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Executive salary hikes slammed as jobs cut

Executive salary hikes slammed as jobs cut

The World Today - Friday, 27 February , 2009 12:10:00

Reporter: Sabra Lane

ASHLEY HALL: There's not much these days that unites the Federal Government and the Opposition but
today they've found one issue they do agree on - excessive executive salaries.

MPs on both sides have universally condemned the pay packages for the chief executive and directors
of Pacific Brands.

The company announced earlier this week that it would sack more than 1800 workers as it closes its
Australian factories and moves its manufacturing offshore.

Today it's been revealed the company gave its executives pay rises of 170 per cent last year.

The union chief Sharan Burrow says it's an example of 'a shocking lack of morality from our
greediest CEOs'.

Federal politicians say the issue of remuneration is for shareholders, not governments to decide.

But Greens senators say the Federal Government can and should act.

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Pacific Brands has defended the pay packages of its CEO and board directors.

The chief executive Sue Morphett's pay trebled last year to $1.8-million after she was promoted
from general manager of underwear to company CEO.

The company says in fact Ms Morphett took pay cut - that her million plus package was half that of
the previous company chief.

It's also been revealed the total pay package for the company's 13 directors almost doubled last
year to $15-million.

Pacific Brands says the decision announced this week to sack 1800 workers and move offshore was
made after a review and that the redundancies are regrettable.

The ACTU president Sharan Burrow is fuming.

SHARAN BURROW: Corporate Australia has lost its way. There's no leadership. There's a lack of
morality. This is anger making and the rising tide of concern, of anger in the community is calling
on the Government to act. It is time we cleaned up this shocking lack of morality from the
greediest of our CEOs.

SABRA LANE: Over the past two years Pacific Brands had received more than $17-million in government

The revelation of the excessive pay packages has united both the Federal Government and Opposition.

Speaking on Channel Seven, Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said it was an issue for the
company's shareholders.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is certainly a red hot decision for a board of directors and management to
be sitting down and planning to sack workers. And I think all Australians out there watching the
program would just say, for goodness sake, wake up to yourselves.

SABRA LANE: Families Minister Jenny Macklin:

JENNY MACKLIN: Ordinary people in the street just, well they say to me, how can on the one hand all
of these people lose their jobs and on the other, executives walk away with these massive payouts?

SABRA LANE: Climate Change Minister Penny Wong:

PENNY WONG: I, like I'm sure all Australians, am appalled at the prospect of people awarding
themselves pay rises in these circumstances.

SABRA LANE: The shadow treasurer Joe Hockey:

JOE HOCKEY: I am surprised that the large shareholders in Pacific Brands haven't got something to
say about not only the damage to the brand, but significantly why, ask some serious questions of
why they had to lay off 1850 workers and still pay executives very significant sums.

SABRA LANE: The deputy liberal leader Julie Bishop says the Coalition is more concerned about those
being sacked.

JULIE BISHOP: The Opposition is concerned to look after the interests of the workers and that is
what we will be doing.

SABRA LANE: Government frontbencher Anthony Albanese says governments can't intervene into the
affairs of corporations.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we shouldn't do is overpromise and suggest that we can suddenly come in as
the big state operation, big government and decide what all corporate executives will be paid.

BOB BROWN: Isn't it extraordinary that we have got a Labor Government, a government of the workers,
of the battlers, simply playing to the tune of the big end of town. It's high time the Prime
Minister said exactly how he is going to curb these obscene packages.

SABRA LANE: Greens leader Senator Bob Brown says the Prime Minister often talks of a crackdown on
executive pay but does little to follow it up.

BOB BROWN: The Greens will be introducing an amendment to the tax laws in the next session of the
Senate to take away tax deductibility for CEO payments of more than a million dollars a year.

SABRA LANE: And Senator Brown says the Prime Minister should follow the example of US President
Barack Obama.

BOB BROWN: President Obama has cut to $500-million packages going to CEOs which receive government
assistance in the United States. Why can't the Australian Labor Government do that? The Labor
Government has the ability to legislate for anything to do with corporations. That is the
corporations power under our Constitution. The responsibility resides with the Federal Parliament
and the Federal Government.

SABRA LANE: The Prime Minister will meet with the US President on March the 24th. A trip Mr Rudd
was planning in April to attend a G20 meeting in Europe has now been extended to include the United
States and a one-on-one meeting at the White House. The two will discuss the global economic
crisis, Afghanistan and climate change.

The Government's revealed this morning it will unveil its draft emissions trading scheme
legislation on March the 10th. The Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has written to the Senate
today asking that its economics committee to hold an inquiry and review the bill but report back by
April the 14th.

The Australian Industry Group's Heather Ridout has called today on the Government to delay the
scheme's introduction by two years because of the global financial crisis.

The Climate Change Minister says no. The scheme, she says, will start next year.

PENNY WONG: We do not share her view nor her industry association's view on the start date and
there is a very simple reason for that which we have said many times and it is this.

The longer we delay, the higher the costs.

ASHLEY HALL: The Climate Change Minister Penny Wong ending that report by Sabra Lane.

Pacific Brands says salaries not obscene

Pacific Brands says salaries not obscene

The World Today - Friday, 27 February , 2009 12:16:00

Reporter: Ashley Hall

ASHLEY HALL: The Pacific Brands chairman James MacKenzie says his executives are paid in line with
the industry norm. He told me that a 127 per cent pay rise given to Sue Morphett was to recognise
her promotion to chief executive of the company in February last year.

JAMES MACKENZIE: She received an increase, as you would expect, when she moved from running a
division of the company to the whole company.

Now like most boards of public companies, Pacific Brands on a regular basis and at least each year
retains external advisors to survey its executive salary rates and benchmark them against those of
our competitors and I can assure you that none of our executive salaries are out of line and...

ASHLEY HALL: Well the overall picture doesn't seem to bear that out though. Was it 13 directors had
remuneration doubled last year from $7-million to $15.5-million? That was approved in June.

JAMES MACKENZIE: We are talking about heads of divisions here, Ashley. We are not talking about
directors. The remuneration of the non-executive directors of Pacific Brands hasn't changed in
recent times.

ASHLEY HALL: Right, okay. So the heads of divisions then?

JAMES MACKENZIE: What I am saying is that the remuneration of the executives at Pacific Brands in
general and in particular the remuneration of the chief executive is, if anything, below what the
industry and executive benchmarks are in Australia and the board benchmarks that through an
independent study each year.

ASHLEY HALL: You'd have to agree though that it is not great timing given that Pacific Brands has
been, by all accounts, struggling for some time.

JAMES MACKENZIE: We are not talking, I am not suggesting that salaries have been boosted. Pacific
Brands will comply with its disclosure obligations in relation to executive remuneration this year
as it has every year and you will see in the annual report of the company that will come out after
the 30th of June this year that executive remuneration has gone down.

ASHLEY HALL: What about the incentive payments that have been indicated - a seven-fold increase in
incentive payments for chief executive Sue Morphett?

JAMES MACKENZIE: I think we are talking, in relation to Sue Morphett who, just so that we don't
miss exactly the point of what she is doing, is making sure that Pacific Brands preserves the jobs
of 7,000 Australians. There's 7,000 Australians who continue to be employed by Pacific Brands.

ASHLEY HALL: So those incentive payments are to ensure that those jobs stay? They are not rewards
for going?

JAMES MACKENZIE: No. You are talking about is remuneration that was paid to Pacific Brands
executives for the year ending the 30th June, 2008. To look at the circumstances that the company
has addressed in the announcements that were made this week, that information will be contained in
Pacific Brands' annual report for the 30th of June or at the 30th of June, 2009.

ASHLEY HALL: Right okay. So you say that there is no link between that increase in incentive
payments and the loss of jobs?

JAMES MACKENZIE: There is no incentive that any executive has at Pacific Brands that is linked to
losing jobs.

ASHLEY HALL: Now just to clarify what you are saying there about the remuneration figure in this
year's annual report going down. Can you just clarify for me, does that mean that nobody has
received a pay rise at Pacific Brands in the last year?

JAMES MACKENZIE: No. I didn't say nobody has received a pay rise at Pacific Brands in the last
year. There has been some significant changes in the composition of the executive team at Pacific
Brands over the last year, over the year to 30 June 2008 and again there are some more changes in
the year to 30th June 2009.

As a board we are responsible for recruiting and retaining people who have got the capability and
the incentive to manage the Pacific Brands business. In doing that we are in a competitive
environment so for us to recruit people and to retain people with the capability we need to deal
with the circumstances that Sue has outlined so well during the course of this week...

ASHLEY HALL: What companies do you benchmark your salaries against?

JAMES MACKENZIE: People who are operating in the same area as we are. Let me assure you from the
position that I sit in, there is always someone down the street bidding for our chief, certainly
for our executives and our chief executive.

A person with Sue Morphett's skills and experience is in demand not only in Australia, but is in
demand overseas. So we have got to be conscious in terms of agreeing the basis on which she is
employed that we have got someone whose is capable and committed to the job at hand and that is
what we have done in relation to the way in which Sue's employment arrangements are structured,
which is a total remuneration package which is significantly less than that of her predecessor.

ASHLEY HALL: As these remuneration decisions were being made it was in the context of considering
moving the workforce offshore, wasn't it?


ASHLEY HALL: There was no contemplation before this remuneration report was put into the annual
accounts back in the middle of last year that there would be any job losses at Pacific Brands? Is
that what you are saying?

JAMES MACKENZIE: No. I only joined the board in May last year so I don't know what deliberations
took place before the time that I joined the board.

As a result of the review that Sue commenced when she became chief executive, it emerged, you know,
certainly past June but it emerged during the last six months of last year that one of the
necessary changes that we would be making and it was a matter of timing rather than the need to
make it were the changes that were announced this week.

ASHLEY HALL: So that was around about the same time? Certainly within months? Weeks or months?

JAMES MACKENZIE: Actually no. The remuneration report that you are referring to is the remuneration
report in the company's annual report for what was paid to executives for the year ending June 30,
2008. The basis on which they were paid was settled well in advance of those payments being made.

ASHLEY HALL: In the past couple of years the Government gave Pacific Brands, I think it is nearly
$18-million. There is a perception now that, at best, that money was wasted and at worst, it has
gone straight into the pockets of executives and directors. That is the perception at least. Will
you pay the money back?

JAMES MACKENZIE: The money that the Government paid to Pacific Brands was as a result of grants
which were a result of policy changes. A significant proportion, north of 70 per cent of Pacific
Brands' manufacturing moved offshore pursuant to those policy changes.

ASHLEY HALL: Is that ethical or moral though? The ACTU has been pointing the morality finger at
Pacific Brands this morning. They say it's immoral the sort of money that is being talked about in
the media this morning. I understand that you dispute the amounts of money involved but this comes
down to a question of morality and ethics really, doesn't it?

JAMES MACKENZIE: I think that what it comes down to is what Pacific Brands are doing to maintain
the jobs of 7,000 Australians.

ASHLEY HALL: Thank you very much for talking to The World Today.


ASHLEY HALL: The Chairman of Pacific Brands James MacKenzie.

Woolworths chief calls Pacific Brands sackings 'a tragedy'

Woolworths chief calls Pacific Brands sackings 'a tragedy'

The World Today - Friday, 27 February , 2009 12:24:00

Reporter: Peter Ryan

ASHLEY HALL: The head of the retailing giant Woolworths has described the sackings at Pacific
Brands as a 'tragedy'.

The chief executive Michael Luscombe says his company had worked with Pacific Brands in recent
years to improve the business and to keep sales afloat.

Mr Luscombe has been speaking with our business editor Peter Ryan who joins me in the studio.

Peter, will Pacific Brands products be staying on the shelves at Woolworths stores?

PETER RYAN: Well Ashley according to Michael Luscombe, Pacific Brands products actually are big
sellers at Woolworths - sales were up 10 per cent over the past year with Bonds products up as much
as 20 per cent.

Mr Luscombe underlined Pacific Brands as an icon in the Australian retail scene. He has dealt with
them for a long time throughout his retail career back in the days when the company was known as
Pacific Dunlop.

The relationship isn't over by any means but Michael Luscombe indicated the Pacific Brands name had
been tarnished by the sackings announced earlier this week.

MICHAEL LUSCOMBE: I think it's a tragedy that we are talking about anybody losing their job let
alone 1800 people. We have worked very closely with Pacific Dunlop because, you know, this has been
a business that has not been without its challenges for a number of years.

We have worked very hard with the Pacific Dunlop team to improve their business so in the last year
our sales of their products in our supermarkets and more particularly our Big W business are up
over 10 per cent and when you look at the iconic brands like Bonds, they are up some 20 per cent.

And we are going to continue to work with Pacific Dunlop to make sure that those brands, those
iconic brands continue to live in the Australian marketplace. But once again, no-one can gain any
pleasure whatsoever in seeing 1800 people go.

ASHLEY HALL: The chief executive of Woolworths, Michael Luscombe.

Peter, given the gloomy economic environment, did Mr Luscombe provide any outlook on jobs at

PETER RYAN: Well Mr Luscombe was briefing journalists including myself this morning on Woolworth's
half year results which are out. The profit is up 10 per cent to $983-million - that's slightly
below expectations so the Woolies share price has been hammered five per cent.

But back to the point of your question, Michael Luscombe is positive about the future for
Woolworths' 200,000 workforce. He says 90,000 new jobs were created over the past year and another
7,000 jobs are expected this year, all going well.

He says retail is enormously important to Australia's growth and according to an economists' report
commissioned by Woolworths, last year's sales of $43-billion converted into around $90-billion of
economic activity. So using those figures he is underlining the importance of Woolworths and also
underlines the fact that they will need people and more people in the job.

He has also praised the Government's $10-billion stimulus package of last year and he thinks the
coming $43-billion stimulus will also work in keeping the economy afloat, given the vastly changed
economic landscape.

MICHAEL LUSCOMBE: There's no doubt that some people went out and consumed straight away. Others
took the opportunity to pay down a credit card. I think some maybe paid off the mortgage.

There is no doubt that with lower petrol prices, low interest rates, the fiscal stimulus, that
household disposable income is still there and we are seeing right up to yesterday that our
business has maintained strong momentum.

And the timing of the next stimulus I think is just about right. Mmm, I hope it's just about right.

ASHLEY HALL: Michael Luscombe, the chief executive of Woolworths.

And Woolworths might be weathering the storm fairly well but the news isn't so good for the
retailer Harvey Norman, Peter?

PETER RYAN: Well, that's right. Despite the $10-billion stimulus package announced late last year,
the spending was probably a bit of a blip in a lot of stores including Harvey Norman which today
announced it had suffered a 56 per cent fall in first-half profit and said trading conditions
remain, quote, 'challenging'.

Net profit for the half year was $99-million. That's down from $230-million in the previous
corresponding period.

And Harvey Norman has been closing stores due to the downturn in consumer spending; notably as
consumers pay off debt and probably think twice about that plasma TV or new kitchen or bathroom.

It's also reported big problems in Ireland where Harvey Norman had been pushing very strongly to
dominate the retail environment. Ireland is in recession. The country is on the brink of being the
next European nation to be hit by the global financial crisis.

But at the same time chairman Gerry Harvey says the retailer remains well positioned for the

ASHLEY HALL: Our business editor Peter Ryan, thanks for being with The World Today.

Queensland election race narrows

Queensland election race narrows

The World Today - Friday, 27 February , 2009 12:29:00

Reporter: Annie Guest

ASHLEY HALL: A new opinion poll is prompting speculation that the Labor Party in Queensland may
lose the grip on power it's enjoyed for most of the last two decades.

The poll suggests the race with the Liberal National Party is neck and neck. It's given
commentators licence to contemplate a change of government.

Annie Guest reports from Brisbane.

ANNIE GUEST: As the backroom strategists analyse what one expert is calling a 'transformative'
poll, the party leaders on the front line struggle to transform themselves into Wiggles experts on
commercial radio.

ANNOUNCER: What is Captain Feathersword's favourite drink?


LAWRENCE SPRINGBORG: We're bombing out on this big time.

ANNA BLIGH: We'll have to go back to Wiggle school, Lawrence.


ANNIE GUEST: The Premier Anna Bligh won the quiz but will she win the election?

A poll has the ALP and the merged Liberals and Nationals tied 50-50 on a two-party preferred basis.

The Galaxy Poll records an ongoing trend. In 12 months Labor's primary support has fallen 10 per
cent to 42, while the LNP is on 43 per cent.

The poll has surprised the political experts, including lecturer Bronwyn Stevens from the
University of the Sunshine Coast.

BRONWYN STEVENS: It'll transform the election. I think everybody's been going ho hum Labor's
probably going to win although there'll be a swing away from them. The last poll we were looking at
last week seemed to indicate that Labor was about six points ahead of the LNP so this is quite a
revolutionary poll.

ANNIE GUEST: Labor has held power in Queensland for two decades except for two years in the 1990s.

Key issues in this election include the fading Queensland economy. The credit rating has been
downgraded to AA.

Other major concerns are health and road infrastructure. Traffic congestion can be extreme but
there are now a number of major projects.

Voters in the marginal seat of Indooroopilly have told ABC Local Radio the results are welcome.

VOX POP 1: I think it's great to have some healthy competition out there - Labor's had their time
in Queensland for about 10 years, so yeah, bring it on.

VOX POP 2: I think it'll be a close race also - it'll be good for Anna. A bit of competition is

VOX POP 3: I think it's good. a close race is better than a one-sided race, I think.

ANNIE GUEST: The poll has Anna Bligh remaining the preferred Premier, clocking up a 50 per cent
lead over 37 per cent of those polled supporting Lawrence Springborg.

The Premier has maintained throughout recent times that the election will be close but argues
there's a clear choice between the parties.

ANNA BLIGH: This poll just confirms that this is going to be a very tough election. It's going to,
in my view, come right down to the wire.

LAWRENCE SPRINGBORG: We can't do it with 50-50. The way the electorates line up we need at least 52
per cent so we've got a couple of per cent to go.

ANNIE GUEST: The Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg is interpreting the results as a reaction to
the election being called early.

But long time Queensland political watcher Dr Paul Williams from Griffith University takes a
different view and like other analysts he found the results surprising.

PAUL WILLIAMS: It's almost deja vu because we saw a very similar pattern if not an identical
pattern at the beginning of the 2006 Queensland State elections.

ANNIE GUEST: So do you think this is a pattern amongst Queensland voters?

PAUL WILLIAMS: Well not necessarily. I think it reflects where we are in the electoral cycle. It,
obviously in 2006 and even more so now, there is a sense in the community that Labor has had its
fair go. It's been in for a long time. There is clearly an 'it's time' factor at work at least
somewhere in the electorate.

But what happened in 2006 that may well happen again in 2009 is that the campaign tended to wear
down the less experienced and less polished opposition and particularly the less polished and less
experienced Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg.

ANNIE GUEST: Given that, has his poll made you reassess what the outcome of the election could be
at all?

PAUL WILLIAMS: Well indeed, I mean election campaigns are real hot houses and anything can happen
and usually does. So yes, certainly on the day the election was announced I and most observers
operating on the most recent data that we had, thought that the Bligh Government would get back not
unscathed but still relatively easily with just the loss of a few seats.

But it now seems, certainly on these figures, that Lawrence Springborg and the LNP will go close to
snatching government but again logic suggests that they will fall short.

ASHLEY HALL: Dr Paul Williams from Griffith University ending that report by Annie Guest.

Thai Prime Minister faces stern test at ASEAN summiT

Thai Prime Minister faces stern test at ASEAN summiT

The World Today - Friday, 27 February , 2009 12:35:00

Reporter: Karen Percy

ASHLEY HALL: Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva faces a tough test this weekend when he
hosts the delayed leaders' summit of the Association of South East Asian nations.

It'll be a big test for the fresh-faced Oxford graduate who rose to office in controversial
circumstances just over two months ago. In the lead-up to the summit Mr Abhisit is talking up his
Government but protesters continue to question his legitimacy.

He's accused of being closely linked to the protest group which shutdown Bangkok's airports last

South East Asia correspondent Karen Percy reports from the summit's venue in the Thai resort town
of Hua Hin.

KAREN PERCY: The flags are flying. The roadside flower beds are meticulously groomed. Police
officers are everywhere. In Hua Hin and nearby Cha Am Beach everything looks just about ready to
greet the 10 ASEAN leaders and their large entourages.

This seaside area is popular with Thai holiday-makers and it is home to Thailand's revered king,
Bhumibol Adulyadej for much of the year. Now it is the setting where the Prime Minister Abhisit
Vejjajiva is hoping to rebuild the kingdom in the eyes of its neighbours.

Professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak is a political commentator at Chulalongkorn University.

THITINAN PONGSUDHIRAK: He has to show in the eyes of the world, that Thailand somehow has a
normality here, that is back to business, that he has leadership, that he has legitimacy and that
Thailand is ready to move forward.

That will be doubtful. I think the Red Shirts now are protesting. There are a lot of people still
have questions about what happened in Thailand because the ASEAN summit was postponed because of
the crisis in December.

KAREN PERCY: Mr Abhisit has been criticised for taking the ASEAN summit out of Bangkok and away
from red-shirted protesters who this week returned to the streets in Bangkok.

Their numbers are small by comparison to the yellow-shirted protesters of the People's Alliance for
Democracy or PAD which forced an embarrassing and costly shutdown of Bangkok's main airports last

The Red Shirts are demanding that Mr Abhisit and his Government step down. They've also been baying
for the blood of the Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who rallied alongside the PAD last year.

Yesterday when police revealed a list of PAD leaders they might charge over the airport shutdown,
Mr Kasit was not on the list. He faced the sack if he was charged.

KASIT PIROMYA: And I don't see the logic of their not liking me. I am such a very nice person and
serving the society to the best of my ability.

KAREN PERCY: Mr Kasit seemed to be in a good mood as he addressed reporters late yesterday.

He'll be hosting a series of high level meetings today ahead of tomorrow's leaders' summit.

Human rights are on the agenda, in particular the setting up of an ASEAN body to deal with human
rights abuses. But the controversy surrounding hundreds of Burmese Rohingya refugees, cast out of
Burma and mistreated by the Thai military, will not be on the formal agenda.

Critics are concerned that the group's policy of keeping out of each other's domestic matters will
hinder progress on finding a solution to the refugee problem. Mr Kasit is confident the issue will
be addressed informally.

KASIT PIROMYA: I think we are an ASEAN family. Anything of concern we can talk to one another
without making demands and questioning.

KAREN PERCY: The ASEAN secretariat is boasting of unprecedented access at this summit by civil
society groups. There will be a number of meetings involving leaders and civil groups who'll be
able to get their message through on some of the thornier issues affecting ASEAN.

But in reality, it's the economy which will dominate this meeting. Across the region exporters are
having to shutdown factories and production facilities. Tens of thousands of workers have already
been laid off because of a dramatic drop in global demand and few countries are optimistic about
achieving even moderate growth this year.

This is Karen Percy in the resort Thai town of Hua Hin reporting for The World Today.

Four on probation over Samoa adoption racket

Four on probation over Samoa adoption racket

The World Today - Friday, 27 February , 2009 12:40:00

Reporter: Kerri Ritchie

ASHLEY HALL: A judge in Salt Lake City has sentenced four people to probation for their roles in an
adoption racket that's left families on either side of the Pacific heartbroken.

Between 2002 and 2005 an American adoption agency tricked parents in Samoa into handing over their
children, with the promise they'd get a free education in the United States and then return to
their families when they turned 18.

But the children were passed off as adoptees to unsuspecting American families who'd paid thousands
of dollars in fees.

The four people behind the scam pleaded guilty to misdemeanour charges, leaving some of the
affected families angry they've avoided a jail sentence.

New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports.

KERRI RITCHIE: Eighty-one Samoan children were adopted out by the now defunct American adoption
agency Focus on Children.

Families in America thought they were taking in orphans. The Samoan parents had been told their
children would be educated in the US but would stay in contact and could return to Samoa when they
turned 18.

Scott and Karen Banks who ran the agency told lies which destroyed lives. The couple, along with
two others, have been sentenced in a court in Utah.

One American woman who had adopted one of Samoa's stolen children was upset with the judge's

AMERICAN WOMAN: We were one of the ones that thought they should go to jail so we are disappointed
in that.

KERRI RITCHIE: The group was placed on probation for five years. They're also banned from having
anything to do with adoption for life. They must contribute to a trust fund to help the Samoan
children still in America keep in touch with their birth families.

Post-office boxes will now be set up in Samoa so parents can receive letters and photos from the
United States.

American man Mike Nyberg returned his adopted daughter when he found out she'd been taken from her
Samoan parents. He says it was a heartbreaking decision.

MIKE NYBERG: We communicate via telephone. They have two cell phones in their village and one is
with her parents and one is with a son-in-law. Generally when I call and I get her father Isaiah,
he'll answer the phone and he'll say, 'Hello Mike, I love you.' And you know, we have built an
incredible relationship with her family.

KERRI RITCHIE: Mike Nyberg says lessons must be learnt.

MIKE NYBERG: Make adoptions more legitimate; that the adoption agencies will think twice. Gee, if I
don't do this correctly I could lose my license to practice adoption for the rest of my life.

And I truly believe that the Banks didn't have illicit intent to begin with. I think that they
started out as good, honest, hard-working people that were doing the right thing and things just
turned bad.

KERRI RITCHIE: Keni Lesa is the editor of the Samoa Observer which broke the story.

KENI LESA: The investigation has taken a long time and the court process has taken a very, very
long time.

KERRI RITCHIE: He says the parents involved, who live in remote villages up in the hills, will be
shocked when they find out the group won't be going to jail.

KENI LESA: The hardest thing about this case is the fact that these guys were misled and a lot of
families feel that way. You know they feel betrayed and so I think that if they find out that none
of these guys are going to jail or not even a fine, they are going to be very disappointed. They
are going to feel very disheartened.

KERRI RITCHIE: Keni Lesa says there are no winners in this sad story but there have been some
positive changes.

KENI LESA: The Government has stepped back and said, hey let's look at the adoption laws and they
have tightened them a little bit, in fact a lot ever since this American adoption came forward. So
I guess there is a positive side of things, if you can look at it from our end, what everybody is
happy that this has come forward and this has come out is the fact that everybody now has a little
bit more awareness than they would have had.

ASHLEY HALL: Keni Lesa, the editor of the Samoa Observer ending that report from our New Zealand
correspondent Kerri Ritchie.

New test for common heart problem

New test for common heart problem

The World Today - Friday, 27 February , 2009 12:43:00

Reporter: David Mark

ASHLEY HALL: A team of scientists has come up with the first test to predict who is at risk of
developing the most common of all heart conditions.

An abnormality of the heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation will affect one in four people,
significantly increasing their chance of dying from stroke or heart disease.

The scientists' findings were published today in the journal The Lancet, along with a commentary by
Ben Freedman, the professor of Cardiology at the University of Sydney and Concord Hospital.

Professor Freedman told David Mark the work opens up new treatment possibilities but he warns
Australians shouldn't rush to their GPs for the test just yet.

BEN FREEDMAN: Atrial fibrillation is an abnormality of the heart rhythm and it is probably the most
common abnormality of the heart rhythm that we see. Roughly one in four people will get it during
their lifetime .

And in the study that was done in Framingham in Massachusetts over a 10-year period, 10 per cent of
all of the adults tested developed atrial fibrillation. These are people in the community who had
never had atrial fibrillation before.

DAVID MARK: What is the definition of it? Is it an irregular heartbeat?

BEN FREEDMAN: That is how we detect it, as an irregular heartbeat. And the atrium is actually
contracting very rapidly at about 300 to 400 per minute. And it can be conducted quite rapidly so
that the heart beat initially can be rapid and then with drugs or with time, the heart beat becomes
less rapid.

DAVID MARK: Why is it dangerous?

BEN FREEDMAN: Well there are two things. It can produce heart failure. It can produce instability
of people because their blood pressure becomes low. But really the most feared complication is
stroke. So they get clots in the heart developing because of the fibrillation and the clots get
dislodged and if they travel to the brain which seems to be the favourite place to go, people
develop strokes which can be fatal or else devastating.

DAVID MARK: How do you treat atrial fibrillation?

BEN FREEDMAN: You can do two things. You can either try and get people back to a normal rhythm
using drugs or an electric shock to the heart; and these have their problems because in themselves
they can also cause clots to form and produce stroke so we have to use blood thinners before we do
that; or we can try and just control the heart rate by blocking the conduction of impulses from the
atrium to the pumping chambers. So we do that with drugs to make the heart rate more normal.

DAVID MARK: I wonder if you could talk about this new test that Professor Emelia Benjamin has
developed to identify people who are at risk of atrial fibrillation?

BEN FREEDMAN: Well this is something that is really novel. Hasn't been done before. Despite the
fact that it's so common, we haven't had a tool that you could easily apply in general practice to
work out what the risk of a person might be of developing it in the future and this is the first
attempt to do so and it seemed to perform very well.

For me it's the start of possibilities. We can be looking at novel treatments to try and prevent
this condition rather than treating it once people get it. And as we said, an ounce of prevention
is worth a pound of cure.

DAVID MARK: How does the test work?

BEN FREEDMAN: It's really a point score based on a number of things that you find out from taking a
history - very simple things like the age, the gender, the presence of high blood pressure, the
actual measurement of blood pressure, a simple measurement of body weight and body mass, a simple
measurement of the electrocardiograph. If you add up to a high point score then you've got a high
risk of developing atrial fibrillation in the next 10 years and if you have a low point score then
you have a very low risk.

DAVID MARK: So this means that you or I could go to our local GP and the GP could do this test on


DAVID MARK: Now you mentioned before that atrial fibrillation can be treated but the treatment
methods aren't perfect. What advantage does this test give you then?

BEN FREEDMAN: The potential advantage is that we might be able to prevent it. At the moment we
haven't been able to test preventative measures in people who have a very high risk so knowing what
the risk is is the first step to finding a group that might benefit from it. It's no use testing
preventative measures in people who are unlikely to get it.

DAVID MARK: Is this something that Australian GPs should take up?

BEN FREEDMAN: It's something that they may do but at the moment we don't have anything that's
really very good at preventing it so as I said this is the first step. We still need to work out
what we can do other than say you are at risk and until that happens, until we have an effective
preventative, all we can do is say well we'd be a bit more aware of it happening so you might look
a little bit more closely and follow up.

ASHLEY HALL: Ben Freedman, the professor of cardiology at the University of Sydney and Concord
Hospital, speaking to David Mark.

Cricket oval's lucky escapes from bushfires

Cricket oval's lucky escapes from bushfires

The World Today - Friday, 27 February , 2009 12:48:00

Reporter: Alison Caldwell

ASHLEY HALL: An amazing stroke of luck has saved an historic cricket oval from the firestorms which
swept across Victoria three weeks ago.

The Hume and Hovell Cricket Ground is a replica of Lord's, which has hosted secret visits from
international teams.

It was feared the oval would be burnt as fire bore down from all directions, but the flames stopped
just short of the boundary.

Today's hot and windy weather hasn't deterred visitors to the ground, with a match scheduled there

The World Today's reporter Alison Caldwell visited the cricket oval and filed this report.

ALISON CALDWELL: Nestled in the 'Valley of a Thousand Hills' at Strath Creek, the Hume and Hovell
cricket ground is still as pretty as a picture. While it's not as green as usual, it's nearly just
as beautiful as it would be at any other time of year.

Built in 1994 and inspired by Lord's, it has a lovely white picket fence boundary which sits
beneath a gracious pavilion.

Owner Don McQueen:

DON MCQUEEN: Yes, this was just all bush paddocks when we started.

ALISON CALDWELL: What inspired you?

DON MCQUEEN: Well the love of the game. I have been a cricket devotee all of my life. I've played a
lot of cricket in England over the years and I fell in love with the English country cricket
grounds because they're the same as they were 400 years ago, you know, when the game evolved into
what it is today. But the country grounds are the same.

ALISON CALDWELL: Is it true that this is actually a replica of Lord's?

DON MCQUEEN: Well it's based on Lord's. We have got a slope the same as Lord's. It's the same
dimensions as Lord's and we don't have the grand-stands, that's all. When it's in full song, it
looks absolutely beautiful, especially in the later afternoon when you can see the light and shade
contrasts on all the ridge lines in the gullies there when the western sun starts to drop. It truly
is beautiful.

ALISON CALDWELL: The ground was named after explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell.

In 1824 they were commissioned to lead an expedition to find new grazing land in the south of the
colony and to find an answer to the mystery of where the western rivers of New South Wales flowed.

They almost reached the Great Diving Range by following an Aboriginal track along what is now the
Yea to Kinglake road. But their journey was interrupted by Aboriginal burning off so they retraced
their steps to what is now the Strath Creek road at Flowerdale.

And there is a sign here: 'The explorers Hume and Hovell passed this spot.'



DON MCQUEEN: Well, they did. They came through Strath Creek in December of 1824 on their outward
journey from just north of Yass, New South Wales.

ALISON CALDWELL: Three Saturday's ago the cricket ground was surrounded by fire on all sides. With
the help of the CFA, Don McQueen and his wife Anne did as much as they could to protect the ground
until huge white and brown clouds full of smoke came over the hills towards them. That's when they
decided to leave.

DON MCQUEEN: It's actually encroached onto the ground in various places where it went under the
picket fence, onto the ground and it luckily, luckily, it didn't ignite the picket fence. And the
fire stopped only about three metres or before it was put out, just in front of the pavilion there.

It actually ignited the bunk house but that got extinguished and the same with our house, that went
within five metres and we lost a machinery shed so we had a pretty close go of it.

Got a scare, sure. Big scare, but we're a goer and unfortunately for some, they did lose their
lives and they did lose their assets. So as I say, we count ourselves amongst the luckier ones.

A CFA truck came, did great work for us. Without the CFA truck I don't think we would be having
this interview in this room right now.

ALISON CALDWELL: A lot of people would have been quite upset if the ground had have been lost I
would think?

DON MCQUEEN: Oh, I'm sure. We have a lot of people that come here. This place has got an aura of
beauty about it which attracts people to want to come - even if they don't play cricket, just
because of the cricket feel.

ALISON CALDWELL: Do you feel as if your life is sort of getting back to some sort of normal?

DON MCQUEEN: Well, yes. We are ready to go now. We've recovered. The fire has moved on and life for
the survivors and the surviving properties will move on. We'll give, everyone that has been touched
by it an experience they'll never forget.

There is going to be thousands of kilometres of fencing to be done for example, new sheds to be
purchased and erected, houses to be rebuilt. Out of every disaster there does sadly sometimes arise
opportunity and this economy that we are in which is flat at the moment, unconsciously is going to
get a boost.

ASHLEY HALL: The bush balladeer and cricket fanatic Don McQueen ending Alison Caldwell's report.

Toronto International Film Festival programmer visits Australia

Toronto International Film Festival programmer visits Australia

The World Today - Friday, 27 February , 2009 12:53:00

Reporter: Nance Haxton

ASHLEY HALL: For many Australian filmmakers the real work begins when they try to get their movies
seen by a wider audience.

So this week's visit to Australia by one of the Toronto International Film Festival's programmers
is being greeted with great excitement.

Jane Schoettle is attending the Adelaide Film Festival this week before heading to Sydney and
Melbourne for script advisory sessions with a small number of Australian productions.

Around 10,000 films are submitted for the festival each year but that number is whittled down to
350 titles that actually hit the silver screen.

Jane Schoettle explains to Nance Haxton how those entrants are chosen.

JANE SCHOETTLE: I'd love to say it's a simple process but it isn't really. I try to get to know the
work of each filmmaker and then judge it on a case by case basis. We're looking overall, you know,
universally for high production values, good writing, good performances; but really the script has
a lot to do with it to and that's another one of the reasons I'm here in Adelaide.

NANCE HAXTON: Yes, you will be doing some script workshops. Is that a particular area where you
think sometimes movies fall down?

JANE SCHOETTLE: There is no question about it. I mean it's really, as we say in Canada, the script
is where the rubber hits the road. If it's not there on the page, it's not on the stage as the old
saying goes and that's really, really true of film too. You cannot usually solve problems in a
story if it has not been solved in the script.

NANCE HAXTON: So what does selection do for these films if they are selected for the Toronto Film
Festival that is so world renowned?

JANE SCHOETTLE: There is a couple of things I would hope and once we do select a film, I think
filmmakers need to know that we do also work very hard on our end to make sure that we bring the
right kind of attention to the film.

Australian films are very, very popular in Canada so we don't really have to work that hard but
it's in terms of getting the right press in to see it, getting perhaps if the film is unsold,
getting some buyers in to see it. It really is on a case by case basis.

But what we hope to do on a very global level is to launch the film within a context of quality. By
selecting it we have given it our imprimatur and said we really think that this is the best that
this country has to offer and you should pay attention to it.

NANCE HAXTON: How great is the competition really coming into the Toronto Film Festival? It must be
incredibly competitive.

JANE SCHOETTLE: Yeah, it's pretty stiff. I mean we have never been able to get full numbers on how
many films all of our programmers do see because we do it a couple of ways.

People can submit their films independently over the transom as it were, straight through the
submission process where essentially the DVD lands in our office and then is given to the
appropriate programmer according to the territory.

The other way we do it is like I'm doing now which is we travel to that territory and we see as
much as we can within the milieu from which it comes.

And the third way is really through established relationships with filmmakers we already have.

Certainly I can speak from myself and probably in the course of a year, I think they did the math
last year and it's like 600 films a year that I see personally but that said, I know in terms of
submission over the transom as I mentioned, we get almost 4,000 unsolicited submissions every year
and then if you imagine that the rest of the team sees as many films as I do, then you are looking
at probably 10,000 films a year.

NANCE HAXTON: So what really makes a film stand out when you have seen 600 of them? Does it almost
come down to a gut feeling for you now because of your experience in so many aspects of the
industry as a writer, director, actress as well?

JANE SCHOETTLE: Yeah, I think that's a really good point. I mean, when you're looking, when you
start to look at something, within the first 10 minutes you can usually tell. Production values are
good, you've got some good casting going on here. There is a story that I am intrigued with that I
want to keep on going.

I mean obviously when something is submitted we watch a lot more than 10 minutes but I have a
feeling by that point. And I consider myself just as typical as our audiences do and if I am taken
along and I am engaged in it or there is a new way of looking at things, there is a distinct voice
there on the screen, you know, of the filmmakers - all of those things. It is a little bit
ephemeral but I think your use of the gut instinct is probably right. That has a lot to do with it.

ASHLEY HALL: The international programmer for the Toronto Film Festival Jane Schoettle speaking to
Nance Haxton.