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Bush sells bailout plan during national address

Bush sells bailout plan during national address

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:10:00

Reporter: John Shovelan

ELEANOR HALL: But we begin today in Washington where the US President George W. Bush has just given
a nationally televised address warning Congress and the American people of the dire consequences of
failing to pass the administration's massive financial rescue package for Wall Street.

President Bush says his $700-billion package is needed "because the entire economy is in danger."
But the White House is struggling to get its rescue plan through the Congress where it's run into
much greater opposition than it anticipated.

Tonight's speech was an attempt to sell the plan to senators and members of the House and also to
the people on Main Street.

Our reporter John Shovelan is in Washington and he joins us now. John, President Bush has made a
late entry into this financial crisis. How do you think he went tonight?

JOHN SHOVELAN: I think he did pretty well. You know, he was very careful. He went back through what
many people already know. But what he did do was attempt to frame just how serious the economic
consequences that the White House, his Secretary Treasury believe that the US faces if the
financial rescue package doesn't go ahead. He was very clear on that.

ELEANOR HALL: It was a serious appeal to the nation but we've been seeing a lot of resistance on
Capitol Hill. How likely is it that this will convince Congress to pass the bailout plan?

JOHN SHOVELAN: Well by itself it's not, it won't be, it won't change too many minds on Capitol Hill
but what he is doing is he is certainly putting the White House front and centre in the
negotiations. We know that tomorrow he is going to have the leaders of the Democratic Party, the
Senate and the House and the Republicans at the White House, and so he is using all his, he is at
last taking a major, central role in this.

The problem though is that there is an awful lot of resistance on Main Street; that people in the
United States have seen tens of thousands of people lose their homes because they are unable to pay
their mortgages and there wasn't any assistance for them. And they're asking the question: why is
there assistance, why does there need to be these billions of dollars to assist what they see as
Wall Street bankers?

Now President Bush tried to describe tonight what the consequences of that would be if that didn't
go ahead and here is what he had to say:

GEORGE W. BUSH: Financial assets related to home mortgages have lost value during the housing
decline and the banks holding these assets at restricted credit. As a result, our entire economy is
in danger. So I propose that the Federal Government reduce the risk posed by these troubled assets
and supply urgently needed money so banks and other financial institutions can avoid collapse and
resume lending.

This rescue effort is not aimed at preserving any individual company or industry. It is aimed at
preserving America's overall economy. It will help American consumers and businesses get credit to
meet their daily needs and create jobs, and it will help send a signal to markets around the world
that America's financial system is back on track.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the President George W. Bush in his televised address this evening.

John, President Bush was clearly wanting to cast this as a bail out for the whole US economy, not
just Wall Street. How convincing was he?

JOHN SHOVELAN: Well I think he did a pretty good job of laying out the White House's argument. As I
say though, it's an argument that people here, as the days wear on people are getting, there's less
of a positive response to the actual White House proposal.

But what we will see tomorrow is the Democrats themselves are going to come up with what they see
as their version of the rescue plan. Now then the haggling will begin.

I don't think the White House anticipated just how difficult this negotiation process was going to
be. After Secretary Paulson and Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve spoke to the members of the
Congress, spoke earlier in the week and last weekend in particular, there was a sense that there
was a real urgency here and they were going to be able to ram it through the Congress.

That's not happened and whilst I believe there will be a compromise and there will be something
that will get through the Congress, I don't think, there's going to be some significant changes to
the original proposal put by the White House.

ELEANOR HALL: Well the head of Treasury Henry Paulson has already agreed to demands from Congress
that the bailout plan limit payments to Wall Street executives. Has he also agreed that the tax
payer will get some equity in exchange for this $700-billion bailout?

JOHN SHOVELAN: That's still being negotiated. That's something that the Democrats are very keen on.
They see that if these assets are going to appreciate over time, they think that tax payers should
naturally reap some kind of reward.

But the White House is reluctant to put too many add-ons. They are after, after all they've said,
they want a clean bill and they're resisting this. But in the end, as President Bush said tonight,
you know he wants a bill. He wants something and I think they're willing to compromise. Both sides
are willing to compromise.

ELEANOR HALL: Now John, Senator John McCain says he's cancelling his campaign to deal with this
crisis. President Bush is now calling a meeting with both candidates. What can you tell us about
that?

JOHN SHOVELAN: Well Senator McCain today decided that he would cancel his campaigning and in fact
has said he's not going to participate in Friday night's, the first of three presidential debates.
He says this issue is too important and both candidates should go back to Washington and deal with
this issue.

Of course it's impossible for Senator McCain to cancel his campaign. We know that once he comes
back to Washington he's still going to be the centre of attention and he knows that and in some
ways it was a very audacious move.

Senator Obama has decided that he wants to continue. He thinks that the people at this point in the
election cycle want to know what the next president is going to do about this crisis and so they
should be able to hear what they've got to say, particularly in the debate on Friday night.

So President Bush, in an effort again to show bipartisanship has invited both of them along with
the congressional leaders to the White House tomorrow.

GEORGE W. BUSH: I've invited senators McCain and Obama to join congressional leaders of both
parties at the White House tomorrow to help speed our discussions toward a bipartisan bill.

I know that an economic rescue package will present a tough vote for many members of Congress. It
is difficult to pass a bill that commits so much of the tax payers' hard earned money. I also
understand the frustration of responsible Americans who pay their mortgages on time, file their tax
returns every April 15th and are reluctant to pay the cost of excesses on Wall Street. But given
the situation we are facing, not passing a bill now would cost these Americans much more later.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's President George W. Bush and our correspondent John Shovelan talking to us
in Washington.

Senator Obama reaps benefit over bailout crisis

Senator Obama reaps benefit over bailout crisis

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:15:00

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: As we've been hearing the debate over the economic bailout has now disrupted the
presidential election campaign with the Republican candidate John McCain announcing today that he
is suspending his campaign to return to Washington.

But the Democrat's Barack Obama has not agreed to suspend the debate which was scheduled for
Friday.

Joining us now with his perspective on a dramatic week in US politics is Dr Simon Jackman,
professor of political science at Stanford University and our regular commentator on the US
election.

Simon Jackman, thanks for joining us.

SIMON JACKMAN: It's a pleasure.

ELEANOR HALL: Now to what extent has this economic crisis overtaken the presidential campaign?

SIMON JACKMAN: It's completely overtaken the presidential campaign. For the last week or so that
this has been really brewing, it's been pretty much one-way traffic for Barack Obama in terms of
certainly what we've seen in the tracking polls.

And indeed some polls this morning had Obama going out to a seven, eight, even nine point lead.
Some polls from some very important states like Virginia, a few polls there showing Obama ahead.

John McCain has not had a great week over the course of this. His media pronouncements on this have
been less than clear.

And in some respects this decision on his part to suspend campaigning is an important circuit
breaker of sorts for him because the American people, if there's one party that's associated with
deregulation, if there's one party they're likely to blame for the events of the last week, it's
the Republican Party. I don't think there's too much disagreement about that or too much mystery
about which of the two major political parties is pro-deregulation and so...

ELEANOR HALL: Sorry continue.

SIMON JACKMAN: And so for that reason I think McCain had been taking a real beating on this issue
and not for particularly surprising reasons as I was just saying.

ELEANOR HALL: So Senator Obama though has a different perspective on suspending the debates. Could
this move by Senator McCain backfire?

SIMON JACKMAN: Yes. Frankly I think Obama's response that the American people are entitled to hear
from their future political leadership on this extremely important issue - we're talking
$700-billion is five per cent of American GDP after all. I think that's a line that resonates well.

And frankly the package itself as proposed by the Republican administration is running into
terrific political opposition, not just from Democrats but from many Republicans as well. And I
think Obama was starting to capitalise on that as well, that this was more of the same that we've
seen from this Republican administration - handouts for the wealthy; you enjoy, risk is profit to
you personally but the downside is something we'll hand over to the tax payer. That was a narrative
that is starting to take hold as ordinary people look at this package.

And Obama was, again, that's part of the reason I think why Obama has been having a great week in
the polls, in the wake of this crisis and in the wake of the proposal that the Republican
administration has sent up to Congress.

ELEANOR HALL: The McCain-Palin campaign has been stepping up its attack on the Democrat candidate
but even some Republicans are saying it's going too far. Why are we now seeing so much aggression?

SIMON JACKMAN: It's been an interesting couple of weeks. Even before this financial crisis, you
were starting to see even some Republican commentators start to say that some of the aggressiveness
from the McCain-Palin campaign was too far.

Some of the ads; you had a figure none other than Karl Rove appearing on Sunday morning television
a few weekends ago, even he conceding that some of the McCain ads were beyond the pale.

You had I think a bit of dissatisfaction creeping in, first and most predictably on the left and
then among mainstream media and then finally even right-wing commentators actually pointing to the
fact that Palin is basically off limits to the media, that her media appearances consist of
rehashing the lines we heard a month ago or so in her acceptance speech, that there really wasn't a
lot of (inaudible) on Palin.

So frankly I think that the tide had started to turn even ahead of the events of the last week in
financial markets. And so it's important, again it underscores I think sort of just as a pure
matter of campaign tactics why this call for suspension by McCain is not completely crazy on his
part.

ELEANOR HALL: Some Democrats on the other hand are saying they don't think their candidate is
attacking back hard enough. Do you expect this contest to get a lot dirtier?

SIMON JACKMAN: We'll see, we'll see. There's going to be a lot of hand holding in Washington over
the next day or two, or perhaps even early into next week. A deal is coming and they'll have,
expect a signing ceremony with Democrats and Republicans looking on as Bush signs the bill into law
at some point in the not too distant future.

But after that, who knows? Things could get very aggressive again. For Barack Obama's part though,
he frankly doesn't need to be particularly critical. He's getting an awful lot of help frankly from
McCain himself over the last week or so. And Palin, again, a lot of commentators starting to take a
more critical line of her.

And this speaks to another issue, frankly, that I don't think there's a lot of up-side to Barack
Obama going particularly negative. He can be firm; he can be determined; but he can never, ever be
angry. The angry black man ads that Republicans may be tempted to run against Obama is something
that he doesn't want.

He is in the box seat frankly. Events are working out very well for him right now. Other people are
doing the attacking of McCain and Palin. This financial crisis - the American people have figured
out which of the two parties is to blame for that and Obama is the beneficiary right now.

ELEANOR HALL: Well debate between the presidential candidates may or may not go ahead this week but
next week it is the vice-presidential debate - Sarah Palin against Joe Biden. I understand the
Republicans have insisted on a more structured format for this debate.

SIMON JACKMAN: They have and just before we went to air there's even a few rumours circulating that
the McCain campaign would like to postpone that debate as well. But that will be an interesting
affair, if and when it happens.

Joe Biden needs to be particularly careful. He is the master of the gaffe himself over his long and
distinguished career in public service. He's capable of a few mistakes when speaking from the cuff.
But it will, and the other thing he can't do is be overbearing on Palin. And it's going to be a
very interesting sort of piece of theatre one way or the other.

ELEANOR HALL: We'll no doubt speak to you after that one. Dr Simon Jackman, thank you.

That's Professor Simon Jackman from Stanford University, our regular commentator on the US
election.

Millennium goals still possible, says analyst

Millennium goals still possible, says analyst

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:20:00

Reporter: Lisa Millar

ELEANOR HALL: As well as discussing the financial crisis world leaders are in New York this week to
meet business executives and international aid groups to work out how to breathe some life back
into the UN millennium development goals.

The eight goals - which governments around the world committed to in 2000 - are intended to reduce
poverty and there are specific targets to be reached by 2015.

But soaring energy and food prices and now the global financial crisis are raising doubts about
whether they can be achieved.

And one analyst is now offering a controversial solution, as Lisa Millar reports.

LISA MILLAR: Eight years ago this week world leaders met in New York - brainstorming their way
towards helping the world's poorest people.

They came up with eight broad ideas that were known as the Millennium Development Goals, targeting
poverty, education and equality.

Dr Matthew Clarke is from Deakin University.

MATTHEW CLARKE: Progress has been quite strong across the globe as a whole, but of course there
have been certain countries that haven't achieved those millennium goals and many countries won't
achieve them at all, even with seven years left to go.

LISA MILLAR: Almost half a billion fewer people live in extreme poverty today than in 1990.

World Vision's Tim Costello told Radio National breakfast that half way towards 2015, a difference
is being made.

TIM COSTELLO: The number of child deaths has dropped; for the first time it's down under 30,000 a
day. So two decades ago 60,000 kids died each day. Last year it was 30, or two years ago sorry it
was 30,000 kids. Now it's 25,000 kids.

LISA MILLAR: Tim O'Connor from Catholic aid agency Caritas offers this assessment:

TIM O'CONNOR: Much achieved but a lot more to do.

LISA MILLAR: The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao as well as
U2 lead singer Bono will be at the summit to be held overnight Australian time.

They've already been told many of the millennium development goals are off track, that 75-million
children are still without a classroom and don't have any teachers and that every year half a
million women in developing countries die in childbirth.

With the clock now racing towards 2015 there was expected to be great urgency at this week's
meeting but the global financial crisis has threatened to overshadow it, much to Tim Costello's
disappointment.

TIM COSTELLO: We have to do both. We have to stabilise the financial system and we have to keep our
promises to the poor.

LISA MILLAR: And he says it's imperative for Australia to be at the forefront of the discussion.

TIM COSTELLO: Sixty per cent of the world's poor are actually in the Asian region. The continent of
Africa attracts our attention but in sheer numbers it's actually our region.

Tim O'Connor from Caritas:

TIM O'CONNOR: We're coming second behind Africa in our least likeliness to actually reach the
millennium development goals and this is a huge concern. Australia does carry a fairly, a big
responsibility in the Pacific. We're committing about a billion dollars this year.

And that's one of the things we've really asked the Prime Minister this week to take up at the
summit, at the UN, is to get more international commitment from Europe, from America and from the
rich countries.

LISA MILLAR: Dr Matthew Clarke offers another way forward for countries unable to meet the goals -
simply change them.

MATTHEW CLARKE: Some of the millennium development goals may need to be tailored to individual
countries' circumstances. And so some countries may need to reduce the target levels because they
simply will not achieve those global targets and other countries may actually need to add
additional targets as well to their millennium development goals that are very specific to their
own needs.

LISA MILLAR: Dr Clarke, reducing the target levels for some countries would seem like a bit of a
copout surely?

MATTHEW CLARKE: It's not a copout because the circumstances of countries are very different and the
starting point for those countries are very different as well. For example if we looked at Papua
New Guinea, it's very unlikely that they're going to achieve all the millennium development goals
because of their unique circumstances.

And so it would be much more realistic to reset some of those targets and commit to those new
targets and pull all energies and focus on those. Because if Papua New Guinea for example or any
other country that we might think of fails to achieve the millennium development goals or looks
like they're going to fail to achieve the millennium development goals, there's the possibility and
a very strong chance that aid will stop flowing to those countries as they'll be seen as a failure.

And that would be disastrous for all those poor people in those countries who through no fault of
their own are going to have aid flow stopped.

So we need to be realistic as well as setting targets that are ambitious, but we need to be
realistic in those targets as well and if that means tailoring targets to a lower level then it's
important that we do that.

LISA MILLAR: The UN will tonight try to rally support and re-energise countries, assuring them that
the targets they set eight years ago are still worthy of striving for.

North Korea resumes nuclear activities

North Korea resumes nuclear activities

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:26:00

Reporter: Emily Bourke

ELEANOR HALL: Now to North Korea where the regime has announced it's pulling out of the five party
nuclear deal and will restart its reactor.

Pyongyang is blaming the US, saying it's failed to deliver on its part of the bargain and made last
minute changes to the deal.

Nuclear experts say it will take several months for the regime to bring the plant back on line but
diplomats in Asia and the United States are scrambling to find out what's really motivating the
unpredictable and reclusive North Korean regime.

Emily Bourke has our report.

EMILY BOURKE: When North Korea finally agreed last year to abandon its nuclear ambitions it was
hailed as a massive diplomatic victory but the painstaking negotiations and the disarmament-for-aid
agreement are now in tatters.

Melissa Fleming from the International Atomic Energy Agency says inspectors have now left the
plutonium plant.

MELISSA FLEMING: The DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) asked the IAEA to remove seals
and surveillance from the reprocessing plant in Yongbyon. This work was completed today. There are
no more seals and surveillance equipment in place at the reprocessing facility.

The DPRK has also informed the IAEA inspectors that they plan to introduce nuclear material to the
reprocessing plant in one week's time.

EMILY BOURKE: North Korea says it's preparing to restart the Yongbyon facility, restoring it to its
original state because the United States has failed to follow through with its promised incentives.

The North also says it's no longer interested in one of its main demands, removal from a US
terrorist blacklist.

Pyongyang has also criticised Washington for making an extra request: detailed verification,
including soil samples and interviews with scientists. North Korea has rejected that demand, saying
verification was never part of the deal.

In a statement North Korea's foreign ministry says it will now go its own way. Gregory L Schulte is
the US Ambassador to the IAEA.

GREGORY L SCHULTE: This is obviously a matter of some concern to us. It's a disturbing development
and our intention is to continue to work very closely with the other members of the six-party to
figure out how to address this issue.

EMILY BOURKE: But many speculate that the North's moves could be motivated by strategy as well. It
could use the year it would take to restart its sole reprocessing plant to wrest further
concessions from the US and other nations seeking to strip it of its atomic program.

Despite the apparent unravelling of a rare foreign policy achievement by the Bush administration,
the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says North Korea's actions have by no means killed off
the country's nuclear disarmament.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: The path ahead is for there to be agreement on a verification protocol so that we
can continue along the path of the de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. And the North Koreans
know that and so we will continue working with our partners on what steps we might need to take.

EMILY BOURKE: While there are fears North Korea may be further isolating itself and harsh
condemnation may accelerate its nuclear activities, Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is
calling for even tougher measures.

STEPHEN SMITH: And what we have seen in the last couple of days just adds to our concern. We call
upon the international community to fully support the Security Council resolutions. We would like
the Security Council to consider further effective measures that it might be able to take.

EMILY BOURKE: Dr Mohamed ElBaradei the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency
says he hopes the situation hasn't gone past the point of no return.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI: The DPRK authorities asked the agency and inspectors to remove seals and
surveillance equipment to enable them to carry out tests at their reprocessing plant, which is they
say will not involve nuclear material. I still hope that conditions can be created for the DPRK to
return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty at the earliest possible date. And for the resumption by the
agency of comprehensive safeguards.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Dr Mohamed ElBaradei the director general of the International Atomic Energy
Agency ending Emily Bourke's report.

RBA questions Aust banks' exposure to sub-prime crisis

RBA questions Aust banks' exposure to sub-prime crisis

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:32:00

Reporter: Stephen Long

ELEANOR HALL: As the US President was appealing for his government's financial bailout package to
be passed, the Reserve Bank of Australia was warning this morning that trust - the cornerstone of
the financial system - is being eroded because banks are yet to come clean about the full extent of
their exposure to the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

The RBA has reiterated its assurances that Australian banks are well capitalised and able to
withstand the global crisis but its latest financial stability review nonetheless shows a big
increase in Australian banks' bad and doubtful debts. And it shows that thousands more Australians
are falling behind on their home loan repayments.

Our economics correspondent Stephen Long was at the RBA lockup this morning and joins us now.

So Stephen, we've got a lot of commentators saying this is the worst financial crisis since the
Great Depression. What's the Reserve Bank's take?

STEPHEN LONG: Eleanor, no-one could accuse the Reserve Bank of Australia of overstating the
problem. Its financial stability review opens up by saying the operating environment facing many
financial institutions around the world, particularly in the United States, is more difficult than
it has been for many years - which would seem to be a statement of the blindingly obvious.

It does observe in the body of the report that there had been $US520-billion in write-downs since
July 2007 by major world banks and the big brokers on Wall Street and across the world, Citi, UBS,
Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley together have seen a decline of almost a trillion US dollars in
their balance sheets.

But it is giving a fairly sort of relaxed view in the context of a lot of the rhetoric that we're
seeing around the world at the moment and indeed the genuine concerns held by many.

It does say that difficulties in valuing these fancy financial products mean that many investors
are very wary and the Reserve Bank is implicitly questioning the valuations being used by some
banks around the world and it says that unless the standards of disclosure improve further then we
won't be able to rebuild the trust that is the cornerstone of the financial system.

And so if you were to put it in plain English, people need to really come clean on the mess and
actually put a proper valuation on this stuff, on their books.

ELEANOR HALL: So is that a message to Australian banks? Is the RBA absolutely confident that our
banking system is sound?

STEPHEN LONG: It is. It says that the banking system in Australia is soundly capitalised, has only
limited exposure to sub-prime related assets and is continuing to record strong profitability and
low levels of problem loans.

That said, the figures in the report show that the top five banks in Australia reported charges for
bad and doubtful debts of $3.1-billion over the past half year and that's about triple the rate of
the period a year earlier, so they are getting hit and we could expect them to get hit further.

ELEANOR HALL: Why are we seeing bigger amounts now?

STEPHEN LONG: Because we've had major problems with some of the people who were exposed to the
credit crisis in Australia, some of the companies, Allco and Centro, the listed property trusts
which had loans from the banks. Plus you've had limited exposure.

NAB for example has apparently got its hand out, reportedly got its hand out to the US saying, give
us some money, we've been hit. I don't know how the US tax payer will feel about that.

But it's mainly the fact that we've had these companies over here that were highly leveraged, had
taken on too much debt in difficult times that have had problem loans and the banks are exposed to
some of these credit stock lending companies as well that have gone to the wall.

ELEANOR HALL: Does the RBA have any warnings about the impact of the problems we're seeing in the
financial system spreading through to the broader economy?

STEPHEN LONG: Well again it's far more relaxed than many, many commentators around the world. It
says that we can still expect strong growth in 2009, albeit a bit softer than many had expected,
and it says that's the view of most forecasters.

I'd make the point that most forecasters have been wrong in the midst of this and you're getting
any mea culpa in this report, but if you look at the key economic authorities around the world
they've underestimated the extent of this financial crisis and the impact on the real economy.

We've got sub two per cent growth in the world's major economies and most people think despite what
the technical statistics say that the US is in a serious recession and headed for worse.

Just a few points quickly though Eleanor, on the domestic scene the number of loans 90 days or more
in arrears in Australia has increased by 2,000 over the past year which isn't much compared to the
US but it's still 2,000 people who are in danger of losing their homes.

And the cost of borrowing money in Australia, well you've seen more than half a percentage point
increase imposed by the banks, 55 basis points on top of the Reserve Bank increases. So there's
some issues there for households, including a decline in wealth to 2005 levels, household wealth in
Australia.

ELEANOR HALL: Stephen Long our economics correspondent, thank you.

Govt seeks Turnbull's help to pass Medicare bill

Govt seeks Turnbull's help to pass Medicare bill

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:37:00

Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

ELEANOR HALL: Having failed to win the support of Family First Senator Steve Fielding, the
Government has switched its attention to Malcolm Turnbull in an effort to get its billion dollar
Medicare budget measure passed by the Parliament.

The Government is putting pressure on the new Opposition leader to grant what it says is tax cut
for low to middle income earners.

But even before Labor has introduced the redrafted bill into the Parliament today, Mr Turnbull is
not giving the Government any encouraging signs.

In Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Senator Steve Fielding's bottom line is the less well off shouldn't be worse off
because of the Government's push to raise the income threshold for the Medicare levy surcharge.

Even though more than 330,000 people would no longer be slugged the extra Medicare levy for not
taking out private health cover, the Family First senator insists the many more who choose to keep
their insurance should not have to pay higher premiums that would flow from the change.

STEVE FIELDING: For every one Australian that gets a tax cut, which is great; there's three to four
other Australians that get a hike in their health premium. Why should someone on a part-pension
who's paying for their health insurance, cobbling it together, going without today because they
need that cover, end up in this change paying more for the health insurance which they cannot
afford, and all of a sudden they're wacked?

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government wouldn't agree to compensate those low income earners and
pensioners, so he scuttled the bill.

There were no thanks from the minor party senators who sided with Labor. In fact he copped a
bollocking - mainly from the Greens.

BOB BROWN: Well Family First is families last. I don't think he had an argument. I don't think he
was able to argue his point of view on the floor of the Senate so he used his vote to close the
argument down.

RACHEL SIEWERT: I don't think he's actually payed attention to what actually helps low income
families.

NICK XENOPHON: I think you've got to have a bloody good reason if you want to hold something up and
such a big budget measure is a big call.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I don't believe that Steve Fielding has put families first.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But there were some kind works from the Opposition's health spokesman Peter Dutton.

PETER DUTTON: Well I want to say to Steve Fielding on behalf of all older Australians, on behalf of
Australian families - thank you for stopping Nicola Roxon and Kevin Rudd from crippling the private
health system in this country, from forcing tens of thousands of older Australians onto public
hospital queues.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: For now the Health Minister Nicola Roxon has given up on Senator Fielding, trying
to apply the blowtorch to Malcolm Turnbull.

NICOLA ROXON: And here is a perfect measure that will provide for many people $500 relief, for many
others six, eight, $900, $1200 relief and I think Mr Turnbull needs to be able to look the public
in the eye and explain why a person who is earning $50,000 a year is not entitled to this tax
relief. That's the question for the Liberal Party; that's the question for his leadership.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: That clearly hasn't worked. Even before the bill could be redrafted, let alone
introduced into the House of Representatives, the Government had the answer.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We are opposed to the changes and that is our position.

MALE: Full stop.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We are, yes we are opposed to the changes.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Nicola Roxon says leaving the income threshold where it's been for a decade is
unfair.

NICOLA ROXON: And it means that in just a couple of years' time if we don't change these thresholds
one in two single tax payers will be paying this tax - clearly an unacceptable position.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And she's sought to allay concerns about her policy causing health premiums to rise
even further.

NICOLA ROXON: We are in the position that we have to approve or disagree with those premium
increases. My responsibilities are to assess what's in the public interest and I want to make very
clear to those funds that if they use this change in a tax threshold as their justification for a
big hike in premiums, that we will take a very dim view of it.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Minister's tried to embarrass Liberals into a policy shift, claiming Mr
Turnbull is ignoring the wishes of the health sector and even some of his own colleagues to lift
the income threshold from $50,000 to $75,000.

NICOLA ROXON: It is also the figure that has been proposed by two Liberal senators, both the
previous parliamentary secretary for health and the current parliamentary secretary for the
Opposition for health; one of whom used to actually run a private health insurance fund. So Mr
Turnbull is I think ignoring the comments of his Liberal senators.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Liberal senator Mathias Cormann insists he's said no such thing.

MATHIAS CORMANN: We have put in a Coalition senators dissenting report explaining very clearly why
we are opposed to this measure. The Minister is very dishonestly using a question I asked during
more than 20 hours of Senate inquiry and presenting it as a statement. This is real desperation.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Senator Mathias Cormann ending that report from Alexandra Kirk.

Researchers link anti-depressants to sperm deficiency

Researchers link anti-depressants to sperm deficiency

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:41:00

Reporter: Michael Edwards

ELEANOR HALL: Anti-depressant medication is now being blamed for causing male infertility.
Researchers in the United States say they've found evidence that certain anti-depressant drugs can
harm sperm DNA.

But psychiatrists are urging caution, warning men not to suddenly drop their medication.

Michael Edwards has our report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Many things have been blamed for causing male infertility. Now researchers at the
Cornell Medical Centre in New York say they could have found another one.

The team put 35 men on the anti-depressant drug Paroxetine for five weeks. After a month, changes
in the DNA of the men's sperm were discovered.

Dr Peter Schlegel was the lead researcher for the project.

PETER SCHLEGEL: If you look at normal sperm counts and motility, the standard measures of
fertility, you saw no changes, but if you looked at sperm DNA, the genetic material in more detail
you actually found dramatic changes in almost half of the men, normal men, who are on this drug.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Paroxetine is sold in Australia as Aropax. Millions of prescriptions for various
anti-depressant drugs are written in Australia every year.

Dr Schlegel says the results came as a surprise.

PETER SCHLEGEL: It was surprising. We suspected a small proportion of men would have some effects
because we've seen it in a couple of patients. We did not expect to see half of the men, normal men
who took this drug, to have an effect.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Fertility experts say one in six Australian couples experience delays when they're
trying to conceive.

Peter Illingworth is the medical director of IVF Australia.

PETER ILLINGWORTH: There are a range of causes. Some of clear abnormalities in a man's sperm; some
are problems on the female side such as damage to her fallopian tubes or problems with ovulation.
But in a large number of couples at the moment we really have no idea what is causing them to have
a delay in conceiving.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Dr Illingworth describes this new research as interesting.

PETER ILLINGWORTH: Never been any evidence of a link with anti-depressant drugs before but there
are lots of, there have been a whole range of associations of exposure of men to different
chemicals, either in the environment or in the forms of medication and effects on their fertility
and the health of their children.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: But psychiatrists say it's not the first time anti-depressant drugs have been
blamed for causing other medical problems.

Professor Ian Hickie is a psychiatrist at the University of Sydney.

IAN HICKIE: There's a tendency, particularly with the anti-depressant drugs and many of the
psychotropic drugs to be blamed for all sorts of problems on an ongoing basis, on the basis of very
little evidence that in fact they're doing harm. So people get concerned and links get raised with
all potential sorts of issues.

The actual good that's being done by the drugs in terms of reducing suicidality, treating
depression is often understated relative to concerns about potential, rare or other long-term harm.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: And Professor Hickie says he's concerned these studies may cause men to abandon
their anti-depressant medication.

IAN HICKIE: So whenever you hear these stories, it's really important to discuss with your doctor
the relative benefits that you're getting out of treatment versus any potential to cause long-term
harm.

ELEANOR HALL: That's psychiatrist Ian Hickie from the University of Sydney ending Michael Edwards'
report.

Inner-Melbourne cleaners consider strike action

Inner-Melbourne cleaners consider strike action

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:42:00

Reporter: Alison Caldwell

ELEANOR HALL: In Victoria, office workers are facing a less pleasant working environment as inner
city cleaners consider strike action.

The cleaners were about to be granted a four to five per cent pay increase but their union says
employers have now walked away from the deal.

Alison Caldwell has our report.

ALISON CALDWELL: Fifty-one-year-old Helen cleans a major office building in inner city Melbourne,
five days a week.

HELEN: A lot of people have the idea that, you know, in a building of 37 stories, that like some
little fairies come in during the night and do the work. Which is totally unbelievable but people
don't see the cleaners when they go in and do the cleaning.

ALISON CALDWELL: Helen used to clean private homes but the costs of running her own small business
were so high that she decided to clean office towers in the city. She's employed as a part-time
cleaner by a contractor who was hired by the building's owners.

On award wages, Helen travels into the city to work for just three-and-a-half hours a day. She says
she takes home around $200 a week.

HELEN: I collect rubbish, I vacuum, I dust, I wash the kitchen floors, wipe all the benches and all
the desks, and the workload is four average Australian houses per hour.

ALISON CALDWELL: So when is the last time you had a pay rise?

HELEN: Oh, about two years ago. It was something like 37 cents pay rise.

ALISON CALDWELL: On the verge of signing a collective agreement which would guarantee a wage rise
of between four and five per cent, the long-running negotiations collapsed two weeks ago.

Jess Walsh is with the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union. She blames the
employers.

JESS WALSH: We've seen in recent years that the decisions of the Fair Pay Commission have really
sent cleaners backwards and they're struggling to keep their heads above the poverty line. The
cleaners accepted that pay offer and shortly thereafter it was withdrawn.

ALISON CALDWELL: In Victoria alone there are 10 major cleaning contractors who between them employ
about 2,000 cleaners, like Helen.

Negotiating on the employers' behalf was the industry group representative, the Building Service
Contractors Association of Australia.

Rodney Barnes is the national president of the BSCAA. He says it was the union that walked away
from the agreement.

RODNEY BARNES: We said to the union, let's go to the Industrial Relations Commission with an
agreement that has no pay rates in it. When the Fair Pay Commission does its second round of
negotiations as far as awards are concerned, it will be dealt with as far as an award modernisation
process is concerned.

ALISON CALDWELL: The union and a cleaner that I spoke to said that the Fair Pay Commission award
rulings really hadn't done cleaners any good at all, but you want to stay with that Fair Pay
Commission?

RODNEY BARNES: The Fair Pay Commission will be the minimum that anyone would have to pay. What
we're looking at is the Australian Industrial Relations Commission coming down with a set of rates
that will bring parity between full-time and part-time cleaners over a five-year period.

Now that well may mean that full-time cleaners may get an increment of anywhere up to eight to 10
per cent increase per annum over the five-year period, per year, and part-timers may have to resort
to something like what the Fair Pay Commission has handed down which was round about 3.2 per cent.

ALISON CALDWELL: Do you think cleaners are well paid for what they do?

RODNEY BARNES: No employer associated with the cleaning industry thinks that cleaners are paid
enough. We all agree with the LHM approach that cleaners are definitely underpaid.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Rodney Barnes from the Building Service Contractors Association of Australia
ending Alison Caldwell's report.

Lance back in the saddle

Lance back in the saddle

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:47:00

Reporter: Nance Haxton

ELEANOR HALL: Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong has confirmed that he will make his official
comeback to cycling at the South Australian Pro Tour event.

Race organisers and the Premier Mike Rann have barely been able to contain their delight.

But some commentators are expressing concern that having such a high profile sportsman could change
the friendly tone of the event.

In Adelaide, Nance Haxton reports.

NANCE HAXTON: Lance Armstrong says he couldn't think of a better place to start his global campaign
against cancer and make his career comeback.

LANCE ARMSTRONG: By racing the bicycle all over the world, beginning in Australia, ending in
France, at the global summit, it is the best way to promote this initiative. It's the best way to
get the word out.

This is a campaign. This is a campaign to spread the word, create awareness and ultimately and
hopefully save lives.

NANCE HAXTON: ABC cycling commentator John Thompson-Mills says snaring Lance Armstrong is an
enormous coup for Adelaide.

JOHN THOMPSON-MILLS: To have him here, it is going to be a huge say circus, and that will have its
good and bad things. There will be a lot more people here from interstate, possibly overseas,
massive media interest, there's no question about that.

NANCE HAXTON: Last year South Australia edged out China, California and Russia to become the first
place outside of Europe to gain Pro Tour status for its cycling event - the Tour Down Under.

Cycling commentators say the status of the tour would have been a large drawcard for the cycling
superstar.

But whatever his reasons for coming, Lance Armstrong's appearance will help silence those who say
nothing happens in Adelaide.

South Australia may have lost out to Victoria in securing the Grand Prix, but the Premier Mike Rann
has found something else to smile about.

MIKE RANN: We expect it to quadruple the international media coverage of the event which will be
worth well over $100-million to see a visitation rate from interstate and overseas that will match
or even possibly exceed those who came to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

NANCE HAXTON: Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur says Lance Armstrong's presence will cement
the tour's place as a world class event.

MIKE TURTUR: This guy is bigger than cycling in terms of what he's done. As far as an athlete is
concerned he's a superstar for sport throughout the world. This is to me the biggest thing that's
happened in sport in South Australia.

NANCE HAXTON: Celebrity spotters are just as elated at the prospect of Lance Armstrong's visit. The
world class cyclist has a list of well known ex-girlfriends and now the speculation is rife about
which Hollywood actress may accompany him in January.

The only concern expressed so far is the enormous amount of security that the 37-year-old Texan
will bring with him as part of his entourage.

John Thompson-Mills says the tone of the Tour Down Under will certainly be different.

JOHN THOMPSON-MILLS: When cyclists come here, you can have a coffee with them on the parade or at
King William Street, wherever the race might be starting or finishing, and mingle with them in the
tour village. They're very accessible.

Now I'm sure when Lance Armstrong comes, there will be security. He will have people, he will have
minders and he may not be as accessible as a Stuart O'Grady or a Gilberto Simoni or any of the
other big names that have been here over the years who do, because it's early season, they're
relaxed.

I mean, he'll have a posse with him and that may alter the perceptions that some people have about
the race. But at the end of the day, there's still a bike race to be had and that will always be a
good thing.

ELEANOR HALL: ABC cycling commentator John Thompson-Mills speaking to Nance Haxton.

Sydney set to host International Carnivorous Plant Conference

Sydney set to host International Carnivorous Plant Conference

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:53:00

Reporter: Karen Barlow

ELEANOR HALL: They are bizarre looking plants with a less than floral odour and surprisingly deadly
appetites.

Some carnivorous plants eat not only insects but birds and rats. But they have a loyal human
following.

Tomorrow the International Carnivorous Plant Conference gets underway at Sydney's Botanical
Gardens.

Karen Barlow reports.

GARETH HAMBRIDGE: Insects, slugs, pieces of millipede.

KAREN BARLOW: Next to an artificial waterfall in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens horticulturalist
Gareth Hambridge is pouring out the sinister inner workings of a recently discovered carnivorous
Sumatran pitcher plant.

GARETH HAMBRIDGE: Rat fur and blood and probably some cockroaches and slaters.

KAREN BARLOW: It's all in a liquid containing enzymes and bacteria which breaks down foreign matter
like the process in a human stomach. Gareth Hambridge doesn't recommend people try the
investigation at home.

GARETH HAMBRIDGE: I spilt it on Mum's coffee table and it took the varnish off...

KAREN BARLOW: Carnivorous plants range from almost microscopic bladderworts which live in bogs to
football sized tree climbing pitcher plants which are capable of digesting small mammals such as
rats.

Such plants evolved into meat eaters because they live in soils which don't have enough plant
nutrients.

The executive director of the Sydney Botanic Gardens Trust, Tim Entwistle, says they have a huge
global fan base.

TIM ENTWISTLE: They look different and odd and sort of, people love things that are just a little
bit different. And the second thing is that slightly gruesome aspect and look kids like this
particularly and kids who've never grown up, like us I guess who are botanists and we love this
sort of thing.

The fact that they do actually eat plants, because we often think about plants being there just for
us and animals to eat, well this is a case of the plants biting back really and actually surviving
on animals.

KAREN BARLOW: This carnivorous plant enthusiast was one of the first to arrive at the exhibition
today. He's been collecting for 13 years.

How many do you have?

VOX POP: Oh, hundreds.

KAREN BARLOW: You have got hundreds. Where do you keep them?

VOX POP: My back yard.

KAREN BARLOW: Yeah?

VOX POP: Yep.

KAREN BARLOW: And do you particularly feed them or you just wait for the insects to come?

VOX POP: They find their own way.

KAREN BARLOW: Some force feeding has been attempted at the Botanic Gardens after talk that the
pitchers on the Sumatran plants were so big they could take a rat.

Dr Entwistle from the Gardens Trust says a culinary feat was attempted yesterday.

TIM ENTWISTLE: We did try but our rat was a little bit too big I'm afraid to say so I'm going to
give up putting large rats in. What our horticulturalist here was saying though is that, and I know
this is a bit gruesome but the blood that dripped off the rat, the plant would have loved and it's
going to really enjoy eating that over the next few days.

KAREN BARLOW: How would you know if a plant enjoyed the blood?

TIM ENTWISTLE: Okay, the way we'd be able to tell is because that plant will start to grow more. It
will actually put on extra growth. It will sort of green up, be more colourful. It's like you see a
healthy plant in your garden when you give it good water and you give it mulch, it looks fantastic.
One of these plants when it gets a good feed will look just like that.

KAREN BARLOW: The Sumatran pitcher plant is one of some new species being announced this week at an
International Carnivorous Plant Conference in Sydney. Dr Tim Entwistle says it is the first time
such a gathering has been held in the southern hemisphere.

TIM ENTWISTLE: They'll talk about things like how to grow carnivorous plants, the new discoveries
they've made. And in this conference this time there are going to be a handful of new species from
around the world. And the other fascinating thing is we're still finding new carnivorous plants.

KAREN BARLOW: They might have a loyal following, but The World Today has found they are not for
everyone.

Why are you here today?

VOX POP: Because we've got nothing else to do. (Laughter). I hope we don't get eaten.

ELEANOR HALL: Visitors to the carnivorous plant exhibit today speaking there with Karen Barlow.