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The buck stops with me, says Fitzgibbon

The buck stops with me, says Fitzgibbon

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

Reporter: Sabra Lane

TANYA NOLAN: The Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says he's sorry, but he's not going anywhere.

The embattled Minister fronted the media this morning to express his regret at not disclosing two
trips to China he made during his time in Opposition that were paid for by his long-time friend
Helen Liu.

Mr Fitzgibbon's relationship with the wealthy businesswoman is at the centre of allegations that
the Defence Department has been spying on its own minister.

The Prime Minister says he's disappointed Mr Fitzgibbon failed to disclose the gifts and says he
expects better in the future.

But the Opposition has raised concerns about the Government's dealings with China and is calling
for the Defence Minister to be sacked.

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: While he travels the world, the Prime Minister is still hounded by questions from back

KEVIN RUDD: I'm disappointed that he did not make these declarations back then. Um, I expect better
of Mr Fitzgibbon in the future.

SABRA LANE: Read that as a final warning.

Fairfax newspapers published claims yesterday that figures within the Defence Department had spied
on its own minister, Joel Fitzgibbon.

They were apparently concerned by the minister's close friendship with Chinese-born businesswoman
Helen Liu.

Defence is conducting an inquiry into the spying claims yet now the story's become an issue of
transparency for Mr Fitzgibbon.

Yesterday he defended his relationship with Ms Liu.

REPORTER 1: Have any of your trips to Beijing been paid by Miss Liu or any of her companies?

JOEL FITZGIBBON: I've said on a number of occasions, I've had a close personal relationship for the
Lius and the family for some 16 years now and over that period of time there has been an exchange
of a number of small gifts; for example, on birthdays etc.

No-one has ever raised concern...

(Sound of reporter's muffled question)

No, very small gifts.

SABRA LANE: But last night his office released a statement of clarification, including an apology.

Mr Fitzgibbon expanded on that this morning at Newcastle before he attended the funeral of an
Australian solider killed in Afghanistan.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: Last night I issued a written statement which I expressed regret for an omission -
my failure to declare that in 2002 and 2005 I accepted sponsored travel to China. I do deeply
regret that omission and I sincerely apologise for it.

REPORTER 2: You said you'd received small gifts; are these small, in your eyes?

JOEL FITZGIBBON: No, these are not small gifts. That would not be anybody's interpretation and I
sincerely regret my failure to disclose those trips and I apologise for it. The buck stops with me
on this.

SABRA LANE: And he gave a little more information about why he took the trips.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: The trips were typically a cultural exchange, meeting with Chinese political
officials, getting a better understanding of their economy and their structures of Government, and
the relationship, very important relationship between our two countries.

SABRA LANE: But the minister couldn't really explain why he'd failed to update the parliamentary

JOEL FITZGIBBON: It's just difficult for me to say, basically. It was a long time ago, they weren't
weighing on my mind. I was working on the assumption that that sponsored travel had been declared;
I was wrong.

SABRA LANE: Mr Fitzgibbon says he's made a forensic examination of his records during the past 24
hours and says there's nothing more to declare.

And he's dodged questions on whether he expects to keep his job after the release of the defence
white paper next month.

REPORTER 3: Do you feel safe in your position?

JOEL FITZGIBBON: I was very pleased with the expressions of confidence overnight from the Prime
Minister. I believed, ultimately, I'll be judged not on an omission from you know, four and eight
years ago - whatever it might have been - but on how well I manage the defence organisation.

Mr Fitzgibbon apologised for the omissions because the acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard ordered
him to.

That's not good enough for the Federal Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: And the real test now is on Mr Rudd. This is all about Mr Rudd. Is he going to be
a responsible Prime Minister and put a competent person in as Defence Minister, or is he going to
allow Joel Fitzgibbon to stumble along, bungling, stumbling, failing to disclose his true affairs,
losing the confidence of his own department and the defence forces?

It's unsustainable, it's untenable; Fitzgibbon has to go.

SABRA LANE: On the Seven network the shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said Mr Fitzgibbon's trip
illustrated a worrying pattern of behaviour by Labor MPs.

JOE HOCKEY: Kevin Rudd received free trips when he was in Opposition, from Chinese interests. Wayne
Swan the Treasurer received these trips; Tony Burke, the Agriculture Minister. Now we hear about
the Defence Minister receiving free trips from China.

At the same time we learn today that the Australian Government is borrowing around $500-million a
week from the Chinese Government.

What's going on?

SABRA LANE: Speaking on Sky TV, former Labor senator Stephen Loosely said he was concerned the
direction of the political debate may harm Australia's interests.

STEPHEN LOOSELY: Beating the drum on Chinese investment, talking about the Government being too
close to China and so on and so forth, is not very helpful, particularly when every economic
commentator in the country is looking to a Chinese recovery in the latter half of 2009 going into
2010 to help lift us up out of the downturn.

SABRA LANE: Meanwhile the Attorney-General Robert McClelland has issued a statement this morning
about ASIO, that the spy agency's acting director general of security says the organisation has no
information relating to Ms Liu which would give rise to any security concern regarding her
activities or associations.

TANYA NOLAN: Sabra Lane reporting.

Police prepare for Hells Angels funeral

Police prepare for Hells Angels funeral

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

Reporter: Lisa Millar

TANYA NOLAN: Police are promising a 'low level and discreet' presence at the funeral this afternoon
of the Hells Angels associate who was killed in last weekend's brawl at Sydney airport.

But behind the scenes police are promising a massive effort to end the bikie violence in New South
Wales that's threatening to spill over into a full-scale war. Strike Force Raptor comes into effect
today with 75 police targeting the outlaw motorcycle gangs.

But at least one bikie leader has told ABC Radio war is a definite possibility and recruits are
already coming in from interstate and overseas in preparation.

Lisa Millar reports.

LISA MILLAR: Sydney's bikie story continues to develop every day. Late this morning another man
handed himself in to police over Sunday's airport brawl.

Police Minister Tony Kelly.

TONY KELLY: My understanding is this man has come forward with his solicitor to the police and he's
now in custody and assisting the police with their enquiries.

LISA MILLAR: So how many people do we have now that have been arrested in connection with this?

TONY KELLY: Well there's the original four; this is an additional person. There are likely to be

LISA MILLAR: This afternoon, bikies will gather for the funeral of Anthony Zervas, the 29-year-old
brother of a Hells Angels member, who was allegedly bashed to death in front of a horrified crowd.

At such a tense time in Sydney's bikie rivalries police are being coy about what they're expecting,
only saying there's an operation in place for the funeral and they will have a presence.

Today is also the day Strike Force Raptor comes into play, formed to target outlaw gangs.

Assistant Police Commissioner David Hudson from the State Crime Command told 2GB he's confident
police can out-power the bikies.

DAVID HUDSON: We certainly do. As you're probably aware, Strike Force Raptor commences today - 75
police attached to the gang squad, supplementary attachments to the gang squad, to get on the front
foot with these gangs.

LISA MILLAR: But it's not likely to be easy. AM this morning revealed what could lie ahead.

Reporter Michael Edwards rode with a bikie leader and his six bodyguards. The man refused to do an
interview on tape or let his name be published, but he made it clear Sydney's bikie war is far from

He's not interested in a peace deal and warned that reinforcements from interstate and overseas
have already arrived in Sydney and are preparing for a war.

The Comanchero bikies want peace talks as early as this weekend, worried that the State Government
will push ahead with its plan for tough new legislation outlawing the gangs.

Lawyer Lesly Randle yesterday said the Comanchero president Mick Hawi, who was on the flight into
Sydney airport on Sunday, had already spoken with the Bandidos, Rebels and Notorious.

She's disappointed by the attitude of the unnamed bikie and says it doesn't assist with trying to
ease the public's concern.

There have been dozens of drive-by shootings since the bikie war began and police are concerned
that innocent bystanders will end up becoming the victims.

VOX POP 1: There's always going to be rivals here, there and everywhere. So it's just something
that's hot at the moment. It's nothing really that's going to blow out of proportion really, I
don't believe.

VOX POP 2: No, not for me personally, but I think a lot of people will be hurt because they're
caught up in the violence unnecessarily, as they were at the airport.

VOX POP 3: The bikies, from what I gather they sort of stick to their own. They only hurt their
own. I don't think they'll hurt anybody else, but I still don't think it's good. But they tend to
sort things out themselves.

VOX POP 4: It is a worry, a concern because I live near the inner city, and it's sort of happening
around me out near Petersham and that, so I'm sort of close to it. So yeah, it's a problem. Yeah it
is a worry. I hope it doesn't get any worse, but...

LISA MILLAR: Duncan McNab, a former police detective and co-author of 'Dead Man Running', thinks
this latest development is another step up in the public relations war the gangs are mounting.

DUNCAN MCNAB: This is obviously a return of serve of the Comancheros offer of a sit-down, so-called
peace brokering deal.

LISA MILLAR: You're a former New South Wales detective; what do you think is going on behind the
scenes at the moment?

DUNCAN MCNAB: I think it is still completely and utterly unpredictable. I wouldn't be at all
surprised if the war escalates sooner rather than later.

LISA MILLAR: So this bikie leader who spoke to AM this morning could be speaking the truth when he
warns that the bikie war has barely even started.

DUNCAN MCNAB: Yeah, I think he's probably pretty much on the money. I think the bikie war has been
simmering for quite some time now and this is just another, albeit much larger flare-up.

I mean we've been having problems for years with these guys and I think as, you know, as I've said
before, it's really a dispute over turf and at the end of the day money, so they're not going to
give up easily.

LISA MILLAR: What about this claim that reinforcements are coming from interstate and overseas?

DUNCAN MCNAB: I wouldn't be even remotely surprised. The bike gangs historically, both here and
overseas, have an enormously strong, close network. So reinforcements coming in from interstate or
overseas wouldn't surprise me at all.

I just rather hope that when half a dozen burly blokes arrive from US, Canada or somewhere in Asia
and get to customs that our gentlemen at the customs desk might give them a good going over.

LISA MILLAR: Duncan McNab is a former New South Wales police detective and co-author of 'Dead Man

Rudd warns of recession or depression if G20 fails

Rudd warns of recession or depression if G20 fails

The World Today - Friday, 27 March , 2009 12:21:00

Reporter: Peter Ryan

TANYA NOLAN: The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has warned of a prolonged global recession or even a
depression if next week's G20 meeting in London collapses because of disagreement and self

Speaking earlier today in Washington Mr Rudd has highlighted the need for coordinated political
action to avoid a repeat of the acrimony and descent into protectionism that exacerbated the Great

Mr Rudd has also joined the US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in calling for a super regulator
to rein in the global financial system.

I'm joined now in the studio now by our business editor Peter Ryan.

Well, this week we've seen some positive signs that the global financial crisis might be easing.
Are the Prime Minister's fears about recession or depression unfounded?

PETER RYAN: Well Tanya, Kevin Rudd is a keen student of history and as a former diplomat he knows
all too well that at many summits, national self interest is more often than not the overriding

But he believes next week's G20 summit should be different and it will be critical in tearing down
those fear-laden barriers and keeping protectionism at bay.

And of course one target is the US Congress, which is already showing signs that trade barriers are
getting tougher.

Mr Rudd used the example of a critical 1933 summit at the height of the Great Depression, also in
London, where world leaders simply couldn't reach agreement on how to resolve the crisis. As a
result the depression got worse, trade barriers increased and currencies were devalued.

Seventy-six years on, Mr Rudd is clearly concerned that without global unity, the mistakes of the
Great Depression could be repeated.

KEVIN RUDD: The challenges are great. The urgency is great. The obstacles are substantial. History
reminds us of the consequences when nations fail to work together.

In the midst of a crisis we are in danger of markets and governments being overwhelmed by

At its core however, the challenges we face are clear for all to see. The policy responses also are
relatively clear. Political will is what is needed most to prosecute that course of action.

TANYA NOLAN: That was the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaking in Washington earlier today.

Well Peter, he's definitely targeting his audiences while he's overseas. What sort of solutions is
Kevin Rudd proposing?

PETER RYAN: Well that's right Tanya. This speech was designed to rattle some very specific cages
within the G20, ahead of next week's meeting, and the Prime Minister was clearly working to set the
agenda today.

For example, he's called for a rapid reform of the International Monetary Fund, which failed to
accurately predict the extent of the crisis, and he wants changes to its funding mechanism.

He wants tougher regulation of financial institutions and markets, including those mysterious hedge
funds, and importantly a 12-month ban on protectionist policy is coming into effect.

And he wants countries to do more on the lines of pump-priming economies that we've seen in recent
months, perhaps at the level of two per cent of GDP next year.

TANYA NOLAN: And the Prime Minister's comments coincide with plans for an all-out regulatory
assault announced by the US Treasury Secretary today. How has the market responded to that idea?

PETER RYAN: Well it's been a big week on Wall Street. Wall Street has rallied and over the week
today's gains have extended the market's best monthly gain since 1974.

And there is indeed renewed optimism that the plan might just work, even though it means the
effective printing of trillions of US dollars to get toxic assets off bank balance sheets.

And as you said, Timothy Geithner wants to go further. He wants that single regulatory body. In
particular he wants to control institutions deemed 'too big to fail'. That's a clear reference to
the insurance giant American International Group, which is at the heart of this crisis and the
controversy over multi-million dollar performance bonuses paid out to groups of executives.

And for the first time he wants to regulate the multi-trillion dollar derivatives industry,
including credit default swaps that are at the heart of the financial can of worms we're seeing

TANYA NOLAN: The trillion-dollar question - will it all be enough to drag the world out of the

PETER RYAN: Well there's a lot of pressure on this single G20 meeting, but also on Barack Obama to
deliver a solution that will rescue the US economy and ultimately the global financial system.

He has taken historic action this week, long awaited action but the reality is that he can only
touch the tip of this financial iceberg and manage expectations of when the system might actually
return to normal.

The 'New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman, summed up the challenge for the US President in
quite a scary way when he spoke on 'Lateline' last night.

(Excerpt from Lateline, 26/3/08)

TOM FRIEDMAN: One thing that has been missing from the beginning, is a sense of, for the average
American, how big this problem is, and, you know, the image I've really been using from the
beginning of this crisis is that incredible scene in the movie 'Jaws' where Roy Scheider first
beholds the great white shark.

And after he sees the shark he walks, you know, wide-eyed up to the captain and he says, 'We're
going to need a bigger boat'.

And we are going to need a bigger boat. And right now, that sense that this is so big. You know,
Leigh, we built up a credit bubble that was this big!

And you know what that means? The hole we're in is (makes sound effect) this deep!

And I think the President still hasn't quite conveyed that to the American people.

(End of excerpt)

TANYA NOLAN: Wrestling with sharks. That's 'New York Times' columnist Tom Friedman and that
analysis from our business editor Peter Ryan.

Chinese corporate leaders say it's good for business

Chinese corporate leaders say it's good for business

The World Today - Friday, 27 March , 2009 12:27:00

Reporter: Sue Lannin

TANYA NOLAN: The debate over the Defence Minister's associates has again raised concern about the
influence of Chinese interests in Australia.

The Foreign Investment Review Board is poring over applications by Chinese state owned companies to
increase their stakes in the nation's mining assets.

At the top of the list is Beijing-backed Chinalco's plan to double its holdings in Rio Tinto. That
would see Chinalco holding a stake in key operations like the giant Hammersley iron ore operation
in Western Australia.

Chinese corporate leaders are playing down concerns over their strong interest in Australian assets
and say it's all about good business opportunities in a globalised world.

Finance reporter Sue Lannin met senior Chinese executives who have been visiting Australia to study
corporate culture.

(Sound of somebody speaking Mandarin)

SUE LANNIN: The talk was about partnership for the Chinese business leaders who were in Australia
this week as guests of the University of Technology, Sydney.

(Laughter and applause)

Jiang Xinghong is the deputy chief executive of Shougang, China's fourth largest steelmaker. He
says Australians should not be concerned about Chinese investment.

JIANG XINGHONG (translated): We always obey all the regulations and laws of China when we do
business in China. When we do business in Australia, we also obey all the regulations and laws.

SUE LANNIN: Shougang holds a 40 per cent stake in Mt Gibson Iron, an iron ore miner in Western
Australia. The global financial crisis hit Mt Gibson hard. In November the cash-strapped company
went to its Chinese investors to ask for more money.

Mr Jiang says Shougang is happy with the investment.

JIANG XINGHONG (translated): The cooperation is very successful. But the next stage will require
more negotiation to perfect the partnership and to allow us to cooperate more closely. It's not
easy to predict right now but we believe it is very successful.

SUE LANNIN: Major Chinese investment in Australia goes back to 1987 when Sinosteel and Rio Tinto
teamed up to develop the Channar iron ore mine in Western Australia.

Many Australian miners depend heavily on their international partners so they can expand.

Mr Jiang says Shougang is looking for more opportunities.

JIANG XINGHONG (translated): We have several partnerships with Australian companies. We have learnt
a lot, we have got back a lot back - everybody's happy.

During the financial crisis, it is very important to cooperate.

We're a very large company. We think in terms of human resources, technology and mining. There are
a lot of investment opportunities.

SUE LANNIN: Another company that's not ruling out expansion is Huating Coal Group, a giant coal
company based in north-western China.

Zhu Tongyin is the chief executive.

ZHU TONGYIN (translated): We're a resources company and we have various businesses. Our supplies in
China will last for a hundred years, and we produce 20-million tonnes of coal every year.

We don't have any plans for an international merger and acquisition at the moment, but obviously in
the future we may consider it.

SUE LANNIN: Chinese government companies are closely controlled by Beijing. They get finance from
state-run banks. Executives must get permission to travel overseas, as they compete to be noticed
on the foreign investment stage.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, or Lu Kewen as he is known in Mandarin, is well liked by China.

Jing Dechun from the China National Petroleum Corporation, one of the world's biggest oil
companies, says it's all about globalisation.

JING DECHUN (translated): I understand your Prime Minister is arguing for a more important role for
China in the global economic system and that would be good for everybody.

SUE LANNIN: And with China the biggest holder of US government debt, Beijing's role in the world is
set to get bigger.

TANYA NOLAN: That's finance reporter Sue Lannin.

River Murray at one of its worst points in history

River Murray at one of its worst points in history

The World Today - Friday, 27 March , 2009 12:32:00

Reporter: Nance Haxton

TANYA NOLAN: The mouth of the River Murray is now in such a parlous state that the South Australian
Premier says it's his main motivation for considering High Court action against the Victorian

Lake Alexandrina was yesterday almost a metre below sea level and parts of the Coorong that
surround the river mouth are up to six times saltier than sea water.

Scientists and Aboriginal guides in the region warn the Coorong may never return to the mix of
fresh and salt water that it has been for thousands of years.

And Premier Mike Rann says it's time for Victoria to treat the Murray River as Australia's river
and give up its four per cent cap on trading water licences.

Nance Haxton reports from the Murray Mouth.

(Sound of boat engine)

LAURIE AGIUS (over the sound of boat motor): Okay, so now we're ready to go so hold on guys...

NANCE HAXTON: Aboriginal cultural ranger Laurie Agius looks around the Murray mouth on one of his
daily boat patrols and doesn't like what he sees.

LAURIE AGIUS: With me, it's a Catch-22. It'll be sadder if we didn't have the dredge there and it
blocked up. I'm sad that it came to this point. Our people have been saying for a long time now
that we'd like a lot more input into the situation on the Murray Darling, on the Murray River, and
all that sort of stuff. So to come to this point yes, it makes us sad.

NANCE HAXTON: The mouth is the traditional border between two Ngarrindjeri clans but it's a shadow
of what it once was - reduced to only a few metres wide. And if the State Government wasn't
dredging that opening, it would close up completely.

LAURIE AGIUS: So we're in the Murray mouth at the moment.

NANCE HAXTON: We're in it now!

LAURIE AGIUS: We're in it now.

NANCE HAXTON: And it's not very wide really, is it?

LAURIE AGIUS: Not at the moment, no.

NANCE HAXTON: Twenty metres?

DAVID PATON: Maybe a bit more.

LAURIE AGIUS: Thirty metres maybe.

NANCE HAXTON: Yep. But for the mouth of Australia's largest river system, that's not very big.

LAURIE AGIUS: It's pretty poor. It's really pretty poor.

NANCE HAXTON: Scientist Dr David Paton says the mouth of the river is now at one of the worst
points in its history and no longer has an estuary at its mouth.

NANCE HAXTON: So this would normally be free-flowing, or where the sand is?

DAVID PATON: In the past, and normally this would be much deeper.

But the important thing to appreciate is before we started taking all the water out, even over the
last 100 years, flows would have been going through the mouth 99 per cent of the time. And this was
actually an estuary.

At present it's actually a marine system because there is no estuary; there's no fresh water mixing
with the marine water in this system, and effectively hasn't been for seven years.

NANCE HAXTON: Constitutional lawyers and water experts met with the South Australian Government
this week to discuss legal options available to get more water down the River Murray.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann says the state of the Lower Lakes and Murray mouth are his main
motivation for considering High Court action against the Victorian Government.

He says Victoria's cap on trading water licences is the only impediment left to getting more water
flowing down the river.

MIKE RANN: We need to remove this artificial restraint on trade so we can get water down the river

NANCE HAXTON: Premier Brumby though has said that lifting that cap would devastate irrigation in
communities in Victoria. How do you respond to that?

MIKE RANN: What we're simply asking for is fairness. If people want to sell, why can't it be sold?
The whole idea is the River Murray should be run on the basis of science. The river's health can be
determined by the end of the river and the end of the river is in a parlous and perilous state. So
we need water to come down.

What we're doing is in the interest of all the river, not just one part of it. I mean, you cannot
say on the one hand that it's, that you know, the life of the river is important to the nation, and
then still try to run it in a way where it's divided in four parts rather than as one whole river.

This is about an entire River Murray system and if the Victorians want to act like environmental
vandals, then I think they're going to have to face us in court.

NANCE HAXTON: Laurie Agius and Dr David Paton are supportive of any move that might bring more
fresh water back to the Murray mouth and the sensitive Coorong wetlands that surround it.

DAVID PATON: Therefore we should be trying to find ways in which we don't let the lakes deteriorate
beyond recovery, we don't let this Coorong system drop below recovery, but we find a way of
actually saying we want to keep it in a state where when we fix the flows - and we have to fix the
flows - over allocation cannot continue - we actually have a system we can bring back to where it
is; we can have it in a state that you can recover the components that were the thing which made
this really an asset that most of us have ignored, but it's truly remarkable.

LAURIE AGIUS: So we've got to change our mode of thinking in this country. Everyone's thinking
about the river as a money value. It's not a money value, it's an ecological thing, it's a natural
thing and we've got to treat it as such.

TANYA NOLAN: That's Aboriginal cultural leader Laurie Agius.

600km algae outbreak on Murray

600km algae outbreak on Murray

The World Today - Friday, 27 March , 2009 12:37:00

Reporter: Simon Lauder

TANYA NOLAN: In another sign of how sick the Murray River is, an outbreak of blue-green algae has
stretched across hundreds of kilometres of the waterway.

Outbreaks usually happen in the backwaters of the system, but this one is in the main channel of
the river and extends for 600 kilometres.

Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: Just east of Albury-Wodonga lies Lake Hume. When it's full it holds six times as much
water as Sydney Harbour. But now it's less than five per cent full, which means the nutrients on
the bottom are close enough to the surface to create blue-green algae.

DAVID HARRIS: It is potentially toxic in that it can cause skin and eye irritations on contact and
we certainly don't recommend it for washing or for cooking or for drinking.

SIMON LAUDER: The deputy director general of the New South Wales Department of Water, David Harris,
says the algae has been detected from Lake Hume to Barham.

DAVID HARRIS: There are areas where the bloom is pretty thick.

SIMON LAUDER: And is it true it stretches as far as 600 kilometres along the river?

DAVID HARRIS: Well, we've got high levels at Barham, which is probably about that distance
downstream from Hume dam. But as I said, they're not continuous, it's not like it's a continuous
stretch of the river as it was in the Darling, you know, 15 years ago.

SIMON LAUDER: Mr Harris says it's one of the most severe outbreaks the middle Murray has ever seen.
He says there's not enough water in reserve to flush the outbreak away so it will only die off when
water temperatures drop.

DAVID HARRIS: We normally get the incidence of algae and it's particularly in the backwaters in the
Murray system and most systems throughout New South Wales and Victoria, but it's not where it
causes such consequences as this can potentially do.

You know, we've had an extended dry period. We don't have any water available to provide a flushing
flow, so we don't really have any operating capacity to disperse the flows.

SIMON LAUDER: The bloom has prompted the river's Algal Coordinating Committee to issue a
'red-alert', its strongest warning to people to stay away from the water.

It may be unusual for some areas but on Lake Hume where the outbreak started, locals describe
blue-green algae as a fact of life.

KEVIN DOWNEY: Look, I think it's an individual choice. If they want to use the lake, the warnings
are there.

SIMON LAUDER: Kevin Downey is the part owner of the Lake Hume Tourist Park.

KEVIN DOWNEY: One made the comment that prior to coming to Lake Hume he used to ski at Hazelwood,
where the algae was that thick you could walk across it, so he wasn't worried about the bit that
was up here.

SIMON LAUDER: Further downriver the town of Corowa is also prepared for the outbreak.

The Mayor of the Corowa Shire, Gary Poidevin.

GARY POIDEVIN: Our filtration system here in our town has got a charcoal filter system that we've
installed to try and take out all the blue-green algae from it.

SIMON LAUDER: And it works well? There's no blue-green algae in the drinking water?

GARY POIDEVIN: No, no, there's no blue-green algae in the drinking water.

SIMON LAUDER: Dr Darren Baldwin from the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre says the reach
of this algal bloom is the latest sign that the Murray's water levels are critically low.

DARREN BALDWIN: Traditionally in Lake Hume, which is a very water storage at the top of the Murray,
there have only been three blooms recorded, blue-green algal blooms recorded prior to 2000 and
they, the last two coincided with periods of drought.

This extended period of drought that we've had in south-east Australia since about 2000, we've had
repeated blooms in both the lake and obviously now downstream.

SIMON LAUDER: Dr Baldwin says river communities west of Lake Hume may have to get used to the water
being off limits.

DARREN BALDWIN: While the conditions are such that we haven't got water to keep in Lake Hume, then
yeah, the long term prospects for continued algal bloom is becoming, potentially becoming an annual

SIMON LAUDER: The water retailer North East Water has assured customers along the river that its
treatment systems will remove the algae from drinking water.

TANYA NOLAN: Simon Lauder reporting.

Pakistan the key to the war in Afghanistan, says expert

Pakistan the key to the war in Afghanistan, says expert

The World Today - Friday, 27 March , 2009 12:41:00

Reporter: Sara Everingham

TANYA NOLAN: Ahead of the US President's new strategy on how to fight the war in Afghanistan, one
message is coming through loud and clear: in order to succeed, more needs to be done in Pakistan.

An Australian expert on counter-insurgency advising the White House says elements of Pakistan's
military and intelligence service continue to support the Taliban.

And unnamed American, Pakistani and other security officials have been giving details of their own.
They've reportedly been revealing the level of support being provided to Afghani militant groups by
Pakistan's spy service.

Sara Everingham reports.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Under Barack Obama's new Afghanistan policy, there'll be extra troops for training
and advising the Afghan armed forces. That's on top of the 17,000 troops that's already announced.

Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry was once the top US commander in Afghanistan. He's now the
President's nominee to be the Ambassador to Afghanistan. He doesn't underestimate the size of the

KARL EIKENBERRY: The situation in Afghanistan is increasingly difficult and time is of the essence.
There will be no substitute for more resources and sacrifice.

However I believe with the President's leadership and direction and with the support of the United
States Congress, we can and must foster the conditions for sustained success inside of Afghanistan
and Pakistan.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The plan sees both Afghanistan and Pakistan as key to success in the war on

Robert Gibbs is a White House spokesman.

ROBERT GIBBS: The President asked the team here at the White House and within his administration to
conduct a review and to base that review not simply on a strategy for one country and one, in one
place, but for the first time take a regional approach to the problem.

SARA EVERINGHAM: One expert on counter-insurgency who contributed to the Afghanistan review is
Australian David Kilcullen. He's regarded as one of the world's most influential thinkers on
guerrilla warfare. During last year's surge in Iraq he was a senior advisor to General Petraeus and
Condoleezza Rice.

On 'The 7.30 Report' last night he delivered this assessment of progress in Afghanistan.

DAVID KILCULLEN: Three years since 2005 we've seen about a 500 per cent increase in violence in
Afghanistan. In the same timeframe, the area that's affected by the insurgency has more than

The counter-narcotics campaign has, I would say, stalled. Narcotics hasn't got worse but it's still
sticking at such a high level that Helman province, the British province which they are securing is
now the world capital for opium and heroin production.

And we've also seen a drop in support for both the international presence and the Karzai Government
of 20 or 30 percentage points in that timeframe.

So I think overall we'd have to say it's not going well.

SARA EVERINGHAM: President Obama's plan will call for more aid for Pakistan on the condition its
leaders confront militants in the border regions.

But David Kilcullen warns that could be difficult to execute.

DAVID KILCULLEN: The Pakistanis have a long history of supporting the Taliban as an unconventional
counterweight to Indian regional influence. They are continuing to do that.

And I don't talk here about the Pakistani civilian leadership, which is democratically elected and
generally favourable to the international community effort in Afghanistan. I'm talking about
sections within the military and the intelligence community.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In an article in 'The New York Times', unnamed American, Pakistani and other
security officials have provided more details of those ties.

The US officials complain elements in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence are providing
increasing and more diverse support for the Taliban.

The unnamed Pakistani officials told the paper they had first-hand knowledge of the links, but
denied they were strengthening the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant General Eikenberry hasn't confirmed the report.

KARL EIKENBERRY: It's been unclear if all elements of ISI have dropped their support for Taliban
and their extremist allies.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Pakistani officials deny the links.

Abdul Basithas is a Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman.

ABDUL BASITHAS: We have seen this article, and its contents and conclusions are nothing but
sensational journalism.

SARA EVERINGHAM: David Kilcullen says attention must stay on Pakistan.

DAVID KILCULLEN: Pakistan's got 173-million people, it has 100 nuclear weapons, it has an army
larger than the US army, and it has al-Qaeda headquarters sitting there, right there in the
two-thirds of the country that the Government doesn't control.

So if Pakistan were to collapse and we were to see an al-Qaeda takeover, that would be a problem
that would dwarf anything we've seen since 9/11 in terms of scale and severity.

So I think, really, the focus that we need to be putting in terms of long-term issues in what we
used to call the 'war on terrorism' is primarily Pakistan.

TANYA NOLAN: That's guerrilla war expert and White House consultant David Kilcullen.

Outgoing PM gives warning to party

Outgoing PM gives warning to party

The World Today - Friday, 27 March , 2009 12:45:00

Reporter: Karen Percy

TANYA NOLAN: As he nears the end of his time in office, Malaysia's Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi,
has issued a frank and cutting critique of his party and himself.

He warns fellow members of his long-ruling United Malays National Organisation against complacency.

Yesterday, Mr Abdullah's term ended as President of the party, and after this weekend he will hand
over the PM's job too to his deputy, Najib Razak.

The power transfer was part of a deal struck last year in the wake of Mr Abdullah's poor handling
of national elections.

But the new man in the job, Mr Najib, has challenges of his own.

South East Asia correspondent Karen Percy reports.

KAREN PERCY: For the 50-plus years since independence in Malaysia, the United Malays National
Organisation, UMNO, has been the dominant political player.

In his last days as party leader, and the country's prime minister, Abdullah Badawi has been
critical of what UMNO has become.

(Abdullah Badawi speaking)

"We shouldn't be too political," he told the 2,500 delegates of the party's annual general

"We need to end the infighting," he said.

In his final address, Mr Abdullah talked of a party that had become complacent and intoxicated by
its own achievements.

He also offered an apology to members for personally failing to fulfil promises, and in making
mistakes during his five-and-a-half years in office.

Mr Abdullah avoided specifics, but he's been criticised for his failure to get a handle on
corruption in government and within his party.

Two weeks ago, a member of UMNO's Supreme Council was arrested for allegedly bribing fellow party
members. Another is being investigated for vote buying.

But for some these cases are too little, too late for Mr Abdullah to claim any kind of success in
dealing with corruption.

OOI KEE BENG: He hasn't done very much. He hasn't gone to the root of the problem.

KAREN PERCY: Ooi Kee Beng is with the Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore.

OOI KEE BENG: He will not be a hated man. People will look back at his time and shake their heads a
bit for missed opportunities, I think.

But he's too nice a man to be hated for long, or disliked for long, I think.

KAREN PERCY: Mr Abdullah is leaving the top job somewhat reluctantly.

It took months of negotiations last year, after disastrous national elections, before Mr Abdullah
agreed to hand over to his deputy, Najib Razak.

Mr Najib is from an important political family in Malaysia.

Ooi Kee Beng again:

OOI KEE BENG: He's quite an educated man; cosmopolitan and all that. But, over the last weeks or so
we've been seeing mixed signals.

Now, in Malaysian politics it's very hard to read where the signals are actually coming from.

KAREN PERCY: Critics are also concerned about how Mr Najib will rule.

In the past few weeks, protests have been quashed, and opposition newspapers have been shutdown.

Dr Ooi again.

OOI KEE BENG: The pessimists would say we that we are in for more authoritarianism, the kind we had
before Abdullah.

And the optimists will be saying that, you know, Najib does not really have a choice, other than to
start dialoguing with NGOs, and even the Opposition; if he dared.

KAREN PERCY: Mr Najib has to overcome other concerns. He's been linked to the 2006 murder of a
Mongolian translator, who had been working on a controversial government defence deal at the time
she was killed.

Mr Najib has consistently denied any ties to the case. And it clearly has not hurt his political

He's just days away from following in his father's footsteps.

Abdul Razak was Malaysia's second prime minister.

(Sound of Abdullah Badawi speaking)

In his final speech, Abdullah Badawi urged reform of the party he's leaving behind.

He told members to cooperate together to overcome the party's struggles.

"We need to fight the real enemies - the opposition parties," he said.

A former UMNO insider, and one-time deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, heads up the Opposition
these days.

There is little love lost between Mr Anwar and Mr Najib. And with three by-elections looming in the
coming weeks, Mr Najib will have little time to enjoy his promotion.

This is Karen Percy reporting for The World Today.

More bleak headlines for US papers

More bleak headlines for US papers

The World Today - Friday, 27 March , 2009 12:50:00

Reporter: Kim Landers

TANYA NOLAN: The news is getting gloomier by the day for the newspaper industry in the United

Forty-eight-million papers are sold there every day but the industry is still struggling for
survival. Some newspapers are closing, others are turning into online editions only, and many are
cutting staff and other costs.

Washington correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: Each week there are more bleak headlines about the state of the newspaper industry in
the United States.

'The Washington Post' is planning another round of buyouts in its newsroom and across the paper
because increases in online advertising are not making up for losses on the print side.

And 'The New York Times' is cutting pay for most of its employees by five per cent for the next
nine months.

The Tribune Company, which owns the 'LA Times' and 'Chicago Tribune', has filed for bankruptcy

And smaller papers like the 'Seattle Post-Intelligencer' and 'The Ann Arbor News' are rolling off
the presses for the last time.

So are we witnessing the slow death of the newspaper industry in America?

TOM ROSENSTIEL: I think it's probably been exaggerated - newspapers are not dying across the

KIM LANDERS: Tom Rosenstiel is the director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Forty-eight-million newspapers are sold in the US each day yet some of the industry's other numbers
are chilling. Circulation for both daily and Sunday editions of papers has fallen by almost five
per cent and newspaper ad revenues have slumped 23 per cent in the past two years.

TOM ROSENSTIEL: One of the things that I think a lot of people don't realise is that the newspaper
industry in 2008 overall was profitable. It averaged about 11 per cent profit.

Now it made a lot of cutbacks in staffing and in the product to make those profits, but this is an
industry that still took in $US38-billion in ad revenue and another roughly $US7-billion in
subscription revenue in the last year.

The problem facing the newspaper industry is that as its audience is migrating to its websites
instead of its print edition, its revenue is shrinking because the web is not delivering
advertising the way that print did.

KIM LANDERS: A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism shows the number of Americans who
regularly go online for news has jumped 19 per cent in the last two years. Last year alone traffic
to the top 50 news sites rose 27 per cent.

Tom Rosenstiel says newspapers can't rely on their old business models.

TOM ROSENSTIEL: Now if you were an emerging silicon valley business and you said, well, we now have
16-million unique visitors a month, a venture capitalist might say, wow, that's a lot of different
people every month. We can make a business out of that. Not sure how, but let's see if we can make
a business out of that, because that's a good brand.

Well that's 'The New York Times' website; 16-million unique visitors a month and growing.

KIM LANDERS: So when we hear reports of newspapers shutting down or newspapers cutting their print
editions to just a couple of days a week, or newspapers ditching separate sections, we shouldn't
think that the newspaper industry here in the United States is on very shaky ground.

TOM ROSENSTIEL: The death of the American newspaper is not imminent but it is in decline, it is
shrinking and it has a limited amount of time to figure out whether it can develop a new,
alternative revenue model.

KIM LANDERS: And there's one other gloomy statistic. One out of every five journalists working for
newspapers in 2001 is now out of a job.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.

Wastelines expand as economies recede

Wastelines expand as economies recede

The World Today - Friday, 27 March , 2009 12:54:00

Reporter: Kerri Ritchie

TANYA NOLAN: The New Zealand Government says the recession is having a big impact on obesity rates,
and in many cases is exacerbating the problem.

It's released its latest report card on obesity, and it's found Pacific Islanders living in New
Zealand are among the most affected.

The study shows many are malnourished because they simply can't afford healthy food.

New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports.

(Sound of Joanna laughing and speaking with her family)

KERRI RITCHIE: Doctors have told Samoan woman Joanna Fuimaono she must lose weight.

JOANNA FUIMAONO: If I die tomorrow, I'm happy.

Some people might look at me and think I'm silly, but hey, no, I'm happy.

KERRI RITCHIE: Joanna Fuimaono moved from Samoa to Auckland to give her children more

But it's a decision she often regrets.

JOANNA FUIMAONO: I have a lot of regrets that I have come to New Zealand. Basically, because I have
become victim of my own choice.

We think that coming away from our homes is better, and we never appreciate it until we come here.

We get old, we can't grow anything, we can't weave. Everything that you do, the tax man takes it

KERRI RITCHIE: She says healthy food in New Zealand has become too expensive for many Pacific

JOANNA FUIMAONO: I eat pig head, that's, ah, trotters (phonetic).

I've lost a bit of weight, and then my family used to say to me, "No, you're eating this". My
husband says to the girls, "Don't give her anything anymore."

KERRI RITCHIE: The New Zealand Government is worried about the increasing number of Pacific
Islanders who can't afford meat.

Instead families are turning to less healthy options, like mutton flaps.

Dr Colin Tukuitonga is chief executive of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs.

COLIN TUKUITONGA: The fact is that there are better cuts of meat for people, and how can mutton
flaps, which is more than 90 per cent fat, be good for people? It's not even good for animals.

Of course cooking makes a difference, but if you've got a dreadful product to start with, no matter
how you dress it up, it's not going to be good for you.

KERRI RITCHIE: Chris Ritchie is the spokesman for the New Zealand Meat Association.

CHRIS RITCHIE: We know what is good for us and what is not good for us, and with most things it's
having a proper balance.

KERRI RITCHIE: Mr Ritchie says education programs are underway to help Pacific Islanders make the
most of cheaper cuts of meat.

CHRIS RITCHIE: The meat industry has been working closely with the Pacific Island countries over a
number of years now to try and help with educating people in terms of the preparation of the
product, to trim the excess fat off, and then the cooking methods.

Barbecuing and grilling, you remove some of the fat, but also if you're doing a stew, which is
quite popular in certain places there, you skim the fat off the top, just as we have been taught in
terms of our cooking.

So, the industry does see that it has a responsibility to assist in the proper preparation and use
of that product, and we don't resile from that all, and we have been active in that sense.

KERRI RITCHIE: Joanna Fuimaono says religion is also playing a part in the rise in unhealthy eating

She says many Pacific Island parents are feeling the pressure to give money to the church, which
leaves them with very little to spend on good food for their children.

JOANNA FUIMAONO: I really feel that they need to develop and put back to the families that are
actually giving, instead of just taking, taking, taking.

So therefore there should be a better process, whereby people start to understand now that this is
not Samoa, this is not Tonga, that this is New Zealand and 90 per cent of everything is resourced
from money, marketry.

But back home, it's the other way round. You can go, get the taros out; and here you can't do that.

So therefore there should be more awareness in terms of who can give a lot more, and who can't.

TANYA NOLAN: That's Joanna Fuimaona, who's a Samoan woman living in Auckland.