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Victorian Minister plucked from peak

ELEANOR HALL: We begin today in Victoria where after two nights of sub-zero temperatures and snow
storms, one of the stars of the State Labor Government has been found alive in the Victorian alps.

Rescue authorities said they held grave fears for Tim Holding, who got lost on a solo trek to Mt
Feathertop in Victoria's north east on the weekend.

But the first reports of his rescue suggest he coped with the ordeal well. Mr Holding was spotted
from the air this morning on a mountain spur sitting next to a rough shelter that he'd made and
waving to rescuers.

Simon Lauder has our report.

SIMON LAUDER: The first search party went out on Sunday night after Tim Holding's partner reported
that he'd not returned home as scheduled.

A full day of searching in horrendous weather turned up nothing yesterday and the weather didn't
clear until this morning.

Mr Holding was spotted soon after the clouds lifted and helicopters could get into the air.

The ABC's helicopter pilot, Ian White.

IAN WHITE: He looked well. He was sitting up, he wasn't standing but he was sitting up and he was
drinking water, and he did wave. So he didn't look in too bad a condition.

SIMON LAUDER: When the police helicopter landed at Bright, from where the search was being
coordinated, Mr Holding thanked his rescuers and then walked under his own strength to an ambulance
which took him to Bright hospital for an assessment.

His family was overjoyed.

RELATIVE: Of course, if anything ... if he'd have hurt himself it could have been a different story
altogether. So we're very, very pleased.

SIMON LAUDER: By all accounts Tim Holding was well equipped to camp in the snow. He had food, a
tent and a sleeping bag and is known for his fitness. But the fact he was found a way off the track
shows he may have become confused in the snow.

The ABC's helicopter pilot, Ian White, says Mr Holding appeared to have been waiting to be rescued.

IAN WHITE: They found him on the spur. It looked like he'd made a little bit of a shelter, there
was a couple of branches and some rough stack. The police obviously located him, so I went and
rigged for a winch.

SIMON LAUDER: Tim Holding's family never showed a doubt that he would make it out safely.

Mr Holding's mother, Caroline, has thanked everyone involved in the search.

CAROLINE HOLDING: Bruce and I would just like to thank so many people who have helped in finding
Tim. And we're just ecstatic that he's back.

SIMON LAUDER: She says she was worried, but she never feared the worst.

CAROLINE HOLDING: No of course we didn't, we didn't. We thought that Tim would be fine because he's
so fit and he's so well, and he was so well equipped. So very well equipped and that was the main
thing that gave us our heart.

SIMON LAUDER: The conditions Tim Holding survived since the weekend could hardly have been worse.

It snowed overnight and the temperatures reached minus five or lower. By day, fog and clouds
reduced visibility to a minimum. Apart from a brief window late yesterday, today was the first time
a helicopter was able to take flight in search of Mr Holding.

By this morning a team of 80 was searching for the lost Minister, including SES, army and police
personnel and 25 volunteers from the group, Bush Search and Rescue Victoria. The group's
coordinator Merv Trease says they've still got a long day ahead of them.

MERV TREASE: There will have to be extraction of the - all of the searches and they have to be
careful not to be injured themselves in that process as well. We expect that they will probably be
leaving the Bright area around about five or six o'clock tonight by the time they get out and have
a feed, and then the start the travel back it will be five or six o'clock tonight.

So you're probably looking at almost midnight before they're home.

SIMON LAUDER: The Premier John Brumby was deflated yesterday after expressing confidence that one
of his best performing Cabinet ministers would walk off the mountain to safety.

Today the premier is relieved.

JOHN BRUMBY: You know, by last night there was ... we were pretty anxious about his health and
welfare. I was advised earlier this morning that last night a Victoria Police helicopter did pick
up a light and some body image in the area.

So as of first light thing morning police were fairly confident that they would be able to get in
and get him out, and that's exactly what transpired.

I spoke to his partner Ellen earlier this morning and she was obviously delighted. She'd been very
anxious last night obviously. She was particularly pleased that there was some light coming from
the tent last night.

She was claiming credit for that, she says that she gave Tim a pair of those headlamp torch lights
for his birthday just a few weeks ago.

SIMON LAUDER: Tim Holding is now expected to be flown back to Melbourne. Mr Brumby says he doesn't
expect his Minister to attend Parliament when it resumes this afternoon.

ELEANOR HALL: Simon Lauder reporting.

Della Bosca regrets 'poor personal decisions'

ELEANOR HALL: From the rescue of a Minister in Victoria, to New South Wales and the end of the
ministerial career of Health Minister John Della Bosca.

Mr Della Bosca fronted up to the media this morning, just hours after media revelations of an
extra-marital affair prompted him to hand in his resignation.

According to reports in the "Daily Telegraph" newspaper the minister had a sexual relationship with
a 26 year-old woman from March to August of this year.

Mr Della Bosca told the media pack today that he regretted the hurt and embarrassment that he'd
caused by what he described as some poor personal decisions.

But he denied ever having compromised his duties as health minister to spend time with the woman.

In Sydney, Barbara Miller reports.

BARBARA MILLER: John Della Bosca joined the ALP 36 years ago. But it took just a matter of a few
hours to apparently bring to an end a career path some thought would culminate in the state
premiership.

After learning yesterday afternoon that the "Daily Telegraph" was about to publish revelations of
an extra-marital affair, Mr Della Bosca resigned.

This morning he confirmed the decision to reporters.

JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I've taken this opportunity to confirm that last night I told the Premier that I
would be resigning today as NSW minister for health, and shortly I'll be presenting my resignation
as leader of the government in the Legislation Council to the parliamentary Labor Party.

BARBARA MILLER: The Daily Telegraph reported the affair began when John Della Bosca and the young
woman met at a function in March.

According to a statement provided to the paper by the woman, things moved pretty quickly.

They were soon lovers and were declaring their love for one another.

Mr Della Bosca wouldn't be drawn on any details of the alleged affair, saying simply he'd made a
mistake.

JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I've made some poor decisions, decisions that I regret. I've taken my medicine.
You have to live up to the consequences of bad decisions and that is to resign as leader of the
government in the Legislative Council and as a minister. I will serve out my term as a member of
the Legislative Council.

BARBARA MILLER: The woman claims Mr Della Bosca sneaked her into his office where they had sex on
at least one occasion, and that he once deliberately missed a flight to Armidale where he was due
to officially open a hospital to be with her.

Mr Della Bosca denies those claims.

JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I've been very diligent as a minister. I have never, ever deliberately missed a
plane, dileberately missed a flight on any occasion, and at no time have I breached my obligations
as a member of Parliament or as a minister in regard to ministerial conduct, protocols or security.

BARBARA MILLER: The "Daily Telegraph" says the woman approached the paper with the allegations and
that she was not paid for them.

But Mr Della Bosca took a long time to decide how to respond when asked if he believed he had been
set up.

JOHN DELLA BOSCA: There is no possible way in which anything that has occurred could be described
as a set-up

BARBARA MILLER: The NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell was also momentarily lost for words on AM
this morning:

Do you feel any sympathy at all for John Della Bosca?

BARRY O'FARRELL: Look .... look, Mr Della Bosca can account for his own actions. But as far as the
public's concerned, once again we see a Rees Government minister forced to resign because of a
scandal, and that's bad news for the public because it simply means that their issues aren't being
focused on, and ultimately that's the job of government.

BARBARA MILLER: Mr Della Bosca has long been thought to covet leadership ambitions. In recent
weeks, there's been intense speculation about a possible challenge.

Associate Professor Rodney Smith from Department of Government and International Relations at the
University of Sydney says one won't be coming for some time now.

RODNEY SMITH: I don't think it's necessarily the end of his career in the Labor Party. But I think
it certainly marks a point where he'll spend a fair bit of time on the backbench if he wants to
remain in parliamentary politics.

I can't see him coming back onto the front bench before the next election which Labor is likely to
lose. So I think it's the end of his ministerial career, at least for a number of years.

BARBARA MILLER: It's just over a year since John Della Bosca and his wife Belinda Neal were
involved in a scandal centring around a nightclub on the Central Coast. Do you think he was still
carrying baggage for that? Or do you think this incident alone has forced his resignation?

RODNEY SMITH: I think it's certainly a combination of the two incidents and the previous incidents.
John Della Bosca's been a powerful figure within the NSW Labor Party for some time. He's got a lot
of friends but also a lot of enemies within the party, and these incidents have mounted up over
time. This one on its own probably wasn't enough to see the end of his career, if you like,
ministerial career.

BARBARA MILLER: John Della Bosca is married to the Federal Labor MP Belinda Neal, with whom he has
two sons. He says he deeply regrets the hurt and embarrassment he's caused his family.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller in Sydney.

Private life becomes public property

ELEANOR HALL: The former New South Wales health minister John Della Bosca says his extra-marital
affair did not involve any breach of his duties as a minister or MP. Yet he handed in his
resignation as soon as the liaison was made public.

So when should a personal dalliance cost you your career?

Joining me now in The World Today studio to talk about some of the issues raised by the always
fraught mix of sex and politics is Professor Rod Tiffen from the School of Government at the
University of Sydney.

Dr Tiffen is the author of Scandals, Media, Politics and Corruption in Contemporary Australia. On
the line from Perth we're joined by Associate Professor Stephan Millett, he's the director of the
Centre for Applied Ethics and Philosophy from Curtin University*(see editor's note).

And from the University of NSW Professor Catharine Lumby, the director of the journalism and media
research.

Thank you all for being there.

First to you Professor Rod Tiffen. In this instance, John Della Bosca has resigned but would an
affair like this always cost a minster his or her job?

ROD TIFFEN: Oh no, it wouldn't. I think we have to make a distinction between the politics of
principle and the politics of expedience. And the issues of principle go to whether it affected his
public role. But the issues of expedience go first of all to the strength and clarity of the
evidence, and here the former girlfriend has laid it all out.

And secondly it goes, I think, the politics of expedience goes to whether or not the minister
retains the confidence of his leader. The most notable thing about the - John Howard's ministerial
code of conduct was not what was in the code but that it was all to be enforced by Howard.

So the key factor in whether a minister survived or not was whether Howard thought they should.

And clearly in this instance, one of Della Bosca's greatest sins - not from an ecclesiastical point
of view but from a political point of view - is that he's been sounding off against Nathan Rees. So
there was no way he was going to maintain the confidence of the Premier.

ELEANOR HALL: Professor Catharine Lumby, aside from that issue of his relationship with the
Premier, should Mr Della Bosca have resigned?

CATHARINE LUMBY: Well, look I think this raises a really important issue in Australian public life.
When I wrote my PhD thesis, part of that was comparing the way in which sex scandals played out in
American politics and in Australian politics.

And as Professor Tiffen would know, historically Australians have been a lot less puritanical when
it comes to private sexual morality. I mean famously Bob Hawke, he's on the record as saying he's
had affairs, the press gallery knew about it - nobody wrote about it at the time.

But I think we've moved in Australia down a path, partly because of the pervasiveness of media
scrutiny, where matters which many people would say are matters of sexual morality, private
morality, not matters of public concern.

Where sexual harassment would be a matter of public interest but this really appears to be a
consensual relationship and really only an issue between Della Bosca and his family one would
suggest.

But I agree it's partly to do with his relationship with the Premier, but I think this also
reflects a sort of, a heightened moralism in Australian society, and I think it concerns me if we
start getting into that way of looking at people in public life because it may dissuade some very
good people from going into public life.

ELEANOR HALL: Professor Stephan Millet, are we seeing a heightened moralism as Catharine Lumby puts
it - or do public figures forfeit their right to private lives?

STEPHAN MILLET: No they don't forfeit their right to a private life. I'm not quite sure whether
there is a heightened moralism operating. I think it's partly a reflection of the media's ability
to tell this story very quickly. It's an age-old story and they can tell it 25 words if they need
to and still get it reasonably right.

So there's a sense that the story is an easy one to tell, and it's an easy one to tell in small
words in big type on the front page.

ELEANOR HALL: So staying with you Professor Millet, is it a media frenzy or does the public really
care about these things?

STEPHAN MILLET: It's both. The public do care. I mean we heard from the people in the street, there
are mixed views on what they care about: should it remain private? Does it reflect on his ability
to do the job? And you can say, well he's made a bad decision or a poor decision and in his own
words he has to cop the consequences of that.

And I suppose it opens up the question more generally: what other poor decisions is he making under
pressure.

ELEANOR HALL: What do you think Professor Tiffen? Is this just a media frenzy, and have times
changed? I mean, there's a long history of journalists not publishing personal details when they
clearly know about affairs.

ROD TIFFEN: Yes there is a long history of that. But there is also a long history of them
publishing. Normally they need a public-interest angle. The public-interest angle in this case is
almost non-existent.

He walked past, he got this lady to walk past a security guard without signing her in. My guess is
that happens 10 or 20 time every day in Federal Parliament and the state somehow still survives.

The impact on the public role here is quite minimal. But one of the things that's changed is that
politicians don't just sell themselves as competent performers as a public role, they sell their
whole persona, they say I am a wonderful person, trustworthy, altruistic et cetera, et cetera; a
warm human being with a wonderful family life.

And once you sort of make that part of your public pitch for election, the line between public role
and private life becomes increasingly blurred and problematic.

ELEANOR HALL: Catharine Lumby, what do you think: are male and female politicians treated
differently in this regard?

CATHARINE LUMBY: Well I think there is a difference in the way these things play out. I mean if you
look at Cheryl Kernot and the infamous affair with Gareth Evans, I think a lot of the sort of - and
when I use this word moralising I guess I'm talking about a sort of, you know the high moral ground
judging that goes on.

A lot of that directed at Cheryl Kernot I think was because she's supposed to play a maternal role
in Australian politics. So there was this real surprise that there was this sexual side to her, you
know. Because mothers aren't supposed to have that side to them. We were surprised, apparently.

I suspect that with Della Bosca there are some people who would, I mean I should be careful how I
put this, but would see this as a sort of rogue-ish element to his persona, and perhaps it could
have a little bit of positive as well as negative consequence.

So I think we do think about men and women in public life a little differently. But if I could just
add to what Rod Tiffen was saying, I think one of the thing we have to see is the way in which
online and mobile media technologies are changing not just the rapidity with which information gets
out there but the likelihood of scrutiny in any situation.

Because it's not just journalists any more, is it; I mean it's anybody with mobile phones with
cameras in them, and I think it's really raised the stakes for anyone in public life.

ELEANOR HALL: And Professor Millet what do you think: do you think male and female politicians are
treated differently, and that it is more difficult in the current media environment?

STEPHAN MILLET: Yes they are. But I think that reflects - and this is an uninformed, it's my
personal opinion - it reflects a more general double-standard that operates between, for men and
women in Australia.

Sexual infidelity by women has tended to be treated as something worse in some way than sexual
infidelity by men. Where - and I agree with Catharine Lumby, that the, this sort of rogue-ish
element, it's sort of expected that a virile man is going to spread his wild oats a bit whereas
it's somehow less acceptable for women.

ELEANOR HALL: And how does Australia's political and media culture compare to other countries. I
mean, would a Berlusconi survive here for long?

STEPHAN MILLET: I'm not so sure that he would. If Catharine's right in this heightened moralism,
then no definitely not.

ELEANOR HALL: Rod Tiffen, what's your view on that?

ROD TIFFEN: Well I think it's probably true that we've been less puritan than the Britain and
American but we're certainly much more puritan than some of the European countries. I mean
Berlusconi has got away with all sorts of things.

I always remember in the mid-1980s the British Cabinet minister Cecil Parkinson was forced to
resign from the Thatcher Cabinet over a extra-marital affair and president Mitterrand in France was
- told his Cabinet: imagine a minister having to resign because of an adulterous affair. If it
happened here we would only have the poofs left!

ELEANOR HALL: Catharine Lumby I'll just get a very brief response from you, you're saying that you
think Australia might be heading down the US path. But what do you think: how does our media and
political culture compare to other countries.

CATHARINE LUMBY: Well I think we are becoming more like America in that sense, I do. I think that
it's not necessarily reflective of what the electorate thinks because if you look at the reality,
statistics on sexual attitudes and behaviours, and there's been good research into that ... I mean,
there are a lot of people having affairs and I'm afraid if they all had to resign tomorrow there'd
be a lot of empty offices.

ELEANOR HALL: Rod Tiffen wants to briefly come back on that.

ROD TIFFEN: Well I do. I think Catharine's made an important point. I mean the media and politics
have become more puritanical just as society has gone in the opposite direction.

So as the divorce rate has gone up, as non-marital cohabitation has gone up , as all these other
things have gone up, suddenly this has become a much more grievous sin for politicians to engage
in.

ELEANOR HALL: It's a very interesting discussion but we're gonig to have to wind it there. Rod
Tiffen from Sydney University, Catharine Lumby from the Journalism and Media Research Centre at the
University of NSW and Professor Stephan Millett from the Centre for Applied Ethics and Philosophy
from Curtin University, thanks very much for joining us.

*EDITOR'S NOTE: In the original broadcast of this story no mention that Associate Professor Stephan
Millett was from Curtin University - we have added this detail to this transcript.

Commonwealth set to sever Suva

ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to Fiji where the military government is on the path to further
isolation.

Today is the deadline - set by the Commonwealth - for Fiji's military rulers to have announced an
election date.

If no date is chosen by midnight Fiji time, the country will be automatically suspended from the
Commonwealth.

As New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports.

KERRI RITCHIE: Fiji's self-appointed rulers say they won't be dictated to by external forces - and
they won't be holding elections before 2014.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group - or CMAG - gave Fiji a September 1 deadline to have
announced an election date for next year.

But the regime's spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni told Radio New Zealand this morning,
the Commonwealth won't be getting its wish.

NEUMI LEWENI: What I can tell you and confirm to you is that nothing is going to change.

KERRI RITCHIE: Eduardo del Buey is the London-based spokesman for the Commonwealth. He says the
ball is in Fiji's court.

EDUARDO DEL BUEY: The possibility of suspension is an extremely serious issue, it's an issue we
take very seriously, it's an issue we take in sorrow because our wish and our hope is that the
Fijians will have a democratic form of government and that they will accept Commonwealth values.

KERRI RITCHIE: Will you be in touch with Fiji to find out if their position has changed?

EDUARDO DEL BUEY: Well the interim Prime Minister of Fiji wrote to the Secretary-General. The
Secretary-General responded that what the interim Prime Minister said did not meet the conditions
set out be CMAG.

So it's up to the Fijians to communicate with us that they are going to accept the conditions that
were set up by CMAG.

KERRI RITCHIE: And what will be the process if suspension takes place?

EDUARDO DEL BUEY: Well, the Queen and the leaders are notified and the Fijian authorities are
notified and suspension is automatic.

KERRI RITCHIE: At this stage the Commonwealth won't say exactly what suspension will mean for Fiji.
Those details will be announced tomorrow.

But Fiji experts believe international assistance will be affected, as well as opportunities for
young people.

Steven Ratuva is a specialist on Fiji based at the University of Auckland.

STEVEN RATUVA: It will mean that Fiji is not going to enjoy some of the privileges of being members
of Commonwealth, such as provision of schoolwork as well as scholarships.

KERRI RITCHIE: Will Fiji still get to go to the Commonwealth Games?

STEVEN RATUVA: Yes. I think the Commonwealth Games what they try to do is, as much as possible, to
keep away from politics. And I think this particular case, Fiji might still be able to go to the
Commonwealth Games.

KERRI RITCHIE: Doctor Ratuva says Fiji has been suspended from the Commonwealth before back in
1987.

STEVEN RATUVA: This is the second time it's happened, the first time was after the first coup. And
then 10 years later in 1997, the suspension was lifted. It coincided with the Commonwealth meeting
in Scotland and Rabuka went over to the Queen and apologised to (inaudible).. dealing in front of
her .. symbolic.

KERRI RITCHIE: Do you think that Frank Bainimarama and his colleagues would be at all worried about
being suspended from the Commonwealth?

STEVEN RATUVA: I think they are probably used to being kept out of the limelight.

KERRI RITCHIE: Jonathan Fraenkel is a Fiji expert at the Australian National University. He says so
far Fiji's military rulers have been quite nonchalant about any action taken against them.

But he says there are a few signs that all is not completely well for Frank Bainimarama and his
colleagues.

JONATHAN FRAENKEL: One of the things that is quite noticeable is that you don't have many grand
statements of support for the regime coming out, even from interim ministers at the moment.

Since the abrogation of the constitution in April the whole show, I think, has come a little bit
off the rails. They no longer talk with such fervour about the reform program.

It's, sort of pretty transparent that the reason for putting off elections until 2014 is not
because they need time for electoral reform. It's simply because they want to keep hold of power as
long as they can. And it seems to me that the ministers themselves don't really believe in the
grand objectives of the coup anymore.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Fiji analyst Jonathan Fraenkel ending that report from our New Zealand
correspondent, Kerri Ritchie.

Sri Lanka jails Tamil journalist for 20 years

ELEANOR HALL: The Australian Tamil community is calling on the Australian Government to place
sanctions on Sri Lanka to protest against the treatment of a Tamil journalist who has been
sentenced to 20 years in jail for writing two editorials which were critical of the Sri Lankan
Government.

The High Court in Sri Lanka convicted the man of terrorism-related charges.

Human rights groups say for a supposed democratic nation the sentence is outrageous and oppressive.

As Bronwyn Herbert reports.

BRONWYN HERBERT: JS Tissainayagam is an ethnic Tamil, who is a newspaper editor and columnist in
Sri Lanka.

In 2006 he wrote two editorials that criticised the Sri Lankan Government. He's been in custody
since his arrest in March 2008, but yesterday he was found guilty in the High Court on three
terrorism-related charges.

James Ross is the legal and policy director at Human Rights Watch in New York.

JAMES ROSS: Not only is it a ridiculous conviction of this prominent journalist for really writing
editorials about the armed conflict that was going on in Sri Lanka, but it's another manifestation
of the Gvoernment's real attack on free expression and the media in Sri Lanka.

BRONWYN HERBERT: In court the defence argued that the 45-year-old journalist received funding
directly and indirectly from the Tamil Tigers.

Dr Sam Pari is a spokeswoman for the Australian Tamil Congress. Dr Pari says it's a question of
what defines "supporting terrorism".

SAM PARI: Writing against the Sri Lankan Government's war on the Tamil people in the Sri Lankan
Government's eyes, is supporting terrorism. The defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is also
the brother of the current president, said that if you are not with the Sri Lankan Government, then
you are with the terrorists.

So In Sri Lanka's eyes, anyone who is against the Sri Lankan Government is automatically in support
of terrorism.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Tissainayagm was the winner of an international journalism award that rewards
courageous and ethical reporting. In May the US President Barack Obama mentioned Tissainayagam in
his world press freedom day statement.

He described him as an "emblematic example" of a journalist who was being persecuted for doing his
work.

Dr Pari from the Australian Tamil Congress says in protest, the Australian Government should now
place sanctions on Sri Lanka.

SAM PARI: This is another reason, another example why the Australian Government should start
placing sanctions on a country like Sri Lanka. We should be treating Sri Lanka the same way we
treated Zimbabwe, the same way we treated the South African apartheid regime.

BRONWYN HERBERT: James Ross from Human Rights Watch says governments around the world should take
action.

JAMES ROSS: The US Government in particular had raised this case before, had expressed concerns
about it and I saw that today they had raised serious concerns. Certainly one would like to see the
Australian Government do the same.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith was not available to speak with the
World Today.

Don Mahindapala is a former president of the Sri Lankan working journalists association. He says
the sentence is too severe, but this case needs to be taken in context that terrorism is still a
significant threat in Sri Lanka.

DON MAHINDAPALA: The threat of terrorism still haunts Sri Lanka. In relation to the case of Mr
Tissainayagm, this case was initiated at the height of the terrorist activity of the Tamil Tigers.
So it was in that context that he was charged and the anti-terror laws were brought in to deal with
those who are linked to the Tamil Tigers.

And rightly or wrongly, the high court had decided that he should be sentenced.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Tissainayagum's lawyers say they will appeal the conviction.

ELEANOR HALL: Bronwyn Herbert reporting.

US sets sober tone for Afghanistan

ELEANOR HALL: The US military commander in Afghanistan has delivered a sobering verdict on the US
strategy in his review of the eight-year-long war.

General Stanley McChrystal says the war can be won but that the security situation in Afghanistan
is extremely challenging.

Lindy Kerin has our report.

LINDY KERIN: It's a frank assessment about the way forward. The report by General Stanley
McChrystal says the situation in Afghanistan is serious, but victory is still achievable.

The report hasn't been published yet, but it's believed General McChrystal puts the protection of
the Afghan people against the Taliban as the top priority.

This is what he said in an interview earlier this month.

STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL: You have to first protect the people from anything. You have to deny the
insurgents access to the people, so they can't coerce them at night and other modes of influence,
and then you have to make your argument to the people and your argument has to be multifaceted.

It's got to be: we can protect you and if we can protect you we're going to help the government
provide them legitimate governance, rule of law and a chance to develop.

LINDY KERIN: Stephen Biddle is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and an adviser
to General McChrystal.

STEPHEN BIDDLE: We need to both make progress on the security front, which is centrally a matter of
shifting from an emphasis on hunting insurgents and terrorists to an emphasis on protecting the
population.

I think we also have to make significant progress on the governance front. We can keep this patient
on life-support indefinitely if we provide enough security.

But in order to ever turn the ventilator off, enable ourselves to leave and this government to
stand on its own, we need a substantial improvement in the quality of governance in the country as
well.

LINDY KERIN: Copies of the report on Afghanistan have been sent to Washington and to the NATO
headquarters in Brussels. It will be considered before any decision is made about whether troop
numbers should be increased.

The US Defence Secretary Robert Gates says he hasn't yet seen the report but he expects it to be a
realistic one.

ROBERT GATES: We have been very explicit that General McChrystal should be forthright in telling us
what he needs in order to accomplish the mission that he has been given. And we will look at his
assessment, and then we will look at the resource recommendations that he makes.

LINDY KERIN: NATO spokesman James Appathurai says the commanders' report will be considered very
carefully. He says security in Afghanistan is still a major challenge.

JAMES APPATHURAI: Well frankly I think anyone who turns on the news or reads the paper knows that
it's serious. We see a lot of progress on the ground, particularly in development assistance,
people going to school, access to healthcare, roads being built ... a lot of that happens and
people don't see it.

But when you come to the security situation, of course it is a real challenge.

LINDY KERIN: The report by General McChrystal comes as counting continues in the presidential poll.
Afghanistan's election commission says President Hamid Karzai is still leading, with ballots from
almost half the country's voting stations now counted.

The August 20 poll was marred by allegations of fraud and intimidation. And today an Afghan man has
claimed the Taliban cut off his nose and ears as he tried to vote.

Lal Mohammad spoke to the media from his hospital bed.

LAL MOHAMMAD (translated): The Taliban cut off my nose. When I was going to the Shiran village to
cast my vote the Taliban stopped me and hit me with the butt of an AK-47. Then I don't know what
happened because I was knocked unconscious.

If I knew that this could happen to me I would have never taken the voting card.

LINDY KERIN: Plastic surgeon Aminullah Hamkar says Lal Mohammad's case is not an isolated one.

AMINULLAH HAMKAR (trnaslated): The patient is the victim of the political game which is going on
here. He is one of many who have made it here. There are many others whose fingers were cut off,
ears were cut off before elections and this particular patient is the victim of this election.

LINDY KERIN: The election results in Afghanistan are not expected to be finalised until mid or late
September.

ELEANOR HALL: Lindy Kerin reporting.

Union calls for crackdown on sham contractors

ELEANOR HALL: The building industry union says hundreds of thousands of independent contractors are
not typical private company owners but rather are backpackers, international students, or
apprentices who are being paid as little as ten dollars an hour.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union says it's too easy to get an Australian
Business Number and it's called on the Rudd Government to tighten up the tax rules.

But groups representing the building industry say the tax rules are adequate -- it is just that
better enforcement is needed.

Finance reporter, Sue Lannin.

SUE LANNIN: There are nearly one million independent contractors in Australia, with the majority
either tradespeople or white collar professionals.

They are business people who sell their labour and use Australian Business Numbers, which were
brought in by the Howard Government.

But the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union says the system is being abused by some
employers who are making people to set themselves up as contractors to get a job.

John Sutton is the union's national secretary. He says it's too easy to get an ABN.

JOHN SUTTON: What we now see of course is backpackers with ABNs and international students with
ABNs and apprentices. There's a hell of a lot of apprentices in the building industries. Somehow
they're running businesses while they're an apprentice. It's a nonsense.

SUE LANNIN: How do you know that people are being exploited?

JOHN SUTTON: We see examples every week. Last week we had 150 Chinese on two Sydney building sites.
A lot of them were students and illegals and what not. Most of them spoke no English whatsoever.

How you can be running a bona fide business but you can't speak a word of English is pretty
strange. They were all being paid very low money, no superannuation, no worker's comp. I'd like to
say that's rare but it's not. It's very, very common for us to find these kinds of scams across the
building industry today.

SUE LANNIN: How many people are affected?

JOHN SUTTON: Huge numbers, we estimate that there's probably in the order of 300,000, when the
industry's booming it could be as high as 400,000 all under these bogus arrangements in building.
But then it's not just confined to building, it's in a whole range of other areas like security and
cleaning.

SUE LANNIN: The CFMEU wants the law changed to make it harder for people to become independent
contractors unless they satisfy certain rules. The law is being looked at by the Board of Taxation.

The Independent Contractors of Australia represents the industry and doesn't think the tax laws
should be changed.

Executive director, Ken Phillips, says the union's stance is political because it opposes
independent contractors on building sites.

KEN PHILLIPS: The law is very clear now. We've got several areas to go on. The CFMEU trying to
fiddle around with this law again is their old agenda of trying to use taxation purposes for their
industrial relations purposes.

SUE LANNIN: The Bureau of Statistics says more than one-third of contractors can't sub-contract and
don't have authority over their own work. The CFMEU says that's evidence they are employees.

Ken Phillips says there are problems with sham contracts but the answer is better law enforcement
not amendments. He says contractors who are being exploited can complain to the fair work
ombudsman.

KEN PHILLIPS: There's a strong possibility that there are large numbers, what those numbers are we
don't know. People who have got problems in the area need to go to the employee ombudsman, that's
what he's there to do.

He is investigating, he is robust in the investigations and they should be followed through.

SUE LANNIN: In its submission to the Board of Taxation, the Taxation Institute says the law could
be improved.

Dr Michael Dirkis is the Institute's senior tax counsel.

MICHAEL DIRKIS: We're limiting to the scope that the Government has given us the opportunity. We've
asked for a sort of clarification of the rules to try and get them to work a little bit more
simply.

SUE LANNIN: So is the Commonwealth losing tax revenue because of the system?

MICHAEL DIRKIS: The issue is the extent to which the Commonwealth and the states have actually
encouraged the growth in these sorts of contracting arrangements. So I think as a consequence of
those sorts of actions if people were all in employment then obviously the revenue mix would be
slightly different to what we're seing today.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Michael Dirkis from the Taxation Institute, ending that report by finance
reporter, Sue Lannin.

Youth Allowance changes hit rural students

ELEANOR HALL: Pressure from Australian university students forced the Federal Government to delay
its proposed changes to the Youth Allowance.

Now students from rural and remote areas are asking for extra changes.

They say its costs them much more than their city counterparts to attend university and that the
Government should recognise that.

Nance Haxton has our report.

NANCE HAXTON: The immediate concerns of students in this Year 12 English class at Port Lincoln's St
Joseph's School are similar to their city cousins: when is the assignment due and when does the
lesson finish.

But that is where the similarities end, with many students now wondering whether they will be able
to go to university at all, regardless of what marks they achieve.

Port Lincoln is an eight-hour drive from Adelaide and South Australia's capital is an even longer
distance for boarders from farming communities.

Year 12 students Tim Grove-Jones and Kiah Hosking say the difficulties they face should be better
recognised by the Federal Government's Youth Allowance.

TIM GROVE-JONES: The accommodation's probably $10,000 a year, and then there's other living
expenses that will just stack up. It's quite a lot of money.

KIAH HOSKING: I was going to defer and take that gap year off to earn the $18,000 but now I'm
unsure because I don't want to stay away from uni for two years. And you've got to think about
living costs as well, so you've got to have some money before you move over there.

NANCE HAXTON: They say the changes to how you qualify for Youth Allowance - from earning a set
amount of money to working a set number of hours a week - sets them further behind because it
doesn't recognise the lack of and often seasonal nature of rural work.

KIAH HOSKING: Rural areas, there's not as many businesses that will hire you for 30 hours averaged
a week.

TIM GROVE-JONES: And there's also quite a few jobs that are, like, more like on the fishing boats
and things like that, where you might make your money in a month or two months but you're not
working 30 hours a week. So under the new system it might be a bit harder to qualify.

NANCE HAXTON: St Joseph's deputy principal Richard Horgan is worried that the changes will mean
less students going to the city to study and then returning to professional careers in regional
towns - just as he did.

RICHARD HORGAN: Being taken out of that community and put in an unfamiliar environment is always
challenging. Then to have financial pressures on top of that really does compound the situation I
think.

NANCE HAXTON: What sort of strain does that put on rural families that you've seen?

RICHARD HORGAN: Oh well as we know drought conditions, that's put enormous pressure on all rural
communities right around Australia, and this is just another, dare I say, kick in the guts for
country people I think.

NANCE HAXTON: And he's not the only one concerned. Melissa Smith is the only physiotherapist in the
isolated farming community of Cleve on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.

She lives with her husband and three children on a mixed farm in the district. She wants to send
her children to university, but the changes to youth allowance mean she's now not sure how they'll
cope financially.

MELISSA SMITH: My concern I suppose is if country kids are discouraged from taking up university
placements then we know that that can reduce the livelihood that will get students, who want to
come back to the country.

Those country kids are more likely to come back and work in the country. So there's less country
kids at uni, there's less qualified people coming back into our country areas.

NANCE HAXTON: Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey conducted a survey in his largely remote South
Australian electorate and found that the average cost of sending a rural student to university, was
$16,000 more a year than their city counterparts.

ROWAN RAMSEY: We do need something that realistically recognises the extra costs that rural and
regional students face over and above those that live in the city.

So we need a genuine, a genuine living away from home allowance which is paid to all students which
have to relocate, that reflects a fair amount for what they have to pay.

NANCE HAXTON: A Senate inquiry into rural and regional access to education starts hearings in Tweed
Heads tomorrow.

ELEANOR HALL: Nance Haxton reporting.

Study debunks preventative aspirin use

ELEANOR HALL: Scottish scientists have released research that shatters the popular view that an
aspirin a day keeps the doctor away.

They've found that the risks of taking aspirin to ward off heart disease far outweigh the benefits.

Dina Rosendorff reports that the scientists presented their research at an international meeting of
heart specialists in Spain.

DINA ROSENDORFF: There's been a long-running debate in the medical world about whether or not
healthy people should take aspirin on a regular basis to reduce their risk of blood clots. Now a
team of Scottish doctors may have put an end to that debate.

Dr James Shaw is a cardiologist at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and a senior researcher at the
Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

JAMES SHAW: This study looked to see whether, in patients without a known history of heart disease
or stroke, whether adding aspirin to their therapy versus placebo or a sugar tablet showed the
aspirin to be better.

And in actual fact there was no difference between the two treatment arms, suggesting that in
patients without a history of heart disease or stroke there doesn't appear to be any benefit to add
aspirin in terms of reducing their risk of a heart attack or a stroke.

DINA ROSENDORFF: The research was led by Professor Gerry Fowkes from Edinburgh's Wolfson Unit for
Prevention of Peripheral Vascular Disease.

Dr James Shaw says the study shows that the "worried well" -- that is healthy people who take an
aspirin a day as a preventative measure -- could be doing themselves more harm than good.

JAMES SHAW: These sorts of studies have been going on for some time and the issue of aspirin in
primary prevention is very controversial. And this study confirms what people have previously
suspected, is that there doesn't appear to be any significant benefit in patients without a history
of heart disease.

And the other thing about the aspirin is it does slightly increase patients' risk of bleeding, some
of which required them to be in hospital because of it, and also increases their risk of stomach
ulcers.

DINA ROSENDORFF: But Dr Shaw says aspirin is still beneficial for people with a history of
cardiovascular disease.

DR JAMES SHAW: I think it's very important to realise that these are patients without any
documented history of heart disease. So in patients who have any history of heart disease there's
no doubt that aspirin is very beneficial and patients should continue on their aspirin.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Professor James Tatoulis is the chief medical adviser with the Heart Foundation.
He says the study supports the Foundation's existing recommendations.

JAMES TATOULIS: The position is for what we call secondary prevention, that is if you've had a
defined event relating to your heart or stroke then aspirin is very, very strongly recommended.

For people that are actually having, or an evolving heart attack where you think you might be
having a heart attack with chest pains, or in fact an established heart attack, again taking
aspirin as soon as you possibly can in those situations also reduces your chance of dying by
between about 20 and 50 per cent depending on the studies.

However the position is for people that are otherwise well, who have never had a heart problem,
then the Heart Foundation would not recommend routine use of aspirin.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Professor Tatoulis says if you're a generally healthy person, there are other ways
to look after your heart rather than take regular aspirin.

JAMES TATOULIS: For people who are otherwise well who are worried and if you are over 45, to really
see your GP and have, sort of an examination, particularly of your blood pressure. Of all the
things you can do, blood pressure is probably the simplest and most effective thing to control.

So those things are very, very effective and they're certainly within our control, and they're
pretty simple to do.

ELEANOR HALL: The Heart Foundation's Professor James Tatoulis ending Dina Rosendorff's report.

Australia springs out of a hot winter

ELEANOR HALL: It's officially spring again and the issue of climate change is also in the air.

The National Climate Centre says the change of seasons may not be so pronounced this year and that
Australians have just experienced one of their hottest winters on record.

Charlotte Glennie has more.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: People woke to the first day of spring this morning but in parts of southern
Queensland temperatures had plunged to below zero.

Blair Trewin from the National Climate Centre says that's a stark contrast to a week ago.

BLAIR TREWIN: Early last week we saw a number of locations in northern NSW and southern Queensland
break their August record-high temperatures by four or five degrees. And to break records by that
sort of margin at a long-term station, particularly an inland station is something which is
extremely rare.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Even rarer were the temperatures recorded in the outback Queensland town of
Windorah.

BLAIR TREWIN: It broke its August temperature record six times during the month. It started out the
month with the record being 34.9 and by the time the month was over the record was 38.0.

There were a number of other places that got above their previous record five or more times during
the month but Windorah was the only place which did it in ever-increasing steps.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The heatwave has had grave consequences for the agricultural sector.

Lourens Grobler is for development officer for Queensland Strawberries.

LOURENS GROBLER : With the heatwave they all ripen at the same time, so you'll have a lot of
strawberries suddenly on the market, flooding the markets. We sort of ran into a glut or oversupply

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The industry was predicted to be worth $150 million this year but Mr Grobler
estimates earnings will be down by as much as ten per cent.

LOURENS GROBLER : The top quality now on the market, they're very sweet, they're big and they just
don't get any prices for them. If the public pays, say, less than $2.30 a punnet I don't think that
grower makes any money on that punnet.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: So will punnets of strawberries be selling for less than that amount given the
oversupply at the moment?

LOURENS GROBLER : Now $1.50 a punnet; yes, so the grower must get less than say $1 a punnet which
is below their break-even price.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Blair Trewin from the National Climate Centre says the mild winter has been felt
all over the country.

BLAIR TREWIN: It's been a very warm winter over most of Australia and it looks like it's going to
be touch and go whether it's the warmest winter on record for Australia. As of yesterday morning it
was running equal first.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: What was the last warm winter like this?

BLAIR TREWIN: Well 1996 is one that we're running close to.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Why do you think this August was so hot?

BLAIR TREWIN: Well, we've got a few things at play. We do see quite a bit of variability from year
to year, and the pattern we saw this year was we saw very persistent high pressure through the
subtropics and that meant there were really no opportunities for cooler air to penetrate into
central and northern Australia at all.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: John Ridley grows grain in the central west of New South Wales.

JOHN RIDLEY: We needed rain yesterday, right. We needed rain most probably a fortnight ago for our
crops to realise their full potential but obviously there's been a big setback in yield now or
yield potential.

Most probably already, there's most probably been 30 per cent of our yield potential gone and every
day it doesn't rain that will fall quite dramatically from there.

ELEANOR HALL: John Ridley is a NSW grain grower, he was speaking to Charlotte Glennie.