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Executives call for deep pollution reduction targets

Executives call for deep pollution reduction targets

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:10:00

Reporter: Brendan Trembath

ELEANOR HALL: The Australian Government is applying the finishing touches to what it says will be a
"robust" carbon pollution trading system.

But there is speculation that the Federal Government will not set its targets for emissions cuts as
high as it had earlier suggested.

And the heads of some of the world's best known companies are urging the Government not to drop the
ball on climate change.

They are calling for Australia to set an example to the rest of the world by making deep cuts to
our carbon emissions, as Brendan Trembath reports.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: To try to save the world from severe climate change, national governments are
locking in carbon pollution reduction targets.

The Australian Government is finalising what it hopes to achieve.

LINDSAY TANNER: We have had extensive consultations with leading business figures, major companies.
I have been actively involved in that myself as has had of course, Penny Wong and a number of other

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Australia's Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner.

The Federal Government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without smothering the economy. But
the world financial crisis doesn't help.

LINDSAY TANNER: The global financial crisis and the recession that is now emerging in many parts of
the developed world are relatively short-term phenomena. Climate change is a critical long-term
challenge for the human race. We have got to deal with it and every year, every month that we put
off dealing with it, the problem becomes harder to resolve.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: As the Australian Government prepares to release its carbon pollution reduction
targets; there is pressure from the leaders of more than 140 global companies. They argue that
developed countries should lead by example and commit to deep and immediate cuts.

The Melbourne-based transport company Linfox has lent its name to this global corporate cause.

DAVID MCINNES: We are supporting the introduction and adoption of reduction targets, realistic
reduction targets on an international level.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: David McInnes is Linfox's group manager of environment and climate change.

DAVID MCINNES: Linfox internally has set itself a target of a 15 per cent reduction by the end of
2010. So we think as a positive agreement is looking at a period longer than that, that we would
like to see a higher target than 15 per cent which we would regard as fairly low.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Now once the Government makes its commitment to climate change targets, how soon
before we see any sort of benefit in the environment?

DAVID MCINNES: Well, if we look at the CO2 that is being emitted into the atmosphere today, we will
be at least 100 years and longer before the majority of that CO2 is sequested back into the
environment. So anything we do today, will take a long time, beyond your and mine lifetime,
although you seem very young Brendan.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: (Laughs) I wouldn't be so sure.

DAVID MCINNES: It will be well beyond our lifetime and that is why the change really needs to start
sooner rather than later because we are not talking here about human life spans, we are talking
about geological life spans which mean that the urgency for change and the urgency to make a
significant and real start is all the much greater because of it.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Business leaders have made their call for deep cuts in carbon pollution targets
to coincide with this week's United Nations climate change meeting in Poland.

There's also pressure on governments from non-government organisations such as Oxfam International.
It's best known for its work fighting poverty but also campaigns on climate change.

Andrew Hewitt is the executive director of Oxfam Australia.

ANDREW HEWITT: Well, Australia should be aiming for a target based on science and based on an
ambition to help lead the world and by science we mean we should be talking about a 40 per cent cut
in the medium term.

That is the sort of target that is scientifically sound and meets Australia's responsibility and
would enable Australia to play a real leadership role in the international negotiations.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: But won't that be quite a drag on the Australian economy - a cut of that

ANDREW HEWITT: Well I think every analysis both of a global situation and of the situation in
Australia is that if you take action early and take decisive action early, that the economy will be
in a stronger position than if we delay it for the never-never.

Now is the time for real action on climate change. Now is not the time for retreating to our own

ELEANOR HALL: That is Andrew Hewitt from Oxfam Australia ending that report from Brendan Trembath.

Economists welcome stimulus package

Economists welcome stimulus package

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:14:00

Reporter: Brigid Glanville

ELEANOR HALL: Economists say the $10-billion worth of handouts which the Federal Government is
sending out today will boost the economy.

Families and pensioners receiving their one-off cash bonuses are being encouraged to spend the
money, rather than save it.

And economists are forecasting that Australians will spend around one third of the stimulus

But they say it will only give temporary relief to the slowing economy.

Brigid Glanville reports.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: From today $8.7-billion will be paid to pensioners, carers and some families over
the next two weeks - just in time for Christmas.

Retailers are confident Australians will spend a large portion of it in their shops and that's
exactly what the Government wants them to do.

Economists such as Bill Evans from Westpac agree.

BILL EVANS: Well, I think it will certainly provide a stimulus to economic growth. We estimate that
if all of the money was to be spent and when you combine, combining that with about a $6-billion
that we think consumers are saving from lower interest rates, the savings rate would have to go to
11.7 per cent. That is entirely unrealistic.

It is currently at 3.9 per cent. We expect it to rise over the next six months to around seven per
cent but that still means that consumers will spend about 30 per cent of the money over the next
couple of quarters. That will be enough to hold growth in positive territory.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Adam Carr, the senior economist with ICAP says the most dangerous period for the
Australian economy is the December and March quarter.

Mr Carr says this is because the Reserve Bank increased interest rates too much at the beginning of
the year which is now having a lag effect. He says the stimulus package will balance this out.

ADAM CARR: Oh yeah, look it is only a short-term fix. I think that is appropriate though because
you've got monetary policy which acts as a lag also acting to sort of stimulate the economy and
that, sort of, kicks in, you know, maybe six months down the track. Whereas the fiscal stimulus is
much quicker; it acts immediately and you know, or, when consumers get the money.

So I think that the timing of it is actually pretty good because the biggest risk period for
Australia, in my opinion, is Q4 and Q1. So yeah I think it is a good policy.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: While the retailers are hoping the money will be spent in stores to boost their
sales it won't necessarily keep Australia out of recession.

Chris Richardson is from Access Economics.

CHRIS RICHARDSON: It will work by limiting the damage we now face.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Why won't it keep us out of recession?

CHRIS RICHARDSON: Because it is hard to stop the shoppers strike that we are in at the moment.
People are scared and so they are not spending. This money has been deliberately targeted at the
people who are most likely to spend but there are no guarantees.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Will it make us fall harder into a recession post-Christmas?

CHRIS RICHARDSON: No. Recessions are tragedies. Unemployment absolutely jumps. Because our
recession risk is the next six months, if you keep people spending at the moment, more than they
would otherwise have done, that helps a lot.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: That's why the Government's short-term fix is welcomed, but analysts argue there
must be a longer term plan.

Bill Evans is the chief economist at Westpac.

BILL EVANS: Well, I think long-term, if we say what is our objective, our objective long-term is to
increase our growth rate and the growth rate is driven by productivity gains and by increases in
your workforce. To increase your work force you need to raise your population growth. You can't do
that unless you are investing in social infrastructures - schools, hospitals etc.

So that is one leg to the growth target. Obviously raising productivity is the other one and that
of course means investment in infrastructure associated with transport, associated with ports etc.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: As well as the $8-billion provided in cash payments there's another $1.5-billion
to help first home buyers purchase a new home.

ELEANOR HALL: Brigid Glanville reporting.

Welfare groups warn handout is a gamble

Welfare groups warn handout is a gamble

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:18:00

Reporter: Rachael Brown

ELEANOR HALL: While economists are largely positive, anti-gambling groups are warning that the
one-off cheques will spur a similar spike in gambling to the one that erupted when the Howard
government introduced its baby bonus.

Rachael Brown has our report.

RACHAEL BROWN: Some sectors of the community are worried the payments will queue the wrong kind
jingling bells.

(Sound of pokie machines)

RACHAEL BROWN: Anti-pokies campaigner Senator Nick Xenophon says he thinks the payments will cause
a spike in pokies losses.

NICK XENOPHON: We know from the figures that were released after the Howard Baby Bonus that there
was a spike in pokies losses. In my home state, in South Australia, there was a jump of 18 per cent
compared to the same period the previous year.

And it is estimated by economists that there will be at least $250-million spent, of this bonus, on
gambling, and that's a real issue when you consider this is about economic stimulus. This is about
creating jobs.

RACHAEL BROWN: The economic climate though is a bit different now than it was when the Baby Bonus
was given out. You don't think people will be a little bit more prudent?

NICK XENOPHON: Well unfortunately when you look at the various assessments of stocks, it is the
gambling and booze stocks that seem to be faring better than most and this will be a huge bonus for
the executives of Tattersall's, of Aristocrat, of the poker machine giants. And including
Woolworths which is the biggest pokies baron in the country, in terms of a spike in their earnings.

RACHAEL BROWN: Would there have been better way to allocate these one-off payments?

NICK XENOPHON: I support those commentators who say that this payment should have been split in
two; one just before Christmas and one just after. My concern is that once this payment is spent in
the lead up to Christmas, that you will really see a very significant post-Christmas sale slump and
having it split in two may have been a better way.

RACHAEL BROWN: Talkback callers to local radio this morning baulked at the idea pensioners would
pour their payments down the pokies coin slots.

TALKBACK CALLER: We are all very concerned with how pensioners are going to spend their money and
whether they are going to waste it or whether it is going to be good for them, yet when we have tax
cuts, we are never so worried about how the middle class spend their money.

TALKBACK CALLER 2: We are not all halfwits and I have never heard anything so insulting in my life
as Barnaby Joyce and Abbott with their insulting remarks inferring that we are all going to go out
and pee it up against the wall or put it into poker machines.

That is why they sat on $20-billion worth of surplus over the years and never gave anybody
anything. You don't hear any advice coming out of Barnaby Joyce when farmers get these huge
subsidiaries do you?

RACHAEL BROWN: And in Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall this afternoon, citizens say they have better
things to spend the payments on.

MELBOURNE CITIZEN: I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne and the money is going to go towards that.

MELBOURNE CITIZEN 2: Well, I hope to do a bit of shopping for furniture. We heard on the wireless
this morning that these people are going to be put theirs into children's education because they
felt they couldn't do it otherwise.

MELBOURNE CITIZEN 3: At the moment we are thinking about getting the instant lawn put in the front
of our place which is going to cost. So that would just about take up what we get. I think we get
$2100, a double.

RACHAEL BROWN: Some of the politicians are worried that some pensioners might be spending it on the
pokies. Do you think that is likelihood?

MELBOURNE CITIZEN 4: Well I don't, I must admit. I'll always go. I'll take me $50 occasionally and
go to the pokies but, no, that is about the limit.

RACHAEL BROWN: But not the whole grand?


RACHAEL BROWN: And World Vision's chief executive, the Reverend Tim Costello, was in the mall
giving out gifts to promote the Presents not Pokies campaign.

He offered a novel idea for a gift - one that he held in his arms, one that was mistaking my
microphone for lunch.

TIM COSTELLO: Buy a goat. A goat or some hens or even just a toilet will change the lives of
someone in the Third World.

RACHAEL BROWN: He is warning that gambling won't help the economy.

TIM COSTELLO: For every million dollars spent on pokies only two jobs, less than two jobs are
created. A million dollars spent taking people out to dinner, eating at restaurants, creates 20
jobs. A million dollars spent on retail creates about 10 jobs.

RACHAEL BROWN: But he says he is confident people will spend the Government's Christmas present

TIM COSTELLO: The economic package, I think is being spent the right way in putting it in the hands
of people who will go out and shop and spend.

ELEANOR HALL: That is World Vision's Tim Costello ending that report by Rachael Brown in Melbourne.

Rudd defends one-off bonus plan

Rudd defends one-off bonus plan

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:22:00

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: Well, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has defended the Government's spending package.

He says handing out money in one-off cash bonuses is the fastest way to stimulate the Australian

KEVIN RUDD: I have urged pensioners and families to spend this money responsibly, to use this money
to make ends meet, to help out their kids, to help out their grandkids.

And they are going to be doing that in the time ahead and I know the Government will inevitably
face some criticism about how some of this money will be spent.

The Government understood this reality when it embraced this stimulus package but we decided then
and we believe now that one-off cash payments to pensioners, carers and young families are the best
way to stimulate the economy.

And if the Government doesn't empower consumers at a time like this in the midst of the global
financial crisis, then in fact, we will have even greater challenges ahead.

So the Government understands that it will be criticised for how some of this money is spent but
the alternative is for government to do nothing to stimulate the economy, for government not to
invest in jobs, in growth, in families and this government by contrast has resolved to act.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

Job Network loses jobs

Job Network loses jobs

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:27:00

Reporter: Donna Field

ELEANOR HALL: While unemployment is already rising, the companies that are meant to find work for
unemployed Australians are themselves shedding staff.

Two of the biggest providers of job placement services in Australia say they are laying off workers
because of the global financial crisis.

Mission Australia and the Salvation Army are cutting 200 jobs, as Donna Field reports.

DONNA FIELD: The Salvation Army is the largest job network provider in Australia. It's retrenching
between 100 and 120 staff.

Mission Australia the third largest provider has announced it's following suit.

Executive leader of employment services, Leisa Hart.

LEISA HART: Mission Australia will be making a number of positions in its employment services
redundant as of mid-January. We anticipate this decision will impact on 73 full-time positions; the
majority in New South Wales and the remainder in Queensland and Western Australia.

Many of these roles, about 30 of them, are currently unfilled. We expect around 40 people will be

DONNA FIELD: Now why have you had to make this decision?

LEISA HART: Vacancies in the Australian job market have declined steeply over the past four months,
particularly in New South Wales.

Mission Australia's placements into jobs were down 25 per cent year on year for October and 31 per
cent for November. Generally job network providers receive the bulk of their payment as they place
people into work.

If the vacancies aren't there, then that impacts on income. And as a community services charity,
any shortfall in income means that Mission Australia service delivery in other areas, including
some of our community's most disadvantaged members, can be affected.

DONNA FIELD: While the not-for-profit sectors are scaling back their services, the second biggest
provider in the job network Job Find isn't retrenching any staff.

The private company says more and more unemployed people are seeking its help and recruitment is
seasonally strong, with thousands of people being employed in the retail and hospitality services.

All of the job network providers have just lodged tenders for new government contracts. Those
contracts will be announced early next year.

But Opposition spokesman for employment participation, Andrew Southcott, says the employment
network needs to be overhauled to cope with the changing economic conditions.

ANDREW SOUTHCOTT: This is a major concern. Salvation Army and Mission Australia are two of the
larger employment service providers in Australia. And the problem will only get worse on 1st of
July when Labor's new employment services begins. Because what they have done is design an
employment services system with a low unemployment environment in mind.

In fact, the Minister for Employment Participation, Brendan O'Connor, specifically said in May 2008
that the job network was no longer suited to a low unemployment environment.

DONNA FIELD: Isn't this just a reflection of the global economic environment though, that people
just aren't recruiting.

ANDREW SOUTHCOTT: Certainly there is an expectation that we will see unemployment rise and it will
be much harder to place people in a job. But Labor's employment services model does not take this
into account.

They've made the assumption that the vast majority of job seekers will be able to find work
themselves and as a consequence there are very little payments or incentives for the 61 per cent of
job seekers that will be considered job ready.

Very few payments or incentives to employment service providers and what the Opposition has been
saying is that this model will not work in an environment of rising unemployment and in a weaker
labour market. It simply will not work and they need to review it.

DONNA FIELD: The Minister for Employment Participation, Brendan O'Connor, says that any job losses
in any industry are regrettable.

He says the Government is taking swift and decisive action, including the release of its
$10-billion Economic Security Package.

ELEANOR HALL: Donna Field reporting.

Job loss could pose problem on the home front: report

Job loss could pose problem on the home front: report

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:31:00

Reporter: Richard Lindell

ELEANOR HALL: There is more evidence today that mortgage stress is spreading from the outer suburbs
to the big end of town.

Interest rates may be on the way down but household debt levels remain at historical highs and an
increase in unemployment could trigger a sharp rise in loan defaults next year.

James Hickey is a banking partner at Deloitte and is the author of a report into the mortgage

He spoke to Richard Lindell.

JAMES HICKEY: What we did find this year is that older and/or higher income earners certainly
weren't as comfortable this year with their debt than they were last year. Which we believe
reflects the fact, this has been commented on over the last few months, that stress isn't just an
issue for the lower income earners, it is also now, becoming a notable issue for higher income

RICHARD LINDELL: What about defaults? Do you expect to see an increase in mortgage defaults next
year as the economy weakens further and presumably unemployment rises?

JAMES HICKEY: I think they are the two critical issues that will determine the level of, firstly,
arrears or loans falling into arrears and then subsequently loans potentially going into default,
will certainly be the level of unemployment. That is why you are seeing a lot of government action
at the moment trying to give stimulus to the economy, to try to mitigate the chance of unemployment
really rising.

Because if it does then that certainly places a lot more households under stress and that would
lead to an increase in arrears and ultimately default rates.

RICHARD LINDELL: Where do you see the housing market going in 2009? Will rising unemployment and a
weakening economy lead to falls in house prices? Some are predicting 30 per cent to 50 per cent

JAMES HICKEY: Look, we think there is going to some sort of resilient floor that will underpin the
Australian housing sector. That really comes from a few factors. One is the various government and
RBA actions to date, to support stimulus.

We also think if you look at the supply and demand, which has been published by Treasury and other
groups, it does go to show that Australia does have a shortage of available housing stock. And
particularly with the population growth which is forecast to continue around one-and-a-half per
cent per annum together with all the fiscal incentives being provided, then we think that does
provide some underpin to a flaw in the housing sector.

RICHARD LINDELL: The flaw in the housing sector that you talk about here, does that depend though
on unemployment not rising too much?

JAMES HICKEY: Obviously if unemployment rises, that does start to dampen the demand side of that
equation. Secondly, obviously if unemployment rises that feeds itself through to arrears and
default levels then may increase the rate at which certain properties may be repossessed.

But you know, you are still talking about arrears levels which are very small relative to other
global housing economies.

RICHARD LINDELL: If house prices are underpinned next year and remain flat or grow slightly, that
is obviously good news for home owners but it also suggests that affordability for first home
buyers is not going to improve in the near future.

JAMES HICKEY: I suppose a flaw and a underpin and we haven't put a what we believe the housing
market will actually move by, but certainly of falls of between 30 and 50 per cent we believe is
certainly not what we are saying, we believe the flaw will stop any such dramatic fall in housing

Certainly around first home buyer affordability, certainly there is a number of initiatives in
place to try to help first home buyers save for a deposit. Certainly with rates coming down, it can
make the entry level in terms of debt servicing more lighter for first home buyers than it would
otherwise been and there is certainly not the rampant demand growth that perhaps was seen around
the boom of the property market, driving a lot of prices up at a rapid rate.

RICHARD LINDELL: They are still facing house prices which I think in your report you found were
nine times income and when you think historically it was only two or three times wasn't it. So they
are still facing a huge issue in terms of affordability.

JAMES HICKEY: That is true. Obviously now with rates lower, that does help the debt servicing
requirement for a lot of those first home buyers. So with rates coming down it certainly does mean
that's a significant part of the equation, that first home buyers need to consider in terms of how
much debt as a proportion of their income they actually now are required to repay to the banks if
they were to enter into a mortgage.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Deloitte partner, James Hickey, speaking to Richard Lindell.

Regional leaders talk tough, as cholera spreads

Regional leaders talk tough, as cholera spreads

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:35:00

Reporter: Sara Everingham

ELEANOR HALL: The Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has intensified his public opposition to
Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe, by calling for international military intervention in Zimbabwe
to bring the cholera outbreak under control.

The United Nations is warning that 60,000 people could contract cholera in the next few weeks, as
Sara Everingham reports.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In Harare women collect murky water from wells in spite of the threat of cholera.

TERESA DAMBIZA: I am very afraid of cholera but there is no substitute where we can get clean
water. We rely from this wells.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Harare resident Teresa Dambiza says she has little choice - it's months since
she's had access to clean water in her house.

TERESA DAMBIZA: Since April up to now. If it comes it will be very dirty you can't even cook, you
can't even drink it - it will be smelling like sewage.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The official figures show 600 have died from cholera in Zimbabwe but aid agencies
fear the real number could be much higher and they warn it's likely to climb.

The situation has become so bad the Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is calling for military

RAILA ODINGA: If no troops are available, then the AU must allow the UN to send its forces into
Zimbabwe with immediate effect, to take over control of the country and ensure urgent humanitarian
assistance to the people dying of cholera and starvation.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The Prime Minister says the African Union should hold an emergency meeting to
authorise for troops to be sent into Zimbabwe and wants Mr Mugabe removed and tried for crimes
against humanity.

He says other African leaders had shamed the continent by failing to criticise Mugabe.

RAILA ODINGA: And as Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, Mugabe's case deserves no less than
investigations by the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The UN children's fund warns that in a matter of weeks 60,000 people could
contract cholera taking the death toll to two and-a-half-thousand.

Australian Jim Holland lives in Harare and is an activist with the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change. He told AM there's little time to waste.

JIM HOLLAND: People die remarkably quickly. A baby I know of was sick in the afternoon and taken to
a clinic a little bit later on but was dead by evening and then the baby's mother got sick the
following evening and was dead by the next morning.

So, cholera is a terrible disease. People die so fast and it is so easily preventable if only the
regime here would rectify the problems with the national water supply authority.

(Sound of church singing)

SARA EVERINGHAM: At the St. Peters Catholic Church in Harare Father Oscar Vemter leads the
congregation in prayer. Consoling bereaved families now makes up much of his work. The disease has
even affected his service.

OSCAR VEMTER: Our usual shaking hands as a sign of peace and reconciliation, which is our custom to
do during holy mass, we had to abandon because people are afraid it might lead to more transmission
of the virus.

SARA EVERINGHAM: South Africa is sending a team to Zimbabwe this week to see how it can get aid to
people suffering from cholera and hunger. But there's no sign that Zimbabwe's most powerful
neighbour is pushing change at the top.

Political analyst Brian Raftopolous worked previously at the University of Zimbabwe and now works
in Cape Town.

BRIAN RAFTOPOLOUS: I don't think they would directly be asking President Mugabe to step down but I
do think that what they will do is to let him know that Zimbabwe has now become a regional security
problem because of the breakdown of the health services, the cholera epidemic which is flowing into
the region and the general incapacity of the state to protect its citizens.

ELEANOR HALL: That is political analyst, Brian Raftopolous, ending Sara Everingham's report.

New NT child commissioner rolls up his sleeves

New NT child commissioner rolls up his sleeves

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:38:00

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: Back home now and the Northern Territory's first children's commissioner says he does
anticipate some disagreements with the Territory Government which appointed him.

But Dr Howard Bath says his primary goal as commissioner is not to apportion blame but to protect
the children of the Territory.

In appointing the clinical psychologist, the Territory Government has fulfilled one of the
recommendations of 'The Little Children are Sacred' report which exposed horrific abuse of children
in remote communities.

I spoke to Dr Bath a short time ago.

ELEANOR HALL: Dr Bath, you've just spent several months travelling through the Territory finding
out more about the challenges of your job as children's commissioner. How big a task is it?

HOWARD BATH: Oh, I think it is a very big task as outlined in 'The Little Children are Sacred'
report. There is a whole lot of issues that really do need to be addressed on an urgent basis.

The appointment of the children's commissioner was just one part of the response from the Northern
Territory Government in dealing with the issue of sexual abuse and the broader issue of the
well-being of children generally throughout the community.

ELEANOR HALL: What are the most urgent problems that need to be addressed? What are the most urgent
things that you need to do?

HOWARD BATH: Well, the children's commissioner is not operational in the sense that he goes out and
actually provides protective services. My role essentially is to provide an oversight and
monitoring role to make sure that the new Act is achieving what it set out to achieve.

The other major function which is actually coming into play today, on December 8th, is that the
commissioner, as part of the role of protecting children, is starting to receive complaints about
services to protected children across the Territory.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, you have been appointed by the Northern Territory Government but you are meant
to be an independent advocate for children. Is there a conflict there? I mean, how do you see your

HOWARD BATH: I am an independent advocate but overall my role is to ensure the protection and the
well-being of protected children. Our goal is actually to resolve complaints not just to determine
who is right or wrong in a particular situation.

ELEANOR HALL: Presumably the complaints that you receive, or many of them, will be about the
adequacy of government services. So how do you negotiate that? I mean, will you be an advisor to
the Northern Territory Government or a critic?

HOWARD BATH: That is a really good point. My role is to ensure the protection and the well-being of
protected children. From time to time that might mean that there are some difficult times as we
sort of try and work out how the situation can be improved and if that requires from time to time a
little bit of, I guess, a difficult exchange of ideas, well that might be the case.

Our goal is to try and resolve them, not necessarily to apportion blame. But where necessary the
Children's commissioner speaks out and tries to improve the lot of children.

ELEANOR HALL: You said that it was a big challenge. As you travelled around were you surprised at
the scale of the problems?

HOWARD BATH: I've got to say that I have been in the past but because I have been involved in the
last few years and particularly last year in auditing government services, I have had a fair idea
of some of the very difficult issues.

Like everyone else that has had a look around and knows what has been going on, it is a very
troubling situation.

ELEANOR HALL: So what is your assessment of the effect of the Federal Government's intervention?

HOWARD BATH: Travelling around the community, we do know that there is almost universal acceptance
that some of the measures of the intervention are making a difference, and in particular I can
point to things like the alcohol restrictions.

There does seem to be in some communities, quite a dramatic decrease in the incidents in alcohol
related incidents and I don't think anyone could argue that that is not a good thing.

The other thing, of course, is the increase in police presence in some of the communities. Some of
which had no police presence at all. And it is universally felt that increased police presence is
bringing a higher level of safety for community members right across the Territory.

ELEANOR HALL: And the permit system - the Federal Government wants to reinstate it. What is your

HOWARD BATH: The issue of permits, I know it is a very difficult situation and there are very loud
voices on either side of the argument there. But in terms of the actual protection of children,
there have been, from time to time, reports that in the absence of a permit system, sometimes abuse
can happen in situations of secrecy.

But we still do not know the exact facts around, you know, whether the permit system has increased
the risk or has decreased the risk. My particular perspective has been, I am looking specifically
at the outcome for children.

ELEANOR HALL: So has the health and safety of children improved significantly since the

HOWARD BATH: It is very hard to say how significant that improvement is. We have to believe that
there is an improvement in a situation. Not all situations have been materially improved and I
think it is going to take quite some time before everyone that is involved can be satisfied that we
really are achieving the goal of making it a safer Territory for vulnerable young children.

What we can say is that certain of the measures, and I point particularly to things like the use of
opal petrol, have made a dramatic difference in the well-being of young people. But we also know
that there are still very, very difficult situations in many of the communities across the

ELEANOR HALL: Well what was your reaction to the announcement last month from a doctor at one
remote Aboriginal community who said he was leaving because he was frustrated by the health
department and that despite the problems there, he wasn't able to help as much as he would have
like to.

HOWARD BATH: You can only sympathise with the despair that is reflected in the words from that
doctor. It is really, in many cases, the same story of problems with alcohol abuse and the
attendant problems of domestic violence and child abuse and these are a long way from being
completely fixed.

ELEANOR HALL: Of course, these problems have been around for a long time. There are entrenched
difficulties in many of these communities. Will your appointment, as children's commissioner, make
a significant difference?

HOWARD BATH: I certainly hope so. The goal is to ensure the well-being of these children and I
expect very strongly at the end of four years, which is the term of the appointment, that I will be
able to look back and be able to say that the lives of the children that I have been charged to
monitor and to support are materially better than they would have been otherwise.

The fact that there is now someone that children and their advocates can complain to is a major
difference from what was the case in the past. There is now an independent advocate for children
and where things are going wrong, there are mechanisms now in place to ensure that children are
getting the services that they need and deserve.

ELEANOR HALL: Dr Bath, thanks very much for joining us.

HOWARD BATH: Thank you.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the new children's commissioner for the Northern Territory, Dr Howard Bath.

Projects to transport Victoria into the future

Projects to transport Victoria into the future

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:42:00

Reporter: Alison Caldwell

ELEANOR HALL: While the Federal Government is pumping $10-billion into the economy - in Victoria
the State Government has just announced that it will spend $38-billion on transport projects.

The Premier, John Brumby, says this will create a hundred thousand jobs over the next 12 years and
transform Victoria's road network and public transport system into Australia's best.

Alison Caldwell has been at the announcement and she joins us now.

So Alison, $38-billion is substantial amount of money. What is the Government saying it will spend
it on?

ALISON CALDWELL: Yes, hello Eleanor. It is a substantial amount of money. The first of the biggest
ticket item I suppose we could say is what is described as the north-east link. It is a $6-billion
road which will complete Melbourne's orbital network by linking an eastern freeway with a western
ring road. So that will then provide users with an entire orbital freeway around the city. That is

The next biggest ticket item is about a $4.5-billion metro rail tunnel. A rail tunnel which they
claim will transform Melbourne's suburban train system into a modern transit metro network. It will
link inner eastern suburbs with inner western suburbs.

Then the third item would be $5.4-billion for new rolling stock or trains, trams and buses. It is a
lot of money and the Government is very happy to be announcing it all today.

ELEANOR HALL: And where is this money coming from? Is it all government money?

ALISON CALDWELL: It sounds like a good chunk of it is going to be government money.

John Brumby, the Premier, has announced that $25-million will come from the Victorian Government
surpluses. The surplus has year, last week sorry, he drew down the surplus from $800-million to
$300-million. He says that $25-million will come from that surplus.

There is something like $10-million will come for the Building Australia Fund and $2-million from
the Commonwealth OzLink program. So he says about a quarter will come from the Federal Government.

As for, there has been no mention of things like tolls, new tolls on roads. There has been no
mention of private partnerships but we would have to assume some will be ...

ELEANOR HALL: Private money. What has been the reaction to this announcement?

ALISON CALDWELL: Well, at this stage the Opposition has really reacted. They are not very excited
about it. They are saying look, this is a plan for more plans. The plan will take place over 12
years. Now the next election is in 2010. The Opposition says these plans essentially don't
guarantee Victorians anything.

Also the Public Transport Users Association said that what they thought the Government should be
doing is spending a lot more money on existing stock, existing bus, train and tram services.

ELEANOR HALL: And has there been any reaction from the union or from the building companies
associated with this.

ALISON CALDWELL: I haven't heard anything from them as yet. Look the Government is saying that this
is creating, this will really stimulate the economy in Victoria, by creating all of these new jobs
and by improving lifestyle for Victorians, with a booming population which is expected to rise to
something like seven million by 2036.

ELEANOR HALL: Alison Caldwell in Melbourne, thank you.

Hanging on the telephone

Hanging on the telephone

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:46:00

Reporter: Simon Santow

ELEANOR HALL: Telemarketers have hit back at criticism that they're still calling householders who
don't want to hear from them.

A survey has found that despite the fact there's a system in place which is meant to shield people
from intrusive calls, telemarketing continues to infuriate Australians.

Simon Santow has our reports.

SIMON SANTOW: The Do Not Call Register was an initiative of the previous Howard government.

Now 18 months on from its introduction, there are still complaints about pesky callers beating the
system and annoying Australians who want to be left alone.

JOSH FEAR: The language some people used to describe their reactions to telemarketing calls showed
that some people feel almost physical symptoms when they pick up the phone and realise it is a

People talked about their heart sinking and feeling rotten in the pit of their stomach. There is a
great deal of resentment and anger at the intrusion.

SIMON SANTOW: Josh Fear surveyed a thousand people online for The Australia Institute.

He found that exemptions for charity collectors, politicians, educational and religious
organisations and companies already doing business with the person at the other of the line, are
wearing thin with many people.

JOSH FEAR: One person said that they got so angry once that they slammed down the phone so hard it
broke and so since that time they have never answered their calls. They always leave their
answering machine screen the calls.

SIMON SANTOW: Rob Edwards is the chief executive of the Australian Direct Marketing Association, or

ROB EDWARDS: I think the issue for us has always been that the calls that people complain most
about are the unsolicited calls - that is from organisations with whom you don't have an existing
relationship. And generally speaking, it is the fundraising sector that is in the firing line

SIMON SANTOW: Mr Edwards says governments are starving charities, forcing them to raise more and
more money directly from the public.

ROB EDWARDS: The alternative is, as they have in the UK where they have stopped them calling
people, fundraisers are three deep on footpaths soliciting money in the streets. So it is kind of
which way you would prefer to go, to be honest.

SIMON SANTOW: But ADMA says telemarketing is overwhelmingly about a business relationship.

ROB EDWARDS: Eighty-five per cent of those are organisations dealing with their existing customers
and for the most part, people don't have a problem with that. If you are dealing with your bank or
your insurance company or the airline or whatever it may be, we don't mind those calls. And so the
issue is, as I mentioned before, is around the unsolicited calls.

SIMON SANTOW: And what about with those calls though? Do you think that some of those companies
don't know when to stop? That perhaps they have overestimated people's tolerance for the number of
calls; even if they are already customers.

ROB EDWARDS: Yes, I think in some instances that is the case and when I finish my day job, I go
home and I am a consumer as well too and perhaps I am a little strange but I receive telephone
calls at home sometimes from my friends and I don't feel like talking; let alone someone trying to
flog me something over the telephone.

So I say to my members, use the telephone at your peril. The reality is, the telephone by its
nature, is intrusive.

SIMON SANTOW: He's not in favour of a proposal to take the Do Not Call Register further by
requiring consumers to opt in rather than having to opt out.

Rob Edwards.

ROB EDWARDS: Organisations should be able to perhaps make the first call, that is if you have a
relationship with the individual; make the call. The consumer then has the right to say don't call
me anymore and that organisation is bound to honour that commitment.

SIMON SANTOW: Do you think that that is done at the moment? Do you think though that is respected?
That if the person on the end of the phone says look I really don't appreciate that and your
members or the companies involved actually respect that?

ROB EDWARDS: I would say for the most part they do. Most enlightened companies would do it. I can't
see how any organisation would benefit by trying to call consumers when the consumer is going to be
aggravated. It doesn't make sense at the end of the day.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Rob Edwards, the chief executive of the Australian Direct Marketing
Association, ending that report from Simon Santow.

Asylum surge blamed on spike in Afghan fighting

Asylum surge blamed on spike in Afghan fighting

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:50:00

Reporter: Felicity Ogilvie

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Opposition is accusing the Government of having sub-standard refugee
policies as the Australian navy yesterday stopped another boatload of asylum seekers near Broome.

It's the sixth boat of suspected asylum seekers to be found in Australian waters in the last three

The Federal Government says it's the season for boats carrying asylum seekers.

But refugee advocate Phil Glendenning from the Edmund Rice Centre told Felicity Ogilvie that the
recent increase is a result of the intensifying war in Afghanistan.

PHIL GLENDENNING: I think the recent increase, albeit a very slight increase in people coming here,
is due to one very important point; and that is the increase in the severity and the dangers people
face in the war in Afghanistan.

People are fleeing from the war. People are fleeing from persecution. It has been predicted by the
United Nation's Commissioner for Refugees that there would be this increase because of the
conflicts that are taking place internationally, particularly in Afghanistan. And that is what we
are seeing and we shouldn't be surprised by it.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Federal Government says the recent spike is due to seasonal conditions. Your
position says the spike is because the Federal Government has abandoned the Pacific Solution policy
and people smugglers are taking advantage of that. What do you think?

PHIL GLENDENNING: Well, I think first of all the use of the term spike is a problem for one reason
and that is the facts. I mean the facts of the matter are this - that the total number of asylum
seekers detained in Australia seeking to come here by boat this year number 127. Last year when the
Coalition were in power, the number was 150.

So you can hardly call it a spike when you look at it the numbers are actually less this year than
they were last year.

What this points to however is that where there are inappropriate or not sufficient processes to
deal with those who are the victims of war, then people smugglers will step up and take the place
and fill the vacuum.

FELICITY OGILVIE: So are those people smugglers then reacting to the Federal Government's refugee

PHIL GLENDENNING: Well, not on the numbers. I mean the numbers would say that you have got 127
people that have come this year as opposed to 150 last year.

FELICITY OGILVIE: But those 150 last year were spread over a considerable period of time whereas in
the past three months, we have had six boats and 127 refugees turn up in Australian waters asking
for asylum.

PHIL GLENDENNING: Yup, and of course you have got to remember that the war in Afghanistan currently
now as opposed to last year is much worse, much, much worse. And we know that because our soldiers
are there fighting a war and tragically our soldiers have being killed there.

People who are in the midst of a war zone, will seek to get out.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Federal Government says that the 44 asylum seekers that arrived on the most
recent boat are mostly from Afghanistan. You have just come back from that country. Can you
describe what conditions the people there are living in and what you found when you investigated
what happened to asylum seekers who were deported back to Afghanistan?

PHIL GLENDENNING: Well, the first thing to be said is that the situation in Afghanistan has
deteriorated dreadfully. It is not safe. The Taliban are on the rise. The control of the Government
are limited to areas around Kabul, primarily. The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is now
very porous.

The very serious risks that people face. Of those who went to Afghanistan who were deported by
Australia, tragically some of those people were killed.

Afghanistan is not safe. It wasn't safe to send people back to. We did send people back and we
would call upon the Government to do whatever it can to ensure that some sort of justice can be
afforded to these people.

Otherwise they will remain the victims of the extremists that they thought to flee from or
tragically again, the victims of people smugglers.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Phil Glendenning, the director of Edmund Rice Centre speaking to Felicity

Taking toad off the menu

Taking toad off the menu

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:55:00

Reporter: Lisa Millar

ELEANOR HALL: Cane toads are deadly to native animals - their poison kills the animals when they
eat them.

Scientists have tried getting rid of them and that hasn't worked so the next plan of attack against
toads involves making them as unpalatable as possible.

Researchers are now coating dead toads with a stomach churning chemical to try to teach other
species to stay clear.

It's the work of Professor Rick Shine from Sydney University - who's talking to Lisa Millar.

RICK SHINE: Many predators are actually pretty good at learning to avoid toads. The trick is that
the first toad you eat has to be small enough that it doesn't actually kill you and if it is small
enough then things like frogs and fishes, mammals, some of the lizards seem to be very good at
saying oh look, that tastes awful, it made me feel bad, I won't eat another one.

And the idea that we are pursuing now with funding from the Australian Research Council is to try
and see if we can teach predators to avoid toads and if that can help the predators to survive when
the toads do arrive.

LISA MILLAR: In one of the ways you are looking at teaching the predators is by painting some of
the toads or combining some of the toad with something that makes them nauseous?

RICK SHINE: Yes, there are chemicals which are virtually undetectable and you can put them in very
small amounts and they make you very, very sick. If you add that chemical to minced up toad, the
idea is that the predator will then associate the taste and smell of toad with that nausea and it
will leave it alone.

Now it turns out that a lot of predators are very good at this sort of thing. They eat lots of
different things. Some of those things like a lot of insects have got chemical defences that make
the predator feel bad and so predators are really very good at remembering what made you feel bad
and leaving it alone next time. And I am optimistic that we might be able to do that in the field.

LISA MILLAR: Do you do it with live toads?

RICK SHINE: No, the idea of the taste diversion chemicals would be to get lots and lots of bits of
dead toad, obviously the bits that don't contain most of the poison. The back legs are the most
obvious part. We would probably mince that up. We would mix that in with small amounts of this
chemical that causes nausea and we would put that out in selected spots.

We can't hope to spread bait around the Kimberley; the area is just too large. But what we could do
is create little spots where the predators survive when the toads come through and that will create
areas for recolonisation.

Because predators do seem able to deal with toads a few years after the initial invasion, once the
toads start breeding and the predators get a chance to experience small toads which are a learning
experience and not a fatal experience.

LISA MILLAR: Are there some predators that are more likely to get it more quickly?

RICK SHINE: The marsupials that we have tested, the little guys, the planigales and the big guys,
the quolls are both very, very good with one trial learning. Surprisingly animals like fishes and
frogs are very good as well.

I would have to say that I am devastated that my own favourite animals, some of the venomous snakes
seem to be the slowest on the block and it is very hard to teach a King Brown Snake not to eat a
cane toad.

LISA MILLAR: Rick Shine, tell me what is the next step with this research?

RICK SHINE: I am heading up to the Northern Territory and Kununurra tomorrow and I want to talk to
the community groups. I am hoping that we could reach some agreement with the government
authorities and the community groups - in terms of obtaining lots and lots of dead toad that we
could then start running some field trials.

We have been looking at the toxicity of the chemicals and it doesn't seem to be a problem. So I
think the risks are very low but we would want to do it in a very controlled, very small scale
fashion at first.

I think the case of the cane toad itself tells us that it is not easy to play God with ecosystems.
You can very easily make a mistake with biological control. You have got to take it one step at a

ELEANOR HALL: Professor Rick Shine from Sydney University was speaking to Lisa Millar.