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Lismore prepares for worst as floodwaters rise

PETER CAVE: Homes and businesses have been evacuated in Lismore as the city prepares for
potentially deep and fast -flowing floodwaters.

Around 5,000 people are now staying with friends or have moved to an evacuation centre.

The city was hit by torrential rain last night from the same weather system that's caused extensive
flooding in South-East Queensland.

Now the Wilsons River which runs through the centre of town is close to breaking its banks.

David Mark reports the city waiting and watching.

DAVID MARK: The centre of Lismore has been shut down. The schools are all closed.

The torrential storm that dumped more than 100 millimetres on Lismore last night has brought
business in town to a virtual stand-still.

Michael Smith runs Scott's newsagency on Molesworth Street.

MICHAEL SMITH: Just holding to wait and see what happens to be honest with you. There's a fair bit
of traffic around and people having a look and we've lifted all our stuff up to a certain height,
hoping that it won't come in. But I don't think anybody knows what's going to happen at this stage.
Now it's starting to rain again so....

DAVID MARK: Indeed Mr Smith's business is one of the only ones still open in Lismore after the
State Emergency Service ordered an evacuation.

Delisa Allen packed up and left her barber shop business in Lismore last night.

DELISSA ALLEN: Oh well we drove downtown at about eight o'clock I suppose last night, just to see
what the water was doing and drove into Zadoc Street and it was coming up in the basin, so it
looked a bit scary. So we thought we'd just sit down at the shop and wait and see what was
happening.

We were going to wait until the next report which I think was about 10 o'clock and yeah it sort of
started coming up quickly and then the fire truck was going around saying evacuate the whole of
Lismore and then there was a thing over the radio as well to evacuate.

So we started to - went up to my dad's and got his ute and came and got my husband's four wheel
drive and started to pack up.

DAVID MARK: Around 5,000 people have left their homes and workplaces.

Phil Campbell is a spokesman from the SES.

PHIL CAMPBELL: The period for people to have evacuated from behind the levee system in Lismore has
now passed.

The river is continuing to rise and has now reached close to 10.2 metres at around 10.40am on
Friday. It is now getting close to the predicted peak of 10.4 metres and also close to the height
at which the levee can potentially overtop.

DAVID MARK: Is it a dangerous situation?

PHIL CAMPBELL: Should the levee be overtopped and I would like to emphasise that is only a very
slight possibility, but should it be overtopped there is the possibility that the area will be
rapidly inundated behind the levee with deep, fast flowing water. And because of that danger of
deep, fast flowing water and the risk to public safety, it's important that people stay well away.

DAVID MARK: Most of the evacuees are staying with family and friends or at an evacuation centre at
Southern Cross University.

But not everyone's leaving.

Di Trehahn lives in South Lismore:

DI TREHAHN: My family have actually lived in this area, like in this home, family home for 60
years. So we've sort of seen different major floods through here; 54, 74, 1989. So no, I just sort
of stay put, I like to stay with my property.

DAVID MARK: The city could be inundated with floodwaters but clean drinking water is in short
supply.

Wayne Franklin from the regional water supplier, Rous Water, is sending out this warning to
residents:

WAYNE FRANKLIN: Today and over the weekend, only to use water for essential purposes. We have had
some problems with the widespread power outages affecting our ability to supply water. So we just
want people to go steady.

We don't have any quality problems. The water is absolutely safe to drink, but just with our pumps
and that not being able to run as often as they ought to, we just want people to be steady.

DAVID MARK: The weather system that drenched Lismore has caused falls of up to 450 millimetres on
parts of north-east New South Wales and South-East Queensland.

Deryn Griffiths is an assistant manager with the Bureau of Meteorology:

DERYN GRIFFITHS: Very tight low pressure system just off the northern coast of New South Wales for
the last few days now. The rain is mostly to the southern side of that system.

DAVID MARK: The outlook for the rest of the day, particularly around Lismore which is experiencing
the prospect of flooding?

DERYN GRIFFITHS: Yes, the flooding in Lismore is from rain that has already fallen, so we're not
expecting a lot of rain there today and there's some more rain tomorrow, but the rain causing the
flooding has already fallen.

DAVID MARK: But heavy rain is falling further south on the New South Wales coast.

The SES is keeping a close eye on towns downstream of Lismore as well as Grafton on the mid-north
Coast where floodwaters are also rising.

The organisation is asking residents particularly in rural areas to stock up on medicines, fuel,
stock feed and food. They may be isolated for several days.

PETER CAVE: David Mark reporting.

Locals look to levee

PETER CAVE: Our reporter, Shane McLeod is in Lismore. He's next to the levee, the one we mentioned.
It was put in 2005 to protect the town from a flood just like this one.

Shane is the levee holding?

SHANE MCLEOD: It does appear to be at this stage Peter. It has a convenient readout on it,
computerise display that tells you how many centimetres there are to go until the levee is
overtopped and it says 63 at the moment. And it's been increasing fairly steadily, but certainly
the rate at which it's been increasing has slowed a bit in the past hour or two.

So there's 63 centimetres between that water coming into the CBD of Lismore and not. Officials here
aren't quite sure which way it's going to go. They know there's been rain in the catchment north of
here, but whether or not it's dissipated enough before it reaches Lismore, they're not sure.

PETER CAVE: So who else is standing there watching this readout?

SHANE MCLEOD: Well they're keeping people a little further back now. Since it hit about 80
centimetres to go, the police have put up some tape to keep people away from the levee itself. But
on the other side of the levee I've just seen someone paddle past in an inflatable canoe.

So I mean the sun's out here in Lismore, people are enjoying the spectacle although I think
officials would like to get as many people as possible out of this CBD area because if this river
does rise above the levee, there will be some serious issues for people who happen to be in the
area.

PETER CAVE: Well as we heard in David Mark's report Lismore hasn't escaped altogether. You've been
around the town this morning. You've been up in the ABC helicopter. What have you been seeing?

SHANE MCLEOD: Well there are parts of town that have been severely affected, the more low lying
parts of town obviously and south and north Lismore.

The Mayor says about 5,000 people have been put in temporary accommodation. Many of them are
staying at Southern Cross University here in Lismore or they're being placed in hotels. So there
are people being affected there.

And also businesses here in the centre of Lismore have had to basically clear out stock if they are
worried about water going through their businesses. So there are a number of people being affected
already.

PETER CAVE: But overall the feeling is that Lismore has now escaped the worst?

SHANE MCLEOD: Well certainly the levee is doing the job it was designed for so far. I mean it's
keeping the water out and it's keeping it very much under control.

The issue will be whether or not there has been enough rain in the catchment north of here to push
the river over those levee walls.

PETER CAVE: What dangers still remain down to the south?

SHANE MCLEOD: It's really the amount of rain. Certainly around Grafton there's flood warnings in
the rivers around there. But also the strong winds that have been associated with this weather
system have been causing substantial damage particularly along the coast.

We saw in Ballina just over the last 24 hours some roof damage and that type of thing. Just
amazingly strong gusts of wind, just causing damage and interfering with things like power lines.
There's been a number of customers over the last couple days that have been losing power
intermittently or for substantial lengths of time.

PETER CAVE: So when is the whole danger period likely to be over do you think?

SHANE MCLEOD: Well for Lismore the expected peak of the river is about now, so as I've just been
standing here speaking to you it's held that 63 centimetre readout on the levee wall here so it's
not going in either direction at the moment.

We were just speaking to a resident of Nimbin who was here in Lismore, who said that there'd been
some rain up there and she thought that that might have an effect on the river down here in
Lismore.

But at this stage everyone's just waiting to see which direction the river level goes.

PETER CAVE: If it suddenly starts going up we'll be back to you Shane, thank you very much.

SHANE MCLEOD: Cheers Peter.

New cases spark rethink on swine flu response

PETER CAVE: Australian health authorities are considering stepping up their response to swine flu
after the emergence of some cases which can't be traced to their source.

A 17-year-old boy in Victoria has the virus, despite not travelling overseas. It's not known who he
caught it from.

A 15-year-old South Australian girl who also has the disease and it is also from an unknown source.

That means that authorities now risk losing track of the disease and they are meeting this
afternoon to decide whether Australia's official response should shift from trying to delay H1N1 to
trying to contain it.

Australia's chief medical officer, Professor Jim Bishop, told Simon Lauder the latest developments
will be considered at a meeting of the Australian Public Health Committee this afternoon.

JIM BISHOP: Well in Victoria there's been cases identified in school children that were related, in
other words brothers; and what the development is that there's now a classmate of one of those
brother's who's now been identified as a confirmed case.

So that suggests that there's a high level of transmissibility there and that those people are
fine, the illness is mild and they're recovering after antiviral treatment.

Similarly in South Australia we have a case there that are still being tracked and traced as to
where they may have picked it up. There's no known person that is an overseas traveller there and
that's why we are paying particular attention to that case.

SIMON LAUDER: If indeed no trace for those cases is found, does that mean H1N1 is being transmitted
in the wider community?

JIM BISHOP: Look I think at the moment the number of cases we know about and those that have been
indentified is really a very small, tiny number of people. We have 11 people that we know have
swine flu in Australia at the moment, so it's a very small problem, but it's one that we are keen
to ring fence and contain.

And the reason is, although it's a mild flu in most people, nevertheless there are some people
where it's more severe and that's the overseas experience. And those particular people at risk are
often pregnant women, often younger people, people that might have asthma or respiratory disease,
people that might have diabetes.

So these sorts of people based on the overseas experience might be particularly at risk and if they
get severe illness, they need to be treated quickly with antiviral.

SIMON LAUDER: Can you tell us who you're meeting with this afternoon and the decision you'll be
making?

JIM BISHOP: Well what we do every day is meet with our Australian Health Protection Committee. In
addition we're having some expert groups come together to think through the issues of
transmissibility and what we need to be doing.

So what this is essentially is getting all the groups together that can provide input into what
we're planning, how we're doing it in a proportionate way and making sure that we've got all the
bases covered and we're doing what we can.

SIMON LAUDER: The Health Minister said the meeting would give consideration to raising the phase
response from delay to containment. What are the factors under consideration?

JIM BISHOP: There's ones that I've mentioned and that is that we've seen cases where the
transmission is not clear where they've got it from. I mentioned the case from South Australia.

And also just the degree of spread, we're seeing more cases today than we saw yesterday or the day
before.

These are the things that we'll be discussing and also based on what we need to do as public health
officials in order to do the best we can to make sure that it's a minor disruption for people.

SIMON LAUDER: The minister mentioned that the containment phase may involve social distancing. What
is that?

JIM BISHOP: Well in personal terms, we're telling people to stay a metre away from a person who's
got the flu; or if you've got the flu, stay a metre away from people. And that's an important
thing. When there's a whole population involved, then you look to see how you can distance people
from each other.

SIMON LAUDER: How worrying is it that we're at this stage already and our flu season is really yet
to begin?

JIM BISHOP: We are facing a flu season, normal seasonal flu and so it is important to minimise
infection from both perspectives. And there is a vaccination program for the current flu season
which should protect much of the population, particularly some of the more vulnerable people.

So we'll need to model this and see how we go. That's one of the reasons we'd like to delay
widespread acquisition of this virus into the country as much as we can so that we make sure that
we don't have a program flu going on from both sides.

PETER CAVE: Australia's chief medical officer professor Jim Bishop. He was speaking to Simon
Lauder.

Government faces two-pronged attack on emissions trading

PETER CAVE: For the Federal Government, facing a rising tide of unemployment over the next year,
the last news it wants to hear is that another load of jobs is set to go.

But that's exactly what modelling prepared for the Minerals Council is predicting will happen under
the emissions trading scheme.

According to them 23,500 jobs, half of them in Queensland, will disappear over the next 10 years
with that figure doubling over 20 years.

The Government says that its modelling shows that employment overall will grow.

Our chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis reports.

LYNDAL CURTIS: It's the latest fad - government ministers are putting on hard hats and high
visibility jackets as they tramp over construction sites across the nation.

And the presenters on Melbourne radio 3AW didn't want the Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull left
out.

3AW PRESENTER: You need one of them.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Oh yes well you know I need it.

3AW PRESENTER: We're handing him an orange vest because rumour reaches us that the Prime Minister
had to go into the passport office during the week and change his passport photograph because they
do not recognise him if he hasn't got a hard hat and an orange vest on.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Exactly, exactly.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But if the modelling for the Minerals Council is right, there'll be fewer hard hat
sales once the emissions trading scheme comes in.

The council's CEO, Mitch Hook says, the job losses - predicated on the Government's lowest target
for emissions cuts - will be compounded by the spill over into the communities that serve the
industry.

MITCH HOOKE: A multiplier effect on that of something like two, two times, it's very conservative
flow on, that's the spill over effects to the community level. So you could multiply that by two,
so you know, you could be up to nearly 30,000 to 40,000 jobs by 2020 and then up to 100,000 jobs,
total jobs by 2030.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But the Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has her own modelling and although she
conceded on Radio National that mining industry jobs would be lost, she didn't utter the words.

FRANK KELLY: Is it your view, are you telling us that the changes that will occur in this nation
because of an emissions trading scheme will not mean any job losses in the minerals sector?

PENNY WONG: No what I'm saying is the modelling that we put out last year showed that all major
employment sectors would continue to grow.

What I'm also saying is that the Government has put in place substantial assistance to industry and
the reason we've put assistance to various industries is because we do understand the importance of
supporting jobs as we transition to a low carbon economy.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Business suits are the order of the day in Canberra as a Senate committee
scrutinises the legislation that will enact the scheme.

But the Coalition is complaining that, given the pages and pages of legislation, the committee
isn't being given enough time or a representative list of witnesses to allow for proper scrutiny of
the bill.

Liberal Senator Alan Eggleston made the point during the committee's hearing.

ALAN EGGLESTON: The outcome of this inquiry, endorsement of the Government's legislative changes,
is already decided. The Government has hijacked the inquiry process to its own ends and we believe
is engaging in an abusive process.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce did so as well, a little less formally, at a
doorstop the two senators held.

BARNABY JOYCE: We've just received something that's slightly bigger than "War and Peace" - 1300
pages that's been launched on our desk. And they said, oh if you can have that polished off by
tomorrow night and tell us what it's all about and then write an essay on it and then go into the
exam and get a credit or better, you know everything will be sweet.

Well this is a load of rubbish - 1300 pages - I need the time, Eggie needs the time, the Senate
needs the time to go through this.

I need to read the 1300 pages, I need to understand it, I need to be able to call up people on the
telephone and say can you come in here and have a yarn about this? I need to be able to have the
time so that I can work those people into their dairies, they can't just drop everything and come
tear-arsing down to Canberra because Barney's on the phone.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Senator Joyce is also concerned about job losses and rejects the argument that
people will be able to pick up new jobs in green industries.

BARNABY JOYCE: This is cloud cuckoo land rubbish. I mean where, I mean so what do we do? As I said
what are we going to have - factories making wind chimes in Nimbin? This sort of garbage that we're
going to take out, you know, tens of thousands of mining workers and they're all going to jump in
their caravans and then like a procedure, like a caravan of love proceed down to some Nirvana like
valley where they'll all be in you know, I don't know, doing what - making photovoltaic cells. Show
me where these jobs are. How are you going to do this?

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Government is getting pressure from all sides as crunch time for the legislation
approaches. But the minister isn't wavering.

PENNY WONG: I know there's going to be a lot of debate. I know there'll be people paying for lots
of reports to back their claims.

We've had a lot of discussion about this, we've had a lot of consideration and our view as the
Government is that it is in the national interest to do what Australians want which is to take
action on climate change.

LYNDAL CURTIS: She may not be bowing to pressure from the lobby groups but the detail in the
Minerals Council modelling shows that many jobs will be lost in Labor electorates and that's
usually a model hard for politicians to ignore.

PETER CAVE: Lyndal Curtis reporting.

Green groups say more action, less talk needed on environment

PETER CAVE: Green groups are stepping up their pressure on governments around Australia to make
more progress on a range of environmental issues.

Some campaigners say they're tired of the slow pace of reform on issues ranging from container
deposit legislation to a ban on plastic bags and what to do with the mountains of electronic waste
created by TV sets, mobile phones and computers.

And as Simon Santow reports, they're hoping that a meeting of Federal, State and Territory
environment ministers in Hobart today will bring meaningful change, rather than talk and more
hollow announcements.

SIMON SANTOW: Environment groups are impatient for change when they say they can see solutions to
problems but very few are being acted upon.

JON DEE: All we keep getting are statements about how important it is to deal with these issues,
but we're seeing very little in the way of real and measurable results that deal with the problems
in a way that solves them.

SIMON SANTOW: Jon Dee is the chairman of green lobby group Do Something and he's concerned that a
gathering of ministers in Hobart today will be an excuse for doing nothing.

He argues that Peter Garrett as the Federal Minister fails the dinner party test on his
contribution to fixing the nation's green problems.

JON DEE: Someone said to me, "How would the old environmentalist Peter Garrett judge the
Environment Minister Peter Garrett on the results that he's getting?"

And the consensus around the table was, he wouldn't score himself very highly. And that's a sad
indictment of the lack of results that we're seeing.

SIMON SANTOW: Peter Garrett left this morning's meeting not long after it had started.

PETER GARRETT: I have to say that environment ministers are working both collaboratively and
productively on the issues that are in front of them and I'll expect to have something more to say
about that later in the day.

REPORTER: Can you update us on the status of the Tasmanian devil please?

SIMON SANTOW: So he could make announcements for the benefit of the local Tasmanian media before he
rushed back to join his colleagues at the Wrest Point Casino hotel.

PETER GARRETT: Ministers will have a full and very productive meeting here in Hobart; we're
enjoying being here in Hobart.

SIMON SANTOW: Peter Garrett is faced with the problem of finding solutions to everything from how
to reduce plastic bag consumption, whether or not to bring in a scheme nationally that rewards
consumers for bringing back their containers for recycling, and how to deal with growing electronic
or e-waste.

Jon Dee from Do Something:

JON DEE: They need to stop talking about the problem of e-waste, they need to put the legislation
in place.

SIMON SANTOW: How do you explain their reluctance?

JON DEE: It makes no sense that environment ministers at a state and federal level have not acted
on the issue of electronic waste.

On one hand you have TV manufacturers and computer manufacturers saying please put in place
national legislation, we will follow it. You have recycling companies have built facilities to
recycle that electronic waste. The infrastructure is in place, the industry is willing, the public
have indicated that they're fully supportive of change.

So the only thing holding it back right now are the environment ministers and the bureaucrats who
support them.

SIMON SANTOW: Jeff Angel from the Total Environment Centre in Sydney is in Tasmania to lobby for
change.

JEFF ANGEL: There were some very conservative policies about how you assess the economic benefits
of recycling brought in by the previous government.

We are seeing definite signs of Peter Garrett trying to overcome those so that the environmental
and obvious economics benefits of recycling get a much clearer and louder voice in the process of
making decisions.

SIMON SANTOW: Is it red tape that Peter Garrett's battling against? If industry is on board it
would seem like a no brainer that the whole thing should just happen.

JON DEE: Well you would think it would be a no brainer, but entrenched in the bureaucracy that's
particularly an inheritance from the Howard years is the opposition to new environmental
regulation.

They seem to want to do wishy washy voluntary programs that have very little effect and we've had
to along with Peter Garrett's office and some of the other ministers struggle to escape that
straight jacket.

SIMON SANTOW: So are bureaucrats in every state and federally advising politicians that, oh look
minister it's all too difficult?

JON DEE: Yeah there's been this straight jacket inaction and resistance to modern environmental
regulation. We've had to overcome that. We're hoping that today's meeting will be the first major
sign of a change in attitudes to product take-back and container deposit type legislation.

PETER CAVE: Jeff Angel from the Total Environment Centre ending Simon Santow's report.

New e-waste recycling scheme flagged

Britain on credit rating watch

PETER CAVE: Global share markets have been rocked by revelations overnight that Britain's closely
guarded AAA credit rating could be at risk for the first time in more than 30 years.

The international ratings agency Standard and Poor's has changed its outlook for the British
economy from stable to negative because of soaring government debt.

The ratings watch has cast a shadow on the struggling US economy after a top investor warned that
America's AAA rating was also in jeopardy.

Here's our business editor Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: When it comes to the best possible financial reputation, only three letters matter -
AAA.

For Britain it's a matter of pride and status and AAA tells investors around the world it's safe to
lend money to the United Kingdom.

While the world's big three ratings agencies today re-affirmed Britain's AAA status, the best
known, Standard and Poor's, said the next ratings move might be down.

London's F-100 plunged 2.7 per cent on the shock news as investors absorbed a sobering reality
check.

INVESTOR: As of this morning I would have said there was as much risk of the US, France and Germany
facing an outlook change as the UK. But in fact the S and P have chosen the UK. They have clearly
recognised that our public finances are not in good shape.

PETER RYAN: And that's an understatement, as British government debt approaches 100 per cent of
gross domestic product.

It now needs to raise 220-billion pounds through government bonds by March next year to have any
hope of Standard and Poor's softening its tougher line.

While S and P says there's only a one in three chance of a ratings downgrade, the first negative
report since AAA status was achieved in 1978 has only fuelled concerns about Britain's dire
economic state.

Vince Cable, Treasury Spokesman for the Liberal Democrats says the switch from stable to negative
further undermines the economic credentials of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

VINCE CABLE: There will come a time when it's going to be very difficult for the Government to
borrow on the scale that it's currently borrowing. We're talking about 13 per cent of GDP. They're
unprecedented levels. It's very difficult to see how the markets continue to absorb that.

PETER RYAN: With national debt representing around 13,000 pounds for every British citizen, the
spiralling damage bill is now a key issue in the coming general elections.

The Shadow Chancellor George Osborne today pounced on the endangered perception of Britain's
financial credibility.

GEORGE OSBORNE: This credit rating agency says that Britain's economic credibility is going to be
on the line at that general election. Very explicitly and clearly Britain needs a Government now
that is going to deal with the debt crisis or else the costs of Britain's borrowing is going to go
up and that will be borne by every family in the country.

PETER RYAN: Neither Gordon Brown nor his Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling have
commented on the potential downgrade, leaving the defence to the Treasury Minister Stephen Timms.

STEPHEN TIMMS: We have the biggest ever sale of government bonds; 5-billion pounds worth, in line
with what we said at the time of the Budget. That was more than two-and-a-half times oversubscribed
and that makes a very strong indication of confidence in the markets.

PETER RYAN: Even so, the fresh fears crossed the Atlantic, sending shivers through Wall Street
where the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 1.5 per cent weaker.

The well known investor Bill Gross of the PIMCO group agrees Britain's AAA rating is at risk, but
he rocked the market by suggesting America's AAA rating would be downgraded because of spiralling
debt.

BILL GROSS: Well we think eventually, I mean that's the trend, but it's certainly nothing that's
going to happen overnight. The markets are beginning to anticipate the possibility of that however
and the market knows and believes that both the United States and the UK are quite similar in terms
of their debt levels and their debt trends.

PETER RYAN: If the downgrade becomes reality, Britain and maybe America would join a growing
downgrade club of Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

It all puts Australia's AAA status in a league of its own compared to other economic giants,
according to the Westpac economist James Shugg.

JAMES SHUGG: Australia's AAA rating, the budget deficit's blowing out but Australia still has a
gold standard AAA rating because even after years, you know the next few years of deficits we're
probably only going to have 14 per cent of GDP of debt will be 14 per cent of the economic outlook.

PETER RYAN: The Australian share market had no choice but to follow the US lead, and opened around
1.5 per cent weaker.

The big banks and miners fell accordingly on fears that a ratings reality check might herald a
disturbing new chapter in the global economic downturn.

PETER CAVE: Our business editor Peter Ryan.

BHP Billiton seeks to build first uranium mine in WA

PETER CAVE: The Federal Government says it expects a planned new uranium mine in Western Australia
to get the go ahead.

BHP Billiton wants to build the mine at Yeelirrie in the State's mid-west and it's seeking
environmental approval.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said he believes the mine will be approved and the demand for
uranium will grow.

It's expected to open in 2014 and it will be the first major uranium mine in Australia in more than
20 years.

Finance reporter Sue Lannin:

SUE LANNIN: Australia has the world's biggest uranium reserves and most governments around the
country are eager to make the most of a lucrative commodity.

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says he supports BHP Billiton's plan to mine the
Yeelirrie uranium deposit in Western Australia.

MARTIN FERGUSON: The Australian Government's policy is very clear; we support the expansion of
uranium mining. It creates new investment opportunities for Australia and important export
earnings.

I'll continue to work with the Western Australian Government to bring on investments not only in
the LNG sector but also the uranium and a range of other resources and energy sectors because these
private sector investments create jobs and they are so important as we dig our way out of this
economic slowdown.

SUE LANNIN: The Western Australian Government lifted the State's ban on uranium mining in November.
WA Mines Minister Norman Moore says the mine will be approved if it meets the Government's
regulations.

NORMAN MOORE: Provided they meet all the requirements of the Government, we've always said that we
would allow uranium mining, but only on the basis that the companies who want to engage in that
activity are subject to the most stringent environmental and safety conditions.

So we will look very carefully at their proposal. If they meet our obligations and requirements
then they can go ahead.

SUE LANNIN: BHP Billiton also owns the world's biggest uranium mine, Olympic Dam, and is seeking
approval for a huge expansion.

Resources analyst Gavin Wendt from Fat Prophets says development of Yeerlirrie is important for the
company's future.

GAVIN WENDT: It's a tremendously important deal. Firstly that it's the first uranium development in
Western Australia. It's the second largest undeveloped uranium deposit within Australia.

BHP at the present time of course is implementing a massive expansion of its Olympic Dam operation
in South Australia. This is set to overtake the Ranger uranium mine of ERA up in the Northern
Territory. So it really is going to establish BHP as a major uranium player at a time when the
world is increasingly going to be looking towards nuclear power as an alternate energy source.

SUE LANNIN: But there will be environmental concerns in the local community.

GAVIN WENDT: Absolutely and I think that is why all new planned uranium developments have to be
squeaky clean in terms of environmental issues.

SUE LANNIN: And the plan to mine uranium in Western Australia already faces strong community
opposition.

The State Government says it won't allow uranium to be shipped out of its ports so it will have to
be sent by rail to Darwin or Adelaide.

Piers Verstegen is from the Conservation Council of Western Australia.

PIERS VERSTEGEN: We don't believe that there are safeguards that are strong enough to ensure that
West Australian yellow cake will not end up in nuclear weapons. And mining uranium in Western
Australia we know will have a major impact on communities and will have a major impact on the
environment.

So nuclear energy is really not the solution to climate change. The solution to climate change lies
in Western Australia's abundant supplies of renewable energy and this is what we should be
focussing on in Western Australia, not the dangerous nuclear industry that will be of no benefit to
West Australians.

SUE LANNIN: WA Mines Minister Norman Moore says he thinks people will support uranium mining.

NORMAN MOORE: There is a growing acceptance in the community that uranium mining should be allowed
to go ahead in Western Australia. You would be aware that we went to the election on the basis of
having uranium mining. It didn't seem to be a significant issue in the election in that context.

PIERS VERSTEGEN: Well the West Australian Government has really admitted that it's not a good
practice to be shipping yellow cake through communities. There's no support for this industry in
Western Australia and people living around West Australian ports will not support the transport of
yellow cake through their communities.

PETER CAVE: Piers Verstegen, the director of the West Australian Conservation Council, ending that
report from Sue Lannin.

Compulsory welfare quarantining under pressure

PETER CAVE: The Federal Government has flagged changes to the Northern Territory Intervention that
could see people opt out of compulsory income quarantining.

Under the measures introduced to Aboriginal communities, welfare recipients have half their income
quarantined for basics such as food.

The Government argues that income quarantining has played an important role in increasing spending
on food and reducing alcohol abuse.

But it's been under pressure to re-instate the Racial Discrimination Act that was suspended to
allow for such measures to stop abuse in the communities.

Sarah Hawke reports.

SARAH HAWKE: No other element of the federal intervention has polarised debate.

Welfare quarantining was rolled out across Aboriginal communities in the early stages of the
intervention, which is now approaching the two-year mark.

Several community leaders argue it's crucial to ensure women aren't pressured to spend money on
alcohol.

Others believe it's discriminatory because the measures only apply to Aboriginal people and that
the Basics Card for the system is flawed.

The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says quarantining has made a difference.

JENNY MACKLIN: Particularly with the increase in the purchase of food, we've seen more and more of
people's welfare money spent in the local shops on fresh food and fresh vegetables, meat. We're
seeing less being spent on alcohol.

SARAH HAWKE: But the Government has been under immense pressure to reinstate the Racial
Discrimination Act which was suspended so measures like quarantining could be introduced.

The minister has announced that will happen in October.

A discussion paper on all the intervention measures has been released, including the possibility of
lifting alcohol bans in some communities.

The paper outlines two options for income quarantining: maintain the status quo or allow people to
opt out.

Jenny Macklin rejects any suggestion that's she's watering down the intervention.

JENNY MACKLIN: We are determined to continue the measures that have been successful in the
emergency response but to put them on a more sustainable footing and to give Aboriginal people in
the Northern Territory more say about how these measures will continue.

SARAH HAWKE: Given that the Federal Government introduced income quarantining to protect women and
children and so they wouldn't be, and particularly women, not forced to buy alcohol, how will this
be an effective measure if it's made voluntary and people can opt out?

JENNY MACKLIN: We're not proposing in the discussion paper that we've released to make it
voluntary. What we're proposing is to develop a compulsory income management scheme that takes into
account the views of those Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

SARAH HAWKE: But with the option there to be able to apply to not have income quarantining applied?

JENNY MACKLIN: One of the options that's discussed in the paper that we released yesterday is that
people may be able to apply to opt out. If it's clear that they are responsible, that they're not
involved in alcohol abuse for example, they are getting their kids to school, then that's one of
the options that we'd like to discuss.

SARAH HAWKE: The Government is under pressure to ensure it does meet the Racial Discrimination Act.
Are you confident that welfare quarantining won't be in such a position that it will no longer
protect women and children and you'll get a flood of people wanting to be made voluntary?

JENNY MACKLIN: We are determined to design a compulsory income management policy which doesn't
require the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act.

In our view it is beneficial, this income management policy, but I think we'll be more successful
with income management if we involve local people.

SARAH HAWKE: Lawyer George Newhouse represents a group of Central Australians opposed to the
intervention.

After a complaint from the group the United Nations (Committee) on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination expressed its concerns about the measures to the Federal Government in March.

George Newhouse welcomes the Government's review but questions whether it goes far enough.

GEORGE NEWHOUSE: I mean the fact that the Government is removing the suspension of the Racial
Discrimination Act does not mean that the policies may not be discriminatory even though they try
and couch them as special measures.

So we need to look at it in some detail and as I said, just because they're removing the suspension
of the Racial Discrimination Act does not mean that they're not discriminatory.

PETER CAVE: Lawyer George Newhouse ending Sarah Hawke's report.

Mixed messages after fluoride overdose leaves residents sick

PETER CAVE: It may have happened a long time ago in the other states and territories but
Queenslanders are still unnerved about fluoride being added to their water.

Now the Government is trying to deal with a new scare following an apparent fluoride overdose that
left some residents sick.

There's been confusion and contradiction about who was affected by the overdose, how severe it was
and exactly when it happened.

Last night the Premier was forced to provide a third version of events.

Nicole Butler reports from Brisbane.

NICOLE BUTLER: When an overdose of fluoride was released into Brisbane's water supplies three weeks
ago people became sick. Most had gastroenteritis but there were other conditions.

Todd Crew believes the elevated fluoride levels affected his seven-year-old daughter's skin.

TODD CREW: Her skin started to blister and looked like a rash and then it proceeded to move to her
back and her buttocks and then her shoulders and then her face and then her head.

NICOLE BUTLER: The Queensland Government didn't reveal the problem until stories of illness started
to emerge two weeks after the overdose happened.

Now another week later an interim report has found when Premier Anna Bligh did come clean she gave
the public the wrong information.

ANNA BLIGH: It's not unusual in investigations for the original understanding of any incident to
sometimes be clarified or understood in a different way.

NICOLE BUTLER: Premier Bligh initially said the overdose happened on the 2nd of May. The report
said it took place on the 30th of April.

The Government said the mistake at the North Pine Water Treatment Plant affected the suburbs of
Brendale and Warner. It actually caused problems at Joyner and at a YMCA camp site where over 200
children were staying.

And the Premier at first said the water contained 31 milligrams of fluoride per litre. In fact it
contained 19.6, still well above the maximum of 1.5.

ANNA BLIGH: The plant operators provided the information on the best understanding of the facts at
the time. The international, sorry our independent expert has now thoroughly investigated it and
he's able to establish beyond any doubt this time that there was a different explanation.

NICOLE BUTLER: Premier Bligh says it's embarrassing to have to go public with a third version of
events.

But she maintains Queenslanders can have faith in her Government even though Queensland is one of
the last Australian states to fluoridate its supplies and an overdose hasn't happened anywhere
else.

ANNA BLIGH: It's a very unusual, extremely unusual event. There is no precedent that we can find
anywhere else in the country so that's I think no credit to the people who are involved in this,
and I want to find out exactly what happened.

NICOLE BUTLER: That's a point Queensland's Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek has seized on.

JOHN- PAUL LANGBROEK: Well clearly the Premier has just acknowledged that we've had something
happen in Queensland with the putting fluoride in the water that hasn't happened in any other state
and when she was talking about whether we want to look into the who, what, where - we want to know
how! That's what the people of Queensland want to know. How did this happen and why is it that this
has happened within the first six months of it being done in Queensland when it's never happened
anywhere else?

NICOLE BUTLER: The Liberal National Party leader says the current fiasco raises big questions about
the Bligh Government's ability to manage water, especially as it's considering adding recycled
sewage into drinking supplies.

JOHN- PAUL LANGBROEK: Well we don't know if it's being done properly and that's what the Opposition
is saying. We need to have the information.

The Premier apparently had information again on Tuesday that she's chosen not to release until last
night, late, when Parliament was no longer sitting; which again stops us enquiring about it because
she said she needed to make sure the information was correct.

So it begs the question, if the final report's not out 'til June 26, how do we know that this
information is correct and that people are not going to be unnecessarily concerned, worried about
the future, especially for the future of recycled water?

NICOLE BUTLER: Queenslanders will be able to sink their teeth into the final report on the fluoride
overdose when it's handed down next month.

PETER CAVE: Nicole Butler reporting.

Salvos withdraw ad to appease sex workers

PETER CAVE: The Salvation Army will pull an ad for its Red Shield appeal after complaints from the
association representing sex workers.

The Scarlet Alliance says the ad in newspapers and magazines stigmatise prostitution, and so they
say that it capitalises on the community's prejudice.

The Salvation Army has apologised, saying it wants to maintain its close working relationship with
the Scarlet Alliance.

Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Today the Salvation Army is launching its major fundraising project - the
annual Doorknock Appeal.

In the lead up it's taken out ads in newspapers and magazines and some detail how some of its
workers helped a teenage prostitute.

The ad has drawn the ire of the Scarlet Alliance which represents sex workers.

Its president is Elena Jeffreys:

ELENA JEFFREYS: The Salvation Army advertisement capitalises on stigma and discrimination against
sex workers in their promotion of the Red Shield Appeal. It's a blatant use of general community's
unease and misunderstanding of the sex industry and further stigmatises sex workers.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: When members of the Scarlet Alliance showed up at the Appeal's launch today,
the Salvation Army issued a public apology.

Major Phillip Maxwell says the charity is sorry for any offence caused.

PHILLIP MAXWELL: They took affront to the fact that the word smuggling was aligned to prostitution
which kind of made it, gave the impression for their members that prostitution was a seedy segment
within the community and yes they were offended by that.

The truth of the matter was here was a young man who finds himself trapped in a particular
lifestyle for a number of reasons and unable to move out of that lifestyle and he approached the
Salvation Army, dare I say it, even covertly to see what the Salvation Army could do to help him
out of this particular lifestyle.

And we were able to respond through a process of counselling and support, relocation, help, his
life was considerably changed and he's still travelling well today.

ELENA JEFFREYS: The situation they've described in the ad is such a rare and unusual and dramatic
situation, it misrepresents what most sex workers are seeking in today's society and that is we are
seeking freedom from discrimination and stigma - the kind of discrimination that's shown in the ad.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Do you agree there are some sex workers in Australia who are not choosing to do
that job, they are exploited and they are forced into it?

ELENA JEFFREYS: Look the Salvation Army is not in business of moralising or deciding what sex
workers choices are. Leave that up to sex worker rights advocates, that is our job, we engage with
government on those legislative issues. Salvation Army is not engaged in sex worker rights in
Australia and this ad is a misrepresentation of their cause.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Don't you think there would be some people in Australia though who wouldn't
want to be sex workers and would appreciate someone coming along to intervene and help them?

ELENA JEFFREYS: In New South Wales sex work is fully decriminalised, that means we are protected by
all the other same laws and regulations that affect any other industry. However we're not protected
by anti-discrimination law. If we were, things like this ad would end up in the Anti-Discrimination
Commission.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The Salvation Army ad was set to run until the end of June but will now be
pulled.

The charity gets most of its advertising for free and Major Phillip Maxwell says in this case it
was more important to salvage its relationship with the Sex Workers Association.

PHILIP MAXWELL: The reality is that we work with these people on a day-to-day basis without any
discrimination whatsoever and we recognise that it has caused an affront to them and with our
priority on the ongoing work and our needs to service people we felt that it was appropriate just
to pull the ad.

The Red Shield Appeal still happens, people are aware of our work, but we've got to make sure that
we maintain that onward momentum of servicing the people at the front line who are really in need.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The Scarlet Alliance says the case should serve as a reminder to other
charities not to exploit the stigma against sex work in their appeals for fundraising.

PETER CAVE: And that report was from Meredith Griffiths.