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Treasury head warns of second shock

Treasury head warns of second shock

Lyndal Curtis reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:10:00

ELEANOR HALL: We begin today with a warning from Australia's treasury secretary. Dr Ken Henry says
that despite the signs of recovery in the global economy, we should be prepared for a second
financial shockwave.

Dr Henry says he is optimistic about the Australian, saying it's resilient and better placed than
most of the rest of the world. But he says it is too early to call the end of the global crisis.

Chief political correspondent, Lyndal Curtis, reports.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Ken Henry has told a forum run by the Australian Industry Group the economy appears
to be behaving better than people thought it would earlier this year. The Opposition leader,
Malcolm Turnbull, appearing before him at the same forum thinks he knows why.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: First the strength of Australia's financial system which has weathered the storm
better than almost any of its peers. Of course, this is largely a legacy of the robust supervisory
framework left by the Coalition government.

Secondly, the strength of Australia's public finances. Let's remember that this largely reflects
Australia's superior starting point from 2007.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But Dr Henry believes it's too early to rush to judgement saying no one fully
understands the reasons behind the better performance, but he's had a little swipe at those who
don't give credit to the Government's actions.

KEN HENRY: And some of those who have been talking about the prospect of this slowdown being
shallower than anticipated tend to lose sight of the probability that that could have something to
do with the policy response.

LYNDAL CURTIS: He says the treasury is looking at why things are improving faster than expected.

KEN HENRY: We are spending this present period analysing in some depth the reasons for the somewhat
better performance.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The two men also have differences of opinions on the bank deposit and wholesale
funding guarantees offered by the Federal Government. Mr Turnbull says it's the only difference the
Government has made to the financial system left by the Coalition and he is not a fan.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The only material way in which the Rudd Government has altered this has been
through what has turned out to be an inept meddling with bank deposit guarantees.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But Dr Henry says the exceptional measure has worked.

KEN HENRY: They are reassured Australian depositors and they have assisted Australian
deposit-taking institutions to continue to access funding in domestic and international credit

LYNDAL CURTIS: While he's talking optimistically about Australia's economy, there's a heavy note of

KEN HENRY: It is possible that there will be a second shockwave. I have no reason to believe it
will be anything like the first shockwave in size and intensity. It won't. But there could be a
second shockwave to hit us. I think we should be a little cautious to rush to declare victory just

LYNDAL CURTIS: He says while many believe a rebalancing in world capital which would see more go to
developing economies and capital become more expensive for the industrialised countries, will mean
slower growth for advanced economies, he's not sure that that equation will apply to Australia.

KEN HENRY: It seems quite likely, to me at least, that the Australian economy might attract an even
greater share of global capital flows and quite possibly even a larger capital flows in aggregate.

The Australian economy will be seen as possessing the best of the qualities of governance and
flexibility of the developed world while also offering an abundance of real investment
opportunities usually found only in the developing world. That is to say the Australian economy may
well be seen as offering the best of both worlds.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Both Dr Henry and Mr Turnbull believe the task of economic reform is far from over.
Mr Turnbull wants to see further tax and regulation reform - areas Dr Henry is already working on.

Dr Henry is heading a root and branch tax review due out at the end of this year. He says it's a
once in a generation opportunity to look at the tax system in a fundamental way, and says some of
the recommendations will be very long term indeed - going out over 10 to 20 years and covering
technology not yet in existence.

KEN HENRY: Our report will probably, well actually certainly, contain recommendations which could
not possibly be implemented in a very short or even medium timeframe. Some of them no doubt will be
politically contentious and that is OK. It's fine. Some things should be politically contentious.

LYNDAL CURTIS: He has knocked on the head one very politically contentious proposal that was
claimed to be in the review - a capital gains tax on homes worth over $2 million.

KEN HENRY: There is a lot of stuff that is appearing in the newspapers at the moment and I firmly
predict between now and when the final report comes out, there will be a lot more of it. That is,
simply has no basis in fact whatsoever. I don't know where these stories come from but it was pure

LYNDAL CURTIS: He believes the federal, state and territory governments are going full steam ahead
on microeconomic reform.

KEN HENRY: I've never seen such a wave of economic reform on the table. Now whether it is all
delivered, um, who can say?

LYNDAL CURTIS: Part of the answer to that question lies in the capacity of the public services -
state and federal - to deliver and Dr Henry has questions about that as well.

KEN HENRY: I wouldn't want to pretend to you that there is no issue there. There is an issue there
and it is an issue which governments, I know they are thinking about and they need to give
attention to.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Just one more thing to reform.

ELEANOR HALL: Lyndal Curtis in Canberra with that report.

Japanese buoyed by latest figures

Japanese buoyed by latest figures

Mark Willacy reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: Ken Henry may be warning of a "second shockwave" for the world economy but in Japan,
the mood is buoyant.

The Japanese Government has just announced that the economy grew by almost a full percentage point
in the last quarter. And that could be a sign that the world's second-largest economy is finally
lurching out of its worst recession in decades.

Our correspondent Mark Willacy joined me from Tokyo a short time ago.

Mark, how significant is this news about the Japanese economy?

MARK WILLACY: Well, it is extremely significant. It is timely and it is a turnaround few really
expected and after five quarters of contraction and recession, Japan really has finally bounced
back into the black.

For the three months til June the economy expanded by 0.9 per cent. That is an annualised rate of
3.7 per cent so technically, at least, the world's second-largest economy does appear to have
clawed its way out of its worst recession since World War Two.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, Japan's economy has been in the doldrums for years. Why does it appear to be
coming out of recession now?

MARK WILLACY: Well, economists say there are two main drivers for this turnaround. Number one,
rebounding exports. Like Germany, Japan relies heavily on its exports to basically power its
economy so after winding back production lines for months and letting their inventories dwindle,
basically companies like Toyota and Sony are now ramping up production again because demand is
slowly picking up overseas.

The second reason, government stimulus measures. The Government here has been throwing plenty of
money at this recession. In fact, it gave every man, woman and child $150 minimum and told them to
go out and spend it. Something, as we all know, the savings-conscious Japanese are very reluctant
to do and it's also dramatically reduced road tolls which are prohibitively expensive here and it
has told families to go and hit the road, spend some money on excursions or holidays. The problem
is, is that those stimulus measures will run out eventually.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, you're in the shops there talking to the locals. Does it feel like the
recession is over?

MARK WILLACY: It depends basically where you are in this sprawling metropolis but generally people
are out shopping, but in the boutiques of Omotesando and Ginza, the high-end areas of town, things
are a little quieter but in the cheaper department stores, the summer sales are in full swing and
they are packed.

The Japanese love to shop and on the weekend in particularly, the shops are heaving with people so
most people do not see any physical signs of recession.

ELEANOR HALL: So how are these numbers likely to affect the elections later this month? You say
that the stimulus measures will come off but will the Government now be able to hang on to

MARK WILLACY: Well, the opinion polls say that the ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party is
basically shot. It is going to be thrown out of power after almost 54 years of unbroken rule.

So the Government here is in a bit of trouble but it can now crow about the economy turning around.
It can take a bit of, well try to take a bit of the kudos from that and say basically, this was due
to our stimulus measures.

So I expected in the next week or two, in the last two weeks of this campaign that the Government
will trumpet this very loudly. That it has pulled the country out of recession and Japan, for the
time being, is back in the black.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, Mark, we've just been hearing a warning from Australia's treasury secretary, Dr
Ken Henry that despite the signs of recovery, there is a risk of a double dip recession globally.
What are the implications of this growth in Japan for the world economy?

MARK WILLACY: Well, the problem is Japan being an export-driven economy basically depends on growth
in the world economy so if the world economy is on the downturn then demand for Japanese exports
will falter.

So the Japanese economy is more of an indicator I suppose of the health of the world economy so
economists will see this bounce back into the black here in Japan as a sign that hopefully the
global economic downturn is coming to an end.

But in terms of Japan powering the world out of recession, no, it is probably not going to happen
quite as simply as that.

ELEANOR HALL: Mark Willacy in Tokyo, thank you.

Bargaining begins on renewable energy target

Bargaining begins on renewable energy target

Sabra Lane reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:18:00

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's Climate Change Minister Penny Wong is due to sit down with her Opposition
counterpart Greg Hunt this lunchtime, to negotiate a deal on getting the Government's renewable
energy target bill through the Parliament.

While the Government was adamant last week that the bill couldn't be unhooked from the emissions
trading scheme bill, it has now buckled to pressure and separated the two. Both the Government and
the Opposition are now saying they want the renewable energy legislation passed by the end of this

In Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Bowing to pressure from the Opposition and crossbench senators, the Government
announced yesterday it would decouple its renewable energy target bill from its emissions trading
scheme legislation.

That target will guarantee a fifth of Australia's electricity supply will be sourced from renewable
power by 2020. It's supposed to encourage energy-hungry industries into finding greener and cleaner
power sources now.

The Government had linked both bills, to put additional pressure on Malcolm Turnbull and the
Coalition, into supporting the carbon pollution reduction scheme. Mr Turnbull welcomed the decision
to split the two as a win for common sense; but Government backbencher Yvette D'Ath had a different

YVETTE D'ATH: What we saw yesterday was nothing but smugness. Here is the leader of the Opposition,
the man who wants to be future Prime Minister, actually celebrating that he was the one who stopped
the Government dealing with climate change.

SABRA LANE: And Liberal MP Stuart Robert dismissed Government claims that his party is a collection
of climate-change deniers.

STUART ROBERT: Remember we are the party that actually introduced an ETS. We are the party that put
an ETS on the floor. We are the party that started the Shergold Review to getting an ETS as part of
our climate change strategy but we are not the party that wanted to rape and pillage the Australian
society with a badly thought-through ETS that is flawed and friendless and no one wants.

SABRA LANE: The Opposition's climate change spokesman Greg Hunt wasn't using such descriptive
language on Radio National, but says the renewable energy target bill needs amending.

GREG HUNT: If they won't fix it, we will. Our goal is to have a proper negotiation and we are
seeking to get this bill passed. There are things that can improve it. That can, must be dealt with
but we have a very clear goal. Let's get this legislation fixed. Let's get this legislation passed
and let's get solar jobs flowing.

SABRA LANE: Mr Hunt will meet with Climate Change Minister Penny Wong today. It's understood the
Opposition will push the case for more compensation for the aluminium industry. The Greens will
seek to increase the target to 30 per cent.

Either way, the Assistant Climate Change Minister Greg Combet told Fairfax radio that the Coalition
had been something of a speed hump in getting the legislation through Parliament.

GREG COMBET: We have been hamstrung by the fact that the Coalition is so divided on climate change.
I mean we have got very different views. A number of the members of the Coalition do not believe
the science on climate change. They are sceptics about it and they are quite vocal about it and
they are critical of Malcolm Turnbull.

SABRA LANE: The Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull says too much of the emissions trading scheme
debate has been bogged down by a discussion on the science, when he says the debate should have
been about the design of the emissions trading scheme.

And he has told an audience of business chiefs this morning, that it's still the Opposition's wish
to have a vote delayed until early next year, after the UN talks in Copenhagen.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The best course of action is not to have a final vote on this scheme until early
next year. We should obviously be debating this and exchanging economic modelling and you know,
getting the rocket scientists together so they can test their economic assumptions. We should do
all that, absolutely but we shouldn't finalise the design until after Copenhagen.

If the Prime Minister continues to insist on this November deadline which is all about politics, it
has got nothing to do about the policy, then we will seek to amend the legislation.

SABRA LANE: It's an acknowledgment of the current political realities. Based on current polling,
the Opposition would be smashed in a double-dissolution election. Mr Turnbull also delivered a
backhander to the captains of industry, attending today's annual forum of the Australian Industry

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I would just in closing urge you and all other business groups like yourselves to
engage actively in the policy debate but engage actively and publicly. There is a tendency for
business organisations to be cowed by this Government and to just engage privately and you know,
behind closed doors in the hope that their eloquence will persuade the Government to change its

We need to have a fully informed public debate and it has to get down now into issues of design.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, ending that report by Sabra Lane in

Emerging technologies need guarantee, says Senator

Emerging technologies need guarantee: Senator

Jessica Hill reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:22:00

ELEANOR HALL: The Coalition, the Greens and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon all agree on one
aspect of the design of the renewable energy target bill. They want a percentage of the renewable
energy target to be set aside for emerging technologies like geothermal.

They are concerned that without this allocation, the measure may be entirely consumed by wind
projects, which could delay the geothermal industry by 20 years.

Jessica Hill has our report.

JESSICA HILL: Geothermal has traditionally taken a backseat to other renewable technologies like
solar and wind. But supporters like independent Senator Nick Xenophon believe that is about to

NICK XENOPHON: Geothermal has the greatest potential to replace coal, in the sense that it's a
base-load power source. If geothermal gets up and running, as I hope it will in the next few years
and it needs the support of government to do that, then we've actually got a viable alternative to

JESSICA HILL: Susan Jeanes, CEO of the Australian Geothermal Association, shares Senator Xenophon's

SUSAN JEANES: We'll be providing the lowest-cost form of renewable energy, it's the only current
form of renewable energy that's base load.

JESSICA HILL: Geothermal power, also known as hot rocks, is mined several kilometres below the
earth's surface. In Australia, geothermal energy is created by pumping water onto hot granite
rocks, which generates steam that drives traditional turbines.

For supporters of geothermal, Australia is a veritable goldmine. Susan Jeanes.

SUSAN JEANES: The Cooper Basin has been identified as probably the world's best resource for
geothermal energy.

There are some very good resources running through Victoria, down the east coast. We have, we
suspect there is some very good heat underneath the coal beds in the Hunter Valley and the Latrobe
Valley and we're very keen to explore for the right heat source in those regions because we see
that geothermal energy could have a huge contribution to make to energy supply in these traditional
coal regions.

But what we have got to now is the point where we are starting to develop projects - and by the
time we're ready to deliver power at scale, we're concerned there will be no incentives left under
the renewable energy target scheme, because they will all be taken up, and they can all be taken up
the way that the scheme is designed, by existing technologies.

JESSICA HILL: It's a concern shared by the Opposition, the Greens and independent Senator Nick
Xenophon, who all agree that the Government should set aside a percentage of its renewable energy
target for emerging technologies like geothermal.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

NICK XENOPHON: I think in relation to geothermal you need to have some clear signals there to
acknowledge that it is an emerging technology. There is a real argument there to ensure that they
get additional credits. There is a loading on those credits so it sends very clear signals for
investment in geothermal.

JESSICA HILL: Greg Combet, the Minister assisting the Minister for Climate Change says that rather
than set aside a portion for emerging technologies, the market should be allowed to decide.

GREG COMBET: Well the Government's establishing a target of 20 per cent of Australia's electricity
supply to come from renewable energy sources by the year 2020.

So with that mandated part of the marketplace, if you like, investment will flow into renewable
energy technologies that will help deliver the target and obviously investors will put their money
into the technologies that are going to be most cost efficient and that at the moment proved to be
the most viable technologies.

JESSICA HILL: But there's concern that the existing technologies such as wind, as you say, will
consume the measure before emerging technologies such as geothermal have a chance to develop, and
therefore attract investment. What would you say to that?

GREG COMBET: Oh, look, wind power is clearly going to be one of the important renewable energy
sources; it is at the moment, and there will be hopefully significant further investment in it.

But what we are doing is mandating a share of the electricity market - 20 per cent by the year 2020
- for renewable energy sources. We are not going to go about picking particular winners and
mandating a subset of that marketplace for them.

What we are going to do is have the 20 per cent share of the electricity supply available to be
filled by renewable energy sources, and the marketplace will determine where the investment will

ELEANOR HALL: That is Greg Combet, the Minister assisting the Minister for Climate Change, ending
that report by Jessica Hill.

Governments in no rush to buy Cubbie Station

Governments in no rush to buy Cubbie Station

Nicole Butler reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:26:00

ELEANOR HALL: One of Australia's largest irrigation properties is up for sale. But state and
federal governments are not rushing to make a bid. The massive Queensland cotton property Cubbie
Station has long been attacked by farmers in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for
taking too much water out of the Murray-Darling system.

The Federal Government has a water buyback policy in place but today it is noncommittal about
Cubbie and its huge water entitlement. The Queensland Government says it simply can't afford the
cotton colossus.

In Brisbane, Nicole Butler reports.

NICOLE BUTLER: Farmers says the $450 million price tag for Cubbie Station is over the top.But rural
real estate agent Simon Southwell says it's a tremendous property that has to be seen to be

SIMON SOUTHWELL: I don't know what it will bring. There could be international interest. I mean you
know there is a huge push worldwide for places that can produce food and fibre. If somebody wanted
to put their hand up you know to get hold of Cubbie Station, they would certainly have one of the
most magnificent enterprises in the Southern Hemisphere.

NICOLE BUTLER: The cotton farm colossus takes up around 93,000 hectares of prime agricultural land
near St George in southwest Queensland. It also sits on the upper reaches of the mighty
Murray-Darling river system with a water storage capacity equal to Sydney Harbour.

But Cubbie hasn't escaped the impact of years of drought, debts have mounted and that's prompted
the sale. Mr Southwell isn't handling it but he's optimistic the property will still fetch a very
good price.

SIMON SOUTHWELL: Quality always sells and quality will always command a good price. You know people
that buy these things, they are in there for the long term.

NICOLE BUTLER: Over the years Conservationists have attacked Cubbie - arguing its massive water
entitlement contributes to the poor state of the downstream Murray-Darling system. Now its land and
water are up for sale - they're calling on state and federal governments to purchase the property.

The Rudd Government wants to buy back water across the Murray-Darling Basin - and it's already
started doing that.

But the Cubbie Group's executive director John Grabbe says so far the Government hasn't shown much
interest in buying Cubbie's water.

JOHN GRABBE: We did, just for the record, in the last eight months we have tendered water to the
Commonwealth, to their buyback process, most recently at the end of June, we tendered what would
deliver the system on average 70 billion litres a year. Now we've had no response in regard to

NICOLE BUTLER: Water and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong won't say if the Federal Government
will bid for the property.

PENNY WONG: As a government we are open to considering offers from willing sellers of water
entitlement. We'll consider that based on value for money and environmental need but I've
consistently not commented on any specific purchases that might or might not be considered.

NICOLE BUTLER: Senator Wong says several issues need to be sorted out.

PENNY WONG: As I understand it, the land and water entitlement for Cubbie are not separated so that
would create some problems in terms of purchasing water from Cubbie until those two entitlements
are, in fact, separated.

NICOLE BUTLER: South Australia's independent Senator Nick Xenophon doesn't support the Federal
Government buying Cubbie Station. He says the only solution is a complete federal takeover of the
Murray-Darling river system.

NICK XENOPHON: The risk is, based on the advice I've had from independent water experts, is that if
the water from Cubbie is purchased, it will simply increase the value of water licences in the
Upper Darling, which means that the Federal Government would have to buy water twice in effect and
it won't mean anything for the lower reaches of the Murray.

NICOLE BUTLER: Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan says Cubbie's water licences aren't worth the
property's hefty price tag.

BILL HEFFERNAN: It actually has a water licence for about 70 gigs. It has a storage for 500-odd
gigs but it doesn't have licences to suit the storage because it stores overland flow when the
floods come and that has completely destroyed, but they've been allowed to do it, the largest
floodplain in Australia.

NICOLE BUTLER: At the state level, Queensland's Bligh Government isn't rushing to buy one of
Queensland's largest irrigation properties either. Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson
worked on a possible sale of Cubbie six years ago. He says today's price tag of $450 million is too
rich for Queensland.

STEPHEN ROBERTSON: Given that since the last time we gave consideration to that, the price on this
property has more than doubled. That is way beyond the capacity of any state government to give
serious consideration to buying that property and retiring the water entitlements for the benefit
of the environment.

Even if the state was to give some consideration to this, none of the benefits of buying Cubbie
accrue to Queensland. All the water ends up in New South Wales benefitting local environmental
areas such as the Narran Wetlands.

NICOLE BUTLER: Mr Robertson says the Commonwealth should purchase the controversial property.

STEPHEN ROBERTSON: Oh look, I think realistically, they're the only level of government that have
the financial resources to give consideration to it and given, as I said, that the environmental
benefit doesn't accrue to Queensland but it accrues to New South Wales and the Murray-Darling Basin
generally, I think other governments both federal and perhaps New South Wales governments are
better placed than Queensland to give consideration to it.

NICOLE BUTLER: Tender for Cubbie Station will close next month.

ELEANOR HALL: Nicole Butler reporting.

Scientists say Cubbie buyback would help environment

Scientists say Cubbie buyback would help environment

Bronwyn Herbert reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:30:00

ELEANOR HALL: Scientists and conservation groups say the Federal Government could help the
environment by buying Cubbie Station. But they say it would be the graziers in northern New South
Wales who would benefit most rather than the parched lower reaches of the Murray-Darling system.

Bronwyn Herbert has our report.

BRONWYN HERBERT: In a good season, Cubbie Station's network of on-farm water storages and dams can
hold more than 530,000 megalitres of water. That's more than all the water in Sydney Harbour.

With Cubbie Station now up for sale, scientists say it would be a significant coup for the
environment if the Government bought the farm.

RICHARD KINGSFORD: Look obviously there is great symbolism in it because everyone has been talking
about the importance of Cubbie Station and how much water it holds and takes out of the river
system. Without a doubt the purchase would have immense benefit for the floodplain of the Lower
Balonne which is the largest floodplain that we've currently got in the Murray-Darling.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Richard Kingsford is a professor of environmental science at the University of New
South Wales. He says it is not as simple as Cubbie's water in Queensland restoring the parched
lower reaches of the Murray-Darling.

RICHARD KINGSFORD: The system is quite complicated. The Condamine-Balonne in which Cubbie Station
sits, essentially it is like a hand if you like and a delta coming down and on that delta there are
four rivers.

Those river systems supply this vast floodplain of 1.4 million hectares which is called the Lower
Balonne floodplain and essentially most of the water that would come down that river system would
go onto that floodplain and sustain large areas of floodplain eucalypts, lignum, places like the
Narran Lakes ecosystem, so only about 20 per cent of the Culgoa's flows will actually get it into
the Darling.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Mike Young is a professor of water economics at the University of Adelaide. He
says the biggest benefactors of a government buy back of Cubbie water would be farmers and graziers
in northern New South Wales.

MIKE YOUNG: So if the water rises then more and more people are allowed to pump and they are
allowed to pump for a longer time and take more water. So if you leave water in the river, as the
water flows down, then when it gets to the next property, then that property is allowed to take
more water.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Professor Young says if the environment was to benefit, there would need to be a
rewriting of the way water licenses are issued in New South Wales.

MIKE YOUNG: At the moment no way to what is called shepherd the water through the Darling system
and hold it for the environment. The licenses are just not written in the right way because nobody
contemplated ever having to do this sort of thing.

So the whole issue about going back and rewriting a basin plan and rewriting the licenses so that
when the Government buys Cubbie, if it did buy Cubbie, that in fact, the benefit goes all to the
environment and not just to other irrigators.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Arlene Buchan is the healthy rivers campaigner with the Australian Conservation
Foundation. She says the Government has already expressed concern that this water buyback would be
difficult because it comes with land. But she says these issues can be resolved.

ARLENE BUCHAN: The Minister says they can't buy the land. They can only buy the water. They faced
that issue with Toorale Station and they dealt with it by having another purchaser for the land.

There are also issues there about making sure that water which is acquired from Cubbie wouldn't be
extracted quite legitimately by downstream users.

This is an issue which is well recognised by other governments and there are good-faith efforts to
make sure that environmental water can be shepherded downstream and used for environmental benefits
and not extracted and used by other water users.

So there are some issues around here but they are understood and they are surmountable.

ELEANOR HALL: Arlene Buchan from the Australian Conservation Foundation ending that report from
Bronwyn Herbert.

NSW considers inquiry into doctor's death

NSW considers inquiry into doctor's death

Giselle Wakatama reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:34:00

ELEANOR HALL: The New South Wales coroner says she will consider holding an inquiry into the
suicide of a young doctor who was working in the state's hospital system.

Dr William Huynh's family members have been calling for the inquiry saying they deserve to know if
it was his job that prompted him to take his life. His friends say that he was working extremely
long hours but health officials deny this.

Giselle Wakatama has our report.

GISELLE WAKATAMA: Dr William Huynh spent six years to realise his goal of becoming a doctor but
just two weeks before finishing his internship at Wagga Wagga hospital, the 26 year old took his
own life.

His brother Louis is devastated.

LOUIS HUYNH: My younger brother William was young and in the prime of his life and career. He is a
high achiever and successful in all aspects of his life. His death has tragically cut that short.

GISELLE WAKATAMA: The Australian Medical Association says as many as seven junior doctors commit
suicide in Australia each year due to stress and fatigue. The association recommends that doctors
work no more than 48 hours a week but Dr Huynhs' friends say he was doing far more than that.

They allege he was stressed and depressed when he ended his life after being forced to do his own
job and that of another person who had resigned. They also say he repeatedly asked for help only be
turned away. His former employer, the Greater Southern Area Health Service denies the allegation.

The health service's Joe McGirr says lessons have been learned and changes have been made.

JOE MCGIRR: We are very concerned that our doctors are working safe hours because that is part of
our responsibility for them and part of making sure that the care that we provide is optimal and so
we have put in place a number of strategies.

GISELLE WAKATAMA: Louis Huynh says serious questions need to be asked about his brother's working
hours and conditions.

LOUIS HUYNH: As you can appreciate, we the family are still coming to grips with his tragic death.
The grieving process has become more difficult since we've learned there may have been factors
associated with his work that may have contributed to his death.

GISELLE WAKATAMA: In June, the New South Wales coroner confirmed an inquest would not be held into
William Huynh's death as no one else was involved and there were no other factors. But that wasn't
good enough for one of Dr Huynh's mentors - the former head of Newcastle University's health
faculty, Professor John Marley.

JOHN MARLEY: I was surprised when I heard that an inquest had not been called, normally where there
are factors perhaps like excessive working hours, I would certainly expect that an inquest would
have been called.

GISELLE WAKATAMA: William Huynh's friends were also surprised an inquest was ruled out. One was so
troubled, she personally contacted the deputy state coroner in the weeks after the young intern
died. She has told the ABC about her phone call to the coroner's office.

FRIEND OF DOCTOR (voiceover): I spoke to the deputy state coroner for 30, maybe 40 minutes. I said
this is completely out of character and there was stuff going on at work that people needed to know

GISELLE WAKATAMA: But there could be a change of heart. The World Today has been told the New South
Wales coroner will review the case to see if the matter should be reopened.

Dr Huynh's brother, Louis is simply hoping the New South Wales coroner can give his distraught
family some form of closure.

LOUIS HUYNH: Certainly the family is not apportioning blame. It's been a long and careful
consideration in requesting a coronial inquest but we feel that there are questions that remain

ELEANOR HALL: That is Dr William Huynh's brother, Louis Huynh, ending that report by Giselle

Communities anxious over royal commission report

Communities anxious over royal commission report

Emily Bourke reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:38:00

ELEANOR HALL: The royal commission into Victoria's Black Saturday bushfires is preparing to hand
down its interim report later today.

The Victorian Premier is promising swift action but says many of the commission's recommendations
will overlap with measures that his Government has already taken in preparation for the next fire
season. The Government though has ruled out introducing a mass evacuation procedure, despite
suggestions that the commission is likely to be critical of the stay-or-go policy.

In Melbourne, Emily Bourke reports.

EMILY BOURKE: The royal commission's interim report into the Black Saturday fires is expected to
run into the hundreds of pages. For those affected by the February 7th blazes, there are high hopes
that the report will deliver strong recommendations that will protect communities and lives.

LYN GUNTER: The feeling that I am picking up from the community is definitely some wanting to know
what these outcomes are going to be. A bit of anxiousness about the coming fire season in relation
to what the report is going to have in it.

EMILY BOURKE: Lyn Gunter is the Mayor of Murrindindi Shire.

LYN GUNTER: And there is certainly a hope that the report is going to cover some of the issues that
they have highlighted which is, you know, warning systems, communications and contacts being able
to get through to the 000 number.

EMILY BOURKE: The Victorian Premier John Brumby says while the stay-or-go policy needs tweaking,
introducing a widespread evacuation procedure is unrealistic.

JOHN BRUMBY: And that is because we have got more than a million Victorians who live in these
areas. So whether it is Macedon or the Otways or the Dandenongs or Kinglake, all of that area, that
is a lot of people and it is just not practicable to imagine that you can evacuate them all on one
night so we will look to what the commission says in that area but I think we need to get
stay-or-go right.

EMILY BOURKE: With the fire season just around the corner, Premier Brumby has also pointed to
changes his Government has already made.

JOHN BRUMBY: And whether that is the new building codes that have been put in place, whether it is
the new money for communications, whether it is the additional money for the CFA, whether it is the
additional DSE employment, we have taken a whole raft of decisions which are about making the state
fire ready and fire safe.

EMILY BOURKE: It is not known whether the report will make any adverse findings against the head of
the CFA Russell Rees who has been criticised for his handling of the fires.

During the commission hearings much has been made of the apparent reluctance to criticise the CFA
for fear of demoralising the volunteers who give up their time to fight fires.

While the CFA is not officially speaking publicly before the release of the report this afternoon,
one CFA captain John Schauble spoke to local radio in Melbourne this morning and he said the
volunteers shouldn't escape scrutiny.

JOHN SCHAUBLE: We all make decisions and sometimes we make mistakes so just because you have the
name volunteer around you, doesn't automatically sanctify every action you take.

EMILY BOURKE: But whatever the commission's findings, he fears complacency over fire safety may
creep into communities.

JOHN SCHAUBLE: Whether it is going to change now because every couple of years we have a serious
bushfire season and people are going to pay more attention I don't know but don't underestimate the
capacity of people to become complacent.

EMILY BOURKE: For those who survived the fires and are continuing to put their homes and
communities back together, there's some welcome news today from the Federal Government.

The Assistant Treasurer Nick Sherry says sweeping changes to the charitable tax laws will make more
assistance money available.

NICK SHERRY: The fund can provide for long-term assistance to orphaned minors without the need for
annual assessments of their health; providing reimbursements for individuals or organisations for
performing charitable activities. Discretionary payments of up to $15,000 to assist households for
the period in which they were in or are in transitional housing.

EMILY BOURKE: Farmers will also be eligible for some extra funds.

NICK SHERRY: Primary producers, a grant of up to $10,000 for repair and restoration of farm
activities including re-fencing and importantly for farmers, they often use the legal structure of
a trust and that has been a particular legal problem and we are establishing what is called a "look
through" provision so if a family has a farm in the trust, they will be covered as well

ELEANOR HALL: That is the Federal Assistant Treasurer, Nick Sherry ending that report from Emily
Bourke in Melbourne.

SA Govt wants more cameras in courts

SA Govt wants more cameras in courts

Carly Laird reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:42:00

ELEANOR HALL: The South Australian Government is pushing the state's judges to open up the courts
more often to television cameras. Judges already have the discretion to allow cameras in but the
Government says they don't exercise that power often enough.

The president of South Australia's law society says the society supports moves to better inform the
public but that allowing cameras into court won't end the culture of media scrums outside.

Carly Laird prepared this report.

(Excerpt from the opening titles of Judge Judy.)

CARLY LAIRD: The American program Judge Judy broadcasts live civil cases in the United States for
the enjoyment of viewers around the world.

But South Australia's Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, says his plan for the state's courts is a
little less exciting.

MICHAEL ATKINSON: This is not going to be like Judge Judy - although many of your listeners would
be happy were it to be like that. It's going to be much duller and faithful to what occurs in

CARLY LAIRD: He says they want the judiciary to be more transparent and accessible to the public.
But they also want to prevent the harassment for those leaving the courtroom.

MICHAEL ATKINSON: It's common here in Adelaide for the only filming in court stories to be as the
parties emerge from the court and often an undignified scrum ensues. I think on one occasion a
participant in a court case came out with a banana case over his head and the cameramen chased the
participants in the court case down the street and into Adelaide central market. So I think we can
improve on that.

CARLY LAIRD: But the president of the Law Society of South Australia, John Goldberg, doesn't think
having TV cameras inside the court will make much difference.

JOHN GOLDBERG: It's possible that it will but I think there'll always be TV cameras outside
courtrooms wanting to get footage of both defendants and witnesses. I don't think that will change.

CARLY LAIRD: And he's not sure if the media will be satisfied with the extra footage they have
access to.

JOHN GOLDBERG: The problem that the media are going to have is the problem that they already have
with court cases and that is 99 per cent of the time it's excruciatingly boring - so they're only
going to pick the bits that they think are interesting and it's not going to be very easy to pick
them out.

CARLY LAIRD: The South Australian Government is planning on asking its chief judge and chief
justice to have one fixed camera installed in each court room. Attorney-General Michael Atkinson
says they wouldn't allow live telecasting and media outlets would have to apply days in advance for
permission to film and he says it would always be at the judge's discretion.

MICHAEL ATKINSON: To being with, I think all parties would have to give their consent and in a
criminal trial, certainly the victim would also have to give his or her consent. The judge could
revoke the filming at any time and of course jurors couldn't be filmed, photographed or otherwise

CARLY LAIRD: But John Goldberg thinks even with consent, there are still issues that need to be

JOHN GOLDBERG: You've still got an issue about witnesses being intimidated and in jury trials;
jurors might look at the evening news and get something that actually impacts on them that they
didn't pick up during the trial mainly because it might be something that was excluded from them.

CARLY LAIRD: Parties to court cases can apply to allow cameras into court hearings in most states
and territories around Australia but it is always at the judge's discretion.

ELEANOR HALL: Carly Laird reporting.

Usain bolts to another staggering record

Usain bolts to another staggering record

Meredith Griffiths reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:46:00

ELEANOR HALL: It's no surprise that he came in first but the way Usain Bolt won the 100 metres
sprint at the World Athletics Championships this morning stunned sports commentators and scientists

In a sport where records are chipped away by tiny increments, Bolt demolished his own world record
to win in just 9.58 seconds. Sports scientists are now asking are asking just how much faster
humans can run.

This report from Meredith Griffiths.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: People expected Olympic champion Usain Bolt to run well this morning, but who
could have known he would deliver this?

(Sound of starting gun.)

COMMENTATOR: Bolt in four. Didn't get the best of starts but he is motoring now and he's passed
Tyson Gay. Gay is trailing the Jamaican. It is Bolt's race. It is Bolt, it's Gay. It could have
been Powell - 9.58 seconds!

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The 22-year-old Jamaican says he doesn't run for records but he set himself the
goal of finishing the event in 9.4 seconds.

USAIN BOLT: I don't know. I'll be the next one to break the world record next time but anything is

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: For decades 10 seconds was the benchmark for a world-class sprinter and only
the very best ever dipped under.

Maurice Green held the world record of 9.79 for six years, before Asafa Powell started chipping
away at it in 2005.

When Usain Bolt burst on to the scene last year, he was still only breaking records by of 2- or
3-hundredths of a second - today, he beat his own best time by 11-hundredths of a second.

So how does he do it? Kenneth Graham is the principal scientist at the New South Wales Institute of

KENNETH GRAHAM: A very tall athlete. He is about 6 foot 5. Quite powerful and with his 200 metre
background, if he can get to a high speed, he has got the capacity to hold that speed and you know
100 metre running is really about doing four things well.

One is the reaction time. The second is accelerating up to running speed as quickly as possible but
that top speed is very high and in Usain's case it is at 43, 44 plus kilometres per hour and then
holding that speed across towards the finish line.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: But Bolt's not alone. The top three runners all put in amazing performances
this morning.

Kenneth Graham again.

KENNETH GRAHAM: Psychologically people go, "wow the 9.6 barrier's been broken", we saw it many,
many years ago with the four-minute mile. No one broke the four minute mile first. Once one man
broke it then we had a number of runners going under that time and so, you know, we are seeing the
other runners also lifting the quality of their running performance.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: But the head of biomechanics at the Australian Institute of Sport, Nick Brown,
says there is a certain point beyond which humans just won't be able to move any faster.

NICK BROWN: It is related to muscles' ability to contract and shorten so it has a ceiling that
certain muscles can only shorten at a top-end velocity and so that top end shortening velocity of
muscle will dictate at some point the top-end speed and the limit of human overground running

So, I don't know what that is and it is a very difficult problem to try and understand because
there are so many muscles that contribute to running fast over ground but, yeah, it probably is.
Have we reached it? Um, top-end speed probably getting closer but times in the 100 metres, no I
think they will probably continue to come down.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Do experts in this field think that like nine seconds would be possible?

NICK BROWN: I think a tenth of a second or two may be reasonable over the next decade or two
potentially but I don't think we are looking at sub-nine seconds. I don't think people are
expecting that or even trying to predict that.

ELEANOR HALL: Nick Brown from the Australian Institute of Sport ending that report from Meredith

Rugby riot reveals partisan principals

Rugby riot reveals partisan principals

Kerri Ritchie reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:50:00

ELEANOR HALL: To New Zealand now where a schoolboy rugby match turned very ugly over the weekend.
Some of the players began fighting in the dying moments of the game and then scores of spectators
ran onto the ground to join in the brawl.

But the principals of the two schools say they already know who started it - the other team.

New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie.

(Excerpt from football commentary.)

KERRI RITCHIE: More than two thousand people turned up to watch Saturday's semi-final between
Auckland Grammar and Kelston Boys High School. All Black coach Graham Henry was there, having
worked as a teacher at both schools he was keen to see what young talent was around.

But just before the final whistle, things turned very bad.

(Excerpt from football commentary)

COMMENTATOR: Ooh that come from nowhere too, that's unprovoked.

COMMENTATOR 2: That's a shocker...

(End excerpt.)

KERRI RITCHIE: In the TV pictures, one woman can be seen on the sideline, trying unsuccessfully to
calm things down. But more and more spectators run in, wrestling and swinging punches.

Auckland Grammar principal John Morris says from where he was standing, it was very clear that a
Kelston player started all the trouble.

JOHN MORRIS: My vision was fairly clear. We'd scored a try. There was around about a minute to go
at that point in the whole game and as our guys tried to get up to celebrate one Kelston boy came
in and clobbered one of our players.

KERRI RITCHIE: But he says adult Kelston supporters were a bigger problem.

JOHN MORRIS: That would have actually fizzled out and finished but then spectators ran 50 metres
across the park on the Kelston side to get involved and these weren't just boys, young men, these
were adults. They exacerbated the situation.

KERRI RITCHIE: But Kelston principal Steve Watt says an Auckland Grammar player hit one of his

STEVE WATT: It was a punch that was thrown into his back and he reacted to it. If you have a look
at the footage he was, once that happened he actually reacted to it. Spectators became involved and
it was spectators from both schools.

KERRI RITCHIE: He says Auckland Grammar supporters also made derogatory comments.

STEVE WATT: Well, the comment that came to me was "don't bother explaining it to them ref, they
can't read". Which if that is true, I've taught at Auckland Grammar, an old boy of the school and
if that is what comments are coming out of there, I think I'd find it pretty to take.

KERRI RITCHIE: Manoj Daji is the chief executive of College Sport in New Zealand. He says the
behaviour of supporters on the sideline has recently deteriorated - and he thinks New Zealand's
long-running recession might have something to do with it.

MANOJ DAJI: You know in these tight economic times there are people turning up to matches, stakes
sometimes are high. I think expectations of some parents are a little bit unreasonable. With that
tension and people thinking well, maybe it is not as organised and serious as perhaps club sport or
provisional sport that they can behave in this manner and it is not acceptable at all.

STEVE WATT: At Saturday's game, when the fighting finished, the schoolboys on the opposing teams
were made to shake hands - some even hugged.

But their earlier violence is the talk of the town in Auckland - the footage has been all over the
TV. But the three hosts of a Sky TV rugby show, couldn't decide if the brawl was something that
should be condemned, or laughed about.

COMMENTATOR: Yeah, it was good to see them at the end. I mean they are not old enough to have a
beer obviously after a match but they had a cuddle and all made up and hopefully everything...

COMMENTATOR 2: So it makes it alright having a bit of romance, a bit of a cuddle.

COMMENTATOR 3: You can have biff, if you have a cuddle.


COMMENTATOR 3: Bring back the biff and the cuddle.

COMMENTATOR: If you've got the biff and the cuddle, you know, you're fine.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, there you have it. The hosts of the Sky TV Rugby Show ending that report by our
New Zealand correspondent, Kerri Ritchie.