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Govt moves to sell economic stimulus package

ELEANOR HALL: But we begin today in Canberra, where the Federal Government has embarked on a big
sell of its $10-billion economic stimulus package.

It is not so keen though to answer questions about the possibility of the budget going into deficit
or to speculate on whether Australia would slide into recession without the massive injection of
taxpayer funds.

The economic uncertainty prompted the Prime Minister to make his first address to the nation and
now the Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull is planning to do the same.

As Alexandra Kirk reports from Canberra.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The $10.4-billion package has been designed for a quick injection of spending to as
much of the economy as possible.

Government MPs have been quick to get the message.

JULIE COLLINS: Yesterday the Rudd Labor Government acted decisively, responsibly and early to
strengthen the Australian economy in the economic global crisis in which we are experiencing.

It is a strong package, it is about strengthening the Australian economy, it's been very well
received by all quarters.

JIM TURNOUR: This package is very welcomed, and it has been decisive, it has been quick action by
the Government.

The world has changed in the last few weeks and we need to act decisively, we need to bring forward
this package quickly.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And senior ministers have been blitzing morning radio and television, selling the
massive spending strategy.

WAYNE SWAN: The global financial crisis has entered a dangerous new phase.

JULIA GILLARD: Obviously, we are living in turbulent and fast moving times, well we've taken this
decisive action because we want to strengthen our economy.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But they're not as keen to debate the possibilities of a budget deficit, and even
less keen on whether Australia was heading into recession without the fiscal stimulus.

WAYNE SWAN: I think that sort of talk is not responsible, what we're aiming to do given this turn
in the international economy is to strengthen our economy to the maximum possibly extent.

JULIA GILLARD: Look, the Government's aim is obviously for the economy to stay positive, that's why
we've taken this quick and decisive action, we want to make sure that our economy keeps growing.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government says everyone will have to wait until next month to see all the
forecasts on which its big spending package was based: economic growth, unemployment and inflation,
with the release of the mid-year economic outlook.

But former treasurer, now humble backbencher Peter Costello, isn't reluctant to go where others
fear to tread.

PETER COSTELLO: If the purpose of this, we're to avert a recession, this is not the dimension
required at all. What is required is aggressive cuts in interest rates.

The way I see this package it this is really a package which makes up to pensioners something that
should have been done in the May budget.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: This morning the treasurer Wayne Swan introduced into Parliament the first piece of
legislation to underpin the new government guarantee of Australians' bank deposits.

WAYNE SWAN: Never before, has the Australian Government moved to protect depositors in the way in
which we are doing today.

The bill substantially enhances the prudential framework, it puts in place the financial claims
scheme, the measures in this bill will allow ordinary Australians and their financial markets to
move ahead into the future with confidence.

(hear hear)

ALEXANDRA KIRK: While all sides are backing the special one-off pension bonus and family payments,
extra training places and increases to the first homeowners grant, there is some criticism at the
edges. From Greens leader Bob Brown:

BOB BROWN: No doubt the people who've missed out here are the unemployed. There's getting on to
three quarters of a million people who are unemployed, who are struggling at the bottom of the

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce doesn't think it wise to give people
extra money just before Christmas.

BARNABY JOYCE: You have to look after the pensioners, but $10-billion could have put in the
desalination plants for Adelaide, fix that up, we could have put an inland rail, but it seems that
we've bought Christmas presents.

I'm worried about when big chunks of money turn up in one fell swoop just before Christmas because
a couple of weeks later you see Australia's, a lot of Australia's $10-billion scattered around the
floor with made in China on the back.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce ending that report from Alexandra

Retail giant stimulated by package

ELEANOR HALL: While the Government's $10-billion stimulus package has been widely welcomed, some
economists are raising concerns that it will lead to an increase in household debt.

But the chairman of the retail giant Harvey Norman says he sees nothing wrong or unusual with
Australians racking up more credit card debt.

Gerry Harvey has been speaking with our business editor Peter Ryan.

GERRY HARVEY: There's less shoppers in the store, they're looking more and not buying as much, and
they're scared to spend.

But I think now, I think with what's happened, in the bigger picture, I mean all this, this is only
micro stuff what's happening about giving some money to pensioners and first home buyers. The big
picture out there is that the world gets its act into gear and we start to get confidence in banks
lending again, to one another and to their customers.

If that happens, which I'm fairly confident it looks like it's going to happen, then we're going to
start kicking again.

PETER RYAN: Have you seen any local evidence of the problem of banks not lending at the moment in
areas outside of your particular business?

GERRY HARVEY: Yeah, over the last little bit, if you haven't got a line of credit established with
your bank and you're not very solid, it's very difficult to get money because the banks are having
great difficulty getting their money and their having to pay a lot more for it.

And it's a situation that's quite unique, I don't think it's probably ever happened, you know, in
our lifetimes; this has never happened.

PETER RYAN: What anecdotally have people been saying about the fears that they have on household
budgets and particularly employment, given the outlook?

GERRY HARVEY: When you read the media every, you're listening to the media every day, you, it's
like pretty scary, so, but the good thing is I think we're through it, and I think interest rates
have dropped, there is this stimulus package, interest rates will drop even further.

So I think we've turned the corner, but I don't know that, but my gut feeling is we've turned the

PETER RYAN: A lot of commentators are saying though that the cause of the global financial crisis
has been the debt binge that has been underway throughout the world over the last five years or so
with easy money.

Are you worried that with more money in their pockets, consumers might actually end up with more
debt than they have already?

GERRY HARVEY: I think that's a little bit of a problem, the big problem is what happened in
American and has spread to the rest of the world.

We've got a pretty sound economy here, I mean we don't walk down the street and find half the
houses vacant and being vandalised like you do in America. Every house in Australia pretty well is

And our banks are fine, and they don't need huge amounts of cash injected into them by our
government; the Government's guaranteed the deposits in the banks, but they haven't put any money

PETER RYAN: But are you worried that with more money in their pockets to spend that people might
actually take their credit cards up to the limit where they might have actually held back until
this package was released?

GERRY HARVEY: Well mostly that's never been such a big problem, I mean people talk about it a lot
but, you know, people are fairly responsible most people, and you know, they've got credit cards,
they've always had credit cards, and they've always had problems paying them off.

This is a big global problem, it's not about whether Joe Blow has exceeded his limit on his credit

PETER RYAN: You don't worry though when people sign up for plasma TVs or LCD TVs or indeed kitchens
or bathrooms on four year interest-free plans?

GERRY HARVEY: Well the point is that if those plans weren't available, and you fridge broke down,
they wouldn't have a fridge the next day. They've got mum, dad, three kids and no fridge.

Luckily there's an interest-free plan, or a payment plan that you can get the fridge the next day.

PETER RYAN: So do you think that Kevin Rudd would have unveiled this package if he didn't see a
very, very serious situation looming?

GERRY HARVEY: No, he knows exactly how serious it is. He's crossing the world pretty much all the
time and he's on the phone and his advisors, they're all telling him this is very serious Kevin.

He knows this more than anyone, or as much as anyone, how serious it is.

PETER RYAN: How deep do you think the, a possible recession might be or without this stimulus

GERRY HARVEY: Again I think this is small time, the big picture, this is the little picture. And I
don't think we are going to have a recession one, and two even if they hadn't done this I don't
think we're going to have a recession. But I might be wrong, but I don't think I am.

ELEANOR HALL: That's an upbeat Gerry Harvey, from Harvey Norman speaking there to business editor
Peter Ryan.

US Govt too slow on bank rescue plan: economist

ELEANOR HALL: In the United States, bank stocks surged in response to the Bush administration's
plan to inject $250-billion into the battered sector.

The US Government will take an equity stake in possibly thousands of financial institutions.

And while the Treasury Secretary is describing such government intervention as unpalatable, Adam
Posen, the deputy director of the Petersen Institute for International Economics, says it's the
sort of thing the Government should have done much earlier.

Doctor Posen spoke in Washington to our North America correspondent Michael Rowland.

ADAM POSEN: I think it's great, I think that the American's finally listened to what other people
were advising them and what history shows is the best way to fix a bank crisis, which is to put
fresh capital in the banks.

And I think most people knew it was going to go this way and the Paulson team at the Treasury
apparently was holding on to the last, to try to avoid doing anything compulsory on the private
banks, and it turned out in the end, they did do compulsory which was the right thing.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: How extraordinary a move is it in your view for an American government, any
American government to take ownership stakes in private banks?

ADAM POSEN: It's definitely a surprise from comparison to the very, very deregulatory rhetoric of
the last 10 or 15 years.

But if you look at US history more broadly, including the various interventions in the financial
system through the century including the way they used to intervene in the transportation markets,
as well as what other major countries like Japan, Sweden, the UK have done during their previous
banking problems, it's not that unprecedented.

It's just the gap between the recent rhetoric and the neccess(phonetic) of the right now.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Why do you believe the Bush administration was resisting this idea until it was,
its hand apparently was forced?

ADAM POSEN: Definitely it's hand was forced, you had real leadership coming out of the UK and the
Eurozone and then suddenly the American Government, really the Bush administration said, oh my god,
if we're facing a world where there are a bunch of banks that have good capitalisation and
government guarantees and ours don't, that's probably a bad idea.

I think it was just another instance of ideological blinders, I regret to say.

I had hoped that it was something different on the part of the Paulson team, but it seems like the
Federal Reserve as well as other outside economists were all saying do it this way, and it was only
Paulson's resistance that kept them from doing it.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: How long do you expect the Government to have a stake in banks, does this usher in
a new era for the financial system or do you believe it will be only temporary?

ADAM POSEN: I definitely believe it's only temporary, and I think people will be pleasantly
surprised how quickly they get out.

Let's be clear, for all the shift, this is still only partial shares, they're basically going to be
silent stake holders, they're not going to make decisions in particular loan portfolios, and
they're going to be out in less than three years.

So, in fact, some of these big firms probably they're going to get out very quickly, so I think it
is temporary, it is salutary, it's important but it is temporary.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: And will it work in freeing up those stalled credit markets and fixing the
financial system?

ADAM POSEN: Yes, I'm hesitating slightly because it will not solve all problems overnight, but it
definitely should be enough to stop the panic we've seen over the past several weeks, and that
combined with what the central banks are already doing, like buying commercial paper providing
liquidity, the guarantees in capital should loosen up the credit markets.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Is this in your view the last shot in the locker or can we expect to see more
government measures to intervene in the financial system if conditions don't ease.

ADAM POSEN: Well even if conditions do ease, I see three more shots coming. I think the getting the
big banks was a symbolic first step, but at the Treasury has said, they're going to put an equal
amount of money into smaller banks around the country.

Secondly I think the Treasury has said they're going to go ahead with buying some bad assets which
frankly is constructive, it was kind of beside the point when the banks were undercapitalised, but
still had some constructive worth.

And third I think the Fed will continue to be quite aggressive about buying a wide range of assets
from a wide range of counter parties in a way they did in the past.

So even absent further problems I think we're going to see those interventions.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Adam Posen, the deputy director of the Petersen Institute for
International Economics in Washington. He was speaking to our North America correspondent Michael

Qantas stays under the radar on mid-air incident

ELEANOR HALL: The mid-air incident on a Qantas flight over Western Australia last week is hardly
good publicity for the flying kangaroo.

But the airline would have been buoyed by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's preliminary
report which laid the blame for that incident on aircraft manufacturer Airbus and its in-flight
computer system.

Airbus has now contacted all of its customers to warn them of the chance the problem may happen

And while Qantas is refusing to comment on the issue, its competitor and fellow Airbus customer,
Singapore Airlines, is happy to explain how airlines react to these sorts of industry-wide safety

Reporter Simon Santow spoke to Stephen Forshaw, the vice president of public affairs with Singapore

STEPHEN FORSHAW: All of the airlines and the manufacturers have a very open communication process
where an incident that occurs anywhere in the world, of varying severity levels is always
communicated between the manufacturer and other operators of similar aircraft type.

And that's so that we all understand, as investigations are proceeding, what learnings are coming
out of those investigations.

SIMON SANTOW: How seriously does Singapore take this warning?

STEPHEN FORSHAW: We take this as seriously as we take the many warnings as we get on serious
incidents around the world that affect airlines operating the various aircraft types similar to
those we have in our fleet.

SIMON SANTOW: Do your pilots believe that something similar to what has happened to the Qantas
plane could happen to the Singapore planes?

STEPHEN FORSHAW: Look we don't actually yet operate the A330s that Qantas operate, although we are
scheduled to take delivery of our first one within a couple of months.

We do operate the A340 which is a similar aircraft to the A330, so in these sort if incidents the
pilots are always going to look at what theoretical possibilities exist.

The investigators have made the observation that the likelihood of a recurrence of this incident is
very unlikely, the incident itself is very very rare. I think Airbus have noted that this is the
first time such an incident has occurred with the six or 700 A330s in service around the world.

SIMON SANTOW: Qantas chose to pay compensation to its passengers, those passengers who were aboard
that flight, and they chose to do that before the preliminary investigation findings were made

Is it typical in your experience of airlines to pay compensation in these cases?

STEPHEN FORSHAW: Look I think Qantas' decision is very much a question for Qantas and I'm sure
they've taken advice from their insurers. But also you do tend as an airline to look at the good
will impact that such a gesture would have on customers.

We have done so before as well, where you can certainly see that there is a benefit in paying
compensation quickly and helping customers to resolve issues.

You need in the case of customers who require ongoing medical or psychological treatment to give
them some satisfaction very quickly that you're going to be able to help them and you know, if an
airline chooses to do that quickly, then there is probably some merit in doing so.

But these decisions are usually taken in co-operation with the airline insurers that are also
experienced in dealing with these type of incidents.

SIMON SANTOW: It was reported early on, mainly because Qantas chose not to talk about what their
pilot's had experienced, it was reported that it was likely to be clear air turbulence for quite a
few days.

In your experience do airlines tend to pay compensation when it's clear air turbulence? Or does it
have to be something like this?

STEPHEN FORSHAW: No I think obviously the circumstances are on a case-by-case basis, I saw some
early reports suggesting clear air turbulence.

The great problem in these sort of cases is of course you've got a thirst for information on the
part of the public and especially the media, I want to know what happened and I want to know now.

The reality is, these days with modern and highly technical aircraft, coming out with a reason for
the occurrence straight away is very difficult.

These days you've got to have access to the flight data recorders, to the flight computers and so
on, to get the data that's going to help you pin point what actually occurred.

But there is, particularly in the 24/7 news cycle, a thirst for information that leads to people
starting to speculate.

I think at the end of the day investigators have to have time to do their jobs thoroughly, the
importance is not the speed in which you come up with an answer, but coming up with the right
answer. And then look, airlines will make their individual decisions on how to best handle the
impact on their customers.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Stephen Forshaw, the vice president of public affairs with Singapore Airlines,
speaking to our reporter, Simon Santow.

Attacks on aid workers in Afghanistan increasing

ELEANOR HALL: An organisation which has been tracking the security of humanitarian groups in
Afghanistan is warning that attacks on aid workers have risen to their highest level in six years.

In just the last nine months, 28 aid workers have been killed and 72 have been kidnapped and there
have been more than 140 security incidents involving non-government organisations.

The UN special envoy to Afghanistan agrees that the security situation in the country is

Jennifer Macey has our report.

JENNIFER MACEY: Decades of fighting in Afghanistan have left the country in ruins.

It's still one of the poorest countries in the world, despite billions of foreign aid money pouring
in for reconstruction efforts.

But the worsening security situation is making it harder for aid workers to do their job.

Professor Clive Williams is from the Centre for Policing and Counter-Terrorism at Macquarie

CLIVE WILLIAMS: The NGOs are having a harder time of it in Afghanistan now to the extent that very
often they will only fly from one place to another.

For example, there is a new highway that the Americans built from Kabul to Kandahar, but even so,
NGO workers normally fly from one place to the other because the road is regarded as unsafe.

So a lot of areas I think, it's very difficult for them to operate now, and unless an area is
reasonably secure there is a reluctance by NGOs to operate in those areas.

JENNIFER MACEY: A new report shows that attacks against aid workers in Afghanistan are at their
highest level in six years.

The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office has been monitoring security incidents involving NGOs since 2002.

It's found that in the past nine months there have been 146 attacks on NGOs compared to just 135
for all of last year.

Professor Williams again:

CLIVE WILLIAMS: The locals in many areas want what the NGOs can provide but the problem is, I
think, that the Taliban and others, war lords and so on, associate them with the central
government, which is quite unpopular in many areas of Afghanistan.

It's perceived as being corrupt and having little relevance at a local level, and sometimes they
disparagingly talk about how Hamid Karzai is the mayor of Kabul, rather than the national leader.

So I think that that's the problem the NGOs have got, is that being identified with the central
government and sometimes of course with ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and the

JENNIFER MACEY: These dire statistics have been backed by the UN special envoy to Afghanistan.

Kai Eide told a special session of the UN Security Council in New York that the security situation
in Afghanistan was getting worse, not better.

KAI EIDE: In July and August we witnessed the highest number of insecurity incidents since 2002. It
was an increase of up to 40 per cent compared to the same months in July and August last year.

JENNIFER MACEY: He said this was despite a slight reprieve in attacks during the Muslim holy
festival of Ramadan in September.

And he warned not to expect the same lull in the insurgent hostilities over winter as has been
experienced in previous years.

KAI EIDE: First of all, that the influence of the insurgency has spread beyond the traditional
areas in the south and the east and that it's extended to provinces around Kabul.

Second, there was an increase in asymmetric attacks, some of them very sophisticated, which
contributed to an increase in civilian casualties.

And third, there was more and sometimes deadly attacks against aid-related and humanitarian

JENNIFER MACEY: Afghanistan's Defence Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak blames the surge in
attacks on the improving security situation in Iraq.

ABDUL RAHIM WARDAK: A lot of terrorists, which were busy in other places, have all been diverted to
Afghanistan. The success of the coalition forces in Iraq, and also some other issues in some of the
neighbouring countries, have made it possible that there is a major increase in the foreign

JENNIFER MACEY: He says the attacks are getting more sophisticated and more deadly.

On Tuesday two separate roadside bomb attacks killed 16 Afghan civilians and three NATO troops.

Professor Clive Williams says the international community needs to radically rethink its approach
to Afghanistan.

CLIVE WILLIAMS: Well I think that the only outcome that will be achieved in the long run is some
sort of negotiated deal which in some areas might be with the Taliban, in other areas it might be
with war lords.

I think that's the only practical option for the future, and in those circumstances where there's a
degree of stability because of local agreements, then obviously it's easier for NGOs to work and
deliver the goods and services they want to deliver.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Professor Clive Williams from Macquarie University ending that report by
Jennifer Macey.

NZ canyoning crew to face court

ELEANOR HALL: In New Zealand, the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre has been charged with
four counts of safety breaches over a deadly canyoning expedition earlier this year.

Six months ago, six students and a teacher died when bad weather hit their expedition in a national
park in the North Island.

New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports that representatives from the company will appear
in court next month.

KERRI RITCHIE: Losing one student at a school is hard enough on pupils and staff.

But Elim Christian College in Auckland has been grieving for six students as well as popular PE
teacher Tony McClean.

They were swept away in a river during flash flooding while on a school excursion in April. At the
memorial service, principal of Elim College Murray Burton spoke of their distress.

MURRAY BURTON: We are still grieving, incredibly so, but hope is emerging even through the
unanswered and unfathomable questions.

KERRI RITCHIE: Six months on, the families of those killed are hoping they might soon get some

Four charges have been laid against the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre which maintains
it didn't know about an updated weather report which warned of flash flooding.

Andy Bray's daughter Natasha was one of the students killed. He now wears a jumper, with the line
"Jump in puddles" written across the front. He says it was a saying his daughter often used.

ANDY BRAY: Great little saying; an ode to make the most of every opportunity or when things aren't
going well to look for the best and yeah, we're trying to do that.

It's a fantastic thing to hang onto, and I'm proud of it.

KERRI RITCHIE: Andy Bray says he doesn't blame the outdoor centre for taking his daughter into the

ANDY BRAY: Everything is just sad, you know, the fact that OPC are being charged. Nothing malicious
happened, they're fantastic people down there and I believe in the outdoors, the great outdoors is
part of New Zealand culture.

I loved it when Natasha would get involved in those things, and so I don't feel anything about it
really, it's just sad that all this is happening.

KERRI RITCHIE: The charges were laid by New Zealand's Department of Labour.

The police investigation into the tragedy is ongoing.

Inspector Steve Mastrovich is leading it.

STEVE MASTROVICH: So just basically going through the groups of people involved in it, and then
re-interviewing some people.

And what we're doing at the moment is transcribing statements and getting them double checked to
make sure that we haven't missed anything, or there's no ambiguity and that sort of thing. So it's
a long drawn out process.

KERRI RITCHIE: Moppy Williams is the director of outdoor education at another Auckland college
called Avondale.

MOPPY WILLIAMS: The ramifications of this, there will be tightening up of certain systems and
procedures, and that will filter down to all outdoor education things, including mine, here. What
she, what OPC did and didn't do, I'm not a hundred per cent sure of. I guess it's the weather
forecast and things, and they didn't heed that properly.

So there will be things related to that. More precautions, maybe some activities will be curtailed,
who knows, we've really just got to wait to hear the whole details of it.

KERRI RITCHIE: She hopes the tragedy doesn't stop young people in New Zealand enjoying the

MOPPY WILLIAMS: You don't want to completely smother things, but obviously if there's areas that
need correcting or a tighter control, definitely, they've got to come because it was such a tragedy
that if it could have been avoided, it should have been avoided.

You just don't want it to go so far the other way that even parents become paranoid themselves
about it, and I have noticed here at school that there has been a number of kids who have returned
consent forms that have cited that as the reason why their children aren't going.

So they've got to put into place things that will reassure the parents and the staff and of course
the kids that we're doing our utmost to secure their safety and their well-being.

KERRI RITCHIE: Andy Bray says as time passes, the pain doesn't ease.

ANDY BRAY: We're so fortunate to have the support of the other six families, who are grieving with

I've never experienced anything like this before and I think it's all just a daily process, it
doesn't actually get very easier, it's actually getting harder I'm finding anyway.

KERRI RITCHIE: The families meet up regularly for coffee; Andy Bray says it gives him great

ANDY BRAY: Yeah, I mean, they're just been tremendous support, we've called ourselves the jump in
puddles coffee group.

When we say to each other how are you? We can be very real about that question.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Andy Bray whose daughter Natasha was one of the students who died on that
canyoning expedition.

New Zealand correspondent, Kerri Ritchie reporting.

Claims NT intervention report a rewrite

ELEANOR HALL: Two members of the board reviewing the Federal Government's Northern Territory
intervention have rejected newspaper speculation that the Federal Government put pressure on them
to deliver a more positive final report.

The Australian newspaper is reporting today that, in stark contrast to its final report, the
board's draft report was staunchly opposed to the intervention.

And while some members of the board are playing down the relevance of that draft report, one board
member says the final report could be construed as a watering down of the opposition to the Federal
Government's emergency intervention.

Tanya Nolan has our report.

TANYA NOLAN: Marcia Ella Duncan says several drafts were written of the report reviewing the
Federal Government's Northern Territory Emergency Response.

But she says one important fact hasn't changed:

MARCIA ELLA DUNCAN: The board does not support the intervention in its current form.

TANYA NOLAN: But journalist Paul Toohey says he's seen one of those draft reports and says it's
dramatically different from the final report released by the Federal Government on Monday.

PAUL TOOHEY: The final report has deliberate statements supporting the Northern Territory Emergency
Response, the draft has no such statements and is quite an angry and condemning assessment of the

TANYA NOLAN: In his front page article in today's Australian newspaper, Paul Toohey juxtaposes some
of those statements of the draft report with those in the final report.

EXTRACT FROM ARTICLE: The negative impacts of the Northern Territory Emergency Response actually
further damaged the health and well being of Aboriginal communities.

The full and long-term consequences may reverberate throughout the community for many years.

The negative impacts of the Northern Territory Emergency Response may have, in some cases actually
further damaged the health and well-being of Aboriginal communities.

TANYA NOLAN: Paul Toohey says that's one example of how the strident anti-intervention stance of
the board has been toned down in its final report.

He says another is the omission of many first-hand accounts of the negative effects of the
intervention made by Aborigines and those working in their communities

PAUL TOOHEY: The rest of it is riddled with complaints from Aboriginal people and academics,
condemning the intervention. All those remarks were pretty much removed in the final report.

It used those sources, who make a strong argument against the intervention.

TANYA NOLAN: Board member Marcia Ella Duncan says some comments were removed from the final report
because the board wanted a very succinct document to present to government.

MARCIA ELLA DUNCAN: We've quoted some of those submissions and testimonies from people from time to
time, but we wanted to keep the document very succinct and we wanted to make it clear to the reader
that it was the board's considerations and deliberations.

TANYA NOLAN: By keeping it succinct do you think you watered down any of your views about the
inadequacy of the intervention?

MARCIA ELLA DUNCAN: Look it was never the intention to water down or soften...

TANYA NOLAN: But do you think that was the result?

MARCIA ELLA DUNCAN: It may be perceived that that was the result, it certainly wasn't the view of
the board.

TANYA NOLAN: Ms Ella Duncan explains that in some instances the board simply changed its mind on
certain recommendations, like the one relating to children learning English as their first

But she rejects any suggestion that the changes are the result of any direct or indirect government

The board's chairman Peter Yu concurs.

PETER YU: The report rule is that the report will be right and we maintain our independence
throughout the whole process, and the Government has respected that.

We only had one meeting with the Minister right at the very end of it, just prior to the release of
it, the report as we had conducted a number of discussions with senior bureaucrats in Canberra as
part of the process of the conduct of the review.

So we've maintained a very strong view about the independence of this review, and we've conducted
the review in that manner.

TANYA NOLAN: The board's final recommendations include keeping the quarantining of welfare payments
but only in more targeted ways. The reinstatement of the permit system on Aboriginal lands, and the
deployment of more police officers to Aboriginal communities.

The Coalition says it will oppose any softening of welfare controls. A spokeswoman for Indigenous
Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says the Government's response to the review will come shortly.

ELEANOR HALL: Tanya Nolan reporting.

Watchdog asked to act on suspect adoptions

ELEANOR HALL: Queensland's misconduct watchdog has been asked to investigate the State Government's
handling of the Indian adoption scandal.

Two Australian couples adopted Indian children who are now suspected of being stolen from their

The Federal Government has banned any further dealings with one agency and is continuing to
investigate others.

But the Queensland Opposition says the State Government hasn't supported the Queensland family, or
explained why it failed to act on warnings against dealing with the Indian adoption agency.

The Minister wasn't available for an interview, but Annie Guest spoke to the opposition's child
safety spokeswoman, Jann Stuckey.

JANN STUCKEY: I have referred this incident to the Crime and Misconduct Commission because it shows
an abrogation of responsibility by the then Department of Families and it would appear the current
Department of Child Safety aren't taking this seriously enough.

It's very important that the CMC get to the bottom of this case, because to have a department
investigating itself is really little better than Caesar judging Caesar.

ANNIE GUEST: You say you've been informed that the family at the centre of the scandal hasn't
received any counselling or support from the State Government or legal support, but the State
Government says it has offered counselling and other support?

JANN STUCKEY: Well a third party who has direct contact with the family informed me that the
Government's response was to tell these parents to go and speak to legal aid if they had any

ANNIE GUEST: You're also critical of the Government's handling of a warning in the 90s against
dealing with this suspect adoption agency but it was the State Government who released this letter
a couple of weeks ago, how can you then say it's shrouded in secrecy.

JANN STUCKEY: The document I have dated in 1995 which comes from India warning about Malaysian
Social Services practices to the then Department of Families, appears, it appears that the
Department did not respond and if they did, somehow strangely the response has disappeared.

You really have to question the practices that we're going on and whether they're still going on,
because it's unacceptable that they have not been able to document anywhere that they have
responded to these alerts.

ANNIE GUEST: A Coalition Government came into power in the late '90s, can you be certain that it
acted on the warnings and put a stop to dealings with the Indian agencies?

JANN STUCKEY: I understand that the Coalition Government we're well aware of this alert and
actually made it their business to contact the Federal Government to see if they could perhaps take
over adoption services on a national basis.

They we're out of government in '98 and I understand another adoption took place in 99 under the
watch of the Labor Government.

ANNIE GUEST: Then how can you categorically state that under the coalition government put a policy
in place to actually stop dealings with this agency?

JANN STUCKEY: While the coalition did not stop dealing with this agency as far as a documented
procedure they certainly we're in talks with the Federal Government and did not process any
adoptions from India during that time.

ANNIE GUEST: Do you think that it should shoulder any of the blame since it did not put a policy in
place to stop dealings with the suspect agency in question.

JANN STUCKEY: Well the coalition stopped dealing with them themselves, so I think the fact that the
negotiations we're taking place between the Federal Government is indicative that they certainly
acknowledged that they we're aware of the issue, whereas what we're saying is that we can't find
any response.

I mean this was April '95, and then May '95 it's been stamped with received in adoption services
here in Queensland. You would expect a responsible department to respond in a matter of months.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Queensland's opposition spokeswoman on child safety, Jann Stuckey, speaking to
Annie Guest in Brisbane.

Scaling the heights under the ice

ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to Antarctica, and an international expedition is heading to the extreme
heart of the white continent to try to solve the mystery of a massive mountain range that exists
under the ice.

A British member of the expedition says it is like exploring another planet and that the existence
of the mountain range has perplexed Antarctic explorers ever since it was discovered more than half
a century ago.

Lisa Millar has our report.

LISA MILLAR: Buried deep beneath the Antarctic continent is a mountain range of such a huge scale
that scientists are almost in awe of what they're about to do.

FAUSTO FERRACCIOLI: It's really a bit like going to Mars really, you know you need years and years
of preparations in order to face such a huge challenge.

By pooling international resources we can reach areas of Antarctica which we could not reach

LISA MILLAR: Dr Fausto Ferraccioli is from the British Antarctic Survey. Joining scientists from
five other nations, including Australia, to search for the Gamburtsevs mountain range.

The mountains are underneath four kilometres of ice. Unlocking them could solve some of the
mysteries of climate change.

FAUSTO FERRACCIOLI: We also believe that this area may contain the oldest ice of our planet, which
could provide us with the most detailed record of climate change, perhaps right down to 1.5-million
years ago.

LISA MILLAR: The Gamburtsevs are as big as the Alps, but no one's ever seen them because they're
covered in ice.

And the geologists are trying to understand how they got there in the first place. It defies all
geological understanding of how mountains evolve.

And if they can solve that, they might be able to determine how Antarctica will evolve in the
coming centuries if the world continues to warm.

Dr Ian Allison is from the Australian Antarctic Division.

IAN ALLISON: It's an area of Antarctica where we have almost no information. And to build our
models of how the ice sheet works we need to know the characteristics of the ice sheet. We know
almost nothing in this area, and this will provide us with a lot of information.

It will also perhaps give us evidence of whether we can get a very, very old ice core from the
site, and we're looking at that in a number of different areas in Antarctica.

LISA MILLAR: Planes will traverse the landscape, using ice-penetrating radar, and they'll look for
areas to drill into the ice.

IAN ALLISON: We've used radar before but these are very sophisticated radars, they're really state
of the art, they're just being developed.

They're able to measure the thickness of the ice by penetrating right to the bedrock, they can give
information on the characteristics of the rock underneath, whether there's water, whether there's

They can give information on snow layers and the surface of the ice, and characteristics of the
surface of the ice. So, very sophisticated.

LISA MILLAR: The teams will be based at remote camps, more than 600 kilometres from the South Pole.
The project is expected to take two and a half months to complete.

IAN ALLISON: I've been working in Antarctica a long time and the thrill and excitement never goes

LISA MILLAR: And as far as how you think this expedition will be regarded in years to come, are we
sort of on the cusp of something very important here?

IAN ALLISON: I think this is about the last area of Antarctica that we don't have basic information
on, so it's filling that hole.

It's all taking place within the framework of a much larger project called the international polar
year, which is running over two years in fact, from March 2007 until March 2009, and there are a
lot of other projects going on completing the jigsaw about what we know about Antarctica.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Dr Ian Allison from the Australian Antarctic Division ending Lisa Millar's

Progress slowing for universal flu vaccine, say scientists

ELEANOR HALL: Flu pandemics killed tens of millions of people around the world throughout the last
century and experts say we're long overdue for the next one.

But while prevention is the number one public health measure, scientists are reporting slow
progress in the search for a flu vaccine.

Dr Ian Barr from the World Health Organisation's Collaborative Centre for Influenza has examined
the latest results of clinical trials at a world vaccine congress in Sydney.

He's been speaking with Karen Barlow.

IAN BARR: I think we're still in the early stages, clinical trials are underway but they're still
in the phase one, so that's the early stage of development.

KAREN BARLOW: What are the barriers?

IAN BARR: It's a difficult task to do, I think that to try and get a truly universal vaccine which
would cover all the influenza A strains and influenza B is a big task, so it's not something which
is going to be easily achieved.

KAREN BARLOW: But is anything in the clinical trials showing much promise?

IAN BARR: I think it's too early to say at this stage, I think that, on the positive side, the
initial trials have shown that the approach, some of the approaches have been safe, but we really
need more time to test whether they're going to be efficacious.

KAREN BARLOW: This is all getting ahead of the next possible pandemic isn't it?

IAN BARR: Well we'd like to get ahead of the next pandemic, and certainly universal vaccines is one
approach to that, the other approach is taking a more selective approach to identifying those
targets and raising specific vaccines to those targets.

KAREN BARLOW: There are three Influenza strains currently circulating but is the real problem the
seasonal Influenza that might be hitting the local populations?

IAN BARR: We'd like something to cover seasonal Influenza and if there was a potential pandemic or
a pandemic did occur that a vaccine would cover both.

We'd take one or the other at this stage.

KAREN BARLOW: Is this one of the holy grails of medicine, to get this particular vaccine, this
universal vaccine?

IAN BARR: Well I think it is and virologists and medical people have been working on this for over
75 years now, and I think that highlights the difficulty of the task, to try and get something
which will be effective against all influenza strains.

It's a difficult beast, it's always changing its shape out there so it's a difficult one to come up
with a comprehensive solution to.

KAREN BARLOW: You can't really put a time frame on this can you?

IAN BARR: Well as soon as possible, would be something I'd like, but you have to be realistic about
these things. Clinical trials need to be done and clinical trials take years to derive a sufficient
data set to establish whether these vaccines are effective or not.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Dr Ian Barr from the WHO Collaborative Centre for Influenza speaking to Karen

Judges say Booker winner shocked and entertained in equal measure

ELEANOR HALL: Australian novelist Steve Toltz has missed out but another first time author has won
one of the world's most prestigious literary awards.

Indian writer Aravind Adiga won the Man Booker Prize with his novel, "The White Tiger".

The judges say they chose it because it shocked and entertained them in equal measure.

As Stephanie Kennedy reports from London.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Aravind Adiga's novel is a story about the haves and the have-nots; the class
division between the rich and the poor in the vast country that is India.

Balram is the son of rickshaw puller, he dreams of escaping his life in a village as a teashop
worker turned driver.

His chance finally arrives and his eyes are opened to the world when he travels to New Delhi. He's
now torn between his village life and his desire to better himself.

As he makes his journey to entrepreneurial success he discovers how the tiger caught in the cage
might finally escape.

ARAVIND ADIGA: It's just a topic that seemed most pressing and the least addressed in fiction, so
that's why I picked on it. It just spoke to me the most, it's not meant to be a political treatise
or a social treatise, it's a novel, it's told in the voice of a narrator whose views you're welcome
to accept or to reject.

So it's not journalism, it's not a documentary, it's meant to be funny and it's meant to provoke
people into thinking, but it's also meant to be entertainment. As I said it's a novel and what you
think of it, should be judged upon the internal evidence within the novel of what you make of this

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: "The White Tiger" is the Indian writer's first novel.

He's spent much of his life outside India, he went to school in Australia and holds an Australian
passport, he studied at Oxford and in the United States.

He now lives in Mumbai but says his experiences living in western cultures had an impact on this

What inspired your book?

ARAVIND ADIGA: There wasn't one particular incident, it was just a series of travels and
experiences that triggered it off. I think it was just a series of images that come to mind, it
wasn't so much one particular incident as things you see, that you store in your mind that you
can't use in your journalism when you're travelling about and you promised to come back one day.

And these images stay in your mind and they call us into work, into narrative work.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: It's been described as balled, angry, unadorned portrait of India. How would you
describe your novel?

ARAVIND ADIGA: Well it's a novel, it's not a political or a social treatise, it's an unusual novel
and since it breaks many of the genre conventions that you expect from novels out of India, I think
it has been subjected to some degree of miscomprehension.

It's meant to be funny above all other things, and it's meant to be provocative, but it is also
meant to be entertainment, it's a book, it's a novel, it's not the newspaper and it's not an
objective portrait of anything.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: How do you follow up a debut novel that's won the Man Booker Prize?

ARAVIND ADIGA: It's a great honour, you know, but there are other things in life too, so it's right
now, the feeling is one of gratitude of having won.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Winning the Man Booker Prize is as much about cash as it is about kudos, not
only will Aravind Adiga take home the $125,000 in prize money but he can expect to sell tens of
thousands of extra copies of his novel.

In London this is Stephanie Kennedy reporting for The World Today.