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

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Fate of ABC Learning Centres revealed

PETER CAVE: The receivers for ABC Learning Centres that have been deemed unprofitable say that 19
centres will close mainly in Victoria and New South Wales.

A further eight also face closure.

Two-hundred-and-ten centres are expected to keep operating with the new owners and more than 80 per
cent of staff keeping their jobs.

Australia's biggest childcare group collapsed in November with debts of more than $1.5 billion.

The Federal Government says it will step in and help parents find alternative childcare places if
their current centre is closed.

Our finance reporter, Sue Lannin, has been at the media briefing and she joins me now.

Sue what can you tell us about the centres that closing down?

SUE LANNIN: Well of these centres we know that eight are in Victoria, eight are in NSW and three
are in Western Australia. Now, these were centres that were part of those - 241 in fact - that were
deemed to be unprofitable by the bank appointed receiver McGrathNicol.

The court appointed receiver took over those centres and tried to see if it could sell them. Now it
says it can sell about 210 but 19 so far it can't sell, they're going to close down. That's because
they're either in remote areas or they're in areas where there's an oversupply of childcare

But receiver, Stephen Parbery, says parents can be confident about the future of the centres,
except for the eight... another further eight that could close down.

STEPHEN PARBERY: The eight, we have another mandate in which to undertake further investigations.
They are centres in which at this stage we do not have alternate providers in a nearby location.
However, we're undertaking further investigations as to what it will take to make those centres
viable for the future and to look at other alternatives. There is a possibility that some of those
eight may close.

PETER CAVE: The court appointed receiver for ABC Learning Centres, Stephen Parbery.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the Government will help parents find alternative
childcare for their kids, is that right?

SUE LANNIN: Yes that's right, she was out and about this morning pledging that the Government would
step in if it had to. We saw earlier when 55 centres closed that the Government helped people find
alternative centres for their kids. Now PPB, the court appointed receivers, say that as we speak
parents are being informed.

Of those 19 centres they announced today, they said that there were alternative arrangements in
those areas where the centres were closing down.

Again, one of the reasons was the high, the oversupply of centres in those areas and the high
vacancy rates in the local area.

PETER CAVE: And 210 centres will remain open, how will that work?

SUE LANNIN: Yes well, a number of those centres have actually deemed to be viable which is
interesting because they were before deemed to be unviable. Thirty-three centres will be taken over
by not-for-profit organisation including Mission Australia.

Now PPB says that one of the reasons for their failure was that the model, ABC model had too many
overheads, the costs were too high. They were also in areas where there could have been high
vacancy rates. So that was one of the reasons that they were unviable.

Now with the not for profit centres taking over they've got much, much lower cost, much, much lower
cost structure, so it is considered that they will work and also in some cases landlords are going
to take over the centres that they previously rented out to ABC Learning.

Eighty per cent of staff are expected to keep their jobs according to PPB, so that's around 1,800
people around the country. But still, we're still looking at maybe 20 per cent that could be laid
off. But PPB says that it is possible they will be redeployed within the ABC Learning Centre

Of course McGrathNicol, the bank appointed receiver, took over more than 700 centres that were
deemed to be profitable when ABC Learning collapsed back in November.

PETER CAVE: Sue Lannin, live in the studio there.

CSIRO steers clear of Senate inquiry on emissions

PETER CAVE: Australia's pre-eminent scientific organisation, the CSIRO, has decided against making
a submission to the Senate inquiry on climate policy.

But four of its most experienced climate change researchers are taking part, although they've made
it clear their submissions are personal and not endorsed by the CSIRO.

They say the Government's emissions reduction targets need to be tougher to avoid dangerous global
warming. One has told The World Today the issue is simply too important not to speak out.

The inquiry, which is holding its first public hearing today, was set up by the Coalition and the

The deputy chairwoman, Greens Senator Christine Milne, says the Prime Minister should heed the
warnings of the scientists.

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: This is the Senate inquiry the Government didn't want.

RICHARD COLBECK: Welcome ladies and gentlemen. I declare open this first hearing of the Senate
Select Committee on Climate Policy.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Despite their very different positions on climate change and how to deal with it,
the Greens and Coalition senators combined forces because together they have a majority in the

What they have in common is that they disagree with Labor's plan, albeit from opposite ends of the
argument. The chair of the inquiry, Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck set the scene.

RICHARD COLBECK: Can I say at the outset it's really a disappointment, I think, that the government
decided not to proceed with these terms of reference at the outset.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And that was enough to set things off.

SENATE MEMBER: I thought we were trying to deal with it in a constructive way.

RICHARD COLBECK: Well if you let me finish what I'm saying Senator you'll find that I'm trying to
raise it in a constructive way.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Notably absent from the 8,000 submissions to the inquiry is one from Australia's
national science agency, and one of the world's biggest research organisations, the CSIRO.

The reason, it says, is the terms of reference for the inquiry went to matters of policy. And the
CSIRO's long standing public comment policy is not to comment on policy matters.

But four eminent CSIRO scientists have spoken out, telling the inquiry the Government's targets for
cutting greenhouse emissions are inadequate. They stress their submissions are personal and not
endorsed by the CSIRO.

Dr James Risbey's been researching climate change for the past 20 years. He's described Labor's
targets as 'Russian roulette with the climate system with most of the chambers loaded'.

JAMES RISBEY: So these targets are the equivalent to a very high likelihood of putting us into a
realm of climate change where dangerous consequences would be quite likely.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You've taken a big step to speak out. Is that because of the strength with which
you hold your views?

JAMES RISBEY: I think we have responsibility to speak out. The enquiry has asked us whether the
emissions targets are adequate in terms of the potential consequences for the climate system and
that's not a political question, that's a scientific question. That's only a question that the
scientists can answer, those who work on what are the consequences of emissions for the climate

And so if we don't speak out about that then there is no one who's placed to do that and I think
it's our responsibility to say what the consequences are so that at least we can take decisions
about what to do, knowing what the potential consequences might or might not be.

So it's not one of those things that feels like an option; it feels like we really need to say
these things. That's what the science is telling us.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Dr Michael Raupach and two other CSIRO scientists have made a joint submission,
again stressing it's a personal submission.

They argue the Australian targets won't achieve climate protection; that if they're not
strengthened, Australia is at high risk of permanent damage from climate change.

MICHAEL RAUPACH: We concluded that global reduction targets need to be of the order of five - 10
per cent by 2020 and 70 - 80 per cent by 2050 in order to give the world a 50 per cent chance of
avoiding two degree warming, which is a benchmark for avoiding dangerous climate change, and
therefore that Australia's targets need to be stronger than they are at present.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Greens Senator Christine Milne says it's critical to the debate for the CSIRO
scientists to go public.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Mr Rudd said that this was the moral imperative of our time. He said he wants to
be able to look his grandchildren in the face. Well he will not be able to look them in the face if
he doesn't listen to the scientists when they tell him that his scheme will not avoid catastrophic
climate change.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Senator Milne says the inquiry had hoped to hear from Treasury officials first
thing this morning but that Treasury's withdrawn for now, telling the inquiry they wouldn't be
available to appear until the very last of the eight hearings at the end of the month.

CHRISTINE MILNE: It looks to me as if the Government is not prioritising evidence in relation to
its scheme; it's got other things on its mind.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Does it really matter if it gives evidence today or in two weeks time?

CHRISTINE MILNE: It does matter to this committee that first up we get a sense of the economics of
climate change; the assumptions that underpin Treasury modelling, the thinking that Treasury has
put into the basis of its targets, its compensation, all of those provisions.

It is essential they turn up at the beginning, not at the end.

PETER CAVE: Green Senator Christine Milne, our reporter there was Alexandra Kirk.

Gale force winds wreak havoc across southern Victoria

PETER CAVE: Winds of up to 183 kilometres per hour lashed Victoria this morning, causing trees to
fall down on power lines in the state's mid-north and south-east and causing building fronts to
crash down, closing off main streets in an inner eastern suburb of Melbourne.

The temperature in Melbourne dropped from 20 degrees early this morning down to 12 degrees as a
cold front swept across the state, but it brought precious little rain.

Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: Weather forecasters had warned Victorians about the impending cool change, but
even so some people were still caught by surprise when gale force winds lashed the state this
morning, with winds of up to 180 kilometres per hour recorded in areas including the Yarra Valley
just north of Melbourne.

ABC local radio listener Kevin called in from Woori Yallock.

KEVIN: One-hundred-and-eighty-three actually. In other years we've had winds up to 146 and that
sort of thing up round where we are and it brought down large trees in our road. We've been out
there cutting trees and stuff so we can get through, so yeah.

ALISON CALDWELL: The cool change brought temperatures down from 20 degrees at around six o'clock
this morning to 12 degrees just after eight o'clock.

The winds brought down trees and powerlines around Melbourne.

Speaking at around nine o'clock this morning, SES spokesman Tim Wiebush reported a busy two hours.

TIM WIEBUSH: We started off with the strong winds in the southwest of the state from Port Fairy
right through to Geelong. We then saw around about 60 requests for assistance go through Geelong
before we started to see the strong winds in and around Melbourne over the last hour and a half or
so and we're now up to just over 360 requests for assistance state-wide.

ALISON CALDWELL: By midday, the SES had received 500 calls for assistance, mainly with fallen

In a sign of how strong the winds were, one ABC listener reported that his dog's ceramic bowl was
picked up and dumped 30 metres away.

Far more seriously, the winds sent a tree crashing down on to a home in Belgrave, east of
Melbourne, momentarily trapping a woman inside.

The winds also brought down four shop fronts in Melbourne's inner-east smashing windows and sending
bricks crashing down onto a major road.

Police Sergeant Sean Audley.

SEAN AUDLEY: Well we've got beams strutting out from the building that have (inaudible) and damaged
and we've also got the fascia, which is a heavy brick construction up higher than the level of the
roof that's also fallen down below the level of the roof. So there's significant damage here.

The road will be closed until the council engineers get a chance to have a look at the damage and
it's just whether it's safe or not. And the CFA pod are here at the moment trying to bring down the
rest of the fascia so that it's making it safe for anyone else trying to get through the area.

ALISON CALDWELL: By late this morning 2,500 customers were without power around the Bayside,
Mornington Peninsula after trees fell on powerlines.

Trains were cancelled and roads closed causing major delays around the city.

An hour's drive south east of Melbourne in Hastings a tree crashed onto a car, trapping its driver.

Acting Sergeant Nick Sigge.

NICK SIGGE: The tree's actually fallen just into the path of the car where a 50 year-old gentleman
was injured and taken to the Alfred. But we've had lots of trees down all over the place and
drivers have just got to be a bit vigilant with their driving today.

ALISON CALDWELL: In Victoria's north, winds stirred up desperately dry soils causing dust storms
around Echuca and Shepparton.

Kevin Hennessy is a climate researcher with the CSIRO's marine and atmospheric research division.

He says while slight increases in wind speeds are becoming more common, today's gale force winds
are nothing unusual at this time of year.

KEVIN HENNESSY: Our climate models indicate that there may be some increases in extreme wind speeds
associated with storms, particularly with some heavy rainfall in summer and autumn, but overall the
climate models indicate somewhat of a tendency towards decreasing wind speeds in future.

So this is, I think, just an example of natural variability, not necessarily something that will
occur every year.

ALISON CALDWELL: So just a natural autumnal sort of event?

KEVIN HENNESSY: That's right, I mean cold fronts tend to be associated with very strong winds and a
shift in temperature and this is no exception.

PETER CAVE: The CSIRO's Kevin Hennessy ending Alison Caldwell's report.

US agents seize accused Nazi guard

PETER CAVE: An 89 year-old man living in the US who's wanted in Germany on war crimes charges has
been granted an eleventh hour stay of deportation.

It was granted hours after immigration officials removed John Demjanjuk in his wheelchair from his
suburban home in Ohio.

It's the latest twist in the life of a man who was once sentenced to death in Israel, after being
found guilty of being the sadistic concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.

Barbara Miller reports.

BARBARA MILLER: His hands in the air, his head thrown back, John Demjanjuk was carried in his
wheelchair from his home in suburban Cleveland by a team of immigration officials.

The 89 year-old's granddaughter says he was suffering.

OLIVIA NISHNIC: I hope everybody can hope and pray that an innocent man is being treated very, very
wrongly. The things that we all saw inside our house you guys didn't see how much pain he was in,
screaming, agonising pain.

So I can only hope that everybody can open up a place in their heart and prey tonight that maybe
things will take a turn for the better.

BARBARA MILLER: It seemed like the moment had finally come when John Demjanjuk would be deported to
Germany, where he's wanted on charges of being involved in the deaths of 29,000 people in a Nazi
concentration camp in Poland.

But at the eleventh hour he was granted a stay of deportation by an appeals court.

John Demjanjuk's lawyer John Broadley says his client is unfit to stand trial.

JOHN BROADLEY: Frankly it was one of the more appalling scenes that I have ever seen. I mean it was
something that you would expect to see in Germany not in the United States.

BARBARA MILLER: What do you mean by that?

JOHN BROADLEY: You had six, seven, eight men taking an 89 year-old man who is sick, obviously sick,
wheelchair bound, picking him up and carrying him out to a van.

What you didn't see on the television was the agony that he went through getting into the
wheelchair. Now I knew about that because I was talking to the family at the time.

The man has a pre-leukemic disease, he has severe spinal stenosis and all you have to do is watch
and you know that the man is in agony from his back problems. We are not the Germans, we are
supposed to be a civilised country and deal with people accused of crimes in civilised manners.
This was not civilised. This was highly uncivilised.

BARBARA MILLER: The Demjanjuk family has released footage which they say proves that he is in
constant pain.

In this excerpt, Mr Demjanjuk is being moved onto his bed after a medical examination.

(Sound of John Demjanjuk groaning)

BARBARA MILLER: The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which has long advocated that John Demjanjuk be
deported, is unimpressed.

It released this statement:

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE STATEMENT (voiceover): His work at the Sobibor Death Camp was to push men,
women and children into the gas chamber. He had no mercy, no pity and no remorse for the families
whose lives he was destroying forever.

His defenders say that at 89 he's too old to be deported. His 29,000 victims would have only wished
that they would have been so fortunate to reach the age of 89.

BARBARA MILLER: John Demjanjuk has already been extradited once from the United States.

In 1986 he was taken to Israel where he was sentenced to death by hanging, after being found guilty
of being the notorious concentration camp guard Ivan the Terrible.

The conviction was later overturned and he returned to the US.

But prosecutors there found, although not Ivan the Terrible, he was still guilty of war crimes as a
concentration camp guard.

Jonathan Drimmer was one of a team of lawyers involved in subsequently stripping him of his

He says the 89 year-old should stand trial:

JONATHAN DRIMMER: I think that John Demjanjuk is facing charges of 29,000 murders. If we were
talking about, you know, significantly lesser crimes maybe we could have a rational discussion
about whether it makes sense to continue to pursue somebody of his age.

But certainly pursuing people who do commit unspeakable acts of genocide in a magnitude rarely seen
in this day and age sends a critical message to those who would think about committing such acts in
the future; that civilised governments around the world will pursue you until your last dying

BARBARA MILLER: John Demjanjuk has now returned home to await the next development in this
long-running saga.

PETER CAVE: Barbara Miller reporting.

The Commodore speaks out

PETER CAVE: Fiji's military dictator Frank Bainimarama says his country's future will be decided by
Fijians and Fijians alone.

Commodore Bainimarama and the main spokesman for the interim government Major Neumi Leweni have
gone on the radio in New Zealand to defend their actions in imposing emergency rule.

Both deny any critics of the regime have been detained.

That's something that Mr Naidu might dispute.

This morning, a journalist with Fiji television was released after spending 36 hours in custody,
for reporting on the country's political situation. The military has also closed down FM stations
in Suva and Nadi which relayed Radio Australia Broadcasts.

They've disrupted internet connections and the Fiji dollar has also been devalued by 25 per cent.

Our New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports.

KERRI RITCHIE: Commodore Frank Bainimarama and Major Neumi Leweni are two men firmly in control of
Fiji and facing plenty of criticism for it.

Separately, they went on Radio New Zealand this morning.

Commodore Bainimarama phoned in, and then wanted to approve the questions.

FRANK BAINIMARAMA: Good morning, is this Sean?

SEAN PLUNKET: Yes this is Sean Plunket from Radio New Zealand here. Look, we understand you want to
understand the line of questioning we want to take?

KERRI RITCHIE: Frank Bainimarama says Fiji must move away from its old system of race-based voting.

The Commodore says a recent survey of Fijians showed 64 per cent want electoral reform.

He believes the Court of Appeal judges who ruled his interim government was illegal, came with
their own agenda.

FRANK BAINIMARAMA: It was interesting to all of that watched the judgement that the judges could
come up with a 52 page judgement in 24 hours. I asked around and most of the people who are
familiar with that type of judgement said that it is obvious that they made that decision long
before they got to Fiji.

KERRI RITCHIE: Major Leweni is the main spokesman for the interim government.

For someone who's the head of an information ministry, he wasn't too keen on providing information
to Radio New Zealand.

SEAN PLUNKET: How are Fijians supposed to know what is going in their country if journalists can't
freely write about that?

NEUMI LEWENI: That's the law that's in the Public Emergency Regulations and that's it.

KERRI RITCHIE: Major Leweni says life in Fiji is normal.

NEUMI LEWENI: And there's no detaining of people unnecessarily as you are implying.

SEAN PLUNKET: How many people have you detained at present?


KERRI RITCHIE: Frank Bainimarama also said no-one had been imprisoned for speaking out.

Edwin Nand, a journalist with Fiji TV, was released from custody this morning.

He was arrested by police after he read the seven o'clock news on Monday night.

Tanya Waqanika is Fiji TV's lawyer.

TANYA WAQANIKA: I can confirm that I picked him up, he's safe and sound and he's at home. He's in
good spirits.

KERRI RITCHIE: Was he charged with anything?

TANYA WAQANIKA: No. He was not charged.

What reason did the police give for taking him into custody?

TANYA WAQANIKA: They cited a certain clause but he had breached the clause from Public Emergency
Regulations section 16.

KERRI RITCHIE: Will Fiji TV have a bulletin on the air tonight?

TANYA WAQANIKA: We've been running the six o'clock news, as far as we're concerned it's business as

KERRI RITCHIE: Can you include political stories in that bulletin?

TANYA WAQANIKA: I can't comment on that. We've all been told, I mean received a letter that we
cannot make comments, any political comments or publish or broadcast any political comments.

KERRI RITCHIE: The President of Fiji's Law Society Dorsami Naidu also spent the night in jail he
believes he's being punishment for speaking to the media.

Yesterday soldiers took over the Reserve Bank in Fiji.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says that action could have dire consequences for Fijians.

JOHN KEY: I don't know him personally but my understanding was that the Governor of the Reserve
Bank was very highly thought of. They clearly have some exchange risks now and that is one of the
serious issues that their economy is facing but not the only one.

It's hard to see that there will be any serious inbound investment in Fiji. We know tourism numbers
are falling and I think, as I've said in the past, I think Frank Bainimarama is effectively
delivering Fiji a passport to poverty.

KERRI RITCHIE: But on radio this morning, Commodore Frank Bainimarama maintained his end goal
wasn't power - it was about making Fiji a better place.

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

Law Society head released from detention

PETER CAVE: Well, in Suva, the president of the Fiji Law Society Dorsami Naidu has indeed been
released from detention.

He spent 24 hours in custody where he says he was threatened with charges of sedition.

As you've heard, Commodore Frank Bainimarama and his main spokesman have both denied publicly that
anyone has been detained.

Mr Naidu told Michael Vincent that's simply not the case.

DORSAMI NAIDU: I was definitely detained. I mean I couldn't stay at my home, I wasn't allowed to
leave the police station and I am also told that the TV reporter Edwin Nand was released today but
he had been in police custody for the last three days, so you know this question of not being in
detention... I mean, the facts on the ground don't really give light to that.

MICHAEL VINCENT: This morning Prime Minister Bainimarama has said that freedom of speech causes
trouble. How do you feel about freedom of speech in Fiji at the moment?

DORSAMI NAIDU: No, I think there is no freedom of speech. There's total censorship, there's total
blanket cut out of news here that should reach the public at large. I think solely, if you've got
something to hide, I think you'd want to knuckle down on the press and the media etc.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Where do you think Fiji's going to be heading in the next couple of days and

DORSAMI NAIDU: Oh I think it's downhill.

I mean the dollar has now been... we've just heard on the radio that the Fiji dollar has been
devalued by the Reserve Bank by 20 per cent against all other currencies, specifically Australia
and New Zealand. So that's going to create, you know, increasing inflation etc. and, you know the
economy - there's no jobs around, very little jobs around.

We don't have a judiciary at the moment and politically I don't know where we're going.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Senior figures across Fiji have told The World Today that they are afraid to
speak; that they don't know what the consequences would be because there is no judiciary.

DORSAMI NAIDU: Oh yes, I mean my members are scared and I've been through it. I know how, you know,
you don't know what is going to happen. You can't go to the courts, whom do you rely on?

I mean, I was lucky in the sense that I had not done anything wrong, anything seditious. I was
functioning as the president of the Fiji Law Society under an act of Parliament, which according to
even the regime is still intact, so I was merely doing my job.

So I can see you know how people feel because when you're in there you don't have any contact with
the outside world, nobody can get in contact with you. You know, it's a tough call.

MICHAEL VINCENT: There appears to be no political opposition at all in Fiji. There appears to be no
ability for anyone to voice their opposition. What other steps do you expect him to take to quell
the scent?

DORSAMI NAIDU: Oh you know, I think he's done enough at the moment and I don't know they'll
probably cut out our communication links. I hope not but, you know, these things can happen.

MICHAEL VINCENT: The Attorney-General was meeting with the heads of amalgamated Telecom Holding
this morning. Could you speculate as to what that meeting may have been about?

DORSAMI NAIDU: I don't know, but at the moment I am told that my Law Society internet connections
aren't working. I am told by my lawyer friends that they're not able to access the internet at the
moment. So you know, my guess is as good as yours.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Do you see Fiji then heading into a total information black out?

DORSAMI NAIDU: Well it appears to be but heaven forbid. You know I don't think all this will get us

PETER CAVE: President of the Fiji Law Society, Dorsami Naidu speaking there to Michael Vincent.

Bangkok back to business

PETER CAVE: The mercurial nature of Thai politics is on display again today with the streets of
Bangkok returning to holiday mode after days of sometimes violent demonstrations.

While the Government has issued an arrest warrant for the fugitive former prime minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, three protest leaders have been detained in the capital.

ABC correspondent Geoff Thompson has been out on the streets of Bangkok this morning and he's
joined me on the line now.

Geoff, what are you seeing out there?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Well not a lot Peter. It's got to be said that this city is back to taking it easy
for their Songkran Thai New Year holiday.

I mean, even by last night what we saw, you know troops were opening fire just days ago, but by
last night there were people dancing in the streets and throwing water over passersby as they do to
mark the Thai New Year and it's really quite a sleepy scene here today, so things can change very,
very quickly here in Thailand.

PETER CAVE: Well indeed they do change quickly. How much damage has been done by these protests?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Look quite a lot. I mean, for instance just in the pure physical damage, we had 123
people injured. Of course two people died in clashed between protesters, not between the security
forces and 44 of the people injured were hospitalised and there was a tally that came in today that
52 busses were burned in total in and around the capital and 33 of those were government busses.

Now to the broader economy though, there are real worries that up to 200,000 people could be laid
off this year because the tourism industry here employs two million people, it counts for about six
or seven per cent of GDP. Now the weird thing again though is that things change so quickly that
you can see that, while shops aren't opening here because it's a holiday period, you know, the
tourists are feeling relaxed again.

You know one day there's violence, the next day things are back to normal.

PETER CAVE: If former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is actually arrested by Interpol, what
affect is that likely to have?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Oh look, the affect would be certainly to upset the red shirts, his supporters. In
terms of what it would actually do, I mean if he is extradited back here to Thailand to face
charges I think that, you know, in the long term it may go some way to the people again obeying the
law in this country.

I mean, part of the problem of course is that many people disagree with the original coup in 2006
which took Thaksin Shinawatra out of power, he was an overwhelmingly democratically elected leader
by a landslide twice and you know, I think most observers say that people from all sides have got
to start accounting for their misdeeds and follow the law.

Of course, we don't, no one seems to know exactly where Thaksin Shinawatra is and it probably won't
be believed until it's seen that he'll be brought to justice back in Thailand.

PETER CAVE: Three of the protest leaders have been detained in the capital, but no sign at this
stage of mass arrests. Do you think the Government is going to try for reconciliation?

GEOFF THOMPSON: I think that's certainly the message that's coming from Prime Minister Abhisit
Vejjajiva. He was saying last night that this should not be seen as a victory for any side, this is
a victory for society and look he was looking pretty bad as Thailand's new leader after just four
months in office on the weekend following the protesters overtaking the ASEAN Summit in Pattaya.

But he pulled off something of a diplomatic coup, if you like, by getting the army out in force and
getting the protesters to back down peacefully. But he's not trying to capitalise on that, he's
extending the Songkran holiday, let the country find its feet again.

There's no doubt though that violence is very much in danger of flaring again because the deep
division at the base of all this has not been healed.

PETER CAVE: Correspondent Geoff Thompson live there on the streets of Bangkok.

Australians not threatened by rise of China: report

PETER CAVE: Back home and the Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says the Government's White Paper on
defence, which will set out the blueprint for the nation's defence and security aspirations for the
next two decades, will be released in 'the very near future'.

This morning however, the Government released a report on community views about defence -
specifically the direction people believe Australia should take over the next 20 to 30 years with
its Defence Forces.

In short, Australians say they value the US/Australia alliance and they see humanitarian and
disaster relief assistance as crucial work for the Defence Forces.

And a key adviser on the community report says Australians have a very sophisticated view about
China, saying the notion of China as a 'yellow peril' is all but dead.

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: The Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says there's no greater role for government than
the defence of the nation, its people and their interests.

In establishing Australia's defence and strategic interests for the next two decades and more, Mr
Fitzgibbon says the White Paper process and community consultation are vital. He insists it's not a
job for governments alone.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: Inexplicably, government in the past has sought to impose that discipline on
itself on an irregular basis, allowing a drift to develop between strategic guidance and fore
structure planning.

Given we strive to plan 20 to 30 years ahead, this is surely dangerous, even in periods when both
the strategic and economic outlooks seems constant.

But at a time like the present, when the only constant seems change itself, this approach is one
which surely deserves consignment to the dustbin of Australian military history.

SABRA LANE: The Defence White Paper, in process now for more than 12 months, was originally planned
for release at the end of last year. It's due soon, but the Defence Minister wouldn't say if it was
going to be released before the Budget.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: All I can say is that the White Paper will be released in the very near future.

SABRA LANE: As part of the White Paper process, last year the Government commissioned a community
consultation program, supervised by a bipartisan committee, chaired by Stephen Loosley; a former
Labor senator.

More than 30 meetings were held around the country and more than 450 submissions were sent in.

Committee chairman, Stephen Loosley:

STEPHEN LOOSLEY: Australians recognise that while a security situation broadly is benign, there are
changing geo-strategic circumstances that there are new and emerging threats to our security,
cyberspace being one of those.

Australians are also aware that climate change brings with it emerging problems which will have
consequences for Australian policy makers in the future.

For example, pressures on resources, pressures on fish stocks, for example in our northern waters
translates over time in all probability to pressures upon us in the Southern Ocean. And it will be
a generation before some of these issues emerge in reality, but emerge in all likelihood they will.

SABRA LANE: Mr Loosley says Australians view humanitarian and disaster relief work as important
roles for the ADF, alongside the more traditional functions of combat, security and protection.

He says the community has a sophisticated view about China, weighing up its importance as an
economic partner as well as a regional security threat.

STEPHEN LOOSLEY: Australians seem very comfortable in terms of talking and thinking about the
national interest of economy and the Chinese role and national interest on security and our
relationship with the United States very easily. I suspect that that notion of 'yellow peril' is
probably now 40-50 years out of date. I don't know that it's dead but it's on life support I think.

SABRA LANE: Reflecting the bipartisan nature of the consultations, Arthur Sinodinos, the chief of
staff to former prime minister John Howard, was the deputy chairman of the consultation committee.

ARTHUR SINODINOS: I think it's very important. It's a two way process, it's an opportunity for
governments of all persuasions to put propositions up and see what people think. And it's an
exercise in democracy, direct democracy, people have an opportunity to come along where there are a
diversity of views from all parts of the political spectrum and I think that's an important safety
valve in a democracy.

SABRA LANE: Were there any surprises for you?

ARTHUR SINODINOS: I thought the debate on strategic realities in the region was pretty
sophisticated on all sides. I don't think it came through as red menace or any other sort of
expression like that. It was more, people understood the power balance in the region was shifting
as China and India in particular come to the fore. They had implications going forward and that the
challenge really for us was to understand how that impacted on our defence choices.

SABRA LANE: The consultation happened before most of the global financial crisis, before that
deepened. How much do you think the challenging times now will impact on the kind of vision that
Australians have for the ADF?

ARTHUR SINODINOS: I think to some extent you've got to see through the crisis to be on the crisis
because you're talking about decisions that have impacts going out 20 to 30 years. That doesn't
mean you just have to give defence everything that they want in terms of spending, you have to be
prudent. But within that you have to allow that you know the crisis is upon us, it will pass. We
have to have the capacity to fund an adequate level of defence to our long term national security
and national interest.

PETER CAVE: The chairman of the defence White Paper Community Consultation Committee Arthur
Sinodinos ending that report from Sabra Lane.

New research may lead to insulin free diabetics

PETER CAVE: Doctors in America and Brazil have published new research which they say shows adult
that stem cells could hold the key to getting type 1 or juvenile diabetics off insulin and leading
a normal life.

The research involved injecting patients with their own adult stem cells back into their

One young patient has been insulin free for more than four years.

The results have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and they're
being cautiously hailed by some doctors here as a breakthrough.

Di Bain reports.

DI BAIN: In Australia there are almost 9,000 diabetics under 18 who rely on insulin to get them
through the day, and US based stem cell specialist Richard Burt says the results of his research
are promising.

RICHARD BURT: After this treatment patients were completely drug free with normal blood sugar, so
they were off insulin and off everything else. And nothing else has done that.

DI BAIN: The Ministry of Health in Brazil and a biotechnology company called Genzyme helped fund
the study which started with 15 young diabetics in Brazil.

The autoimmune disease occurs mostly in people under 30 when the pancreas no longer makes insulin.

Dr Burt says volunteers were all newly diagnosed with type 1 or juvenile diabetes. Their stem cells
were frozen.

The patient was then given a large dose of drugs to knock down their immune systems.

The stem cells were then thawed and re-injected back into their bloodstream over about 15 minutes.

RICHARD BURT: The patients remain in the hospital about 10 days; there for their white counts to
recover, their immune system to recover then they're discharged.

DI BAIN: So would you describe the results as a breakthrough?

RICHARD BURT: I think it's always better to be more humble. You know, it's easier to write a
scientific paper for me than talk to the lay-press because there's a lot of details that are in the
scientific paper that, for a layperson, may seem boring or difficult to understand, but you know,
the devil's always in the details.

DI BAIN: Is stem cell therapy a risky business?

RICHARD BURT: There is a risk of infection that during that period is about eight days long and
during that involves... you know, there is a risk that an infection could get out of control and
possibly take the person's life. I think that risk is very, very low.

DI BAIN: What is the next step? Do you need to do more studies to determine if it could become a
standard treatment?

RICHARD BURT: Well the next step is a randomised trial, which again is now approved, it's written,
it's approved by our IRB - Institutional Review Board is what that stands for - and it is currently
at the FDA - Food and Drug Administration - in Washington for final approval.

PETER CAVE: Dr Richard Burt, the co-author of the study into juvenile diabetes, speaking to Di

Calls for Queensland Government to save toll road investors

PETER CAVE: Shareholders in Brisbane's ill fated toll road project, BrisConnections, are calling on
the Queensland Government to save them from bankruptcy.

They're expected to be billed later this month for instalments payments they may not be able to
afford, after a resolution to wind up the company was defeated yesterday.

But the Government says it's not its responsibility.

Annie Guest reports from Brisbane.

ANNIE GUEST: The renegade 20-something investor who took on some of Australia's biggest corporate
players answers the phone 'Nick speaking'.

Others have now given Nicholas Bolton another title - 'greenmailer', after he brought
BrisConnections to the brink then scored $4.5-million in a deal that allowed the company to

And Nicholas Bolton has told The World Today he's still in the heat of the battle.

He wouldn't be interviewed, but confirmed he's still actively pursuing a solution to relieve unit
holders in the Brisbane toll road project of their looming instalment debt.

STUART WILSON: He also remains a unit holder and has a large looming debt.

ANNIE GUEST: The Australian Shareholders Association's chief executive Stuart Wilson is not about
to describe Nicholas Bolton as a shareholder's champion.

And it's not clear how the 27-year-old internet entrepreneur or Macquarie Bank or any other party
can or will resolve this problem of almost $800-million in instalments payments falling due later
this month.

Many unit holders say they can't pay. The Australian Shareholders Association Stuart Wilson says
the Queensland Government could face an electoral backlash.

STUART WILSON: Because these individuals are also voters and the implications on the actual project
itself, the Queensland Government has a role to play as well.

ANNIE GUEST: Do you say that the Queensland Government should assist the underwriters to buy out
that instalment debt or scale back the project so that the cost is not so high?

STUART WILSON: I think that there should be no stone left unturned. It really is the two
underwriters that need to compromise in order to take this debt off the investors hands. But I do
think that the Queensland Government should be greasing the wheels to ensure that that goes ahead.

ANNIE GUEST: But the Queensland Government is standing firm on its position that it's up to the
BrisConnections' project underwriters to resolve the problems.

It says it's not currently in discussions with the underwriters - Macquarie and Deutsche Banks -
about the instalment debts.

But the Treasurer Andrew Fraser says there have been approaches made to the Government in recent

And he's hinted that those discussions involved altering the toll road project in an effort to make
it more profitable.

ANDREW FRASER: Well, let's be really clear about this situation, any approaches that would seek for
instance to secure traffic funnelling to improve the returns on the project are those changes which
would be to the benefit of the financiers of the arrangement.

Our obligation here is not to the investors, it's to the taxpayer. Our obligation is to protect the
interests of the taxpayer and any so called variations in scope, whatever they might involve that
aren't to the benefit of the community, that aren't to the benefit of the taxpayer, are not ones
that will be pursued by the Queensland Government on behalf of the taxpayer.

Our position in this has to be crystal clear, has been crystal clear and will remain absolutely

ANNIE GUEST: What does the Queensland Government say to those unit holders who could lose their
homes and be bankrupted?

ANDREW FRASER: Clearly as a government our role has always been to recommend that anybody seeking
to make an investment takes independent financial advice.

PETER CAVE: The Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser, our reporter there was Annie Guest.

Top End considers croc hunt

PETER CAVE: The Northern Territory Government is making a renewed push for crocodile safari

The Government today released a draft five-year plan for the management of saltwater crocodiles in
the Top End, which includes a proposal for a trial hunt of 25 crocodiles.

Safari advocates say controlled hunting would provide economic opportunities for Aboriginal
communities, while environmentalists argue the idea is repugnant.

As Sarah Hawke reports, the Government has ruled out the widespread culling of crocodiles in the
Darwin region

SARAH HAWKE: In releasing the strategy on crocodile management for the next five years, the
Northern Territory's Environment Minister Alison Anderson gave a clear message: whatever approach
is taken, the danger is always lurking.

ALISON ANDERSON: They kill yesterday, they will kill today and they will kill tomorrow.

SARAH HAWKE: The draft plan comes on the back of two deaths in crocodile attacks in the past month.

Eleven-year-old Brinoy Goodsell's death outside Darwin in March prompted calls for an extensive
crocodile cull in the Darwin region, which has one of the fastest human population growths rates in

Alison Anderson is proposing a management zone of a 50 kilometres radius of Darwin.

This will see more rangers, more traps but not widespread shooting.

ALISON ANDERSON: Well the 50 kilometre management zone that we have is really just for monitoring
and setting extra traps and making sure that we take nuisance crocodiles out of contact with humans
and it's not at all a zone where we cull crocodiles and it's not a zone where we should stand here
and say to people that it's safe now to swim.

SARAH HAWKE: While you're not expecting wide scale shooting of crocodiles, you'd expect to remove
some more from the rural area though?

ALISON ANDERSON: Oh look, parks have always said you know, nuisance crocodiles will be removed and
we're not culling. This is not a culling process. All we have to do is realise that how do we live
in this beautiful place with this predator? And this is all about monitoring setting more traps and
making sure that humans in that area are protected so that crocodiles are not walking inside their
backyard or walking down the street of one of our suburbs.

SARAH HAWKE: The budget is still being worked out, as is the cost of an awareness program that
could range from warnings on beer coasters to extensive television advertisements.

But the Territory needs Commonwealth approval for one of the more controversial aspects of the
plan; a trial for safari hunting that may pave the way for 25 crocodiles to be hunted a year.

The hunters would be able to keep the crocodiles as trophies.

ALISON ANDERSON: The things that we have to have a look at with the safari hunting is, is it
viable? How is it going to benefit Indigenous people or you know, for economic development?

So those are the things that we'll have a look at and through the six weeks consultation process,
they too will have an input into the safari management plan.

SARAH HAWKE: But past federal governments have blocked previous Territory pushes for safari

Environmentalists believe this has to continue and the Commonwealth must take the same approach
with crocodile hunting as it does with whaling.

Nicola Beynon is from Humane Society International.

NICOLA BEYNON: There are no guarantees that animal welfare will be taken care of adequately, that
the hunters will be skilled, that they will able to get clean shots and it will be very difficult
for the Northern Territory to police that and Australians do not accept animal cruelty, nor do they
like hunting animals purely for the fun of it.

SARAH HAWKE: Michaela Johnston is a director of Gupulul Marayuwu Aboriginal Corporation that's
behind a proposal to hunt crocodiles in Arnhem Land.

She says there's already some culling and safari hunting would ensure animals are not wasted.

Michaela Johnston says they'd ensure animal welfare is not a problem.

MICHAELA JOHNSTON: I mean these are overseas professional hunters. You know, it's not just a case
of putting out there, 'we've got a large crocodile 15-16 ft we need a hunter', you can't do that.

These people have got to be professionals, they've got to be competent shots and we have two
marksmen that also back up our team to be there to make sure that shots taken if there's any
problems you know.

And I think the green groups really have to get a grip of themselves because there needs to be a
balance there.

PETER CAVE: That was crocodile hunting proponent Michaela Johnston speaking to Sarah Hawke.