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Australian economy

Correction in sight, as markets fall

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

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.

Storm in a port over coal queue

ELEANOR HALL: And staying with the economy, the collapse of an agreement on coal queues is
threatening to cause chaos at one of the nation's largest ports. More than 40 ships are now waiting
along the coast of Newcastle in New South Wales to load coal.

The country's main coal exporters have been trying for years to work out a system to reduce the
delays. But late yesterday they failed to meet the deadline set by the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission and it's now revoked an interim approval to allow them all to operate.

Brigid Glanville has our report.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: As China's insatiable demand for coal continues to grow, exporters are working
around the clock to get the product off the docks. But the ports aren't big enough and ships can
queue for days to load before they leave.

For the past five years an interim approval has been in place to allow the coal exporters to ship
the coal out and at the same time expand the port of Newcastle. But the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission says not all parties will agree, so the approval has been revoked.

Chairman Graeme Samuel spoke with ABC Radio in Newcastle this morning.

GRAEME SAMUEL: Well unfortunately it didn't work hard enough. There were three parties involved,
one is the Port Waratah Coal Service of course which manages the port, the other is NPC (Newcastle
Port Corporation) and the third group is the NCIG (Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group).

That third group NCIG failed to sign a long term solution agreement if I can call it that by the
31st of August which is the deadline that was set.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: The ACCC says the companies have been distributing the current capacity amongst
coal producers and not expanding it. Graeme Samuel says they knew the deadline was approaching and
have had plenty of time to put a proper system in place.

GRAEME SAMUEL: They've known since March 2008 I have to tell you, and we've kept on extending and
extending and then six weeks ago they promised us that they would sign up long term implementation
agreements, a series of legal agreements to give the certainty needed to this long term
implementation plan to be put in place.

We've come to the conclusion that it is no longer in the public interest, there's no longer an
overwhelming public benefit in having this so called transition arrangement in place - all it's
doing is providing if you like, a comfort blanket or a disincentive to the long term solution being
set up.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: The two parties which signed the deal - Port Waratah Coal Services and the
Newcastle Port Corporation - say it's now up to the BHP Billiton backed NCIG or Newcastle Coal
Infrastructure Group to come an agreement.

The New South Wales Ports Minister Joe Tripodi, speaking from Parliament House in Sydney, explains
why NCIG hasn't signed the deal.

JOE TRIPODI: They won't sign because in essence we are insisting as a government that before they
have rights to go over to the PWCS terminal and require from them an expansion in that terminal to
meet their needs, their exporting needs. That they need to build their current loader, the one that
they're building at the moment, to its full capacity.

That's the sticking point, the Government will not change its position on this, that we are not
allowing a coal loading business to sit on capacity while there's so much demand from coal
producers to have export capacity through the port.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: The New South Wales Government supports the decision of the Australian
Competition and Consumer Commission and says if the third party comes to table then delays
shouldn't be extended.

The Newcastle Coal infrastructure Group hasn't spoken to the media today. The ACCC hopes the matter
can be resolved by the end of the week.

ELEANOR HALL: Brigid Glanville reporting.

Hendra virus claims another life

ELEANOR HALL: There's grief and fear in Queensland's horse community today with Hendra virus
claiming the life of the vet, Dr Alister Rodgers. The 33 year old was infected when he was treating
sick horses last month and he died today in hospital.

The Queensland veterinary community paid tribute to Dr Rodger's skill as a vet and called for an
urgent injection of funds for research into the deadly Hendra virus.

The disease has killed three other people since the first known outbreak in 1994 but Hendra virus
has never been found in humans outside Queensland.

In Brisbane, Annie Guest reports.

ANNIE GUEST: It was the news many had hoped would not come. This morning brought confirmation that
weeks of intensive care had failed to prevent the death of another horse worker.

ABC NEWSREADER: A Central Queensland vet has died from Hendra virus in a Brisbane hospital. Dr
Alistair Rogers...

ANNIE GUEST: With the death of the 55-year-old comes a grim statistic - the disease has now killed
more than half of the people it's infected.

Three have survived, four have died. Racehorse trainer Vic Rail lost his life when the disease was
first identified in the Brisbane suburb of Hendra in 1994, soon afterwards came the death of a
central Queensland horse worker, and then a vet died last year.

And the news of another vet's death has rocked the Australian Veterinary Association's president,
Dr Mark Lawrie.

MARK LAWRIE: We're certainly gutted, veterinarians around Australia are mourning his death,
particularly as it comes just 12 months after Ben Cunneen died. It's really hard to believe that
it's happened again.

ANNIE GUEST: There's been a similar response in Dr Rodgers' local community, according to
Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter.

BRAD CARTER: My first reaction was one of deep sympathy, and shock for the outcome.

ANNIE GUEST: What effect do you think this will have on your community, particularly horse owners
and horse workers?

BRAD CARTER: The reaction from people I've spoken to this morning has been one of, you know,
considerable concern and shock at the outcome.

ANNIE GUEST: Horse people are fearful of the disease which is believed to pass from bats to horses
to humans. So far there's limited treatment and no vaccine.

Dusan Cech owns a property east of Rockhampton and his daughter is a veterinarian.

DUSAN CECH: Well I'm extremely saddened by it, you know, my main concern is that had it been my
daughter lying in that hospital bed, my approach to these things would be that no stone should be
left unturned in the search for a cure.

ANNIE GUEST: And one group that doesn't think enough is being done is the Australian Veterinary
Association. Dr Mark Lawrie again.

MARK LAWRIE: We've really got to take these things seriously, they're not going to go away, we've
seen influenza H1N1 this year, similar sort of set of circumstances where there's been animals and
people involved and it's likely that we're going to see more of these, and the risks are high and
we need to be dealing with them.

ANNIE GUEST: But there is Government funded research going on at the CSIRO laboratories in Geelong,
and at State Government facilities in Brisbane; what are your specific concerns about those

MARK LAWRIE: We would like to see more research and more funding from Australia - some of the
funding that we have has come from offshore from the US.

ANNIE GUEST: Politicians are yet to respond to the calls for more funding for Hendra virus research
and prevention. The Queensland Health Minister Paul Lucas has told the State Parliament he learned
of Dr Rodgers' death last night.

PAUL LUCAS: I extend my deepest sympathies. This is a terrible tragedy for his family who are being
supported by staff at the Princess Alexandra hospital.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Queensland Health Minister Paul Lucas ending that report from Annie Guest
in Brisbane.

Fijians to feel the fallout, says top lawyer

ELEANOR HALL: Overseas now and the President of Fiji's Law Society is warning that the
Commonwealth's suspension of Fiji will hurt, not help, ordinary people. Australia's Foreign
Minister Stephen Smith says the intention has never been to hurt the Fijian people, but he's
adamant the action was necessary.

And New Zealand's Government says this was the only option to get Fiji back on the road to
democracy and that everyone must now be patient.

This report from the ABC's New Zealand correspondent, Kerri Ritchie.

KERRI RITCHIE: Fiji is still a member of the Commonwealth but the military-run island nation is
suspended from being involved in any activities relating to it. Commonwealth Deputy
Secretary-General Masire-Mwamba says there are serious consequences.

MMASEKGOA MASIRE-MWAMBA: Fiji will not be allowed to participate at ministerial or head of
government level in any of the inter-governmental interventions, be they meetings or other forum,
they will not be able to participate in the Commonwealth Games. And their flag would be raised down
from Marlborough House and all references to Fiji will be as a suspended member.

Any technical assistance that would ordinarily be offered to Fiji will also be suspended during
this period.

KERRI RITCHIE: Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth because it failed to set a date for
elections next year as directed. Fiji's military rulers say they won't be intimidated and won't
hold elections until 2014; they didn't respond to further inquiries.

The New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully says the ball is now in Fiji's court and everyone
must wait.

MURRAY MCCULLY: There's really nothing we can do to force Fiji to move down a path towards
democracy and the rule of law. We have to accept that if they want to resist that process then they
can do so, and I think we should just patiently wait and wait for the time at which they want to
receive international assistance.

Economic pressures I think will contribute to that sort of outcome eventually, and it's going to
just take some time.

KERRI RITCHIE: Dorsami Naidu is the president of the Fiji Law Society.

DORSAMI NAIDU: Well I think it's going to affect the common man more than the regime because you
know, Fiji is a pretty small country, we have very little resources. Unfortunately what's happened
by being kicked out of the Commonwealth, regardless of how much they may say, the regime might say
it does not matter, is that the little aid and the little help we were getting from the European
Union and the Commonwealth, that will be affected.

KERRI RITCHIE: Does this affect Frank Bainimarama and the rest of the interim government at all?

DORSAMI NAIDU: Probably the military will be affected in that they can't go and have their
scholarships or training in centres in other parts of the Commonwealth, but apart from that they've
got their hands on the finances of this country and on the power base, and it's not going to affect
them. They don't have the interests of this country at heart.

KERRI RITCHIE: Dorsami Naidu would have liked the Commonwealth to target the interim government
rather than the general Fijian population.

Last time you spoke out, you spent a night in jail; is that threat still hanging over you?

DORSAMI NAIDU: We don't know. The trouble here is we've got total censorship, you're not allowed to
have public meetings and I don't know, may or may not.

KERRI RITCHIE: The International Federation of Journalists says people should rethink holiday plans
they have for Fiji. But the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully believes that's taking
things too far.

MURRAY MCCULLY: I think if we were to do anything that was going to curtail the rights of New
Zealanders to trade with Fiji or conduct economic relations in the form of tourism, then we'd be no
better than the Commodore and his regime.

KERRI RITCHIE: The Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says Fiji's military rulers remain a very big
problem for the Pacific and beyond.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well it is a very serious problem, but it's now a problem which effectively the
international community through the Pacific Islands Forum, the Commonwealth, the European Union and
the United Nations itself, all now have a unanimous view about. We continued to be very concerned
about media censorship, harassment recently of Methodist church leaders, worry about human rights
and we hope that the continued international pressure has the effect in due course of returning
Fiji to democracy.

KERRI RITCHIE: Realistically though, do you think that Frank Bainimarama is going to care?

STEPHEN SMITH: This is going to be a long term or a long haul problem for Fiji and for the Pacific
and for the international community.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith ending that report from Kerri Ritchie.

Warrants issued for Pinochet's people

ELEANOR HALL: A court in Chile has ordered the arrest of more than 120 people who allegedly
violated human rights in the 1970s under the regime of General Pinochet. The former soldiers and
police are accused of being part of a police unit that purged critics of the military dictatorship.

As Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: About 3,000 dissenters were killed or disappeared after Augusto Pinochet seized
control of Chile in a military coup in 1973. The dictatorship ended in 1990, more than 1,000 people
are still missing.

PATRICIO BUSTOS (translated): It is painful to admit, but we know that we're not going to be able
to identify all of them.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Patricio Bustos is the director of forensic services for the Chilean
Government. It's just launched a new campaign calling on the relatives of the missing to give DNA
so the Government can create a huge database to help identify any bodies that are found.

While the painstaking search for remains goes on, Chile's justice system is also laboriously
conducting an inquest into the regime. Overnight a judge has issued warrants for the arrest of 129
people accused of kidnapping and killing leftists and government opponents. The accused all worked
for the National Intelligence Directorate

Dr Marivic Wyndham from the University of Technology Sydney says the force, known as the DINA, was
the most feared organisation in Chile. It killed and kidnapped hundreds of people as part of
Operation Condor.

MARIVIC WYNDHAM: Opponents who were overseas were targeted by the DINA. They went into Washington
DC and in the very first time that the mainland United States has experienced a terrorist attack,
the ex-foreign minister of Chile Orlando Letelier, and his assistant, there was a car bomb and they
were both killed instantly.

So this was really a campaign to both exterminate these voices that were giving Pinochet's regime a
hard time overseas, but also to intimidate the others who were the many, many hundreds and
thousands of exiles of the dictatorship who were themselves trying to bring to the attention of the
international community what was going on.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The warrants relate to that operation, as well as Operation Colombo and other
offences. Since 1990, scores of officials from the Pinochet era have been prosecuted for
kidnapping, torture and murder, but very few of the major players have faced court. General
Pinochet himself died in 2006 without ever being brought to trial.

The inquest into his regime has been running since 1998, but Dr Wyndham says many Chileans have
become increasingly cynical about the process.

MARIVIC WYNDHAM: There's a long history to this, and there's been and continues to be a very strong
denial on the part of not only the DINA, members of the DINA, but the members of the armed forces,
many of them were also involved in these crimes, denial of these crimes.

So it's very, very slow and frustrating process to get these people to court. The problem with
Chile as well is that even when you do get them through court and even when you do get them
indebted, a lot of them have their sentences reduced considerably and also where they're put is not
where your common criminals go, but in rather nice accommodation.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Chilean police are expected to start arresting the 129 suspects today. It's the
largest amount of warrants to be issued so far, and Dr Wyndham says that should give hope to human
rights groups.

MARIVIC WYNDHAM: One of the big obstacles to reconciliation in Chile has been the lack of
commitment on the part of those that can actually go out there and seek the truth, and therefore
seek justice, to really commit themselves. I think a lot of Chileans would say we need to see a
commitment on the part of the state to bring these people to justice, not only out of revenge, but
also to make the statement that never again will this happen.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: But she says politics may be playing a role too. Chile will hold presidential
elections next year, and Dr Wyndham says there are concerns the ruling centre-left coalition may
lose government for the first time since the transition to democracy.

ELEANOR HALL: Meredith Griffiths.

Beslan bereaved ... and questions remain

ELEANOR HALL: Five years ago a horrific event pushed a small Russian community into the global

In Beslan, in September 2004, hundreds of children were killed when a siege in their school ended
in a shootout between the hostage takers and Russian forces.

More than 330 of the 1,000 hostages held by the Chechen rebels died and the people of the community
still haven't been told who ordered the Russian tanks to fire on the school.

This report from Moscow correspondent Scott Bevan.

SCOTT BEVAN: Across Russia, it's been the day of knowledge, the day when students return to school
for the New Year, but not in Beslan.

(Sound of crying)

In this southern Russian town, it's been a day of mourning, as hundreds have returned to the ruins
of school number one to remember what happened here five years ago.

(Sound of Russian man speaking)

"It was horrible, it was impossible," this former police officer recalls.

On September 1st 2004, a terrorist group demanding an end to the war in nearby Chechnya entered the
school and took more than 1,100 children, teachers and parents hostage. The siege shocked the
world. Tanya Lokshina is a researcher for the organisation Human Rights Watch.

TANYA LOKSHINA: What made Beslan especially heinous is that the attack was deliberately targeted
against the most vulnerable group ever, that is against children.

SCOTT BEVAN: Less than three days later, Russian special forces stormed the school, a battle raged
and by the time it was over at least 331 hostages were dead, including 186 children.

Mairbek Tuayev's wife, son and twin daughters were caught up in the siege, one of his girls was

MAIRBEK TUAYEV (translated): Although they say time cures everything, from my point of view, that's
not the case. When I look at one daughter - considering they were twins - I immediately imagine the
second one, who we lost. I just don't know what to say.

SCOTT BEVAN: Many of the survivors and victims' families remain not only grief-stricken but angry.
They say so many questions about the siege, the way authorities responded and how it ended as a
massacre remain unanswered.

And they argue the Federal Government is unwilling to hold a full and proper investigation to
answer those questions or to even listen to their cries for better medical and financial support
for survivors.

Ella Kesayeva is the head of a support group formed by victims' families, Voice of Beslan.

ELLA KESAYEVA (translated): With five years having passed, we realise that we - the victims of
terrorism - have turned out to be lost, we're ignored by the state. We've become outcasts.

SCOTT BEVAN: This region of Russia remains highly volatile, areas close to Beslan, such as
Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, have experienced a surge in violence recently.

Human Rights Watch's Tanya Lokshina says with security deteriorating and terrorist acts increasing
in the North Caucasus region there is the possibility of another massacre like the one that tore
apart Beslan.

TANYA LOKSHINA: Most unfortunately, in the current situation, it does seem to be possible, and this
prospect is indeed very frightening.

SCOTT BEVAN: As they lay flowers before photos of their children during the service, the people of
Beslan pray that no one else experiences what they've had to endure, for such an appalling loss of
life leaves far more than a school in ruins.

This is Scott Bevan in Moscow for The World Today.

White South African gets refugee status

ELEANOR HALL: A Canadian tribunal's decision to grant a white South African man refugee status has
outraged the ruling party in South Africa. Thirty-one-year-old Brandon Huntley claimed that he
couldn't return to South Africa because he was targeted for muggings and robberies because of his

The Canadian Refugee Board agreed that there was persecution of whites by blacks in South Africa.
But a spokesman from the African National Congress says that decision itself is racist.

Carly Laird has our report.

CARLY LAIRD: Relations between South Africa and Canada could turn sour over the coming days
following the Canadian immigration board's ruling that a white South African man would be granted
refugee status.

South Africa's governing party, the African National Congress, is already clearly upset by the
issue. Spokesman, Ishmael Mnisi.

ISHMAEL MNISI: The African National Congress views the granting by Canada of a refugee status to
South African citizen Brandon Huntley on the grounds that Africans would persecute him, as racist.

CARLY LAIRD: The white South African man, Brandon Huntley, first went to Canada on a work permit in
2006. But he then stayed on illegally, and claimed refugee status.

He told the immigration board he was mugged and stabbed in seven attempted robberies in South
Africa and that he was called a "white dog" and a "settler" during the attacks. But he also said
that he didn't report the robberies to police because he didn't trust them.

But Ishmael Minisi from the ANC says South Africa is a constitutional democracy which is fully able
to fight crime.

ISHMAEL MNISI: We find the claim by Huntley to have been attacked seven times by Africans due to
his skin colour - without any police intervention - sensational and alarming. Canada's reasoning
for granting Huntley a refugee status can only serve to perpetuate racism.

CARLY LAIRD: Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper quoted the Refugee Board member who made the ruling,
William Davis, as saying there was convincing proof of the South African Government's inability or
unwillingness to protect him.

One South African resident agrees with the ruling.

SOUTH AFRICAN RESIDENT: I agree with him on that part because South Africa is mostly focusing on
black people too much these days. Like white people aren't given enough emphasis. Basically,
they've just paid for their sins for just too long.

CARLY LAIRD: But other locals agree with the Government that the ruling is racist.

SOUTH AFRICAN RESIDENT 2: Actually I think this guy is sick 'cause if you check, we're living in
South Africa but none of these issues are happening to us, but even though if they are happening to
you, how can you just run away from your country. So, I think he should come back and fix these

CARLY LAIRD: Geoffrey Hawker is the president of the African Studies Association and the head of
politics at Macquarie University. He says he was surprised at the ruling.

GEOFFREY HAWKER: Most refugees tend to be those who are markedly in trouble, under privileged, on
the run. I don't think we've had the case of a white South African coming into this situation

CARLY LAIRD: And he says he's sceptical that the man was attacked on the basis of his skin colour.

GEOFFREY HAWKER: Most violence is actually black on black, that's the overwhelming reality. I'm not
saying this case couldn't happen, but it's not typical of what's happening in the country as a

CARLY LAIRD: But isn't it true that white people in South Africa are targeted for violent crimes
because of economic differences?

GEOFFREY HAWKER: Well of course there are many rich whites, that's absolutely true, and of course
they are the focus of robbery and other crimes, that's really not because they're white, that's
because they're rich.

And there are plenty of rich blacks now also in South Africa and they get targeted in full measure
- the robber is after the money, not really after the person because of the colour of their skin.
Crime reflects the socio-economic condition of the country, rather than its ethnic composition.

Unemployment is so high, and it tends to be concentrated in the black community, and that's where
much of the crime is coming from.

CARLY LAIRD: Can you understand why the ANC would be so upset by this?

GEOFFREY HAWKER: Well one can, because, well South Africa's going to get the reputation of the
country where the blacks are deliberately setting out to punish the whites for the past injustices
that were undoubtedly perpetrated.

And if it were believed, it there were lots of cases like this, then they'd think that the whole
reconciliation effort has fallen over and has become a sham and that would actually be a tragic
thing for South Africa.

ELEANOR HALL: Africa analyst Geoffrey Hawker from Macquarie University ending that report by Carly

Swan speaks on stimulated economy

ELEANOR HALL: And returning now to our lead story on the surprisingly strong growth in the
Australian economy over the June quarter.

A short time ago the Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, spoke about the figures to journalists in

WAYNE SWAN: This is a remarkable result given how fragile the global economy is currently. Now,
today's result means we are the fastest growing advanced economy over the past year, and the only
advanced economy to have recorded positive growth over the past year, and when every other major
advanced economy fell into technical recession, we did not.

So economic stimulus has meant that Australia has avoided technical recession, we've been going
forwards while so many other economies have gone backwards. I think Australians everywhere can be
proud of this achievement in the worst global conditions in over 75 years.

Now today's result would not have been possible without economic stimulus. Our economy would have
contracted by 0.3 per cent in June without economic stimulus and it would have contracted by 1.3
per cent over the year without economic stimulus.

Now this does show that our nation building for recover strategy is working, supporting jobs today,
but building the infrastructure we need for tomorrow.

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Tents tackle housing shortage

ELEANOR HALL: Welfare groups in the Northern Territory say the housing shortage there is now so bad
they are giving out tents to homeless families.

Property prices have risen by 20 per cent over the last year and Darwin is now the most expensive
capital city for housing in the country.

Charity groups say the Territory's strong economy is attracting many families from interstate but
that, while they are finding jobs, they can't afford a home.

In Darwin, Iskhandar Razak reports.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: It's your average Darwin picnic in the park. The skies are blue, families are
playing and the sausages are sizzling. But this gathering is different because nearly everyone here
is homeless.

This free picnic is organised by the St Vincent de Paul Society and there are plenty of people here
of all ages. Fifty-year-old Jack has been on the streets for several months, not because he doesn't
want to work.

JACK: Yeah, it's struggle street. There is work everywhere if you want it but a lot of people just
cannot afford to stay in Darwin.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: In the face of the global economic downturn the Territory economy has stayed
buoyant but at the same time house prices are skyrocketing. The median house price in Darwin is now

JACK: Absolutely, yes, I've known a few people from my home town who've come up here. Tradesmen,
construction, jobs not a problem, yeah can get a job within two days and they inquire about rental,
about a unit and they go, you're bloody joking mate, you're kidding? But that's the way it is.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: Vinnies NT's Janet Buhagiar says more and more intestate job seekers are coming to
the Territory and finding work only to find nowhere to live.

JANET BUHAGIAR: Gone are the days where it's your stereotypic homeless person. We're seeing people
who some have jobs, some actually have an income and own a car, aren't suffering from any
addictions and so forth, but simply can't access affordable housing whether it's via rent or
purchase, it just is not an option for them.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: Vinnies says it's moved needy people interstate because of the lack of emergency
accommodation in the Top End. It's also given out swags to the homeless in desperation and it isn't
the only welfare agency struggling. Marilyn Roberts works for Somerville Community Services.

MARILYN ROBERTS: We've got the elderly people who are nervous, they're frightened, they're living
in fear because they haven't got secure accommodation. I've got one client who is living in a shed
at the moment and he's in his 60s, we've got a family that's living in a tent, new baby, they've
just brought a new baby home. They've got two or three other children.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: Somerville helps thousands of homeless people and its Northern Territory chief
executive, Vicki O'Halloran, says it has also run out of options.

VICKI O'HALLORAN: Once upon a time accommodation options that embarrassed us were caravan parks and
tents. These days if we're able to find a caravan and a park, or provide somebody with a tent in
the dry season and a site, we're clapping our hands and that is obviously not good enough.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: The Territory Government has put extra emphasis on new houses and several estates
are being built. Welfare agencies are hopeful that over time things will get better.

But for Jack it's far from enough and living on the streets in the monsoon and cyclone season won't
work and he's leaving town.

JACK: They have to open up land. Not tomorrow, today, and it would create a lot of employment.
Build a lot more caravan parks, lease them out etcetera, and there is so much land, it's not hard
to build a caravan park.

ELEANOR HALL: And that report from Iskandar Razak in Darwin.

Australia Post now delivering insurance

ELEANOR HALL: Small business groups say it is inappropriate that Australia Post is moving into the
insurance market. The Government-owned postal service has announced that from today it will expand
its retail services to include insurance.

But analysts say it will take Australia Post more than its huge network of branches to be a real
force in the highly competitive industry. As Bronwyn Herbert reports.

BRONWYN HERBERT: This year marks 200 years of Australia Post delivering mail. But the bicentennial
celebrations hasn't curbed the expansion plans of this Government-owned enterprise.

From today, the 4,500 Australian Post shops that dot almost every town, suburb and shopping centre,
are moving into the business of selling motor insurance. As Alex Twomey from Australia Post

ALEX TWOMEY: Well it's a large market and we think we can be quite competitive, we think we can
offer a price that's reasonable but we also think that we've got the well-known brand that people
trust and that is very important when it comes to insurance.

BRONWYN HERBERT: How much is this a move because of the plummeting volume of traditional mail

ALEX TWOMEY: Well we haven't found that there's been a huge drop off in mail that a lot of people
suspect, however that said, we are looking into the future and we do know that our retail network,
which is the largest in Australia, needs to find ways that we can keep it sustainable because it's
such an important hub for the community, and this is just one of the ways we are trying to do that.

BRONWYN HERBERT: David Walker is an insurance analyst with Morningstar.

DAVID WALKER: This amounts to an increase in competition for the two largest listed incumbents, IAG
and Suncorp. Overtime, if Australia Post used its distribution well and played its cards carefully,
we could see it perhaps reaching single digit market share.

BRONWYN HERBERT: David Walker says for Australia Post to compete, it will have to ramp up its
advertising budget.

EXCERPT FROM NRMA ADVERTISEMENT: When did life get so complicated?

BRONWYN HERBERT: Just like its competition.

DAVID WALKER: Major advertising campaigns by both large listed firms at the moment - everyone would
be familiar with NRMA's Unworry campaign. And that's a major advertising presence and it will
depend on what is front of mind for consumers, when it comes time to buy or renew their car

Will it be the ad they just saw on TV, or a brochure someone handed them at Australia Post at

BRONWYN HERBERT: Martin North is the executive director of industry at Fujitsu. He says Australia
Post clearly has the distribution power, but that alone won't land it success in the insurance

MARTIN NORTH: Probably have more points of contact with the public than any other entity in
Australia in terms of the financial services sector, you know, over 4,000 so that's pretty

What they're actually doing is essentially servicing those customers and selling a range of
products developed by another organisation, auto and general insurance services. So they're
effectively a distributor, which means they're not actually getting some of the value out of the
underwriting end of the business, but it's in the distribution part of the business.

And therefore the question will be how many customers will prefer to shop with Australia Post
compared with the other very able and capable players that we have in Australia.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Jaye Radisich is the chief executive of the Council of Small Businesses. She says
it's unfair having a government backed service competing against the private market.

JAYE RADISICH: It's not my job to be an advocate for the big end of town but for the large
insurance companies whose shareholders, many of whom are small business owners, it's inappropriate
that the Government should prop up a competitor of the free market.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Stan Cousins owns a newsagency in Campbelltown in south western Sydney and is the
chairman of the Newsagency Association of New South Wales and the ACT. He says many small
businesses were hit hard by Australia Post's move into stationery and electronics.

STAN COUSINS: There has been an impact on all outlets, be it newsagents or others, that retail
stationary and computer products, other electronic products and they have taken a good share of the

BRONWYN HERBERT: Australia Post will sell home and contents, and travel insurance later this year.

ELEANOR HALL: Bronwyn Herbert reporting.

Scientists set sights on world's largest scope

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's astronomy community is turning up the heat on its competitors in the race
to host the world's largest telescope.

Australia and South Africa are the front-runners to secure the Square Kilometre Array project,
which involves the construction of receiver dishes across thousands of kilometres.

And the scientists are optimistic that the launch in Perth today of the International Centre for
Radio Astronomy Research will secure the SKA project for Australia.

In Perth David Weber reports.

DAVID WEBER: The Premier Colin Barnett has said the research centre will be crucial to the bid to
host the SKA project.

COLIN BARNETT: This is important in itself, but it is very essential for Australia's bid to be the
site for the international Square Kilometre Array project, which is one of the world's truly great
scientific endeavours. It's right up there with the space race, nuclear science, genetic research.

It will give us information about the universe that would not have been thought to have be possible
to be known even just a few years ago.

The cost of the centre at the University of Western Australia is around $100 million, with about
one fifth of that coming from the State Government. The centre's director, Professor Peter Quinn.

PETER QUINN: The International Centre For Radio Astronomy Research is firstly for radio astronomy
research - to look at the universe, to use the data coming from the new telescopes we're going to
build at Murchison Radio Astronomy Observatory, it's going to be to help CSIRO build that facility,
it's going to be to help the international project design the SKA, and it's also going to be for
education and outreach - those four main missions.

DAVID WEBER: The idea for the SKA project is that the array of dishes would spread out from an area
in Australia's mid-west, in WA terms that's the Murchison region north-east of Geraldton.

The international director for the SKA project, Professor Richard Schilizzi.

So what are WA's chances?

ROBERT SCHILIZZI: For selection of the site? Well they're very good of course, then when I'm in
South Africa I say they're very good in South Africa too.

DAVID WEBER: Nineteen countries are currently involved in the SKA concept - South Africa is said to
be the preferred choice as the G8 nations want to provide more development assistance for Africa.
Professor Richard Schilizzi says politics will play a roll.

ROBERT SCHILIZZI: It's going to be a government decision, originally we the scientists thought we'd
be able to make this decision by ourselves but we were told fairly early on that it wasn't going to
be the case. It happens all the time in big scientific facilities, it happens in high energy
physics and fusion.

DAVID WEBER: Surely that defeats the purpose of the project?

ROBERT SCHILIZZI: I would say so as a scientist yes, I mean I will certainly be advocating strongly
that the position that the scientists find on the site be the one that is adopted.

DAVID WEBER: Professor Schilizzi does say that Australia is ahead of South Africa in infrastructure
terms, but he says both sites are attractive and more measurements need to be done to determine
which one is more radio quiet.

ROBERT SCHILIZZI: The initial measurements that were made some years ago show that both sites were
sufficiently good, but they were fairly light level, low level measurements. We're now going to be
doing very deep measurements for three months in both places.

DAVID WEBER: A final decision on where the Square Kilometre Array project will be based isn't
expected for three years.

ELEANOR HALL: David Weber reporting.