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Opposition accused of political opportunism over visas

Reporter: Sabra Lane

PETER CAVE: In an unusual move, the Northern Territory coroner has revealed the provisional cause
of death for the three men who died during last Thursday's explosion near Ashmore Reef.

The coroner Greg Cavanagh says that due to the intense public interest in the case, he's revealing
the preliminary autopsy result -- which indicates the men drowned. But he cautions, the findings
are also subject to further toxicology and forensic tests.

It comes as the Federal Opposition toughens its stance on immigration, with leader Malcolm Turnbull
calling for the re-introduction of Temporary Protection Visas.

Mr Turnbull says the decision to scrap them last year was a mistake, as he claims it's led to an
increase in the number of boats coming to Australia.

But Immigration Minister Chris Evans has rejected the call, describing it as "political
opportunism".

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Temporary protection visas were introduced 10 years ago to discourage people smugglers
and asylum seekers from coming to Australia by boat. Those granted the visas had to reapply for
them after a number of years in the knowledge that if the situation improved in their home
countries they would be told to go back.

For weeks now the Federal Opposition's claimed the decision to abolish that class of visa last
August has led to an increase in boats coming to Australia and ultimately it led to last week's
fatal blast off Ashmore reef.

The Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull told Radio National the visas should be brought back.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Certainly, the re-introduction of Temporary Protection Visas should be high on
the agenda

SABRA LANE: And Mr Turnbull says the visas were a strong deterrent.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: From between 2002 and the end of 2008, fiscal year 2008, there were around half
as many people arriving as have arrived since August last year. So the fact of the matter is since
the TPVs were abolished by the Rudd Government, there has been a dramatic increase.

SABRA LANE: Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

CHRIS EVANS: Now look this is just political opportunism again from Malcolm Turnbull. We abolished
Temporary Protection Visas as part of the 2008 Budget. There's been no call for the reimposition
them again from the Liberals until now.

They seemed to have accepted that they'd gone. We found that they weren't working as a deterrent
all they were doing was punishing people who had been found to be owed our protection and the vast
majority of people who got a TPV became permanent residents at the end of that period.

So we don't think that's necessarily a good measure in terms of deterring people.

SABRA LANE: Malcolm Turnbull also says the Federal Government's starting to look like it's covering
up the events of last Thursday on Ashmore Reef by withholding information on what led to the
explosion.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: When governments know the facts, and this Government does know the facts and has
known the facts for some time, and declines to make them public. After a time, even the most
devoted admirers of the Rudd Government start to wonder why they're not fessing up and putting the
facts on the table and it starts to look like a cover-up.

SABRA LANE: It's been widely reported that the Australian Federal Police advised the Government a
change in its immigration policies would lead to an increase in asylum seekers. Again, Immigration
Minister, Senator Chris Evans.

CHRIS EVANS: I have seen the press reports that there was a report prepared by the AFP. I have no
knowledge of that and haven't seen it.

SABRA LANE: You're not curious enough to ask for it?

CHRIS EVANS: Well, my reporting comes through my department, I'm not the Minister for the AFP - but
I have no knowledge of any such report and I haven't seen any such report.

SABRA LANE: But it concerns your portfolio, you're still not interested in receiving such a report
if it exists?

CHRIS EVANS: Well we receive a lot of advice and we wouldn't discuss that advice anyway - but when
asked have I seen this alleged report, the answer is no.

SABRA LANE: Turning to the incident of Ashmore Reef last week, can you tell us any new information?

CHRIS EVANS: Not really. As I say, the Government's been very clear that we're not going to be
commenting on the causes of this terrible explosion. I noticed the Northern Territory coroner has
released a statement in the last few hours trying to give as much information as he felt was
possible.

The Government's keen for any information that doesn't interfere with the proper legal processes
being released and I think the defence video released yesterday is part of that attempt to provide
information.

But clearly this is a scene of a terrible accident, a potential crime scene, and until such time as
the Northern Territory Police complete their investigations and the coroner completes their
inquiries I don't think it would be sensible for ministers of the Crown to be speculating as to
what happened.

SABRA LANE: Certainly I think the community understands that a decision by the Federal Government
to hold off for 24 hours on releasing information - but now that four days have passed it gives the
perception that the Government is trying to shut down any debate because you might be concerned it
could reflect poorly on the Government.

CHRIS EVANS: Well that's just not true. I mean the reality is I don't know what happened. I don't
think any minister, and federal minister knows what happened. Until such time as the Northern
Territory Police and the other authorities complete their enquiries, we don't know and there's
speculation around and people want to know what happened, I want to know what happened.

But the speculation doesn't help and it certainly wouldn't be useful for anyone in the Government
to pretend that they knew when they don't.

SABRA LANE: Well let's talk about some information that was publicly released on Thursday. The
commander of Border Protection said that the asylum seekers had been told they were going to
Christmas Island and that there were no signs of anxiety on board the boat.

Yet the commander of HMAS Albany told reporters on the weekend that at no time during the previous
24 hours to the explosion were the asylum seekers and crew informed they would be taken to
Christmas Island.

What's correct?

CHRIS EVANS: I have no idea which is correct. I think this reflects the earlier discussion we had
that it would be inappropriate to comment when one doesn't understand what occurred. Clearly that
reporting indicates that there seems to be some disagreement or misunderstanding about what was
said.

And that's exactly why you need a proper investigation to reach appropriate conclusions and why
speculation in the meantime is just, inappropriate.

PETER CAVE: The Immigration Minister Chris Evans speaking there to Sabra Lane.

Royal Commission into Black Saturday begins

Reporter: Rachael Brown

PETER CAVE: The Royal Commission into the Black Saturday bushfires is sitting for the first time
today.

One-hundred-and-seventy-three people were killed, and more than 2,000 homes were destroyed in the
fires.

The World Today's Rachael Brown is at the Royal Commission, and joins us now.

Rachael, I understand that counsel assisting the Commission, Mr Jack Rush QC, began by painting a
picture of the unprecedented fire conditions that led to Black Saturday.

RACHAEL BROWN: A devastating picture actually, he spoke of a decade of drought, a record low
rainfall figure. Temperatures - Victorians sweltered through three days of 40 degree temperatures,
wind speeds were up to about 100km an hour.

He spoke of the McArthur Forest Fire Index which measures how dangerous situations are and an index
of over 50 is considered to be extreme. But he said on that day, on Black Saturday, in fact, the
index was between 120 and 180.

JACK RUSH: The McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index predicted that not only would 7 February have the
potential to be the worst day on record for bushfires, but the intensity of the potential fires
would be such that it could not be imagined by our generation.

Not only the intensity of the fire, the heat of the fire, but its speed was phenomenal. Fire
spotted kilometres ahead. Fireballs seemingly of atomic force came before the fire. The fire did
not discriminate between buildings of brick, timber or other construction.

Such fires create their own weather and are beyond the most sophisticated attempts to control them.
The evidence will demonstrate people made decisions in relation to stay or go with an unrealistic
optimism having regard to the nature of these fires.

PETER CAVE: Mr Jack Rush QC. Right at the heart of this investigation is that very contentious
stay-or-go policy.

Is that your understanding that will be the focus?

RACHAEL BROWN: That's correct Peter as you heard Mr Rush QC just say then it will be pivotal to the
first block of hearings which will run for at least eight weeks. He mentions the potential for
confusion and misunderstanding of this bedrock policy and as everyone would remember to that day,
for many people living in areas that were topographically just impossible to fight this fire,
perhaps that stay option should not have been there.

Mr Rush QC mentioned the evacuation policies of some parts of Europe and the US, he cited the
Californian fire in October 2007 in which more than 13 homes.. sorry, more than 3,000 homes were
destroyed but only ten people were killed.

So one of the things that may come out of this commission is perhaps we need an evacuation policy
for some parts of Victoria. Within that it things like refuges will also be considered, apparently
there isn't any refuge in Victoria that meets CFA standards where community members can go.

And also planning regimes; Mr Rush QC said there are bureaucratic and complex laws regarding
vegetation clearing and also our current building standards don't take in, into things, into
account.

PETER CAVE: Rachel even before the hearing began this morning, there was already some controversy,
can you take us through that?

RACHAEL BROWN: That surrounds the Commission's rule that only those whose conduct will come under
scrutiny during the hearing can give evidence. Already federal Liberal MP Fran Bailey has come out
saying that the refusal to allow some survivors to appear was a slap in the face.

I've spoken to the Gippsland Independent, the Independent Member for Gippsland East Craig Ingram
this morning and he's been denied to appear on behalf of the Wildfire Task Force. And Kim Tobin QC
representing people affected by fire that was caused by potentially power issues; like conductor
failing or falling down.

He's still waiting to hear whether he can appear but that's confused slightly by the fact there's a
class action in regards to the fire that started, potentially in Kilmore East because of alleged
line coming down.

Justice Teague devoted most of his opening to this issue and invited people to make formal
submissions but he also noted that there's only four months to produce an interim report before he
delivers the formal report by the end of July next year.

BERNARD TEAGUE: We plan to meet those deadlines. We can only do so by limiting the issues that we
address and by dealing with the more critical issues first. Our focus will be primarily on issues
that will address how a better and safer environment can be created for Victorian communities.

PETER CAVE: And that was Justice Bernard Teague at the Royal Commission this morning, our reporter
there was Rachel Brown.

Fraser Island double fatality prompts call for restrictions

Reporter: Meg Purtell

PETER CAVE: A double fatality on Queensland's popular Fraser Island at the weekend has prompted
calls for lower speed limits and better driver training. Four-wheel driving is a major drawcard to
the island, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world each year.

But locals and the state's peak motoring body say that tighter regulations are needed to prevent a
repeat of Saturday's tragedy.

Meg Purtell reports from Brisbane.

MEG PURTELL: The picturesque Fraser Island is a four-hour drive north of Brisbane and enjoys world
heritage listing along with some of Australia's best known natural attractions. It's strictly
four-wheel drive territory with Seventy-Five Mile beach a sandy highway that runs up one side of
the island.

The speed limit on the beach is 80 kilometres an hour but driving conditions vary with the weather
and tides.

Gary Fites is from the motoring group the RACQ.

GARY FITES: When the tide is out and the sand is firm the running on those beaches can be just
about as good as at least running on a sealed highway but I think part of the problem is that we've
got people using those beaches in recreational mode if you like, travelling on or about highway
speeds, in or on conditions which obviously aren't highway conditions.

Whereas, as I say you can have good hard running surfaces when the tide is out; you've also got
situations where you can get wash outs occurring, changes from hard sand to soft sand.

MEG PURTELL: On Saturday two overseas tourists died and nine others were injured when their hired
four-wheel drive rolled on the island. The incident has prompted calls for tighter regulations.

The Fraser Island Association's Col Pearce:

COL PEARCE: We're putting people into vehicles, overloading vehicles and putting drivers into those
vehicles that have only driven on bitumen roads probably in their lives, putting them into vehicles
with under-inflated tyres and driving in a strange environment that's virtually all sand; and it's
a recipe for disaster.

MEG PURTELL: He says four-wheel drive hire companies should consider providing a driver for
tourists.

COL PEARCE: I think that's the only answer, that there needs to be a designated driver from the
company itself. That probably won't go down real well but it must add to the cost and if it's going
to save lives I think it's something we should be looking at.

MEG PURTELL: Gary Fites again.

GARY FITES: I think it's premature to be talking about what the answers are likely to be but
certainly such issues as speed limits or the degree of experience that people need to have before
they can drive these vehicles unaccompanied on the beach needs to be part of the terms of reference
of any review of the driving requirements.

MEG PURTELL: He says thousands of people use Fraser Island without incident each year, but he's
aware accident's like the one at the weekend are all too common.

GARY FITES: I think it's pretty obvious not just from the events of the past couple of days but
from similar events in the past that something needs to be done to make sure that there is a
stronger level of safety surrounding the use of these hire four -wheel drives.

MEG PURTELL: The Fraser Coast Mayor Mick Kruger says he supports stricter regulation of four-wheel
drive hire.

MICK KRUGER: I've always believed that the Minister should take hold of this and introduce tag
along tours where you've got the team leader in front which is an experienced four-wheel drive
operator knowing the conditions on Fraser Island that would lead - and the others in the other
vehicles tag along behind them.

MEG PURTELL: Col Pearce again.

COL PEARCE: I don't think driver training is going to do it, it's too long term and too many
different drivers for that. I think it has got to be a designated driver in the vehicle from the
company itself. I think that's the only way that we're ever going to eventually stop it.

MEG PURTELL: Gary Fites says the RACQ will put its concerns forward for review.

GARY FITES: I think you need to take into account the speed limits, as you do such issues as what
level of minimum experience people may need before they're allowed to drive these vehicles at least
unaccompanied.

MEG PURTELL: The State Government says a number of measures are being considered in regards to
regulations on Fraser Island, and have been for some time.

PETER CAVE: Meg Purtell reporting there from Brisbane.

Tourism industry braces for hit from economic crisis

Reporter: Sara Everingham

PETER CAVE: The Australian tourism industry is facing an uncertain year with predictions that the
global economic crisis will see the number of overseas visitors to Australia drop by about 250,000.

The tourism industry in central Australia with attractions such as Uluru is largely reliant on
international visitors. The industry there says tourist numbers have dropped off but not by as much
as first feared.

But there are concerns those still travelling are tightening their belts, spending less and being
more cautious about planning future trips.

Sara Everingham prepared this report.

VOX POP: Champagne mate you'd be alright with that being a Frenchmen.

SARA EVERINGHAM: It's sunset at Uluru. Tourists line up along a sand dune sipping champagne
watching the changing face of the rock. Way Outback Tours is one company that operates here and it
says business is booming.

Phil Taylor is the manager of operations.

PHIL TAYLOR: We are pinching ourselves every day and just sort of wondering, well, you know, where
is this downturn that they're talking about, is it still to come as far as we're concerned?

SARA EVERINGHAM: But this afternoon there are plenty of free spaces in the car parks. APT runs
coach tours around here and it's been cutting back its trips.

Warwick Rock is the general manager.

WARWICK ROCK: The UK market was an extremely strong market for us and that's had a little bit of a
drop away with that on our short breaks APT coach touring. We've also seen a fairly major drop in
the Japanese market that's been going on for quite some time, probably almost a year now, even
before the official downturn.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In the last year visitor numbers to Uluru have dropped about eight per cent and
that's mainly because there are fewer international visitors. The resort here is on sale and its
operator Voyages wouldn't disclose its occupancy rates.

Renton Kelly, the chairman of Tourism Central Australia is keeping a close eye on the numbers.

RENTON KELLY: Tourism in central Australia is one of the most important industries.

SARA EVERINGHAM: When he took on the job last year he feared what might lie ahead.

RENTON KELLY: However, surprisingly the confidence level and the number of visitors we're seeing in
central Australia hasn't had the impact that one would associate with the press reports of the past
month or so.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And some international visitors see Australia as a cheaper destination.

Carol Zimmerman is visiting Uluru from Arizona.

CAROL ZIMMERMAN: Because we're going through an economic crisis as well we couldn't afford to go to
a lot of other places but Australia was a little bit more affordable for us.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And is that because of the exchange rate?

CAROL ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But she is travelling on a budget.

CAROL ZIMMERMAN: We'd love to travel and unfortunately both for our economic times and I think
yours too that we've really had to conserve. We've gone a little lower budget along the way.

But we've also decided that this is such a trip of a lifetime that we were going to do it, so we're
hoping we're helping your economy.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And where are you staying?

CAROL ZIMMERMAN: Well we're staying at the Outback Pioneer Lodge, which was the lower budget one
and, but it's still just as beautiful to sit here and look at this rock.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The tourism industry is trying to encourage domestic tourists to travel more
within Australia but they too appear to be spending less. Bev and her family are here from Sydney

BEV: You just don't know what's going to happen. I mean look, if you've got employment and you've
got a mortgage I guess you're not too badly off at the moment. But you don't know what's going to
happen a bit further down the track.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And so where are you making cutbacks on this trip?

BEV: We're doing it a little bit cheaper we're not doing a lot of the tours, you know, we're doing
a lot of things ourselves.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Food and that sort of thing like I see here, you've got a bit of a picnic.

BEV: We brought all our food with us, we packed sandwiches for lunch and we brought a chicken and
some rolls and some drinks in the esky and things like that.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Those cutbacks are being felt throughout the red centre. Rex Neindorf runs the
reptile centre in Alice Springs.

REX NEINDORF: I think people are still watching where they spend their money. Unfortunately for
attractions, we're one of the first things that suffers because it's an expendable item for them.

People will still travel, they still need to get food, they need to get fuel and still need to get
their accommodation and so those things are always sorted.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The local industry believes it will get through the tougher times but tourists are
being cautious. Robert Young is on holiday at Uluru but at his home in the Barossa Valley he drives
around tourists in a coach for a living, and he says he won't be rushing into planning his own next
trip.

ROBERT YOUNG: We're still sort of (inaudible) sort of way, probably won't go for another one for
quite some time now. You know, because of the money situation, and also you don't know the
situation job wise, you know.

PETER CAVE: And that was Rob Young from the Barossa Valley ending Sara Everingham's report. And
let's hope they picked up all those champagne corks they left behind.

Summer shearers clipped from the workforce

Reporter: Emma Alberici

PETER CAVE: Each year, Britain relies on hundreds of Australian and New Zealand shearers who work
on UK farms in the summer.

But strict new visa requirements have stopped the flow of workers into Britain from outside the
European Union.

The UK is now faced with a critical shortage of shearers and the prospect of serious health and
welfare issues that emerge for the sheep if their fleece is not cut.

Europe correspondent Emma Alberici reports

(Sound of sheep: 'baaah')

EMMA ALBERICI: I'm at burnt house farm in East Sussex with Robert Morris who is the farmer here;
you hire in shearers.

ROBERT MORRIS: We hire shearers from Australia and New Zealand and we do contract shearing, and we
shear about 35,000 sheep in Kent and Sussex and we've run up, into all sorts of problems this year
with the new immigration system that's been introduced by our government at the end of last year.

EMMA ALBERICI: This was supposed to be a law as I understand it to make sure the UK doesn't attract
terrorists.

ROBERT MORRIS: That's right but these guys are far from being terrorists. They're professional
shearers, they come here from the 1st of May until the end of July and come the end of July they
want to be going back to their own countries to do shearing over there.

EMMA ALBERICI: Gladwyn Transem (phonetic) is one of them. He mows lawns in Brisbane during the
Australian summer, and works on Rob Morris's farm in East Sussex in the south of England, in the
European summer.

But not this year - he's decided it's all too hard.

GLADWYN TRANSEM: Oh just the hassle and all the things they want for you to get a permit to go in.
It's just too much hassle and I'm just not going to bother.

EMMA ALBERICI: It used to be a matter of a simple work permit and a nominal fee. It's now $500 for
the shearer and another $350 odd for the farmer, a mountain of paperwork and a trip to a UK visa
processing bureau and a biometric identity card.

British immigration lawyer Phillip Bath says the reality is that Australians should probably forget
about that annual sheep shearing trip to Old Blighty.

PHILLIP BATH: If you're an intending migrant, it's overnight made the UK a much more difficult
place to get a visa for. If they've got dependent children or they're over 30 years old they can't
come in and they're unlikely to be able to come here.

EMMA ALBERICI: It's come as a real blow for Britain's farmers like Rob Morris.

ROBERT MORRIS: We need somewhere in the region of 500 shearers from Australia and New Zealand for
our season. Guys that need the working visas are the real professional shearers who can shear
between three and 400 sheep a day.

EMMA ALBERICI: Are there just not the shearers here in the UK?

ROBERT MORRIS: We have got shearers here in the UK but we don't have enough shearers to complete
our shearing within our season. We've got about 25 million sheep in the UK to shear and we estimate
that about a quarter of these, about 25 per cent of these are shorn by Australian and New Zealand
shearers.

The sheep will get shorn, albeit it'll be late in the summer, it'll be August and perhaps into
September and if this is the case we shall encounter a lot of welfare problems such as blowfly
strike and sheep getting on their backs with full fleeces and unable to get on their feet and they
will die within a matter of hours.

EMMA ALBERICI: So this is quite a serious problem?

ROBERT MORRIS: Yeah it is a serious problem for us here in the UK because if our sheep don't get
shorn then we will have a lot of animal welfare problems.

EMMA ALBERICI: There's a critical shortage of sheep shearers worldwide. It's a job you retire from
in your mid 30s and young men are no longer taking it up.

PETER CAVE: Emma Alberici.

Concerns raised over First Home Buyers Grant

Reporter: Oscar McLaren

PETER CAVE: The nation's big four banks are dealing with unprecedented demand for mortgages -
especially from first home buyers.

The Government's first home buyers scheme is leading flocks of mostly young people to snap up
houses before the grant is due to expire at the end of the financial year.

Customers from some banks are reporting the delays are causing them to miss settlement dates for
the houses.

A combination of factors appears to be to blame for the waiting times, but the frenzy of activity
is also focussing attention on the wisdom behind the First Home Buyers Grant, and there's a growing
debate over whether it should be extended.

Oscar McLaren filed this report.

OSCAR MCLAREN: At a time when most markets are floundering, the lower end of the housing market is
booming, and the big four banks are overwhelmed with new mortgage applications.

MARTIN NORTH: Oh yes, there's been a very significant surge in applications over the last 3 or 4
months and in a full year there now probably like 135,000 applications coming in; but they've all
been bunched up over the last little while thanks to the first time owner grant.

OSCAR MCLAREN: Martin North from Fujitsu Consulting says that as part of the credit crunch, banks
are being far stricter about who they lend to, and this is causing longer waiting times.

MARTIN NORTH: What that does is essentially put an extra few steps in the assessment process, so
not only have they had a significant increase in volumes but they're taking longer now to process
the loan applications.

OSCAR MCLAREN: And he says, it's only going to get worse.

MARTIN NORTH: We've also seen a few buyers miss out now because the banks are simply not able to
get the settlement cheques out in time and the view I have is that we're going to see more of that
as everybody runs up to the deadline in June.

OSCAR MCLAREN: The consumer advocacy group Choice says 92 per cent of mortgages are being given by
the major four banks, and this concentration of the market is compounding the bottlenecks.

Christopher Zinn.

CHRISTOPHER ZINN: The competition, the mid tier, the regional banks have really dropped off because
of the financial crisis and the cost of funding really not able to offer competitive products to
the banks.

The banks have gobbled up a couple of those smaller banks as well, this means that historically
high levels of customers are going to the banks and then when you have an issue such as the first
home buyer's loan that can really; put a lot of congestion into the system.

OSCAR MCLAREN: The World Today contacted the four major banks and received no response. The fifth
biggest, St George Bank did say that it is experiencing enormous demand for loans, and that it's
put on extra staff to bring waiting times roughly back to normal.

But David Airey who's the president of the Real Estate Institute of Australia says banks simply
aren't doing enough to deal with the problem.

DAVID AIREY: Well they may well be doing that but they're taking some time to do it given that most
banks have announced redundancies in staff over the last few months and yet we have a situation
where there's... the only market in Australia in property that's growing is the first home buyer's
market.

OSCAR MCLAREN: While demand at the lower end of the market is raging for now - it won't last
forever and the end of the financial year is approaching rapidly - at which point the First Home
Buyer Grant will fall in value.

The attention of many commentators is now turning to the question of whether the Government should
keep the grant at its higher level for longer. David Airey from the Real Estate Institute wants to
see that happen.

DAVID AIREY: It would be, in my view, catastrophic to drop it off at the 30th June. I'm meeting the
Minister with the Real Estate Institute of Australia on the 8th of May, that's Ms Plibersek, and I
intend to put to her a strong case, that given sales performance that we're getting reports from by
our real estate institute members across Australia, it's essential to continue the grant for
another six months, but to phase it out gradually, rather than just have a cut-off point we believe
it would be best phased out gradually.

But at the same time we're going to argue for a permanent increase in the grant based on the
increase in inflation and property value since it was introduced in 2000.

OSCAR MCLAREN: But Martin North from Fujitsu Consulting fears that the first buyer bubble combined
with rising unemployment could lead the Australian economy down the same path as the US. And he
says the Australian Government should act before it's too late.

MARTIN NORTH: Now it's not a subprime crisis like in the US but nevertheless what happened in the
US was that rates started to go up, unemployment started to rise and that's when a lot of those
people started to realise they couldn't maintain their repayments.

Now, my concern is that if we don't turn off the First Home Owner Grant now, we'll end up creating
more of a problem for ourselves later. So I think we have to bite the bullet and curtail it at the
end of June and then perhaps look for other strategies beyond that.

PETER CAVE: Martin North of Fujitsu Consulting, ending that report from Oscar McLaren.

Rio Tinto investors round on management

Reporter: Sue Lannin

PETER CAVE: Back to the Rio Tinto AGM now, and shareholders there are angry about Rio's planned
deal with Chinese aluminium producer Chinalco, which will see the Beijing-backed firm double its
investment in the company and take stakes in key assets.

Investors are also up in arms because Rio Tinto's board walked away from BHP Billitons' hostile
takeover offer, which valued the company at more than $160 billion.

For more I'm joined by our finance reporter Sue Lannin, who's at the AGM.

Sue, what are shareholders saying?

SUE LANNIN: Well Peter they're very, very angry, there was a rowdy shareholder meeting last week in
London and it's even more rowdy it seems here. Shareholders have been accusing the Rio Tinto board
and management of selling off the crown jewels in reference to the potential deal with Chinalco.

Now that deal would see Rio sell, would see Chinalco take stakes in key project like the Hammersley
Iron operation, the giant operation there in Western Australia and other big projects. One
shareholder accused the board of dreaming if they thought that Chinalco would not be able to
influence the price of key commodities like iron ore.

Now shareholders are also angry in regards to Rio's takeover of Alcan - that's the Canadian
aluminium producer back in 2007 - that left Rio saddled a debt of around $US40 billion. So, one
shareholder actually accused the management of spurning a top of the market offer from BHP Billiton
to take over Rio Tinto, but then going ahead and buying Alcan at the top of the market.

So the meeting's still going on, it's been going on since about 9.30 and people are pretty angry.

PETER CAVE: It sounds indeed like it's been one of the grumpier AGMs this year, what's Rio's
response been?

SUE LANNIN: Rio Tinto has very much been trying to sell the benefits of the Chinalco deal. Now
Chinalco will take 18 per cent of Rio Tinto, so it will double its stake. It's currently at nine
per cent, it's currently the biggest single shareholder - Tom Albanese says that being in league
with Chinalco will help position Rio when the recovery eventually returns.

It was confirmed today that Chinalco have confirmed their financing for the Rio Tinto deal; so that
would be to inject about $30 billion and also Rio Tinto says it has had a letter from the export
-import bank of China of possibly further assistance to help them expand into other development
projects.

Tom Albanese says that Chinalco will be at arm's length, it will be an arm's length relationship.
He said that Rio Tinto will run Rio's assets; Chinalco will not run Rio Tinto's assets. Now the
company's also saying that it's unlikely there will be any global recovery over the next 12 to 18
months - but they think that investing in China will improve later this year.

So they're really staking their future on this link-up with Chinalco and also expansion in league
with other - with China.

PETER CAVE: So, it's definitely on, there's no wiggle room.

SUE LANNIN: Well - that's... first of all there is the big hurdle - it has to get approval from the
Foreign Investment Review Board. So back in March FIRB was given an extension, a 90-day extension
so that takes the consideration of that deal into June.

So it really is whether the Federal Government thinks ... they're going to have to consider whether
it is in Australia's best interest to have a major customer owning a stake in key resources assets
and whether or not Chinalco would be able to influence price.

So there's no certainty yet and also shareholders have to agree to the deal. They will, a vote will
be put to shareholders if FIRB actually approve that deal. So no certainty as yet.

PETER CAVE: Let's hope they're less grumpy next time.

That was Sue Lannin reporting live from the general meeting of Rio Tinto in Sydney.

London police under the pump over protests

Reporter: Stephanie Kennedy

PETER CAVE: The British police force is facing mounting allegations over the tactics it used during
this month's G20 protests in London.

A string of protestors have lodged complaints against the level of force used against them.

Police are now being investigated for assault and in one case manslaughter.

And there are calls for a complete review of the police strategy used to control crowds during
protests.

Stephanie Kennedy reports from London.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: The widespread use of mobile phones by protestors and onlookers to take
photographs and video footage of the police force's actions during the G20 demonstrations has put
London's Metropolitan Police in the line of fire over allegations of excessive force and in some
cases police brutality.

The latest film to emerge shows an officer hitting Nicola Fisher with a backhander across the face
and then striking her leg with a baton.

NICOLA FISCHER: He struck me for no reason. I hadn't approached him, spoken to him, or anything.
You know, I hadn't really noticed him.

All I'd noticed was a line of officers that appeared in front of us. So, like, from the outset, he
was aggressive.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: The sergeant accused of striking Nicola Fisher has been suspended from duty.

(Sound of protests)

Another encounter shows one officer hitting a protestor across the head with his riot shield.
Lawyers have included this and another film of a policeman punching a man as part of a dossier
alleging 10 serious assaults.

It was the death of Ian Tomlinson that triggered the independent inquiry and led to questions over
the police conduct during the protests.

The newspaper seller was hit and shoved to the ground. Moments later he collapsed and died.

Initially it was thought he'd suffered a heart attack, but now a second post-mortem concluded he
died of internal bleeding.

The officer involved in that incident has been questioned over manslaughter charges.

Mr Tomlinson's family is angry they were misled by police.

Paul King is Mr Tomlinson's stepson.

PAUL KING: There's a lot of anger, there's a lot of stress going through the family.

My sisters, my Mum's suffering quite bad from it.

We just want the truth.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: One-hundred and fifty complaints have been lodged against the police over the
protests.

One of the most serious issues is that some officers concealed their identification numbers on
their uniforms.

Chris Huhne is the Liberal Democrat spokesman. He says his party was explicitly assured by senior
police ahead of the protests that every single officer would be clearly identified.

CHRIS HUHNE: Now I have to ask myself: why would a police officer go and police a demonstration
without wearing their identifying marks?

What have they got to hide? What are they ashamed of?

There shouldn't be any British police officer who should be ashamed of their uniform, or of their
identification.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: The police tactic of 'kettling' is also feeling the heat.

This is a strategy that's used to contain the protestors. Police herd the crowd into a pen known as
'the kettle'.

They're trying to avoid groups splintering away from the main crowd, and as other protesters join
the demonstration, the police noose draws gradually tighter.

Eventually, protesters find themselves surrounded by police specially trained in crowd control.

In the case of the G20 protest outside the Bank of England, protestors were held for hours in the
'kettle', so-called because it takes the steam out of a potentially violent situation.

But a G20 protestor described kettling as keeping people inside an area until they are boiling with
rage.

Stephanie Kennedy reporting from London.

Lack of legal system thwarting anti-piracy efforts

Reporter: Nicola Fell

PETER CAVE: It seems that the plethora of foreign navies which have moved into the waters off
Somalia to protect shipping there are not having much trouble rounding up a few pirates.

But what they do next is proving a problem given that walking the plank and keel hauling are now
outlawed.

On Sunday, a Canadian warship captured pirates attacking a Norwegian tanker in the Gulf of Aden --
but after questioning them, they let them go.

On Saturday, Dutch forces did exactly the same thing.

Nicola Fell reports.

NICOLA FELL: Dutch forces serving with NATO caught seven Somali pirates on Saturday. However, these
pirates, like most of the other dozens of pirates caught by foreign war ships, were set free.

NATO's maritime spokesman, Commander Chris Davies said that legally they had no choice.

CHRIS DAVIES: It's a matter of legislation. Pirates have been, were initially detained. The arms
have been taken off them and immobilised. The pirates have been set back in their skiff and given
food and provisions.

NICOLA FELL: Sam Bateman from the Nanyang Technical University in Singapore explains why dealing
with pirates is such a legal minefield

SAM BATEMAN: Piracy is of course an international crime - the trouble is though that many countries
particularly less developed countries don't have in place domestic legislation that reflects the
international law regarding piracy.

A further problem is that warships act under what they call "rules of engagement" that rather
inhibit what they can do in terms of arresting pirates. Some countries, and the United Kingdom in
particular have been very sensitive about the possibility that pirates might be arrested and taken
aboard a British warship.

Once they're on board they then come under the laws of the United Kingdom they would have to be
prosecuted under the laws of the United Kingdom. That could lead to very lengthy legal proceedings
back in Britain and could also open up the possibility that the pirates might claim for themselves
some form of refugee status

NICOLA FELL: The most well placed country to launch a prosecution of course would be Somalia but
with their courts and legal system in complete disarray, Western states are looking for another
solution; as Donald Rothwell Professor of International Law at Australia National University
explains.

DONALD ROTHWELL: One of the options that the Americans and Europeans have agreed upon is to try to
transfer jurisdiction to Kenya and Kenya is undertaking some limited prosecution of pirates at the
moment in an effort to try to clear some of the back log in this field.

NICOLA FELL: But, says Rothwell, this is a far from an ideal solution.

DONALD ROTHWELL: Obviously the Kenyan legal system can only cope with so many of these
prosecutions. There's going to be a costing issue, there's going to be a capacity issue. And
clearly the Kenyan legal system is not necessarily geared up to deal with significant inflows of
pirates as might arise if the enforcement operations in the waters off Somalia are as successful as
the international community would like to see.

So there needs to be other options pursued.

NICOLA FELL: Rothwell and other experts propose creating international tribunals akin to those used
for the Rwanda trials or Yugoslavia war crimes. Located in a place like The Hague, in the
Netherlands an institution like the Security Council could exercise clear universal jurisdiction
over the pirates.

PETER CAVE: Nicola Fell reporting.

Telstra to let staff tweet in work time

Reporter: Simon Santow

PETER CAVE: It seems these days that if you're not Tweeting or Facebooking then you're well and
truly in the minority and not keeping up with the times.

That's certainly the view of one of Australia's largest employers, Telstra.

The telecommunications giant has just given its workers the official green light to go online and
to take part in social networking, even during company time.

Simon Santow reports on a practice which some employers still brand a 'time-waster'.

SIMON SANTOW: Logging on to social networking websites such as Facebook or Twitter can be an
opportunity to share photos, video or music. At the very least, it's a chance to update friends or
followers with just a few words about what you're up to.

LAUREL PAPWORTH: It's a little bit like email except that when you update or do a status update you
update all of your friends at the same time and on Twitter it's like a live stream of information
that's coming through of what everybody's doing.

SIMON SANTOW: Laurel Papworth is a social network strategist and blogger.

LAUREL PAPWORTH: It's not addictive except in the sense that we like to communicate with other
people and that it's the most... it's the easiest and most fun way of communicating with someone.
So, whereas on the phone you're hearing each other's voices but that's all.

I can't show you a video on the phone and I can't send you a link to an interesting article in
order to keep the discussion going; so therefore discussions tend to roll into other things online
because you're able to process things so easily.

SIMON SANTOW: For a company such as Telstra, communicating is core business. Every day the
company's customers spend up big on data, voice and text communication over mobile phones,
landlines and the Internet.

Telstra hit the headlines recently when one of its employees was giving his views about
telecommunications policy but using the name of the Minister responsible, Stephen Conroy. The
employee has since left the company, but the experience highlighted some of the dangers of a fast,
unfettered method of communicating information.

DAVID QUILTY: We actually want to encourage our staff as well as the wider community to be using
social networking sites, they're now a core part of the media environment and we are a media coms
company and hence it makes sense for our staff to be active participants.

SIMON SANTOW: The telco's group managing director of public policy and communications is David
Quilty.

DAVID QUILTY: One of the primary issues is to ensure that people who are using these sites and
inevitably conversations come to issues relating to Telstra - well how are they involved in those
conversations when they're on the sites in a personal capacity?

And I think the important thing there is to make sure that people actually represent the fact that
they do work for Telstra and in terms of any comments they do make, the audience understands the
context that they make them.

I think the other thing obviously that's important is to ensure that when staff are on these sites
and issues do relate to Telstra, then, in terms of their commentaries that they're as accurate as
they can be and that they don't unnecessarily damage the company.

SIMON SANTOW: Telstra says it wants its workers to use Twitter and Facebook and other sites, but to
do so responsibly and not at the cost of doing their work properly.

DAVID QUILTY: Their use of them during work time shouldn't impact on their ability to get their job
done.

SIMON SANTOW: A lot of people would like to know though what is a responsible manner and what is
responsible usage, just in terms of how much time could be devoted to this sort of thing.

DAVID QUILTY: Well I think again it's a case of common sense. If somebody's use of these sites
means that they can't get their job done, it means they're falling behind in their job - well then
obviously that's not a responsible usage.

If it means that there's a small amount of usage during their break times or things like that, well
then I can't see a problem.

SIMON SANTOW: David Gregory is the Manager of Workplace Relations at the Victorian Employers'
Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He says many businesses are still sceptical.

DAVID GREGORY: Obviously in some cases it is a fantastic asset for businesses in terms of the sort
of access information it provides for their employees. But quite clearly in many cases it can be a
complete time waster if people are sitting there with a range of job functions to perform, they're
staring at a screen all day ostensibly working when they could be doing a while range of other
things.

So obviously in those cases it can be a work performance, it can be a productivity issue.

PETER CAVE: Our reporter there Simon Santow.

Dancing with stars in their eyes

Reporter: Nance Haxton

PETER CAVE: The comedians Peter Cook and Dudley Moore never failed to get a laugh out of their
famous sketch about the one legged actor who wanted to play Tarzan.

Well in South Australia the country's only professional dance company for both abled and disabled
dancers is rehearsing for its new production 12 months after it ceased to be an amateur ensemble.

And while it may be a lot of fun the Restless Dance Theatre is certainly no joke.

As Nance Haxton reports.

NANCE HAXTON: When Lorcan Hopper dances on stage, he says it's like the world stops.

LORCAN HOPPER: I love dancing because it's in my blood, yeah.

NANCE HOXTON: What do you feel when you're on stage.

LORCAN HOPPER: Bit of stage fright.

NANCE HOTXON: Bit nervous?

LORCAN HOPPER: Bit nervous.

NANCE HOXTON: Do you move beyond that and then you feel a bit more at home?

LORCAN HOPPER: Yes, it's good.

NANCE HOXTON: But Lorcan Hopper's humility betrays his dancing talents. He has Down syndrome, and
was selected as one of the founding members of Restless Dance Theatre's professional ensemble after
being discovered at one of the company's workshops.

He says getting paid for dancing was one of his proudest achievements yet.

LORCAN HOPPER: When I got paid I feel like growing - bit more muscle.

NANCE HOXTON: You feel empowered.

LORCAN HOPPER: Empowered, yeah.

NANCE HOXTON: And his mother Sandra Hopper can attest to that, saying that until her son was chosen
by the company, they had no idea of the extent of his latent talent.

SANDRA HOPPER: We would have been content for him to just be in a regular dance class that happened
every week, never thought anything about performing.

NANCE HOXTON: Lorcan Hopper is now in rehearsals for Restless Dance Theatre's new production
'Bedroom Dancing', a no-holes-barred performance where the audience moves through 15 rooms that
reveal intimate moments in the dancers' lives.

And Restless is working on another show called 'Next of Kin', that involves the families of the
ensemble as well.

Lorcan Hopper's 12-year-old sister Keava is excited at the prospect of joining her brother on
stage, and having something creative that they can share.

KEAVA HOPPER: We haven't actually done it yet - but I think it will be interesting. I think it's
helped Lorcan to show all his stuff that he can do and yeah, show his personality.

NANCE HOXTON: Restless Dance Theatre is Australia's only professional dance group for dancers with
a disability.

Company manager Nick Hughes says going professional last year was a huge step in the evolution of
the company.

NICK HUGHES: Not only to tour but to give opportunities to those dancers that show real promise
like Lorcan, who could actually make a career out of it. To take the next step and to say well the
dancers too are moving into a fully professional arena is a really important maturing step for the
company to take.

NANCE HOXTON: Designer Gaelle Mellis says without Restless - there would be little or no vocational
training for disabled dancers.

GAELLE MELLIS: I think the professional aspect is absolutely important because if we want a really
diverse society with equal opportunities for people then we cannot deny disabled people the
opportunity to train into professional opportunities such as artists.

NATSOT PLAY

NANCE HOXTON: As well as dancing, Lorcan Hopper has now gone on to direct his own show with
Restless.

He says that was one of the biggest thrills of working for the company.

LORCAN HOPPER: When I was directing a piece called 'Binge Drinking', and it's about people getting
who's getting drunk and it's about puberty and sex and stuff.

NANCE HOXTON: And you directed that?

LORCAN HOPPER: Yes I did.

NANCE HOXTON: So that was great to be able to direct as well as perform.

LORCAN HOPPER: Yes but for me I'd like to direct more because I'm going to get into a lot of
companies like in Sydney and Melbourne and overseas.

PETER CAVE: Restless Dance Theatre performer and director Lorcan Hopper ending Nance Haxton's
report.