ELEANOR HALL: A report from the World Health Organisation has concluded that no matter where you
live in the world, social injustice is one of the biggest causes of poor health and early death.

The WHO points out that Indigenous Australian men die on average 17 years younger than the general
population and perhaps more surprisingly, it says that someone born in the Scottish city of Glasgow
is likely to die 28 years earlier than someone living just kilometres away.

As Samantha Donovan reports, it is calling on governments to close the gap within a generation.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: We're used to hearing comparisons of life expectancies between countries.

The new WHO report on the social determinants of health points out for example that a girl born in
Japan is likely to live 42 years longer than one born in Lesotho and woman in Sweden has a one in
18,000 chance of dying in childbirth whereas in Afghanistan it's one in eight.

But the report also looks at what it calls the "health gradient" within countries and it's come up
with some surprising statistics. It found that a child born in the Scottish city of Glasgow may
live 28 years less than one born just 13 kilometres away.

Fran Baum from Adelaide's Flinders University is one of the WHO commissioners who prepared the

FRAN BAUM: That is based on data analysis that has been done by the Scottish Government and they
have really acknowledged that they have a problem with health equity.

So then the reason is because it is a much healthier suburb. It is a much more affluent suburb and
they have a whole lot of facilities and advantages in that suburb compared with a poor suburb in
the inner city area of Glasgow.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: What are the main factors within a country then that the committee has found
influences health standards?

FRAN BAUM: Well, when we looked at it we found that the main reason is really what are government
social policies like? What are the economic policies and how much they invest in the health and
well-being and happiness of their populations basically. But that is the crucial thing.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Did you find some surprising statistics and comparisons in Australia as well?

FRAN BAUM: Well certainly in Australia, one thing that is highlighted in the report is the 17-year
life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. But it is also, we know from
Australian data, that if you compare the 20 per cent of lower socio-economic suburbs with the 20
per cent at the top, that in the bottom group you stand a 50 per cent higher chance of dying
prematurely than in the better off suburbs. So that is a pretty stark statistic for Australia too.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Now does this does get down to people's behaviour or is the WHO saying that it is
more about government and social policy?

FRAN BAUM: Well we are saying it is much more about the policies and the structures that people
live in.

I mean if you think one of the things we noticed that there is an age gap between people in Africa
that is about 40 years less than say Japan where people live the longest. And that is not because
the people in Africa behave differently - it is because they just don't have the healthy structures
in which to live. That is the crucial thing.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: What then is the WHO calling on the governments of the world to do?

FRAN BAUM: Well our report which is a report making recommendations to WHO is saying that we need
to have, across the board in all government areas - whether it is education, whether it is
employment, housing, the way we plan our cities - we need to think about the health impact of what
is happening there.

So if we took something like obesity, we would be saying how do we ensure that people have healthy
food choices, they're not bombarded with advertisements for junk food. That they have good fruit
and vegetable close to their homes, so that they have plenty of options for exercise, for keeping
healthy; and they live in an environment that is convivial because we know that having good
friends, being able to be active in your community, all those things are good for your health.

So every sector of our society has a responsibility to look at the health impact of what they're

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The report is calling on the gap between life expectancies around the world to be
closed within a generation. Is that possible? It seems very ambitious.

FRAN BAUM: It is an ambitious and it is an aspiration but our view is that we need to establish
that aspiration and certainly if you look around the world, there has been some remarkable gains in
life expectancy.

Japan for instance in the late 1940s had one of the lowest life expectancies in the world. It is
now the highest. So this is possible.

We have looked at the kind of statistics behind this and we really think it is possible. Just as in
Australia it is possible that we can close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous in a

ELEANOR HALL: That is Professor Fran Baum from Flinders University. She is a member of the World
Health Organization's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. She was speaking to Samantha