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ASIC power extended to share market

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government has given the Australian corporate regulator more powers to
supervise financial markets, including the Australian stock exchange.

The move to strip the ASX of its dual role as both a market regulator and a listed company is part
of the Government's response to the global financial crisis.

It will see the Australian Securities and Investments Commission taking over the regulatory role of
the ASX and eliminating any conflict of interest.

This report from business editor Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: For more than a decade, the Australian Securities Exchange has been juggling a
difficult and controversial double life.

As the share market regulator, it's been supervising companies trading on the ASX while at the same
time operating as a listed company.

The unhelpful perception is that the ASX has been regulating itself, according to the Financial
Services Minister Chris Bowen.

CHRIS BOWEN: This is a decision which has been under consideration for some time and it is
important in ensuring that financial markets operate without conflicts of interest and without any
perceived conflict of interest.

PETER RYAN: The corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, will
take over next year.

Chris Bowen says it will resolve what's been a political and regulatory hot potato.

CHRIS BOWEN: When the previous government privatised the then Australian Stock Exchange, it was a
decision taken then to leave them with their supervisory powers. This Government has taken the view
that that is not a sustainable or desirable model.

It would be much better to have a singular supervision model which would concentrate supervision
powers with ASIC and we feel that this is the right time to make that decision.

PETER RYAN: Do you believe that it will have the desired effect of giving ASIC more power to
supervise the market?

CHRIS BOWEN: Look, I don't believe it is about more power for ASIC in particular. It is about a
more transparent system. It is about a more holistic system and a system where there are very clear
lines of responsibility.

PETER RYAN: And given the background of the global financial crisis, how critical was it to
streamline supervision?

CHRIS BOWEN: Well, look this is certainly in line with the decision of the leaders of the G20 to
ensure that supervision is as transparent as possible and we have taken this decision based on
those considerations, on the very divergent views between the ASX and others and come down on the
public interest on behalf of unifying the supervisory power with ASIC.

PETER RYAN: The concept of the ASX as a market participant and a regulator has been keeping
corporate lawyers busy for years.

IAN RAMSAY: Well, there is absolutely no doubt that this enhances the powers of ASIC. It enhances
its range of responsibilities in quite a profound way.

PETER RYAN: Professor Ian Ramsay of Melbourne University's Centre for Corporate Law says there's no
doubt that the ASX is today's biggest loser.

IAN RAMSAY: We've had quite intense discussions at times about the appropriate structure for
supervision of our financial markets particularly ASX ; and so this has now culminated in today's
announcement that effectively supervision of trading on ASX, all of that will be taken away from
the operators of those financial markets.

ASX in particular, and given over to ASIC.

PETER RYAN: So investors will be able to look to the Australian Security Exchange and the ASX as a
listed company and know that they are indeed separate?

IAN RAMSAY: Indeed, that is exactly right. So no one suggests that today's announcement isn't
controversial particularly of course, we can imagine what the view of ASX has been on this. They
have resisted these sorts of proposals over the years.

It is difficult to read today's announcement in any other way than the Government believes that
ASIC can do a superior job in terms of supervision of trading than ASX.

PETER RYAN: Market players have largely welcomed today's decision and veterans like Peter Morgan of
452 Capital say it will provide greater clarity for traders and investors alike.

PETER MORGAN: It has been a little bit uncertain at times as to who is actually running the market.
I mean it seemed to be a process that went through the ASX and then was forwarded to AISC
(phonetic) and it was at times somewhat convenient for one or the other to blame the other.

And I think now one party is involved, that blame game can disappear.

PETER RYAN: Peter Morgan also believes the lack of regulatory unity has resulted in unnecessary
angst and confusion during the volatile environment of the past two years.

PETER MORGAN: It has been far too many examples over the last two or three years of companies
collapsing. You have only got to look at the James Hardie case. It took a long time for anything to
occur and then we've got the ridiculous situation where the company is now off to Ireland.

I mean I think in a lot of ways the rules themselves need to be tightened and also enforce what
those rules have to be tightened.

PETER RYAN: The ASX, having seen its powers stripped today, has reacted diplomatically, saying the
proposed changes are appropriate.

ELEANOR HALL: Business editor Peter Ryan.

Opposition surprised by ASX decision

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Opposition says this announcement has come as a surprise.

Chris Pearce, the Opposition's spokesman on financial services, superannuation and corporate law
says the Coalition will need to see more detail on the proposed changes before it decides on
whether to support them.

Mr Pearce told Sabra Lane that Australia's system of market supervision had been regarded as one of
the best in the world.

CHRIS PEARCE: Well, this is a decision that has taken a lot of people by surprise I've got to say.
There has been no public consultation in and around this issue that anybody has known about and
certainly people from the broader community have not had the chance to actually make comment on
this particular issue.

So we await the draft legislation that is being proposed. Like many decisions, the devil is in the
detail and so we look forward to seeing the draft legislation in and around this decision.

SABRA LANE: From the limited information that has been released this morning, it looks like ASIC
will supervise individual trades through these markets but on the Australian Stock Exchange. The
ASX will still be in charge of regulating the entities even though it is a listed entity on the
ASX. Are you comfortable with that?

CHRIS PEARCE: Well, there will be some clarity needed I think in and around this decision because
that is right. My understanding on the limited information available is that ASIC will assume the
responsibility for the supervision of what is commonly known as real time trading whereas the ASX
itself will continue to oversee the supervision of entities that are listed on its own exchange.

So there is some clarity that is needed but this is a decision that I said I think the devil will
be in the detail of the legislation. We look forward to seeing that actual detail to see how this
particular announcement will actually work in practical terms.

SABRA LANE: Have there been problems in monitoring trades?

CHRIS PEARCE: In point of fact, I would say to you that the way that the Australian market has
worked over the years has actually been a world leading example of market supervision. I know when
I was parliamentary secretary to the treasurer in the last government that there were many examples
of where the Australian Stock Exchange as it was then called and its supervisory functions were
actually world leading.

So I think that this is a decision that is taking some functions from one entity and moving it to
another entity. That is fine if that is what the Government wants to do; but I think all
participants in the market will be very interested in seeing the actual legislation so that we can
all get a better idea how it will actually work.

SABRA LANE: Just on your own side of politics, Chris Pearce, Malcolm Turnbull may have been hoping
that the Government pressure on him would ease with Parliament on a two-week break. What do you
make of these stories that have been confirmed by former Labor leader, Kim Beazley and former Prime
Minister Bob Hawke that Malcolm Turnbull approached the Labor Party about joining them?

CHRIS PEARCE: Well, I'm not focused on those stories at all and I am sure that Malcolm isn't. What
Malcolm and what we in the Liberal Party are focused on doing is holding the Rudd Labor Government
to account. This is a government that must be held to account for its spending decisions and for
its decisions - and so that is what we are focused on.

I think that is what people in my electorate want me to be focused on and I am sure that is what
they want Malcolm Turnbull to be focused on.

SABRA LANE: How difficult is that job though given that the Coalition is not completely united?
We've got the Nationals saying they'll never vote for an emissions trading scheme. Barnaby Joyce
has been quite outspoken on that. Surely that undermines the Liberals, Malcolm Turnbull and any
chance that the Coalition has of winning the next election?

CHRIS PEARCE: Well, I think Malcolm Turnbull is doing a great job as our Liberal Leader. I support
Malcolm Turnbull entirely. I think he is keeping the Labor Government to account. That is his job.
That is the job of all of us.

And the job of all of us in Parliament is to make sure that Kevin Rudd and the Government is kept
to account for their decisions and that is what I am focused on.

SABRA LANE: You must be pretty happy that you are retiring at the next election, Chris Pearce?

CHRIS PEARCE: Well, it is a very difficult decision then. In a lot of ways I am very sad that I
will be retiring from politics. It is a decision that I have made with the best interests of my
family in mind.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the Opposition's spokesman on financial services, Chris Pearce, speaking to
Sabra Lane in Canberra.

Police, cameras, bans to combat Melbourne violence

ELEANOR HALL: Melbourne's image as a cultured city is taking a severe battering because of the
trend of violent incidents in the city.

Alcohol is being blamed for the recent spate of assaults and there are now calls for authorities to
crack down on the venues involved.

The Government has responded by extending a ban on bars and clubs applying for late night liquor

But the inner city clubs and bars say it's not their fault.

In Melbourne, Emily Bourke reports.

EMILY BOURKE: Another weekend passes in Melbourne, and so too another round of disturbing violent
assaults in the central business district.

This time a police officer was hit from behind leaving him with a broken nose and eye socket also
over the weekend police found a young woman wandering the streets with a stab wound to her stomach
and her face slashed.

Bruce McKenzie from the Police Association says the lunatic fringe has been allowed to take over
the city.

BRUCE MCKENZIE: The Police Association travelled to New York last year. The Police Association has
seen what can be done to make a major city safe. It requires the State Government to put more cops
out on the streets.

It requires the State Government to introduce mandatory sentencing, not just for assaults on police
officers, but any other sort of violent assaults that we have seen occur in Melbourne now for the
best part of the last five years.

EMILY BOURKE: There are no moves by the Government to introduce mandatory sentencing but police
have some support of the Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle who last week announced the city would
install more CCTV cameras to make the city safer.

ROBERT DOYLE: When you attack a police officer then you are really attacking the foundation of
society and I think the harshest measures of the law should be for those who are bashing the people
who, after all, are designated to take care of the rest of us.

EMILY BOURKE: The State Government has now extended a freeze on the number of venues that can apply
for a late night liquor licence.

But the Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle says the existing ban on new licences has done nothing to curb
the violence.

ROBERT DOYLE: And we've got this violence with the status quo. It doesn't affect any existing
licences. It doesn't by itself change any behaviour.

The problem is the licensing regimes of the past and the allowing of these very large venues and
the irresponsible serving by some venues of alcohol which they have now got away with for some
years, all of that is coming home to roost.

EMILY BOURKE: David Butten from the Nightclub Owners Forum says the industry is already heavily
regulated and can't be held entirely responsible.

DAVID BUTTEN: They need to focus more on people drinking in the street which is illegal.

The taxi industry is out of control. The Government needs to stop taxis falling for fares and make
them use a safe, secure taxi zones. The police need to be more out in the street rather than
patrolling licensed premises.

EMILY BOURKE: But don't the nightclubs have some responsibility in all of this? They are the ones
serving alcohol for many hours into the early mornings as well.

DAVID BUTTEN: The average drink per head in a nightclub is only about two or three.

A lot of the problem is, as I said before, people drinking in the streets or on party buses or in
other ways before they come into the city. These incidents, they are not caused by nightclubs. It
is circumstantial.

There are a few problem individuals in society - that has been recognised now. The Government is
pointing to certain postcodes where these people come from.

EMILY BOURKE: The State Government, Melbourne Council and police say the actual number of assaults
in the city has not increased but the Victoria Police chief Simon Overland has told ABC Local Radio
that police are looking at ways of discouraging people from coming into town in the first place.

SIMON OVERLAND: There is probably 300,000 people who come into the CBD on a Friday, Thursday,
Friday, Saturday night. They don't live in the area. They come in from around Melbourne. Many of
them come in to have a good time. Some of them come in to cause problems.

We are looking to understand where people are coming from. What sort of patterns we are seeing and
then what we can put in place to either dissuade them from coming into the city or what other
action we can actually take to deal with the root cause of the issues.

BRIAN KEARNEY: If initiative such as that stopped the people that we don't want in the city from
coming into the city - that would be an excellent initiative.

EMILY BOURKE: Brian Kearney is from the Victorian branch of the Hotels Association. While he agrees
with the police response, he says there's no reason to turn off the tap at bars and clubs.

BRIAN KEARNEY: Locking down the city, that just deprives the overwhelming majority of the community
who want to enjoy a vibrant nightlife and that once again is just throwing your hands up and
admitting defeat.

ELEANOR HALL: Brian Kearney from the Victorian branch of the Hotels Association ending that report
from Emily Bourke in Melbourne.

Stay-at-home mums shut out of workforce

ELEANOR HALL: A report into the impact of the economic downturn has found that unemployment is
hitting Australian women much harder than men.

Official unemployment statistics suggest that men and women are equally at risk.

But the Australia Institute says there are also the 'hidden' unemployed and that 80 per cent of
these Australians are women.

Felicity Ogilvie has been finding out why.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Tasmanian woman Kate Routley recently moved to the small coastal town of Swansea
with her partner and two young children.

She used to run her own business, but now Miss Routley is staying home to care for her children.

KATE ROUTLEY: I would love to go back to work at some stage for lots of reasons - for my own sort
of peace of mind and my own ability to be able to get out there and talk to adults.

But at this stage I have chosen not to go back to work. My children are really young and I realise
that they are only this little once and I guess, also living in Swansea I am limited to the work
opportunities that are down here.

It would all be based on minimum wages and once I sort of start paying out childcare and then what
I would actually earn, it makes it very unenticing to go back to work.

FELICITY OGILVIE: She's not alone. A report by the Australia Institute estimates there's almost
400,000 stay-at-home mums aged between 25 and 44 who want to go back to work but can't.

The report is not about mothers who want to be stay at home to care for their children because
they're not classified as unemployed.

The report's author, David Richardson, says 80 per cent of Australia's hidden unemployed are
stay-at-home mums who want to work outside the home.

DAVID RICHARDSON: Mainly they are women who are not recorded as being unemployed by the Australian
Bureau of Statistics because their childcare duties are in the main prevent them from starting work
within the week.

So they fail to miss the ABS definition of unemployed but on further investigation, the surveys
show that they are still willing and able to work.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Federal Government has been tackling unemployment by offering retraining for
the retrenched. But Mr Richardson describes those programs as 'blokey' and says they are
inappropriate for stay-at-home mums.

In his report he calls for specialised training that will help women get and job and says they also
need better childcare.

DAVID RICHARDSON: There is a particular problem where the children are roughly six to12 when the
ordinary childcare day centres are no longer suitable and what is required is care for before and
after school hours.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Australia Institute's report was commissioned by the National Foundation for
Australian Women.

Marie Coleman is from the Women's Foundation - she says the report show's government policy is
ignoring the needs of modern women.

MARIE COLEMAN: Policies, as they stand were largely devised on an assumption of the white picket
fence, the husband as bread winner, the wife as the stay-at-home; and that is no longer the reality
for Australian women.

FELICITY OGILVIE: If that is no longer the reality for Australian women, how does policy need to

MARIE COLEMAN: We need to make a lot of significant improvements in childcare. We need to rejig
what we are going with technical and further education.

We need to make sure that people understand the patterns of female work force attachment and
support them rather than subverting them.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Even if the stay-at-home mums do make it back into the workplace the report
paints it as still being very much a man's world.

DAVID RICHARDSON: Woman are likely to earn less in the same job but also they are more likely to
work part-time hours and they are more likely to have broken work histories.

So that by the time they retire, our modelling shows that once these superannuation system matures,
men's final payout is going to be something like 68 per cent bigger than women.

ELEANOR HALL: That is David Richardson from the Australia Institute ending that report by Felicity

Experts say oil spill is no catastrophe

ELEANOR HALL: Oil spill specialists say it's overkill to describe the spill in the Timor Sea as an
environmental catastrophe.

Oil has been spewing from a rig off Western Australia's north west coast since Friday morning.

But specialists say the oil is so light that it will evaporate without doing much long-term damage
to marine life.

And they're now warning that the chemical being used to disperse the spill could be more damaging
than the oil itself.

Ashley Hall has our report.

ASHLEY HALL: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority says it's impossible to measure how much
crude oil and gas has leaked from the West Atlas oil rig since Friday morning.

Although the oil slick is now estimated to be 14 kilometres long and 30 metres wide.

Tracey Jiggins is a spokeswoman for the Authority.

TRACEY JIGGINS: It is a major operation and because of the protracted nature of it, it is certainly
going to go on for some time. So I would certainly say it is one of the most serious spills that we
have had in recent years.

ASHLEY HALL: It's also not clear how long it will take to plug the leak. Although the company
suggests that operation could take up two months.

Green groups say that's too long. And the Federal Opposition accuses the Government of not doing
enough to help. It's a charge the Environment Minister Peter Garrett rejects.

PETER GARRETT: Authorities have acted quickly, recognising that this is a matter which has to be
dealt with, with great urgency.

ASHLEY HALL: Emergency crews sprayed the slick with a chemical dispersant yesterday. The Maritime
Safety Authority's Tracey Jiggins says it's designed to break up the oil and prevent environmental

TRACEY JIGGINS: We are working very closely with the Environment Department; however what our role
is, is to get the oil out of the environment as quickly as possible and the dispersant is
successfully doing that.

ASHLEY HALL: But two specialists in the effects of oil spills on marine life say that the chemical
dispersant might be doing more harm than good.

Bob Kagi is an emeritus professor at Curtin University of Technology in Perth.

BOB KAGI: I don't know why. I think the reason they're using dispersants is to be seen to be doing
something. Dispersants are often more toxic than the oil itself.

ASHLEY HALL: Professor Kagi says the oil being released from the rig is so light, it will evaporate
on its own, if given time. And while he says the leak is serious, it might not be for the reasons
you think.

BOB KAGI: Oh, it is very serious because the people have suffered a major setback in their
operations and there is a very severe fire risk.

ASHLEY HALL: So serious in terms of the operation. Not serious in terms of the environment?

BOB KAGI: What people don't realise is that there is natural oil seeps in Indonesia which release
enormous amounts of oil which drifts down the Western Australian coast and has since time

There are tarballs washing up on the West Australian coast almost all the time and these are the
remnants of these oil seeps in Indonesia.

ASHLEY HALL: Green groups have seized on this latest incident to ramp up their opposition to the
$50 billion Gorgon gas project on the north west shelf.

But Bob Kagi says the presence of energy extraction operations aren't necessarily bad for marine

BOB KAGI: We did a study on the North Lincoln A platform. The area where we were studying is
basically a desert, it's a marine desert. Around the platform however was an oasis of wildlife.

There were fish and all sorts of organisms that had developed from the nutrients that is to say the
oil and various other materials that had been put over the side of the NR8 (phonetic).

ASHLEY HALL: Associate Professor Monique Gagnon from Curtin University's Department of
Environmental Biology says fish don't take long to recover from an oil spill.

MONIQUE GAGNON: The (inaudible) would be metabolised fairly rapidly by the fish, directed to the
bowel and rapidly eliminated out of the body. The effect that we could see, the accumulation of
those compounds that could be seen in the fish will last about a week.

ASHLEY HALL: Monique Gagnon says much of the commentary about this spill has been an over-reaction.

MONIQUE GAGNON: No, I do not believe it is catastrophic at all because it is an open sea and it
involves some fairly light compound, petroleum compound that will mostly evaporate.

ELEANOR HALL: That Associate Professor Monique Gagnon from Curtin University's Department of
Environmental Biology. She was speaking to Ashley Hall.

Fraud claims mar Afghan poll count

ELEANOR HALL: The Taliban's threat to disrupt Afghanistan's election with violence may not have
materialised but with counting underway, it seems there's another danger.

The independent commission investigating election complaints says charges of fraud are so
extensive; they could sway the final result.

As Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Western countries have been hailing last week's elections in Afghanistan as a
success but while voting wasn't marred by extensive violence, small scale attacks and threats
scared many people away from polling booths and reports of flaws and irregularities have been
mounting since the polls closed.

The UN backed Electoral Complaints Commission says it's received 225 complaints since polls opened
last Thursday

The head of the Commission, Grant Kippen says 35 allegations could affect the election results.

GRANT KIPPEN: They pertain to things like ballot-box stuffing, intimidation at the polling station
level. So, its allegations that are quite specific about the ability for voters to cast their
ballots and irregularities with respect to the conduct, votes being cast at a particular polling

So it could be ballot boxes disappearing and coming back full, these types of allegations.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Mr Kippen has stressed that the number is likely to grow.

One of the main Opposition candidates, Abdullah Abdullah, has already seized on the claims, saying
the poll was widely rigged by supporters of the President Hamid Karzai

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: My focus today is on the big fraud, yes, big fraud which can have an impact on
the outcome of the elections. This has to be prevented. That is critical for the survival of the

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Dr Abdullah is a former foreign minister who ran an energetic campaign and
polls gave him a fighting chance of winning.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: We don't have a full picture, so talking about percentage will not be right. But
in most provinces I'm in the lead.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Dr Abdullah's has the support of Tajiks in the north of the country as opposed
to President Karzai whose powerbase is the Pashtun south. And there are reports that intimidation
did lead to low turnout there.

Abdullah Abdullah says ballots marked for President Karzai were coming in from volatile southern
districts where no vote was held, and he says turnout was being reported as 40 per cent in areas
where only 10 per cent of voters cast ballots.

The election authority is expected to release turnout numbers this week but observers have reported
low figures.

Lakhdar Brahimi is a former UN envoy to Afghanistan. He says whoever wins the election will have a
big job in attacking corruption and appointing capable ministers.

But he also says the international community needs to back the Afghan Government - whoever wins.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: Even militarily, one has the impression that there are several wars being waged by
several countries in the same country. I think the Government of Afghanistan has got to stop being
corrupt and the armies from NATO countries have got to get their act together.

What I mean is that every national contingent is having their own policy decided in their
respective capitals and quite often they simply don't agree.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Preliminary election results will be released later this week but the final
outcome is not expected until next month.

If no candidate gets 50 per cent of the vote from, they'll go to a runoff probably in October. That
is if the process is allowed to go that far.

ELEANOR HALL: Meredith Griffiths.

Fires close in on Athens

ELEANOR HALL: To Greece now where authorities have declared a state emergency over the forest fires
circling the capital Athens.

Tens of thousands of people living in the outer suburbs have been evacuated from their homes and
the fires have burnt through more than 30 acres of forest.

So far no one has been killed by the blazes.

But an Australian fire expert says this is the second series of extreme fires in Greece in two
years and is an indicator of climate change.

Jennifer Macey has our report.

JENNIFER MACEY: More than 70 fires continued to blaze into the night in north-eastern Greece as the
flames encroached upon Athens.

The fires started late on Friday just outside the capital in the village of Grammatiko near the
ancient town of Marathon.

Strong winds caused the fires to quickly spread to neighbouring villages, burning through forests,
olive groves and houses.

By Sunday the suburbs on the edge of Athens were aflame. A resident of a nearby village says the
fires took them by surprise.

GREEK RESIDENT (translated): By the time we realised what was happening and we could get into the
car and leave, the fire had surrounded us. It came from all around and this is what it left behind
- catastrophe. As you can see a total catastrophe.

JENNIFER MACEY: Police with loudspeakers drove through Agio Stefanos a suburb 20 kilometres outside
Athens urging residents to leave.

Almost the entire population has been evacuated but some ignored the pleas of authorities and
stayed behind.

They tried to protect their homes with buckets of water, hoses and even olive tree branches.

AGIOS RESIDENT (translated): Most people left. I just couldn't leave. I did what I could, as much
as I could but it turns out you can't fight this fire. It is moving too fast for us.

JENNIFER MACEY: Fire fighting efforts were hampered by gale force winds that changed direction
constantly over the weekend. There weren't enough planes or helicopters to water bomb all of the
blazes. And the aircraft that was available couldn't fly in the thick smoke or at night.

More than 600 fire fighters struggled to contain the 50-kilometre long fire front. Some residents
have complained that the authorities aren't doing enough.

AGIOS RESIDENT (translated): The fire is passed along street and is coming towards us and we have
not seen one fire engine. We have had no help at all.

The Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos says the Government is doing what it can under
difficult conditions.

PROKOPIS PAVLOPOULOS: The situation is grave due to the gusty winds blowing in the country and the
terrain in the specific region. Securing life and property is the first order of business for
fire-fighters and emergency response crews.

JENNIFER MACEY: Greek officials say these are the worst fires since the 2007 wildfires which killed
70 people and left thousands others homeless. But they still don't know if the fires were
deliberately lit.

Two years ago, an Australian delegation of fire experts went to Greece to advise fire authorities

Andrew Lawson the deputy chief officer Country Fire Service in South Australia was part of that

ANDREW LAWSON: So there was quite a few villages that we saw that were totally wiped out and it was
devastating for the people of Greece.

JENNIFER MACEY: He says Greece and Australia share a lot of similarities.

ANDREW LAWSON: Very similar fuel conditions to us. Indeed they have quite a lot of very similar
trees in the eucalyptus type trees and very similar weather conditions.

JENNIFER MACEY: But another fire expert, Professor David Bowman from the University of Tasmania
says the conditions in Greece are different to Australia.

He says the scale of these wildfires in Europe serves as a stark warning for Australia's upcoming
fire season.

DAVID BOWMAN: I react to those fires with a sense of dread. This is the second extreme fire event
around Athens in a few years. Yes, it is a Mediterranean climate and yes, you can have fires in
those landscapes but the Australian landscapes are far more flammable.

And these fires do seem to be revealing the fingerprints of climate change - extreme fire weather,
sustained extreme fire weather and of course, this is just a run of fires we have seen in the
Mediterranean, Canary Islands in the west coast of the United States, in South America.

We have seen a global syndrome emerging of really serious fires.

ELEANOR HALL: Professor David Bowman from the University of Tasmania ending that report by Jennifer

Kiwis consumed by smacking debate

ELEANOR HALL: A referendum on the smacking of children has just been held in New Zealand - and 88
per cent of Kiwis who took part voted to re-legalise it.

Two years ago, the Labor Government made it illegal for parents to smack their children as a form
of discipline and the law generated emotional debate.

Many parents believe the law has eroded their rights - while child advocates say it's making a
positive difference.

Now despite the referendum result, New Zealand's Prime Minister says he won't be scrapping the law;
as correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports.

KERRI RITCHIE: New Zealand has an appalling track record when it comes to child abuse.

From October last year to April this year - which is just a six-month period - there were 279
assaults on Kiwi kids.

Katrina McLennan works as a family court lawyer in New Zealand.

KATRINA MCLENNAN: If you look at any of the statistics, whether it is for assaults of partners,
assaults of children, assaults in the community - clearly in New Zealand we have a huge problem
with violence that we desperately need to address.

KERRI RITCHIE: A non-binding referendum has just been held, to work out how New Zealanders feel
about their anti-smacking legislation.

Around seven million dollars was spent on the exercise but only 54 per cent of people eligible to
take part, actually bothered to send back their voting forms.

People were asked to answer the question - Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a
criminal offence in New Zealand.

88 per cent voted "No" - they want to bring back smacking.

Bob McCoskrie is the director of the Family First lobby group and he's one of the biggest opponents
of the anti-smacking legislation.

He says the Prime Minister John Key must give parents their rights back and amend the law to allow
for light smacking.

BOB MCCOSKRIE: They need to respond. People voted for a law change. They didn't vote for policies,
guidelines, comfort. They voted for a law change. They want light smacking decriminalised. That was
quite clear what this referendum was about and the Cabinet should respond.

KERRI RITCHIE: But John Key says the law will remain in place - but he is prepared to discuss
measures in Cabinet today to appease the 88 per cent who voted against the anti-smacking

New guidelines for police and social workers are now being considered.

JOHN ANGUS: It's also my intention to take to Cabinet a series of proposals which I believe will
give parents in New Zealand comfort that while I don't think a law change is necessary, that there
are other changes that fall short of changing the law that can be introduced to give them comfort.

KERRI RITCHIE: John Angus is New Zealand's children's commissioner. He told Radio New Zealand the
legislation - in its current form - is working.

JOHN ANGUS: We aren't seeing the fears, that were portrayed by those who opposed the original
change to the legislation - that lots of parents would be investigated and that there would be a
lot more intrusion into the life of good families by the police and by social workers. We are not
seeing that happening.

Secondly, I think it is a law that has given some assurance to children that they can be brought up
in a society that says violence against them is totally unacceptable.

KERRI RITCHIE: John Angus says New Zealand must do something about its child abuse problem.

He says the anti-smacking legislation has got people talking about how kiwi kids are treated - and
he believes changes are slowly taking place.

JOHN ANGUS: I was up in the gardens on Saturday. There was a mother there with two youngsters and
they were throwing stones in the pond and she said "don't throw stones into the pond please" and
they kept on throwing stones into the pond.

And she said 'if you keep throwing stones into the pond, you won't get your fluffies". Now I don't
know what a "fluffy" is. I think it is a sort of cup of coffee. It was a Wellington garden.

Those little girls stopped immediately and I thought there is a great example of parenting that is
setting boundaries, that is not using a smack at all. If those youngsters had been smacked, our
Sunday mornings would have been disrupted by a lot of crying and shouting.

Things are changing and I think the law is a sort of setting out of what is good parenting in New

ELEANOR HALL: That is New Zealand's children's commissioner, John Angus, ending that report from
our New Zealand correspondent, Kerrie Ritchie.

Concerns raised over Asian dental products

ELEANOR HALL: Representatives of Australian dental associations are raising concerns that cheap
dental products made overseas could be harming Australian patients.

They say some of these products contain heavy metals.

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration is yet to rule on their safety but the products are
still allowed to be imported as Carly Laird reports.

CARLY LAIRD: You may be used to seeing "made in China" labels on anything from clothing to toys to
electronics but it might surprise you to learn that up to 30 per cent of what goes in your mouth at
the dentist may have been sourced from China, Hong Kong or the Philippines.

Rob Boshier is the national president of the Oral Health Professionals Association.

ROB BOSHIER: Most of our concerns arise from evidence that we now have that heavy metals are
present in some of the appliances from some of the countries.

CARLY LAIRD: What kind of heavy metals?

ROB BOSHIER: Things like beryllium, lead, some of these things are present in porcelain and they
are probably not a huge threat in porcelain but when they're present in the alloys they are
supporting some of these appliances, they are able to go into solution within the mouth and that is
where our concern arises.

CARLY LAIRD: So does that mean that it's ingested into the body?

ROB BOSHIER: Potentially yes. I mean logically one would assume that it is.

CARLY LAIRD: He says one case he was called in to fix a few years ago, involved products from the

ROB BOSHIER: A four unit bridge, anterior bridge which is teeth across the front. It was inserted
and within two days the restoration had blown up to the point that the supporting dentition was
lost and there was quite a deal of infection that had to be dealt with.

CARLY LAIRD: But he does say that there's no hard evidence that the imported products are

ROB BOSHIER: The thing is, most of it this is anecdotal. This is the challenge of the discussion
but I talked to a lot of technicians around Australia and most have been involved in cases where
something has failed.

CARLY LAIRD: Duncan Campbell is from the Australian Dental Industry Association.

He's also concerned that the imports aren't being put through as rigorous a testing process as
locally manufactured products are.

DUNCAN CAMPBELL: The TGA registered products and companies that are supplying products in Australia
list their products on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

When dental products are made overseas they bypass this regulatory framework and so consumers don't
have those same safeguards that they have if they are using products that are coming through the
TGA registration process.

CARLY LAIRD: No one from the Therapeutic Goods Administration was available for interview. But this
is an excerpt from a written statement to The World Today.

EXCERPT FROM TGA STATEMENT (voiceover): The TGA is aware of claims that some dentists are
by-passing Australia's strict regulatory system by importing custom-made dental products without
ensuring the products are of acceptable quality.

Where the TGA becomes aware of instances of the possible illegal supply of therapeutic goods it
actively pursues these. However matters relating to professional practice standards are the
responsibility of state and territory health authorities.

CARLY LAIRD: The New South Wales president of the Australian Dental Association, Anthony Burgess,
says the products are safe.

He thinks that both of the concerned groups have a financial interest in keeping the manufacturing

TONY BURGES: Most of the testing that has been done on these products has shown either negligible
contamination or no contamination by these contaminants that the Dental Technicians Association has
referred to.

I think what we are have got to be aware of is that both these groups have come out and I think it
is essentially scaremongering - that they have vested commercial interests in selling products to
Australian dentists and they are trying to ensure that they maintain their profit share.

CARLY LAIRD: But Rob Boshier rejects that notion.

ROB BOSHIER: Well, it's about patient outcomes. If you have patients who are having quite expensive
things blow up in the mouth and then they have to turn around and come up with other solutions and
quite often pay for them, I don't think it's just simply about protecting local industry.

ELEANOR HALL: Rob Boshier, the national president of the Oral Health Professionals Association
ending that report from Carly Laird.

Dispute over wind farms and property prices

ELEANOR HALL: Property law specialists say that land holders who live near wind farms and want to
sell their properties, receive very little protection from existing laws.

Some landowners say wind turbines damage their livelihoods and lifestyles.

But wind farm operators say the clean power operations do not reduce the value of neighbouring

Bronwyn Herbert has our report.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Wind farms might help hold the key for a cleaner energy future, but there is a
darker side.

Some land owners who live near wind farms claim the turbines are not only health hazards and spoil
the view but devalue the land.

HUMPHREY PRICE-JONES: Property values being eroded, their lifestyle being completely destroyed and
the very reason they live where they live being destroyed and of course, if they don't want to live
there any longer, they can't sell the places because very few people want to live in some vast
industrial estate.

Whereas the people who do live there, live there because of their appreciation of the landscape and
the general rural amenity.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Humphrey Price-Jones is a resident of Crookwell in the southern tablelands of New
South Wales.

A wind farm of 74 turbines has been approved to be built next to his property.

HUMPHREY PRICE-JONES: If these things are built then I believe there is a great need for the people
who are going to be inconvenienced to be compensated in some way or another.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Do you know people who would like to sell their land or have the opportunity for
the acquisition by the Government?

HUMPHREY PRICE-JONES: I think there are a number, well yes I do and there are a number of people
living in close proximity to the so-called Gullen Range wind turbine development. I think some of
them would jump at that chance as long as it was not a compulsory purchase and as long as they were
pre-wind turbine market value.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Michael Pickering a senior solicitor with LAC Lawyers and specialises in property
law. He says it's a considerable issue that there's not the legal processes in place for land to be

MICHAEL PICKERING: There are health concerns for the neighbouring landowners, as well as the
environmental concerns. It raises similar issues to the land acquisition order, the concerns that
landowners had with the desalination plant.

And also in times past with the owners of land over which the high voltage power transmission lines
were directed.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Michael Pickering says existing laws make it very difficult for landowners to
secure compensation.

MICHAEL PICKERING: The initiative is given to the state government organisations rather than to the
affected landowner. There is no policy whereby the landowner can commence that compulsory
acquisition process themselves.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Should that be changed?

MICHAEL PICKERING: Um, well I think it would because it might otherwise prevent what could be quite
extensive litigation which could end up quashing a minister's decision.

Or at least, perhaps receiving an injunction from a court which could delay government processes
which are quite important to the future of the state.

BRONWYN HERBERT: There's more than 40 wind farms in Australia, and many more in the pipeline.

Multinational company Pamada is behind the Kyoto Energy Park - a wind farm project near Scone in
New South Wales.

Mark Dixon is the project manager. He says international research shows no clear link that wind
turbines devalue land.

MARK DIXON: The general consensus was that there was no negative link from our research between
wind farms and devaluation of property and it went into to look at, you know what would be the
issues if there was a link.

BRONWYN HERBERT: With the Federal Government's green light to source 20 per cent of Australia's
energy by renewable sources by 2020 there is likely to be more wrangles over wind farms in future

ELEANOR HALL: Bronwyn Herbert reporting.

'I'm not elitist', says festival author

ELEANOR HALL: He insists he is not an elitist but in his latest new book on civilisation, Professor
John Armstrong laments the failure of culture to keep up with material prosperity in the West over
the last century.

Professor Armstrong is philosopher-in-residence at the Melbourne Business School and he does see
the business world providing a civilizing influence and perhaps sooner than we might expect.

Professor Armstrong is at the Melbourne Writers Festival to talk about his book In Search of
Civilization: Remaking a Tarnished Idea and he joined me earlier in The World Today studio.

John Armstrong, thanks very much for joining us.

Now you say in the title of your book that civilisation is a tarnished idea. Why is that?

JOHN ARMSTRONG: Well, I think that people have lost confidence in use of this big word -
civilisation. Towards the end of the 19th century it got joined up with the colonial project.

So countries, particularly Britain, would go around the world saying - we are going to take over
your country, more or less, but don't worry because we are doing it for civilisation.

ELEANOR HALL: So what is your definition?

JOHN ARMSTRONG: Well, I think that civilisation in fact is the name of something we aspire to
rather than something we have got.

It captures the coming together of two of the great themes of human life. One is the desire for
material security and prosperity. The other is what one might call spiritual prosperity - the
ambition to have deep meaning, serious relationships, happiness.

ELEANOR HALL: So what do you make of the popularity of spiritual self-help groups and books in many
Western societies today?

JOHN ARMSTRONG: I think they are an indication of a tremendous need but I am struck that a lot of
that self-help is happening outside of the great cultural institutions. So it is not our national
galleries, it is not our universities that are the focus of this self-help.

I think that our spiritual needs have gone into a thousand little streams - none of which is very
deep or substantial.

ELEANOR HALL: Is your ideal society, what would it look like? What would we be reading? How would
we be living?

JOHN ARMSTRONG: I think my image of a civilised society is where people take into their commercial
business lives a set of ideals and imagination and the kind of emotional seriousness that allows
them to carry out the projects of meaning and value in the midst of the messy world.

ELEANOR HALL: Yes, in your book you say that you look at changes in business philosophy over the
last several decades and you say that you are now optimistic that business could be the catalyst
for bringing civilisation back in from the cold. What makes you optimistic about the role of

JOHN ARMSTRONG: I see, I spent a lot of time now talking to people in the business world and I am
very struck by their appetite for ideas. It is always going to be challenging in a commercial
environment to really focus on those things.

But I am convinced that there are a great, great many people within the commercial world who care
about civilisation.

ELEANOR HALL: Does this mean that they are reading Tolstoy and looking at Renaissance paintings?

JOHN ARMSTRONG: Um, no it isn't. It doesn't mean that - but Renaissance paintings and Tolstoy are
vehicles for getting us to concern with beauty and meaning in life. They are very good vehicles for
doing that.

But you can talk about elegance without looking at Renaissance painting; you can talk about the
search for meaning in an individual life without reading Tolstoy.

I think many people in the commercial world would be surprised to find how close some of their
concerns are to the concerns of Renaissance painting and the great novelists.

ELEANOR HALL: Your critics would no doubt describe you as an elitist. Are you comfortable with

JOHN ARMSTRONG: I am slightly enraged by it but I'll keep a lid on it. I am actually a
universalist. I believe very strongly in the potential of everyone and it is entirely wrong to
suppose that what I am saying is that one group of people deserves to be treated better than
another. That is the opposite of what I am saying.

ELEANOR HALL: John Armstrong, thanks very much for joining us.


ELEANOR HALL: That is Professor John Armstrong. He is philosopher-in residence at the Melbourne
Business School and he is at the Melbourne Writers Festival to talk about his latest book In Search
of Civilization.