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Australian Bureau of Statistics figures underestimate unemployment rate

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures underestimate unemployment rate

The World Today - Tuesday, 9 December , 2008 12:10:00

ELEANOR HALL: But first to the economy and Australia's unemployment rate could be much higher than
the official figures suggest.

There has been debate for years about the way the Bureau of Statistics calculates the official
jobless rate.

Now a survey by the Roy Morgan Research group suggests that, rather than 4.3 per cent, the real
unemployment rate is 6.4 per cent.

And it has found that there has been a sharp rise in the jobless rate in recent months, with
1.5-million Australians either unemployed or under-employed.

The NAB monthly business survey also indicates that the economy has been shedding jobs since June
and will continue to do so well into 2010.

Richard Lindell has been analysing the research and he joins us now

So Richard, how does the bureau of statistics calculate the unemployment rate?

RICHARD LINDELL: Well it's long been thought that the ABS figures are biased toward counting people
as employed rather than unemployed. In the official figures you are employed if you work just one
hour in a week, you're unemployed only if you're actively looking for work for four weeks and
available to start immediately.

So the definition of unemployed is very narrow and the definition of employed is very broad.

Add to this recent issues this year in the May Budget, the sample size for the ABS figures were
also cut making this survey much less reliable than it already was. So there's a few issues going
on here and many economists have long said that the official figures underestimate the true
unemployment rate.

ELEANOR HALL: So how did the Roy Morgan group come to its figures?

RICHARD LINDELL: So Roy Morgan group takes the broadest possible definition of unemployment, it
does a national sample survey and just asks a simple question; are you looking for work- sorry- are
you unemployed or would you like more work?

It's a very broad definition and in this sample you get 6.4 per cent as unemployed or 700,000
people or 1.5 million-people are under-employed or unemployed which is 13.8 per cent. So much
broader definition, you get a much bigger obviously unemployment rate.

ELEANOR HALL: And is the trend consistent though both surveys? The trend to greater unemployment?

RICHARD LINDELL: It certainly is, if you look at the official figures it's gone up from 3.9 per
cent late last year, early this year, to 4.3 per cent. Many economists expect that to rise to
six-seven-eight even nine per cent by 2010.

Roy Morgan Research survey suggests the unemployment rate has gone from 5.3 per cent in the
September quarter to 6.4 per cent in December quarter.

So both surveys certainly showing that it's trending upwards.

ELEANOR HALL: And has Gary Morgan had anything to say about his research?

Well he has, he believes that there's no political will to report the official figure, here's what
he has to say.

GARY MORGAN: The Howard Government knew this was the case but ignored it and the Rudd Government
know it's the case and are also ignoring it. It's very important though because for instance
interest rates were put up early last year, or early this year and late last year because they
believe that the economy was overheated when in fact it wasn't overheated.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Gary Morgan the executive chairman at Roy Morgan Research, which has done this
survey on unemployment.

Now Richard what does today's NAB survey of business confidence and conditions tell us about the
likelihood of more job cuts in the future?

RICHARD LINDELL: Well pretty much saying the same thing again, the NAB business survey suggests
that businesses outside the mining sector have been shedding jobs since the middle if this year.
The non-farm economy is already going backwards.

Now jobs are coming out of the economy according to this survey, but there's also a hint that
business is hoarding labour a little bit as well, so perhaps executives and management are looking
to see what's going to happen over the next few months.

ELEANOR HALL: How do you tell that they're hoarding labour?

RICHARD LINDELL: Well they look at capacity utilisation across the economy and labour utilisation
as well and they're now diverging which suggests that production is down, but the unemployment rate
hasn't been rising as fast as the lower production should suggest.

So from that they've deduced that there is a bit of labour hoarding going on, but if the economy is
as bad as it looks then early next year it will probably see a much larger rise in unemployment,
jobs will be shed much quicker across the economy because actually labour has been hoarded so
there's plenty of people that can be let go quite quickly.

Now there are a couple of positives in the survey though on the broader economy, there's certainly
signs that the farm sector is bouncing back after drought and the mining sector is still holding
up.

Rob Henderson is a senior economist at the NAB and he says the non-farm economy though is already
going backwards.

ROB HENDERSON: The NAB business survey for November paints a pretty grim picture of how the economy
is travelling at the moment. Across the board the numbers are all pretty terrible; Ford Orders is
also at a record low, employment's also at a record low. So it's painting a very grim picture of
the economy going into the end of the year.

In the forecast that we've released today we do expect a negative quarter for GDP for the fourth
quarter of the year. This will be the first negative we've seen of course since the early 2000.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Rob Henderson from NAB. No good economic news there, our analyst Richard
Lindell.

Turnbull suffers a drop in the polls

Turnbull suffers a drop in the polls

The World Today - Tuesday, 9 December , 2008 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: To Canberra now, and the Federal Opposition is in disarray as Kevin Rudd and the
Government open up a big lead in the opinion polls over the Coalition and its leader Malcolm
Turnbull.

The Newspoll result has prompted Coalition calls for unity. But while Liberals are blaming the poor
showing on division in the Coalition, National party MPs are adamant they're NOT the problem.

And Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has warned Opposition senators that he won't negotiate with
them if they continue to back down on key bills at the last minute.

In Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Labor's finishing its first year in office widening its lead over the Opposition in
the polls.

It's the Coalition's worst performance in months and Kevin Rudd's lead over Malcolm Turnbull harks
back to the gap he commanded over Brendan Nelson just before the leadership change.

In the last opinion poll for the year, Newspoll has the ALP on 59 per cent to the Coalition's 41
per cent on a two party preferred basis and Kevin Rudd's satisfaction rating back up to 70 per
cent. And he's 47 points ahead of Malcolm Turnbull as preferred prime minister.

Liberal frontbencher Andrew Robb says the multibillion dollar stimulus package has worked for the
Government, but that disunity has cost the Opposition, blaming the Nationals who twice last week
crossed the floor in the Senate.

ANDREW ROBB: The voting intention shows quite clearly that people turn off with disunity.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Has the coalition started to take steps to fix that?

ANDREW ROBB: There's been I think over the last few days a lot of talk internally, you know you
look at Queensland, Queensland at a state level, the parties after many years of disunity realised
it was death, they were going nowhere.

The merger of the Liberal party and the National party in Queensland this year has seen thousands
of new members and they're now very competitive at a state level. Now I think that lesson just had
to be learnt federally.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Well you can't blame the Nationals for that though can you? Because even on issues
where the Nationals are on side, the Coalition when it came down to the vote, changed its view and
decided to vote with the Government.

ANDREW ROBB: Look it's very difficult with people deciding to cross the floor in the unilateral
sort of way. It will require a strong will and it will require everyone to see that they are part
of a team.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: When you say everyone has to see that they're part of the team you're talking about
the National party and the National senators?

ANDREW ROBB: And others within the Liberal party too have to make sure that what they do again is
consistent with the team.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Nationals leader in the Senate Barnaby Joyce says the Nationals are not to
blame.

BARNABY JOYCE: I definitively say the problem is not the National party problem, the problem is one
of the issues that have come before the Senate.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Barnaby Joyce says the Senate infrastructure vote, ending Coalition's $2-billion
plus bush telecommunications fund, is a case in point where regional Liberal senators broke ranks.

BARNABY JOYCE: Without a shadow of a doubt we could never have breached our promise to the
Australian people that we made that those funds were there to look after people who were not being
looked after by the market as far as telecommunications goes.

Now that was going to be the issue whether it was the National party, the Liberal party or any
other party in Australia, your commitment is your commitment, there are certain ripples that can be
easily ironed out by consistency and approach, then you will have unity every day.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And Senator Joyce doesn't accept the Queensland merger of the two conservative
parties is the answer, federally.

BARNABY JOYCE: In federal politics the Coalition is by far and away the most successful political
vehicle in this nation. You have to, you know, stick with the net that catches the fish and the
Coalition is the net that catches the fish on a federal level.

But a Coalition in itself is a name in itself that acknowledges there are two parties and two
policies and those two policies must be, you know accommodated for the areas that they hold, you
know, dear.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says the problem is the Opposition's chopping and
changing on key issues, with back downs just before the final vote was taken in the Senate. He says
that doesn't sit well with him or with voters.

NICK XENOPHON: Well I think I made it pretty clear, don't waste my time if this sort of thing
happens again, I've been quite open with senior Liberals about this and I think they've got the
message loud and clear because if they don't, the shemozzle of last week is going to turn into one
big debacle in 2009.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Opposition's Andrew Robb won't concede that point.

ANDREW ROBB: We are acting in good faith on these things but we have to make judgements about
individual pieces of legislation. But that's not the point Alex, the point is where we have
disagreements between our two Coalition parties and where unilateral action is taken. Now, that is
seen by the public as unacceptable and a lack of unity and we have to have a sense of teamwork
where we can accommodate the range of views across both our parties and yet present a united
position.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The tension's set to continue, with Malcolm Turnbull indicating yesterday the
Opposition will keep doing what Senator Xenophon's firmly warned against.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: If our amendments are rejected we have to consider whether the Government's Bill
without our amendments is so unsatisfactory it should be rejected out of hand. We may in that case
let the legislation pass and undertake to set it right when we return to government.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Treasurer Wayne Swan can't resist a swipe.

WAYNE SWAN: Malcolm Turnbull and his team have been entirely negative about the economic security
strategy, the bank guarantee and so on and I don't think that's particularly appreciated by the
Australian public.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan ending that report by Alexandra Kirk in
Canberra.

Terror suspect to plead guilty

Terror suspect to plead guilty

The World Today - Tuesday, 9 December , 2008 12:18:00

ELEANOR HALL: The man accused of masterminding the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and
Washington says he wants to plead guilty.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspects shocked the Military Commission hearing at
Guantanamo Bay overnight by asking to enter the pleas. But civil liberties groups say the Bush
administration should not tout this as a victory for US justice, because torture has tainted the
process.

A judge is yet to decide whether the guilty pleas for all five suspects can be accepted. But for
the first time the US military has flown relatives of some of the 9/11 victims to Cuba for the
pre-trial hearing.

Brendan Trembath has our report.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: At the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is one of the
most high profile detainees.

He and four others have faced a pre-trial hearing and made a surprise announcement.

STACY SULLIVAN: Today Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other defendants charged with the 9/11
attacks, told the judge that they wanted to plead guilty.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Stacy Sullivan is a counter terrorism adviser at Human Rights Watch in New York.

The group had observer status at the pre trial hearing.

Also watching on were relatives of people killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Alice Hoagland's son was on the hijacked plane which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

She seems to have no doubt that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is guilty but says she hopes he's spared the
death penalty.

ALICE HOAGLAND: We should allow this man to live to show that we have more respect for human life
than he has shown toward us. Here's a man and his bloody henchmen who would kill us by the
thousands on our own soil if they could.

And yet we are weighing his life and their lives in our hands, and doesn't that make us somehow
admirable, exemplary and would he not take away a lesson from that, that human life has value?

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Human rights groups also oppose the death penalty.

Stacy Sullivan from Human Rights Watch says they also have an issue with the trial process and any
pleas the men might make.

STACY SULLIVAN: We fear that these confessions might be coerced. If these trials were taken to the
Federal Court, there would be a full hearing to determine what manner of abuse went on. But because
the Military Commission was essentially created to cover up abuse, we may never know if these pleas
are accepted.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Some people might say that given the allegations against these men, they're
dangerous people or possibly dangerous people, and don't deserve the sort of justice normally found
in the United States.

What would you say to that?

STACY SULLIVAN: We believe that everyone, no matter how heinous the crime deserves to have a fair
hearing.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Human rights groups say Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was held in secret prisons and
subjected to harsh treatment such as water boarding.

A prisoner is tied up and gagged and their head drenched with water.

The US President-elect Barack Obama has said his administration will stop authorities using harsher
methods in interrogations.

He's also promised to shut down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay commonly known as 'Gitmo'.

Stacy Sullivan from Human Rights Watch says it's a good decision though will take time to
implement.

STACY SULLIVAN: We still have 250 men there, about 50 of them have said that they don't want to go
home to their native countries because they fear that they'll be tortured should they do so. So you
either have to give them asylum in the United States or find other countries that are willing to
re-settle them which is no small task.

And there's the 19 men who are facing charges before the Military Commissions and the Obama
administration will have to determine if it wants to charge those men in US federal courts if it
wants to create a new national security court to charge them which we think is a terrible idea
because I think the Federal Courts are perfectly capable of doing it and a national security court
would be subject to all kinds of challenges just as Military Commissions are.

And thirdly the Obama administration could try them before regular military courts if they've
actually committed war crimes.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Stacy Sullivan from Human Rights Watch in New York. That report from Brendan
Trembath.

Sunshine state delivers mini-budget

Sunshine state delivers mini-budget

The World Today - Tuesday, 9 December , 2008 12:22:00

ELEANOR HALL: Just six months ago it was one of the country's boom states.

Now the Queensland Government has been forced to bring down a mini-budget and is predicting a
deficit and rising unemployment for the state.

But while the mining sector is no longer delivering the benefits it once was, the Treasurer says
Queensland's $17-billion capital works program will not be affected by the cutbacks.

In Brisbane, Donna Field reports.

DONNA FIELD: When Queensland's budget was handed down in June an $800-million surplus was projected
for the year ahead.

But things have changed and the budget is now in the red.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser.

ANDREW FRASER: In a context of falling revenues of some $4-billion across the forward estimate that
presents huge challenges for the Government. We are prepared to put the Budget into deficit to
maintain the capital program. We will maintain a $17-billion Capital Works Program as we planned to
this financial year because that supports 119,000 jobs but we'll also chart a course to return the
budget to a stable footing to make sure that the finances return to surplus over the four years.

DONNA FIELD: Growth has slowed from 4.25 per cent to three per cent and unemployment is expected to
rise from 3.75 per cent to 4.25.

Mr Fraser says keeping people in jobs is the Government's key objective and that's why it won't
compromise its massive Capital Works Program; building infrastructure like roads and tunnels to
cope with the state's growing population.

ANDREW FRASER: The reality is for us that we have an economy that is the strongest in Australia.
It's often said that Australia's the best place to be in the global financial crisis and within
that we're absolutely sure that Queensland is the best place to be but we're not immune from the
consequences, our growth will slow, we'll still record growth of three per cent; that is twice the
rate, more than twice the rate of New South Wales and double the rate of Victoria.

But the reality is that that is a slowing growth figure compared to where we were last year. That
means times are tougher and tough times mean tough decisions.

DONNA FIELD: Shadow Treasurer Tim Nicholls says Queensland shouldn't have to go into the red.

TIM NICHOLLS: Today's mini-budget will finally reveal the full extent of the risks to jobs and
prosperity in Queensland brought about by Labor's mismanagement of the economy over the last 10
years.

DONNA FIELD: You don't think it's got anything to do with the global financial crisis?

TIM NICHOLLS: Oh look no state or country is immune from the global financial crisis but this
Government's not going into deficit because it's announcing any new spending initiatives, it's
going into deficit because its revenue is falling and it's failed to save despite 10 years of
economic boom times.

DONNA FIELD: The flailing housing market has left a big hole in the budget, revenue from stamp duty
is down nearly $900-million.

Royalties from the coal industry are also expected to fall. The mining industry is upbeat about its
future, particularly coal, but the metals sector is feeling the pinch. One mine has already closed
and there have been job losses at another.

With the falling revenue, savings need to be found.

Two hundred million dollars will be saved in the public sector and another measure to boost the
ailing state coffers will be a tax increase for Queensland's four casinos.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser.

ANDREW FRASER: One of the measures of course relates to removing a discount rate that has applied
to gaming machine revenues in the state's four casinos. That's a measure that's aimed at helping to
continue to returning the Budget to a stable footing, but that money is about keeping the Capital
Program going.

DONNA FIELD: Policy analyst Dr Scott Prasser from the Sunshine Coast University says with an
election looming the Government's economic management is under even more scrutiny.

SCOTT PRASSER: Given the great resources boom that Queensland's been riding on for the last decade
and the tremendous success we've had of property development of people coming and the stamp duties
that have been collected, one would have thought that Queensland should have had enough surplus to
be able to ride that out and not have to go into deficit so quickly.

We don't know at the moment just how bad the recession that's coming is going to be. And whether
government's- federally and state- are reacting too soon.

DONNA FIELD: Now we have an election due in Queensland sometime next year, how will this play
politically for the Government?

SCOTT PRASSER: It's going to be very interesting at election time because the worst thing a
government wants at election time is rising unemployment which what is going to happen in
Queensland especially in some regions in Queensland which are very dependent on tourism, which are
very dependent on property development and housing construction. All those things are coming off
the boil in a very big way.

DONNA FIELD: Treasurer Andrew Fraser is acutely aware of the political implications from the
changing state of the economy.

ANDREW FRASER: The political textbook doesn't tell you that you should put the budget into deficit,
it doesn't tell you that you should talk about the strong decisions that you need to make, tough
decisions that won't necessarily be popular but they happen to be the right thing to do and
ultimately a government worth re-electing is a government that's prepared to do the right thing,
even when it's against its own political interests.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser ending that report from Donna Field.

Facebook group labelled 'racist'

Facebook group labelled 'racist'

The World Today - Tuesday, 9 December , 2008 12:26:00

ELEANOR HALL: The principals of two of Sydney's most prestigious private schools have threatened to
expel any student who's proved to have been involved in an anti-Semitic website.

The Facebook group the 'Jew Parking Appreciation Group' appeared to have been set up by senior
students from Scots College.

The Scots principal says the site is appalling and he'll come down hard if any of his students were
involved.

And the principal of the Kambala School for Girls in the eastern suburbs says she's investigating
the possible involvement of some of her students.

Jewish groups have expressed disgust and an internet expert says the incident shows that young
people need to be better educated about the risks of social networking online.

Michael Edwards has this report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: It may have been just an attempt at schoolyard humour, but a Facebook site called
'The Jew Parking Appreciation Group' has offended the Jewish community which has labelled it
offensive and racist.

Its creators appeared to be students from the Scots College; an exclusive school located in
Sydney's eastern suburbs.

ANDREW LENNOX: I was very shocked to read about this in the papers.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Andrew Lennox is a Scots College old boy and he now has children there.

ANDREW LENNOX: It goes against all the morals and ethics that are taught and spread throughout the
school group.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The group now appears to have been taken off Facebook but it had around 50
members; mostly appearing to be students from prestigious eastern suburbs of Sydney schools.

Chris Cheshire, is an expert in online culture at the University of Sydney. He says online groups
allow a look inside what were previously closed cultures.

CHRIS CHESHIRE: Facebook is a relatively closed network, but if you join a group for example, a
group is a more public thing that a personal profile in a way that the architecture of Facebook is
organised. These are usually a sort of an in-group phenomenon of, you know, anti-Semitism, but a
jokey sort of school yard humour anti-Semitism, suddenly becomes visible and then becomes elevated
to the front page of the newspaper.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: He says many people don't realise what they are doing when they join.

CHRIS CHESHIRE: Essentially they're a form of broadcast, when broadcasting used to be in the
confines of the institutions like the ABC you have lawyers and you have careful vetting of
everything before it goes to air to protect individual journalists and even people who call in to
the open line from those sorts of racial vilification laws or defamation and so on.

I don't think we have fully recognised the extent to which now in everyday use of social networking
sites we actually are exposing ourselves to legal risks and to risks of I guess public humiliation.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Facebook says it reserves the right to remove content which is derogatory,
demeaning, malicious, defamatory, abusive, offensive or hateful.

The story has put the exclusive schools involved into a public relations tailspin.

The Scots College says it has long standing links with the Jewish community.

Its principal, Dr Ian Lambert, says he'll be contacting community groups to express the school's
commitment to racial and religious understanding.

IAN LAMBERT: What I will intend to do is to write to all our community members and affirm you know
our colleges commitment to the diversity of families and the ethos of tolerance and acceptance in
our, the fact that in no way did we endorse any students who promote any level of ethnic hatred or
abuse.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Another of the schools implicated is Kambala; a school for girls situated in Rose
Bay overlooking Sydney Harbour.

Kambala's principal is Margaret White.

MARGARET WHITE: If it were true, I think it would be extremely disappointing. It would against
anything that I've ever seen at Kambala before. We have a number of Jewish students at the school
and have had for many years.

I've never seen any behaviour towards any particular racial group at the school, that would
indicate intolerance. We base our ethos on respect for one another and tolerance for other people
and that is the way that the school operates so if anything like that were to in fact be proven at
any point to be true I would be extremely disappointed.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Margaret White says her staff is investigating whether any Kambala students were
involved. She says any offenders could face expulsion from the school.

ELEANOR HALL: Michael Edwards with our report.

US media empire files for bankruptcy

US media empire files for bankruptcy

The World Today - Tuesday, 9 December , 2008 12:30:00

ELEANOR HALL: One of the top media companies in the United States has filed for bankruptcy sending
shockwaves through the ranks of journalists and editors.

The Tribune, which owns flagship dailies like the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune as well as 23
television stations across the United States, has been hit by falling readership and bad business
decisions.

US political journalist and executive director of the Dart Center, Bruce Shapiro, says the collapse
of the Tribune is a worrying signal about the future of newspapers in the United States.

He spoke to Brigid Glanville

BRUCE SHAPIRO: This is an immensely important milestone in what has, in an ongoing crisis in
American media, and first of all just scale. Tribune Company owns two of the largest circulation in
most important daily newspapers in the country, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

The company owns 23 television stations and actually 12 newspapers all together. So this economic
crisis of Tribune Company really affects news consumers and newsrooms from coast to coast.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Has the Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy more because of bad management and
debt or because fewer people are reading newspapers?

BRUCE SHAPIRO: More the former, but a bit of the later as well. Tribune has its own particular
crisis; it was bought a year ago by a billionaire real estate guy named Samuel Zell who put himself
way into debt to do it and this is on top of a succession of mergers that created the Tribune
Company as it is today that have resulted in a kind of escalating debt. This is typical in the news
business, and there have been a lot of questions about Zell's management of the paper.

At the same time, not so much declining readership as declining advertising linage. This is an
economic crisis generally in the United States and in addition in the US as all over the world news
is being delivered in different ways and there's been a real fall in advertising revenues, both
from the classified side and from the display side.

And the big daily newspapers have not yet figured out how to compete economically in this new
environment.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Are the big American newspapers doing enough to compete to open up to go into new
media, to ensure readership, or do you think this is the beginning of the end of newspapers?

BRUCE SHAPIRO: Well I think that newspapers, newspaper companies are doing a lot there's a
tremendous amount of innovation being driven by newspapers like the New York Times and some of the
Tribunes papers. The question is whether the big institutional model of the newsroom which was
created in the 19th century is based on the idea of news as an industry with a physical plant
that's based on advertising sales with a particular revenue model will survive.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Will the Tribune survive this? Will someone else come in and buy it?

BRUCE SHAPIRO: Bankruptcy protection is designed to let companies reorganise and get themselves out
of debt or find buyers. My suspicion is that someone out there will eventually aquire it. The
problem is that the credit market right now is so tight that even people who would be inclined to
make the slightly insane decision to buy a big newspaper company are going to have a hard time
finding the money to do it.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: What do you think the editors of the other big metropolitan dailies in the United
States is saying this evening looking at the Tribune filing for bankruptcy?

BRUCE SHAPIRO: With few exceptions and there are exceptions to this, they're all sweating and
wondering if they are next.

ELEANOR HALL: Bruce Shapiro a US based journalist and executive director of the Dart Center in
Chicago speaking to Brigid Glanville.

The world according to George W Bush

The world according to George W Bush

The World Today - Tuesday, 9 December , 2008 12:34:00

ELEANOR HALL: With just 42 days to go in his deeply unpopular presidency, George W Bush is hitting
the airwaves to work on creating a positive legacy.

President Bush is completing a round of television interviews that have been tagged the 'legacy
project'.

The next one goes to air this evening in the United States.

But as with much of his presidency, even his retrospective has been ridiculed by satirists, as Lisa
Millar reports

LISA MILLAR: He was renowned for holding fewer press conferences than his predecessors but with a
month and a half to go until he departs President Bush is making a lot of time for the media.

He's doing a round of exit interviews, emphasizing the priorities of the last eight years as well
as responding to the criticisms that have dogged him.

The first interview was with American ABC's Charlie Gibson. It was described as reflective,
apologetic, self-critical, even stunningly candid.

The President sat in front of a roaring fire at Camp David wearing a jacket but no tie. He ranged
across a variety of topics starting with the economy.

CHARLIE GIBSON: But was there an 'uh oh' moment and I could probably use stronger language than
that, when you thought this really could be bad?

GEORGE W BUSH: Well when you have Secretary of the Treasury and the chairman of the Fed say if we
don't act boldly, we could be in a depression greater than the Great Depression that's an 'uh oh'
moment. But the question is, is it worth it to save the system? To safeguard the system and I came
to the conclusion along with other smart people that it is.

LISA MILLAR: And he conceded the election result was a repudiation of Republicans and his
presidency.

GEORGE W BUSH: You know I'm sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me. I think most
people voted for Barack Obama because they decided they wanted him to be in their living room for
the next four years explaining policy. They made a conscious choice to put him in as president.

LISA MILLAR: One of the biggest headline grabbers in that first interview was when he was asked
what he was unprepared for.

GEORGE W BUSH: Well I think I was unprepared for war.

LISA MILLAR: Another interview goes to air on Night Line in America tonight.

In a panel discussion on CNN conservative columnist Stephen Hayes said this was all part of an
ongoing legacy project.

STEPHEN HAYES: We're going to be seeing a lot more of this, I mean there's an ongoing Bush legacy
project that's been meeting in the Whitehouse, really. With senior advisors, Karl Rove, Karen
Hughes has been involved, current senior Bush administration advisors and they are looking at how
to sort of roll out the President's legacy.

LISA MILLAR: There's little in US politics that doesn't end up as fodder on the late night comedy
shows almost predictably Jon Stewart jumped on George Bush's interviews.

GEORGE W BUSH: I think people look at the Whitehouse and say, 'Oh man what a miserable experience
it is'. Some days we're not so happy, some days happy.

JON STEWART: For instance, Sunday/Monday happy days. Tuesday/Wednesday also happy days.
Thursday/Friday happy days.

CHARLIE GIBSON: Do you feel in anyway responsible for what's happening?

GEORGE W BUSH: A lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so
before I arrived in president.

JON STEWART: Before I arrived in president? That doesn't make sense! You know something? I'm going
to miss you so much.

LISA MILLAR: If the public and the media and the pundits aren't giving President Bush enough
credit, it seems he plans on using these last few weeks to do it himself.

He was even interview by his own sister for a national oral history project on public radio.

He told her he came to Washington with a set of values and they haven't changed.

While his critics say he's suffering from a selective memory his supporters have told The World
Today they're convinced this president will eventually be seen as a successful leader. Their only
fear; that it could be decades before the history books reflect that.

ELEANOR HALL: Lisa Millar with our report.

Taliban tightens grip on Afghanistan: report

Taliban tightens grip on Afghanistan: report

The World Today - Tuesday, 9 December , 2008 12:38:00

ELEANOR HALL: An independent report on Afghanistan has found that Taliban forces have dramatically
increased their control of the country in the last year and are now closing in on Kabul.

The policy think-tank The International Council on Security and Development, says that the Taliban
is now a permanent presence in almost three quarters of the country.

But Afghan politicians and NATO leaders have rejected the analysis, saying the situation is not as
bad as the report suggests.

And next year the United States is expected to more than double the size of its force in
Afghanistan to more than 30,000 troops.

Simon Santow has more.

SIMON SANTOW: John McCain may have lost his battle to become the next US president, but the war
hero and political veteran is just the latest visitor to Afghanistan to be shocked by that
country's slide into lawlessness.

JOHN MCCAIN: It's a tough situation there, we're going to have to have additional troops and
additional help. There's a stalemate that exists and we're going to need additional troops. We're
very appreciative of the effort that our British friends and allies have made there, it's been very
important and just as we were able to succeed in Iraq with a strategy and with a kind of tactics
and a sufficient number of troops, we will prevail here as well.

SIMON SANTOW: The International Council on Security and Development says the problem is much worse
than a stalemate.

It's found the Taliban is closing a noose around the capital Kabul with three of the four main
highways into the city now compromised by the group and its supporters.

A year ago it estimated 54 per cent of the country was in the grip of the Taliban, now it says the
figure is more like 72 per cent.

Norine Macdonald is the president of ICOS.

NORINE MACDONALD: The numbers in our report are very dramatic and I think cause for concern. And
what we've said in the report is, those numbers should be taken seriously and should lead to a very
substantial reassessment of our security strategy.

SIMON SANTOW: ICOS came to its conclusions after studying daily insurgent activity reports and also
conducting interviews with locals.

NORINE MACDONALD: If there's an average of one attack or more per week over the course of the year
we've said that that's an area of permanent presence. And then we also have been interviewing
Afghans over the last year and asking them to tell us where they believe there is a Taliban
presence. So it's a combination of a fact based calculation and also based on local perception.

SIMON SANTOW: But the findings are not going down well with some Afghans.

Shukria Barakzai is a member of the Afghan Parliament.

SHUKRIA BARAKZAI: I'm surprised, this is not the truth. If Taliban is that much powerful so where
is these coalition forces and Afghan government themselves?

I don't think the Taliban will be that much powerful. Although there is a lack of security, this is
the truth, the Taliban is still a threat to security and somehow the coalition forces also in some
places they are a threat to security, particularly for civilians. But I completely disagree with
such figures.

SIMON SANTOW: NATO currently commands 50,000 western troops in Afghanistan.

It too says it's easy to confuse perception of Taliban presence with reality on the ground.

Norine Macdonald from ICOS.

NORINE MACDONALD: We actually haven't seen their assessment or their numbers of their methodology
and as I said I'll go back to, we're basing this on public records from third parties of the
attacks where they are in their regularity.

And the perceptions of Afghans on the ground. I don't think there's any argument though that the
security situation has deteriorated dramatically, that there's a Taliban presence closing in on
Kabul.

The American military themselves have said that the first part of the new American surge is going
to be around Kabul city rather than in the south where I think a lot of us had hoped they would be
reinforcing the military. So I think in the fact that they're going around Kabul city with that
first troop surge, really validates the statistics in our report.

SIMON SANTOW: The Afghan President Hamid Karzai is under increasing pressure to negotiate with the
Taliban and its leader Mullah Omar, if and it's a big if, the Taliban will agree to talks.

HAMID KARZAI: If I hear from him that he is willing to come to Afghanistan or to negotiate for
peace and for the wellbeing Afghan and see that our children are not killed anymore, I as the
President of Afghanistan will go any length to provide him protection.

SIMON SANTOW: Saudi Arabia and Turkey are just two countries which have said they are willing to
play peacemaker.

The US and Great Britain both recognise there's a much greater chance of bringing peace to
Afghanistan if the solution is a local one and not one seen to be imposed by the West.

ELEANOR HALL: Simon Santow reporting.

Australia challenged on climate change goals

Australia challenged on climate change goals

The World Today - Tuesday, 9 December , 2008 12:42:00

ELEANOR HALL: Ten thousand people have descended on the small Polish town of Poznan for the UN
climate change conference.

But some spectators say it has been uninspiring and dogged by infighting.

A Scandinavian think-tank is calling on Australia to take a leading role at the conference, when
the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, arrives today.

And Council member and former Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery, says he wants Australia to
adopt the sort of ambitious targets mooted by US President-elect Barack Obama.

Rachael Brown compiled this report.

RACHAEL BROWN: The UN climate change conference at Poznan is seen as the mid-road marker, between
last December's talks in Bali and the global agreement hoped for at next year's conference in
Copenhagen.

TIM FLANNERY: Everyone seems to be waiting and looking at everyone else wondering who's going to
jump into the pool first, that plus the last days of the Bush presidency are all combining to make
this a less than inspiring meeting.

RACHAEL BROWN: Professor Tim Flannery, the chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council, is in Poland
presenting its aspirations for next year's conference.

He says so far the current UN conference has been plagued by European power negotiations.

TIM FLANNERY: It's partly due to the cycles of the European Parliament and the way they work, but
also due to the difficulties that the negotiations are facing. Poland for example is really holding
out against any sort of imposition on it. It argues that it already faces energy poverty and that
any attempt to say put a price on carbon will have a detrimental impact on it.

RACHAEL BROWN: Professor Flannery says Australia needs to take a much greater leadership role in
the talks, starting with a steeper emissions reduction target than the one the Federal Government
is expected to announce, of between five and 15 per cent by 2020.

TIM FLANNERY: There is very little gain in going with the herd if that results in a treaty that
costs us the Great Barrier Reef and costs us most of our biodiversity in the Kakadu wetlands and so
forth.

RACHAEL BROWN: He wants Australia to follow the lead of the US.

TIM FLANNERY: If you calibrate that against what President-elect Obama's position is which is 20
per cent below the 1990 levels by 2020 and then 80 per cent below that by 2050. So the sort of
targets that we're juggling with are hardly leadership position targets. The Europeans are looking
at you know, perhaps 20 per cent below to 30 per cent below if other people join them.

RACHAEL BROWN: And he wants Australia's Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, to use this week's
conference as a chance to step up.

TIM FLANNERY: I hope that Penny takes away from this a sense that the world needs leadership. These
negotiations are not going as smoothly as we would hope. We have so little leadership in our modern
political world you could come away from this meeting very dismayed if you weren't a very
determined sort of person.

I hope Penny's determined, I hope she can come in there and see the need for her to have a relish
for change, to look forward to actually transforming our economy and making it cleaner and more
efficient.

RACHAEL BROWN: Yesterday, Australia's advisor on climate change, Professor Ross Garnaut, warned
developed nations shouldn't simply rely on exemplary targets to inspire countries like China and
India to fall into line.

But Professor Flannery says he's seen lots of signs that China is prepared to engage.

ROSS GARNAUT: That's less true of India, but certainly in the case of China we're seeing real
interest in this and the Copenhagen Climate Council was in Beijing just three weeks ago meeting
with senior politicians in China and also we've seen new bureaucrats. All of the indications we had
whether China would be engaging at some level at Cop15 in Copenhagen.

RACHAEL BROWN: And he says China is starting to see a new world of economic opportunity opening up
in the wake of a successful treaty.

ROSS GARNAUT: There are a number of industries that are just poised to make absolute windfall
profits should a successful treaty be negotiated. One of them is Doctor Chi's Suntech solar panel
business. He's already producing panels which generate electricity at the cost of about 12 cents a
kilowatt hour. So once you get solar power becoming so cheap it's a real game changer, so I think
that there are a lot of temptations for the Chinese as well, it's not just liabilities.

RACHAEL BROWN: Professor Flannery says while it's too to tell if next year's Copenhagen conference
will provide an effective treaty, he says he's watching a slow alignment of forces that will give
the planet its best shot.

ROSS GARNAUT: I'm optimistic because resistance is a suicidal tactic, you know we understand that
this is a very, very serious problem. This round of negotiations is likely to be our last chance as
a species to deal with the problem. I can't say I'm optimistic but I'm just bloody determined that
at least I'm going to give it my best shot to make sure that that is understood and I do what I can
to make sure that we get an effective treaty.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Professor Tim Flannery from the Copenhagen Climate Council, ending that report
by Rachael Brown

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