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Opposition emissions position up in the air

Opposition emissions position up in the air

Lyndal Curtis reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:10:00

ELEANOR HALL: Coalition MPs have been meeting this morning to debate the new ideas on emissions
trading that have been put forward by the Opposition leader and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

The modelling of the hybrid scheme suggests it could deliver tougher emissions cuts more cheaply
and with fewer job losses.

But the Government has made it clear it's not interested in the proposal and even Coalition MPs are
unsure about whether it should become their policy.

In Canberra, chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis reports.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Back to parliament after a six-week break, enough time to work on some new lines.

NICK XENOPHON: Penny called the Frontier Scheme a mongrel. Well, I have to say, if the Government's
scheme were a dog, the only merciful thing to do would be to put it down.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And some old ones.

DOUG CAMERON: The Opposition is an absolute rabble and I think we'll pay a price for that this
week.

LYNDAL CURTIS: A new idea from the Coalition and Senator Nick Xenophon on emissions trading hasn't
won over the Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

PENNY WONG: It's not cleaner, it's not greener and it's not smarter. What it is is a smokescreen
for the Opposition to try to look like they're credible on climate change. It won't do the job
that's required to tackle climate change. It's as if Mr Turnbull is rocking up to a cricket match
with a set of golf clubs.

LYNDAL CURTIS: It's almost certain a vote on the Government's emissions trading scheme on Thursday
will be lost. And the arguments about what happens after that, with the Opposition signalling it's
willing to negotiate, with a view to getting a scheme through by the Government's end-of-year
deadline.

That would mean the legislation didn't become a trigger for an early election and would give the
Government what it wants - bill to take to the climate change summit in Copenhagen in December, a
demonstration to developing nations of a developed nation's willingness to act.

It's likely to mean the Government giving some ground. There's no sign of that yet, although
Senator Wong has on Radio National repeated her willingness to negotiate with the Opposition if it
puts up amendments. But it's too soon to say whether those amendments will be based on the new idea
from the Coalition.

The Opposition has been meeting to discuss the issue this morning. So will it be policy after
that's finished? Senator Xenophon is encouraging the Opposition to make it so.

NICK XENOPHON: I think it's important, that the Coalition needs to realise that this is the way
forward.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And the Greens Senator Christine Milne thinks the Government should take on board
one part of the idea.

CHRISTINE MILNE: The only good thing about the Coalition's announcement yesterday was their
agreement that they would lift the unconditional target from 5 to 10.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Family First Senator Steven Fielding isn't at all impressed.

STEVE FIELDING: It is like watching a game of pin the tail on the donkey; watching the Opposition
run around with a tail trying to pin it to a donkey. It is crazy.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Coalition MPs had differing views on whether they'd be adopting the scheme today.

ANDREW ROBB: I'll be very strongly recommending that we take huge account of this scheme.

GREG HUNT: Well, what we'll do is we'll take each step further, and I expect that we'll get some
very clear directions from today.

JAMIE BRIGGS: Oh, we'll discuss that this morning. But what we've done is the research which will
back the amendments that will be proposed.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We have a position on the emissions trading scheme. I don't believe that position
will change today.

LYNDAL CURTIS: There is expected to be some robust debate in the party room. Jamie Briggs thinks
that's no bad thing.

JAMIE BRIGGS: You should have ideas, it's important to have ideas.

REPORTER: ...Wilson Tuckey coming out and saying your leader is arrogant and inexperienced.

JAMIE BRIGGS: Well look, I'll let Wilson discuss Wilson's comments.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And right on cue, Mr Tuckey arrived.

WILSON TUCKEY: It's another day at the office as far as I'm concerned.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And he still has problems with internal party processes. He's promising to have
words with his leader.

WILSON TUCKEY: When a leader defies his own party room, I have said what I think it means. And I
put it in two categories: inexperience and arrogance.

REPORTER: Will you tell him that today?

WILSON TUCKEY: Yes.

REPORTER: You will tell him that?

WILSON TUCKEY: No worries about that.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Other MPs are trying not to get too worried about their Western Australian
colleague.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Mr Tuckey is an acquired taste. He's been here a very long time. He is an
experienced and wise man. I'm not sure if he' been behaving with that characteristic wisdom that
we've come to know about Wilson in the last few weeks.

LYNDAL CURTIS: They're more than happy to speak out against a motion the Government will move today
to have the Senate Privileges Committee look at the evidence given to a senate committee into the
Ozcar scheme by treasury official Godwin Grech - and whether the Opposition colluded with him on
the questions to be asked and answers given.

The Coalition doesn't want the motion to succeed. The man who will have the casting vote, Family
First Senator Steve Fielding wants his own inquiry that looks at the actions of both the Opposition
and the Government.

STEVEN FIELDING: I've been negotiating with the Government and the Opposition. This will mean that
there's a case for Labor and a case for Liberal parties. Therefore it can't be a political
witch-hunt.

The OzCar affair involving a fake email hasn't been kind to the man who prosecuted the case,
Malcolm Turnbull. It's led to a slump in the opinion polls and some pressure on his leadership. But
the man tipped by one newspaper article as the fallback option if Mr Turnbull's leadership falls
over, Andrew Robb, was having none of it.

ANDREW ROBB: I think it's been an exercise by a small number to destabilise. That's unfortunate. I
think we've just got to move on. I do think there'll be a lot of support in the party room today
for Malcolm.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Things will no doubt be clearer later in the day. This morning though, even ending a
doorstop came with an element of confusion.

GREG HUNT: I'll stop there - and I'll keep going. Thanks very much.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Opposition's environment spokesman Greg Hunt ending that report by Lyndal
Curtis.

JB plugs into the good times

JB plugs into the good times

Peter Ryan reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: Australia might still be in the midst of an economic downturn but electronics
retailer JB Hi-Fi is certainly not feeling its effects.

The company has defied market forecasts and posted a 45 per cent increase in its profit for the
year.

And the retailer's chief executive says he doesn't think the good times for the company will end
when the Federal Government turns off its stimulus programs.

Joining me now with more on the story is business editor Peter Ryan.

ELEANOR HALL: So Peter, the company has done better than expected over the last year. What does the
CEO say about how much of this is due to the Government's stimulus payments?

PETER RYAN: Well Eleanor, JB Hi-Fi's chief executive Richard Uechtritz doesn't claim to be an
economist. In fact he doesn't even claim to be a lay economist. But he thinks that the impact of
the Government's stimulus has been exaggerated.

And it appears that it's as simple as this. Australia's love affair with all things electronic is
not over. And the basic numbers tell the story here: full-year profit up 45 per cent to $94.4
million - that's almost $30 million better than last year.

The result was also better than what the company had forecast because of better than expected June
trading. That surprise pushed JB Hi-Fi shares up more than four per cent when the market opened
this morning.

Investors are also happy because JB Hi-Fi has lifted its dividend to 44 cents a share. Now this is
at a time when other companies are actually cutting their dividend.

And looking also at sales: $2.3 billion worth - 27 per cent better than last year. And this has
been driven by bigger sales of games, computers, DVDs, TVs and newly-opened stores.

Richard Uechtritz said sales of TVs spiked in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics, and even
excluding that factor, sales growth is still strong and the company is expecting to open 18 new
stores next year.

ELEANOR HALL: So why is Richard Uechtritz so confident that Australians will keep on spending,
without the Olympics boost and with the likelihood of consumers seeing less money in their pockets
now from the Government?

PETER RYAN: Well, Richard Uechtritz, he does say that sales in December were strong, possibly
because of the fiscal stimulus although he has no real evidence to back that up.

But he didn't note any major rise when the bigger stimulus payments hit in March, April and May. He
says there are still stormy times ahead. And even without the stimulus JB H-Fi is predicting 20 per
cent sales growth next year.

But Mr Uechtritz believes despite the shaky economic times, the buzzword is now renewed confidence,
and he doesn't expect sales to fall off once those stimulus payments end.

RICHARD UECHTRITZ: To offset any stimulus bonuses that retailers have had will be the increased
confidence in the marketplace. You know, the real estate hasn't come down, the whole economy is
stabilising and the share market is starting to become healthier. So that increase in confidence, I
think, will mean there'll be some more spend as people obviously get confidence that, you know,
going forward the world's not going to cave in.

ELEANOR HALL: That's JB Hi-Fi's Richard Uechtritz. And Peter, optimism clearly from him. But there
was a business confidence survey out today: what does it tell us about the situation more broadly?

PETER RYAN: Yes, this is the National Australia Bank's monthly business survey. It's now at its
highest level since August 2007 and the NAB says in many ways the economy is now broadly similar to
the average of the previous cycle. In other words, confidence is getting back to normal.

In fact the NAB's chief economist Alan Oster says the economy could now be at a very welcome
tipping point.

ALAN OSTER: What we seem to be seeing is much better manufacturing and construction activity as the
Government's infrastructure spend and also the repairs of schools etcetera, starts to kick in. So
if you like, the sort of cyclical sectors, I think, have sort of done their bit. We're not going to
get any more cash drops from the Government and the infrastructure spend is starting to come in. So
overall these levels of activity are quite strong. They're consistent with something like half a
per cent growth in the June quarter and even stronger growth in the September quarter.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the National Australia Bank's chief economist Alan Oster. And Peter the
official figures on lending finance on lending finance are also out today. What have they revealed?

PETER RYAN: Yes Eleanor, this is from the ABS lending finance data for June. In seasonally adjusted
terms, housing finance for owner occupation is up one per cent, personal finance up 2.6 per cent,
but business is still very much hurting with commercial finance down 7.6 per cent and lease finance
down a whopping 17 per cent.

This suggests while optimism is growing, any recovery especially for business is going to be slow
and probably painful.

ELEANOR HALL: Business editor Peter Ryan, thank you.

Qld Health backs down on Hendra virus outbreak

Qld Health backs down on Hendra virus outbreak

Charlotte Glennie reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:18:00

ELEANOR HALL: Queensland's health authorities have backed down over their refusal to visit the
horse stud at the centre of an outbreak of the deadly Hendra virus, east of Rockhampton.

The Department of Primary Industries put the stud and a neighbouring property under quarantine and
about 30 horses there are being tested for the Hendra virus.

But the stud's owner and two of its managers say they've been pleading with health officials to
come to test them for the virus.

Queensland Health has now agreed to carry out the tests on the three people today.

As Charlotte Glennie reports.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Dressed in protective clothes and masks, officials from the Department of
Primary Industries have swooped on the Cawarral horse stud at the centre of the Hendra outbreak.

Since yesterday they've been taking blood samples from the horses - and they'll be monitoring their
temperatures every day until around the end of next week.

But the stud's owner John Brady says he's angry the horses have been getting more attention than at
risk people.

JOHN BRADY: We spoke to the Queensland Health doctor yesterday and they don't consider it important
enough to send a team out here to test us. They told us that we've just got to go off to our own GP
and sit in the waiting room and wait until we get a blood test.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: John Brady says he had some contact with the mare that died from the Hendra
virus at his property on Saturday.

But he's more worried about stud managers Debbie Brown and Adrian Daniels, who came into direct
contact with the sick horse's body fluids.

JOHN BRADY: Debbie and Adrian and me-self, we don't feel that we should go and sit in a doctor's
surgery and breathe over people and sit next to people and run the risk of passing the virus on to
them.

You know, if you look at the other end of the scale, at the DPI. The local DPI come here, suit up
at the front gate in suits and masks and gloves and Christ knows what else. Will sit here and talk
to us in suits and gloves and masks. You know, they've been extremely helpful.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Queensland Health says there's never been an instance of human to human
transmission of the Hendra virus.

However this morning its deputy director-general Dr Aaron Groves announced testing for the virus
would now be done at the property where the stud's two managers and owner are in self-imposed
quarantine.

AARON GROVES: People from Queensland Health will be coming out to the property today to take the
samples so that we can get the baselines, in terms of whether they may or may not get Hendra virus.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The change of heart followed concern expressed in the media by the three people
at the centre of the health scare.

AARON GROVES: We're doing it today because we recognise that these people are very anxious and
concerned and that they don't want to go and see their GP, which would be the usual thing we would
do.

We do that because what we want is their GPs to follow them up and take a sort of a continuous
approach to the care that they need. We recognise these people are reluctant to do that, so we're
going to go to them.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Professor John Mackenzie is an infectious disease expert at the Curtin
University of Technology in Perth.

He says while the stud's owner and managers may have been overly cautious in their concern, it's
perfectly reasonable for them to request Queensland Health officials visit them.

JOHN MACKENZIE: I don't think they would be any risk to anyone by going to a GP. But on the other
hand it's always nice to know you are being tested.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: And how sure can we be that the virus won't transmit human to human? It is still
early days in terms of establishing a pattern for this virus, isn't it?

JOHN MACKENZIE: You're quite right - yes it is, in that sense. But there's been so many
opportunities for them to transmit either from bats to humans, for bat-carers, or from human to
human when we've had other cases previously.

There's never been any evidence that these people are infectious. We can't detect virus in their
lung or in their saliva and so on. So my feeling is that we can be fairly sure that it's not
infectious in other humans.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Does that mean you would feel 100 per cent confident with them sitting in a
local GP's waiting room, waiting to get tested for the Hendra virus?

JOHN MACKENZIE: I think I'd be 95 per cent confident. But with viruses you can never be 100 per
cent and they do some times what you don't expect them to do.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Professor John Mackenzie ending that report by Charlotte Glennie.

Archbishop allegedly told abuse victim 'go to hell'

Archbishop allegedly told abuse victim 'go to hell'

Lexi Metherell reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:23:00

ELEANOR HALL: A group of victims of church sexual abuse is outrage at a revelation that Melbourne's
Archbishop Denis Hart swore at a woman who'd been abused and told her to "go to hell".

The Age newspaper obtained court transcripts detailing the exchange which took place in 2004.

And while the Archbishop has since apologised in court, he also won a 13-month intervention order
against the woman, who had thrown rocks through a window at his home.

In Melbourne, Lexi Metherell reports.

LEXI METHERELL: Denis Hart became the Archbishop of Melbourne in 2001. He took over from the now
Cardinal George Pell, who in 1996 introduced a program to deal with abuse complaints called the
Melbourne Response.

Since then, the program's dealt with about 450 sexual abuse victims.

But as a group of victims campaign against the Melbourne Response, court documents have come to
light revealing an angry outburst by Archbishop Hart to one of those victims.

In the early hours of the morning in March 2004, the victim was knocking on his door.

It's unclear whether there was any exchange between the two but court documents reveal at some
stage he said "go to hell, bitch".

He had earlier taken out an intervention order against her for harassing him and his staff ... and
obtained another order in the wake of the incident.

Archbishop Hart was not available to be interviewed by The World Today but has told The Age
newspaper he does not recall making the comment.

DENIS HART (voiceover): I put my cassock on, I went down to the door and I was very annoyed. She
was ringing and ringing and ringing. I had just got to sleep. I was very tired. I was about to go
off to Rome and I went down, and I am sure I would have spoken strongly, but what I said I don't
recall.

LEXI METHERELL: Helen Last is the director of victims group In Good Faith and is a pastoral
advocate for the victim.

HELEN LAST: The church has a lot to say about compassion for victims, and being torn and to the
heart - and all of this sort of stuff. But when they are actually personally engaged with, their
manner can be quite belligerent, their manner can be very cold, their manner can be very uncaring.

And I think this is one of the worst examples that we can see of this kind of response.

LEXI METHERELL: He has apologised in court for the comment. Isn't he human just like everyone else
and prone to outbursts which may be regrettable later?

HELEN LAST: Yes. Look, he like everyone else is a human being but with all the time that he
purportedly spends in prayerful meditation, at the Eucharist, looking at being Christ-like for
modelling, this is an extraordinary thing to say.

This is a very serious use of words and symbolism to a woman who has already been abused by a
Catholic priest.

LEXI METHERELL: Helen Last is now calling for the Melbourne Response to be reviewed by the
Victorian Government.

HELEN LAST: The commission in Melbourne has 12 years of files of very serious criminal behaviour
and that those things are not appropriate to be being held in one commissioner's filing system.

We want the Government to explore those files. It's time for all those records and those histories
and files on those clerical sexual predators to be examined by the appropriate and relevant
authorities.

LEXI METHERELL: But in an interview conducted last night, Archbishop Hart has rejected calls for a
review of the system. He says those questioning the way the Melbourne archdiocese deals with sexual
abuse allegations have other issues as well.

DENIS HART: On a number of occasions we've offered meetings with this particular group. On the most
recent of those we've asked them to provide further information on what they were proposing and
they haven't yet done so.

So I think there are some underlying strands in that. However the overwhelming thing that I want to
emphasise is that we want to work through these issues. The system has worked tremendously well for
13 years.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's the Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart ending that report by Lexi
Metherell.

Wriedt lashes out at 'nurse shortage'

Wriedt lashes out at 'nurse shortage'

Felicity Ogilvie reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:28:00

ELEANOR HALL: A former Tasmanian education minister says her life was put at risk last year when
she attended a psychiatric hospital and she blames the situation on a shortage of psychiatric
nurses in the state.

Paula Wriedt was admitted to hospital last year after she suffered a breakdown.

She says a nurse at the facility made comments that were so inappropriate they could have cost her
her life.

In Hobart, Felicity Ogilvie reports.

FELICITY OGILVIE: After attempting to take her own life last year Paula Wriedt was placed under 24
hour care in the Royal Hobart Hospital.

She says one night she was left alone with a nurse who hadn't been trained in psychiatric care.

Ms Wriedt says she wanted to sleep but the nurse started lecturing her.

PAULA WRIEDT: It was along the lines of the fact that suicide was a very selfish act. And my
immediate thought was well this is a very strange type of reverse psychology but then she gave me
some ideas on methods of killing myself that I hadn't previous thought of.

And I found that very disturbing and I focussed on that for a number of days, thinking well she's
just given me an idea. And...

FELICITY OGILVIE: How was it that she gave you ideas about how you might kill yourself?

PAULA WRIEDT: In citing a personal experience that she had had with a member of her family and she
told me how a member of her family had committed suicide, or two members of her family had
committed suicide and that had been by a method I hadn't contemplated.

And it planted the idea in my head and it was a very very dangerous thing to have done.

FELICITY OGILVIE: A spokeswoman for the Royal Hobart Hospital says there is nothing in Ms Wriedt's
patient notes to substantiate her complaint.

The Secretary of the Nurses Union, Neroli Ellis, says Ms Wriedt should've reported the incident to
the nursing board.

Ms Ellis says there's such a shortage of nurses in Tasmania that staff no longer have to specialise
in psychiatry before working with mentally ill patients.

NEROLI ELLIS: That's been a change of our regulation where unfortunately now it is not compulsory
to have mental health nurses working in mental health; we have a mix now. But clearly those general
nurses working in mental health have got a passion for mental health and undertake different
professional development to ensure they have got the skills to work in mental health.

But it is a concern we have that there is potentially a cost saving not to have all qualified
mental health nurses in mental health; and certainly it's not in the best interest of mental health
clients.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Paula Wriedt spent six weeks in hospital and says most of the care was excellent.

PAULA WRIEDT: They do it because they're passionate about it and they have such empathy for people
with mental illness and that's fantastic; but you know, a circumstance where you have a shortage of
appropriately qualified nurses; had I been in a different frame of mind, that could have had a
tragic consequence somewhere down the path.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Ms Wriedt has left politics, made a full recovery and is now working for the
national depression initiative Beyond Blue.

Yesterday on AM she called for the State Government to build a psychiatric unit for teenagers and
children.

Neroli Ellis says nurses also want the unit.

NEROLI ELLIS: It really is appalling that Tasmania cannot offer our young children and our
adolescents appropriate mental health care, that they are put in positions of being on the general
paediatric units.

So it's right across Tasmania, at all major hospitals, we have no facilities for adolescent or
paediatric mental health patients and it really has to be addressed immediately.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The State Government agrees that there's a need for a youth psychiatric unit but
can't say when it will be in a position to build one.

ELEANOR HALL: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.

Taliban strikes in run-up to Afghan election

Taliban strikes in run-up to Afghan election

Barbara Miller reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:33:00

ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to Afghanistan where Taliban attacks are threatening to undermine the
staging of presidential elections, which are due to be held there is a little over a week's time.

The militants have launched attacks on government buildings in Logar province, close to Kabul.

And concerns are growing that many voters will be too afraid to go to the polls.

Barbara Miller has our report.

BARBARA MILLER: The attacks on Puli Alam began shortly after midnight. The city, the capital of
Logar province, lies only about 60 kilometres from Kabul.

Taliban militants are reported to have fired rockets on the headquarters of the chief of police and
on the local governor's compound.

This shopkeeper was nearby.

SHOPKEEPER (translated): There was gunfire and RPG fire towards the police headquarters. The battle
started at midnight until now. A Corolla car exploded near the building.

BARBARA MILLER: Several police officers, two civilians and six militants are reported to have been
killed in the attacks and ensuing gun battle.

It's the latest in a string of brazen attacks by the Taliban in the run-up to presidential
elections on August the 20th, and comes as the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley
McCrystal, prepares to deliver a key assessment of the conflict to the US Congress.

General McCrystal told The Wall Street Journal on Monday that the Taliban had advanced out of their
traditional strongholds in the south and east and was a very aggressive enemy.

The increasing violence is threatening to undermine the elections. At the weekend the United
Nations said insurgent violence and threats could prevent large numbers of Afghans from voting.

And Zakaria Barakzai, an official with the Afghan Election Commission is warning that in some areas
voting may be too dangerous.

ZAKARIA BARAKZAI (translated): There's a strong possibility that 93 polling stations will not be
opened in 10 districts where the Government doesn't have control. Let me explain to you that the
security forces have launched major operations in 35 districts, and by the 16th of August they will
be able to give the commission a final list of the polling stations that will not be opened.

BARBARA MILLER: In the capital Kabul at least, this young voter is looking forward to election day.

KABUL LOCAL (translated): Today I've come to get my voting card for the first time. This election
is important, and can make a better future because the younger generation can elect their president
themselves.

And I want all Afghan people - my sisters and brothers, to come out and get their card and vote,
because the young people must choose their own president.

BARBARA MILLER: But Professor Amin Saikal the director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies
at the Australian National University says the spate of Taliban attacks will have a significant
impact on the elections.

AMIN SAIKAL: Well I think it's unlikely to derail the elections because it looks like the
international community is absolutely committed to see this election being held. But it will
certainly cause a lot of disruption and it could possibly influence the outcome of the elections
because these attacks are most likely to prevent a number of people really going to the polling
booths.

BARBARA MILLER: And the United Nations has expressed concern, among others, that voter turn-out
will be low. Do you expect that to be the case?

AMIN SAIKAL: I think that's highly possible and it will be particularly low in the hot zone of the
insurgency, in the south and the east of Afghanistan, and of course that's where the ethnic Pashtun
population of Afghanistan is concentrated. And the Taliban certainly come from this ethnic
background.

BARBARA MILLER: Are Afghan people then, likely to accept the result of this vote?

AMIN SAIKAL: I think there's going to be quite a bit of dispute over it, simply because that those
who would lose the elections probably will argue that not enough people had turned up, and also
there's certain areas where people could not really vote.

And I think these could provide grounds for controversy and whoever's going to win the election
would not be in a very strong position.

BARBARA MILLER: The winner is still expected to be Hamid Karzai. But President Karzai's strongest
challenger so far, the former foreign minister Dr Abdullah Abdullah is gaining ground.

And analysts say the election may well go to a run-off.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller reporting.

New Zealand to send troops back to Afghanistan

New Zealand to send troops back to Afghanistan

Kerrie Ritchie reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 15:06:51

ELEANOR HALL: The New Zealand has announced that in response to a request from the United States it
will send its SAS troops back to Afghanistan.

The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says it was a difficult decision but the recent bombing in
Jakarta convinced him of the importance of New Zealand doing all it can to counter international
terrorism.

New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports.

KERRI RITCHIE: New Zealand has had SAS troops in Afghanistan three times before. The last time was
in 2006.

The Prime Minister John Key says it was a difficult decision to send them back in.

JOHN KEY: Afghanistan is a dangerous place and we're deploying our elite military there to try and
stabilise the position in Afghanistan. But I'm confident that we have some of the best people in
the world and we're now asking them to complete a very difficult task.

KERRI RITCHIE: The United States made a request for New Zealand's SAS troops. When and where
they'll be going is to remain top secret.

New Zealand's Labour Party - which sent SAS troops in three times when it was in government - now
opposes the move. Labour Leader Phil Goff says the focus is all wrong.

PHIL GOFF: We've spend 180 million in Afghanistan most of that's been military expenditure. Maybe
there is some more balance to be found in the development assistance side, again, in terms of
winning people's hearts and minds.

KERRI RITCHIE: But John Key says the SAS troops can help eradicate terrorism. He says the recent
bombing in Jakarta - where a New Zealand businessman was amongst the dead - shows no country is
immune.

But Afghanistan's former foreign minister, Doctor Najibullah Lafraie, says New Zealand's decision
will only result in more bloodshed.

NAJIBULLAH LAFRAIE: I'm afraid it will not make any positive difference, but the negative
difference is there, inflicting casualties to the Afghans and suffering casualties themselves.

KERRI RITCHIE: Washington-based Afghanistan expert Professor Thomas Johnson believes New Zealand
has got it wrong.

THOMAS JOHNSON: I mean, to win a counterinsurgency we will never do it through the military. It has
to be done through winning the trust and confidence of the people. I mean, I believe this whole
notion of "clear, hold and build" is failing in Afghanistan for the same reasons it's failed in
Vietnam - because it's sequential and linear. First we clear, then we hold then we build. It's not
working because there's no subsequent holding and almost no building.

While I think putting more boots on the ground, such as the SAS will help, at the expense of the
people that are building and dealing with the local people to win their trust and confidence - I
think that that's a strategic mistake.

KERRI RITCHIE: The New Zealand Government says it's also working on a plan to scale back its
provincial reconstruction team over the next three to five years. It says it will increase its
civilian presence in the Bamyan province.

Wellington-based Professor Lance Beath from Victoria University's Strategic Studies Department says
New Zealand must do its bit.

LANCE BEATH: Well, I think we do need to, in terms of our general foreign policy stance, our
commitments to the United Nations. There is a task in Afghanistan which is worth doing.

KERRI RITCHIE: Someone who knows what's ahead for the troops is New Zealand man David Maloney, who
is a former SAS soldier.

DAVID MALONEY: It was stressful from the point of view that you were constantly worried what was
going to happen to you, in being close to various groups of enemy.

KERRI RITCHIE: So far, almost 1300 foreign troops have been killed in the conflict in Afghanistan.

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

Taliban fighting continues in Pakistan

Taliban fighting continues in Pakistan

James Bennett reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:41:00

ELEANOR HALL: Across the Afghanistan border in Pakistan, Taliban fighters are also causing havoc.

Almost two million civilians displaced by the recent fighting between the Taliban and the Pakistani
army in the Swat Valley are now trying to return home.

And while the US military is claiming that it killed the Pakistani Taliban leader in a missile
strike, there's still been no official confirmation of that.

The ABC's James Bennett has been speaking to Australia's new high commissioner to Pakistan, Tim
George in Islamabad.

TIM GEORGE: If it is the case that he's no longer in the scene that would be a significant
development, of course. He's a person whose fingerprints have been on some very significant
terrorist attacks in this country and, so that would make quite a difference.

But as to the, whether those stories are correct or not, as I say there have been quite a few
saying that he has been killed but I'm not aware of the final confirmation and I can see and
understand why there a difficulties in actually obtaining that confirmation given the situation and
the location; where it's, sort of remote from the normal reach of the law and places which are easy
to access.

You know, it's very difficult to actually have the physical proof that someone has been killed or
not.

JAMES BENNETT: The Taliban's push south into the Swat Valley earlier this year triggered a major
humanitarian crisis, displacing some two million people. What's your understanding of the situation
now as the Government tries to repatriate those people? Is it secure?

TIM GEORGE: Yes, certainly very large numbers of people were displaced, maybe two million or more.
A number of those, not all of them by any means but a large number of them, then went into
internally displaced persons camps, IDP camps.

The situation has now moved on to the return phase and that of course is a major exercise and there
are a lot of issues connected with that; firstly, what sort of conditions can people expect back at
their homes? What are the condition of their homes and the services in the towns or villages where
they lived?

And secondly what is the security situation?

But by and large a large number of people have already gone back and are getting on with their
life. And it was pleasing to see just a couple of days ago that schools had reopened there.

JAMES BENNETT: The UN has urged that that repatriation not occur too hastily, have you seen any
evidence that suggests that might be the case; that people are being put back into an environment
that isn't secure?

TIM GEORGE: Well one does hear the occasional report of security incidents or other problems that
might have arisen and also there were major traffic jams in certain areas on the return and so on.

But the impression is that a very large number of people have gone home and are getting into the
business of resettling, resuming their normal lives and so on.

JAMES BENNETT: Is Australia doing everything it can to improve Pakistan's security?

TIM GEORGE: Actually Australia's been doing quite a lot in recent times in a whole range of areas.
Our development assistance program has basically doubled in recent times, up to $60 million per
year. We're doing much more in terms of military training of Pakistan officers in Australia,
there's more in the pipeline there.

In other areas too, such as police cooperation we're doing more and flagging a greater effort there
as well in partnership with Pakistan. I think it's important too and we'd all like to see Pakistan
make best use of that form of support and assistance, I think not just from Australia but from the
international community.

Pakistan does face some significant challenges and I think everyone in the international community
is keen that Pakistan be in a position to effectively address those challenges.

Of course Afghanistan and Pakistan are very different countries but I think it is widely accepted
that there are certain issues, particularly related to the border areas where what happens in one
country has a direct bearing on what happens in another.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Australia's new high commissioner to Pakistan, Tim George, speaking to the
James Bennett in Islamabad.

Earthquakes trigger tsunami warnings

Earthquakes trigger tsunami warnings

Jennifer Macey reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:44:00

ELEANOR HALL: Early this morning people two earthquakes triggered panic in South East Asia about
another tsunami.

A massive 7.6-magnitude quake struck off the Andaman Islands between India and Burma and six
countries were put on tsunami alert.

Ten minutes later a second earthquake registering 6.6 on the Richter scale hit central Japan.

As it turned out, the earthquakes generated only a small tsunami but they did expose potentially
big problems with the tsunami warning systems, as Jennifer Macey reports.

JENNIFER MACEY: Early this morning a strong earthquake jolted the Japanese capital Tokyo, throwing
produce from the shelves of shops and causing injuries to more than 40 people.

The earthquake also forced the suspension of train services and the shutdown of two nuclear
reactors.

The Japanese Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura says the epicentre was about 170 kilometres southwest
of Tokyo.

TAKEO KAWAMURA (translated): At 5:07am this morning an earthquake with a 6.6 magnitude and centring
on the bay of Suruga hit the region.

JENNIFER MACEY: Only 10 minutes earlier a much larger quake registering 7.6 on the Richter scale
struck off the coast of the Andaman Islands between India and Burma.

This area was badly affected by the 2004 tsunami. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii
immediately issued an alert for India, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Gerard Fryer is a geophysicist at the centre.

GERARD FRYER: There was an earthquake in the northern Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal in the
Indian Ocean. We issued a tsunami watch. We issued our message nine minutes after the earthquake.

We are now endeavouring to find out if a tsunami was actually generated. Unfortunately our seafloor
gauge is off to the side, it doesn't get a good view of that tsunami. So far we've seen nothing on
that gauge.

JENNIFER MACEY: And he says that wasn't the only problem the centre dealt with this morning.

GERARD FRYER: It would already have reached Burma, unfortunately the tide gauges there are not
functioning, which is unfortunate.

JENNIFER MACEY: So you've got a problem with equipment basically?

GERARD FRYER: Yes, there's a shortage of equipment. But if there was any tsunami generated we're
pretty confident that it would only have affected the Andaman Islands. Via New Delhi I've got
information from the Andamans that people there felt very severe shaking and they spontaneously
evacuated from the coastlines, which is a good thing.

But we don't know for certain yet whether a tsunami was actually generated.

JENNIFER MACEY: The tsunami alert for the Indian Ocean was cancelled about four hours after the
earthquake struck off the Andaman Islands.

Dr Ray Canterford is the head of the weather and tsunami services at the Bureau of Meteorology. He
says there's a number of systems to detect tsunami's and one misplaced seafloor gauge isn't a cause
for concern.

RAY CANTERFORD: There's the sea level gauge, the tidal gauges are located on islands and coastal
areas. Then there's a small number of these deep ocean buoys and then there's the seasonal gauge
has to actually pick up an accurate location and depth of the earthquake.

So the strength of the earthquake and its depth are fed into an open ocean model, independent of
the sea level gauges just to determine whether or not a tsunami may be generated.

JENNIFER MACEY: In Japan where earthquakes are common, tidal gauges recorded a 50-centimetre surge
from the second earthquake.

This is a similar size to the tsunami that hit Australia's coastline last month where a
30-centimetre surge was recorded at Port Kembla south of Sydney.

Dr Canterford says if the tsunami had struck during the day in summer with a lot of people in the
water, it could have been more dangerous.

RAY CANTERFORD: The threat can be important because people can get washed out to sea or get caught
up in a rip if you're swimming.

JENNIFER MACEY: But he says tsunamis are rare events, and alerts and warnings are issued by the
Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre about every two years.

ELEANOR HALL: Jennifer Macey reporting.

Chinese company set to launch coal takeover bid

Chinese company set to launch coal takeover bid

Sue Lannin reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:48:00

ELEANOR HALL: Another Chinese company is expected to launch a takeover bid in Australia. China's
fourth biggest coal producer is set to bid for Queensland coal miner, Felix Resources.

The potential deal is the biggest involving an Australian firm and a Chinese state-owned company
since Chinalco's failed bid to double its stake in Rio Tinto.

And some analysts are advising that the Federal Government should think carefully before it allows
a Beijing-backed company to control an Australian miner.

Finance reporter, Sue Lannin.

SUE LANNIN: Felix Resources owns coal mines in Queensland and New South Wales. For more than a year
it's been in talks with Yanzhou Coal, China's fourth biggest coal producer.

Now a $3.5 billion takeover bid is expected to be made.

Gavin Wendt is the head of research at stockbroker, Fat Prophets.

GAVIN WENDT: From a Felix Resources shareholder perspective it looks like a good deal. The bid is
at around about $20 a share, which is at a significant premium to the last sale price of Felix
Resources.

SUE LANNIN: Felix Resources went into a trading halt yesterday pending an announcement about what
it called a potential change of control transaction. Gavin Wendt says it shows that Chinese
companies are still hungry for Australian resources.

GAVIN WENDT: It's interesting that whilst the Chinese, on one hand obviously have objections with
respect to how one company has allegedly done business with them, that hasn't stopped their broader
scope of looking to secure commodities right across the board.

SUE LANNIN: The timing is difficult. Relations between China and Australia are strained over the
detention of Rio Tinto iron ore negotiator, Stern Hu. Commodities analyst Jonathan Barratt opposes
any deal involving a takeover of Felix by Yanzhou.

JONATHAN BARRATT: I think it is more a problem because it's more of a complete takeover. I think
that to me is where the issue lies. I mean, I'm quite happy to see companies invest in Australian
primary imports.

But I think when you've got more of a state-owned company behind the control of that asset that's
where I get concerned because that then creates issues in terms of pricing, pricing for that
commodity. Because it's basically saying that - do we fly outside what the market suggests? Can we
conjure up a better price?

So all these other things in terms of pricing, I think, come to the fray. And I think this deal
will actually put to a head, actually, what a lot of people are thinking, in terms of control of
pricing.

SUE LANNIN: Yanzhou is controlled by the Shandong provincial government and listed in Hong Kong and
the United States. It already owns a coal mine in the Hunter Valley which it bought in 2005. But
Jonathan Barrett thinks its ownership won't make any difference.

JONATHAN BARRATT: All roads lead to Rome, so at the end of the day it's still just as important
because the control in a socialist market economy does come back to Beijing, so ... and that's what
we'll see.

SUE LANNIN: He supported Chinalco's plan to take a nearly $30 billion stake in Rio Tinto. Rio
abandoned the deal earlier in the year amid opposition from shareholders, politicians and the
public.

Jonathan Barratt says Treasurer Wayne Swan should tread carefully.

JONATHAN BARRATT: I think FIRB are really going to have to do some soul searching as to whether the
Australian community want to see investment - not just investment but a takeover of our resources
and see profits actually fly back to a state-owned company.

And I think that, to me, is a concern which they've really got to test.

I certainly see there is a concern at the moment we've had with Rio and Chinalco. So there might be
a little of placating to actually be done by Mr Swan.

But at the moment I think it is a concern that they have to make a decision and it will bring to
the head, how we actually feel about foreign companies taking over our assets.

ELEANOR HALL: That's commodities analyst Jonathan Barratt ending that report by Sue Lannin.

Consumers to experience a sugar high

Consumers to experience a sugar high

Meredith Griffiths reported this story on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:54:00

ELEANOR HALL: The price of sugar has rocketed up by more than 80 per cent over the last six months
and has hit a 27-year high.

Bad weather in Brazil and India has helped fuel the increase and the International Sugar
Organisation says global demand is expected to massively exceed supply over the next year.

But analysts say it's good news for Australian farmers.

Meredith Griffiths has our report.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Well it could be bad news for those who need a bit of a sweetener with their
daily cuppa.

Sugar has been trading at its highest price since 1981 - going for about 11 cents per kilogram on
the international commodities exchange at one point this morning.

Toby Cohen is from Czarnikow Group which analyses the sugar market.

He says the price rise is partly due to changes in Europe's sugar market, and the impact of the
credit crunch. But essentially there's a five-million tonne shortfall in sugar production this
year.

And Toby Cohen says that's due to poor weather in two of the biggest producers.

TOBY COHEN: This is an El Nino year and what that means in terms of the sugar cycle is countries
like India, which should be experiencing a monsoon at the moment and plentiful supply of water are
actually finding that the weather conditions are much drier than they should be.

Whereas on the other side in Brazil, when conditions should be dry to help harvesting, they're
actually that much wetter.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The environment could be playing another role.

Adam Tomlinson is a commodities analyst with Rabobank in Sydney. He says the increasing use of
biofuels in countries like Brazil may also have been a factor in the price rise.

ADAM TOMLINSON: For a biofuel or an efficient energy source from a crop, sugar is the dominant feed
stock and a very efficient feed stock in comparison to other grains, for instance, at this stage.
So when we've got stocks of sugar that we're building in those years when prices were depressed in
2007, 2008, there was more sugar cane going into energy.

But this year obviously with higher sugar prices that may mean that some of that sugar that was
going to ethanol comes back to raw sugar.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Adam Tomlinson says Australian consumers have enjoyed reasonably low sugar
prices, but says that looks set to change now that sugar has hit its highest price in 27 years.

ADAM TOMLINSON: Obviously if prices are at these high levels it ... for manufacturers of sugar
they're obviously going to have to handle the prices when we can look at exporting our sugar at the
high price.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Could we see a rise though in the price of things like biscuits and soft drink?

ADAM TOMLINSON: If prices are high, obviously manufacturers have to deal with that factor. We've
had an interesting period with the global financial crisis and the collapse of a lot commodity
prices in late 2008.

So the manufactures not only had to be dealing with changes in demand for certain products, they're
also now having to look at volatile prices. And the volatility in prices for these basic goods can
be a headache for our manufacturers.

So looking forward, obviously if these prices - and we are seeing that the forward curve for sugar
to stay high for 12 to 18 months, there obviously will be an impact that the manufacturers will
have.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: But he says the dramatic price rise over the past six months is good for
Australia's farmers.

ADAM TOMLINSON: We stand in around third or fourth behind Brazil, the EU and Thailand - the other
large exporters of raw sugar. And we're looking at a crop in Australia this year similar to last
year, possibly around that 4.6 million tonnes.

With 80 to 85 per cent of that sugar exported. So, Australian farmers are actually quite excited
about these prices - our sugar farmers. Rabobank does a quarterly raw confidence survey.

In Queensland at the moment the sugar sector, all our sugar farmers are the most positive across
the board. So sugar has dealt with some tough times. Like I said, it didn't get the highs in
2007-08 period.

Although it had highs in 2006, it did miss out in the big booms that we saw in wheat and crops, for
instance, in the last..in 2007-08. However they're starting to see their benefits now.

ELEANOR HALL: Commodities analyst Adam Tomlinson speaking to Meredith Griffith.