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Treasurer says Government has done its Budget best

Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

PETER CAVE: Just hours now before the content of the Budget will be revealed, and the Treasurer
Wayne Swan hopes that voters will see the Government has done "its very best" in challenging
circumstances.

The Opposition's though is ramping up its Budget criticism, accusing the Prime Minister of
recklessly running up the nation's credit card with a massive debt that all Australians will be
saddled with for many years to come.

The Coalition is accusing Labor of hitting the very people it will rely on to wrest the nation out
of the recession and most Labor MPs were keeping their heads down.

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Treasurer spent the morning putting the finishing touches on tonight's Budget
speech. By his own admission there is a lot riding on getting things right in this economic
statement.

WAYNE SWAN: I think what we see is the most difficult set of economic circumstances in 75 years and
we accept full responsibility for dealing with it.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: After years of dodging the politically sensitive matter of means testing the raft
of government payments to middle and high income earners, Labor is now ready to grasp that nettle.

It is a calculated risk but one it has decided is worth taking.

WAYNE SWAN: I hope tonight that people will see that we have done our best in very challenging
circumstances.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: There was a long line of Coalition MPs wanting to have their say on their way into
Parliament House today.

BRONWYN BISHOP: I think it will be a horrible Budget and I think the only way it will be a
temporary deficit if it's a temporary government.

TONY ABBOTT: I think we are going to see an ocean of red ink. I think we are going to see debt
stretching out as far as the eye can see.

JAMIE BRIGGS: These guys just don't know what they are doing with the economy.

ANDREW SOUTHCOTT: It is a case of Kevin Rudd managing expectations, trying to deliver expectations
so low that he regards one million Australians unemployed as an achievement.

DENNIS JENSEN: My biggest fear is deficit and the reckless spending that's gone on.

WARREN TRUSS: Labor's recession is going to hit hard and, as usual, the victims will be self-funded
retirees and those who are saving for their retirement, people with private health insurance,
people who live in regional areas - the very people who are going to be needed to take our country
out of recession in the future.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Independent Senator Nick Xenophon was keen to comment too.

NICK XENOPHON: If the leaks are right, Wayne's world is going to be a world of pain today for most
Australians so I think the important thing is that the pain is fairly targeted, that it's
equitable, that there aren't unintended consequences.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Labor MPs stayed away in droves. Only one risked fielding some questions.
Graham Perrett reflected on Conservative and Labor Budgets and despite his leaders berating the
Coalition for having spent up big, this backbencher gave the other side a pat on the back.

GRAHAM PERRETT: I think it will be a tough Budget. I am hoping for one that's as fair as possible.

REPORTER: Are you expecting a bit of a community backlash against some of the measures?

GRAHAM PERRETT: I think there is no such thing as retrospective goodwill and for the last 10, 16
years we have had some pretty good Budgets. Unfortunately, this Budget is going to be a much
tougher affair so there will be some people that forget the good times I guess and find it hard to
tighten the belt a little bit.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: One thing the Government's made sure everyone knows is that aged pensioners will
get more money. The prospect of angry pensioner demonstrations like the one in Melbourne just after
the last Budget where some stripped to their undergarments was enough to get the good news out
early.

With just hours to go, the Treasurer's still emphasising the new deal.

WAYNE SWAN: Pensioners deserve to live with dignity. They deserve the support of the country they
work for all their lives and all of my time in public life, I have been acutely aware of the
contribution that those who've worked hard to make Australia great have made and it is unfortunate
that in recent years previous governments couldn't find the room in the Budget to provide some
justice for aged pensioners.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Family First Senator Steve Fielding bared his chest for the pensioners. He's hoping
he won't have to do it again.

STEVE FIELDING: It was a long time ago and I took my shirt off in the middle of Swanson Street with
pensioners to get an increase. Now will Rudd dud couple pensioners. He is committed to the single
pension. I am hoping that he hasn't dudded pensioners that are getting a couple pension. This is
really important because when we are pushing for an increase of $30, it was for all pensioners -
not just those single pensioners so this is really important tonight.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: After weeks of warning of a tough Budget, the Government will finally reveal
tonight just how tough it is.

PETER CAVE: Alexandra Kirk reporting.

Fielding opposed to renewed alcopops tax push

Reporter: Sabra Lane

PETER CAVE: The Federal Government will again attempt to get its alcopops tax hike through
Parliament today.

This time though, its split the controversial bill in two, with one bill validating the
$365-million already collected over the past 12 months. It's likely this bill will pass as all MPs
say they're in favour of it.

The other bill is aimed at making the 70 per cent tax increase on ready-to drink beverages
permanent, but again it seems one man is standing in the way of what the Government wants.

In March, Family First Senator Steve Fielding sided with the Opposition saying the move was just a
revenue measure and he hasn't changed his mind.

Senator Fielding has told our reporter in Canberra Sabra Lane he is against the bill and that if
the Government was serious, it would ban alcohol advertising during sports programming.

STEVE FIELDING: Look, no one wants the revenue that has been collected from the alcopops tax to go
back to the industry and we already had that agreement going back two months ago and the Government
has now done a back-flip.

They were the ones opposed to keeping the money and I am glad they have done a back-flip so the
money will stay with the Government that has been collected and that is the right thing to do.

SABRA LANE: What about the permanent increase?

STEVE FIELDING: Well look, the issue here is that we have an alcohol toll and it costs Australia
$15.3-billion mopping up after excessive alcohol every year. Now the Rudd Government has woken up
and said, "Oh we'll fix that with a tax on one product - an alcopops tax".

It is blatant tax grab. It will not address the core issues of the alcohol toll that Australia has.

Binge drinking isn't a tax problem, it is a cultural problem and we need to create a culture of
responsible drinking in Australia and that tax is peeving people off. It is not winning the
Australian public and the public know it is a con.

SABRA LANE: The Government made all sorts of concessions last time. They got the Greens on side,
they got Nick Xenophon on side. You're still not happy with those arrangements?

STEVE FIELDING: Look, we have got to face facts. It is a year on. The alcopops tax has been there
for a year and it has done nothing to address the issue of binge drinking.

I was out with the police Saturday fortnight ago, out from about 10:30pm to 3:00am. Binge drinking
is still a huge issue and the alcopops tax will do nothing to tackle the issue.

SABRA LANE: You talk about real measures. Do you still want something done about alcohol
advertising during sport on free-to-air TV?

STEVE FIELDING: The Rudd Government refuses to close a loophole. Quite clearly we have a problem
with alcohol in Australia. Quite clearly we have a problem with alcohol and sport and the number
one driving issue is alcohol advertising and the Government refuses to actually put in place tough
restrictions.

SABRA LANE: Has the Health Minister tried to talk with you about this? Has the Government held out
an olive branch on this?

STEVE FIELDING: We've had ongoing discussions and I am hoping the Government today does a
back-flip. Now you have got to realise that it was only two months ago they said they weren't going
to keep the money that was already collected. They were quite happy for that to go back to the
industry.

They have done a back-flip on that issue. I am hoping today they make an announcement they've done
a back-flip on advertising restrictions and they have put in place a date saying in two years time
or three years time alcohol advertising restrictions will be in place by say 2012.

SABRA LANE: The economic circumstances though have drastically changed. I mean the Government has
had a $200-billion downfall in its revenue, it's supposedly going to announce a $58-billion deficit
today. Aren't measures like this justified in trying to fill that black hole?

STEVE FIELDING: Well look, if it was a tax measure but they are calling it a health measure and
they are calling it a binge drinking measure.

SABRA LANE: So you are still saying no deal?

STEVE FIELDING: Well look, yes absolutely and I think the Government, I am hoping that they change
their mind today. I am hoping that they actually front up the Australian public and stop hiding
behind the tax grab and say look we'll address the alcohol problem we have got in Australia by
putting in place restrictions like alcohol warning labels, by making sure the ads aren't controlled
by the industry and thirdly, hitting the big issue of putting in place advertising restrictions on
alcohol, which the Rudd Government refuses to do.

SABRA LANE: The trip that you took out Saturday week ago with police, tell me about that. Where was
that? What did you see? Was it specifically to see what the effects of binge drinking were?

STEVE FIELDING: It was in the capital city of Victoria, Melbourne and it was covering quite a few
regions and you can just see on the street of how Australia really has got a problem and this is a
real concern for mums and dads out there. They are worried about their kids going out at night and
then getting bopped and the next thing you are reading about them in the paper being dead the
following morning.

You have got kids themselves to worry about. There are, kids are responsible so what you need to do
is you need to actually tackle the cultural issue where basically it is not cool anymore to get
drunk.

That is the issue but upping the price on one product - I have stood outside bottle shops and asked
people as they are coming out and the people who can still afford the alcopops will actually buy
them. The people that can't, they'll buy spirits.

It is not working and what the Rudd Government done is made it actually worse because they haven't
tackled binge drinking.

PETER CAVE: And that was Senator Steve Fielding speaking to Sabra Lane.

Queensland families turning to charity food banks

Reporter: Charlotte Glennie

PETER CAVE: Charities say that tens of thousands of people are slipping into poverty.

As the economic crisis continues to worsen, increasing numbers of people are struggling to make
ends meet.

They're also accessing food banks, many for the very first time.

Charlotte Glennie talks to a south-east Queensland based charity that's adding new people to its
books every day.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Suncoast Christian Care at Nambour on the Sunshine Coast has set up a new food
co-op 18 months ago. Now it has 3,200 people on its books and its manager Pastor Stuart Charlton
says many of them are families.

STUART CHARLTON: What we're noticing is people that weren't, have never relied on welfare are now
having to turn to charities like ourselves to get help.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: What kind of people are you talking about?

STUART CHARLTON: It'll be your average middle-class person with say a mortgage and two incomes and
then suddenly one or both incomes are no longer there and they are struggling to keep a budget
together.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: These are people with children?

STUART CHARLTON: Yes, families, pensioners. Even pensioners are struggling more and more so their
investments are not yielding what they should do and so their budgets are in disarray.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Nambour is a town of 14,000 people nestled in the Sunshine Coast hinterland
where people are increasingly falling on economic hard times.

Pastor Stuart Charlton runs a food store providing food to the needy for the cost of just a
handling fee, which is a fraction of what people pay for food at the shops.

His store also gets customers who travel from surrounding areas.

STUART CHARLTON: There is definitely far more people that are not long-term poor and don't know
what is out there to help them so we often hear second hand via somebody else, "Oh, I know of a
family that is really struggling," and so we are sort of trying to reach out to those people and
offer what help we can.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Every day Pastor Stuart is feeding as many as 100 people but he says what is
really disturbing is that each day he is adding between eight and 10 new people to his books who
need food and they are often mothers trying to feed families.

STUART CHARLTON: My feeling is that things are going to get worse before they get better and that
this whole need is going to increase quite significantly.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: On that basis, what would you like to see out of the Budget?

STUART CHARLTON: Things that would increase jobs. You know, any security for people with, working
people because I think there is a huge fear out there 'I'm going to lose my job'.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Approaching a charity for food for the first time can be tough says Pastor
Stuart.

STUART CHARLTON: Well, it is a fact of being self-sufficient. I think we put, as a society we put
labels on people very easily don't we? You know you might be called a dole-bludger or something
like that and so the connotation is there '"If I go to a charity for help, that is what I am. I am
suddenly a dole-bludger or somebody that is just using the system".

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: It is a trend reflected throughout Queensland. The state's food bank says it
feeds 60,000 people a week now - a third more than it was feeding this time last year. That is more
than any other food bank in the country.

PETER CAVE: Charlotte Glennie reporting.

Devastated town not warned on Black Saturday

Reporter: Samantha Donovan

PETER CAVE: To the Royal Commission into the Victorian bushfires now.

And the chief of Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA) has admitted this morning that residents
of Strathewen never received an official warning that fires were approaching.

Twenty-seven people died in the town.

Samantha Donovan has joined me on the line from Melbourne.

Sam, why wasn't there a warning?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Well Russell Rees, the chief officer of the Country Fire Authority, wasn't able
to say why a warning wasn't posted on the CFA website, Peter.

In his evidence yesterday Mr Rees emphasised that as chief officer he is not directly responsible
for the issuing of local warnings. His job is more to oversee what's happening across the state.

But on Strathewen, this is some of the exchange counsel assisting the commission Jack Rush QC had
with Russell Rees this morning.

JACK RUSH: Strathewen didn't get a warning, wasn't mentioned in any of the CFA material. Would that
suggest that there was a lack of knowledge as to where the fire was?

RUSSELL REES: No, I can't say that. As you are aware there are locations that cover between
Strathewen, you know, for example Whittlesea and St Andrews and Strathewen is in-between. Arthur's
Creek is mentioned at 16:35 hours and Strathewen is very near Arthur's Creek.

PETER CAVE: Russell Rees there.

Have there been other concerns about warnings raised this morning?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Yes, it has certainly been the focus of the hearings again this morning. We have
also heard from Ewan Waller who is the chief fire officer with Victoria's Department of
Sustainability (DSE), which is responsible for fighting fires on crown land like national parks and
the delay in getting urgent threat messages out was also raised with him.

This is what some of what Jack Rush QC put to Ewan Waller about the time it took to get one message
on the website.

JACK RUSH: What I want to suggest to you is that DSE gave out an urgent threat message at 19:10 but
it didn't appear on the CFA website until 19:40.

EWAN WALLER: I can't comment. That may be correct. I would need further work to analyse that.

JACK RUSH: On the face of it, it would demonstrate a delay of some 30 minutes in relation to the
urgent threat message to those communities.

PETER CAVE: Ewan Waller there.

What other issues have been raised during the hearing this morning?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Well, aside from warnings Peter, the issue of personnel has also been touched on
today. Ewan Waller who we just heard from explained the incident, the role of the incident
controller and they are graded from levels one, two to three.

For a very serious fire, they need to have a level three incident controller in place and he
described how at that very serious Kilmore East fire, that as we know swept through Kinglake, they
were having to divert incident controllers very quickly and it took them a while to get a level
three incident controller who is able to cope with that large complex fire onto the scene quickly.

And he was asked if they have a shortage of incident controllers of that level and he didn't say
they have a shortage, he said they have a reasonable state coverage but they certainly would like
more highly qualified incident controllers.

So that issue of personnel I think is something we are going to hear more about in the coming
weeks.

PETER CAVE: Samantha Donovan live on the line there.

Change at the top, as US reviews Afghanistan strategy

Reporter: Kim Landers

PETER CAVE: In the United States, a senior member of the Obama administration says the US military
needs "fresh thinking" to turn around the war in Afghanistan.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates says that's why he's asked for the resignation of the top
American commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan.

Washington correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: General David McKiernan took command in Afghanistan less than a year ago and he's yet
to get all of the extra US forces that he's been asking for.

But US Defence Secretary Robert Gates says a new leader is needed to implement the Obama
administration's new strategy for Afghanistan.

ROBERT GATES: The focus here is simply on getting fresh thinking, fresh eyes on the problem and how
we implement the strategy and the mission going forward.

KIM LANDERS: General McKiernan has issued a statement saying it's been his distinct honour to serve
with the brave men and women from the countries with troops in Afghanistan.

And he's added, "I have never been prouder to be an American soldier".

His removal comes at a crucial time in the nearly eight year old US military engagement in
Afghanistan.

The US is nearly doubling its forces there to deal with a spreading Taliban insurgency.

Andrew Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He's
also a retired army colonel who served in Vietnam.

He's told The World Today that General McKiernan has to be judged against the rising violence in
Afghanistan.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Over that period of time conditions in Afghanistan have not improved. They have,
in fact, deteriorated. I suspect that it may also be the case - may, I'm not sure - that this
latest bombing incident in western Afghanistan which reportedly resulted in the death of perhaps
100 or more non-combatants, that may also have had something to do with the decision.

That may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

KIM LANDERS: General McKiernan has been asking for some time for more troops in Afghanistan. He has
only just started to receive those troops so is it unfair if he was asking for more troops to do
the job, to judge him when he is only just getting the resources that he has been asking for?

ANDREW BACEVICH: I would not accept that judgment. I mean these people are paid big money and are
given lots of resources and if they don't get the job done then they need to be removed and
replaced by somebody who can get the job done.

KIM LANDERS: General McKiernan is being replaced by Lieutenant-General Stanley McChrystal - a
former special operations commander whose elite forces have been credited with some of the most
notable battlefield successes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

ANDREW BACEVICH: McKiernan's background is very much a mainstream conventional career and it seems
quite clear that Gates is perhaps, Gates speaking for the President in this regard, doesn't think
that that conventional approach is what is going to be required and so McChrystal arguably is
somebody whose professional background is more suited to this kind of work.

KIM LANDERS: The US mission in Afghanistan is nearly eight years old. There are a lot of extra
troops being sent, there is all this talk about a fresh approach and fresh thinking but really,
what is it going to take for success in Afghanistan?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Oh, I think that is actually the big question, the $64 question. My own judgement
is that is what is needed here is not simply a new commander or discussion of new tactics. What is
needed is fundamental questions about whether or not the United States needs to persist in a war
which, as you say, has now gone on almost eight years with no end in sight.

My own view would be that that war is really not necessary in order for us to secure the vital
national security interests of the United State or of the West more broadly.

PETER CAVE: Professor Andrew Bacevich ending that report from our Washington correspondent Kim
Landers.

Iran frees American-Iranian journalist jailed for spying

Reporter: Jennifer Macey

PETER CAVE: Iran has freed an Iranian-American journalist who was sentenced to eight years jail,
accused of spying for the United States.

Thrity-two-year-old Roxana Saberi has spent 3.5months in jail and is expected to return to the US
within the next few days.

The case came just as the US President Barack Obama was trying to improve relations with Iran and
he has repeatedly called for her release.

Experts believe that her release is a good will gesture by Iran to reciprocate the efforts made by
the US.

Jennifer Macey reports.

JENNIFER MACEY: Freelance journalist Roxana Saberi has dual US-Iranian citizenship and had been
living in Tehran for the past six years.

She was arrested in late January for buying alcohol and then accused of working without press
credentials.

A judge in a closed court increased the charge to spying for the US and after an hour long trial
she was sentenced to eight years in jail.

On Sunday an appeal court took five hours to reduce her sentence to two years on a suspended term,
allowing her to walk free.

Her father Reza Saberi told reporters in Tehran that she was doing OK and would return to the US
within days.

REZA SABERI: Now we are happy with it and Roxana is also happy with it.

JENNIFER MACEY: Roxana Saberi has always denied the charges and went on a hunger strike last month
to protest the sentence.

Iran's judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi says the appeals court had reduced her sentence as a
gesture of Islamic mercy but Ali Jamshidi she will be banned from reporting in Iran for the next
two years.

ALI REZA JAMSHIDI (translated): She has no problem and she can leave the country. She has no travel
ban but the journalism ban is part of her second verdict.

JENNIFER MACEY: The US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton had appealed on
her behalf and have now welcomed her release.

HILARY CLINTON: Obviously, we continue to take issue with the charges against her and the verdicts
rendered, but we are very heartened that she has been released and wish her and her family all of
the very best we can send their way.

JENNIFER MACEY: The case attracted considerable international attention with her family publicising
her case and human rights groups protesting.

Jean-Francois Julliard is a spokesman for Reporters without Borders in Paris.

JEAN-FRANCOIS JULLIARD (translated): I think the level everybody was mobilised at played a role in
it. The fact that it happened at such a high level, the declarations of the US President, the
declarations of the president of the European Parliament. Many heads of states asked for her to be
freed. The fact the Iranian elections are taking place soon, all this played a defining role and
it's due to all that that she was set free.

JENNIFER MACEY: The case had caused headaches for Barack Obama.

It's happening while the US attempts to ease tensions with Iran and it's unclear what behind the
scenes moves led to her release.

But one expert believes it's a sign that Iran is also trying to make a good will gestures in
return.

Associate Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh is the deputy director of Centre of the National Centre of
Excellence for Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne.

SHAHRAM AKBARZADEH: I think it is a small gesture of good will. In the past, Iran has always been
able to point to statements and positions by the US administration to say that we are under siege,
the US is planning a regime change in Iran, the whole world is against us and we have to circle the
wagons so to speak.

Now with Obama really extending an arm of friendship, it's become a lot more difficult for Iranian
regime to portray the US as bogeyman so there is pressure building up in Iran to reciprocate the
good will gesture.

JENNIFER MACEY: The move also comes a month before Iran goes to the polls to elect a new president.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his rival Mehdi Karrubi have both spoken out about her case, with
Ahmadinejad even calling on the judges to grant Saberi the right of appeal.

But Professor Akbarzadeh says this is still a small step and he doesn't think relations with the
West will improve dramatically unless there's a change in government.

SHAHRAM AKBARZADEH: The release of the journalist is not going to have much of an impact on the
election but it is a sign of things to come. It is a sign of the political landscape changing and
shifting slightly from the extreme right perhaps to the middle ground in Iran.

So that it could suggest that the reformists, that people who are not in the Ahmadinejad
(inaudible) might have a better chance of contending elections and actually making some gains
during elections.

JENNIFER MACEY: Human rights groups say while this case is a welcome move by Iran, they point out
there are still some seven foreign journalists in Iranian prisoners along with many more local
reporters.

PETER CAVE: Jennifer Macey reporting.

Masked Mexican children return to school

Reporter: Barbara Miller

PETER CAVE: Millions of Mexican children have returned to their classrooms, following the mass
closure of schools due to the swine flu outbreak.

As daily life returns to normal, the Mexican Government has announced a $1-billion recovery package
for the country's businesses.

The number of new cases of H1N1 worldwide is still rising though, and a new study has found the
virus is comparable in strength to the 1957 Asian flu.

Barbara Miller compiled this report:

BARBARA MILLER: Many primary school students wore surgical masks on their first day back at school
since the swine flu outbreak.

As they entered the gates they were handed information leaflets on the virus and teachers sprayed
their hands with disinfectant.

The country's high schools re-opened last week and businesses, bars and cafes are trading again
too.

Patricia Espinosa is the Mexican Foreign Minister

PATRICIA ESPINOSA (translated): The most recent data indicates that there is clear reduction in the
number of new confirmed cases. The Government has started a process of normalisation of the
economic and social activities in Mexico.

BARBARA MILLER: The closure of businesses has though taken its toll on the economy.

The Finance Minister Augustin Carstens has announced a recovery package worth 11-billion pesos,
around $AU1-billion.

(Augustin Carstens speaking)

Tourism is one of the hardest hit industries.

But some visitors to Mexico City aren't letting the health scare spoil their holiday.

TOURIST: I think that I could probably get symptoms of the flu anywhere I go so I am not too really
worried about being in Mexico and having it. I am not going to make it fear for me while I am
travelling.

BARBARA MILLER: The number of cases of H1N1 infection worldwide is creeping towards the 5,000 mark
and there have been more than 50 deaths.

A new study, published in the journal Science, has concluded that the virus is much more infectious
and deadly than seasonal influenza.

Dr Christophe Fraser is an epidemiologist at Imperial College London.

CHRISTOPHE FRASER: We estimate that around 23,000 people were infected by the end of April at the
point when the WHO made the decision to announce pandemic level five and that the case fatality
proportion in Mexico is about 0.4 per cent of cases.

BARBARA MILLER: What does that tell us - a case fatality of 0.4 per cent or thereabouts?

CHRISTOPHE FRASER: Well, the question obviously is whether that severity in Mexico is
representative as a whole but that would place us somewhere in the ball park certainly not of the
1918 pandemic, something like the 1957 pandemic.

BARBARA MILLER: The World Health Organization puts the death toll from the 1957 flu at between
one-million and four million.

And although health care has improved significantly since then, the WHO's assistant
director-general for health security and environment Dr Keiji Fukuda issued this plea.

KEIJI FUKUDA: Keep reminding everybody that it could go up, it could go down and again in a
situation where you are dealing with a new virus, a new infection, it is important to remind people
over and over again, we can't exactly predict where it is going to go.

BARBARA MILLER: Cuba has just reported its first case of H1N1 and the Chinese Health Ministry has
announced measures to try and contain the spread of the virus after its first confirmed case on the
mainland.

CHINESE HEALTH DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN (translated): The person contaminated with H1N1 took two
flights. One from Japan, from Tokyo to Beijing. There were 233 people on board and now they are
dispersed across 21 provinces across China. The other flight was from Beijing to Chengdu and this
flight included 150 passengers.

Starting last night, health officials are trying to track down those 150 people.

BARBARA MILLER: There's still only one confirmed case of swine flu infection in Australia.

The Department of Health and Ageing says 19 people who sat within two rows of the woman on a flight
from LA to Brisbane have all been contacted and have not reported any flu-like symptoms.

PETER CAVE: Barbara Miller reporting.

League in damage control over sex scandals

Reporter: Sara Everingham

PETER CAVE: The National Rugby League is in damage control mode this morning as more details emerge
about the sex scandals involving some of its most high-profile players.

Last night's Four Corners program on ABC1 had several women involved in sexual incidents with NRL
players speaking out about their experience.

In one case a New Zealand woman said that group sex with members and staff of the Cronulla Sharks
club in 2002 left her suicidal.

Another woman said she was too intimidated to pursue sexual assault charges against a Newcastle
Knights player.

But the story also looked at how the NRL has been trying to change attitudes.

Sara Everingham reports.

SARA EVERINGHAM: This morning in 702 ABC Sydney, callers who'd watched last night's Four Corners
program were outraged.

CALLER: One thing I said to my partner, I said look I can't believe that these people must be
related to mothers, sisters, whatever, that they would not be also appalled by that kind of
behaviour but I just find it unbelievable.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The National Rugby League's chief executive David Gallop expressed regret again
for the bad player behaviour.

DAVID GALLOP: What we saw last night was incredibly distressing. The victims of these incidents
themselves incredibly distressed to the extent that this involves players who play our game. I
thought it was appropriate that our game offers an apology.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Last night's program gave more details of sex scandals involving rugby league
players. It gave a voice to the women involved.

A New Zealand woman who's known as "Clare" spoke about an incident involving players and staff at
the Cronulla Sharks in 2002. An incident she describes as "degrading" and one that has left her
suicidal.

League identity Matthew Johns and fellow player Brett Firman told Four Corners they were the first
players to have sex with Clare.

(Excerpt from Four Corners program)

CLARE: I felt that I just had no idea what to do. There was always hands on me and there was
always, one person had stopped someone was touching me, doing something else. There was never a
point where I was not being handled.

SARA EVERINGHAM: After the incident Clare made a complaint to police but no charges were laid and
the players said the sex was consensual.

Another woman told last night's Four Corners program, she'd been abused by a former Newcastle
Knights player who'd entered her room and inappropriately touched her. She explained why she hadn't
taken the matter further.

CAROLINE: I'm going up against him, the football team, the NRL, their fans. I'm not going to take
that on.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The head of the NRL, David Gallop, says only a change in player attitudes can put
an end to the continuing scandals.

The league has been running education programs aimed at improving player behaviour towards woman
but David Gallop admits there is a long way to go.

In a scene from one workshop last night, a player said one way to reduce the chance of a woman
becoming upset after group sex is to treat her the right way afterwards, ensuring she gets a taxi
home.

Karen Willis from the Rape Crisis Centre is an educator with that program. She says nothing in Four
Corners last night surprised her.

KAREN WILLIS: I thought it was a little bit unfortunate we didn't hear a bit more about some of the
work that the NRL has done to try and change player behaviour.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But has that actually the attitudes that many of the rugby league players have
towards women?

KAREN WILLIS: Look, it is absolutely impossible to know whether the work has had an impact. Whether
we would have had more incidences and more problems if it hadn't been done but I think there is
some fairly clear things that we can tell.

I mean just having done the work over the last four or five years, I know that the selection
process for new players has changed quite a lot. They now look at a more holistic young person, so
someone who has got good family supports and has done well at school as well as can play good
footy.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Do you have any way of measuring the success of this program?

KAREN WILLIS: We do do a range of sort of pre and post testing and we can quite clearly see that
some of the things that have been said and talked about in the programs have influenced the way
players respond to that.

We're talking about changing thousands of years of male behaviours and understanding some
masculinities and you know, a very high proportion of pretty unethical in the very least behaviour
towards women that has been going on for a very long period of time.

SARA EVERINGHAM: If these attitudes are reflected in the broader society, why don't we hear these
stories about players in other codes, the same number of stories about players in other codes such
as rugby union or AFL?

KAREN WILLIS: I think that because it is not heard about in the broad media then that doesn't mean
that it doesn't happen and we also know that in terms of sexual assault, that in 70 per cent of
sexual assaults it is a family member, close family friend etc. so it happens in a whole range of
different situations that we often don't hear about.

PETER CAVE: Karen Willis an educator with the NRL's Playing by the Rules program ending Sara
Everingham's report.

CEO claims corruption on the Kokoda Track

Reporter: Felicity Ogilvie

PETER CAVE: The former chief executive of the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) says corruption in the
organisation has stopped villagers benefiting from trekking fees.

Villagers have been blocking the famous track because they say they're not getting their share of
the $100 that is collected.

Annette Dean has just returned home to Tasmania from PNG where she was working as the chief
executive of the Kokoda Track Authority. She spoke to Felicity Ogilive.

ANNETTE DEAN: Well, there has been a long history with the Kokoda Track Authority not providing
funding from trekking fees to the communities on the track so that has created a pretty difficult
situation to deal with because there's been many, many years of collecting trek fees by an
authority which was initiated by a number of the villages on the track.

However, what while I was running the organisation, what we initiated was the setting up of ward
development committees, where we used local government wards to distribute funding towards these
villages.

FELICITY OGILVIE: If for six years the money wasn't necessarily directly going to the villages,
what was happening to that money? Was there corruption inside the track authority?

ANNETTE DEAN: Yes, there was corruption and there was also a lot of fraud that was happening. The
previous board that was managing the authority actually withdrew funding illegally from the bank
accounts and there is a situation that is still being investigated to retrieve that funding.

FELICITY OGILVIE: You went over as the CEO but you spent about five or six months in PNG. Is there
a reason why your stay was so short; why you decided to come back to Tasmania so soon?

ANNETTE DEAN: My position was as CEO handing over to another person who has taken over that role of
CEO of the Kokoda Track Authority. However, it was an extremely challenging situation to be in and
in PNG when you are in a situation where you are having to sack staff, deal with fraud and
corruption issues as well, you know, my personal safety was compromised while I was over there and
so it was a good thing for me to have made those major changes in setting up a really, what we now
have an efficient system in the way the KTA is being run and very, very strict financial
procedures.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Is the authority working properly now though that tribes are still protesting
along the track because they can't access their share of the trekking fees?

ANNETTE DEAN: It is operating as well as it can do. The KTA, it will be a long, long time before
the KTA is a smooth operating organisation, partly because it does have quite a long history of
mismanagement and it is going to take a lot of time for communities to actually see how the new
system is working and as I've mentioned, every community has its own idea of how it would like to
receive funding and how funding should be distributed and it is absolutely impossible to keep
everybody happy.

PETER CAVE: Annette Dean speaking to Felicity Ogilvie.

Concerns raised over national test results for NT Indigenous students

Reporter: Margie Smithurst

PETER CAVE: Children in remote Northern Territory schools have to sit down with their peers in
schools around the country today to take national reading, writing and maths tests.

Last year's results put the Territory's Indigenous children right at the bottom of the class,
shaming the Territory Government into introducing some measures to help improve things.

But this year the director of NT Schools admits the results could be even worse because the figures
will probably include many children who didn't take last year's tests.

Margie Smithurst reports

MARGIE SMITHURST: As director of Northern Territory Schools, Allan Green has the unenviable task of
overseeing education in the worst performing jurisdiction in the country.

ALLAN GREEN: I come to work every day thinking we can actually make a significant difference and
yes, the challenges are enormous.

MARGIE SMITHURST: He may be upbeat about his job but there's no sign yet that any real difference
has been made.

When the figures for last year's first national literacy and numeracy tests came out, the Northern
Territory was shamed by the results.

In reading, for example, almost 70 per cent of all year three Indigenous students didn't meet the
minimum standards and among the grade fives, the figure was even worse.

According to the statistics, it was mostly children in the very remote schools were barely
literate.

The chief minister - who's also the Education Minister - blames it on children not being made to
turn up to school.

PAUL HENDERSON: The appalling results in the bush for the most part can be put down to poor
attendance. That's why improving school attendance is so important because we know, unless kids are
going to school, at least 80 per cent of all of the days the school is in operation, those kids
aren't going to get to benchmark.

MARGIE SMITHURST: Trying to get tough, the Government announced that all schools had to have a 90
per cent attendance rate by the end of this year.

Allan Green says he is optimistic but realistic.

What hopes do you have of meeting that?

ALLAN GREEN: Well certainly in many of our provincial schools, we are already there.

MARGIE SMITHURST: But only 26 of 150 at the last count?

ALLAN GREEN: Yeah but in our remotes we have a number of schools where they are achieving that so
we know it is possible.

MARGIE SMITHURST: But not regularly?

ALLAN GREEN: No, not regularly, absolutely. I am not shirking that.

MARGIE SMITHURST: The Government also began trials in 14 schools linking welfare to truancy,
warning parents that if children didn't turn up, payments would be docked.

In the first couple of months of the school year, the Government reported more chairs filled, but
Allen Green says consistent attendance remains a problem.

ALLAN GREEN: It's very hard for me to say that attendance has improved in particular schools
because of this trial but certainly we are seeing some improved attendance.

MARGIE SMITHURST: Professor Helen Hughes from the Centre for Independent Studies says attendance is
just one factor contributing to the poor results.

She's long been a critic of the Northern Territory Government's handling of Indigenous education.
She says 20 per cent of Territory children didn't sit the national tests last year and many of
those absent come from remote, predominantly Indigenous schools.

HELEN HUGHES: They're not sitting because the teachers know they can't pass them because the
curriculum is such that most children cannot pass literacy and numeracy. If they can't, they can't
even read the questions. I've known little boys who are gifted mathematically who failed the maths
test because they can't read the question.

MARGIE SMITHURST: Allan Green says the Government is enforcing the compulsory nature of the tests
this year but realises that as a result, it could emerge the loser.

ALLAN GREEN: Certainly there is some logic in the argument that if in fact we have an increase, and
we are hoping for a significant increase in participation, it is possible and perhaps even likely
that our results will actually not increase in the way we want them to.

MARGIE SMITHURST: Allan Green says it's too soon to tell whether other government measures such as
scrapping bilingual teaching in the first crucial hours of the school day are working yet.

ALLAN GREEN: One of the challenges in education is that you don't see a change in performance
overnight. It really is a five to seven year change period. When we go to classrooms and we talk to
teachers and we talk to principals, we hear stories about gains for individual kids that are small
but they're there.

PETER CAVE: The director of Northern Territory Schools Allan Green ending that report by Margie
Smithurst.

Basketball tries to bounce back from financial trouble

Reporter: Simon Santow

PETER CAVE: It was only a few years ago that the sport of basketball in Australia was riding high.

But now the elite men's competition is struggling for its very survival.

After the collapse of teams in Sydney and Brisbane, the game's administrators have spent the last
few months battling to ensure there'll even be a league this season.

Just a short time ago, the announcement came through that there'll be a seven team competition, but
at this stage the strongest basketball city Melbourne won't be represented.

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: Forget the hoopla.

Basketball is in big trouble.

While the players are renowned for soaring to great heights on the court, the game at the highest
level in Australia has plummeted to the point it may not survive into the next season.

PETER CRAWFORD: The whole process has been going on for a fair while and for it not to have still
been resolved is a little bit annoying so whoever is running it, isn't doing a very good job.

SIMON SANTOW: Perth Wildcat Peter Crawford is a player with a more secure future than many others.

His team is one of seven who have put their hands up to play in the 2009/2010 season starting in a
few short months.

But last season's champions the Dragons and runners up, fellow Melbourne team the Tigers have
pulled out balking at the condition of having a million dollar bank guarantee.

The Tigers say it would be better to have no competition this season than an unsustainable one.

Larry Sengstock is the chief executive officer of Basketball Australia and the man charged with
reviving the National Basketball League.

LARRY SENGSTOCK: What we can say is that we have got a group of committed teams that want to work
with us and we are trying to make sure that we provide the opportunities for our players, our
teams, our coaches, our administrators, our sponsors, supporters the every opportunity to see
basketball at its highest level in Australia over the coming years.

SIMON SANTOW: Have you got a competition for 2009?

LARRY SENGSTOCK: We have got seven groups and seven teams that we are looking to work with. Our
focus is to give ourselves the time. We have said this right from the start that we need to make
sure that this league is sustainable from an economic point of view and provide what the players
and the spectators want and the market wants.

SIMON SANTOW: How can the league be sustainable from that economic point of view if you've got no
team in Sydney, no team in Brisbane and no team in Melbourne?

LARRY SENGSTOCK: And that's exactly what we need to work with going forward and that is what this
whole process has shown us, that, you know, we do need to take the time to get it right and we are
going to look to 2010 as being the time that we launched the new national league, the new elite
competition for men.

SIMON SANTOW: So will '09 be a warm-up in a sense? I mean are you likely to get television rights
for example when you don't have three of the big markets covered?

LARRY SENGSTOCK: And that is something that certainly we are working with our broadcast partners at
this point in time to see exactly what that means.

SIMON SANTOW: You would have to concede that not having Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane covered
would make selling TV rights just not very attractive at all?

LARRY SENGSTOCK: Look, I absolutely concede that and that's an issue that we have got and that is
what this process has shown us that we had a situation where the Sydney teams have struggled in
recent years and we have looked at opportunities to reignite that. That hasn't happened through
this process and now we recognise again that we need to have something in this marketplace in
Sydney so we need to take the time to get that right so to go out now with a full-blown league at
this point in time would be difficult for us.

SIMON SANTOW: You would be aware though that a lot of people have said, well if we can't get the
competition right this year, let's not have a competition this year and instead get it right for
2010.

LARRY SENGSTOCK: And I think in a perfect world that may be one of the answers but right now we are
not working in a perfect world. We are working in a very difficult economic climate.

SIMON SANTOW: So what would be the effect if you sat this season out?

LARRY SENGSTOCK: There is a number of different scenarios that could happen and a number of
different examples we could look at. We could look at baseball that took time off and really have
never recovered. We could look at football soccer that took the time off but were able to support
themselves through that period and come out with a different league.

We've got to look at both of those but I don't think we are in a position to do what soccer has
done and I think we're in a position that we need to maintain our presence again for the basketball
public but also more so for the opportunities for our young players and our existing players to
continue in the game.

PETER CAVE: The chief executive of Basketball Australia, Larry Sengstock, speaking there to our
reporter Simon Santow.