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Defence chief orders investigation into Fitzgibbon spying claims

Defence chief orders investigation into Fitzgibbon spying claims

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:10:00

Reporter: Sabra Lane

ELEANOR HALL: We begin today with the extraordinary claims about the actions of some within the
nation's Defence Department. Australia's Defence Secretary has ordered an investigation into the
allegations that his staff spied on their own Minister and leaked information about him to the
media.

Fairfax papers are reporting today that defence staff covertly investigated the Minister Joel
Fitzgibbon's friendship with a wealthy Chinese businesswoman.

The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says neither Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston nor his
department head Nick Warner has received any 'dirt' file on Mr Fitzgibbon from departmental staff.

But the Opposition is calling for the Minister to be replaced immediately.

In Canberra, Sabra Lane Reports.

SABRA LANE: The Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon isn't talking about the allegations at the moment.
Just as well - says his colleague Greg Combet. The former parliamentary secretary for defence told
Sky news Mr Fitzgibbon would be furious.

GREG COMBET: I'm glad I'm not in a room with him this morning. I reckon he might be a bit angry.

SABRA LANE: Fairfax papers are reporting today that figures within the Defence department spied on
the Defence Minister and used the intelligence agency the Defence Signals Directorate, known as
DSD, to gain access to IT systems in the Minister's office.

It's understood DSD collected banking records on Helen Liu, a Chinese-born businesswoman, as part
of an investigation into Mr Fitzgibbon's personal life. Mr Fitzgibbon has known Ms Liu for 16 years
and rents a property from her.

Again, Greg Combet.

GREG COMBET: Oh I certainly don't think it's normal practice and I was certainly surprised reading
the report. But it's also important to emphasise that there's no evidence of any impropriety on the
part of the Defence Minister.

SABRA LANE: The dirt file was apparently handed to senior defence officials as some department
figures were concerned Mr Fitzgibbon's friendship with Ms Liu had possible security implications
for Australia. But it's understood the officials didn't take it any further.

The Prime Minister faced questions about it in Washington.

KEVIN RUDD: I'm advised that neither the secretary of the Defence department nor the chief of
defence force staff have received any such reports. I'm further advised that the secretary of the
Defence department is conducting a further investigation into this matter and therefore I will
await the outcome of that investigation.

SABRA LANE: Ms Liu has been a generous donor to the ALP in New South Wales. Mr Rudd was asked if he
knew about the minster's friendship with Ms Liu.

KEVIN RUDD: No, as I've said I've only just become aware of these reports as they've just emerged
in the morning newspapers in Australia. Secondly my advice - and no I haven't spoken to the
Minister - my advice is that the, that this has been a family relationship with the Fitzgibbon
family going back some 16 years.

SABRA LANE: And the Prime Minister says there are always tensions between the Defence department
and their political masters.

KEVIN RUDD: Plainly there are always tensions, or there have been for quite some time, within, or
between defence ministers in the past and the Defence department. There's nothing particularly
unusual about that.

SABRA LANE: Allan Behm in an independent advisor on security and risk once headed two divisions
with the department of Defence.

ALLAN BEHM: If there's any truth in it at all it is totally improper for a department of state to
investigate the affairs of its minister. There are appropriate channels for doing that and that of
course has to be at the direction of the Prime Minister.

So if this is an unauthorised access using DSD's facilities to the IT systems of the Minister, then
whoever undertook that really has to be dismissed. If it was authorised then that represents a
really total breakdown in the trust between a department and the Minister and those who authorised
it would then have to be dismissed.

SABRA LANE: DSD which reportedly tapped into Mr Fitzgibbon's office mainly collects intelligence
overseas, not in Australia. If it spied on the Minister, Mr Behm says it would be an extraordinary
breach.

ALLAN BEHM: They may in some circumstances use their technical capabilities under a warrant which
is issued by the Attorney General, but that's in very specific cases and it's subject to very, very
tight rules and that's why I think this whole thing is extraordinary. I mean if there's any truth
in it there's been a total breakdown in procedure.

SABRA LANE: Mr Fitzgibbon's father Eric used to be a federal politician. He says there's nothing
untoward with his family's ties to the Lius.

ERIC FITZGIBBON: The friendship goes back a long way and to suggest that there's some danger to
Australian defence from me or Joel to be associated with the Liu family is just plainly ridiculous.

SABRA LANE: The covert investigation into Mr Fitzgibbon's personal life is supposed to have started
well before the recent SAS pay bungle in which the Minister labelled his department 'incompetent'.

The shadow attorney general George Brandis told ABC2 Breakfast Joel Fitzgibbon should be sacked as
this incident shows the relationship between him and the department has broken down.

GEORGE BRANDIS: It's a very serious matter. Defence of course is one of the most important
departments of the Commonwealth and when you have a minister who is not trusted by his department,
who doesn't trust his department, and effectively cannot work with his department, then I think
there's really only one course of action that's possible and that is for the minister to go and be
replaced with somebody who can get a handle on things.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Shadow Attorney General George Brandis ending that report by Sabra Lane in
Canberra.

Australian banking system sound, says RBA

Australian banking system sound, says RBA

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:14:00

Reporter: Stephen Long

ELEANOR HALL: The latest reserve bank figures show that the share of bad loans on the books of
Australian banks has more than doubled in the last year and the number of Australians who can't pay
their mortgages has soared.

But despite this, the financial stability report maintains that the banking system in Australia is
sound and that the Australian housing market does not have the same problems that caused crashes in
America and Britain.

Economics correspondent Stephen Long has been in a lock-up at the Reserve Bank headquarters in
Sydney this morning, analysing the 70-page report ,and he joins us now.

So Stephen, the last time the Reserve Bank issued a report into the banks' stability was in
September. What has changed in the six months since then?

STEPHEN LONG: The key change as far as Australia is concerned Eleanor is that the global financial
crisis and the ensuing economic crisis which was already readily apparent overseas has started to
hit home in Australia, albeit in a much milder form than we're seeing in other countries, and that
has really manifested in this sharp increase in the number of non-performing assets on the balance
sheets of Australian banks.

Now they've more than doubled so that pretty much one in every hundred loans on the books of the
banks is now non-performing. It's a dud loan.

If you look at business loans, well the rate of business loans that have gone bad is
three-and-a-half times higher than it was in 2007. So these figures are benchmarking from December
2007 to December 2008.

Interestingly, if you look at the figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority,
which are somewhat more up-to-date but not cited in the Reserve Bank's Financial Stability Review,
they say it's even worse. They show a provisioning for bad and doubtful debts rising from
$2.9-billion to $8.2-billion.

And then if you look at the housing market well, these are small numbers compared to America and
Britain, but we've seen an increase in the number of households that are behind by 90 days or more
on their mortgages rising from 13,000 to 20,000 - an increase of almost a third.

And if you look at WA where we had that massive housing boom that previously, not the crash that
we'd seen in the eastern states or relative bad performance that we'd seen in Western Sydney,
you've seen a tripling of the number of applications for home repossession in WA.

Now I stress, compared to anything that's happening in much of Europe or in the United States, this
is all pretty small beer. These are low numbers. But it is still in terms of what we've seen in
Australia, pretty dramatic increase.

ELEANOR HALL: And yet the Reserve Bank is emphasising the positive?

STEPHEN LONG: Very much so. And you've got to understand the politics of this Financial Stability
Review. Part of what the Reserve Bank wants to do at the moment is maintain confidence in the
Australian financial system and the Australian economy.

This is very much a case of looking at what's happening overseas, contrasting the negatives
overseas with the relative positives in Australia; that's the text and the subtext of this
Financial Stability Review.

It's not a new message. It's one that the Reserve Bank has been giving for some time and Glenn
Stevens the Reserve Bank governor was repeating it. He spoke in Melbourne last night. This is what
he had to say.

GLENN STEVENS: We've been saying all along that Australia's financial system is sound, it's well
regulated, it's working well, and that continues 18 months into this event. I think you can still
say that with a straight face and with your hand on your heart.

But internationally obviously there have been some serious shortcomings in that area and there's a
lot of work now going on in international fora to reform regulatory arrangements and a whole host
of areas.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Glenn Stevens, the Reserve Bank governor.

Stephen, can we have confidence in this hand on heart assessment?

STEPHEN LONG: There is no doubt that the Australian economy and the Australian banking system has
performed better than just about any other advanced capitalist economy in the world. But what's
coming? That's what you have to ask yourself.

Look at the figures yesterday on Japanese trade. Japan is Australia's major export destination and
its own exports have halved over the past year. Its imports are down 43 per cent. That is going to
be a massive hit to Australia. And Japan is also greatly interlinked with other key markets for
Australia - South Korea, other Asian economies.

So you have to anticipate that we're going to be seeing a big hit to the economy in terms of
national income, government revenues from that.

And then look at what's happening in the housing market. Well already if you look at loans that
have been securitised and sold off into the markets, you've seen default rates or you know arrears
rates, long-term arrears rates go from historical lows to record highs in those portfolios and
that's with a jump of the unemployment rate from four per cent to five per cent.

Now Treasury's forecast was seven per cent. Wayne Swan the Treasurer came out the other day and
pretty much said we're going into recession, so did the Prime Minister, and those forecasts are
conservative.

So the Reserve Bank is keen in this document to stress that what we're seeing in terms of bad loans
and mortgage arrears is well below the levels we saw in the 1990s recession. In fact the bad loans
on the books of the banks are about a third of what they were then. But we're not officially in
recession. You've got to wonder how bad it will get.

ELEANOR HALL: Stephen Long our economics correspondent, thank you.

Rudd backs Afghan war in talks with US leaders

Rudd backs Afghan war in talks with US leaders

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:18:00

Reporter: Lyndal Curtis

ELEANOR HALL: In Washington the Prime Minister reaffirmed Australia's commitment to the war in
Afghanistan. But he acknowledged that there is less and less support for the war effort back home.

Kevin Rudd was offered expressions of concern from US political leaders about the three Australian
soldiers who were wounded in Afghanistan this week. He also held a meeting with leaders at the
World Bank about the worrying prospect of political unrest in poorer countries being stirred up by
the global recession.

Chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis is travelling with the Prime Minister and she filed
this report from Washington.

LYNDAL CURTIS: From one war veteran to three Australian soldiers wounded in Afghanistan, Senator
John McCain has passed on his sympathies.

JOHN MCCAIN: I heard the news that three brave young Australian soldiers were wounded today. Please
accept my sympathy and also our hearts go out to their families and we thank them for their service
and their sacrifice. We cannot ever show our gratitude enough, we thank you for your country's
contribution in this effort.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Mr Rudd who met the Senator in his congressional office during the day in Washington
says he's heard similar messages from other senators he saw during a meeting with the Senate
leadership.

KEVIN RUDD: This has been the subject of commentary and expressions of concern from many senators
that I've met this morning and all expressing their concern and their support for our troops and
all troops currently in the frontline of battle in Afghanistan.

LYNDAL CURTIS: During an interview with the US public broadcasting show NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,
Mr Rudd has confirmed Australia hasn't yet been asked by the US President to commit further troops
to the war in Afghanistan but he says Australia is there as a strong, reliable ally of the US and
is there for the long haul, although he's acknowledged a shift in public sentiment.

KEVIN RUDD: Now this war as evidenced by introduction is increasingly unpopular; that's just the
truth of it.

JIM LEHRER: In you own, in your country?

KEVIN RUDD: In Australia, I'm sure in Europe and I would imagine the United States. I've not seen
polling here on it. But the bottom line is this: It's the right place to be.

When you think about Afghanistan, think about this. I cannot remove from my mind the image of the
twin towers coming down. We are there because terrorists, operating out of the safe haven of
Afghanistan, caused that to happen. They also, having been trained in Afghanistan, were responsible
for murdering nearly a hundred Australians in Bali a year later.

We have therefore a combined responsibility to do whatever we can to make sure Afghanistan does not
become a safe haven for terrorism again. It's going to be tough, it's going to be hard, and it's
going to be difficult and dangerous.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Also difficult is the growing pressure on developing and emerging nations because of
the global economic crisis. Mr Rudd discussed the problems facing poorer nations with the World
Bank president Robert Zoellick.

The two men have expressed concern at the prospect of rising social and political tensions in those
countries which Mr Zoellick says includes nations in the Pacific.

Mr Rudd has issued a challenge to his fellow leaders who'll be attending next week's G20 meeting to
forge a consensus to deal with the economic crisis and the challenges faced by poorer nations.

KEVIN RUDD: None of us want to see social crisis, political instability across those economies and
across those countries. It is not good for them but furthermore it is not good for the
international community or the global economy as well.

The, we are in a globalised world where what happens in emerging economies, what happens in
developing economies washes back in through the financial system to the rest of the global economy
as well.

So there is enlightened self interest here and there is the right thing to do, which is to look
after those who are least able to look after themselves.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Mr Zoellick has echoed that concern.

ROBERT ZOELLICK: As this crisis lengthens and deepens I think one of the great concerns will be the
social and political aspects of it and the wave effects. And that's one reason why Prime Minister
and I have particularly focused on the protectionism issue, because as unemployment increases,
people will start to get pressured to do something. If they feel that they've used other tools they
might start to take steps that could become highly negative.

So as I said last week, I think 2009 is a dangerous year economically.

LYNDAL CURTIS: What Mr Rudd hasn't echoed are the comments from the European Union President, the
now ousted Czech leader, that the US stimulus plan is the 'road to hell'.

Mr Rudd says the US plan is in line with IMF recommendations.

KEVIN RUDD: My advice is that what you have from the US administration is something in the vicinity
of two per cent in calendar year 09. Therefore it's consistent with considered international
opinion from what has historically been a conservative institution, the International Monetary
Fund. That's the first point.

The second is the alternative of not acting - the tens of millions of people who would be out of
work around the world were it not for this level of fiscal stimulus by those governments, members
of the G20 and beyond, who are currently investing.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The World Bank president says he welcomes Mr Rudd's suggestion that the G20 build in
what he calls 'feedback loops' to review what measures are working and what aren't.

This is Lyndal Curtis in Washington reporting for The World Today.

Bikies consider peace talks

Bikies consider peace talks

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:22:00

Reporter: Lisa Millar

ELEANOR HALL: An expert on bikie violence says that peace talks between the gangs might be the only
way to deal with the deadly problem in New South Wales. The feud that involves five bikie gangs
including the Hells Angels and the Comancheros is threatening to escalate.

And Arthur Veno, who's studied gangs for two decades, says peace talks are more likely to succeed
than tough legislation banning the groups. But the New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees says it's
too late for talking.

Lisa Millar has our report.

LISA MILLAR: After months of unrest, shootings and fatal assaults at least one of the bikie gangs
is suggesting sitting down for peace talks.

The Comancheros' lawyer Lesly Randle outlined the conditions of the offer.

LESLY RANDLE: There will be no bikes ridden and there will be no colours or emblems worn by any
persons that he is associated with.

LISA MILLAR: The police gang squad has made it clear it's not negotiating with the bikies and that
they're on notice. The police are concentrating on every step they take.

LISA MILLAR: Arthur Veno from Monash University has spent his career studying bikie gangs and says
peace talks are the only way forward, creating a confederation of clubs where they thrash things
out at weekly or monthly meetings.

He says a model that's worked in the north-east of America allows two members from each club to
attend the meeting.

ARTHUR VENO: The model that is on offer, as I would see it, is that the bikies clean their act up
through a form of what's called the confederation of clubs, or they face the fact that they're
going to be under incredible police scrutiny, which is in nobody's interests, particularly the
majority of non-criminal members.

LISA MILLAR: Why do you think the Comancheros have come out with this suggestion of peace talks
now?

ARTHUR VENO: Well because they are directly under the hammer and quite frankly I, I have very
little trust in the Comancheros, based on my experiences with them, in terms of their intentions
etc.

LISA MILLAR: So you think this mightn't even be sincere?

ARTHUR VENO: Unfortunately I would be cynical but nevertheless I would take the opportunity to, ah,
to do what they say in the good faith that it would allow for the establishment of a confederation
of clubs model.

LISA MILLAR: But the New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees isn't convinced peace talks will solve
anything.

NATHAN REES: The key departure from history here has been the spilling over into the public domain
of violent incidents and we will not tolerate that. That's why these laws are going to be, we're
reviewing existing laws with a view to bringing them in as quickly as possible.

LISA MILLAR: And he says it's extraordinary that suggestions have been made that police officers
should provide protection during any planned talks. But Arthur Veno says possible peace talks could
be the only solution.

ARTHUR VENO: Our only hope really is to grab the bull by the horns and try these lateral kinds of
moves. It's, if we do this, we've got a chance at actually bringing alongside a peace and a sense
of public safety which is the real problem when you look at the amount of crime that the clubs are,
you know, involved in.

For example in your state, New South Wales, they account for, all gang crime, accounts for 0.6 of
one per cent of total crime. Now how much resources do we want to pour down that tube?

I think if we can get the bikies up and into a peace negotiation situation which results in a
functional, functional club, then, excuse me - functional confederation of clubs, where wars are
diverted, that's a hell of a lot cheaper and a hell of a lot more effective than legislation.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Monash University academic Arthur Veno ending that report from Lisa Millar.

Hundreds more mining jobs to go

Hundreds more mining jobs to go

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:26:00

Reporter: Annie Guest

ELEANOR HALL: The mining giant BHP Billiton is preparing to sack 400 miners at the company's
central Queensland coal mine. This brings the number of miners laid off across the country in
recent months to more than 11,000.

Mining unions are warning that the workers have few prospects of finding jobs elsewhere but the
mayor of Australia's biggest coal mining region says the local economy hasn't collapsed yet.

In Brisbane, Annie Guest reports.

ANNIE GUEST: Workers turning up for shifts at two central Queensland coal mines have been hearing
the bad news.

Steve Pierce is from the mining division of the CFMEU (Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union).

STEVE PIERCE: Oh they're pretty shattered at the moment. Obviously they're going to be unemployed.
They're going to be looking, you know they're going to be looking for employment.

But as I said, given that there are a very large number of both tradespeople and operators that
have been made redundant since Christmastime then employment within the industry is almost
nonexistent.

ANNIE GUEST: The contractors work at coal mines operated by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, known
as BMA. Macmahon Contractors and HMP Constructions have told The World Today BMA has told them
their mining contracts won't be renewed.

In total, they'll axe up to 400 jobs at Goonyella Mine at Moranbah and Norwich Park near Dysart in
the next few months, although they may find jobs elsewhere for some people.

In January BHP Billiton foreshadowed cuts at its New South Wales and Queensland coal mines. Today
it wouldn't talk or confirm job losses, with a spokeswoman saying the company doesn't intend giving
a running commentary on the cuts.

The union's Steve Pierce again:

STEVE PIERCE: As I understand from talking to our members out there that yesterday morning and the
previous night at the start of the shift senior management people called them all in and advised
them that BHP had advised their respective companies that they weren't proceeding with
pre-stripping contracts beyond the 30th of April.

ANNIE GUEST: And pre-stripping is the process of removing the top soil etc from the coal prior to
mining. There were some announcements earlier this year from BHP that there would be cuts in its
coal mines, so were workers prepared to some extent for this announcement?

STEVE PIERCE: No. There was obviously a view that given the numbers of contractors at different BHP
sites that had been finished up since Christmas and that none of these companies had been advised
by BMA that their contracts were at risk, that there was a view that obviously these pre-stripping
contracts and the work these people were engaged to do was going to continue.

ANNIE GUEST: It brings to more than 11,000 the number of miners whose jobs have been axed
Australia-wide since the economic downturn. Some mines have been shut down, including nickel and
copper operations in Western Australia and Queensland. Others have scaled back expansion plans or
production.

The mines suffering the cuts revealed today are in the central Queensland's Isaac Regional Council.
The Mayor, Cedric Marshall, explains the importance of coal mining to the region.

CEDRIC MARSHALL: This (inaudible) mine, there was 80-million tonne of coal rolled out of it last
year so that gives you a bit of an idea. We've got 26 operating coal mines.

ANNIE GUEST: But Councillor Marshall says so far the local economy is holding up.

CEDRIC MARSHALL: The majority of these people who have been retrenched have been living in
single-person villages right across my region and they come from various towns, be they Mackay,
Rocky, Brisbane, wherever. They're like what they refer to as a fly-in-fly-out. But they use, and
they don't have a real impact on the towns, minimal impact.

It's more the families from the permanent side of the employee workforce that has an effect in our
towns, but up 'til now fortunately it's only been very minimal.

ANNIE GUEST: And what are you hearing, if anything, from these coal miners about further
retrenchments and plans to cut back production?

CEDRIC MARSHALL: Well that will depend on, I know the contracts are going to be renegotiated before
the end of the financial year. Whether that has any effect down the track I, you know, I haven't
got a crystal ball.

ELEANOR HALL: The Mayor of Isaac Regional Council Cedric Marshall ending that report from Annie
Guest.

Clark tipped to tread the world stage

Clark tipped to tread the world stage

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:30:00

Reporter: Kerri Ritchie

ELEANOR HALL: She reached the top in New Zealand politics. Now New Zealand's former prime minister
Helen Clark is set to be appointed to the third-highest position at the United Nations.

It's not yet official but Miss Clark is shortly expected to be the first politician to be appointed
to lead the UN's Development Programme. And as New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports,
she's taking over in difficult circumstances.

KERRI RITCHIE: Helen Clark is keeping her lips sealed but everyone including Phil Goff, the man who
took over from Miss Clark as Labour Party leader, thinks she'll soon be packing her bags for New
York.

PHIL GOFF: Nothing is official until the Secretary General has made an announcement. Clearly the
Labour Party would not stand in the way of Helen Clark moving on to the third-highest position in
the United Nations.

KERRI RITCHIE: Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon is expected to announce Helen
Clark's appointment shortly.

She has the support of the man who beat her at last year's election - New Zealand Prime Minister
and National Party leader John Key.

JOHN KEY: From New Zealand's point of view it would be a tremendous honour for her and for New
Zealand.

KERRI RITCHIE: The United Nations Development Programme was set up in 1965. Its aims are to reduce
poverty, prevent the spread of disease and improve the standards of governments all over the world.

It's the most powerful position to be held by a New Zealander on the world stage for more than a
decade. Former New Zealand prime minister Mike Moore has some insight into what's ahead for Miss
Clark. He's the former head of the World Trade Organization.

MIKE MOORE: She has a high profile and I think is robust and had some good people ringing.

KERRI RITCHIE: He says with a budget in the billions, the UN's Development Programme can achieve a
lot.

MIKE MOORE: It is a very useful instrument for development. For example it could be in the
reconstruction of Afghanistan or in Iraq.

A problem in many places is appalling politicians, bad guys who take money. That's your problem and
I've dealt with a lot of these villains and I think Helen will deal too with some of them.

KERRI RITCHIE: Terence O'Brien is the former New Zealand ambassador to the United Nations.

TERENCE O'BRIEN: Well I'm assuming that she has got the position, that there isn't going to be any
last minute slip between the cup and the lip. No, it doesn't surprise me in the sense that she is
someone from whom the UN system will gain considerable benefit.

KERRI RITCHIE: But he says in some ways Helen Clark is an unusual choice.

TERENCE O'BRIEN: This job has traditionally been filled by Americans or by British people, usually
development economists, that is to say aid experts, or ex-Wall Street bankers. They have formed the
major part of the previous administrators of this.

She is the first politician, ex-politician, and certainly the first ex-prime minister ever to have
been put in this position and it's an interesting call by the Secretary General. And one can only
speculate but it's quite clear that the world is running into pretty difficult and probably
prolonged economic recession.

KERRI RITCHIE: He says in these difficult financial times, donations will take a hammering and
Helen Clark will have to call on her contacts and negotiation skills to boost the aid coffers.

TERENCE O'BRIEN: He has taken a punt by appointing a political figure, somebody who can talk to
political leaders and politicians at their own level rather than, as previously, a professional aid
administrator. It's an interesting call.

KERRI RITCHIE: Mr O'Brien says Helen Clark was the first female politician to secure three
consecutive terms in office in New Zealand. He says there's no reason why she couldn't one day lead
the United Nations.

TERENCE O'BRIEN: Well she's got the capability, no question about that. The secretary general's
position however is a much more political one than the administrator of the UNDP.

The secretary general is chosen in effect by the members of the United Nations Security Council and
the membership more widely. Here, this position is chosen by Ban Ki-moon himself. But there's no
reason why she can't move beyond this position.

KERRI RITCHIE: This is Kerri Ritchie in Auckland reporting for The World Today.

Former top cop in the dock

Former top cop in the dock

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:34:00

Reporter: Martin Cuddihy

ELEANOR HALL: A former police commissioner has been granted immunity from prosecution in return for
giving evidence against Tasmania's suspended police commissioner Jack Johnston.

Mr Johnston faces two charges of disclosing official secrets. He is accused of telling the former
Tasmanian premier Paul Lennon last year about a police investigation into senior public service
appointments. He is also accused of disclosing official secrets to the Police Minister.

ABC News reporter Martin Cuddihy has been following the story and joins us from the Magistrates
Court in Hobart.

Martin, what are the details of these allegations against Jack Johnston?

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Well Jack Johnston has pleaded not guilty to two counts of disclosing official
secrets. Now he's accused of passing on confidential information to two state government ministers
about a police investigation into a number of political appointments made by the state government
of the day.

ELEANOR HALL: So what has the former police commissioner had to say about this in the court this
morning?

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Well the former police commissioner Richard McCreadie he retired in about January
last year. He's given evidence, quite extensive evidence this morning at this preliminary hearing.
We must stress that it is indeed a preliminary hearing and not a trial at this stage.

Now Mr McCreadie told the court he'd had a conversation with a former police minister, David
Llewellyn in January of last year in the twilight of his term as police commissioner in Tasmania
and under cross-examination from defence counsel Terry Forrest QC he was asked if what had been
said in this conversation, he was asked to detail what the conversation with the police minister
was about.

The former police commissioner Richard McCreadie hesitated when he was asked that and then he asked
for a certificate from the magistrate Sam Mollard. Now this certificate is to grant him immunity
from the testimony that he was about to give.

Now neither the Crown nor the defence opposed this and they did, so magistrate Sam Mollard granted
immunity and Mr McCreadie told the court that after a private meeting with Mr Llewellyn, he didn't
go into the details of what was said, but that after the private meeting the police minister Mr
Llewellyn would have known that police were investigating these certain political appointments.

ELEANOR HALL: So how does this relate to evidence given by the former premier Paul Lennon who took
to the stand yesterday?

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Well Mr Lennon gave quite a variety of evidence yesterday. If I can just refer to
my notes on that. He told, excuse me one moment, I'm just having a look here.

He's given evidence that it was the commissioner's duty to answer his questions and also that he
was aware police were, that there was a high probability he was aware police were investigating
this government appointment.

So again, defence counsel Terry Forrest QC questioned Mr Lennon yesterday and he was asked about
his memory, he was asked to reconstruct his memory about what he would have known prior to a
meeting with Jack Johnston. Now this is in April last year when the crimes are alleged to have
taken place.

The premier told the court that he would have been suspicious prior to a meeting and that there was
a high probability that he was aware of a police investigation prior to the meeting with Jack
Johnston.

ELEANOR HALL: Now Martin Cuddihy, these are serious allegations. What penalties does Jack Johnston
face if he's found guilty?

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Well it's unclear at this stage as to what penalties he will face. I mean it could
involve prison time. We haven't got that far yet. As I say, this is still a preliminary hearing and
the matter has been committed for a trial. But this hearing is just to talk to witnesses and find
out what they know and find out what can be admitted in a Supreme Court.

ELEANOR HALL: Martin Cuddihy at the Hobart Magistrates Court, thank you.

Report finds racism the key to improved Aboriginal health

Report finds racism the key to improved Aboriginal health

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:38:00

Reporter: Samantha Donovan

ELEANOR HALL: A South Australian study suggests that the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and
non-Indigenous Australians can't be closed unless racism is tackled.

The three-year study by Flinders University researchers focused on 150 Aboriginal people living in
suburban Adelaide. It found that discrimination based on race commonly led to health problems,
including depression.

Professor Fran Baum told Samantha Donovan that only seven per cent of the people surveyed said they
didn't experience racism regularly.

FRAN BAUM: When they leave home it becomes a trial because they may well face either a racist
comment or be treated differently because they're black, and that in turn is seen to have a big
impact. People perceive that that has a big impact on their emotional wellbeing.

SAMANTHA DONOAN: Is it mainly a mental health issue or can this have physical repercussions as
well?

FRAN BAUM: Well we know from other public health research that the amount of control you have over
your life has a powerful impact on both your physical and mental health. And of course if when you
leave home and you go to a workplace or a school or a hospital or a health service and you are
treated in a way that you perceive as racist, that is taking away a lot of control from people.
Whether it's they go shopping and they feel that they're ignored in favour of other people in the
shop - all of that has a huge impact on people's health.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: So what then does the study recommend should be done to tackle the problem?

FRAN BAUM: Well what we did was we held what we call policy workshops where we invited Aboriginal
people and people who work in policy positions from government, from places like Australia Post,
from a range of government departments and we sat down with them and talked through the findings
and we came up with a series of recommendations.

And the first of those was that we have to work really hard to create what we call an Indigenous
environment for all of us. So this isn't just about focusing on Aboriginal people. It's about
ensuring that the whole of Australian society acknowledges, recognises and most importantly
celebrates the Aboriginal Indigenous history of Australia.

So we thought that was really important. And that can happen through sport; it can happen through
festivals; it can happen through telling history from an Aboriginal point of view.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: I understand that the study did actually find that poor health outcomes in
Aboriginal communities aren't necessarily due to a lack of knowledge about what are the good habits
for good health.

FRAN BAUM: No, we certainly talked to people and no-one was saying, oh dear, you know, that's news
to us that smoking affects our health. I mean it's a very complex picture of why people continue to
smoke despite the fact that they know that it's damaging to their health.

And the research around the world has shown that is to do with, you know, how you feel about
yourself, how you are treated, how you are respected, you know, what's going in the rest of your
life.

So in a way it's like the smoking, drinking is the tip of the iceberg but what's really going to
make the difference is going below the iceberg and looking at all those other factors that create a
situation where people are more likely to smoke.

And I mean one of the things we found is that, and this reflects other data, is that Aboriginal
people are less likely to drink than other Australians, quite considerably so.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: And I understand the reports also recommended that Aboriginal culture is embraced
when dealing with mental health issues. How would that be done?

FRAN BAUM: Very much so. Well when we consulted widely with people working in Aboriginal health,
one, rather than talking about mental illness, they talk about trying to achieve social and
emotional wellbeing.

And many people pointed us, to us that the sort of traditional Western model of health seems to cut
people into their component parts and it was stressed to us that an Aboriginal cultural view is
about seeing the whole person; you know, the physical, spiritual, mental, cultural, emotional,
social dimensions of your life. And so there was a call from the people we spoke to for health
services to embrace that approach.

And indeed we heard of Aboriginal-controlled health services that actually manage to do that and do
have fantastic programs that do get people to examine their history, to work together in family and
community groups and look at the social roots of mental illness.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Professor Fran Baum from Flinders University in Adelaide speaking to Samantha
Donovan.

Job providers raise concerns ahead of Govt shake-out

Job providers raise concerns ahead of Govt shake-out

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:42:00

Reporter: Meredith Griffiths

ELEANOR HALL: Youth employment groups have raised more concerns about the Federal Government's
overhaul of the job network system. The results of the tender won't be announced until next week
but the Greens say it appears that some well known job providers in Australia have been passed over
in favour of overseas firms.

And now some groups that specialise in youth unemployment are warning that the system will overlook
the specific needs of young people.

Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Australia's youth unemployment rate has hit its highest point in eight years.

Many of the young people now struggling to find full-time jobs are turning to organisations like
the WAYS (Waverley Action for Youth Services) Youth Service in Sydney. WAYS is now helping around
700 young people find work, but that will end in July.

Karen McLaughlan is the organisation's business manager

KAREN MCLAUGHLAN: A significant portion of the organisation will in fact close down, the employment
services plus a number of other services, because we have used the surpluses that we've made
through the job network contract and particularly to help resource other underfunded federal and
state government programs.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: More than half of WAYS's funding comes from its contract to be one of the
Federal Government's accredited job providers.

But while she has not been officially notified, Karen McLaughlan says she's certain that WAYS will
no longer receive federal funding once the Government's overhaul of employment services is
completed.

KAREN MCLAUGHLAN: It would be easy for us to be seen as just having sour grapes about this but the
point is that to deliver services to marginalised people it requires an integrated service delivery
model which is what we offer. And it's taken us years to build that because we have strong
relationships with community partners, with employers, individuals in the community.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: She says it's young people who will miss out.

KAREN MCLAUGHLAN: If there's no specialist provider say in our area of Eastern Sydney that means
that all of the young people that we currently assist will go into a service that is a generalist
employment service.

Now we know that there are particular things that need to happen to help young people engage in
services. They need consistency, they need predictability. They need people who understand their
needs and have access to a range of resources that can help them. And we don't believe that a
generalist employment service can do that.

Within our organisation itself we have a counselling service, we have a GP clinic, we have a sexual
health clinic - all the kind of difficulties that young people need assistance to overcome so that
they can in fact enter into employment, training and education, well sustainable types of options
for them.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Karen McLaughlan says WAYS is not the only youth service to miss out, but that
the others are too afraid to speak out for fear of jeopardising future funding.

The peak body representing employment agencies says it has heard that many important organisations
who work with young people have overlooked. George Giuliani is the deputy chief executive of Jobs
Australia.

GEORGE GIULIANI: Many of these providers have spent many, many years developing a very
sophisticated service delivery. They know what young people need and they have packaged up a whole
range of things to help them.

And so when they lose those contracts that are so integral to their work, they wonder how will a
new provider build all the things that we have built in many, many years? How will they just come
in and deliver that without the links to community?

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The Federal Government says the new system has been designed so services are
tailor-made to an unemployed persons' needs, but has not responded to The World Today's questions
about the specific impact on young people.

George Giuliani from Jobs Australia can't say 'til after the tenders are announced next week
whether or not young people will be disadvantaged.

GEORGE GIULIANI: When those results are announced there will be some very, very detailed scrutiny
of the successful tenderers to see how is it that this person or this, sorry, how is it that this
organisation is going to do a better job than the one that we've lost?

ELEANOR HALL: That's George Giuliani from Jobs Australia, ending that report by Meredith Griffiths.

Fears over new superbug strain beyond hospital walls

Fears over new superbug strain beyond hospital walls

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:46:00

Reporter: Sara Everingham

ELEANOR HALL: Antibiotic resistant staph infections have been known to cause havoc in hospitals but
infectious disease experts are warning that a variant of the bacteria is becoming more common in
the community.

Researchers at the Mater Children's Hospital in Brisbane have found a community-acquired strain of
the bug now makes up 12 per cent of all staph infections.

Sara Everingham has our report.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In the past staph infections have been acquired in hospitals but now they're
increasingly being acquired in the community.

Associate Professor Clare Nourse, a paediatric infections specialist at the Mater Children's
Hospital in Brisbane has just delivered a paper on the subject at an infectious diseases conference
in the Hunter Valley.

CLARE NOURSE: The first reports were in the early '90s which were sporadic reports in certain
communities. But now based on some recent research at the Mater Children's Hospital we suspect that
10 to 12 per cent of children and probably adults too may have the resistant version of the bug
when they develop staph aureus infections.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And this is the community acquired...

CLARE NOURSE: MRSA, yes.

SARA EVERINGHAM: MRSA is methicillin-resistant staph aureus and that's a bug that's resistant to a
group of antibiotics. MRSA is what's existed in hospitals and it's a strain of MRSA that's being
seen increasingly in the community.

CLARE NOURSE: It has a great propensity for spread. It spreads easily, usually through skin-to-skin
contact. So it spreads quickly through communities with high numbers of people living in a
household or through sports which involve a lot of skin-to-skin contact.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And how serious is it, this community-acquired strain?

CLARE NOURSE: Usually when children or adults develop staff aureus, staphylococcus aureus
infections, they involve the skin and manifest as boils, infected mosquito bites, impetigo, school
sores. You can get, patients can develop infected wounds. And usually they're mild infections but
the significant fact now is that they may not respond to the traditional antibiotics we use.

However in small numbers of cases these infections can progress on and patients can develop
bloodstream infections, pneumonia, arthritis and life-threatening infection in a small number of
cases.

SARA EVERINGHAM: There are differences between the hospital and community-acquired strains,
particularly when it comes to treatment and Clare Nourse says proper diagnosis is essential.

CLARE NOURSE: It is important now that this strain has emerged in the community that we don't
assume that it will respond to the usual antibiotics we prescribe like flucloxacillin, kefalexin.
It's important now that staph aureus infection before they're treated are swabbed and a sample of
the material is sent to the laboratory so that we can identify exactly what the bug is.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And using the right antibiotics will also prevent the community-acquired strain of
the bug from becoming resistant to more antibiotics.

Warren Grubb is an emeritus professor of microbiology at Curtin University.

WARREN GRUBB: In the past the strain could be treated with some of the very old antibiotics before
these new antibiotics were introduced, these newer betalactans. And what we're finding is that we
have isolating community strains which are acquiring resistance to these other antibiotics and
that's a worry. So the worry is that they'll become multi-resistant like the hospital MRSA.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And is there anything that can be done about that to prevent that?

WARREN GRUBB: You can let people know that these strains are around and what they can be treated
with.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Associate Professor Clare Nourse wants more to be done to make sure the community
acquired strain of MRSA is properly diagnosed and treated.

ELEANOR HALL: Sara Everingham reporting.