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PNG searchers spot missing plane

PNG searchers spot missing plane

Papua New Guinea Correspondent Liam Fox reported this story on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 12:10:00

ELEANOR HALL: But we begin today with the plane disaster in Papua New Guinea. This morning
Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith confirmed that the wreckage of the light plane with 13
people onboard, including nine Australians, has been located in rugged terrain.

A Papua New Guinea search and rescue helicopter spotted the plane and police officers are now
attempting to reach the site on foot but local authorities are warning that there is little hope
that anyone survived.

The 13 people were on their way to the Kokoda track. And an Australian Defence Force helicopter
with more police and an Australian doctor on board is now on its way to the crash site.

Joining us now is our Papua New Guinea correspondent, Liam Fox. Liam, just what is the latest news
from the crash site?

LIAM FOX: Well as you mentioned in your intro there, police, PNG police are trying to make their
way to the site. From what we understand it will take about three hours to trek from where they've
been dropped off by helicopter to the actual crash site.

You imagine, it was rugged terrain, that's probably an understatement, it's incredibly rugged
terrain - we're talking very steep hills, thick jungle, it'll be hard, hard work getting to this
crash site.

ELEANOR HALL: And what are the weather conditions there at the moment?

LIAM FOX: From what we understand the weather has been okay this morning, but as we were trying to
charter planes and helicopters to get up there to have a look.

The pilots that we contacted were worried that the weather would change; they say that it often
changes in the afternoon as it appears to have done yesterday. When the plane went missing we've
been told the weather was very bad, low clouds to about 9,000 feet and also heavy rain.

ELEANOR HALL: And you were at the airport in Moresby this morning, what was the scene there?

LIAM FOX: Well we went down to the airport because that's where Airlines PNG's office is located,
and we noticed a large crowd of people gathered outside an aero ambulance. Large crowd, about 150
people, several were wearing t-shirts saying No Roads Expeditions. Now No Roads is the company that
people on board the plane were hoping to travel along the Kokoda track with, they were anxious for
some news and they were crowding around the fence of this aero ambulance establishment.

There was a rumour going through the crowd that the bodies of those on board the plane were being
transported back, but eventually they were shooed away by people within the aero ambulance and they
moved up the road to sit outside Airlines PNG's office, and they're waiting for some sort of
official word.

ELEANOR HALL: And how popular is this flight from Moresby to the Kokoda village?

LIAM FOX: Well it's pretty popular; around 6,000 Australians visit the Kokoda track every year.
It's PNG's number one tourism money spinner. It only recently did it become a regular flight, the
Australian Government has actually subsidising Airlines PNG to conduct a regular route to the
Kokoda villages as part of a development push in the Kokoda area.

ELEANOR HALL: Now Airlines PNG is the airline that is responsible for the flight that crashed,
what's the record of this airline?

LIAM FOX: Well from what aviation sources have told me, Airlines PNG under its operator
certificate, they believe that this is their first crash. But Airlines PNG used to operate as Milne
Bay Air, and from what I've been told they've been involved in a handful of crashes and most of
those did involve fatalities.

But the same could be said about a lot of airlines in PNG - flying can be quite treacherous around
here, and people do say that Airlines PNG is considered to be a good operator.

ELEANOR HALL: And Liam just briefly, has there been any official response from the PNG authorities
there or from the Government?

LIAM FOX: I've just got an email from the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare's office, he's sent out
a message expressing his condolences and also ordered several ministers to get to work to draw up
an investigation and report back to cabinet.

ELEANOR HALL: Liam Fox our Papua New Guinea correspondent there in Port Moresby.

Australia offers more assistance in PNG search

Australia offers more assistance in PNG search

Naomi Woodley reported this story on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says that the Government holds
grave fears for all those on board the plane. But the Government and the Defence Force say every
available resource will be made available in the search and rescue effort.

From Canberra, Naomi Woodley reports.

NAOMI WOODLEY: The Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith told Federal Parliament of the discovery
of the plane this morning.

STEPHEN SMITH: Mr Deputy Speaker I regret to advise the house that the missing plane, PNG Airlines
Flight CG 4684 has been located, but that the plane has crashed.

NAOMI WOODLEY: The Department of Foreign Affairs has contacted all the families of the Australians
on board, and they've been informed that a crash site has been found. Mr Smith says he can't yet
say if anyone has survived.

STEPHEN SMITH: But given that a crash site has been located we have very, very grave concerns about
the safety and welfare of the nine Australians, the three Papua New Guineans, and the one Japanese
citizen on board the plane.

NAOMI WOODLEY: The Opposition's foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop says the Coalition shares
the Government's concern for those on board.

JULIE BISHOP: It is obviously a matter which touches the hearts of so many Australians. Australians
are renowned for their sense of adventure, they like to experience all the world has to offer, and
over recent years walking the Kokoda track has become a pilgrimage for many Australians, and a day
that would have started out with so much excitement and anticipation has ended up with a plane
crash and that touches so many people.

NAOMI WOODLEY: Stephen Smith says the plane wreckage was discovered by a PNG search and rescue
helicopter which has landed below the site.

STEPHEN SMITH: A group of PNG police officers embarked from the helicopter and are now attempting
to reach the crash site but the terrain presents obvious difficulties of access.

NAOMI WOODLEY: An Australian Defence Force sea king helicopter has now left for the site from Port
Moresby - it's carrying four more PNG police officers, an Australian doctor and an Australian
consular official. It will try to land as close to the wreckage as possible.

Stephen Smith says an ADF Caribou aircraft carrying another search and rescue team and the Deputy
Head of Mission from the Australian High Commission has also left Port Moresby.

STEPHEN SMITH: For an up to 45 minute flight to the Kokoda village which is approximately a three
hour walk from the crash site, leaving open the prospect of three separate parties trying to reach
the crash site at high altitude in very difficult circumstances.

NAOMI WOODLEY: The Defence Minister John Faulkner told the Senate more Australian Defence Force
resources are already on their way.

JOHN FAULKNER: A C-130 Hercules aircraft has departed RAAF base Richmond for Port Moresby this
morning, it includes an Aero Medical Evacuation team. Additionally two army black hawk helicopters
from the Sydney area are being prepared for movement today by C-17 Globemaster, they are expected
to department Richmond a little later today.

NAOMI WOODLEY: He says the ADF stands ready to send additional help for as long as it is required.

JOHN FAULKNER: I can assure the Senate we're doing everything possible to locate our fellow
countrymen who are on their way to walk the Kokoda track.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Defence Minister John Faulkner ending Naomi Woodley's report.

Weather conditions warrant constant watching, says pilot

Weather conditions warrant constant watching, says pilot

Eleanor Hall reported this story on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 12:18:00

ELEANOR HALL: Peter McGrew is the chief pilot of another commercial operation that flies in PNG
regularly. He's flown the Port Moresby Kokoda Track for almost 25 years.

One of his colleagues was flying ahead of the plane that went missing over the Owen Stanley
Mountains. Peter McGrew joins us now from his home base in the outskirts of the Gold Coast.

So Peter McGrew thanks for being there, what more can you tell us about what may have happened?

PETER MCGREW: I can't really say anything until the proper investigation is carried out, but from
what I got from our pilot was that on their first trip to Kokoda that morning the weather was clear
all the way until they got to the Kokoda air strip itself and then it was particularly poor.

They held for about half an hour, unable to land and returned to Port Moresby to get some more
fuel. They then set out again and encountered poor weather in the immediate Kokoda area but were
able to land on this occasion with a window of opportunity that presented itself which quite often
happens in PNG.

On departure they were actually speaking to the other aircraft and reported the weather to be up
and down at Kokoda. (They) came back to Port Moresby, they then set off on a second trip and we're
unable to land the second time due weather and abolish the rest of the days flying trying to get
there.

ELEANOR HALL: And so did your pilot land then before this other flight, or was that the time when
he turned around and decided it was too difficult to land?

PETER MCGREW: No he landed before the other flight; he turned around the first time, he then
subsequently refuelled in Port Moresby and went again. He then landed and it was while he was
departing Kokoda that he was talking to the other flight.

ELEANOR HALL: So why do you think that your pilot was able to land safely when the other plane
unfortunately wasn't?

PETER MCGREW: The climate conditions in PNG at a place without an incident approach procedure,
quite often the weather clears temporarily and then closes in again, clears temporarily and then
closes in again, and it was just a window of opportunity that presented itself for our aircraft to
be able to land that obviously wasn't there when the other aircraft arrived over Kokoda air strip.

ELEANOR HALL: This plane was from Airlines PNG, what is the flying record of that airline in this
area?

PETER MCGREW: Look it's very, very good. All the operators that exist in PNG at the moment have
multi-national mining and oil company contracts and are a highly regulated environment, audited
several times a year by international companies, Airlines PNG is a safe operator.

ELEANOR HALL: So how hard do you think it will be for rescuers to reach that crash site?

PETER MCGREW: If it's on the south side of Mount Bellamy - which by all news reports it is - it's,
I would be surprised if a couple of the local villages on that side of the Kokoda gap haven't
already got to the crash site.

ELEANOR HALL: You think they would already be there?

PETER MCGREW: I would think some of the local people who know that area like the back of their hand
would already be there.

ELEANOR HALL: So Peter McGrew there are a lot of people saying that they don't hold out a lot of
hope for survivors, what are your thoughts on that?

PETER MCGREW: Probably not a good situation, but there have been aircraft accidents in PNG in the
exact same type of aircraft that I know of over the last decade where everybody survived the
accident so if there's no movement from the air, it's probably not a good sign, if they've
identified the crash site. But that doesn't mean to say that there couldn't be injured people
sitting there undercover. There's first aid kits and everything on board every aircraft, survival
kits. Quite comprehensive survival kits in every aircraft and if anybody's survived it's quite
possible that they're just waiting for rescuers to arrive.

ELEANOR HALL: So there's still hope, Peter McGrew thanks very much for joining us.

PETER MCGREW: No worries.

China 'arrests' Rio Tinto four

ELEANOR HALL: Now to China where authorities today formally charged the four Rio Tinto employees
they've been holding in detention for five weeks. The four, including Australian Stern Hu, are
accused of violating commercial secrets and of taking bribes. But at this stage at least, they have
not been charged over the more serious allegations relating to state espionage.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it has yet to receive formal advice of the
charges from the Chinese authorities. Rio Tinto also says it has yet to be informed and it expects
to issue a statement later today.

But with the latest, we're joined now in Beijing by the ABC's China correspondent Stephen McDonell.
So Stephen, in China they use the term "arrested" rather than "charged", but just run us through
exactly what these four Rio Tinto employees are now officially accused of?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Yes well under the Chinese system they can be and indeed have been held for the
last five weeks without knowing what they're being held for, and so I suppose you would say they've
been detained. It's not like in Australia if the police take you in and then you appear before a
magistrate and then you know, this is what you're charged with.

So now they've been as you mentioned, officially arrested and what they're accused of is charges
relating to trade secrets infringement and bribery and that apparently this involves - according to
a report in Xinhua - obtaining commercial secrets through improper means and that this is a
violation of the criminal law.

Now under the Chinese system, the authorities have to wait for the prosecutor, that is the Supreme
People's Procuratorate, to actually say ok you can formally arrest these people. But what this
means is though that the initial investigation at least has come to an end and that the
investigators believe they've got enough to take this matter further.

ELEANOR HALL: So Stephen how critical is it that there is no mention of the spying that was being
talked about on official Chinese news sites earlier this week?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Yes well there is no mention of the more serious crimes relating to stealing
state secrets and I suppose the significance is that that might mean that if they were to go to
court, and it's still by no means official that they'll go to court, though it looks that that is
what's going to happen now. That this would be a more serious charge, so things to do with stealing
state secrets, well you know, you could expect a much longer time in jail.

But according to the documents that we've seen today, for example they're talking about these types
of charges that they'd be sentenced to not more than three years of fixed-term imprisonment. And if
it's considered by the court to be an especially serious case it would be not less than three years
and not more than seven.

But if for example, some time down the track, and the investigation is still going on, they're
charged with these other state secrets matters, well it would be a much longer time in court, much
longer time in jail.

ELEANOR HALL: So could more charges be brought later on?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Yes that's right. The police would keep investigating this matter, and I suppose
they'd be working with the state security bureau which is who's holding them, and it's a little bit
complicated because we've got the state security bureau which is the body that's holding them, and
earlier you mentioned this report on the website of the National Administration for the Protection
of State Secrets - that's a different body, that's the body in China that decides what is and isn't
a state secret.

So if they're charged with state secrets matters, they will advise the court as to whether or not,
you know, something is a state secret, which is, and in fact what they say will be binding by the
courts.

ELEANOR HALL: Now Stephen you say, one thing that we are at least almost certain of is that there
will be a trial, what is the process from here?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Well in China if they go to court and it does seem like they will in fact go to
court now, that it all can take place behind closed doors, there's no guarantee that for example,
anyone from the Australian Government even would, or Rio Tinto would get access to the court,
although they may well decide that in the interests of good will and transparency that that is the
case.

The people now, the four of them I think if I'm right now have access to a lawyer which is one good
thing, and which is something the Australian Government's been calling for so they can start to
prepare some sort of defence.

But the way the Chinese system works, it's like a prosecuratorial system, a little bit like Europe
where the prosecutors build up their case while they're holding them in detention, and then at some
point you get a lawyer and I'm assuming that's now, and you can start to prepare some sort of
defence.

But interestingly in the Chinese system, any witnesses for example, they won't appear in court,
they just make statements so you have no ability to cross examine them and to sort of really test
their evidence.

ELEANOR HALL: And have you got any idea how long this whole process could take?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Well, it could take a while, but I think because of the pressure that's coming to
bear on both the Chinese and Australian governments, and also China in its relationship with these
big multinational companies like Rio Tinto, I think they're going to try and get a move on with
this it looks like.

Now you know, for example, we saw this report that was put up on the website of this state secrets
administration this week, now because of the, I suppose, outcry following this, this is the body
that decides what is and isn't a state secret, and they're essentially saying it's as if ASIO had
its own website and put an article up on the website and said we've decided that this is a state
security matter, so the pressure that's come to bear as a result of that article appearing has
resulted in them ripping that article off the website and now they're desperately trying to
distance themselves from it in some way.

So I think there's a lot of pressure coming on both the Chinese and Australian authorities, the
Australian Government and the Chinese authorities in this whole strained relationship. And I think
they're probably going to try to get a move on.

ELEANOR HALL: Stephen McDonell in Beijing thank you. That's Stephen McDonell the ABC's China
correspondent.

Opposition leader prepares to trade on emissions trading

ELEANOR HALL: Back home now to the national parliament where the Senate is edging closer to its
first vote on the Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme. But the attention of politicians
is already on what will happen after the vote.

The Federal Opposition leader, Malcolm Turnbull, this morning revealed that he will develop
amendments to the Government's scheme based on the model he unveiled on Monday. And the Climate
Change Minister, Penny Wong, says she'll be prepared to negotiate once she sees the amendments.

In Canberra chief political correspondent, Lyndal Curtis, reports.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Senate is still going through the motions.

BRETT MASON: There are no credible reasons, no scientific reasons, no environmental reasons, no
economic reasons to rush this flawed legislation through at this very moment.

CAROL BROWN: The CPRS will not only be good for the environment, it will be good for the economy,
it will be good for jobs and in the long run it will be good for Australian families.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But elsewhere everyone is moving on in the knowledge that the outcome of Thursday's
vote on the emissions trading scheme is already clear.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The scheme will be voted down this week.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Attention is now turning to the negotiations that will follow that vote over the
next three months as the deadline for a second vote in November approaches. The Government has said
it's ready to talk if the Opposition presents concrete changes in the form of amendments.

And now, after outlining nine principles for talks and a new proposal for an emissions trading
scheme developed by Frontier Economics, the Opposition is ready to start looking at them. Coalition
backbenchers had a briefing on the Frontier model yesterday and seemed happy. Stuart Roberts, a
Liberal MP, is extolling its virtues.

STUART ROBERT: Yesterday we started the process of looking at a bloody good idea, an idea that had
been formulated with science that was rigorous and indeed was open to scrutiny as opposed to
anything from Mr Rudd. And once you get a good idea, it now needs to be rigorously debated and
looked at.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Even one of those most vehemently opposed to an emissions trading scheme, Barnaby
Joyce, concedes it has some good points but he doesn't think the Government wants to deal at all.

BARNABY JOYCE: Talking about amendments is ridiculous when you have a Government that wants a
fight, this Government wants a blew, they want to pick a fight, they've turned up to the pub and
they want to blew.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But the model developed by Frontier Economics isn't Opposition policy. But Malcolm
Turnbull is preparing to develop amendments based on it.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Definitely, and I'll tell you exactly what I said to the party room, and this is
the course we're going take - our aim, our desire is to negotiate with the Government, they don't
want to do that. We do not believe the scheme should be finalised before the Americans have
completed their legislation and before the Copenhagen summit in December.

Mr Rudd's rushing ahead recklessly, he hasn't even completed his scheme, so this is a pretty
bizarre way to go about legislation.

Anyway, assuming the Government brings it back in November, we will between now and then, develop
amendments through our policy process, take them through our shadow cabinet and they'll be very,
very strongly influenced by the work of Frontier Economics I can assure you.

And then after shadow cabinet approves those amendments, they'll come back to the party room, and
then they will be presented and put forward in the parliamentary debate in November, assuming the
Government does bring the legislation back then.

LYNDAL CURTIS: He's confident his party room will back him.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I have no doubts the party room will support the amendments that the shadow
cabinet recommends. There is very, very strong support for the constructive approach I'm taking to
this issue from the party room, overwhelming support.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Mr Turnbull is also willing to countenance giving some ground on the changes he'll
propose.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Look what we want to do is to negotiate with the Government, we want to sit down
and talk through these issues. What we need is a constructive, thoughtful, informed approach to
developing an effective way to reduce Australia's emissions and do so at the lowest cost. That's
the whole objective of an emissions trading scheme and getting the design right is the issue.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Getting both sides to the negotiating table will be one step forward, how much each
is prepared to concede in those talks will determine whether or not Thursday's Senate vote is
repeated in November.

ELEANOR HALL: Lyndal Curtis in Canberra.

Commonwealth Bank profit down but still billions richer

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's biggest home lender, the Commonwealth Bank, today announced a
multi-billion dollar profit, making it the envy of its competitors. The bank's bottom line has
fallen 7 per cent, but the $4.4 billion profit is a better result than expected.

The bank's chief executive Ralph Norris says he's still cautious about the year ahead and that
unemployment poses a major risk to the pace of Australia's economic recovery.

Joining me now is business editor Peter Ryan. So Peter, how has the Commonwealth Bank managed to
deliver such a massive profit in the midst of a global financial crisis?

PETER RYAN: Well Eleanor this result is a stellar one, it beat forecasts as you said and
Commonwealth Bank shares rose more than 2 per cent or over a dollar when trading opened this
morning - that's up to a 10-year high. But this really does underscore how well Australian banks
are positioned compared to the rest of the world. Australian banks are well capitalised, they've
taken a conservative approach to risk, and they're still delivering billions of dollars for
investors.

Now this 7 per cent fall in profit was caused by rising impairments in loans because of the
downturn, but when that significant factor is taken out, the annual profit is down just 1 per cent
to $4.7 billion and that's been bolstered by last year's acquisition of Bank West.

However that's the good news, the Commonwealth's chief executive Ralph Norris says there are still
uncertain times ahead and he's certainly not calling an end to the crisis. Mr Norris believes that
the worst is not over, especially given that unemployment is yet to peak.

RALPH NORRIS: The Australian economy has been more resilient than many had predicted a year ago,
and it is pleasing to see that there is some evidence of the beginnings of an economic recovery and
improvements in business and consumer confidence.

But there are still significant risks on the downside. Overall credit growth in Australia is
slowing, and economic conditions will remain challenging for the group and many of its customers in
the coming year. We understand that the worst is not necessarily over for our customers, and in
particular we expect unemployment to continue to rise.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the chief executive of the Commonwealth Bank, Ralph Norris. Now Mr Norris says
any rise in unemployment would see mortgage default spiral, is the bank prepared for that Peter?

PETER RYAN: Well Ralph Norris acknowledges that there's a lot of stress out there and this year
he's taken a battering from the Commonwealth's association with Storm Financial where the bank
provided loans to customers who should have been refused and Mr Norris has admitted that wasn't one
of the bank's better days.

So he's mindful about this, firstly in residential mortgages but the CBA says its mortgage book is
in relatively good shape. He says many borrowers have maintained their payments at last year's
interest rate levels, so they're well positioned to handle any increases in the official cash rate.

Even so the bank has been stress testing for various scenarios, for example they tested more than
1200 higher-risk commercial clients, they say only two needed to be regraded. However, there is
growing evidence of stress in the overall business sector, especially in commercial property,
mining services and leisure - and these are areas that have been bearing the brunt of the downturn.

Ralph Norris says the Commonwealth will continue to be compassionate but it will be calling in
loans when and where it has to.

RALPH NORRIS: It's fair to say that there are a lot of good operators in this, in all of these
sectors, and the fact of the matter is that some of them, most of them will survive this particular
crisis. There will be some at the margin that won't, and so really it's a case for us to make sure
that you know, we're not lending good money after bad.

And it's making sure that were obviously supporting those clients who we see will come through the
crisis or the cycle in a whole way.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, Ralph Norris, and our business editor Peter
Ryan.

Consumer confidence continues to rise

Consumer confidence continues to rise

Sue Lannin reported this story on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 12:46:00

ELEANOR HALL: The latest survey from Westpac and the Melbourne Institute shows that Australian
consumers are more optimistic and are hopeful that the worst of the economic crisis is over. But
it's not all good news, the property group Stockland, has posted a $1.8 billion loss for the 2009
financial year.

It had to make big writedowns to the value of its investments, as finance reporter Sue Lannin,
reports.

SUE LANNIN: It seems nothing can shake the optimism of Australians. Consumer confidence rose again
in August according to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index.

The index rose by 3.7 per cent in August to 113.4, to a two-year high. It stood at just at 86.2
this time last year. Westpac senior economist, Matthew Hassan says people are resilient.

MATTHEW HASSAN: Two main developments seem to have helped sentiment in the month, the first was
official confirmation that house prices were recovering from the ground lost last year, and the
other was the surprisingly strong labour market result for July.

SUE LANNIN: Confidence about the next 12 months when unemployment is expected to peak also rose.

MATTHEW HASSAN: There's a fairly unambiguous signal here - consumer sentiment is rising strongly,
we're now back at optimistic levels. Just in terms of comparison, 2007 was a very strong year for
consumers so we're back into quite a buoyant mode as far as the sector's concerned.

SUE LANNIN: But are they living in a fool's paradise? Unemployment is predicted to rise.

MATTHEW HASSAN: You sort of have to take the sentiment measures at face value and they're telling
you that consumers are feeling much more comfortable about the current situation.

SUE LANNIN: The least optimistic were those who are really being hit by the downturn, young people,
low income earners and tenants. And people remain worried about their family finances.

Matthew Hassan says are uncertainties ahead.

MATTHEW HASSAN: There are some negatives short terms without a doubt, we have significant fiscal
stimulus sort of unwinding for the consumer sector, and we do expect to see unemployment continue
to creep up, but for now at least our consumers are quite happy with the outlook.

SUE LANNIN: The downturn has also hit property group, Stockland. It made a huge loss of $1.8
billion in the 2009 financial year thanks to the global financial crisis. The company had to make
big writedowns to the value of its investments, which includes shopping centres and residential
developments.

It's also cut its payouts to investors. But managing director Matthew Quinn was putting a good spin
on things.

MATTHEW QUINN: It was a tough year we all know that. We've dusted ourselves down after what was a
very challenging year for us but I do feel the worst is behind us, not only is that reflected in
the public consumer business confidence numbers, it's also reflected in the results that we're
seeing at the coalface of our business as well.

SUE LANNIN: Stockland has spent the past year paying off debt and raising money, nearly $3 billion
in fact. It says while the first half was bad, the second half was strong, and Matthew Quinn is
optimistic about the future.

MATTHEW QUINN: Certainly we in the business are much more confident than we were six months ago. We
have a very strong balance sheet. I'd go as far as saying that we're bullet proof, 16 per cent
gearing is a very low number by industry standards and even by our standards. But I should stress
that we're in no rush to invest our surplus funds.

SUE LANNIN: Matthew Quinn urges caution when it comes to hailing the end of the global downturn.

MATTHEW QUINN: We are in a strong position, but we do remain cautious about the speed of recovery,
we've gone from zero to hero in terms of business and consumer confidence over the space of three
months, the same in the US, there's been big growth in the Chinese stock exchange. A lot of people
are acting as if it's all over, you can easily have false dawns with these things, and history has
shown that to be the case.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the managing director of Stockland, Matthew Quinn, ending that report by Sue
Lannin.

Torture 'ok' for many Australians

Torture 'ok' for many Australians

Barbara Miller reported this story on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 12:38:00

ELEANOR HALL: It's 60 years since the Geneva Conventions laying out the laws of war came into
being. But it seems many people in this country are ignorant of them.

A survey by the Australian Red Cross has found that more than 40 per cent of Australians think that
it's acceptable to torture captured enemy soldiers in certain cases. And that figure was even
higher for respondents who'd served in the military.

Barbara Miller compiled this report.

EXCERPT FROM RED CROSS BROADCAST: In war you cannot do whatever you please.

BARBARA MILLER: That broadcast is just one of the ways the International Committee of the Red Cross
tries to remind people of the laws of war as set out in the Geneva Conventions.

EXCERPT FROM RED CROSS BROADCAST: Making sure that no harm comes to people who are detained is an
essential principle of the Geneva Conventions. They must be protected from all forms of violence,
especially torture.

BARBARA MILLER: But many Australians it seems are either ignorant of the conventions or don't think
they always have to be applied. Forty-three per cent of people surveyed by the Australian Red Cross
said they thought it was acceptable to torture an enemy soldier in certain circumstances.

HELEN DURHAM: The figure was rather higher than one thought, and certainly when you compare it to
studies done say 10 years ago in a country like the UK, the number was a lot lower.

BARBARA MILLER: Dr Helen Durham is the Red Cross's strategic advisor on international law.

HELEN DURHAM: I think that maybe in the last few years since September 11, the discourse in
relation to what can be done for security of the state has shifted. There's probably a whole lot of
factors that are involved in that, another matter I think that was very interesting in the study...

BARBARA MILLER: Sorry though, just to interrupt, wouldn't though the discourse post-9/11 have
strengthened, in your mind, people's knowledge of the Geneva Conventions? The trials and
tribulations for example regarding the inmates at Guantanamo Bay, certain highly publicised cases
of terror suspects who claim to have been tortured?

HELEN DURHAM: Yes, I mean certainly the statistics showed 88 per cent of Australians had heard of
the Geneva Conventions which I think is attributable to current issues like, that has been in the
news in the last few years, but I think it certainly shows there's a lot of work to be done to make
sure that people understand that torture is illegal.

It also leads to hatred and from hatred you get more armed conflict, so it's neither legal nor
practical.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you think Australians seem to be applying double standards? Ninety-three per
cent said those who break the rules of war should be punished but 43 per cent think it's ok in
effect to break those rules by torturing enemy soldiers.

HELEN DURHAM: Absolutely, there was a strong juxtaposition between, it's really the issue between
us and them. It's bad when they do it, and when the other side do it we should prosecute them, but
in some instances it may be ok for us to do it.

BARBARA MILLER: The legal complexities surrounding the treatment of terror suspects have led some
commentators to suggest the Geneva Conventions needed to be modified to reflect the changing nature
of warfare. But Dr Emily Crawford a visiting fellow in the law faculty of the University of New
South Wales says the conventions are still applicable in many cases of modern warfare.

EMILY CRAWFORD: It is extremely rare for two sovereign nations to go to war against one another
nowadays, however I would still contend that there is a difference between a non-state armed group
that is waging war against its Government or whoever, you know, another non-state armed group and
an organisation that engage in terrorist acts, simply because non-state armed groups have engaged
in wars against their governing authority and it's normally for a particular aim.

Terrorists specifically Al Qaeda, it's often hard to figure out what they're actually driving at,
what they aim to achieve. And they don't necessarily just target government installations or
military installations, invariably they almost always go after civilians.

And I would contend that non-state actors and certainly armed opposition groups usually have a kind
of purpose, they have an aim - they want to either overthrow the Government, or they want to create
their own state and they will frequently follow the laws of armed conflict.

There's actually a lot of evidence to show that these non-state armed groups will make public
declarations saying we agree to abide by the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

BARBARA MILLER: Just over 1000 Australians were surveyed by the Red Cross. Around 130 of that group
had served in some capacity in the military. Of those almost half has said the torture of captured
soldiers in some circumstances was acceptable.

That finding has been described by the Australian Red Cross Professor of International Humanitarian
Law Tim McCormack as diabolical. Professor McCormack said it raised some serious issues for the
Australian Defence Force.

The World Today contacted the Australian Defence Force for a response to that statement. But an ADF
spokeswoman said they had no comment.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller reporting.

Captain blamed for loss of HMAS Sydney

Captain blamed for loss of HMAS Sydney

Samantha Hawley reported this story on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 12:44:00

ELEANOR HALL: Almost 70 years after HMAS Sydney went missing after its battle with the German
raider Kormoran, the families of the 645 sailors who died have some answers. This afternoon, at the
Australian War Memorial in Canberra, the head of the commission of inquiry into the incident,
Terrence Cole QC, released his report.

And he has found fault with the Sydney's captain, Joseph Burnett. Our reporter Samantha Hawley
joins me now from the war memorial, Sam, what did Terrence Cole say about the actions of the Sydney
captain?

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Well Eleanor he's release a very extensive report of 1500 pages and he clearly
lays blame with the captain of HMAS Sydney, Joseph Burnett. Terrance Cole has found that Captain
Burnett made a fatal decision when he accepted that the German raider the Kormoran was a friendly
Dutch merchant ship and he approached it at speed.

As we know HMAS Sydney approached that ship after being tricked into thinking it was an ally, and
the gun battle that followed saw HMAS Sydney sink and the 645 Australian crew on board die.

Terrance Cole has found Joseph Burnett the captain, would have been able to check what friendly
ships were in the area at the time but he didn't, that the captain failed to realise that the ship
was much larger than the one it purported to be and that also its signalling was certainly unusual.

And here's a bit of what Terrance Cole had to say a short time ago.

TERRENCE COLE: Wish to emphasise that although I am satisfied that Captain Burnett made errors of
judgement, I have not made any findings of negligence.

Wartime command involves assessments and risks, one cannot say (inaudible) if placed in Captain
Burnett's position would have acted, it is never to be forgotten that Captain Burnett and his crew
lost their lives during performance of their (inaudible) military duty while investigating an
unknown vessel while protecting Australia's shipping lanes.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the head of the commission of inquiry into HMAS Sydney at the incident with
the Kormoran - Terrance Cole QC. Now Sam, has the Government responded to his report?

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: It has, the Defence Minister John Faulkner was here today to launch, or co-launch
the report. He welcomed the finding and he also said that he hopes that some 70 years after this
tragedy - the worst maritime disaster in this nation's history - that this report will give the
families of the victims some closure and here's what the Defence Minister John Faulkner had to say.

JOHN FAULKNER: A tragedy is still within the living memory of many people. And while this report
won't repair dreadful loss, it will at least answer many of the lingering questions about the
sinking.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Defence Minister John Faulkner. Now of course Sam some of the questions have
been raised by many people with conspiracy theories, did Terrance Cole say anything about any of
these theories today?

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: He did Eleanor, in fact he had a lot to say about the many conspiracy theories
that we've had over the years about the sinking of HMAS Sydney, in fact he's dedicated a whole
volume of his report to actually discredit each and every one of those conspiracies. He says that
they have no substance whatsoever and that they should not be relied on into the future.

He says the German account of what occurred on that day in 1941 is correct, and he also, of course
as we've heard he points to rather the misjudgement of the captain of HMAS Sydney for blame rather
than obviously any of these conspiracy theories.

ELEANOR HALL: Samantha Hawley thank you. That's our reporter Samantha Hawley at the Australian War
Memorial in Canberra.

Extended house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi prompts wave of criticism

Extended house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi prompts wave of criticism

Meredith Griffiths reported this story on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 12:34:00

ELEANOR HALL: International leaders have condemned the decision by a Burmese court to sentence
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to a further 18 months in home detention. The 64-year-old
activist was found guilty of breaching the terms of her detention by allowing an uninvited American
man to stay in her home for two nights in May.

But Australia's Foreign Minister says the conviction is a political sham, designed to stop Ms Suu
Kyi from campaigning in the run up to elections next year. Despite criticism from around the globe
though, a special session of the United Nations Security Council has been unable to agree on a
statement in response to the court decision.

This report from Meredith Griffiths

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: There have been protests in several countries condemning the latest extension
of Aung San Suu Kyi's home detention. The public reaction in Burma has been muted, but this citizen
told the BBC she was outraged.

BURMESE WOMAN (translated): I am very bitter and sad about the verdict. I want to go onto the
streets and scream.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: David Mathieson from Human Rights Watch says it's the outcome that most Burmese
citizens he's been speaking to expected.

DAVID MATHIESON: Many people just suspect this is exactly what they had planned all along, they
were given a very good opportunity when this American man Mr Yettaw swam across the lake, and they
were going to use it as a pretext for keeping her locked up.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Ms Suu Kyi was found guilty of violating the terms of her house arrest for
allowing the uninvited American to remain for two nights. She has spent 14 of the past 20 years
under house arrest and, and the latest period was due to expire, when Mr Yettaw arrived.

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has told Radio National Breakfast that he has
summoned the Burmese Ambassador to a meeting today.

STEPHEN SMITH: We absolutely condemn what has occurred, we believe there was no justification for
the trial, the conviction was a sham, it was a political device to prevent Aung San Suu Kyi from
playing any role in the forthcoming elections in 2010, and they're elections which we have
expressed very grave reservations about.

What we now need is a unanimous chorus from the international community and we're seeing that
emerge, condemning what's occurred. We've got to put maximum pressure on the regime and that
includes from our friends in ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Malaysia has called for an urgent meeting of ASEAN to discuss the verdict -
which has also been firmly condemned by Indonesia and the Philippines. The US President Barack
Obama has released a statement denouncing what he calls an "unjust decision" and like the UN
Secretary-General, is calling for the "immediate and unconditional release" of Ms Suu Kyi.

Britain has called on the UN Security Council to impose a worldwide embargo on the sale of arms to
the Burmese junta. The Council has held an emergency session, but was unable to agree to a response
to the verdict.

Some countries including China and Russia, asked for time to consult their governments on the terms
of the statement, but Britain's ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, is optimistic an eventual
agreement will be reached.

JOHN SAWERS: Of the 50 members of the council, there's quite widespread support actually for the US
draft statement which would set out clearly our views and our deep concern about the decision of
the Burmese courts to jail Aung San Suu Kyi for a further 18 months.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: David Mathieson from Human Rights Watch in Thailand says the Security Council
will remain deadlocked as long as China and Russia keep trading with Burma and supplying the junta
with weapons.

DAVID MATHIESON: They need to realise that both approaches don't actually work, that they've got to
actually come up with something far more sophisticated and far more forward seeing.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Do you think the political will is there for the Security Council to rethink
its approach to Burma?

DAVID MATHIESON: One would hope that the political will really is there, I think Burma has deeply
suffered from the pretty pathetic response from the international community.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The UN Security Council is expected to meet again tomorrow.

ELEANOR HALL: Meredith Griffiths with that report.

Obama healthcare plan met by raucous protests

Obama healthcare plan met by raucous protests

Kim Landers reported this story on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 12:42:00

ELEANOR HALL: To the United States now and the latest uproar over President Barack Obama's plans to
reshape the country's health-insurance system. Angry crowds have been confronting politicians at
town-hall meetings across the United States.

Democrats claim the shouting matches are part of an orchestrated scare campaign by Republicans to
undermine an issue that's at the core of the President's political agenda.

In Washington, correspondent Kim Landers reports.

(Sound of protestors drumming.)

KIM LANDERS: In the United States, passions are running high over health care reform.

(Sound of protestors chanting.)

It's an issue that's defeated presidents before Barack Obama.

FEMALE PROTESTOR: They're following the guy like a bunch of sheep, what do you think it means? I
have a mind of my own, you know what, I don't have to chant "yes we can, yes we can".

KIM LANDERS: But now he too is diving into the fray over his health-care overhaul with a pitch that
only a president can make.

BARACK OBAMA: If you want a healthcare system that works for the American people, as well as it
works for the insurance companies, I need your help - knocking on doors, talking to neighbours,
spread the facts, let's get this done.

KIM LANDERS: But there were none of the outbursts at his town hall meeting in New Hampshire that
have dogged other politicians in what's being dubbed a summer of unrest.

POLITICIAN: Now wait a minute, now wait a minute, now wait a minute.

MALE PROTESTOR: One day god's going to stand before you and he's going to judge you and the rest of
your damned cronies.

KIM LANDERS: At these meetings voters have been jumping to their feet, heckling the politicians.
Some are carrying posters with the devil's horns drawn on the heads of local MPs, others are
brandishing pictures of Barack Obama with a Hitler moustache.

WOMAN: I'm only 35 years old, I've never been interested in politics, you have awakened the
sleeping giant. We are tired of this, this is why everybody in this room is so ticked off. I don't
want this country turning into Russia, turning into a socialised country. My question...

KIM LANDERS: President Barack Obama is imploring Americans to shun the scare tactics and many
Democrats are questioning whether the protests are genuine or whether there's been a concerted
campaign to stoke the public anger.

MAN: Leave us alone, that's all we would ask, would you leave us alone.

WOMAN 2: I do not want to pay on a health care plan that includes the right for a woman to kill her
unborn baby.

KIM LANDERS: Forty-six million Americans don't have health insurance and Barack Obama wants to
overhaul the system by the end of the year. He's trying to blunt the momentum of his critics and
stop the onslaught of opposition by putting in place a strategy battle tested during his long
presidential campaign.

The White House has launched a new 'reality check' website to counter the rumours including claims
that the health reforms promote euthanasia and would lead to government-funded abortions.

BARACK OBAMA: For all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary, what is truly risky, is if
we do nothing. If we let this moment pass, if we keep the system the way it is right now, we will
continue to see 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day.

KIM LANDERS: Barack Obama is scrambling to get Congress and the public behind what would be the
most ambitious and costly changes to the health care system in decades. And while he's encountered
none of the hostility that's erupted at other public meetings he's planning to hold two more of his
own town-hall gatherings this week.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.