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Tanner talks tough on NSW budget

Tanner talks tough on NSW budget

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:10:00

ELEANOR HALL: First today, is the budget delivered by Australia's largest state likely to drag the
rest of the country into recession?

The Federal Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner says he doesn't believe the New South Wales
Government's cost cutting measures will hurt the wider economy.

But critics say the tax hikes and spending cuts in yesterday's New South Wales mini-budget are
completely at odds with the Federal Government's economic stimulus package and undermine its
attempt to prevent a recession in Australia.

Mr Tanner though, says the state is rightly trying to maintain its triple-A credit rating.

But the Finance Minister is far less conciliatory about the Federal Opposition's attack on the
Treasury Secretary.

Mr Tanner told Alexandra Kirk that the Opposition leader was weak and gutless for failing to
discipline his Coalition colleagues over the issue.

LINDSAY TANNER: Look, I don't believe that what the New South Wales Government is doing has a major
effect on the Government's wider economic management settings. There are also some very significant
spending decisions in the mini-budget that's just been announced by the New South Wales Government,
so I think in overall terms there's no reason for us to be concerned about the budget settings in
New South Wales.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But the overall effect is that they're tightening the screws on the economy when
the Commonwealth's $10-billion package is aimed at stimulating activity?

LINDSAY TANNER: Look, I don't believe it's right to say that the New South Wales budget is
tightening the screws in that way. There's always difficult challenges for state governments in
deciding the right settings and they've had a significant reduction in their revenue as a result of
things like reduced property taxes.

They have to make their own decisions, and in particular, they rightly are ensuring that they are
maintaining their very strong credit rating because if that goes then you'll see the cost of
government borrowing and the cost of the overall budget increase significantly.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: How could all these cuts all go well for your lofty ambitions of your COAG (Council
of Australian Governments) agenda?

LINDSAY TANNER: Oh, we face some pretty difficult negotiations; they were always going to be tough
because you've got a lot of underlying pressures on spending in areas like health and education
that have to be dealt with. And we were always going to be facing some pretty tough negotiations
with the states about these issues.

These negotiations inevitably are made even tougher by the fact that you've got the impact of the
global financial crisis having an effect on both the Commonwealth finances and the states. We've
had a $40-billion revenue hole blown in our surpluses over the next four years.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So you're going to have to lower your COAG ambitions?

LINDSAY TANNER: Look, I wouldn't comment on where those negotiations are going to head because
traditionally they're always a pretty willing arm wrestle between the states and the Commonwealth
and different states have different agendas and different interests. So this will always be tough.

But we're committed to ending the blame game, we're committed to getting a constructive positive
outcome in now much more difficult circumstances. And I would have to say that we've had good-will
and constructive engagement from the states all the way through, but inevitably when negotiations
about money are involved, they're tough, that's just the reality.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The National Australia Bank's tipping official interest rates will dive to
something like 3.75 per cent between now and March; that's a cut of 1.5 per cent. Is that a
realistic forecast in your view?

LINDSAY TANNER: We don't make predictions about interest rates obviously, but over the past two or
three months we've had 200 points or a full two percentage points knocked off Reserve Bank interest

That's significant, that's important after years of steadily rising interest rates under John
Howard, the prime minister who promised that interest rates would stay at record lows.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Treasury's own forecast predicts interest rate cuts doesn't it?

LINDSAY TANNER: That's correct, the Treasury assessment for economic growth which is at two per
cent, does explicitly assume there would be some further reduction in interest rates.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So you'd agree with that?

LINDSAY TANNER: It doesn't specify by what magnitude, but it does assume that there will be further
reductions in interest rates. We'd stand by the Treasury assessments and I'd have to say I'm
completely appalled by the vicious attacks that have been launched on Ken Henry, the Secretary of
the Treasury.

The Liberal Party, a senior shadow minister, former national secretary of the Liberal Party Andrew
Robb, is out there claiming that Ken Henry's cooked the books. Now this is an outrageous slur, it
is based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

Malcolm Turnbull is a weak leader, he's gutless, he is refusing to discipline Andrew Robb, he is
refusing to apologise.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But just to go back to the key issue of interest rates, your Assistant Treasurer
Chris Bowen has said today that there is plenty of room to move on interest rates, that Australian
interest rates are comparatively high by world standards.

That accords then with the Treasury view, is your view too that interest rates will move
significantly and there's plenty of room to do it?

LINDSAY TANNER: Look, I'm not making any predictions about what will happen with interest rates.
Treasury, in forecasting where economic growth is going head over the next year or two, has built
into its assumptions a conclusion that it believes that interest rates will reduce over that

ALEXANDRA KIRK: By how much?

LINDSAY TANNER: It hasn't specified by how much...

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But can you work backwards?

LINDSAY TANNER: I'm certainly not going to specify any prediction on behalf of the Government.
Chris Bowen was simply referring to an observable fact and that is that in countries like Japan
where you've had interest rates at literally a zero or half a per cent, it's very difficult to cut
interest rates and as a lever of economic management.

Whereas in Australia where they have been relatively high, certainly compared with other developed
countries; by definition it's a different story.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government's FuelWatch scheme it is going to be defeated in the Senate, will
the Government persevere with something the Senate has clearly said is completely unpalatable?

LINDSAY TANNER: We've put it in place as a weapon for consumers, as something that will enable
consumers to have far greater information about the enormous variation in price out there. If the
Liberal Party want to knock it off, be it on their own heads.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Federal Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner speaking to Alexandra Kirk in

AMA warns hospitals need $3b injection

AMA warns hospitals need $3b injection

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: State and federal governments might be warning of dwindling supplies in government
coffers. But that hasn't stopped doctors from piling on the pressure for more funding of the
states, the nation's cash-strapped hospitals.

The Australian Medical Association says there's an urgent need for an extra $3-billion in federal

And while the Health Minister says she agrees that more investment is needed, she is adamant that
the states and territories must make hospitals more efficient first.

Nicola Roxon also warned that health is not immune to the budget pressures brought on by the global
financial squeeze.

As Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: Negotiations over the next Australian Health Care Agreement are nearing an end.

The states and territories are doing their best to convince the relatively well-off federal
Government to up its share of funding the ever-growing needs of the health care system.

Enter the AMA's president, Dr Rosanna Capolingua.

She's after more money to keep the hospitals running and warning of dire consequences, if the cash
is not forthcoming.

ROSANNA CAPOLINGUA: The Commonwealth commitment and contribution to the states with regard to
public hospital funding is dropping away to about 39 per cent.

More importantly they tell us that patients are suffering at the end of that, waiting in emergency
departments even for urgent treatment, waiting in emergency departments for admission into
hospitals. And our hospitals are running at way over Australia's occupancy levels.

SIMON SANTOW: Dr Capolingua estimates the national hospital bed shortage at 3,750.

ROSANNA CAPOLINGUA: We know that that costs about $3-billion so we would need a top up in the
Australian Health Care Agreement, an additional $3-billion in funding with an indexation that's
appropriate of eight or nine per cent.

That investment is an investment to assist currently with our patients' needs and also to respond
into the future.

SIMON SANTOW: So is that just to get back to the way things should be?

ROSANNA CAPOLINGUA: The goal is indeed to get things back into safe occupancy levels, to meet the
requirements for treating patients who present to an emergency department with urgent
presentations, and to meet the requirements to be able to admit patients that need a hospital bed.

That's in the current environment, anything of course that tips patients and Australians out of
private health insurance will mean that more of them will go to the public hospitals and we'll have
to review the situation if that is the case.

There'll be more money required if that balance changes.

SIMON SANTOW: The Federal Government has had its share of arguments with doctors since its election
a year ago.

But while the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, wouldn't confirm the shortfall stands at $3-billion,
she says she's sympathetic on this issue.

NICOLA ROXON: What we agree with the AMA on is that our public hospitals are under pressure, we
think that they do need more attention, that's why we've been investing more money in them. And
that's why we're determined to work with the states and territories to get hospital funding on a
more stable footing for the future.

SIMON SANTOW: You're going to be negotiating with the states the next Australian Health Care
Agreement, are you confident that you'll be able to get efficiencies from the states that will give
you confidence to invest more money in the health system, that it will directly be going to
benefitting patients?

NICOLA ROXON: Well look, to some extent that is not negotiable for us, we are not going to write a
blank cheque for the states and territories and I don't think any of them would expect us to. They
might like it, but I'm sure they don't expect it.

We want to make sure that our significant investment and what will be an increased investment will
actually deliver for the community. Ultimately that's our interest - how can we provide better
health services and get better health outcomes for the communities.

And to do that with the states we agreed that they will need more resources, but we will expect
more transparency, better accountability and we will expect better services.

I mean obviously an extra investment should return better services and they are the very issues we
are negotiating, have been over the year, but those are final negotiations are coming to their
conclusion in the next fortnight.

SIMON SANTOW: Apart from the efficiencies question, there's another obstacle standing in Nicola
Roxon's way.

She says she's not been immune from having difficult discussions with her colleague, Finance
Minister Lindsay Tanner, about possible cuts to the health budget brought on by the impact of the
global financial crisis.

NICOLA ROXON: Everybody understands, and I of course understand, that the global financial
circumstances have to be taken account of.

SIMON SANTOW: But has the Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner advised you that you've got less money

NICOLA ROXON: Well look I talk to the Finance Minister all the time, I'm not sure that it's
appropriate for me to share each and every one of those conversations with your listeners, but I am
as aware as everyone in the cabinet of the importance of what is happening globally.

The responsible decisions that need to be made locally, but also the need for us to make
investments that will continue to build for the future, that's just as critical now as it has been
in the past.

SIMON SANTOW: But nothing is off limits? Even front line services like health?

NICOLA ROXON: Well I know that the whole cabinet is aware of the financial circumstances we're in
and also aware of the needs of the community in these difficult times, that's also, always
something that cabinet ministers need to balance in their deliberations and it won't be any

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon ending that report by Simon Santow.

Swan on song for summit

Swan on song for summit

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:18:00

ELEANOR HALL: Well, the Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan says he's hopeful that a coordinated response
to the world's economic woes will emerge from this weekend's summit in Washington.

Mr Swan and the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will join other world leaders in looking at the
possibility of tighter regulation of the financial sector and improved oversight.

But the different world leaders have starkly different views on the solution to the global crisis.

European nations are joining Australia in calls for tighter controls on the financial system; but
in the US that approach is being strongly resisted.

Australia's Treasurer, Wayne Swan, spoke to reporters when he arrived in Washington.

The ABC's North America correspondent Michael Rowland was there.

WAYNE SWAN: It's an important time for Australia to be here in Washington, and to contribute to
what are very very important debates. Because as we all know, there's change in the air in
Washington and certainly some big challenges for the globe if we are to deal with the financial
crisis which is certainly slowing global growth and impacting on countries both developed and

MICHAEL ROWLAND: How realistic is it to expect any significant progress from this weekend's meeting
with so many different agendas from different countries involved?

WAYNE SWAN: Well it's very important for Australia to put its voice strongly, we did that at the
Finance Ministers' Meeting in Brazil on the weekend, and certainly there is a big reform agenda
ahead, and certainly nations need to consider co-ordinated action to strengthen growth through both
fiscal and monetary policy.

But also we must remember that we must deal with the causes of the global financial crisis, and of
course what that requires is fresh consideration of the regulatory system - Australia thinks we
need better regulation not necessarily more regulation.

We certainly need better supervision; we do need to attend to issues such as capital adequacy, the
structures of incentives in institutions, the role of the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the
role of the World Bank, the future of the Financial Stability Forum.

These are very big issues and there will be a variety of views around the table as there were last
weekend, and I'm sure there will be this weekend. But nevertheless, there must be a determination
to deal with these issues, it won't be easy, it will take time, but I think the G20 leaders meeting
this weekend will certainly be a good start.

MALE REPORTER: On that issue, do we have a position paper that we will present to the G20 and would
you characterise our position as being closer to the Europeans than to the Americans and the

WAYNE SWAN: Well certainly the Prime Minister outlined at the United Nations some weeks ago,
Australia's approach to all of these issues, and we will take all of those approaches forward, but
there will be a variety of views.

I don't look at it as either being for the Europeans or for the Americans, I think what we've got
to be for is for a better financial system that protects households and business and we've made it
pretty clear yes there does need to be better regulation, there's no doubt about that.

There needs to be better supervision, and of course there does need to be better coordination
between the major agencies. At the moment we've got the IMF and the World Bank, two old established
institutions, and we've got the Financial Stability Forum.

We've also got the needs of countries who must attend to their own domestic arrangements as well,
and we need to put in place a way in which they can co-operate. All of those issues are on the
agenda this weekend.

MALE REPORTER: And the position...

WAYNE SWAN: Well no, well the Prime Ministers position was outlined at the United Nations, some
weeks ago, that is the position that we have taken forward in various forums and those were the
positions that I outlined at the Finance Ministers' Meeting in Brazil last weekend.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: If the Americans won't play ball though, and there's no indication from what
they're saying that they will, there's really no great hope of expecting anything significant to
emerge is there?

WAYNE SWAN: I don't have that view at all, I think the Americans have been constructive in the
discussions that I've had with them, they were certainly constructive at the Finance Ministers'
Meeting in Brazil over the weekend. So I don't share that view.

But we can't pre-empt the outcome of the G20 leaders meeting this weekend. But we've, what we can
do is we can put forward an agenda, we can discuss it in a constructive way, that's certainly what
Australia's been doing. And we've been doing that from the very beginning because we have
recognised for a long period of time what a serious issue this is for the globe as well for all of
our countries domestically.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan speaking to a press conference in Washington.

Expert highlight weakness in car package

Expert highlight weakness in car package

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:22:00

ELEANOR HALL: As three of the major car makers in the United States put their hands out for
government assistance, a veteran of the Australian car industry says the Australian Government's
$6.2-billion restructuring package doesn't come close to fixing the local industry's structural

The former head of Mitsubishi Australia, Graham Spurling, says the package announced this week
should have be focused on supporting technology development in Australia's components sector rather
than on car assembly.

He says much of the money will simply end up in Detroit and he's cast doubt on the ability of Ford
and Holden's US-based parent companies to invest anything in research and development in Australia.

But two of the big Australian car makers say his comments are unhelpful.

Tanya Nolan has our report.

TANYA NOLAN: Graham Spurling has been working in the car industry since the 60s and says he has an
intimate knowledge of the history of car making in Australia.

The former head of the Mitsubishi Australia who went on to become a supplier to the American car
industry, has also chaired the Automotive Industry Council and was, until recently, a member of the
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

He has a blunt summary of the Federal Government's car industry restructuring package

GRAHAM SPURLING: I'm saying they should be spending their money worrying about the automotive parts

TANYA NOLAN: But the bulk of the $6.2-billion package will be spent on supporting car assembly in
Australia, something Graham Spurling calls a vanilla industry that can be done anywhere.

He says the bulk of car industry jobs are in parts manufacturing but only $116-million is being
spent to help that part of the industry.

GRAHAM SPURLING: And if they're going to have a parts industry, and at the same time have an
objective of having an electric car, they've got to have an electric car components making
companies here in Australia.

And how are they going to go about doing that? There's been no, no comment on what to do. We're
going to rely very much on the product planning of the Fords and the Holdens and the Toyotas, and
we're going to be all happy when they say - oh we're going to build the Prius here in Australia.

And we'll say - oh we've got an electric car industry. Well it's not valid, we don't, we've got the
assembly business in Australia and that's all that we're really focusing on.

TANYA NOLAN: But isn't it chicken and egg? I mean if the manufacturers start to build different
types of cars, hybrid, electric, won't the component manufacturers then come on board and supply
those parts?

GRAHAM SPURLING: No they won't, they barely exist now and they're not in that technological field,
and they haven't got any money.

TANYA NOLAN: Finding figures on the number of jobs created by the car component industry is
difficult. Graham Spurling puts it at 70 per cent.

Professor Paul Kerrin from the Melbourne Business School says that figure is probably right but
it's irrelevant.

Professor Kerrin who specialises in industry restructuring says pumping billions into either parts
or assembly will create plenty of jobs.

PAUL KERRIN: The job target is a complete (inaudible), car parts subsidisation won't really help
emissions control, as distinct from manufacturers.

Innovation in general is just a buzz word, innovation of course is important but vested interests
in every industry used the innovation buzz word to justify assistance these days because they've
learnt that the Government pays a lot of attention to it.

TANYA NOLAN: Ford and Holden have told The World Today they find the former Mitsubishi Australia's
boss's comments unhelpful. Ford says it has nearly $2-billion committed to future development of
Australian-made vehicles over the next ten years.

But there are serious doubts over whether their US-based parent companies can meet their end of the
deal under the Australian industry restructure package.

Ford and General Motors, owner of Holden are among America's big car companies begging their
government for a $25-billion lifeline, worried they may not be able to even meet their operating
costs next year.

Graham Spurling says it looks grim but there is a glimmer of hope.

GRAHAM SPURLING: If you have to borrow 25-million or whatever it is billion from the government to
get something done, you're not exactly financially but on the other hand, years ago Chysler did
that and they came back like Lazarus too.

TANYA NOLAN: Professor Kerrin from the Melbourne Business School says the financial position of
these car makers is an important consideration for the Federal Government.

PAUL KERRIN: There are those issues, if the US Government says - well we'll give you this bailout
but you have to spend it in the US, then that may encourage those companies to focus on the US for
other than very small subsidiaries on the outer layers of the world.

TANYA NOLAN: Is there a risk that this money could go straight to Detroit?

PAUL KERRIN: Well there is, and in fact with the sort of industry assistance anyway, even in the
past when there was no risk of the parent collapsing, frankly it's very easy for car companies to
claim money spent on R and D which would have been spent anyway on other things. And it's very hard
to draw the line on what's R and D and what's other things.

So the issue about what's truly incrementally of benefit to Australia versus what would have been
done anyway is an issue.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Professor Paul Kerrin from the Melbourne Business School ending that report by
Tanya Nolan.

Rees faces backlash over Stewart sacking

Rees faces backlash over Stewart sacking

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:26:00

ELEANOR HALL: He's only been in the job for two months. But already the New South Wales Premier
Nathan Rees has lost two ministers and now there are signs of even more division.

Last night Mr Rees announced that he was sacking the Small Business and Assistant Health Minister
Tony Stewart who was found to have behaved inappropriately towards a female staff member.

But the latest casualty is not going quietly and it now looks like some backbenchers are backing
the Minister against the Premier.

Barbara Miller has our report.

BARBARA MILLER: A hard-hitting mini-budget and the loss a minister found to have behaved

It's turning into a very tough week for the New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees.

An independent investigation upheld allegations that the Small Business and Assistant Health
Minister Tony Stewart verbally abused a female staff member at a function because he was unhappy
about her work, pinning her leg down while he berated her.

Mr Rees asked for Mr Stewart's resignation. It's the second time he's had to axe a minister in as
many months.

But while the former police minister Matt Brown, who was stood down after just a few days in the
job for his antics at an office party, obliged, Tony Stewart isn't going without a fight.

He refused to resign and Nathan Rees says he was forced to sack him.

NATHAN REES: Suffice to say he was given the option of resigning, and he didn't want to take that
and on that basis I terminated him.

BARBARA MILLER: Tony Stewart is disputing the findings of the investigation carried out by Chris
Ronalds SC.

TONY STEWART: I wish to state plainly and clearly that the allegations made about me by Miss Tina
Sanger in respect to the Garvan Institute function and associated issues are not true.

Other than we did have a brief amicable discussion at Miss Sanger's instigation, on work roles. Mr
Speaker, at no stage, before, during or after the subject Garvan function did I shout at, raise my
voice or touch Miss Sanger.

BARBARA MILLER: Mr Stewart says he's instructed his lawyers to conduct a review of the Ronald's

And there was a good turnout in Parliament last night as he defended himself, and some vocal
support for his stance.

TONY STEWART: I'm in a, bewildered about this complaint has even arisen and surprise that this
Chris Ronalds SC would make a finding, make the finding that she'd made. And I'm deeply
disappointed in the Premier's decision on this matter.


BARBARA MILLER: The state Opposition leader Barry O'Farrell says what he calls the 'Labor soap
opera' is continuing.

BARRY O'FARRELL: This is another example of Nathan Rees only doing what's right when pushed by the
media. It's another example that's nothing changed in Labor: same incompetent people; same
scandals; same lack of focus on the public's problems.

BARBARA MILLER: Norman Abjorensen, a political analyst at the Australian National University, says
Nathan Rees is clearly in trouble.

NORMAN ABJORENSEN: It's a very early test for the authority of Nathan Rees within the party. It's
not a good look; it suggests that his hold over the party isn't as thorough as he would like it to

It would further demean the Government and his leadership in the public eye. It's a most
unfortunate start to his already damaged reign as Premier.

Clearly there are people in caucus who are supporting Mr Stewart, that in itself is an immediate
challenge to the authority of the Premier. It suggests that not only are the problems within the
Labor Government not over, they're continuing at an even greater level. It's not a good sign all

BARBARA MILLER: Would it be going too far at this stage to say that Nathan Rees had a rebellion in
the ranks?

NORMAN ABJORENSEN: It's the start of a rebellion it would seem, presumably Mr Stewart is not alone,
there are supporters. Whether the supporters will bow to Mr Rees' authority and allow him to carry
on leading the Government or whether they want to take it further.

If they do take it further not only Mr Rees' leadership will unravel but the already hapless
fortunes of the Government will plunge even further.

BARBARA MILLER: This morning the Premier was standing by his decision to remove Tony Stewart from

NATHAN REES: The report was delivered to me and I've accepted the findings and acted on that basis.

BARBARA MILLER: Nathan Rees is pledging to continue to axe any Minister he finds to have acted
inappropriately saying he doesn't care if at the end there's only one man left standing.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller reporting.

Zimbabwe set to run out of food: UN

Zimbabwe set to run out of food: UN

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:30:00

ELEANOR HALL: The World Food Programme warns that food aid to four-million people in Zimbabwe will
run out by January unless it receives new funding.

The UN food agency says it's had no response from international donors to an emergency appeal and
it has now started rationing cereals and beans.

Some countries have been reluctant to donate money to Zimbabwe until the new power-sharing
government is in place.

But African leaders have still not been able to reach a breakthrough on the deal.

Jennifer Macey has our report.

JENNIFER MACEY: The UN food agency is running out of supplies to feed some four-million

It's had to cut each person's monthly 12 kilogram cereal ration to 10 kilos and has almost halved
the bean ration to just one kilo to make current stocks last longer.

Richard Lee is a spokesman for the World Food Programme spoke to ABC Radio National this morning.

RICHARD LEE: Unfortunately we have been forced to cut the rations that we've been distributing to
beneficiaries this month, we've been forced to reduce the cereal ration, and also the bean ration,
to most of the four-million people we're hoping to reach. And that is because we simply do not have
enough resources to fund our operation all the way through until the end of March when the harvest
will start in Zimbabwe.

So we're trying to stretch our resources as far as possible so that we can continue to provide at
least some assistance to as many people as possible for as long as possible.

JENNIFER MACEY: The economic collapse of Zimbabwe, running inflation and President Robert Mugabe's
seizure of white-owned farms in 2000 has led to a drop in harvests and more people dependent on

The UN first started feeding two-million people in Zimbabwe in October, now that number has doubled
and the World Food Programme's Richard Lee says that number is expected to grow.

RICHARD LEE: Many of them are completely reliant on international food assistance. We're talking
about communities particularly in the worst-affected rural areas which have no access to food,
farmers have exhausted the small amount they harvested this year. And they really are entirely
reliant on the World Food Programme and our NGO partners to provide them assistance month after
month until that harvest starts in April.

JENNIFER MACEY: The World Food Programme launched an emergency appeal last month to raise
$215-million but there's been little response. Mr Lee says they don't know why.

RICHARD LEE: Some people say that it is the financial crisis, clearly that has been top of the
agenda of many of our major donors. Other people say that countries are waiting for the
power-sharing negotiations to conclude, and then yet again others say there are crisis all over the
place, that governments are trying to fund and help support.

So it is very difficult but we really need donations now, because we don't have any food at the
moment for January and February when this crisis in Zimbabwe will really hit its peak. So we really
need donations now so that we can buy food here in South Africa, ship it quickly into Zimbabwe and
get it out to the rural areas that need it most.

JENNIFER MACEY: There is concern that some donor nations are reluctant to hand over millions of
dollars in aid to President Mugabe until he agrees to a power-sharing deal with the opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai. But hopes of such a deal are fading with both leaders disagreeing over
key cabinet positions.

Morgan Tsvangirai has refused to a compromise deal to share the Home Affairs Ministry with Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party.

And now President Mugabe has told a local newspaper that a new government will be in place within a
week, effectively sidelining the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Cephas Chiduku is the deputy chair of the Australian branch of the MDC.

CEPHAS CHIDUKU: It is not possible for a government to share a ministry but (inaudible) they say
they want to share the Security Ministry. Mugabe's not also willing to share the Defence Ministry
and then there's no reason why he would want to share the Home Affairs Ministry.

Then it won't be power-sharing, if we say it is power-sharing issue. This is the reason why Morgan
Tsvangirai doesn't want to share in the, I think that's all logical.

JENNIFER MACEY: But the longer this drags on, the less able the Government is to help the people of
Zimbabwe, the World Food Programme is already warning that it's running out of food aid.

CEPHAS CHIDUKU: Yes it is a problem, but it also makes the people actually see what the Mugabe
government and regime really is like. Other than rushing in to a government, just to say (phonetic)
government which does not help the people, is not the government of the people, from the people for
the people.

It's actually wise for the people actually to be more patient even if they're suffering, until they
have a government which is observing their will.

JENNIFER MACEY: But the longer the political stalemate drags on, the less able Zimbabwe is to drag
itself out of the economic crisis that could see more than five-million people dependent on food
aid in January next year.

ELEANOR HALL: Jennifer Macey reporting.

Arrest sours ties between Rwanda and Germany

Arrest sours ties between Rwanda and Germany

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:35:00

ELEANOR HALL: Tension between Rwanda, Germany and France is growing as European authorities try to
bring to justice those responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

A senior aide to the Rwandan President was arrested last weekend in Germany, over suspicions that
she was involved in the attack on the plane that killed Rwanda's former leader and sparked the

But her arrest has outraged the Kagame regime and Rwanda has now expelled Germany's ambassador.

Nicola Fell has our report

NICOLA FELL: As the diplomatic tensions between German and Rwanda escalate, Rwanda's Foreign
Minister has said the German envoy is not welcome until the arrest of protocol chief Rose Kabuye is

Kabuye is one of nine senior officials wanted over the shooting down of the former president's

Hildegard Becker-Toussaint, a spokeswoman for the State Prosecuting Office in the German state of
Hesse explains.

HILDEGARD BECKER-TOUSSAINT (translated): The arrest warrant is for the murder and participation in
a terrorist organisation and she is accused of involvement in the assassination, namely the crash
of the then president's plane.

Many French citizen's were also killed in the crash. Families of the victim's are joint plaintiffs
and for that reason there is a strong interest in the prosecution of this woman.

NICOLA FELL: Rose Kabuye was arrested under a French arrest warrant issued two years ago. Back in
Rwanda, thousands of people turned out in the capital to protest against her arrest.

Linda Melvern author of Conspiracy to Murder, a study of the Rwanda genocide, explains why.

LINDA MELVERN: It is a very curious arrest, and I understand Rose Kabuye has elected to go to trial
in France. She's quite willing to be extradited to France.

She's very well known in Rwanda. She was a major in the Rwanda Patriotic Front who took part in
what they call the struggle to overthrow the interim government that was committing the genocide.
So she was one of the first RPF officers in Kigale when the city fell in July, and she became mayor
of Kigali.

Kigali at that time was a waste land. Everything had been looted, the country had 100,000 orphans,
so Rose Kabuye confronted huge problems when she became mayor.

NICOLA FELL: The Rwandan leader Paul Kagame is in Frankfurt for a series of meetings with business

Ms Kabuye had arrived ahead of him to prepare for his visit. Mr Kagame, who visited his aide in
Preungesheim women's prison, argued she should not have been arrested because her trip was made in
an official capacity and therefore she was protected under diplomatic immunity.

PAUL KAGAME: Rose, it was official, because she had been assigned by the government to travel with
the president and in her usual capacity as assist to the president given her responsibility.

So however you judge mine or the status of my visit it is different from Rose's visit (laughs)
because even if you may call my visit private if that's what you want to do; Rose's visit to
Germany is not private.

Because it is official in as far as being the work of the President of Rwanda is concerned.

NICOLA FELL: But the murder of the then president is widely seen as the spark that led to the death
of some 800,000 people in Rwanda.

Linda Melvern believes that the Rwandan Government wants the case to go to trail so that the French
role in the genocide is put under a spot light.

LINDA MELVERN: Perhaps the Rwandan Government was surprised at the lack of reaction to its own
report on the role of France which came out this summer and based on witness testimony that showed
some damning evidence against France. And also the work of French journalists who have shown in the
last years that France, in a sense, had a secret command of the Rwandan army as the genocide took

And it is also surprising that the French investigation, that produced this report, did not
interview as far as I know the five Belgian officers who were direct witnesses to the missile
attack that night.

It doesn't answer the main question as how the rebels managed to get through the 18 government
road-blocks to an area that was very heavily fortified and fire these missiles at the plane. So
there's a lot of crucial questions I think that need answering here.

NICOLA FELL: Ms Kabuye denies any role in the then president's death and is likely to be extradited
to France soon.

ELEANOR HALL: That report by Nicole Fell.

Former minister claims over-diagnosis of autism

Former minister claims over-diagnosis of autism

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:40:00

ELEANOR HALL: Back home now, and a former Queensland Education Minister has spoken out over what he
calls years of over-diagnosis of autism in his state.

Dean Wells says he's been tracking the problem and believes doctors are labelling children autistic
to enable them to qualify for government support.

His allegations are backed up by research by a Brisbane paediatrician, and the current education
minister has promised to examine the problem.

As Annie Guest reports from Brisbane.

ANNIE GUEST: Concerns about autism statistics in Queensland have been canvassed before, but these
allegations by a former Education Minister go to the heart of a doctor's credibility.

DEAN WELLS: It's well known that particular paediatricians are more likely to do this than other

ANNIE GUEST: Dean Wells is still a Labor politician and made the allegations in parliament last

Today he told ABC Radio, Queensland has twice the number of autism cases as other states. He says
they can't be true diagnoses, claiming they're linked to special funding for children.

DEAN WELLS: When I was education minister, at the start of this century I became aware of the
circumstances of children with autism in the education system, and I made certain changes that made
it easier for them to get additional educational resources.

And of course I've watched that, I've watched that through my electorate office and through the
special education units of local schools and I noticed that there was an increase.

ANNIE GUEST: The current education minister, Rod Welford isn't quibbling.

ROD WELFORD: Well, as Dean says, this appears to be the case, and if it is the case it is an
absolute disgrace.

ANNIE GUEST: Rod Welford says his department is re-examining the best way to verify a range of
disabilities. But the very people employed by his Education Department to provide that additional
support for these students are in no doubt about the situation.

Penny Beeston is the chief executive of Autism Queensland.

PENNY BEESTON: It's actually not about, you know, does this child have a diagnosis of this, that or
the other, this is about what are the concerns within our Department of Education that says that we
are not able to resource children as they need resourcing to be able to overcome various deficits
they may have in learning.

ANNIE GUEST: Well, as an organisation that is involved in the education and support of children
with autism, do you see children that you don't believe fit into this category who are perhaps
undeserving of the resources?

PENNY BEESTON: We actually never see children come through our doors with a diagnosis of autism who
don't have clear traits of autism.

ANNIE GUEST: Dean Wells does have support from some in the medical community for his claims. Autism
spectrum disorder is difficult to diagnose.

In 2005, Brisbane paediatrician Dr Catherine Skellern published research finding that
paediatricians and psychiatrists make the diagnosis, even when they're uncertain because of an
absence of definitive biological markers. She concluded funding should be linked to functional
impairment rather than diagnostic categories.

She wasn't available for an interview.

But another Brisbane paediatrician and Australian Medical Association spokesman Dr Neil Wigg says
there's no evidence that paediatricians or psychiatrists are over-diagnosing autism. He says it's a
complex illness to diagnose.

NEIL WIGG: It is not always clear and definite, and it's no different for example than working in
the field of mental healthcare, where if I can give you a parallel example, if you're trying to
make a decision about whether somebody's depressed or not, there are whole ranges of levels of

ELEANOR HALL: That's paediatrician Dr Neil Wigg ending that report from Annie Guest in Brisbane.

Indigenous legal aid system buckling, say lawyers

Indigenous legal aid system buckling, say lawyers

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:45:00

ELEANOR HALL: And heading north now, the Federal Government is under renewed pressure to increase
funding to Indigenous legal aid services in far north Queensland.

Lawyers say the system is buckling under the strain of enormous case loads, and that justice is not
being served.

And Aboriginal leaders say their communities have lost all faith in the legal system.

Nicole Butler has our report.

NICOLE BUTLER: The court system in remote north Queensland communities has been in the spotlight
ever since nine gang rapists walked free in 2006.

Despite that attention lawyers say things are getting worse.

SHANE DUFFY: In communities the magistrates fly in and out and the court sits for a day, and you
know, you could have anywhere up to 190, 200 matters to be heard so it also comes back to the
astronomical amount of clients that we have to deal with in each one day in court sitting.

NICOLE BUTLER: Shane Duffy is the head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service
in Queensland. The non-profit organisation is contracted by the Federal Government to represent
Indigenous clients state-wide.

But Mr Duffy says there's only enough funding for nine criminal lawyers in the troubled north, and
they have to handle hundreds of cases.

SHANE DUFFY: Our challenge is obviously from a cultural perspective, is it takes our staff a lot
more longer to actually get the correct information from our clients to adequately represent them
before the court.

So there isn't enough time, not only for the magistrates to be able to adequately deal with the
court system, but just as and if not more importantly, there's not enough time for us to be able to
get in and take adequate instructions so we can comprehensively represent our clients.

NICOLE BUTLER: The ATSILS head says with insufficient time for proper client briefings the guilty
can walk free and vice versa.

Aboriginal leader Sam Watson says innocent people are even pleading guilty to avoid being tied up
in the overloaded system.

SAM WATSON: They're just nodding their heads in order just to cut the remand time and go to jail,
because as is now, there are large numbers of people who are spending a very, very long time on
remand in custody because the great majority of Aboriginal people on serious criminal charges will
not get bail, they don't have the means to get bail or sureties.

So they're going to spend their time in remand, and even if they're innocent, at the end of the day
they'll make the decision to nod the head, plead guilty and at least start a sentence so they can
look forward to some sort of release date.

NICOLE BUTLER: Mr Watson says under-resourcing also means the Indigenous legal system rarely
attracts the state's best lawyers.

SAM WATSON: You're not getting those mid-term lawyers who have had the experience and the courtroom
knowledge and standing to be able to deliver to their clients number one, top class representation.

So no reflection on the people who are there, because they're doing a magnificent job with very few
resources and funds. But very sadly, at the end of the day, it's the Aboriginal clients that are
missing out and it's the legal system itself that's being compromised.

NICOLE BUTLER: The Queensland Government has injected million of dollars into the Cape York courts
over the past two years and state Attorney-General Kerry Shine says he approached his federal
counterpart last week, to request extra funds for Aboriginal legal aid in the Cape.

Bob Debus is the federal minister responsible for indigenous legal aid, he says Queensland's
problems are the result of ATSILS taking over services in the north after problems with the
previous provider.

The minister says the Rudd Government is committed to providing high quality services and will
consider extra funding as part of the normal budget process.

But Aboriginal leader Sam Watson says justice involves more than money from headline-seeking
politicians. He says Queensland's Aboriginal communities want real change.

SAM WATSON: A royal commission needs to be held, so that we can look at all the issues and so that
we can look at the way in which Aboriginal community legal aid services are chronically underfunded
and under-resourced because this is leaving Aboriginal people vulnerable before an already
overstressed legal system.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Aboriginal leader Sam Watson ending Nicole Butler's report.

Qld timber industry sweats on court ruling

Qld timber industry sweats on court ruling PRINT FRIENDLY EMAIL STORY

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:50:00

Reporter: Nicole Bond

ELEANOR HALL: The Queensland timber industry is accusing a state-owned corporation of price

Timber Queensland says the dispute is about more than normal business bargaining and that the
stakes are so high it has taken the allegations to court.

As Nicole Bond reports the outcome of the case is being closely watched in the rural township of

JASON COLLINS: If we close that's millions of dollars gone out of town and the town's just going
to, turn into a ghost town.

SKENE FINLAYSON: If this current royalty is to stay in place this business cannot continue to
operate long term.

STEVE WYVILL: It's just turmoil, a lot of the people won't, probably won't know where to go or what
to do.

NICOLE BOND: Skene Finlayson's family has been in the timber industry in south-east Queensland
since 1875.

The family company, Yarraman Pine, is the second largest hoop pine processor in Australia and
employs up to 250 people in its sawmill and timber manufacturing factories.

But Mr Finalyson says it's under threat because the Queensland Government-owned corporation
Forestry Plantations Queensland refuses to negotiate over the price of logs.

SKENE FINLAYSON: A 14.8 per cent increase in this current climate is absolutely unfordable. This
business cannot support that type of royalty long term, it is impossible.

NICOLE BOND: Mr Finlayson says FPQ made the increase a year ago and backdated the charge to July
2007. He says that's cost them almost half a million dollars in the last financial year.

The company laid off 35 sawmill workers in May and Mr Finlayson says if Forestry Plantation
Queensland refuses to negotiate he'll have to rely on imported pine, because the local product is
too expensive.

SKENE FINLAYSON: The quality of the resource has been declining but the Government is still
expecting a premium price to be paid for the log and furthermore we pay the same royalty price
whether the tree is six inches or eight inches in diameter, or 24 inches in diameter. I believe
we're the only state that does that.

NICOLE BOND: Yarraman Pine lodged a case in the Supreme Court in an effort to force FPQ's pricing
to be overseen by an independent body, but lost. The state industry body Timber Queensland is
supporting their appeal.

CEO Rod McInnes says the result will dictate the future of the state's plantation timber industry.

ROD MCINNES: In a normal competitive market if you don't like the price of eggs at the IGA you go
to Woollies and buy them there cause they're cheaper, that doesn't prevail here, the situation here
is there is one supplier and that supplier is trying to price gouge to the extent that if it
carries on, I guess, send the industry broke.

NICOLE BOND: Forestry Plantation Queensland declined to comment because the matter is before court.

Queensland's Minister for Primary Industries Tim Mulherin, who wasn't available for comment, says
the increases are fair. In a written statement Mr Mulherin says the royalties haven't changed since
2002 and the increase is below CPI (Consumer Price Index). He says Yarraman Pine has received
$400,000 in Government assistance since 2002.

But Yarraman Pine is adamant if it loses its appeal jobs will go and the industry will be unviable.
Yarraman Pine site manager Steve Wyvill has grown up in the town.

STEVE WYVILL: The sawmill itself generates between $1.8 to $2-million a year in wages, that to me
is going to kill a little town like Yarraman. I think it's going to be very saddening to see a lot
of industries probably go down, a lot of little businesses.

I've got a couple of gentle men here that have been 30 years plus some in their 40s, I have got a
lot of the other younger guys as well but most of them have families and mortgages and are settled
down, yes.

NICOLE BOND: And his colleague and kiln supervisor Jason Collins there's more depending on this
court case than just the local community.

JASON COLLINS: If the Queensland Government gets away with this there's nothing to stop the Western
Australian Government, Northern Territory or any government from doing exactly the same to any
resource which they control, they're the monopoly and it's just not right for them to force us into
this situation.

NICOLE BOND: It will be an anxious wait for the town of Yarraman, Yarraman Pine expects a judgement
on the case in the next few months.

ELEANOR HALL: Nicole Bond reporting.