Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts.These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
RN World Today -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Graham Richardson facing Swiss bank account allegations

Graham Richardson facing Swiss bank account allegations

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:10:00

Reporter: Brigid Glanville

ELEANOR HALL: Revelations about a Swiss bank account have raised questions about whether Labor
Party powerbroker and former federal minster Graham Richardson will face further investigation over
his alleged links to the Offset Alpine scandal.

The Australian Financial Review says it has documents which show that Mr Richardson was instructing
a Swiss finance company on the direction of large sums of money, despite his previous denials that
he had any links to Swiss bank accounts.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is still investigating the role played by Mr
Richardson, the late stockbroker Rene Rivkin and businessman Trevor Kennedy in the share scandal of
the 1990s.

A criminal lawyer says this new evidence could see criminal charges being laid against the former

Brigid Glanville has our report.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: The Australian Financial Review says it has documents that show that in 1994
Graham Richardson transferred $1-million into the account of an unknown man in Beirut.

It also says evidence shows that large sums of money passed through Mr Richardson's Zurich bank

This new evidence contradicts what Graham Richardson has told the Australian Securities and
Investments Commission in the past. In a sworn testimony Mr Richardson denied having any links to
Swiss bank accounts.

Neil Chenoweth is a reporter with The Financial Review who has seen the Swiss bank account with Mr
Richardson's name on it.

NEIL CHENOWETH: It looks like his role in the Swiss accounts was far more extensive than we had
known. It looks like something like 4.5 to $5-million flowed through that the first account but
also he had a much more active second account there as well.

And the most interesting thing seems to be this transfer that Graham Richardson signed in 1994
where a million dollars was transferred from this second Swiss bank account of his to an account in
Beirut. The name on this account was Dennis Jamil Lattous. The real question is why is Graham
Richardson in 1994 sending over a million dollars to someone in Beirut?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Peter Faris QC is a Melbourne criminal lawyer who has been following the Offset
Alpine printing company share scandal for many years. He says if ASIC chooses to investigate this
new information it may lead to perjury charges.

PETER FARIS: I would imagine if they can get the evidence together they'd be looking at this with
relation to a perjury charge for giving false evidence before ASIC when he denied he had Swiss bank
accounts if they can prove it. Apparently they're already looking at the other bank account that
everyone knew about so this would join it. So he'd be at risk at the moment I would have thought of
an investigation into two perjuries.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: And perjury has maximum sentences does it?

PETER FARIS: Oh yes. Perjury for this would be regarded as being a very serious crime and he'd
certainly be at risk of going to jail if convicted. But of course he's presumed to be innocent.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Graham Richardson was also involved in a dispute with the Australian Tax Office
over the share scandal.

It's reported Mr Richardson settled a $1.4-million dispute with the tax office two months ago - a
figure much lower than the $4.6-million The Financial Review is now alleging it's linked to Mr

Questions are now being asked over whether the Australian Tax Office may now have another look at
Mr Richardson's business affairs. The ATO was unavailable for comment but a senior tax expert told
The World Today it would have the discretion to re-open the case.

Melbourne lawyer Peter Faris QC:

PETER FARIS: It's the criminal aspect of it in that it may be a fraud on the taxation commissioner,
depending on how it's all done and what you've declared, but they don't seem to be going down that
route because they, I think the tax office recently settled their claims against Richardson with
him for, I think it was more than a million dollars.

Now I think that ASIC have had these documents about the second Swiss bank account for a couple of
years. One would have hoped the tax office knew about them when they settled up. I would have
thought the settlement would be for all liabilities.

The tax office could look at prosecuting for fraud but I think that's unlikely as they've let the
other one go.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Graham Richardson didn't return any of The World Today's phone calls. ASIC was
unavailable for comment but did say its investigations into Offset Alpine are continuing.

ELEANOR HALL: Brigid Glanville with that report.

Federal Government nominates nation-building projects

Federal Government nominates nation-building projects

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:14:00

Reporter: David Mark

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government is certainly not slowing down before Christmas.

Today in Sydney the Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese revealed which nation building
projects are most likely to receive Federal funding.

The Government has set aside more than $12-billion through the Building Australia Fund to construct
roads, railways and ports and an audit of the most needy projects has been done and this morning
that list was released.

David Mark was at the Minister's press conference and he joins us now.

So David, what projects are on the list?

DAVID MARK: Well Eleanor there are 94 projects on this list so obviously it's a bit of a wish list.
It's been combined by Infrastructure Australia which was the body the Government set up to advise
it on what areas are most in need of infrastructure spending.

The wish list will be whittled down to a priority list later but looking at the big ticket items
road and rail are the big winners. So for instance we've got $4-billion for a freight rail corridor
in North Sydney; $14-billion for an inner city rail upgrade in Brisbane; almost $5-million for a
CBD metro in Sydney, the one that we've heard the State Government talk about and drop recently;
almost $3-billion for light rail in the ACT.

The list goes on - another $4.75-billion for the F3 to M2 link in Sydney; money in Melbourne for a
freight road, an alternative to West Gate Bridge.

So road and rail are the big winners.

ELEANOR HALL: There were suggestions that New South Wales would get a significant injection of
Federal funding. Does that appear to be the case?

DAVID MARK: Well looking through this list of 94 projects, the ones I read out, the money appears
to be spread fairly evenly although I would say that it appears that the eastern States are the big
winners. There doesn't seem to be a great deal of money for Western Australia. Looking through this
list it seems that most of the money appears to be going to New South Wales, Queensland and
Victoria at first glance.

ELEANOR HALL: Now this is as you say a wish list. When do we get the final list and who decides

DAVID MARK: The final list will be determined by Infrastructure Australia and that priority list
will be presented to the Federal Government early next year, in the first quarter of next year. The
Federal Government will then decide which projects will actually get the money.

ELEANOR HALL: And did it put a deadline on that?

DAVID MARK: It didn't. It made the point, Anthony Albanese the Infrastructure Minister made the
point that this is a decades long process. It's not something that's going to happen immediately.
We know there's $12-billion in the Building Australia Fund but this is a project, these projects
will be spread out over the next several decades.

ELEANOR HALL: Now $12-billion is a lot for the Government to be spending but the Federal Government
said it was anticipating private sector involvement to bolster these public funds. Did the Minister
today express any concern about that private funding not flowing through, given the economic

DAVID MARK: He didn't express any concerns at all but you're right, the Government made it quite
clear that it expects the private sector will have to pay a considerable amount of money. It's got
$12.6-billion in the Building Australia Fund by the Minister said repeatedly that we'll have to
have public private partnerships to get these projects up and going.

But the chairman of Infrastructure Australia Sir Rod Eddington did make it clear that the global
financial crisis will affect these projects in the short term. But as I said before, they stressed
this is a decades long process. But as I said, the global financial crisis, according to Sir Rod
Eddington, will affect the availability of funds in the short term.

ROD EDDINGTON: The global financial crisis obviously has had a substantial impact on private sector
capital availability, we know that, and that will clearly influence the amount of monies that are
available from the private sector in the short term. But historically, economic downturns globally
have lasted one, two, three years. What we've been asked to do by the Government is to provide a
pipeline of projects for their consideration for one, two, three decades.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Sir Rod Eddington, the chair of Infrastructure Australia and David Mark the
reporter at that press conference to release that list this morning.

Another Australian dies in Afghanistan

Another Australian dies in Afghanistan

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:18:00

Reporter: Alison Caldwell

ELEANOR HALL: While the Prime Minister was addressing Australian troops in Afghanistan yesterday,
another Australian soldier was killed.

Stuart Nash was a young Australian rifleman serving with the British Army in Helmand province.

The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today expressed sadness over his death and said it was a reminder of
the extreme danger faced by all those in the field.

Alison Caldwell has our report.

ALISON CALDWELL: Twenty-one-year-old Stuart Nash's military career was short lived. He enlisted in
March and only graduated from training at the Catterick base in northern England in September.

Born in Sydney, he had joint Australian-British citizenship.

Major Chris Willis is a spokesman for the British Riflemen.

CHRIS WILLIS: Tragically he was with us only for a very short time. He didn't start serving with us
until October of this year. His role at the time the incident took place was that he was providing
supporting fire to his comrades when he was actually hit.

ALISON CALDWELL: In a statement Stuart Nash's parents Bill and Amanda Nash said they were shattered
by the news. They say their son was doing what he most wanted to do in life, having harboured a
wish for a military career since joining the cadets when he was just 13 years old.

Offering his support and prayers to the Nash family, the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says Rifleman
Nash's death is a reminder of the extreme danger in Afghanistan. He said any death in Afghanistan
in support of the cause for which we are fighting there has to be honoured.

Since the invasion began in 2001, there have been 965 Coalition deaths in Afghanistan as part of
Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force.

The vast majority of British fatalities have taken place since the redeployment of British forces
to the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province in 2006.

Major Chris Willis again:

CHRIS WILLIS: I have to say that our troops often come under fire. They're always being observed by
Taliban and the insurgents. I think you soon learn really to just expect anything at any time. The
element of surprise is something that the enemy forces tend to use to their advantage.

ALISON CALDWELL: Stuart Nash is the eighth Australian soldier to be killed. With at least 280
coalition deaths this year alone, 2008 has been the deadliest year for foreign military troops
since the invasion began.

Neil James is with the Australian Defence Association.

NEIL JAMES: Well Helmand and Kandahar are the two provinces down in the south where you'd have the
say the bulk of the fighting against the Taliban is being done and the British and the Americans in
Helmand have been particularly busy. It's always been a traditional Taliban stronghold and it's one
of the main centres of resistance to the Karzai Government.

ALISON CALDWELL: Is it the case that when it comes to Australia's combat operations, mainly special
forces carry out the bulk of the work whereas with the British approach regular infantry regiments
like the Rifles, which Stuart Nash belong to, are sent to the front line? Is that right?

NEIL JAMES: Well I mean everyone in a war is on the front line at some stage. You know you've got
to look at this carefully. In Oruzgan which wouldn't have the same degree of fighting as Helmand
and Kandahar provinces, we're the junior partner to the Dutch. We each provide different
capabilities. The Dutch provide the bulk of the infantry and we provide the bulk of the special
forces and they do different types of jobs in the province.

But we have some infantry and cavalry in Oruzgan, protecting the mentoring and reconstruction task
force and they do fighting as well.

ALISON CALDWELL: Stuart Nash enlisted in Britain in March this year and he only graduated from
training in northern England in September. Is that unusual to see someone who's just almost pretty
much straight out of school getting killed?

NEIL JAMES: Look, look tragically it's not unusual. It's certainly not, it's not usual. My soldiers
who are sent into action have a bit more experience than that. But it's entirely possible to be in
combat within about six months of enlistment because recruit training takes generally speaking
about three months and infantry core training takes about another three, so it's actually quite
possible for people to get into combat within a relatively short time.

ALISON CALDWELL: His parents say that he went to join British forces so that he could get a better
opportunity to, quote, "do real soldiering". What do they mean by that?

NEIL JAMES: Well some people have the attitude that the Australian military for many years were
mainly doing peacekeeping and not combat whereas the British army, because of their wider
deployments around the world actually tended to see a bit more combat. That certainly hasn't been
true over the last five or 10 years. And so you get young Australians end up joining the British
army for one reason or another.

I'd have to say though there's probably a lot more Brits who have ended up in the Australian
military over the years.

We've been lucky that our casualty rate has been lower than many of our Coalition partners but the
idea that we can fight a war and not sustain casualties is just a complete myth.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Australian Defence Association's Neil James ending that report by Alison

Qantas merger speculation switches to Asia

Qantas merger speculation switches to Asia

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:22:00

Reporter: Simon Santow

ELEANOR HALL: It was a headline grabbing courtship but it seems the marriage between British
Airways and Qantas won't be going ahead after all. Both airlines have confirmed that the merger
talks are off, at least for now.

But aviation watchers suggest that the future for Qantas might be better served by a tie up with an
Asian based airline.

Simon Santow has our report.

SIMON SANTOW: With the two airlines worth about the same, it was always going to be a merger rather
than a takeover.

But the problem was that neither British Airways or Qantas wanted to be the junior partner in a new
combined super carrier. So the prospect of creating the world's largest airline hit turbulence very
early on.

PETER HARBISON: Nobody really understood what the logic was of having such a merger in terms of the
upside and then suddenly before we blink it's gone again.

SIMON SANTOW: Then there was BA's pension plan and a huge unfunded liability as well as the fact
there was another suitor with Spanish airline Iberia and British Airways holding separate talks.

Peter Harbison is the chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

PETER HARBISON: We're on the cusp of a whole new liberalisation of the industry which involves
ownership changes. We're obviously in a very, very dire financial position in most cases in terms
of passenger demand particularly. So these talks will be going on. And it's to some extent it's
really necessary to be out there talking to other people because if you're not, you may miss out on
some long term opportunities.

SIMON SANTOW: Analyst Brent Mitchell from Shaw Stockbroking believes Qantas needs to look to Asia
if it's to pursue a merger.

BRENT MITCHELL: Malaysian Airlines have shown some interest or the Malaysian Government has shown
some interest. But certainly there are certain cost savings and synergies within the Asian area
that could be attractive for Qantas.

SIMON SANTOW: So there's no risk at all in seeking a tie up with an Asian airline of going over the
same ground or of competing with each other?

BRENT MITCHELL: Oh look I think Asia is a slightly different context than Europe and certainly BA,
and BA certainly has that flag carrying representation for the UK. I think the airline industry in
Asia is more competitive. And I think it doesn't necessarily have the same structural impediments
that BA would have.

SIMON SANTOW: And Brent Mitchell says Qantas is already active in the region looking for cost

BRENT MITCHELL: There are a number of things coming up such as heavy maintenance on the A380s and
the 787s that needs to be determined and to set up a heavy maintenance facility for those new
aircraft requires significant investment and they may seek to have that done offshore and that
would further lower the cost base.

SIMON SANTOW: But when it comes to merger opportunities, Peter Harbison believes Qantas management
is still looking towards Europe despite a shortage of eligible partners.

PETER HARBISON: BA was obviously one and there's a big history there. Other one's though include,
of the big parties, the Air France KLM SkyTeam group. There's Lufthansa who heads the Star
Alliance. That one I think is probably not likely because certainly Lufthansa would want to be a
very dominant partner in that.

SIMON SANTOW: It was Qantas' recently departed boss Geoff Dixon who first advocated the theory that
an airline needs to grow to survive challenging economic times.

If he's right, his replacement Alan Joyce will need to move quickly over the coming months to find
another deal which will ensure the "flying kangaroo" is in no danger of extinction.

ELEANOR HALL: Simon Santow reporting.

Motorists warned of Christmas fuel shortages

Motorists warned of Christmas fuel shortages

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:26:00

Reporter: Nicole Butler

ELEANOR HALL: A major failure at a Caltex refinery in Brisbane has led to a fuel shortage just in
time for the Christmas driving season.

Some service stations in Queensland and New South Wales have already run out of diesel, unleaded
petrol and E10 fuels.

But motorists are being asked not to panic buy.

In Brisbane, Nicole Butler reports.

NICOLE BUTLER: With so many people travelling to see family and friends over Christmas the only
thing as bad as pub with no beer is petrol stations without fuel.

But that's the sight that's greeted motorists in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales
this morning. Price placards are blank and bowsers are taped up - at least at Caltex stations and
the ones the fuel giant supplies.

This attendant from a Caltex station on Brisbane's Westside says it's been a stressful morning.

ATTENDANT: Well we've run out of every type of fuel - 95, 98, unleaded and diesel. They were pretty
much just selling stock from inside and having people drive off on us.

NICOLE BUTLER: Caltex is running low on stock after a major failure at its Port of Brisbane
refinery last Friday.

Company spokeswoman Georgie Wells says production levels have dropped since the shutdown and there
isn't enough fuel to go around.

GEORGIE WELLS: Now the shortages will impact diesel, unleaded and both forms of premium unleaded,
as well as E10 in the coming days and it's due to the unplanned shutdown of Caltex's Lytton

Now it's being progressively brought back to full production in line with normal operating
procedures but as a result we have had to restrict the total supply of fuel from the refinery and
as a result of that stock outs can be expected at various service stations.

NICOLE BUTLER: Ms Wells says Caltex is exploring all options to supplement supplies.

GEORGIE WELLS: Including local purchases from other refineries and the sourcing of imports. We've
also put arrangements in place to ensure that emergency services vehicles remain supplied with fuel
and we do apologise to any customers.

NICOLE BUTLER: John Hallem runs the only petrol station in the Central Queensland town of Capella.
He ran out of diesel this morning and he says Caltex bosses have asked him to ration supplies when
they come.

JOHN HALLEM: They're urging me to hang on to that for emergency services because we have ambulance
and fire brigade and police in Capella that fuel up at my service station. He's saying, "I'm urging
you when you do get it to limit it out because we don't know what's going to happen with further

NICOLE BUTLER: Mr Hallem says the fuel crisis could see people could be stuck in the tiny town.

JOHN HALLEM: For anyone who has a diesel vehicle today and cannot, and doesn't have enough to drive
to Emerald, 53 kilometres away, they will have to stay. There is no fuel.

NICOLE BUTLER: Gary Fites from the peak motoring body RACQ agrees the impact will be widespread.
There are around 400 Caltex stations in Queensland alone and Mr Fites says he's been told lots of
service stations are running low on fuel.

GARY FITES: But let's keep this in perspective. On a normal drive to work as of today at least most
of Brisbane drivers would have seen more service stations with fuel than those with any shortages.
So I think we need that in perspective in terms of making sure that we don't have any panic buying.

NICOLE BUTLER: Mr Fites says panic buying will only make the situation that much more difficult for
people who do need to travel over Christmas.

GARY FITES: And we'll also provide I guess further reason or justification for the industry to lift
its prices.

NICOLE BUTLER: Has there already been a spike in prices? I noticed like Wednesday the fuel was
under 90 cents and now it's closer to $1.

GARY FITES: No that's because that happens 52 weeks of the year. I know there's a lot of
speculation, indeed urban myth about Christmas petrol prices but when one, you know, stretches the
memory back a week or so one realises this happens every week of the year in south-east Queensland.

NICOLE BUTLER: Caltex is one of the two refineries in Queensland. Mr Fites says the fuel giant
supplies independent servos and some of the other major companies under product sharing
arrangements. He says those outlets will be looking for additional supplies which should be easy to
source because the world is literally afloat with refined oil products.

But Mr Fites agrees the reduced supply in Queensland and New South Wales over the break will have a
negative impact on station owners.

ELEANOR HALL: Nicole Butler in Brisbane with that report.

Former Customs officer loses appeal against leak conviction

Former Customs officer loses appeal against leak conviction

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:30:00

Reporter: Brendan Trembath

ELEANOR HALL: A former Australian Customs officer has lost his appeal against his conviction for
leaking classified information.

Allan Kessing was found guilty last year of leaking reports about Sydney Airport security to a
newspaper. The court will release its final judgement later today. But the retired public servant
maintains he didn't leak the document and he says his legal bills will wipe out his superannuation.

Brendan Trembath has our report.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The former Customs officer Allan Kessing is running out of options. Today he
learned that he's lost an appeal against his conviction for leaking classified information to The
Australian newspaper in 2005.

ALLAN KESSING: My position is I'm just another nobody with a conviction and a piece of litter in
the wind.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Allan Kessing's conviction was reviewed by three Supreme Court judges. They
included Justice Virginia Bell who is moving onwards and upwards to the High Court.

Allan Kessing could try to challenge his loss in the High Court but there's no guarantee the court
will agree to hear the case or that he'll be able to fund such an appeal. He says his
superannuation has been wiped out by legal fees.

ALLAN KESSING: I just cannot believe the decision that's been reached and we're going to study the
judgement or the reasons now but I'm just devastated. I mean this is basically 3.5 years of my life
has just been trashed and it hasn't finished yet.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: To this day the former Customs officer maintains he didn't leak confidential
information to The Australian three years ago, though he's told reporters he and his colleagues
were frustrated that information they prepared was rejected.

ALLAN KESSING: I have never been asked: did you do this? I mainly, you know, I've just sat there
bemused by the whole thing. I mean it's pretty obvious why they needed a victim and I was the
obvious one because I was retired and had no resources to fight it. I mean the other, my other
colleagues would still be in the CPSU so they'd have the backing from that. But no they just needed
a victim. They got one and who cares what happens to little people?

REPORTER: Did you actually do it?

ALLAN KESSING: Of course not, no, this is my point throughout. Not only did I not do it; it was
patently obvious to anyone with half a brain who did do it.

REPORTER: But you still think it was the right thing to have been done?

ALLAN KESSING: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. It was a matter under discussion for 18 months, two
years. In fact see the point about...

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Do you mean with your colleagues, you discussed amongst yourselves...

ALLAN KESSING: Amongst the colleagues, yes, yes. They were so annoyed with this because I was
retiring anyway. I'd done my job. I was asked to write the report. I wrote the reports. They were
submitted; they were rejected as is fairly common in any large organisation. I went on to other
things as I say I was retiring. But my colleagues who still had careers ahead of them were very
unhappy with the rejection of the reports. And you know, if you want to look at it in terms of
security and safety very few of those issues have been addressed.

REPORTER: There was an inquiry that followed though...

ALLAN KESSING: Yes, which reinforced everything that was in my reports, yes.

REPORTER: Vindicated your position, yes.


REPORTER: But do you think there has not been satisfactory change since?

ALLAN KESSING: Well we know there haven't been. I mean there was a report a few months ago saying
that they've only just now got some new surveillance cameras in. I mean we're talking five years
after the event. I wrote these reports in 2002, 2003. Five years later they've finally managed to
put up a few cameras. But the actual procedures haven't changed.

REPORTER: What position are you left in personally now?

ALLAN KESSING: Well my superannuation is gone. I'm a 60-year-old retired man. I mean I've come down
here on my pensioner ticket today. So yes I'll be relying on the taxpayer in another couple of
years when I had hoped to fund my own retirement.

ELEANOR HALL: That's former Customs officer Allan Kessing speaking to reporters including Brendan

Sydney retailers optimistic, despite economic turmoil

Sydney retailers optimistic, despite economic turmoil

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:34:00

Reporter: Michael Edwards

ELEANOR HALL: With the global financial crisis drying up credit and confidence worldwide Australian
retailers have been bracing for a tough Christmas trading season.

But the Federal Government has been handing out billions of dollars to try to get people into the

Michael Edwards took to the streets of Sydney's busy central business district to gauge the mood.

(Shopping mall music.)

FEMALE 1: All right, $59.95.

FEMALE 2: Okay, thank you.

FEMALE 1: How are you going to pay for that?

FEMALE 2: Credit please.

FEMALE 1: Okay.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Christmas, the season of celebration, is also a crucial sales period for

FEMALE 1: And just sign here please.

ARTHUR LICHAA: Hugo Boss suits, we carry Studio Italia, we carry Giorgio Cavalli, we carry Senator.
We carry...

MICHAEL EDWARDS: In the heart of Sydney's CBD Arthur Lichaa runs a men's clothing store. He's
worked there for the past 35 years so he says he's in a good position to judge the Christmas retail

Arthur Lichaa says this year despite a slow start sales have picked up.

ARTHUR LICHAA: The sales lead up to Christmas has been a little bit slow but it has been good. I
think the money which was given to the pensioners and to the young people has sort of made them
realise to buy a few Christmas presents and we've been busy on the Christmas stuff.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The Pitt Street Mall in Sydney's CBD is one of the city's major retail areas, a
place where a wide cross section of society go to shop for Christmas.

Marianne Davies runs an antique store just off the mall. She says all of the coverage that the
global economic crisis received in the media made her nervous in the lead up to the Christmas

MARIANNE DAVIES: It did make us very nervous because we weren't sure whether people would be
spending money and with what's being told in the news and what people are watching I felt that they
were feeling rather apprehensive about spending money at Christmas time.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: She says so far this Christmas, sales have been good.

MARIANNE DAVIES: They've been excellent this year. I haven't noticed a downturn at all.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: How about compared to last year?

MARIANNE DAVIES: Our figures have actually been better than they were last year.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Many other stores in Sydney's CBD also expressed this mood of optimism. The
manager of a large bookstore told The World Today he was above budget this December. At an
electronic goods stores the manager there said sales of DVDS and computer games were especially

Brendan King runs Crumpler, a store which sells specialised luggage and accessories.

BRENDAN KING: I guess we've got a lot of new kind of new products out that have been really
successful so yeah.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: So the mood of doom and gloom hasn't translated into sales?

BRENDAN KING: No, I don't think so. I mean I think people at the end of the day if they want
something enough they're going to get it, regardless of whether they've got money or not.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Total retail sales in December last year were $23.4-billion. The chief economist
at ANZ Saul Eslake estimates this season the figure could be between $24-billion to $24.5-billion.
But he's not sure 2009 will be such a good year for retailers.

SAUL ESLAKE: Obviously we're looking at a significant rise in unemployment during 2009 although as
of November there hadn't been much rise in unemployment yet. And as unemployment rises more visibly
will be inclined I think to be more cautious about spending, not only those unfortunate people who
lose their jobs but those who become concerned that they could be the next to lose their jobs will
be reigning in their spending.

So although Christmas spending may be okay, there are some significant clouds on the outlook for
consumer spending through 2009.

ADAM: Current affairs magazine. Help the homeless, disadvantaged, yes it's the Big Issue Christmas

MICHAEL EDWARDS: And back out on the Pitt Street Mall not everyone is feeling a yuletide surge of
consumer confidence.

Adam sells the Big Issue magazine. He's seen a big drop in sales.

ADAM: I think it might be because of the stock exchange thing that happened. I think it's affected
the economy or something. People are scared I think maybe and I don't know there's just lack of
sales, lack of donations. Not as good as last year or the year before.

ELEANOR HALL: And that story on Christmas retail trade compiled by Michael Edwards.

Royal Commission for Palm Island unlikely

Royal Commission for Palm Island unlikely

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:38:00

Reporter: Annie Guest

ELEANOR HALL: Queensland's Premier Anna Bligh says she is not convinced that a Royal Commission
into the Palm Island affair is necessary.

Yesterday a court ordered that a coronial inquest into the 2004 death-in-custody be re-opened,
setting aside earlier findings that a policeman repeatedly hit an Aboriginal prisoner.

But critics want a more broad ranging inquiry to examine all aspects of divisive case.

In Brisbane, Annie Guest reports.

ANNIE GUEST: Disappointment is the sentiment among Palm Islanders today, according to resident
Robert Blackley.

ROBERT BLACKLEY: It's an unwelcome Christmas gift for a down and out community that doesn't need
this at this time.

ANNIE GUEST: The former mayor describes a community that's calm but increasingly disillusioned.

A court yesterday set aside some of the more damning findings that Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley
repeatedly used force against Mulrunji Doomadgee before he died of severe internal injuries on the
floor of a cell.

The court ordered the coronial inquest be re-opened to re-examine the evidence.

The death and four years following has been a complex and sorry saga that's included a riot,
inquiries, court cases, concerns about police, question marks over the DPP, suicides, jailings, and
bravery awards for police.

Robert Blackley wants a broad and detailed examination.

ROBERT BLACKLEY: I think it's high time that we really open this up and investigate the whole story
again with a Royal Commission.

ANNIE GUEST: What sort of evidence do you think a Royal Commission could hear that another Coronial
inquest couldn't?

ROBERT BLACKLEY: I just think it's got more authority and more power. I'm obviously not a lawyer so
I couldn't tell you off the top of my head but I know there's suppression orders on particular

ANNIE GUEST: Some people would argue that Royal Commissions are not always effectual. For instance,
not all of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody have been
carried out. What do you say to that?

ROBERT BLACKLEY: I only want one recommendation out of this and that's Chris Hurley be re-tried.

ANNIE GUEST: What are relations like at the moment between the community and police?

ROBERT BLACKLEY: Well they're slightly strained at the moment due to the fact that the pub is
closed and police have to search people for any alcohol that may have been brought in. So there's a
bit of, it wasn't the right climate really with the tension that's already here with alcohol and
the searches. But in general you know we get on well with a lot of the police. We've been calm for
four years. I don't see any upset about it other than just the general disappointment in the

ANNIE GUEST: Queensland's Premier Anna Bligh has dampened hopes of a Royal Commission.

ANNA BLIGH: Well this has been through numerous legal processes. I'm not convinced that a Royal
Commission would identify anything further that hasn't already been the subject of extensive legal
consideration. But this has been a very difficult and traumatic event and I'd certainly be
interested in seeing the outcome of the Coroner's inquiry which will now proceed as a result of
yesterday's decision.

ANNIE GUEST: Speaking through the police union, Sergeant Hurley said he's satisfied with the
decision, but also that there are no winners in the case.

The District Court did not set aside the central conclusion that Sergeant Hurley caused Mulrunji's
death. Rather it set aside specific findings that the policeman responded to Mulrunji with
"physical force" hitting him while he was on the floor "a number of times".

The Doomadgee family plans to appeal against the re-opening of the inquest. Queensland has only
gained a dedicated Coronial Court in recent years. The academic who wrote a review that helped
inform the laws governing the court says re-opening the inquest could equate to a new inquiry.

Professor Justin Malbon is now at the Monash University Law School.

JUSTIN MALBON: Generally speaking what the Coroner will do is start afresh.

ELEANOR HALL: And that report by Annie Guest in Brisbane.

Antarctic chief steps down

Antarctic chief steps down

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:42:00

Reporter: Karen Barlow

ELEANOR HALL: The head of Australia's Antarctic Division says the southern continent is in
relatively good shape despite concerns about the impact of global warming.

But Dr Tony Press says there is great pressure on Antarctica and that this will only increase as
international interest continues to rise in its resources.

Dr Press is about to step down as Australia's Antarctic chief and he spoke to Karen Barlow.

KAREN BARLOW: Dr Tony Press may not have physically worked in Antarctica every day of the past 10
years, but has the head of Australia's Antarctic Division he could feel the remote continent's

TONY PRESS: It does hold people passion. it captures people. But it is also fascinating because
politically it is the place where the first nuclear disarmament treaty in effect was made. The
Antarctic Treaty banned nuclear arms in the late 1950s and early 60s and set aside Antarctica as a
place for peace and science.

KAREN BARLOW: Dr Press says Antarctica is still a place of peace and science and environmentally
the continent is what he calls in fabulous shape. He says it has not been threatened by the recent
introduction of the Antarctic air flights, a project he is proud to have overseen.

TONY PRESS: Look the science that we are doing in Antarctica is so important and will be
increasingly important as we get to understand what direction climate change is happening and how
quickly it might affect the globe. Being able to get scientists in and out of Antarctica quickly to
do that really important research is one of the legacies that I am very proud of.

KAREN BARLOW: Well that's while it remains a service for scientists but fishers, miners and
tourists all want to get down there.

TONY PRESS: Yeah look it is still an incredibly expensive place to do operations and I foreshadow
that for many years to come most of the tourism activity will still occur on the Antarctic
Peninsula south of South America where the distances are short and it is relatively easily
accessible for tourists.

I don't see any mining occuring there for physical reasons but also for political reasons. I
foreshadow that the ban on Antarctic mining will continue for many, many years.

KAREN BARLOW: Which leaves the icy continent in the realm of science and one of the most important
scientific works going on there is ice core surveys to understand climate history.

TONY PRESS: So some of the best climate records that the world has are from Antarctic ice cores.
Ice cores so far have gone back to 860,000 years and some of the work Australians and others around
the world are doing in Antarctica is to try and find an ice core that goes back over a million
years so that we can map a very long period of climate history to understand how climate might
change in the future.

KAREN BARLOW: Apart from the legacy of the Antarctic air flights, Dr Tony Press is most proud that
the human foot print on the continent has been reduced. He says all countries have begun to change
the way they conduct operations in the mostly pristine environment.

TONY PRESS: We just had the Belgians designing and constructing a self sufficient station and one
that can be picked up and taken away when they're finished with it and that is the way of the
future for operating in Antarctica - a very light footprint, as much sustainable energy as can be
developed on the site, and the ability to get up and leave the place without leaving anything

KAREN BARLOW: Tony Press says Antarctica is extremely important to Australia, not only because of
the claim to 42 per cent of the continent. It influences Australia's weather and the global climate
and Dr Press says there is the prestige of having one of the world's best Antarctic scientific

Tony Press is staying with Antarctica if not the job. He is becoming the head of the Antarctic
Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart.

ELEANOR HALL: Karen Barlow reporting.

Accident delays Antarctic research

Accident delays Antarctic research

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:46:00

Reporter: Felicity Ogilvie

ELEANOR HALL: And one of the recent emergencies Dr Press has overseen in his recent role involved
the rescue of an expeditioner with the Australian Antarctic Division.

Dwayne Rooke fractured his feet and pelvis in an accident at Davis station in October. It took
three weeks to rescue him and the delay has meant that the research teams are now deferring their
scientific work until next season, as Felicity Ogilvie reports.

FELICITY OGILVIE: It took almost three weeks to rescue Dwayne Rooke from Davis station in
Antarctica. The chef was in pain after fracturing his pelvis and feet when he fell off a quad bike.

The rescue involved the Australian Antarctic Division's research ship being diverted to Davis
station where staff built a new runway on the sea ice. The US air force used the runway to fly the
injured chef to Hobart.

The director of the Antarctic Division Tony Press says the rescue took weeks because Davis station
is 5,000 kilometres south of Hobart.

TONY PRESS: It's still a frontier. We were very lucky with Dwayne that we had an experienced doctor
and very good medical facilities so we were able to keep him stable while we organised the rescue.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The rescue has forced half of this summer's flights between Hobart and Casey
station to be cancelled. Some research has also been cancelled.

TONY PRESS: The major project that was abandoned for this year and rescheduled for next year is
looking at the benthic communities, the sea floor assemblages of plants and animals.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Fifty-six-year-old Jerri Nielsen knows what it's like to be sick and stuck in
Antarctica. She was the only doctor at the US South Pole station in 1998. Two weeks after the last
plane left Dr Nielsen found a lump in her breast.

JERRI NIELSEN: The people who stay for the year know that there is no way in or out of the South
Pole in the winter. In fact we were told that it would be easier to get off a space station than to
get us off the South Pole.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Because it was winter there was no way out of Antarctica and Dr Nielsen thought
she would die.

But although planes couldn't land, the air force were able to fly over the base and drop
chemotherapy drugs for the doctor to treat her cancer.

JERRI NIELSEN: The chemotherapy was done by having a heavy equipment mechanic start IVs and then
run the chemotherapy by counting every drop that went into me, then stopping, doing the
mathematics, figuring out if we needed to go faster or slower.

FELICITY OGILVIE: When Dr Nielsen made it back to the US the lump was cut out of her breast and she
thought she'd made a full recovery. Dr Nielsen wrote a book about her experience and travelled the
world speaking. But the cancer has recently come back. This time it's in her brain.

JERRI NIELSEN: There's no way of knowing if the experience in the Antarctica made it come back
sooner or perhaps it made it come back later. You know, maybe if I hadn't been in the Antarctic I
wouldn't have done as well. I don't think there's any way of knowing that.

I do know that because of the cancer my life was really enriched. I saw a lot of things and
experienced many things, met people and went places that I wouldn't have gone if I'd not gotten
cancer at the South Pole.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Okay and just going back there to the South Pole, you've had the experience of
both being the only doctor on base and also being a patient, actually being sick down there.


FELICITY OGILVIE: What is it like to be in that remote environment that you say it's easier to pick
someone up from outer space than it is down there? What's it like to be sick and stuck in

JERRI NIELSEN: I think it was easier for me to be the person who was sick than to have someone else
be sick and have me be unable to treat them. I think also that it was easier in some ways than
being in the United States because one of things that will really make you question yourself and
wonder is choices and I didn't have any choices so I really couldn't make the wrong choice because
you know that you don't have the modern conveniences that you have in what we call the real world.

ELEANOR HALL: But she did make it out. That's Dr Jerri Nielsen ending that report from Felicity
Ogilvie in Hobart.

A gift in the hand is worth two in the doll

A gift in the hand is worth two in the doll

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:50:00

Reporter: Scott Bevan

ELEANOR HALL: They originated in Japan but the matryoshka dolls has become the symbol of Russian

These dolls within dolls are not only toys. They are also used to make far more grown up points
about the hidden layers of Russian politics.

And at this time of the year, Christmas variations of the dolls are proliferating as Moscow
correspondent Scott Bevan reports.

SCOTT BEVAN: I'm in the town of Davidova, about three hours drive from Moscow and the snow might be
fluttering down right now but this is no Christmas wonderland, at least it's not to the eyes. For
right around me here are high rise apartment blocks. They're Soviet era and they've certainly seen
better days.

But inside one of these blocks, just behind these cold walls there's something almost like an
elves' workshop. It's the Russian equivalent.

In a building that was called the House of Culture in Soviet times, a team of artisans is busily
creating new pieces of traditional culture - matryoshka, Russia's famous wooden doll that contains
successively smaller dolls.

SERGEI KOBLOV: It's a real Russian symbol.

SCOTT BEVAN: The studio's leader is Sergei Koblov (phonetic).

SERGEI KOBLOV: Matryoshka is like a story and the way we produce matryoshka like a story in there
because in matryoshka comes with life.

SCOTT BEVAN: Just as the dolls tell a story, so does this studio about how Sergei Koblov came to be
a matryoshka maker. Doll making used to be a hobby of his. He boxed as well. In fact he says he
once fought Kostya Tszyu and lost. But about 14 years ago after he graduated from university and
couldn't find a job, Sergei Koblov decided to turn his hands to the gentler art of creating
matryoshkas as a way of earning money.

Now this folk art means even more to the 40-year-old.

SERGEI KOBLOV: For me it's like religion (laughs).

SCOTT BEVAN: And in this room which would be no more than eight by 10 metres in size, there are
other devotees. Some have learned their skills here. Dina Bespalov (phonetic) is whittling a
familiar face into wood.



SCOTT BEVAN: While Giorgi Serantsvili (phonetic) is sandpapering small dolls.

GIORGI SERANTSVILI (translated): What's so special is that each matryoshka is a piece of art. Each
doll takes almost a month to create from pieces of wood to the finished product.

SCOTT BEVAN: The studio's creations are sold in local shops and markets. They range in price from a
little over $5 for small, hand carved eggs to a couple of hundred dollars for dolls that contain up
to 10 pieces.

Sometimes the studio has to compete with mass produced matryoshkas that feature famous faces from
American presidents to the Beatles. John Lennon by the way is usually the biggest doll in that

Now that competition doesn't worry Sergei Koblov. He says those dolls just reflect the times. What
is a worry he says is that even matryoshka makers are feeling the pinch of the financial crisis.

SERGEI KOBLOV: Many people don't have work. Some people don't like spend monies for souvenirs and
just keep it for food.

SCOTT BEVAN: As she delicately paints a nativity scene onto a Christmas decoration, Alesia
Skoradina (phonetic) says hand carved ornaments, including the matryoshkas, will remain popular not
just for their looks but because they provide a connection to the past.

ALESIA SKORADINA (translated): It's our tradition, our craft. They're made of wood. They are warm
and they bring joy to the home.

SCOTT BEVAN: And that joy is never more appreciated than at Christmas time.

This is Scott Bevan in Moscow for The World Today.