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Government denies politics of stimulus

Government denies politics of stimulus

Lyndal Curtis reported this story on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 12:10:00

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government has hit back at the Opposition allegations that it has been
using its stimulus programs for political gain.

An investigation by the Australian Financial Review newspaper found that spending from the $550
million community infrastructure program was skewed to marginal electorates and seats won by Labor
in 2007.

The Opposition says it is the biggest political pork-barrelling exercise in Australian history.

But the Government says there has been plenty of money spent in non-Labor electorates.

In Canberra, Chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis reports.

LYNDAL CURTIS: It's a debate neither side comes to with clean hands. Labor and Coalition
governments past have both been caught using taxpayer-funded grants schemes to further their own
political ends.

Ros Kelly did it with what turned into the sports rorts affair, using Labor's Community Cultural
Recreational and Sporting Facilities Program.

And De-Anne Kelly did it with the Regional Partnerships Program under the Coalition. Both were
found out favouring their own side of politics.

The Opposition says this government is no different.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: The truth is now out on Labor's so-called stimulus spending and that truth is
clear: this has been the biggest political pork-barrelling exercise in Australian history.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham is hanging his hat on the Financial Review
analysis that shows the Government gave three times more money to Labor seats in NSW, and in
Victoria ALP seats got nearly twice as much as those held by the Coalition.

And the analysis says marginal seats - always prime ground for a bit of taxpayer funded largesse -
have also been targeted. In Western Australia the eight most marginal seats received money and in
Queensland grants went to five of the eight seats Labor won from the Coalition at the last

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Now it's all very nice receiving money today, it's a bit like having a good night
out on the grog. But the truth is the Australian people will wake up with a hangover in the years
to come and that hangover will be in the form of higher interest rates, higher taxes and lower
government services.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Government says the overall allocation of funding gives lie to the accusation.
Its figures show that of the total $800 million of community project grants - ALP seats - which
make up 55 per cent of the House of Representatives, got only 53 per cent of the funding. And the
top four of the larger community grants went to non-Labor electorates.

The Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner says there may be differences from state to state, and region
to region, but overall the claims of rorting don't hold up.

LINDSAY TANNER: There'll inevitably be some variations across Australia, so it's easy to
cherry-pick parts of the picture and distort them to make them look in some way sinister. So I
don't accept the material that's been put forward by the Financial Review either.

There's only one ultimate way you can look at this and that is to look at the total picture which
is that the proportion of spending in Labor seats is broadly the same as the proportion of Labor
members of Parliament.

LYNDAL CURTIS: While he doesn't believe the location of the spending needs to change, he
acknowledges that the Government may make changes in its overall stimulus spending when it gets the
updated economic forecasts in December.

LINDSAY TANNER: Obviously we calibrate our overall fiscal position as evidence unfolds so always
things are susceptible to change; but the stimulus spending is only one very small proportion of
overall government spending. and we've got an ongoing program of savings and we've got a big
challenge to get the Budget back into surplus as quickly as possible.

So it's wrong to ... it's wrong to look at one very small part of overall government spending if
there is a need to change the fiscal settings. You look at the total settings.


LYNDAL CURTIS: The stimulus spending isn't only stimulating the economy but also much of the
political debate - and it's likely to create even more talking after the Senate this afternoon
votes on a Greens move to get the Treasury Secretary in front of a Senate committee next week for a
progress report.

The Family First Senator Steven Fielding wants the Reserve Bank governor there as well, something
the Greens Leader Bob Brown is inclined to support.

BOB BROWN: I'd be very supportive of questioning the Reserve Bank governor and if a proposal comes
forward for that then I'll be supporting it.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Mr Tanner thinks Dr Henry's appearance isn't unreasonable, although the Government
support for the move does appear less than overwhelming.

LINDSAY TANNER: It doesn't mean that it sets a precedent that every time some whacky proposition
from somebody in the Senate is put forward they can automatically get any public servant they like
to come forward and have a chat about it.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Opposition hasn't decided which way it'll vote on the matter. It is facing
another difficult vote in the Senate today over the Government's move to stop charging asylum
seekers for their detention.

One Liberal Senator has told The World Today they're prepared to vote with the Government to stop
the bill being defeated if Steven Fielding and the Coalition vote against it. And there may be

The Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is calling on Liberals who disagree with the Coalition's
position to get on board.

SARAH HANSON-YOUNG: There are some good-souled people in the Opposition who know that this is the
right thing to do. I'm calling on them today to stand up and do the right thing.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, who was standing by listening to Sarah Hanson-Young
speak did find something positive to say.

ERIC ABETZ: Nice to know there are some good-souled people in the Opposition according to the

LYNDAL CURTIS: An agreement of sorts, on a day where disagreement may rule.

ELEANOR HALL: Lyndal Curtis reporting.

Business confidence keeps rising

Business confidence keeps rising

Sue Lannin reported this story on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: Economists at the National Australia Bank are today suggesting that the Reserve Bank
could raise interest rates as early as next month.

Its regular survey shows that business confidence is at its highest level in almost six years, and
the bank has upgraded its economic growth forecasts.

But while the mining and retail industries are performing well, that's not the case in all sectors
of the economy, as finance reporter Sue Lannin reports.

SUE LANNIN: Australian companies are increasingly optimistic about the future, and the chief
economist at National Australia Bank, Alan Oster, says that bodes well.

The bank's monthly business survey found that confidence and conditions rose again in August,
moving further into positive territory.

ALAN OSTER: I suppose it surprised us a little bit. It's just been a continual improvement. It's
very broad-based - it's across all sectors, even sectors such a manufacturing, which is struggling
in real activity, are equally as confident as everybody else.

So it's encouraging. The only word of caution I would sort of make would be that, it seems to me,
that maybe the confidence levels have gotten a little bit ahead of the actual activity levels. Of
course whilst activity is improving, it's not as strong as what the actual confidence level are.

SUE LANNIN: Do you think that businesses are just too confident and the economy isn't going as well
as they think?

ALAN OSTER: Well, I think what's happening really is that the demand that we're getting out of the
government stimulus package, both through the consumer in terms of the cars, in the investment and
First Home Owners Boost is really stimulating demand quite aggressively.

Business is feeling quite happy about that but they're not quite completely convinced that it's
actually going to happen, because when you look at the levels of capacity utilisation they really
haven't changed. So they haven't really improved.

So if you like business is feeling happier but they're not cranking up the factories to produce
more, they're tending to run down their inventory levels and they're tending to import. So some of
that demand is going to leak away, but at the end of the day we're still talking about an economy
that is probably still growing which is pretty good.

SUE LANNIN: But employment and new orders did drop last month as the Government's cash handouts dry

ALAN OSTER: Forward orders have come back a little bit. In trend terms they're getting better but
we're seeing, I think, signs that the retail in particular, that you're getting some slowdown, post
the packages that went through in May/June.

So we've seen a couple of months where forward orders have started to weaken a little bit. So we
still think, at the end of the day, whilst you might get a small amount of growth in the September
quarter, you're probably going to go backwards a little bit in the December quarter.

But broadly, think of this year, the period we're in now for the next six months is the economy
going sideways which is not consistent with the highest levels if confidence we've seen for six
years but it's still saying the economy is doing pretty well.

SUE LANNIN: Alan Oster says the bank has upgraded its economic forecasts. It expects the economy to
grow by 0.6 per cent this year and just over 2 per cent next year.

Unemployment is predicted to peak at 6.7 per cent, nearly 2 per cent lower than the Government's

ALAN OSTER: We're starting to get back towards trend growth towards the middle of next year and
that is really good news.

SUE LANNIN: So much so he expects the Reserve Bank to raise interest rates by November.

ALAN OSTER: To the extent that the economy is not performing as badly as anybody expected, the
strength of continuing, the Reserve Bank will increasingly feel that it doesn't need emergency low
levels of interest rates.

And depending on what happens in the data in the next couple of weeks you could even have the
Reserve starting in October. But at this stage we still think November.

We expect the Reserve to basically do a series of 25 basis points, so by November, December,
January, we would expect the rates to have gone to 75 points by early next year.

SUE LANNIN: Another survey has also found that business confidence has improved. Credit-reporting
agency Dun & Bradstreet says 16 per cent of companies plan to increase investment later in the

Damian Karmelich says it seems like a corner has been turned.

DAMIAN KARMELICH: Well I think the most important thing from this month's survey is the
expectations for inventory growth over the course of the December quarter. What this shows is that
businesses who have previously failed to restock as they've sold product are now feeling confident
about restocking their shelves, which of course will have a flow through effect to wholesalers,
particularly in the manufacturing sector.

So that's a real sign that we're going to start to see a little bit of burst of growth in the

ELEANOR HALL: That's Damian Karmelich from Dun & Bradstreet ending that report by Sue Lannin.

Inquiry into Casino's Victorian deal

Inquiry into Casino's Victorian deal

Simon Lauder reported this story on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 12:18:00

ELEANOR HALL: The Victorian Government's deal to allow an expansion of Melbourne's Crown Casino has
been referred to the state's gambling regulator.

The Government gave the go-ahead to the casino operators in exchange for a bigger tax-take from the
group's poker machines.

But gambling critics say more scrutiny should have been applied in the first place and that the
Government's regulator doesn't have the power to stop the deal going ahead.

In Melbourne, Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: Ever since it revealed its deal with the casino on federal Budget day, the Victorian
Government's been accused of trying to avoid scrutiny of the arrangement.

An extra 150 blackjack, roulette and poker tables, in exchange for an increase in poker-machine
taxes worth $130 million over four years.

The Premier John Brumby has batted away persistent speculation the deal was made in person when he
met the boss of Crown Casino James Packer at the grand prix.

And now, faced with the prospect of the deal being rejected in the Upper House, the Government has
referred the deal to its gambling regulator.

The Opposition's Michael O'Brien says that's what should have been done in the first place.

MICHAEL O'BRIEN: John Brumby should have done his homework and worked out what the economic and
social impact of this expansion of the casino would be before he signed the deal.

SIMON LAUDER: The Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation will now examine whether the extra
gambling that will take place in the riverside casino will contribute to problem gambling.

Executive commissioner Peter Cohen says it will also look at the economic benefits of the deal.

PETER COHEN: And the sorts of things we'd be looking at is employment in the casino but also for
construction because the casino operator would have to make some changes to the physical space, so
there'll be some construction but ongoing in new employment.

We'll be looking at the impact on tourism; we'll be looking at the impact on gamblers and in
particular problem gamblers.

SIMON LAUDER: The Gaming Minister Tony Robinson rejects arguments the deal should have been
submitted to more scrutiny, earlier.

TONY ROBINSON: Well we did receive some advice before we made the announcement but it has come to
pass that further advice is required before the bill will be debated in the Upper House.

SIMON LAUDER: Mr Robinson says the deal will benefit Victoria.

TONY ROBINSON: Simply put, what we're doing today is to provide further advice to other parties as
they consider the bill. The bill, we think, proposes arrangements that will be good for Victoria in
terms of the additional tax that will be generated, and the additional jobs that will be created,
and arrangements that we believe can accommodate additional tables within our responsible gambling

SIMON LAUDER: Greens MP, Greg Barber says the decision to refer the deal to more scrutiny is a
token attempt and he won't be convinced to vote for an expansion of the casino.

GREG BARBER: The real issue here is that the Government's telling us that, to collect more tax
revenue we all have to go and gamble more and everybody I know has been totally offended by that

SIMON LAUDER: The decision on whether or not the deal is approved is ultimately up to Parliament -
the regulator can only report its findings to the Government.

Anti-gambling campaigner, Tim Costello, says Victoria needs a regulator with teeth.

TIM COSTELLO: A gambling regulation body much stronger than the one Peter Cohen leads, that's truly
independent, stands apart from government and its revenue needs, and that acts in the interests of
consumers and communities to say this is really what will protect them.

SIMON LAUDER: Ian Dunn is about to finish his term as the chairman of the Commission for Gambling
Regulation. He phoned ABC Local Radio this morning to defend it.

IAN DUNN: For Tim to suggest that the commissioners are not independent of the Government quite
frankly is nonsense. The Government certainly doesn't think that, I can assure you of that.

SIMON LAUDER: Ian Dunn says the expansion of casino would be more controversial if it involved more
poker machines, but gaming tables aren't as problematic.

IAN DUNN: The evidence about the connection between table games and problem gambling is very
scanty. Not many people are addicted to table games in the manner they are to poker machines.

SIMON LAUDER: The Victorian Government has guarded against claims that it clings to the purse
strings of the gaming industry, pointing to strong regulation.

Gambling researcher at Monash University Dr Charles Livingstone says this time it's dropped the

CHARLES LIVINGSTONE: We have a gambling regulator which has a job to do and in this case it appears
not to have been allowed to do the job, and well after the event.

Clearly it's not independent if the Government can make a decision which circumvents its role.

SIMON LAUDER: The Government says the regulator's inquiry should be finished within a month.

ELEANOR HALL: Simon Lauder reporting.

Calls for ombudsman for overseas students

Calls for ombudsman for overseas students

Emily Bourke reported this story on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 12:22:00

ELEANOR HALL: International students who claim they've been threatened and exploited by some
private colleges in Australia are calling for a national body to be set up do deal with complaints.

It is alleged that some private colleges have been refusing to accept student's course work unless
advance payments of tuition fees are made.

And students and industry experts say the number of complaints requires a federal body to oversee
the industry.

Emily Bourke has our report.

EMILY BOURKE: The Federal Government is being urged to set up an independent national regulator to
oversee the private education and training sector. The calls for a new authority or an ombudsman
follow fresh complaints from international students.

The latest claims involve allegations that students attending classes at some small private
colleges have been marked as absent, or told they can't submit assignments because they've not paid
for the next semester's fees.

The students claim this practice has imperilled their visas and they live with the threat of
deportation unless they pay.

The National Union of Students says a national regulator is needed. The NUS president is David

DAVID BARROW: What you hear from international students predominately are stories that are enough
to make you weep. You hear about exploitation of all sorts, but particularly in private colleges,
and that has pushed us to the point where the state offices are not doing enough.

We need to set up a federal ombuds office and that needs to be place where international students
know they can take their complaints, they can get representation if necessary, and they can have
their complaint heard.

EMILY BOURKE: In one state, Victoria, the Government says an ombudsman is not needed.

The Skills and Training Minister is Jacinta Allan.

JACINTA ALLAN: Well here in Victoria we already have a very strong regulatory framework. We were
the first state to establish an integrated regulatory body that oversees all delivery of education
and training here in the state - a very important body, that has strong oversight of the entire

I think adding another layer into that combination will not necessarily be of assistance when you
consider that the actions that are being taken already at a state and national level are the
strongest possible actions, which are about weeding out any providers who aren't delivering quality

EMILY BOURKE: But for some students the complaints process hasn't been satisfactory.

Chris Tulloch is an education agent from International Students Online.

CHRIS TULLOCH: On the number of occasions that I've had cause to try and get action to be taken
where there's clear breaches, nothing's done.

And I think the problem really stems from departments like VRQA and DEEWR. If a student comes to
them with a problem, they bounce back, really, to student and say, have you gone through your
complaints and appeals tribunal and processes at your college.

Now that's not occurring at a lot of smaller private colleges, so the student really can't get past
first base.

EMILY BOURKE: Having recently made a submission to the Senate inquiry into the welfare of
international students, Chris Tulloch is a firm believer in the need for a national ombudsman.

CHRIS TULLOCH: The ombudsmen have to build a rapport over time, and then that student feels
comfortable to come to them to grieve their complaint. And then they would investigate and make a
recommendation to DEEWR or DIAC or VRQA, to investigate that.

And there has to be some sort of auditing process where they have to report what investigation
they've done and the outcome.

EMILY BOURKE: The Federal Education Minister has said the Government is not necessarily opposed to
an ombudsman, and it could be considered as part of the review by of the Education Services for
Overseas Students Act, which is currently underway.

ELEANOR HALL: Emily Bourke reporting.

Obama bites back with healthy agenda

Obama bites back with healthy agenda

John Shovelan reported this story on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 12:27:00

ELEANOR HALL: To the United States now where the US President is launching a fight back over

Barack Obama's standing in the opinion polls has plunged through the northern summer as he lost
control over the domestic policy debate.

Republicans and Conservatives managed to hijack the health-care reform issue, with talk of death
panels under President Obama which would decide if the elderly would live or die.

But now President Obama is moving to reassert his authority with an address on healthcare to a
joint sitting of the Congress.

In Washington John Shovelan reports.

JOHN SHOVELAN: This week is make or break for the Obama administration. Down in the polls and his
toughness and ability to lead doubted by political friends and foes alike, his effort to regain
control of the healthcare debate will define his presidency.

In this summer's political turmoil President Obama lost ground over the divisive issue and its
price tag of trillions of dollars. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote: "What happened
to President Obama? His wax wings having melted, he is the man who fell to earth."

BARACK OBAMA: Pundits on TV, they're saying how all this isn't working and that's not working. You
know, you start getting into a funk.

JOHN SHOVELAN: But today the President took the first step of his fight back strategy. Before a
sympathetic Labour Day audience of trade unionists and their families President Obama sounded like
candidate Obama.

BARACK OBAMA: Ohio bets the lesson this day that some things are worth fighting for.

JOHN SHOVELAN: The fighting spirit that deserted him through the summer had returned. It's been
reported the fight in fact has returned to the entire White House, triggered by the conservative
campaign against his planned address to the nation's public school students.

BARACK OBAMA: And yes I am going to have something to say tomorrow to our children. Telling them to
stay in school and work hard, cause that's the right message to send.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Conservatives had called for a national truancy day and demanded schools not show
what they said would be indoctrination in the President's socialism.

But the controversy over the "you should eat spinach" speech to American students may have done the
administration a favour. Facing this critical moment President Obama showed more life today than he
had in many months.

His Labor Day visit to the Midwest was a preview of his address to a joint session of Congress on
Wednesday when he will for the first time lay out the detail of his proposed reform of the
healthcare system.

BARACK OBAMA: I might have to save my voice a little bit, not get too excited. I don't want to give
anything away. I want you all to tune in.

JOHN SHOVELAN: To date President Obama has left the design of his new system to the Congress but
it's been unable to reach agreement.

Critics say President Obama has been too willing to pass the detailed negotiation off to the
Congress and that's why he lost control over the issue that he elevated to the single most
important issue confronting the country.

The President now has to lead from the front, lay his cards on the table and convince a sceptical
public and wary members of Congress.

BARACK OBAMA: The Congress and the country have now been vigorously debating the issue for many
months. The debate's been good, and that's important because we've got to get this right. But every
debate at some point comes to an end.

At some point it's time to decide. At some point it's time to act. Ohio it's time to act and get
this thing done.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Union members today gave the President's reform message an enthusiastic reception
but with 60 per cent of the population confused, unsure and downright opposed, Wednesday's address
to the Congress won't have such a supportive audience.

John Shovelan, Washington.

Health reformists barrack for Barack

ELEANOR HALL: Professor Geoffrey Garrett is the chief executive of the United States Studies Centre
at the University of Sydney and just before we came on air he spoke to me about the challenge now
facing President Obama.

Geoff Garret, President Obama's stellar popularity was bound to drop to some extent but are you
surprised about just how far it's fallen?

GEOFFREY GARRETT: Well, it's quite remarkable what has happened over the American summer. Some
people consider it the silly season - politicians are away, people are at the beach. But I think
what's happened to the President really is a reflection of the fact that he does have a
left-leaning agenda in an economic crisis and Americans are naturally relatively conservative

So a social democratic agenda when there's a lot of red ink on the table, it's pretty hard to
square that circle.

ELEANOR HALL: The Republicans have been able to whip up a very effective scare campaign over the
health reform issue. Why is health reform such a sensitive issue for Americans?

GEOFFREY GARRETT: Well Americans are sceptical about government involvement in their lives. The
Republican Party is still basically leaderless but they have galvanised around this issue, they
have used scare tactics.

But I think they've clearly tapped into a pretty powerful vein of anti-government sentiment in the

ELEANOR HALL: Do you think the President made a strategic mistake in leaving it up to the Congress
to come up with the details of what he's long touted as his most important domestic reform?

GEOFFREY GARRETT: Well the President is a student of history and he knows that when Bill Clinton
was President in the early 1990s he insourced health care. He did it all in the White House, having
his wife Hillary Clinton - now Secretary of State - run the healthcare taskforce. In fact it was
called Hillary Care.

Obama Care is very different. Obama Care is: here are a few general principles from the President,
let's outsource all the details to Congress. Obama learnt that lesson, maybe he learnt it a little
bit too much, and so now he's going to have to come up with some specifics and bring control back
within the White House.

ELEANOR HALL: Now of course healthcare reform did deal a major blow to President Clinton and he
didn't manage to get it through. But President Obama has control of the Congress. I mean, why is it
proving so difficult for him to manage them and to push it through?

GEOFFREY GARRETT: Well it's proving difficult because he wants to spend another trillion dollars
over the next decade on healthcare, so people who don't like red ink on the budget are uneasy about
his healthcare plan.

It's also difficult because Americans believe that if Obama is to cut healthcare costs in the
longer term, which is what he says, that'll mean rationing healthcare, something Americans are
allergic to.

However I think the smart money would still say that Obama will get healthcare reform passed by
Congress this year; it will be much weaker healthcare reform however than the President had hoped,
and maybe than many Americans had hoped for.

And the real question is going to be: what's the political spin? Will this be considered ultimately
a victory for Obama or a climb down?

ELEANOR HALL: And how important is his speech to Congress later this week?

GEOFFREY GARRETT: It's extraordinarily important. It's almost unprecedented. I think it's true that
the last time the President spoke to a joint session of Congress that wasn't the State of the
Union, was after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Obama is now doing it over the arcanery (phonetic) of healthcare which tells you just how big an
issue it is.

ELEANOR HALL: Now you say that he may get through a weaker reform. What will be missing?

GEOFFREY GARRETT: Well the big thing in the American jargon is the infamous public option, and a
public option is a government insurance plan that would be designed both to extend healthcare
coverage to people who currently don't have it, and to provide lower cost alternatives to try to
drive down the costs of private insurance.

I don't think Obama can completely give up on the public option but I think he's going to have to
scale back considerably its aspirations.

ELEANOR HALL: So in Australian terms, is he going to be able to deliver universal healthcare of the
sort that we understand.

GEOFFREY GARRETT: I think the one-word answer to that will still be no. The fundamental problems in
the American healthcare system will continue and they'll probably continue until there's a complete
crisis in public healthcare which is likely to be precipitated in the aged care sector, where the
American Medicare program for senior citizens is unfundable and unsustainable, probably a decade or
two from today.

ELEANOR HALL: Geoff Garrett thanks very much for joining us.

GEOFFREY GARRETT: You're most welcome Eleanor.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Geoffrey Garrett from the United States Studies Centre at the University of

Counting the cost of East Timor aid

Counting the cost of East Timor aid

Sara Everingham reported this story on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 12:36:00

ELEANOR HALL: East Timor has received around $10 billion in foreign aid since it claimed its
independence ten years ago.

But a group monitoring aid in the country says the billions have achieved little because most of
the money is spent on international salaries, administration and imports.

Australia is East Timor's largest donor and the Government here is adamant that the aid is not
being wasted.

Sara Everingham has our report.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Since East Timor's referendum on independence just over 10 years ago the
international community has had a heavy presence in the tiny nation.

The AP news agency has put a dollar figure on the aid. It's calculated the development aid as well
as military spending from foreign donors and puts the total amount at just under $10 billion.

It argues there's little to show for the money spent.

Mario Carrascalao is East Timor's Vice-Prime Minister, he says East Timor is making progress and in
spite of some of the hiccups the international community has helped create peace in his country.

MARIO CARRASCALAO: They succeeded at least (inaudible) to get Timor East, Timor Leste into
opposition that we can say we're proud that this is the, one of the countries with the lowest per
capita crime in the world now.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But he says if $10 billion has been spent in East Timor there should be more signs
of prosperity.

MARIO CARRASCALAO: If you look to the roads, the roads are the same that have been left by
Indonesia. You look to the wilderness, practically all of the wilderness that we do have here, I
would say (inaudible) some have been constructed.

But I don't see that, I don't see in fact that beside peace and security that we have in East Timor
(inaudible) even the administration you know, the UN did not produce the people with enough skills
that we need (inaudible) to run independence.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Luta Hamutuk is an organisation that monitors aid in East Timor. It estimates only
10 per cent of foreign aid ends up in East Timor's economy

East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta says he too is concerned that too much aid money isn't
money isn't going to the East Timorese.

JOSE RAMOS HORTA: A lot of aid money came into East Timor, really. You ask Australia, you ask the
Japanese whether - what is percentage of the money they claim to allocate to Timor every year, they
spent in East Timor, or on dubious studies, evaluations, reports, more studies, more evaluations,
more reports, telling us the obvious.

A recent report from the World Bank assessing poverty in East Timor from 2001 to 2006/2007
concluded that the poverty increased. Well, but the World Bank itself should ask: what have we done
here in this country?

SARA EVERINGHAM: During the recent anniversary celebrations the President thanked Australia for its
contribution to East Timor.

Australia is East Timor's largest donor and gives the country $100 million each year in aid. That
doesn't include spending on the peacekeeping forces in East Timor - Australian and New Zealand
forces make up the International Stabilisation Force which provides security for the United Nations

Australia's overseas aid agency, AusAid, says East Timor is now peaceful and that's a key sign
Australia's aid has had a positive impact.

It also says Australia is helping to build the foundations for a strong and stable economy in East
Timor and for a vibrant democracy.

A spokesman for the United Nations mission in East Timor says, we are a peacekeeping mission that
it's responsible to the General Assembly for its budgets.

It says there are very real results because the situation in East Timor is peaceful and calm.

ELEANOR HALL: Sara Everingham reporting.

UK trio convicted of airline plot

UK trio convicted of airline plot

Barbara Miller reported this story on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 12:40:00

ELEANOR HALL: UK authorities say the conviction of three British men for conspiring to detonate
bombs on trans-Atlantic flights is hugely significant.

The British Home Secretary said the liquid explosives plot could have killed thousands of people
and caused mayhem on an unimaginable scale.

The arrests of the men three years ago prompted a tightening of security at international airports

Barbara Miller has our report.

BARBARA MILLER: It was a plan that seemed so simple. The bombers, the court heard, intended to
manufacture liquid explosives using hydrogen peroxide, which would be disguised in drink bottles.

In the space of a few hours the homemade bombs would be detonated in mid-air on at least seven
planes from London to North America.

The BBC asked an explosives engineer to carry out a trial explosion using the same materials.

(Sounds of explosions)

Even he was taken aback at how effective it was:

EXPLOSIVES EXPERT: I remain somewhat surprised by the efficacy of that mixture as an explosive. It
rates certainly with TNT or with, sort of what's called a medium-grade dynamite or gelignite. I
wouldn't like to be in that aeroplane.

BARBARA MILLER: The three men now convicted of conspiring to blow up airliners were among more than
20 suspects arrested in August 2006.

The arrests caused chaos to international travel in and out of Heathrow airport, and soon led to
strict restrictions being placed on the amount of liquid passengers are allowed to carry onto

Alan Johnson is Britain's Home Secretary.

ALAN JOHNSON: This was a particularly horrendous plot which would have lead to murder and mayhem on
an unimaginable scale.

BARBARA MILLER: When they were arrested, the men had been under surveillance for some time, and are
thought to have tested their materials in a wood outside London.

Tony Gray lives near the alleged testing ground.

TONY GRAY: I heard one explosion over by, where the old Kingswood School was, and one here. I mean
it really only came to light when the police activity began.

I just wonder, like I said to the police, I wasn't all that certain what we've got here. The
explosions were far too big to be what are considered to be fireworks in any case.

BARBARA MILLER: The court was played suicide videos from the men.

(Excerpt from video: "Osama warn you many times to leave our land or you will be destroyed. And now
the time has come for you to be destroyed.")

BARBARA MILLER: The prosecution also submitted a series of what it said were coded emails between
the plotters and co-conspirators in Pakistan.

This is an excerpt from one dated 13 July 2006 from Pakistan to one of the three men:

EXCERPT FROM EMAIL (voiceover): Hi gorgeous! Well nice to hear from you. You're friend can go for
his rapping concert rehearsal but somewhere popular would be good. Make sure he goes on the bus
service which is most common over there.

BARBARA MILLER: The prosecution argued that this meant the aides in Pakistan had given the go-ahead
for dummy run to test airport security and that common bus service, meant domestic carrier.

Another email from one of the men to Pakistan around a week later is even more obscure:

EXCERPT FROM EMAIL (voiceover): Hi. Got some good news that will bring a smile to you face. I have
15 supplies to give Calvin Klein aftershave, one box of 50 is only 175 pounds.

BARBARA MILLER: This the prosecution argued was the first in a series of exchanges referring to
aftershave, which it said was code for the hydrogen peroxide to be used in the explosives.

An earlier trial did not convict the men of conspiring to blow up the airliners.

Dr John Gearson is a reader in terrorism studies at King's College London. He told Radio National's
breakfast programme that the fact that it took a second trial to secure that conviction
demonstrated the complexity of the case.

JOHN GEARSON: What's significant is that it's still difficult to get juries to accept, in the
absence of concrete evidence, that people were intending to carry out mass murder. They certainly
accepted in the first trial that these people were planning to endanger life.

But the original jury did not accept that there was enough evidence to show that it was airliners
they were targeting at the time.

BARBARA MILLER: The three men convicted are due to be sentenced next week. Four other men also on
trial were acquitted of conspiring to blow up planes. And the jury failed to reach a verdict on an
eighth man.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller reporting.

Samoa turns to the left

Samoa turns to the left

Barbara Miller reported this story on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 12:43:00

ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to the Pacific Island nation of Samoa where this morning locals managed
to switch to driving on the other side of the road without causing major chaos.

Police say there were some near misses but, so far at least, no accidents.

Samoa's Prime Minister has been behind the change and our correspondent Kerri Ritchie has spent
this morning driving with him.

KERRI RITCHIE: Bleary-eyed, Samoans began gathering at 4am for a prayer service at a hall in the
heart of Apia.

PASTOR: May we all be prevented from any accident that might come about due to the carelessness and
excessive use of alcohol especially when some people do things that are stupidly unbecoming.

KERRI RITCHIE: At exactly ten to six Samoan time, sirens began to sound.

(Horns sound)

Everyone got up from their seats, walked outside the hall and stood along the edge of the road.

At exactly 6am police directed the cars to move into the other lane - then the drivers took off
along the left side.

Apia local Richard Levere wouldn't have missed it for the world.

RICHARD LEVERE: I think this is a good thing to Samoa.

KERRI RITCHIE: Why do you think it's good?

RICHARD LEVERE: The families at the back of the country, to, they get some cars from New Zealand,
Australia to develop their plantations, things like that.

KERRI RITCHIE: Are you worried about there being some crashes today?

RICHARD LEVERE: No, no, no. We all support the country.

KERRI RITCHIE: But the police are worried. Officers have been placed in every village to direct
traffic. They will stay there for the next two weeks.

The Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele decided his country would change to the left, so cheap
right-hand drive cars can be imported from Australia and New Zealand. He's faced plenty of
criticism from locals who say the switch is dangerous and a waste of money.

Mr Tuilaepa invited me along on his first outing this morning. He said he wanted to prove he's no
coward, and wasn't afraid of being on the roads.

TUILAEPA SAILELE: I think it was quite simple. The ceremony this morning was quite exciting. I did
not expect so many people present and I continue to believe that soon after the change everybody
will soon get used to driving, and I would expect no more problem.

KERRI RITCHIE: How does it feel on the left side, does this feel a bit strange though?


KERRI RITCHIE: Now I notice that you're not doing the driving at the moment, are you going to give
it a go today?

TUILAEPA SAILELE: Ah no, the driver drives the car. I told you that I used to drive, but my driver
will be driving, this is not the car that I'm used to driving.

KERRI RITCHIE: Mr Tuilaepa is a colourful character and this morning he was in fine form.

Someone told me that you have shares in the company, of the buses that have switched the doors, the
ones that are going to be the only ones allowed to operate today. Is that correct?

TUILAEPA SAILELE: That was an old rumour way back in ... it's not a rumour, it's been alleged, when
the fellow who owns the buses was picker (inaudible). I had to get up and tell this picker, "you
better tell these members of Parliament that you are the owner of your own buses, and not to make
me (inaudible) by alleging to own something I never owned.

ELEANOR HALL: A very jolly prime minister of Samoa, ending that story from our correspondent Kerrie

Researchers target Chlamydia

ELEANOR HALL: The University of Melbourne is conducting a trial which will require doctors to run
tests for Chlamydia on all patients aged between 16 and 29.

The trial will involve more than 200 doctors from around the country and is intended to stop the
spread of the infection in the Australian population.

Around 5 per cent of men and women aged under 30 have Chlamydia, but most of them don't know it.

Dr Jane Hocking from the University of Melbourne told Brigid Glanville how the program will work.

ANE HOCKING: A patient would go along to their GP just for a routine consultation for any reason.
If they're aged 16 to 29 years we would like the GP to just offer the patient a routine Chlamydia
test and just as part of their routine consultation.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: So that way does the doctor not have to ask if the patient's sexually active?

JANE HOCKING: No, we don't want the ... there is no need to ask whether or not a person is sexually
active. If they're asymptomatic you do not need to ask if they're sexually active. If they test
positive, when the patient comes back for treatment, well then you can explore their sexual
activity because you'll have to consider tracing their contacts.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: But if you're just going into the doctor and you've got a common cold, would they
still offer it to you then?

JANE HOCKING: We'd like them to do that because, like what you have with a pap smear, often you
just go along - a woman just goes to the doctor for any reason, and maybe she hasn't had a pap
smear for a while.

The doctor might say, "Oh while you're here, let's do a pap smear as well," which is part of your
routine health maintenance. And we'd like to see Chlamydia testing becoming part of routine health
maintenance for young adults as well.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Now Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease in Australia, and
there has been a rise. Why is that?

JANE HOCKING: Well part of the rise is probably due to - we are doing more testing than we were 10
years ago. So the more test, the more you are going to find.

But we also think that the burden of infection, what we refer to as the prevalence, the amount of
infection in the underlying population is probably also increasing, and I think there are probably
a number of reasons for that.

One, I think there probably is - young people are probably a little more sexually active today than
they were 10, 15 years ago. So there's more opportunity for the infection to spread.

And when we've got 3 to 5 per cent of young adults actually with the infection, there is enough of
a pool out there for it to be easily spread around.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: What can it do if it's left untreated?

JANE HOCKING: Well if left untreated, the majority of infections will just clear themselves. They
can take, you know, 12 months to two years to clear naturally. But some infections can increase the
risk, particularly for women, of causing a condition known as pelvic inflammatory disease and that
can go on to cause chronic pelvic pain for the women.

And sometimes it does increase your risk of going on the develop infertility.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: And at the moment is Chlamydia normally tested when a woman has a pap smear,
what's the process then?

JANE HOCKING: No, no, it's not normally done when a woman presents for a pap smear. It's normally
... a Chlamydia test is done by a simple urine test for both men and for women. It can also be done
on vaginal swabs, self-collective vaginal swabs for women.

And we often do think that if a woman is actually having a pap test and she's young, she's under 25
or under 30, the doctor might as well take an extra swap while he's there to test that for
Chlamydia as well.

But generally a simple urine test is all that's needed.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: How does Australia's infection rate of Chlamydia compare to other countries?

JANE HOCKING: Look we're probably similar, maybe a bit lower than what you see in the UK for
example. We think in this country 3 to 5 per cent of under 30-year-olds have Chlamydia infection,
most of whom won't know they've got it because it's usually asymptomatic - no symptoms.

But in countries like the UK for example, we tend to think probably between 5 to 8 per cent of
young people could have it.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Dr Jane Hocking from the University of Melbourne speaking to Brigid Glanville
about that Chlamydia trial.

No Christmas for Pipistrelle

ELEANOR HALL: Scientists are warning that the rare Christmas Island Pipistrelle bat is doomed for

A research team had attempted to set up a breeding program but its four-week mission to capture
some of the creatures failed to net a single bat.

And the scientists are now saying that the Pipistrelle's plight is a wake-up call to the Federal
Government to act more urgently to preserve other species on Christmas Island.

Dina Rosendorff has our report.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Bat expert Dr Lindy Lumsden says the tiny Christmas Island Pipistrelle is furry
and cute and sounds like this...

(Bats sounds)

But she may be one of the last people on earth to have seen this minute species in the flesh. Dr
Lumsden is the principal research scientist at the Department of Sustainability and Environment in
Victoria, she's also the vice-president of the Australasian Bat Society.

She led a team of eight bat scientists on a four-week mission to Christmas Island in a last-ditch
bid to save the endangered species from extinction.

LINDY LUMSDEN: What we were hoping to achieve was to be able to catch the last remaining Christmas
Island Pipistrelles and take them into captivity because they dropped to such critically low levels
that we were concerned that they were about to go extinct.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Sadly the mission failed.

LINDY LUMSDEN: While we were there, we managed to only find one individual, and unfortunately were
unable to catch that one individual, it managed to avoid all the traps and nets and everything that
we could set for it.

And then a week before we left, that one individual disappeared as well - and we couldn't find any

DINA ROSENDORFF: Does this mean that the bat is doomed to extinction?

LINDY LUMSDEN: Ah, it's certainly not looking good. There's always a chance that there's some other
small pockets that we haven't been able to find, so it's, we can't say that it is extinct at the
moment, but it's certainly not looking good.

What we've got to do is use this as a real wake up call. Normally small insect-eating bats are
probably the most resilient species around; they're the ones that hang on in farmland areas, hang
on in urban areas a lot longer than what other species do.

If this species can crash to such low levels that it's potentially extinct, we've got to make sure
that other species don't do the same thing.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Local member Warren Snowdon says the Government has heeded the Pipistrelle's
plight and wants to avoid the same fate for other species on Christmas Island.

WARREN SNOWDON: What we've got to do is work towards how we can actually address those issues and I
note that Peter Garrett has announced - commenced work to address some of the significant
ecological challenges on the island by developing a reasonable recovery plan. I think it's very,
very important that we do that.

MICHAEL ROCHE: They acted late, very late when the bat was almost in critical decline, and I'm not
sure that they will act any earlier next time.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Michael Roche is the threatened species manager with the World Wide Fund for
Nature. He says the Government isn't doing enough to guarantee the preservation of other endangered

MICHAEL ROCHE: They're moving away from a single threatened species approach to an ecosystem
approach and I think Mr Garrett has to realise that ecosystems are made up of species. So as
species go extinct, so inevitably will ecosystems and all the services and functions they perform
for human benefit.

DINA ROSENDORFF: Dr Lindy Lumsden says she hasn't given up hope that park rangers on Christmas
Island may still spot a Pipistrelle.

LINDY LUMSDEN: On the off-chance that there's another little pocket of them found somewhere that we
haven't been able to find as yet it will be reconsidered as to whether we'll have another attempt
to try and catch them and start a captive breeding program.

ELEANOR HALL: That's bat expert Dr Lindy Lumsden. She's the principal research scientist at the
Department of Sustainability and Environment in Victoria.

She was speaking to Dina Rosendorff.