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VP candidates begin verbal slugfest

(Excerpt from vice presidential debate)

GWEN IFILL: We welcome Governor Palin and Senator Biden.

(Applause)

SARAH PALIN: Nice to meet you.

JOE BIDEN: It's a pleasure.

SARAH PALIN: Hey can I call you Joe?

(End of excerpt)

LISA MILLAR: Well that's how Republican Sarah Palin kicked off this encounter, striding confidently
onto the stage, all smiles, greeting her opponent Senator Joe Biden with that attempt to strip away
the formalities of a very structured debate.

With just over a month until election day it's the only showdown between the two running mates.

The highly anticipated encounter promised more than the usual drama because of Sarah Palin's recent
hesitant performances in rare television interviews. They fuelled doubts that the Governor of
Alaska was up to the job.

This event could draw an even larger television audience than the 52-million who watched the first
debate between the Presidential candidates.

Our Washington correspondent Kim Landers has been watching and she joins us now.

Kim, give us a sense of what the political stakes were for Sarah Palin and Joe Biden when they
headed into this debate.

KIM LANDERS: Well Lisa before this debate, both sides were adopting a common strategy, that is
boosting the expectations about the other candidate, secretly hoping of course that they'll be
dashed.

Sarah Palin in particular was under a lot of pressure. This moose hunting mother of five, she burst
onto the national stage just a month ago when John McCain chose her as his running mate.

In recent weeks she's been under a lot pressure, as you mentioned. There have been questions about
her knowledge and experience. So in the opening moments she was really turning on her folksy charm.
She was smiling. There was the occasional wink of the eye. She threw out a few "darn rights". She
started strongly.

Joe Biden's big challenge was not to be too much of a smarty pants. He's got 35 years experience in
the Senate, a lot of high profile debates under his belt. He's had to tread carefully debating a
woman. We saw him avoiding any harsh attacks on his opponent. He mostly stuck to demolishing John
McCain's credibility.

LISA MILLAR: Well the economy has dominated half of the debate. Was there any sense of agreement
from these two vice presidential nominees about the state of the US economy?

KIM LANDERS: Well I think the one thing they can agree on is that the US economy is in a bit of
strife. Of course they've got vastly different opinions about the causes of that and what should be
done. We had a lot of debate about tax policy and regulation and Wall Street.

Sarah Palin was really trying to show, trying to connect with the middle class. She is trying to
use the fact that she doesn't have a lot of national experience. She is a mayor from Alaska. She is
now the Governor of Alaska. She paints herself as this sort of hockey mum, mother of five. So she
was really trying to show that she could connect with the average American voter when it came to
the economy.

And she used a really interesting example when she was asked about, you know, how do you think the
American economy is at the moment. Let's have a little bit of a listen to what Sarah Palin said.

SARAH PALIN: You know I think a good barometer here as we try to figure out has this been a good
time or a bad time in America's economy is go to a kids' soccer game on Saturday and turn to any
parent there on the sideline and ask them: How are you feeling about the economy? And I'll bet you
you're going to hear some fear in that parent's voice - fear regarding the few investments that
some of us have in the stock market. Did we just take a major hit with those investments? Fear
about how are we going to afford to send our kids to college. A fear as small business owners
perhaps, how are we going to borrow any money to increase inventory or hire more people?

LISA MILLAR: That's Republican Sarah Palin. Kim, I imagine Joe Biden went on the attack over that
very same subject?

KIM LANDERS: Exactly. The economy has really dominated this debate and one of the things that Joe
Biden has been doing is to try to act as a character reference for his presidential running mate
Barack Obama, to try to point out times when Barack Obama has sounded a warning about the economy
and when other people may not have been listening. So we heard him repeatedly talk about how Barack
Obama is favouring tax cuts; how he'll only increase taxes for people earning over $250,000. He too
trying to strike this, you know, every-man, American note if you like.

The other thing that Joe Biden is doing is doing everything he can to paint John McCain as being
out of touch. It's not so much Sarah Palin that he's taking on about the economy. He's been taking
on John McCain's record.

And really there have been some slip-ups that John McCain has made during this campaign which have
provided the Democrats with a lot of fodder and Joe Biden has seized on one of those. Let's have a
little bit of a listen to Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN: It was two Mondays ago John McCain said at nine o'clock in the morning that the
fundamentals of the economy were strong.

Two weeks before that he said, George, we've made great economic progress under George Bush's
policies. Nine o'clock the economy was strong. Eleven o'clock that same day two Mondays ago John
McCain said that we had an economic crisis.

That doesn't make John McCain a bad guy but it does point out he's out of touch. Those folks on the
sidelines knew that two months ago.

LISA MILLAR: Joe Biden there. Well these two candidates Kim do actually have something in common.
They both have sons who are serving in or about to serve in Iraq. What did they have to say about
the war?

KIM LANDERS: It's really interesting actually because Sarah Palin said goodbye to her son on
September the 11th, who's gone to Kuwait and then on to Iraq. Joe Biden is about to say goodbye to
a son of his who is in the National Guard and is also going to be sent to Iraq to serve as a
lawyer.

The interesting thing was once again Sarah Palin was saying look, when it comes to Iraq it will be
a travesty if America was to quit now. She says the US is getting "closer and closer to victory".

Now I might point out that it wasn't so long ago she actually declared that America had achieved
victory in Iraq, but there was no such declaration tonight. She also reminded Joe Biden that he had
once said during the long and protracted Democratic presidential primary that Barack Obama wasn't
ready to be Commander In Chief which was a very good dig I thought.

Joe Biden in return says look, Barack Obama has offered a clear plan to end the war. He said Barack
Obama has a plan to shift responsibility to the Iraqis, to draw down American troops and when it
comes to the whole issue of the Iraq war of course he's pointing out that Barack Obama always
thought that the Iraq War was folly. He was against it from the start.

And Joe Biden said John McCain on the other hand, Joe Biden says, "God love him", but he was "dead
wrong" about the war.

LISA MILLAR: Kim Landers in Washington, thank you.

Opposition derides infrastructure audit

LISA MILLAR: The Federal Opposition is sceptical about the Commonwealth's plan to fast track an
audit of the country's infrastructure needs.

The move comes after pressure from the States and it's designed to help Australia weather the
global financial crisis.

But the Opposition leader is worried the move is designed to bail out Premiers who've neglected
their State's infrastructure needs until now.

Kirrin McKechnie reports.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Kevin Rudd is talking big.

KEVIN RUDD: What we've decided to do on the infrastructure front is to bring forward a report on
priority national infrastructure projects from infrastructure Australia. And that was due to be
considered next year. We'll now bring that forward to the end of this year. And that's practical
projects like roads, rail, ports, high speed broadband.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: The Prime Minister agreed on the plan at yesterday's COAG meeting after pressure
from his State and Territory counterparts.

The move is designed to fast track multi-billion dollar capital works and therefore stimulate
growth, boost confidence and create jobs to shield Australia from the global financial turmoil.

But the Opposition leader is not convinced.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Everything is in the execution. And you know there's a tendency for politicians
to say we will spend more on infrastructure. Well the answer to that should be: Yes, yes, what's
next? Which infrastructure? Where's it going to cost? What's it going to do? How's it going to
integrate with other infrastructure, with other roads or water systems or electricity grids, you
know, whatever infrastructure it may be?

So, you know, Mr Rudd is operating at a very high rhetorical level. He's flying at 80,000 feet.
He's got to bring these projects down and land them.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Malcolm Turnbull is worried the plan is simply designed to come to the rescue of
Labor State Governments which have been asleep at the wheel.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: It's a question of management and discipline. The big concern we have with Kevin
Rudd's infrastructure funds is that they will just be used as a slush fund to bail out failing,
flailing State Labor Governments who have infrastructure problems that they have allowed to
accumulate and in many cases where they've got infrastructure projects which are being very poorly
managed.

BRENDAN LYON: The Federal Government set up Infrastructure Australia who are doing the
prioritisation as an independent arm's length body to make sure that exactly that doesn't happen.
They've set up Infrastructure Australia with 12 eminent Australians on it, chaired by Rod
Eddington, and that's to remove it from the day to day of ministerial decisions that can be tainted
by political decision making and to take it back and really focus on what the key national
objectives are and what the projects are that will match it.

But at the same time the Opposition are right. It's a big investment of taxpayer dollars and
they're right to push for greater transparency around the decision making.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Brendan Lyon is the executive director of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia,
the nation's peak industry group. He says while the Wall Street collapse will have an adverse
impact on private investment in capital works, any delay would be worse.

BRENDAN LYON: Despite the fact that projects will get more expensive with money costing more and
finance costing more, we believe that the right projects will still stack up.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: And now is the right time to go ahead with those projects?

BRENDAN LYON: Look, there's no better time to go ahead with infrastructure. We have a massive
shortfall. Congestion already costs $16-billion. We're facing a doubling in the freight task in the
next 13 years, 12 years, and a tripling between now and 2050. Unless we get these assets done we'll
be playing a massive game of catch-up and it will be very expensive and we'll be missing out on
productivity and our cities will continue to drown under congestion.

LISA MILLAR: That's Brendan Lyon from Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, ending Kirrin
McKechnie's report.

Report finds at risk children have been failed

LISA MILLAR: A new report by the Law Reform Commission paints a dismal picture of authorities
failing the nation's children.

In 10 years the number of young people who may need protection being reported to authorities has
tripled to more than 300,000.

One of the authors of the report says the problem's slipped from the agenda because the Australian
Government's been preoccupied with terrorism and the economy.

Annie Guest reports.

ANNIE GUEST: It's a dismal picture of failure.

JAMES MCDOUGALL: What we've missed out on doing is ensuring that children are actually protected.

ANNIE GUEST: James McDougall is the director of the advocacy organisation - the National Children's
and Youth Law Centre. He says 15 years ago there was a push to focus on the role of children in
society.

JAMES MCDOUGALL: In the last 10 years in particular, children have slipped off the agenda in terms
of good public policy development, you know, for a range of, for political reasons. We have become
much more insecure. We have to deal with the threats of terrorism and economy. It's now time to get
that back on the agenda.

ANNIE GUEST: And as a co-author on the Law Reform Commission's latest report, James McDougall says
there's evidence to back his claims.

JAMES MCDOUGALL: We've looked at the research that was in fact done by the Australia Law Reform
Commission and the Human Rights Commission jointly in 1997 on children and the legal process and
discovered that there's actually been very little progress made in following the recommendations.

ANNIE GUEST: And the result he says - in 10 years the number of notifications to authorities about
vulnerable children has tripled to more than 300,000.

JAMES MCDOUGALL: So we haven't set up systems that are about early intervention and addressing the
root causes of the child protection issues in the first place.

ANNIE GUEST: Neglect and sexual abuse are the basis of a quarter to a half of the notifications.

The report also found only five per cent of accused child sex offenders are convicted.

James McDougall blames State Governments, with the exception being Western Australia, for failing
to carry out recommendations surrounding children giving evidence.

JAMES MCDOUGALL: Ensuring that a child can give evidence in a situation that's still acceptable to
the court and the rigours of the rule of evidence, but in a place that is safe and comfortable for
them.

ANNIE GUEST: He says there's one clear way of improving children's policy.

JAMES MCDOUGALL: We now have a commissioner in almost every State and Territory and that position
is able to draw attention to these areas of deficiency in terms of public policy. That's clearly
needed at a national level as well.

ANNIE GUEST: The Federal Government says it will consider creating a Federal Commissioner for
Children.

The Minister for Families is Jenny Macklin.

JENNY MACKLIN: As part of our child protection framework, negotiations and discussions that we're
having both with the States and Territories and with the non-government agencies will be
considering that issue.

ANNIE GUEST: Jenny Macklin describes the figures on notifications and convictions contained in the
Law Reform Commission's report as shocking. But she says the Commonwealth is already acting to
improve the situation such as enabling better information sharing between Centrelink and Child
Protection agencies.

JENNY MACKLIN: We recognise that the States and Territories will continue to have the statutory
child protection authority and they of course need our support. We are demonstrating today that
Centrelink is one of the agencies that really can help in this battle to really make sure that
children are safe.

LISA MILLAR: The Federal Minister for Families Jenny Macklin ending that report from Annie Guest.

The art of restructuring royalties

LISA MILLAR: There's a mixed response to a Federal Government plan to introduce a new royalties
scheme for artists.

The resale scheme means artists will get five per cent of the sale price of their work each time
it's resold.

The big winners are expected to be Indigenous artists who've sold work before they became
prominent.

But gallery owners say the scheme could be extra administrative burden and may drive people away
from the art market.

Michael Edwards has this report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Aboriginal art is now renowned across the globe and often attracts high prices at
auctions.

But many artworks were originally bought off artists who at the time were unknown and therefore
unable to command a price commensurate to the art's value. This art was then resold for
significantly higher prices.

But the Government aims to address this balance by introducing a resale royalty scheme. The Arts
Minister Peter Garrett announced the scheme at the Papunya Tula Gallery in Alice Springs today.

PETER GARRETT: I expect that this resale royalty scheme will provide ongoing good benefits for
artists, particularly for Indigenous artists who have seen quite strong escalations in the price of
their work after the first sales that they've had, particularly in the strength of both the market
here and also overseas.

This resale royalty scheme is intended to meet the needs of balancing the interests of the art
industry and the rights of visual artists to get some return for their work when it's on-sold at
much greater prices.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The royalty will be calculated based on a flat rate of 5 per cent, uncapped.

PETER GARRETT: The five per cent comes from the figure which is taken as a resale royalty from the
resale of the art product itself. We anticipate that there will be a single collecting institution
which will be required to both collect and administer the scheme. We'll tender for organisations to
bid to be that collecting institution.

By doing that we'll ensure that tenderers take into account a simplicity and clarity of executing
the scheme and also price. We don't believe that there needs to be an unnecessarily high
administrative burden or unnecessarily high costs in the administration of that scheme because of
those arrangements.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The scheme has been welcomed by many in the Indigenous art world.

Daryl Sibosado runs the Boomalli Aboriginal Artist Co-operative in Sydney.

DARYL SIBOSADO: I guess with a lot of Indigenous artists, visual artists, especially the ones
living in more remote areas, people who are aware of the market for Indigenous art go out to these
areas, not necessarily always out there, they do it in the cities as well, and they purchase art
from you know quite sort of emerging artists maybe, well they're not really emerging in the
Indigenous world but on the art field they probably are, and people purchase their art at quite,
very cheap prices and then resell them at, you know, huge prices. The artist doesn't actually see
any of that benefit.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: And Mr Sibosado says it won't just be just individual artists who benefit.

DARYL SIBOSADO: Well I think it will, especially for Indigenous artists as I said in the remote
areas because a lot of the money from their work goes directly back into the community. So it won't
be just them individually benefiting from it. It will be the community in general.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: But there are concerns in the wider art world that the scheme may place
unnecessary burdens on gallery owners.

Guy Abrahams is the National President of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association.

GUY ABRAHAMS: The ACGA's position is mixed on this in as much as a number of our members are in
favour of the scheme and a number of them are opposed. Personally I don't think that it's a
necessary scheme to enable artists to get appropriate benefits from the sales of their artworks.
But it seems the Government is committed to introducing it and what the ACGA would say is that it's
very important that the administration of the scheme, the operation of the scheme doesn't impact
negatively on the primary sales of Australian artworks.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The Government expects the scheme to be up and running by July next year.

LISA MILLAR: Michael Edwards with that report.

Fossett finally found

LISA MILLAR: The American billionaire Steve Fossett lived for adventure and it seems it was
adventure which led to his undoing.

A year ago the 63-year-old world record breaking balloonist took off on a solo flight just for
pleasure in an aeroplane from a ranch in Nevada.

Until this week his disappearance has been a mystery. Yesterday hikers stumbled on Mr Fossett's
identification cards and some money and now authorities in central California have found both the
wreckage of his plane and his remains buried in a mountainside.

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: In the Sierra Nevada Mountains and around Yosemite National Park the weather even in
early autumn can turn bitterly cold.

A forecast dump of snow this weekend had a 50-strong team frantically searching at high altitude
for Steve Fossett's remains.

Mark Rosenker from the US National Transportation Safety Board:

MARK ROSENKER: We had some photographs that were presented to us that we reviewed briefly this
morning that tells us some preliminary information. That information is indicative of a high impact
crash which appears to be consistent with a non-survivable accident.

SIMON SANTOW: Madera County Sheriff Coroner John Anderson says it appears Mr Fossett's plane flew
right into the side of a mountain.

JOHN ANDERSON: It was found at about 9,000 feet elevation in a place called the Ansel Adams
Wilderness area. This is very rugged country. It's closed to motor vehicles. It's closed to almost
everything. It's got hiking and hiking in, it's very mountainous, craggy. He's just about at the
tree line at that elevation.

SIMON SANTOW: The British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson shared many of Steve Fossett's
adventures.

RICHARD BRANSON: Yes, it's definitely the plane. Sadly it had gone straight into the side of a
mountain. Whether Steve had had a heart attack or whether he'd had a bird strike or, you know, it
was a single engine plane, we don't know yet but obviously the aeronautical authorities will look
at that.

But I think you know the good thing about today is that we have closure. His wife now knows what's
happened and his friends and relatives know what's happened. We've already had a memorial service
where we celebrated his life and extraordinary people turned up to that service.

SIMON SANTOW: Australians know only too well at least one highlight of Steve Fossett's
extraordinary life.

Six years ago he achieved an elusive goal, becoming the first person to circumnavigate the world
solo in a balloon.

He chose to begin his journey in Western Australia and tricky winds meant he touched back down on
terra firma two weeks later in outback Queensland. There waiting for him was ABC Radio's Tanya
Nolan.

TANYA NOLAN: What was the most concerning moment for you?

STEVE FOSSETT: The worst was over the Indian Ocean when two jet streams were colliding and creating
very severe turbulence and I thought it would rip the balloon. There was a similar stroke from the
balloon to when my balloon ripped over the Coral Sea in 1998 and I fell into the sea. This time my
balloon was a little bit stronger but never the less I climbed out and climbed up to 35,000 feet
and flew there for the rest of the night to get out of that turbulence.

TANYA NOLAN: What sort of a relief was that?

STEVE FOSSETT: I was very relieved that I had an oxygen system that was suitable to fly at that
altitude. On previous flights my oxygen system would only be functional up to 30,000 feet but this
time I had a, it's called a (inaudible) demand system and so they go up much higher.

TANYA NOLAN: So how is it to achieve a 10-year dream?

STEVE FOSSETT: It's, I've worked very hard for this, not only myself but I worked very hard for
this and not only myself. I had to assemble a team to support me on this. It was an all
encompassing effort and took six attempts. Even so, even though we thought we were doing it right
each time, and so to finally succeed is especially sweet.

SIMON SANTOW: Before his disappearance there was no sign of Steve Fossett's thirst for adventure
ever being quenched. The billionaire businessman had plans to pool resources with NASA and fly
safely into the Mars atmosphere - the equivalent of flying above earth higher than any person has
ever flown before.

LISA MILLAR: Simon Santow reporting.

Mathematicians in their prime

LISA MILLAR: It probably hasn't been keeping you awake at night but mathematicians have been
working around the clock and they've found their holy grail - a 13-million digit prime number.
Their success is so prestigious it comes with prize money of $US100,000.

Prime numbers like seven and 11 can only be divided by the number one or themselves and now there's
another one to add to the list and it's setting the world of mathematics abuzz.

Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: It's an amazing discovery - a new prime number with 13-million digits. To write it
out by hand would take two-and-half-months. But with a computer it doesn't take anywhere near as
long.

That's how the team at the University of California at Los Angeles found the number - by linking up
75 computers and harnessing their unused power. That allowed them to perform the enormous number of
calculations needed to find and verify the new prime.

They were among thousands of other people around the world who linked the powers of their personal
computers in the search for a higher Mersenne prime number, named after the 17th century French
mathematician Marin Mersenne.

The discovery puts the team in line to collect a prize of $US100,000 set up by the Electronic
Frontier Foundation to promote cooperative computing on the internet.

Maths genius Professor Terence Tao works on the theory of maths at UCLA. Born in Adelaide, the
33-year-old made one of the most important scientific discoveries in 2004 when he proved that prime
numbers contain infinitely many progressions of all finite lengths.

He says this latest discovery is an exciting one.

TERENCE TAO: It's good news. I'm especially happy for my home university UCLA because they were
involved in writing this prime. People have been using this challenge to find very large prime
numbers to test certain mathematical algorithms and also to test computers' ability to do huge
calculations. And this particular prime was actually a milestone. There was a small prize, I think
$100,000 for the first prime to be discovered with more than 10-million digits and UCLA's team won
that prize.

ALISON CALDWELL: Do you think there are more primes out there?

TERENCE TAO: Yeah, there are. In fact there's a very old result going back to ancient Greeks in
300BC that says that in fact there are infinitely many primes. No matter how primes you find, there
will always be another one. But that argument doesn't tell you where the primes are. It just tells
you that they're out there and actually finding primes is a lot harder than just saying that they
exist.

This is by far the largest prime that's ever been discovered. But of course there will be more if
we have faster computers and better algorithms we will find larger ones too. There are more prizes
out there for even bigger primes like a hundred-million digits and so forth.

ALISON CALDWELL: Doesn't it sort of make it a little less exciting though when the prime number was
discovered with computers, I mean compared to the old days when prime numbers were discovered by
the human brain?

TERENCE TAO: That's true. I mean most mathematicians nowadays we don't actually spend our time
calculating things like that any more because we have computers to do it. But on the other hand
these sorts of calculations are actually used for other purposes too like in cryptography.

When you encode for example if you want to make sure that your transactions on the internet are
secure or the ATM machine is secure, you encode your communications using the type of mathematics
that is also used to find these primes and so by getting better practice at doing these very large
computations we also get better confidence how to do these cryptographic algorithms properly and to
see how secure they are.

It's called the positive and negative. I mean it's no longer pen and paper type mathematics but
knowing how to use computers better is the modern world so it's relevant in that respect.

ALISON CALDWELL: Have you actually seen this 13-million digit number.

TERENCE TAO: Yes well, it's on the internet but you know you don't learn anything by seeing it. I
mean it's 10-million digits long. I don't think I would get much out of staring at 10-million
digits. I think they're planning to make a poster with all the digits in a very, very tiny font. I
think it will just have artistic value. It won't actually be of that much use.

ALISON CALDWELL: The number is the 46th known Mersenne prime and the eighth to have been discovered
at UCLA. What is it about UCLA?

TERENCE TAO: Well actually UCLA's main contribution is that we just happen to have a lot of
computers lying around. There's lots of things going on in mathematics. We don't just, you know,
find really, really big numbers. That's just one very small part of mathematics.

One nice thing about this is that you can actually explain what we've done here. A lot of
mathematics nowadays is very hard, very abstract to have explained, but you can explain what a
prime number is and you can explain what a very, very big number is.

LISA MILLAR: Alison Caldwell with that report.

US political expert declares debate a dead heat

LISA MILLAR: Let's return to our top story and the vice presidential debate.

Not since George Bush senior took on Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 has a debate between the vice
presidential candidates been so highly anticipated.

It's now wrapped up and to discuss who came out on top we're joined by our regular commentator Dr
Simon Jackman, professor of political science at Stanford University.

Dr Jackman let's start with a quick scorecard. Was there a clear winner?

SIMON JACKMAN: I think you'd probably have to score it pretty even, frankly. I didn't detect any
major gaffes. Frankly I thought both of them performed really well and I guess given how low
expectations were for Sarah Palin, perhaps on that basis you'd probably have to score it for her
actually.

LISA MILLAR: Well I know I read somewhere that Sarah Palin only had to walk on stage and not pass
out to be considered to have been a success.

SIMON JACKMAN: It had almost gotten to that point. Those interviews she had on CBS News with Katie
Couric asking fairly seemingly innocuous questions and her coming up fairly disastrously short on
that, and just the way that CBS sort of trickled those out sort of over the, night after night
there seemed to be more. Expectations were just so low, that's right, going in. And frankly she
performed so far in excess of those very low expectations. Again that's why I think perhaps if you
were to score this one, if you had to you know declare someone the winner you'd be tempted to say
it was her.

LISA MILLAR: Well let's kick off at the start. She walked on stage very confidently and said to
Senator Biden, "Can I call you Joe?" What did you think of that as the start to this debate?

SIMON JACKMAN: Very disarming wasn't it? It was a lovely, I mean there were some real moments of
what I like to call political theatre and that was one of them.

The other thing just staring down the barrel of the TV camera, speaking to people at home watching
it, an awful lot of smiling and grinning and nodding and maybe even the occasional wink at the
camera, acknowledging family members and that sort of, that very folksy persona she brings and a
beaming smile for most of the debate.

Again people, you put that in contrast with the performances you were getting on CBS News the other
night and it was a very different Sarah Palin.

LISA MILLAR: Well there'd been a lot of talk about how she was being managed and she'd bunkered
down at McCain's ranch all week with his advisors. Did you get a sense of that? I mean was that
obvious? Was she over-managed at all?

SIMON JACKMAN: No I didn't think so actually. I think they hit a pretty good balance frankly. There
was evidence of schooling. It was clearly in evidence there sort of her ability to name the
political leadership in Iraq and rattling off countries around the world, referring to Israel's
treaties with Jordan and Egypt over the years, sort of displaying what I thought was a relatively
impressive command of world affairs, parts of the world that she's never been to as best as we
know.

And so there was some clear evidence of schooling there but I thought it was nicely tempered with
this, the buzz word through the week was let Palin be Palin. Again, what I was referring to
earlier, sort of that charm offensive - staring down the barrel of the TV camera, smiling
throughout it all. I thought she hit her marks very, very well; a great blend of some cramming
clearly that's been going on since she's been on the ticket but with that, not letting go of that
small town Alaskan charm.

LISA MILLAR: Well Joe Biden had a difficult task. I mean, he needs to try and be more likeable and
he couldn't risk patronising her. How do you think he came off? And talk about the use of language
that he brought to the debate.

SIMON JACKMAN: Look, yeah, exactly. I thought he had a great debate as well. Let's not take
anything away from him. All eyes were on Palin but Biden had a great debate as well.

I thought he hit some real emotion hot points frankly talking about his kid over in Iraq, talking
about what's really at stake in this election towards the end of the debate. The emotional content
of what Biden had to say was really starting to soar in the last 15 minutes.

A particularly I thought effective critique of John McCain's maverick credentials. I thought that
was another high point for Biden.

And for a guy that over his long career in the US Senate has had the occasional gaffe or two, I
thought he had a nearly spotless performance frankly and that ratcheting it up in the last 15, 20
minutes, reminding American voters what may be at stake in this election, I thought he had a great
debate as well frankly.

LISA MILLAR: Well we'll come back to the sons that they have in Iraq at the moment but he also
almost broke down it seemed when he was talking about his family because he's had quite a sort of
tragic story there, hasn't he? And do you think that was part of making him connect a bit more with
the audience?

SIMON JACKMAN: Oh look, it's difficult to know, you know, how much of that is scripted and how much
isn't. I guess you have to think when the stakes are this high it's all scripted. But yeah, that
was duly noted on this end as well. That was an especially sort of touching moment.

And it's very delicate I think for these politicians, some of whom have these personal tragedies in
their background. You never want to be seen to be trafficking on that or seeking to sort of draw
undue attention to that but at the same time that's part of your personal story and that is a real
rhetorical challenge to find a way to work that in.

When he did, and again I think a bit of emotion there and frankly maybe Barack Obama could afford
to take a page out of that part of the Biden playbook. If anything was missing from Obama's
performance last week it may have been some of that emotional content I think connecting with
voters a little bit at that emotion, visceral level.

And you're right, that moment of the debate was particularly a good one I thought for Biden as he
brought that...

LISA MILLAR: One of the things that came out of the debate which I suspect quite a few people don't
actually realise is that both those vice presidential candidates have sons either in Iraq or
heading to Iraq and so does John McCain. But we don't hear a lot about that. Has that been a
deliberate decision from the candidates and was it slightly awkward then when it's deliberately
brought up by the moderator in this debate?

SIMON JACKMAN: I don't know the reasoning behind it frankly. I think that frankly when they, the
Palin unveiling as it were at the Republican convention, that was, there was no great secret of
that, the fact that her son was deploying. Typically something the military doesn't like details of
specific deployments and specific locations being released. Nonetheless that was sort of quite
public I thought in the Palin case.

Look I think these people in public office and it's true in Australia as well that you know, you're
very reluctant or at least very careful in the way that you work your kids into your own political
narrative. And I think it's almost a standing rule of the game as it were that you know, one is
very careful how you do that. At what point are you holding your kids up to become "fair game",
quote unquote.

And you know, you'd hate to be in a position, I think, and I'm speaking now just thinking about
this as a personal matter for these people, that you've opened in an effort to sort of bolster your
political career you've somehow opened up your kids to criticism or scrutiny that they may not
welcome or particularly deserve.

LISA MILLAR: And tell me, these debates, they're such an intense study of your candidates. A raised
eyebrow or a sweating forehead could capture the headlines. Was there anything that you saw that
we'll be reading about tomorrow?

SIMON JACKMAN: Oh just the Palin charm offensive frankly. I think, you know, we haven't seen a
female candidate in one of these debates since Geraldine Ferraro right at this level, and we
certainly had Hillary Clinton through the primaries.

But that was really quite remarkable the way that there was one part of the debate where Palin was
sort of in that you know shout out to the kids in some school to Alaska or whatever that was. You
know that was quite remarkable and I think those down home touches that Palin brought, as we
dissect this as a matter of style and panache, I think that will be what we'll be talking about,
along with the thing we were just talking about as well I think, that very emotional moment that
Biden injected into the debate as well.

LISA MILLAR: And can you tell me just how important will this debate be in the wash-up, in the next
month as we head to election day?

SIMON JACKMAN: Look it's a great question and I tend to think we've approached a stage in the
campaign where people are starting to lock in and so much of this gets filtered through one's
partisan goggles or one's leanings that one had before you turned on the debate. And so if you were
for the Democrats you liked what Biden had to say. If you were for the Republicans, you didn't like
it and you thought Palin did a great job.

I think the trick for us is to sort of try and stay a little objective and look at this and I
think, you know frankly I think Palin exceeding expectations the way she did could have a slight
effect there. But I don't think it's going to be a vote switcher at this point.

The story here in the United States has been the economic meltdown over the last couple of weeks,
the way that that's really blossomed into a full blown crisis in Washington and the seeming
inability of the Congress to deal with it expeditiously. And frankly McCain floundering around - a
very difficult week for John McCain, suspending his campaign to go back to Washington and then
promising to get a deal done and then they didn't get a deal done and the turmoil on the market
since. That's really the story here.

And the other thing to keep in mind is that we're going to have two more presidential debates in
short order. I mean here we are in the United States...

LISA MILLAR: And they will be just as keenly watched I'm sure. Simon Jackman, thank you for joining
us.

SIMON JACKMAN: A pleasure Lisa.

LISA MILLAR: Thank you. Simon Jackson, professor of political science at Stanford University.

Racing gets back on track

LISA MILLAR: First it was the horse flu that sent them fleeing from the track then the pilgrims
arrived taking over the racecourse, but now the billion dollar racing industry is doing its best to
prove all is back in order.

Sydney's Royal Randwick Racecourse will tomorrow be the venue for "Super Saturday" - a day where
time honoured races are held, designer hats get an outing and wallets get a work out.

But after the horse flu forced the unprecedented cancelling of last year's spring racing carnival,
has the industry truly recovered?

Karen Barlow was trackside at dawn.

KAREN BARLOW: Top Australian horse trainer Gai Waterhouse is putting her runners for Randwick's
Super Saturday through their final paces.

Among her many career wins Waterhouse has taken out the Epsom Handicap four times before.

GAI WATERHOUSE: And like the Doncaster in the autumn it is our premier mile race in Australia so
it's very exciting, you know. It's lovely to have a couple of runs. I've got two star thoroughbreds
geldings in tomorrow. One is called Bank Robber and he just might be the bank robber.

KAREN BARLOW: Super Saturday is one of the main days on the Australia racing calendar along with
Victoria's Melbourne Cup and Derby Day.

RICHARD KIMPTON: It is a three week carnival compressed into one whatever it is and that is a
little bit different but yeah, there's plenty of races on, there's plenty of horses here and that's
what we're here for.

KAREN BARLOW: The clerk of the Randwick racecourse, Richard Kimpton. He's worked at the track for
longer than he cares to admit and he's noted that the smiles of the workers are now returning after
the tough times of the past 12 months.

RICHARD KIMPTON: It looked like a morgue this place. You looked down there and you couldn't see a
horse or a person anywhere, you know. It was frustrating because you never seen it like that. In
150 years it's never ever been like that this place you know.

So that was a bit of a change you know but, you don't like to see it like that you know.

KAREN BARLOW: Were you working at all or trying to work?

RICHARD KIMPTON: Well we were coming to work put it that way and there was no work to do so you
know that was the frustrating thing about it. You know you wanted to do something; you wanted to be
able to do something but you couldn't because there was no point in doing anything. You're sitting
there twiddling your thumbs feeling sorry for yourself and everyone else you know?

KAREN BARLOW: The Randwick track has also not completely recovered from having more than 100,000
World Youth Day pilgrims sleeping, praying and celebrating on it in April.

Most of the horses were sent to another Sydney track for several months and the State and Federal
governments spent $42-million compensating the industry.

With the horse flu it's been a double whammy for Randwick trainers such as Graeme Begg.

GRAEME BEGG: You know gradually getting back into gear. I don't think a lot of trainers have really
got their full compliment of horses back yet. We've also found that it has taken a while to get
horses going again because they were put back six months at least and I think we're going to find
that it is going to be probably at least another six to 12 months before we are fully operational.

KAREN BARLOW: Were any of your horses sick?

GRAEME BEGG: Oh every horse at Randwick was sick. Every horse, 700-odd horses which were sick at
Randwick. Yeah, it went through the place like wildfire. It was a hard time but it's amazing how
quickly it's gone past. It's 12 months has past and we're back to having a major race day in the
spring.

KAREN BARLOW: Racing rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne has always been intense and Melbourne has
just launched its spring racing carnival.

Centrebet's Neil Evans says this weekend is when Randwick proves itself as a major player again.

NEIL EVANS: It is extreme. Look Melbourne is always in the box seat this time of the year but
really I think they've been giggling in Sydney over the last few weeks. Most of the headline horses
have been going around in Melbourne. Plenty of depth and quality in the fields and that progresses
to competitive betting races.

Sydney hasn't had that. A lot of short priced favourites, a lack of depth but it turns around for
Epsom day where the fields are bigger and the betting should be a lot more competitive.

KAREN BARLOW: Punters are returning to horse racing for the spring carnival after having to find
other sports to bet on.

Earnings were down last financial year for betting companies but they have coped since they also
offer wagers on football, cricket, major awards ceremonies and politics.

Centrebet's Neil Evans.

NEIL EVANS: A lot of relief there of course because, look, if New South Wales had been struck by a
another bout of equine influenza it would have crippled the industry. Racing people are resilient
and punters are probably even more resilient.

KAREN BARLOW: There was a horse flu scare in Sydney last week but it turned out to be a false
alarm.

Randwick trainer Graeme Begg doesn't think the racing industry is big enough to cope with another
bad year.

GRAEME BEGG: I don't know if we'd get the support from the Government. It would be a very difficult
time and I think a lot of people would be out of business.

KAREN BARLOW: But the clerk of Randwick Racecourse Richard Kimpton says the industry is tougher
than it looks.

RICHARD KIMPTON: Of course it is, yes, not a problem. Do it on its head. Do it easily.

LISA MILLAR: The sounds from the track. Karen Barlow was our reporter.

Storm not on Melbourne's radar

LISA MILLAR: This time last week Melbourne was awash with AFL fans decked out in team colours. But
today, two days before the NRL grand final, the scene couldn't be further removed.

It seems even a team in the final and the off-field antics of a fiery coach have failed to excite
Melburnians' interest.

The World Today ventured onto the streets of the AFL heartland and was hard pressed to find a
single fan of the rival code.

Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: Their team might be shaping up for the grand final for the third year running but at a
tram stop on St Kilda Road this morning there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm among ordinary
Melburnians.

VOX POP 1: I don't care. It doesn't mean anything to me.

VOX POP 2: Not at all. Those short, squat, stocky fellows (laughs) they're just so funny.

VOX POP 3: AFL is easy to understand only because I know it, but that's about it yeah (laughs).

VOX POP 4: I'm an old rugby league fan from way back who was converted to AFL so there's no going
back.

JANE COWAN: It's a disinterest that at times verges on disdain.

VOX POP 5: It's just not, it's not new age. It's like cavemen running around hitting each other.

JANE COWAN: A rematch between the two teams who fought it out in the previous year's grand final
has only happened a handful of times in rugby league history. Only twice has the vanquished team
from the year before been able to turn the tables.

Sports journalist and former coach Roy Masters says those statistics make for an entertaining game.

ROY MASTERS: There is a feeling about the Sea Eagles that they are sort of a team of destiny; that
they are out to, they're hunting down the champions and it is going to be one major challenge for
the Storm to beat them.

JANE COWAN: The presence of the Victorian team in the final has forced a reorientation of loyalties
in New South Wales.

ROY MASTERS: Most people in the west of Sydney have loathed Manly for quite some time - the
chequebook champions, the evil silvertails. But now because the rival is a team from the south,
some of these people that hold these philosophical views are now supporting Manly.

JANE COWAN: But even if Sydneysiders are willing to change teams, Melburnians seem decidedly
unwilling to change codes.

A newspaper survey this week found they were unable to even recognise players from their top
ranking rugby league team.

DAVID GALLOP: Oh there's no doubt we're still very much the minority sport compared to the AFL and
it's hardly surprising that away from the core fans we've still got some work to do.

JANE COWAN: NRL chief executive David Gallop doesn't pretend his code will ever seriously challenge
the AFL in Victoria but he's confident there is a niche market to be captured.

He says crowds at Victorian games are steady and will be even better with the advent of a new
$280-million stadium.

DAVID GALLOP: Melburnians are used to going to sport in the very best facilities and the fact is
Olympic Park is not of that kind of standard. But once we get into a new facility I'm optimistic
that fans will enjoy going to rugby league.

JANE COWAN: In Sydney and Brisbane, State of Origin football out-rated even the Olympic Games
Opening Ceremony.

But trying to watch NRL matches free to air in Victoria can be close to impossible. David Gallop
says that too will change as the fan base grows.

DAVID GALLOP: We have to continue to raise the profile of the game and make it an attractive option
for broadcasters. We're continuing to talk to our broadcasters about that and we certainly have
improved coverage over the last few years.

JANE COWAN: Journalist Roy Masters is similarly optimistic.

ROY MASTERS: Television is the answer and the stadium is the second answer. And when Melbourne gets
a fully seated stadium in 2009-10, there at Olympic Park and regularly on television, Aussie Rules
watch out.

JANE COWAN: And even Melburnians leave room for the possibility that NRL just might catch on in the
AFL heartland.

VOX POP: Anything where there's a bit of you know, spit, sweat and spunky leg on a stretch of green
in this city is going to attract a crowd.

LISA MILLAR: Jane Cowan taking to the streets of Melbourne.