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Swine flu tally continues to climb

PETER CAVE: The Federal Government has launched an advertising offensive on swine flu as the global
death toll from the virus marches past 100. Australia, with 67 cases, is struggling to curb
community transmissions with a second batch of suspected cases after an outbreak on a cruise ship.

The country's first case was a Victorian boy last week and his school has reopened today after a
week's closure.

This report from Rachel Brown.

RACHAEL BROWN: Some Clifton Hill Primary School students ran to the gate, some dragged their feet,
their excitement levels varying.

VOX POP 1: I didn't really want to go to school.

VOX POP 2: Yes it is. Just going to my parent's work every day.

VOX POP 3: Yeah, into school sport.

RACHAEL BROWN: Since one of their classmates was diagnosed as Australia's first swine flu case last
week, their school has been closed and scrubbed.

The school's principal, Geoff Warren.

GEOFF WARREN: The fronts and backs and tops of all the chairs and desks and doorknobs and window
sills and vacuuming and any area where a child would have touched anything has been thoroughly
cleaned.

RACHAEL BROWN: Over the past week health authorities have been criticised for their refusal to name
schools and the speed of information delivered. Have you been happy with the way it's been handled?

GEOFF WARREN: look I've been very happy, but remembering as you said, we were the first school
where this has happened. Processes, procedures were put in place straight away. We had wonderful
support from DHS (Department of Human Services) and certainly from the Department of Education and
Early Childhood Development. It was magnificent.

Since then things have snowballed of course and there are flare-ups all over Melbourne and I
suppose they're very much on the run. And anxiety that is raised will always translate in many
cases to looking for someone to blame.

RACHAEL BROWN: As Australia's swine flu case count climbs, the Federal Government has launched,
among other things, an advertising offensive.

EXCERPT FROM ADVERTISEMENT: The flu and you. You can minimise the spread of flu by covering your
mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.

RACHAEL BROWN: As well as schools, planes and ships are proving the other virus transmission hot
houses.

Twenty Qantas cabin crew are in home quarantine after having contact with infected passengers and
passengers on the P&O Cruise ship Pacific Dawn are being tested after a fifth suspected case today,
including crew members. The ship is heading to Port Douglas and waiting on the results of tests
before deciding what to do next.

The virus hit the same ship earlier this week and New South Wales health authorities are under fire
for their decision to let the passengers from that earlier cruise disembark. Eighteen passengers
have the virus and 20 more are being tested, most of them from the regional New South Wales town of
Berrigan.

The tourism industry admits the episode hasn't done it any favours.

MATTHEW HINGERTY: There's no doubt we probably could have handled that situation better.
Potentially we could have predicted that a large amount of people held in a confined space for a
long period of time would have been a high level of risk. We probably should have predicted that,
particularly for the cruise operators, that this would have been an issue and spoken more openly
and more regularly with the Government. It's a learning process.

RACHAEL BROWN: But Matthew Hingerty from the Tourism Export Council says the industry is smarting
because of the global financial crisis and doesn't want the public scared off travel.

MATTHEW HINGERTY: The school holiday period is rapidly approaching us in July. It's one of the most
important times of the year for the tourism industry, particularly for northern Australia and I'm
concerned that Australians are getting a message that, not necessarily from our officials but from
some of the coverage in the press that it's going to be dangerous to travel.

And we need to get a positive message out there that it is still okay to travel, provided you take
the right precautions.

RACHAEL BROWN: The hysteria levels surrounding the virus continue to vary. Since there's been only
mild cases in Australia so far, some say it's a beat up. One caller to local radio compared it to
the Y2K bug and federal politics commentator Barrie Cassidy didn't want to talk about it this
morning on ABC Breakfast News.

BARRIE CASSIDY: I'm putting the swine flu in the same category as Peter Costello. I'll get back to
those stories when either it or he are serious.

RACHAEL BROWN: But the Prime Minister thought nose blowing tips were important enough to raise in
Question Time yesterday.

KEVIN RUDD: Each one of us can take steps to avoid the spread of the flu by simple things - washing
your hands often and thoroughly, disposing of used tissues in the bin.

RACHAEL BROWN: And Victoria's Premier John Brumby asked Year 12 students who are sitting for exams
soon not to get too close.

JOHN BRUMBY: Be mindful of their contact with fellow students.

RACHAEL BROWN: The swine flu death toll has passed 100 after another death in the US and four more
in Mexico. There are currently about 14,000 cases around the world.

PETER CAVE: That report by Rachael Brown.

High hopes for swine flu vaccine

PETER CAVE: As the number of confirmed cases of swine flu continues to increase - it's gone up from
67 to 83 while we've been on air - more and more hope is being put in a future vaccine.

Production of test vaccines is due to begin soon and heath officials and flu experts say the final
product could be available to the public within months.

Flu viruses are renowned for their ability to mutate but the consensus seems to be that a vaccine
will work.

Gus Goswell reports.

GUS GOSWELL: The Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon is reassuring Australians that a vaccine is
on the way.

NICOLA ROXON: Our researchers are moving into the next phase but it is a complicated process and it
still will be several months down the track. It's why every week that we can delay this disease
spreading more widely in the community is buying us more time when we'll have this disease but a
vaccine also to treat it.

GUS GOSWELL: The director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Influenza in Melbourne, Professor
Anne Kelso, says although the process of creating a vaccine is well underway, Australia must be
patient.

ANNE KELSO: That's because it's important to do some clinical trials first to make sure that the
vaccine works and that it's safe to use, so that does introduce quite a number of weeks' delay.

GUS GOSWELL: What do you think a realistic timeframe may be before we have a vaccine that could be
used among the general public?

ANNE KELSO: Well I believe CSL is hoping that by early August there'll be some vaccine available.
Whether that'll be in sufficient quantities to start being marketed in the community I don't know
because there are a lot of steps to go through between now and reaching that end point.

GUS GOSWELL: Dr Rachel David is the director of public affairs at pharmaceutical company CSL. She
says CSL began work on a vaccine as soon as news of deaths from swine flu emerged from Mexico.

RACHEL DAVID: What we've done is that we've made a safe form of the virus in the lab which we can
grow very quickly to start to make vaccines. Now that we've got that we can start to make a test
batch of the vaccine that we can use for over the next few weeks to research to do some tests in
humans and animals just to make sure that we get the dose right so that we can have vaccine
available in, probably towards the end of July, early August.

GUS GOSWELL: Is there a chance that the swine flu virus may mutate by the time a vaccine is
developed?

RACHEL DAVID: Look I think there is a chance that it might mutate slightly in that time frame,
particularly as Australia is heading into the winter months when the activity of the virus is
enhanced. However I do believe that the chances of it mutating so far or so fast that a vaccine
would be ineffective are extremely low.

GUS GOSWELL: Dr Alan Hampson, the chairman of Australia's Influenza Specialist Group, agrees with
that assessment.

ALAN HAMPSON: It's a virus that has all it needs. It can spread readily from human to human. It's
entering a population which as far as we know is basically lacking immunity to this virus. So I
can't see that there's anything there going to be driving the mutation of the virus or changes in
the virus as we come into our first wave.

PETER CAVE: Dr Alan Hampson ending that report by Gus Goswell.

Eighty-five confirmed cases now.

Fallout fears as car giant GM heads for bankruptcy

PETER CAVE: If the US car giant General Motors files for bankruptcy it's likely to send shockwaves
around the world. GM's restructure plans have been rejected by investors and the company has few
options but to file for bankruptcy.

Germany and Great Britain are already looking for willing buyers to rescue their GM subsidiaries,
Opel and Vauxhall. Automotive experts in Australia say Holden has benefited from the Government's
green car initiative but if it's sold off that could have long-term effects on local car-part
suppliers.

Jennifer Macey reports.

JENNIFER MACEY: As the American car giant GM limps towards bankruptcy its European subsidiaries are
holding crisis talks to discuss making a break. The German Government has already met with three
potential bidders to buy Opel, which has been in the GM family for the past eight decades.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says it's time to start concrete negotiations.

FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER (translated): I hope we'll make a good step forward today. We have to do
it. The people want clarity about their future. I'm sure we will secure the governmental interim
financing.

Opel needs this breathing space. I say that with the view of the current discussion and upcoming
decisions in the US. In other words, if the General Motors goes into insolvency in the next days,
the light cannot go off at Opel. We have to create conditions for the independent future at Opel.

JENNIFER MACEY: The German Government has offered a 1.5-billion euro or $2.7-billion aid package
for Opel. Late on Wednesday night the Foreign Minister along with Chancellor Angela Merkel met with
Fiat, Magna and RHJ International to discuss takeover offers.

Fiat has already made a bid for Chrysler, rescuing that US auto company from bankruptcy. But it's
also keen to secure Opel.

Magna is also in the running, says the CEO Frank Stronach.

FRANK STRONACH (translated): We see a very big future in Opel. It was always a bit suppressed
perhaps because it was not free, but we see a great future. We want to take part and we want to
build Opel to be a world brand.

JENNIFER MACEY: British unions have criticised their Government for being slower off the mark to
rescue its GM subsidiary Vauxhall which employs five-and-a-half-thousand people.

The UK Business Secretary Peter Mandelson says he's also met with the three potential bidders. He
says the Government may consider giving the eventual buyer some financial support but he says some
job losses may be unavoidable.

PETER MANDELSON: It may be that the head count, the workforce of General Motors Europe as a whole
will be reduced, rather than particular plants being closed. But it's too early to judge what will
happen because we're not at the stage of considering specific or detailed proposals from any of the
bidders.

What I have been concerned to do is to secure their commitment to the future of Vauxhall production
in the United Kingdom and I have received that reassurance from all three bidders for GM in Europe.

JENNIFER MACEY: In Australia, GM Holden has said in the past that it remains confident about the
future. The company is adapting to changes in the market having just released a small car with
plans for a new small car to be built at the Adelaide plant from next year.

Industry analyst Evan Stents is a partner at HWL Ebsworth. He says the company will benefit from
the Government's $1.3-billion green car initiative for the industry.

EVAN STENTS: That's of significant importance to overseas car companies because when you're making
decisions about research and development in green cars, which they're all doing at the moment,
they're going to consider where to best spend those dollars.

And knowing that there's a significant pool of money in Australia available for that sort of
research and development is going to incentivise them considerably in keeping Australia as part of
their global operations, and that obviously is Holden.

JENNIFER MACEY: But even if the subsidiaries manage to weather a possible bankruptcy, car-part
manufacturers and car dealers won't emerge unscathed.

The Center for Automotive Research in the US has released a study that shows a drawn out disruptive
bankruptcies for both GM and Chrysler could result in 1.3-million job losses in the US alone for
both direct and indirect jobs.

Evan Stents says if GM goes bankrupt payments to creditors down the line will be frozen.

EVAN STENTS: That decision itself, freezing creditor payments, will, can potentially see the
closure of a lot of component suppliers who are dependent on that cash flow, or the payment of
debts owing to them. And that can occur significantly in the US. You'll see a lot of companies
close in the US, but also too overseas companies including Australian companies who supply to GM
directly into the US, and there's some companies that do that in Australia as well.

JENNIFER MACEY: The US Government has given GM until next Monday to secure a rescue deal or file
for bankruptcy.

PETER CAVE: Jennifer Macey with that report.

Door left ajar for more rate cuts

PETER CAVE: A senior Reserve Bank official has indicated there is still scope to cut interest
rates, saying that the real rates paid by borrowers are not overly low by historical standards.

The deputy governor Ric Battelino told a news conference in Sydney that mortgage rates were not at
extreme lows, and not that far short of the 10-year average and business lending rates are
relatively high.

Mr Battelino also gave a vigorous defence of the central bank's record, denying it had downplayed
the consequences of record levels of household debt.

Our economics correspondent Stephen Long has just returned from the event. He joined me in the
studio.

Stephen, rates aren't so low after all then?

STEPHEN LONG: No, it seems that they're not, at least in terms of the real rates that people are
paying, Peter.

What Ric Battelino did was made a distinction between the official rates and the actual rates that
are faced by borrowers and he says that if you look around the world, official rates are clearly at
their lowest point in about 150 years. But that hasn't flowed through to borrowers - more so in
Australia than elsewhere.

But even in Australia, if you look at the standard, variable, home mortgage lending rate he says
it's currently 5.16 per cent. The 10-year average rate is 6.85. So it's not all that much below the
10-year average rate, even though the cash rate is down at, you know, such low levels, about 3 per
cent.

And if you look at corporate borrowers, borrowing in the capital markets with corporate bonds, the
current rate in Australia for a five-year loan through that mechanism is about 7.3 per cent for a
corporate borrower. The average rate is 6.62 per cent because the lenders are building in a big
risk premium.

Now he wasn't forecasting further cuts to official rates but clearly what he's saying implies that
there is still scope in Australia to cut official rates in the hope that we might get more passed
through and lower rates should economic circumstances warrant it.

PETER CAVE: So what impact does Ric Battelino think the extraordinary efforts by central banks to
encourage lending will have?

STEPHEN LONG: He says the jury is still out. It's too early to tell what journalists commonly call
printing money - a term that reserve banks and central banks around the world don't particularly
like. But their efforts to ease up and increase the money supply, get the flow of lending going
again, he says it's too early to tell what impact that will have.

But he gave a salient warning. He said that the experience in Japan where they undertook measures
like this during their financial crisis in the '90s really didn't have that much of an effect and
it certainly didn't increase the volume of loans and get the economy back on track. And he thinks
that that's a fair indication that we should have some doubts about the efficacy of it now.

PETER CAVE: He's argued over the years that there's no problem with the record rise in debt levels
here. Has he revised that view in the light of what's happened over the last months and years?

STEPHEN LONG: Not at all. In fact he gave a very vigorous defence of his position that there was no
problem in economic terms at all with the record rise in household debt, the biggest increase only
slightly paralleled, didn't even reach that point but during the Great Depression and the recession
of the 1890s. No, he says, it's still all fine. We won't all be ruined.

I put it to him that the economy was actually crunched to a standstill in Australia before the
global financial crisis hit by the last two cash rate rises, official rate rises by the Reserve
Bank, and we've seen a collapse of personal lending, driving the recessionary circumstances, and
hadn't that given him pause for thought that he might have been wrong. But no, this is what he had
to say.

RIC BATTELINO: You won't be surprised to hear me say no. I don't think the facts support your case.
As late as September last year demand in Australia was still growing, real demand was still growing
by 4 per cent. That is faster than average. So well into that crisis period we still had much
faster than average growth and demand.

People underestimate the amount of pressure that was faced by the Australian economy in the last
couple of years. The resources boom we had here was the biggest boom we've had for 50 years. The
last time we had a boom of this magnitude inflation rose to 20 per cent. All sorts of things went
wrong in the economy. This time we got through that boom relatively unscathed.

But the idea that we're going to come through that with no rises in interest rates is just
ridiculous.

PETER CAVE: The Reserve Bank deputy governor Ric Battelino.

Stephen, did he have anything to say about the forecasting record of the Reserve Bank?

STEPHEN LONG: Indeed he did Peter. I also put it to him: did he feel that the Reserve Bank should
have warned Australians more about the problems in the US housing market, the build-up of risk in
the credit markets and the likelihood that that would lead to an economic crash?

And he said that if you look back over the record of the past five years, no-one could lay any
blame on central banks here or elsewhere because they'd made multiple warnings about the growing
spreads, or the falling spreads, the growth in risks in financial markets and we all should have
paid more attention.

PETER CAVE: The World Today's economics correspondent Stephen Long.

Australian forces kill Taliban bomb chief: Houston

PETER CAVE: The chief of the Australian Defence Force Angus Houston says that Australian soldiers
killed another Taliban leader over the weekend. The air chief marshal held a media briefing in
Canberra this morning to update the progress of the war in Afghanistan.

He's also revealed the findings of investigations into allegations that the Australian operations
have caused civilian deaths.

Sabra Lane has been at the briefing. She joins me now.

PETER CAVE: Sabra, what do we know about the death of this insurgent leader?

SABRA LANE: Peter we know a little about him and the operation that led to his killing.

It happened on the 24th of May, that's last Sunday, during what Angus Houston describes as a short
battle. The name of this man is Mullah Khasan. Angus Houston describes him as a known improvised
explosives facilitator. He says he was a man who commanded and controlled IED missions in Oruzgan
province. IEDs are those improvised explosive devices, the so-called homemade bombs.

He said that this man had led a number of controlled missions and he also said it was possible that
the missions had claimed or been responsible for Australian deaths.

He says that Australian operations in Oruzgan were having a clear impact in affecting Taliban
operations and the chief of the defence force said it was highly likely that this particular
individual had led to Australian casualties.

Here is what Angus Houston had to say about the leader.

ANGUS HOUSTON: That individual was the principal leader in the facilitation of improvised explosive
devices. And we've been chasing him for a while. We've finally got him.

I think it demonstrates quite clearly that if you're a Taliban leader in Oruzgan, you shouldn't
feel safe because we are, we are aware of who all the leaders are and we are in pursuit of them.
And we will continue to go after them, to disrupt their operations so we create a safer and more
secure environment.

PETER CAVE: The chief of the defence force Angus Houston.

Sabra, what did he have to say about these allegations that Australian forces have been causing
civilian casualties?

SABRA LANE: Well he talked about two particular investigations. One investigation into an incident
that happened in December last year where Australian soldiers had fired upon a man who had
approached them. He had wires protruding from his clothes. And this particular incident happened in
an area where there had been a suicide bombing in the previous 24 hours.

These soldiers, an investigation was launched into this event because the soldiers asked this man
to stop several times in the native language. He didn't stop and regrettably, as Angus Houston
says, this man was fired upon and killed.

A later investigation showed that this man wasn't wearing a suicide bomb device but he had wires
protruding from his clothes. Why? Angus Houston said he did not know. He said it was with deep
regret that this incident had happened but that the soldiers had acted in accordance with the rules
of engagement.

Angus Houston also revealed details into an investigation into an incident in January this year in
which eight civilians were wounded and one of those later died. These civilians had turned up at a
facility and claimed that they'd been wounded by Australian ordnance.

Angus Houston launched an investigation within days of this occurring and he released details of
that report today. He said a number of battles had occurred in the Baluchi Valley in January this
year; that these civilians were injured during those battles; that Australian special operations
task force soldiers had fired eight mortars in this particular battle, directed at Taliban
insurgents.

He said seven of those ordnance were directly observed and they did not injure civilians. He said
an eighth was not directly observed but he's confident it did not lead to civilian casualties
because he says it landed about 60 metres from its target and fell in uninhabited ground where
no-one had been.

But he says fragments taken from one survivor did not match ordnance used by Australians and he
says it was actually more likely that these civilians were wounded from two rockets which were
fired overhead by Taliban fighters, which had landed near dwellings.

The investigation has cleared these soldiers. This is what Angus Houston had to say.

ANGUS HOUSTON: If you take the rocket-propelled grenade that was fired at us and the 107 millimetre
rocket that was also fired at us, they went over the top of the compound where our people were and
they went into an area which was full of dwellings. And in fact the rocket-propelled grenade
exploded above the compounds and the rocket went into that area.

So on the balance of probabilities, all I conclude is that that was more likely to have caused the
casualties than what we were doing.

PETER CAVE: Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston. Our reporter in Canberra was Sabra Lane.

Taliban blamed for terrorist attack in Pakistan

PETER CAVE: While Pakistan may be preoccupied fighting the insurgency in the Swat Valley, it's just
received a reminder, if it needed one, that the Taliban can still strike in its major cities.
Gunmen struck yesterday in the major centre of Lahore, killing 24 people in the city's third major
terrorist attack in three months.

In March the Sri Lankan cricket team and an Australian umpire came under fire from automatic
weapons and grenades on their way to a test match. This time the targets included the local
headquarters of Pakistan's intelligence service and a police building.

Simon Santow reports.

(Sound of gunfire and sirens)

SIMON SANTOW: The Inter-Services Intelligence building is home to the very people charged with
protecting Pakistan from terrorist attacks, but it's as vulnerable as the rest of the country. The
attack also targeted police offices and the security guards out the front of the complex.

Local government official Salman Jaffree.

SALMAN JAFFREE: A van came and that first hit the barrier. There was a smaller blast with a grenade
so they crossed the barrier. There was firing and the security alert, because of that security
alert they could not reach further destination on the right or left, so the blast was in the middle
of the road.

SIMON SANTOW: The van was packed with more than 100 kilos of explosives and it's thought that none
of the terrorists survived the attack.

Security analyst General Talat Masood told the BBC that the blast was all about weakening support
for the Pakistan military's Swat Valley offensive against the Taliban.

TALAT MASOOD: This is to discourage the military and also the Government from conducting the
operations and going ahead, and also to sort of lower their morale and also their resolve. But I
think it would have just the opposite effect because then the military gets even more determined.

SIMON SANTOW: Pakistan's western allies, notably the United States, have placed enormous pressure
on President Asif Ali Zardari to halt the spread of militants from the Afghan border regions. Some
parts of the Swat Valley now under Taliban control are only 100 kilometres from Pakistan's capital,
Islamabad.

While no-one has officially claimed responsibility for the latest attack on Lahore, there's a
growing realisation that it's most likely the work of the Taliban or any of a number of Al
Qaeda-backed militant groups.

As the clean-up from yesterday gets underway, analysts are predicting that there'll be many more
explosions like it for years to come.

RASPAL KHOSA: Operations in the Swat Valley have caused a massive dislocation of the regional
populace and absolutely we'll see more large-scale attacks in Pakistan's major cities.

SIMON SANTOW: Raspal Khosa is an analyst specialising in terrorism in the region at the Australian
Strategic Policy Institute. He says it's a complex situation where loyalties are not clear cut.

RASPAL KHOSA: People didn't like being intimidated by a Taliban regime which has effectively taken
control of the Swat Valley and they've moved into outlying areas, into the Buner district where
people were actually opposed to further Talibanisation.

But this must be balanced with the fact that most, or the majority of people, in Pakistan aren't in
favour of close relationship with the United States and the Pakistan military itself doesn't share
the same set of strategic priorities as the United States; that is defeating Al Qaeda in the safe
havens and defeating the Pakistani, or the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan. But what has happened in
Pakistan is a spill over of violence.

SIMON SANTOW: The current military operations in the Swat Valley are largely being conducted as
conventional warfare rather than as a counter-insurgency approach and that brings with it the
danger for the Pakistan military that it may lose the support of the very people it's trying to
save.

RASPAL KHOSA: This of course causes a great deal of destruction when you're using attack
helicopters, artillery, infantry supported with main battle tanks and obviously this sort of
activity can only be conducted for quite a limited period.

PETER CAVE: Raspal Khosa from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, ending Simon Santow's
report.

Police launch stay-safe service on subcontinent

PETER CAVE: A police officer from Victoria leaves for India this weekend on a mission to meet with
students planning to visit Australia and to teach them how to stay safe. The visit follows a recent
dramatic upswing in the number of violent attacks against foreign students from the subcontinent in
the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

But the initiative has been criticised by the local Islamic Council which says the police should
spend more time arresting racists and less time trying to teach Indians how to look less Indian.

Jeff Waters reports.

JEFF WATERS: Australia hosts about 400,000 foreign students and a large proportion of them come
from the subcontinent. Their numbers are rising by almost 40 per cent in the last year alone.

But for many, the stay in Australia hasn't been entirely pleasant. Melbourne has suffered a big
increase this year in violent attacks against visiting foreign students and those from India appear
to have been targeted in particular. In the latest attack this month, seven men between 15 and 20
years old brutally bashed a 21-year-old Indian man travelling alone on a train.

Now as part of an initiative sponsored by Victoria University police community liaison officer
Leading Senior Constable Victor Robb will travel to India to brief prospective students about ways
to avoid trouble.

VICTOR ROBB: It's mainly on crime prevention and safety strategy tips probably much the sort of
information I'd give to my daughter if she was going overseas to another country.

JEFF WATERS: But Victor Robb says the visit isn't in response to the attacks. It was planned before
they took place.

VICTOR ROBB: No this is absolutely not in a response to the number of attacks that allegedly on the
Indian or international students. This is about an initiative that was projected to other
countries. There was not one focus on a particular country or a particular issue. It was just
trying to look at a strategy in a broader range of strategies on the broader community safety
issues.

JEFF WATERS: Victoria University agrees the attacks aren't racist. The vice president for
international students Andrew Holloway blames statistics instead.

ANDREW HOLLOWAY: It just happens to be coincidental that there's a large number of South Asian
students travelling on their own late at night time and if you look at it, the work patterns of
Indian students are somewhat different from other students. They tend to work at 24/7 conveniences,
petrol stations, late-at-night shops, and therefore are more likely to be on the public transport
network late at night time.

JEFF WATERS: But according to the Islamic Council of Victoria it's all an ill-conceived idea. The
Council's Nazeem Hussein says he's disappointed more isn't being done to stop the attacks and
protect the foreign visitors.

NAZEEM HUSSEIN: I think it's one thing to help the victims look less like victims, sorry to look
less Indian, but I think it's another thing to really attack the core issue here which is racism.
And we're seeing not as much from the police that we would have probably expected.

It's only a particular type of crime that is on the rise and that's crimes against people that look
Indian. So really that statistic means not very much given that this particular crime is on the
increase. It's not other sorts of crimes; it's this particular crime. So really that statistic does
support the opposite argument.

PETER CAVE: The Islamic Council of Victoria's Nazeem Hussein, ending that report from Jeff Waters.

Tiger attack turns spotlight on wildlife park

PETER CAVE: A wildlife park in New Zealand is being investigated after a keeper was fatally mauled
by a white Bengal tiger. Tourists who witnessed yesterday's attack are still being questioned by
police and some have been receiving counselling.

Zion Wildlife Gardens has been making the news a lot lately. It's the third attack in a year and a
bitter dispute has also been raging between the owners - a mother and her son.

The son is a television star known locally as the "Lion Man", and today he's being criticised for
encouraging a hands-on approach to dealing with big cats.

New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports.

KERRI RITCHIE: Dalu Mncube was the most experienced lion and tiger handler at Zion Wildlife
Gardens. He was only 26 years old, but he was known around the park as "granddad of the big cats."

The South African was killed as he cleaned out an enclosure with another keeper.

Dalu Mncube had hand reared many of the park's lions and tigers. A few months ago he bravely fought
off the same white tiger which killed him when it attacked a colleague. He pulled its jaw open and
sprayed the animal with a fire extinguisher. He had this to say when he was interviewed afterwards.

DALU MNCUBE: We are always safety conscious at all times but actually we can always do better, you
always do better in life.

KERRI RITCHIE: Many New Zealanders don't like Zion Wildlife Gardens. It's about three hours' drive
north of Auckland and it's home to 40 lions and tigers. Some of the animals pace up and down along
the fences.

Local resident Wayne Richard says a fatal attack was only a matter of time.

WAYNE RICHARD: I have rung up the council on numerous occasions and we just don't seem to be
getting anywhere. They just don't seem to be listening. And I hope someone becomes accountable for
what has happened.

KERRI RITCHIE: Craig Busch used to be the boss of the park. He's famous in New Zealand because he
had his own TV show called "Lion Man".

(Excerpt from TV show):

CRAIG BUSCH: These guys are pretty full on. You go play with each other, not us, okay? You're too
rough.

Okay, let's go get Azra and then we'll have triple trouble. How does that sound?

(End of excerpt)

KERRI RITCHIE: But Mr Busch hasn't worked for the business for months. His licence was cancelled
when concerns were raised about animal welfare and overcrowding. He was then sacked by his own
mother who appointed a new manager.

Mr Busch had been in court in Auckland this week challenging his dismissal. He released a statement
saying the keeper's death is a terrible personal blow because they were good friends.

Ian Adams is the animal collection manager at Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch.

IAN ADAMS: I actually didn't believe it when I was told that someone had been killed. It is pretty
rare.

KERRI RITCHIE: He says there have been no close calls at his park because no-one gets too close to
the animals.

IAN ADAMS: The tiger didn't do anything wrong. They're a predator animal. There's somebody in its
enclosure. Even though things were going alright at the time there's always the potential, there's
that unknown as you never know when it's going to go bad for you.

KERRI RITCHIE: He says tourists have their photos taken with white tigers on the Gold Coast, which
is just too risky. He says there needs to be a set of standards.

IAN ADAMS: Not only do they, are they putting themselves as a, there's the animal situation as well
and if there's more than one of them in there there's, you know there's potential to get really big
and you know it just gets so bad.

KERRI RITCHIE: Glen Holland is the new manager of Zion Wildlife Gardens.

GLEN HOLLAND: What we've managed to achieve, the protocols that we've put in place, thank heavens
were in place yesterday. We've run emergency drills which had never been done before. All of the
staff carried out their roles according to what they should have done in an emergency drill. There
was back up on hand. All the safety equipment was on hand very quickly.

KERRI RITCHIE: The tiger, named Abu, was the keeper's favourite. It was shot dead straight after
the attack.

There are only about 140 white Bengal tigers left in the world. The future of the wildlife park and
the future of the rest of the big cats is unclear.

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

Union applauds laptop donation, but laments public education

PETER CAVE: Children in a remote Northern Territory Aboriginal community are gaining access to the
outside world thanks to an international charity which gives them free laptops.

The One Laptop per Child organisation has delivered more than one-million computers to
disadvantaged primary schools in Africa and South America. The computers are robust and have
programs to improve literacy and numeracy.

While the delivery of laptops to children at Galiwinku on Elcho Island, 550 kilometres east of
Darwin, has been widely applauded, the Australian Education Union says it's a sad indictment of the
public education sector.

Sarah Hawke reports.

SARAH HAWKE: Shepherdson College at Galiwinku hasn't seen such strong attendance in a long time.
Like some many remote Northern Territory communities it's hard to get the kids to school. But the
arrival of new laptops has shone a new light on class.

TEACHER: If you know how to do it, do your saving now so you don't lose everything...

AMANDA: If you take photos you can play puzzle with it.

SARAH HAWKE: Amanda is a year five student. She's writing a story about the local mangroves on her
new laptop.

AMANDA: This is our homepage and we have a lot of games and stuff and we can look up Google and
stuff.

SARAH HAWKE: You can see this community on Google Earth?

AMANDA: Yes, it's right there.

SARAH HAWKE: The low-cost computers are durable and can handle the top end humidity and rough
handling.

Ranagan Srikharta is with One Laptop per Child Australia. He's overseen the launch of the program
at three sites in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

RANAGAN SRIKHARTA: Most of the people who are here today, it took them two days to get here. Just
imagine how hard it is to deliver education, health and services. If we are able to reduce the cost
and increase access, suddenly we start getting into territory we haven't been to before.

SARAH HAWKE: Shepherdson College principal Bryan Hughes says attendance has risen from 170 in
September to about 400. He hopes the computers will help keep kids at school in the long term.

BRYAN HUGHES: I believe it's the magic of owning a laptop. For these young people this is an
opportunity that otherwise they wouldn't get.

SARAH HAWKE: One of the biggest issues I guess facing the education system in the Territory is the
numeracy and literacy levels. Is it going to go any way to helping as a tool there?

BRYAN HUGHES: Most definitely. We know at Shepherdson College we've got a long way to go in terms
of lifting our literacy and numeracy levels and we see this as a brilliant toll in our kit bag to
assist teachers in hooking kids into learning.

SARAH HAWKE: One Laptop per Child's literature talks of helping disadvantaged kids access
information and resources available to children in the metropolitan areas of first-world countries.

The Australian Education Union applauds the initiative but argues public education is failing
children in remote areas and charities shouldn't need to step in given Australia is a first-world
country.

The union's NT secretary Adam Lampe.

ADAM LAMPE: It's a sad indictment of the situation in remote public education delivery that a
Government can't provide its students with basic resources.

SARAH HAWKE: Ultimately should it be the Government supplying robust laptops like this?

ADAM LAMPE: Yeah absolutely, yeah it should be the Government's responsibility, particularly when
it's a Commonwealth push and that Kevin Rudd is suppose to be leading us into the new 21st century,
information technology utopia.

And you know, we're nowhere near delivering it and that we've got a charity organisation doing it
for Government, it's very embarrassing.

SARAH HAWKE: The Northern Territory has the worst numeracy and literacy rates in Australia. The CEO
of the education department Gary Barnes says while the computers are no a silver bullet the
Territory has nothing to lose by supporting the project.

GARY BARNES: If we can partner with people, if we can test things and prove things and if they make
a difference in terms of improving students' literacy and numeracy outcomes, then we're all for it.

PETER CAVE: The CEO of the Northern Territory education department, Gary Barnes ending that report
by Sarah Hawke.

Sight restored with stem cell contact lenses

PETER CAVE: Medical researchers at the University of New South Wales are claiming success in curing
partial blindness by coating contact lenses with stem cells. The patients with diseased corneas
wore the lenses coated with their own stem cells and after about a month their corneas had regrown.

The scientists say that in the future the technique may be used to help people blinded by other
causes.

Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: One of the main causes of blindness around the world is diseases affecting the
cornea. That's the thin clear barrier at the front of the eye and if it gets diseased, scratched,
scarred or burned, light can't make it through to the retina.

The World Health Organization says that every year corneal disease could be responsible for
one-and-a-half-million people losing sight in one of their eyes. But now researchers in Sydney have
found a way to overcome that for some patients.

Dr Nick Di Girolamo is a medical scientist at the University of New South Wales.

NICK DI GIROLAMO: The cornea is the window to the eye so any abnormal cells that are growing on top
of a healthy cornea would preclude or would distort vision.

We've gone from patients that have only been able to count fingers, you know, at a close distance
in front of their eye so to speak, to being able to read letters on a standard visual chart.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The three patients in question were legally blind in one eye. The scientists
took some stem cells from their healthy eyes and cultured them inside contact lenses for 10 days.
The patients then wore the contacts and after less than a month their corneas had regenerated.

Dr Nick Di Girolamo again.

NICK DI GIROLAMO: We can grow the cells on a contact lens, that was the biggest challenge, to make
sure that they were healthy and remained stable on that contact lens for a period of time. And then
it was just a matter of trusting that they could transfer from the contact lens surface onto the
patient's ocular surface.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: He says the patients only need to wear the contact lenses for about 10 days and
that the beauty of the technique is that it uses the patient's own cells.

NICK DI GIROLAMO: So we're not going to be using any immunosuppressive therapy to prevent rejection
if you want; whereas most other techniques out there utilise foreign human materials or stem cells
that are grown in the presence of animal products. You know there's a potential risk of foreign
infectious agents in that material.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Dr Di Girolamo says the plan now is to grow a whole cornea.

NICK DI GIROLAMO: We're focusing on corneal disease because of the accessibility of the cornea but
it's quite possible that using a similar material to the contact lens material, you know in the
future that sort of material could be used as a carrier of different stem cells such as retinal
stem cells to the back of the eye.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Do you think in years to come this will help people with other problems who are
blind for other reasons?

NICK DI GIROLAMO: Oh most definitely. Certainly you know there needs to be a lot more laboratory
work looking at this sort of technique for diseases in the back of the eye, like macular
degeneration for example.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Jane Ellis from Vision Australia says the study is good news for anybody with
corneal problems but she says at the moment the treatment can only help people with damage to the
edge of the cornea.

JANE ELLIS: The most common form of corneal problem that we see in Australia is called keratoconus
which is where the cornea grows in a very odd shape. The use of stem cells to correct that will be
a great breakthrough because currently the treatment is around corneal transplant and as we know,
the risks around surgery to the cornea are quite high. The waiting list for corneal transplants is
very high.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Jane Ellis says the study illustrates just one of the many possibilities that
stem-cell research is opening up for people who are blind or have poor vision.

PETER CAVE: Meredith Griffiths.

Sol finds solace from former bank boss Joss

PETER CAVE: This week's accusations from the former Telstra boss Sol Trujillo that Australia is
backward and racist has provoked a defensive reaction from many Australians. But there are some who
believe that rather than sour grapes, Sol Trujillo may have a point.

One of them is Bob Joss, an outspoken American who headed the Westpac bank in the 1990s. He liked
Australia so much he later became a citizen. But now as dean of the Stanford Business School in the
United States, he's expressed some sympathy for Mr Trujillo's comments.

Bob Joss spoke to our business editor Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: Bob Joss, does Sol Trujillo have a point when he says that elements of Australian
society are racist and backward?

BOB JOSS: Well I think every society has a majority and a minority population and the majority
never intentionally does or says things that they think are racist but an awful lot depends if
you're in a minority position just how you feel and how you feel within that society.

So it's a question that is almost better posed to people who are in the minority. You know, how
does this society make you feel or how do you feel in this society? They're almost better prepared
to answer it than you and I.

PETER RYAN: Well Sol Trujillo was in the minority. He's a first generation American but he claims
that he was being treated as a minority and he experienced racism while he was here.

BOB JOSS: Well I think he's the best person to give you an answer about that. I personally never
experienced that. I was a second generation American I guess you'd say, third generation. But of
course I'm in the ethnic majority when I'm in Australia. I'm white and from Scotland and so I look
like a lot of people and you know Sol was a Mexican American and perhaps he experienced things
differently. I don't know.

PETER RYAN: When you were heading Westpac in the 1990s, did you find yourself characterised as an
American or did you receive any cowboy jibes or were you portrayed in cartoons that way?

BOB JOSS: Not that I can remember. No I always felt I got very fair treatment and, well very fair
treatment.

PETER RYAN: Did you find that because of your American background that you received different or
perhaps harsher treatment by the media or business than you might have received in America?

BOB JOSS: No I really didn't see any real difference Peter, I'd have to say. But I will tell you an
interesting story. I remember one time with one of our very senior executives, we were talking
about somebody we were interested in hiring and he was of Chinese ethnicity and he was very
talented and very good.

And I remember saying to my colleague, who was Australian, "Well is he Australian?" And my friend
said, "Well he's Chinese." I said, "Well I know he's Chinese but is he an Australian?" And he said,
"Well no, he's Chinese".

And you know we went back and forth and it was this interesting dichotomy between well what does it
mean to be Australian. I said, "Well is he a citizen?", "Oh, I see what you mean!"

So it was kind of an interesting interplay - nothing negative or intentionally racist but I could
see the way people just thought about that.

PETER RYAN: Do you have any sympathy for Sol Trujillo's point of view about the treatment he
received in Australia? He appeared to be particularly upset that the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
said, "Adios" when he received news that Mr Trujillo was leaving the country.

BOB JOSS: Again I don't know enough about that background and details. If he felt that way then,
and he expressed himself that way then obviously I think it's something that you know people always
have to think about and say, well gee I wonder if that was a fair way to express ourselves.

PETER RYAN: So do you have any advice that you would offer to Mr Trujillo, given that he's now left
Australia and doesn't appear to be that interested in coming back?

BOB JOSS: If he felt badly treated it's unfortunate he didn't speak up earlier and make that clear.
I think that would be helpful and perhaps that would cause people and give them pause to think just
about how the conversation was going.

It's unfortunate that it all came out after he left if he was harbouring some bad feelings and
resentments. It's too bad that it waited 'til now.

PETER CAVE: The dean of the Stanford Business School and former Westpac chief Bob Joss, speaking
there to Peter Ryan.