Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts.These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
RN World Today -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Budget $5 billion better off

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government has more money than it anticipated.

The Treasury this morning released the final Budget figures for the last financial year and the
damage to the Budget bottom line from the year of financial turmoil is nowhere near as bad as the
Government initially warned.

The improved deficit figure has though stirred more debate about whether the Government's stimulus
measures should be reviewed.

In Canberra, Emma Griffiths reports.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: The May Budget registered the first deficit in seven years. For the financial year
just ended it was to be $32 billion in the red.

Since then Treasury has done its final sums and found a bit more money in the kitty.

The Treasurer Wayne Swan:

WAYNE SWAN: The final budget outcome for 2008/09 is an underlying cash deficit of $27.1 billion or
2.3 per cent of GDP. Now this is a stronger budget outcome and stronger balance sheet than
anticipated at time of May budget.

The budget outcome is $5 billion better than expected at budget.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: The Treasurer says the financial boost has largely come by way of higher company
tax receipts, lower payments of income support and last but not least, the Government's
multi-billion dollar stimulus programs.

WAYNE SWAN: Economic stimulus has helped fill a hole in activity and supported employment and this
has had positive outcomes for this final budget outcome. The truth is that stimulus has kept
customers coming through the doors of business and that has been very important and has meant more
Australians in jobs and less Australians collecting unemployment benefits.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: The better-than-expected final outcome is likely to provoke more calls from the
Opposition to review the stimulus measures.

But the Treasurer's defence of the Government's plans has been bolstered by statements from the
Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens.

He gave testimony to a Senate committee yesterday that Wayne Swan says torpedoed the Opposition's
arguments.

Mr Stevens also acknowledged the Government may want a stimulus contingency plan - a plan B - to
stop the economy overheating - but that's not how the Treasurer heard it.

WAYNE SWAN: He acknowledged and the Government has been very open about this, that as we move
forward next year the stimulus is gradually withdrawn. That is we have fiscal policy and monetary
policy working in tandem.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: Is there a plan B?

WAYNE SWAN: The stimulus was always designed to be targeted, and to be temporary and to be
withdrawn as private sector demand came back and that is what we are doing.

EMMA GRIFFTHS: The Reserve Bank governor did say though that if you wanted to avoid overheating in
the economy then the Government should be looking at a plan B, perhaps during the budget process
that is probably just kicking in right now. Is there any thought of having a contingency plan if
the economy does overheat?

WAYNE SWAN: Well, the Government always adjusts its budget strategy for the circumstances of the
time; but the stimulus that we have put in place is deliberately targeted to support the economy
and particularly small business and jobs while private sector business investment is very weak.

And private sector business investment is going to remain very weak for some time so the stimulus
will be required as we go through next year.

It will be a good thing if growth rates are somewhat higher than have already been forecast but
that doesn't mean to say that the stimulus which fills that hole in private demand is not required.

But naturally as we go through to next year's budget, we will take judgements about our overall
fiscal settings. The stimulus is only a part of that.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: So it is open to change?

WAYNE SWAN: No, there was no mention in my reading of yesterday's transcript of the governor saying
or using the word plan B.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: For the record, here it is.

GLENN STEVENS: Whether there is a case for the Government to have in their top drawer a kind of a
plan B that seeks to wind this back faster next year. There might be.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: The Opposition has its own interpretation of Glenn Stevens' words. Here is the
finance spokeswoman Helen Coonan.

HELEN COONAN: He said that the Government may indeed, if the economy starts heating up, have a plan
B and look at either deferring or cancelling the 20 or 30 billion they haven't yet rolled out.
Reason being that that's going to allow him to keep interest rates lower for longer.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Opposition frontbencher Helen Coonan, ending that report from Emma
Griffiths in Canberra.

Analysis of Budget outcome

ELEANOR HALL: Economics correspondent Stephen Long joins me in the studio now with his analysis of
the federal Budget outcome.

Stephen, how has the Government managed to achieve this better than expected budget bottom line.

STEPHEN LONG: Well, in technical terms, Eleanor, as Emma's report made clear, they have had higher
company tax receipts and they have had lower outlays because unemployment hasn't been as bad. There
hasn't been as much going on welfare but more broadly than that it is a combination of good
economic management and good luck.

We had timely and forceful monetary policy, big cuts to interest rates and the fiscal policy easing
with the economic stimulus, a strong banking system, China resurgence due to its economic stimulus.
So it has had a big economic rebound meant stronger than expected demand for Australian commodities
plus we've had rapid population growth in Australia.

Now, that may sound like a bad thing at a time when unemployment has been going up but it actually
means that there have been a whole lot more workers contributing to economic growth and that has
actually meant that, meant that things have looked a lot better.

If you actually look at it per capita, Australia doesn't appear as well though we've still done
better than countries overseas.

ELEANOR HALL: Now we heard what the Reserve Bank governor said yesterday but is there any danger
the Government debt will create problems down the track?

STEPHEN LONG: It is unlikely. If you look at the situation, we were going to have debt on
Treasury's projections, Eleanor, peaking at about 14 per cent of gross domestic product in 2014.
Now if present trends continue, we are not going to get anywhere near that and you compare that to
overseas.

The projections for the UK and the US was for their government debt to peak at about 80 per cent of
GDP. Now they are looking at being worse. In Japan you were looking at debt of about 140 per cent
of GDP. So ours, even on the previous projections, was miniscule compared to most advanced
economies, our public debt, and it is not going to get to that level unless we have another
economic shock and that will come from overseas and the whole world will be in deep schtuck and
we'll still look better.

And also bear in mind Eleanor, if you look back to previous years, we had a $60 billion revenue
surge in 2005/2006 as manna rained down from the sky with high company profits, huge tax receipts,
the mining boom, nearly as much the following year.

Now all we need is two or three years with huge demand for resources from China, big tax receipts
and you can knock this kind of debt on the head.

ELEANOR HALL: Now we heard in that report from Emma in Canberra that the Coalition is using this to
bolster their case for winding back the stimulus. Does this Budget outcome strengthen their
argument?

STEPHEN LONG: It is important to note that unemployment is still going up, still projected to go
up. We have still got work hours shrinking in the economy. There has been basically zero demand in
the economy over the past year.

If it wasn't for government money, the economy would have gone backwards at a rate of knots but if
the economy is performing stronger, there may be a case for a Plan B as the Coalition suggests but
guess what? We have a federal budget every year and there is always the possibility of mini-budgets
so if the economy is running too fast and too hot, there will be scope for the Government to put in
measures to wind things back.

But the broader politics here, Eleanor is that the Labor Government which always had economic
management as its Achilles' heel has, through a combination of good luck and timing, come out of
this looking like they have had the answers and the Coalition is using the conservative line which
may apply overseas of the fear of debt.

Now, that is not working at the moment. We'll see what happens when interest rates start going up
now though whether the Coalition gets back some of its political traction, but at the moment the
circumstances have worked to turn tables on the politics of who is the strongest economic manager.

ELEANOR HALL: Stephen Long, our economics correspondent, thank you.

War vets doubt changes to compo scheme

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government is facing anger from returned servicemen over its treatment of
war veterans and their families.

Australia's Defence Association says the Government's military compensation schemes are inadequate,
outdated and overly complicated.

And it is highlighting the situation of pregnant war widow Breanna Till, whose husband was killed
in Afghanistan six months ago.

The Government has ordered a review of the Till case but there are already government reviews into
three different compensation schemes in Australia and veterans say they're not optimistic that this
will achieve much.

Emily Bourke has our report.

EMILY BOURKE: The recent case of war widow Breanna Till has raised complex questions about how
families are compensated when soldiers are killed or wounded.

There are three different schemes that span different periods of time that determine the amount and
type of compensation paid to defence force families.

While there are demands for payments to be more generous there are also complaints about
inconsistencies and flaws in the system and calls for departmental red tape to be slashed.

David Jamison is an ex-serviceman who served in Vietnam and is now the national president of the
Defence Force Welfare Association.

DAVID JAMISON: We should have one overall, all encompassing compensation scheme that covers our
people both while they are serving and when they have been discharged. It should be as simple as
possible, explained simply, easy to access and with sufficient flexibility built into it to ensure
that nobody falls through the cracks the way they are at the moment.

EMILY BOURKE: How are they falling through the cracks?

DAVID JAMISON: First of all some people particularly with mental health issues, just don't have the
capacity to go and seek support. They don't know how to do it sometimes.

EMILY BOURKE: Veterans or their families?

DAVID JAMISON: Both and these issues are then sort of faced by ex-service people particularly
without the support that they need.

EMILY BOURKE: Are you seeing this with veterans from current conflicts, from recent conflicts?

DAVID JAMISON: Yes indeed and I think we are going to see this as an increasing component of the
problems that we have to deal with, particularly with Reserve people coming back from operations.
They are put back into the community and they don't have the network of support that sometimes is
available to the regulars.

NEIL JAMES: If the nation decides to go and fight a war then the nation has a responsibility to
look after families of those members of the Defence Force who are killed and wounded in action.

EMILY BOURKE: Neil James from the Australia Defence Association says compensation arrangements for
returned soldiers and their families are out of date.

NEIL JAMES: The underlying philosophy is basically industrial-age warfare where we have large
numbers of members of the Defence Force killed and wounded and in this day and age that doesn't
necessarily apply, although it may in the future. And also compensation for deaths from civil
industrial accidents, say, has improved dramatically over the last couple of decades and the
compensation that we pay the families of deceased Defence Force people hasn't and we believe that
is becoming a serious anomaly.

EMILY BOURKE: But he's not especially critical of the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

NEIL JAMES: Over recent decades most of their clients have been elderly veterans from World War
Two, Korea and even now Vietnam veterans are getting quite old. The department has to shift its
focus a little bit and in a way it is good if the department isn't handling this well because it
means we haven't had large numbers of causalities in our current wars with lots of young widows and
young families. So you can understand why they are a bit rusty in this regard.

EMILY BOURKE: The Australian Government is currently reviewing rehabilitation and compensation
arrangements.

Neil James argues without significant changes, the Defence Force will struggle to recruit.

NEIL JAMES: If you don't compensate people well enough, it will eventually have quite a serious
effect on recruiting and retention for the Defence Force. So even apart from all the moral and
ethical issues involved, there will be a strategic and operational downside unless some reform
occurs.

EMILY BOURKE: A spokeswoman for the Veterans Affairs Minister has told the ABC the review is
designed to look at whether the compensation mix is right and that there must be flexibility so
that the needs of individuals and their families are met.

But David Jamison from the Defence Force Welfare Association is worried about the Government's
review.

DAVID JAMISON: We do have concerns as well about the make-up of the steering committee for the
review. There are no representatives from those that have to access the support provided. In other
words there are none from the ex-service community, none from the serving community, apart from the
departmental representative.

So when you look at it, you can only conclude that this is skewed in favour of government budgetary
problems rather than looking for a fair outcome for our people.

EMILY BOURKE: You don't sound very optimistic about what the review might achieve?

DAVID JAMISON: No I don't and if I look at the history of government reviews for support for
ex-service people and serving people, I think I have got some legitimacy in that cynicism. The
Government is gradually reducing the level of support it gives to its service people and its former
service people.

More and more it is imposing normal community standards that simply do not recognise the vocation
of serving the nation in the military and the additional risks and dangers that our people are put
in.

ELEANOR HALL: That's David Jamison from the Defence Force Welfare Association speaking to Emily
Bourke.

Fresh doubts over prostate cancer tests.

ELEANOR HALL: There's renewed debate today over when men should take tests for prostate cancer.

Thousands of Australian men undergo testing each year and last week researchers were urging that
younger men take the tests.

But today a study from the University of Sydney has concluded that death rates from prostate cancer
do not vary greatly between men who have annual PSA tests and those who don't.

Barbara Miller has our report.

BARBARA MILLER: Common sense would suggest that the earlier prostate cancer is detected the better.

But some specialists believe the PSA blood test too often picks up tumours that are clinically
insignificant.

A team from the University of Sydney took the findings of a major European study published earlier
this year on the tests and applied them in the Australian context:

KIRSTEN HOWARD: Essentially we found that the benefits and harms of annual prostate cancer
screening vary with age and risk level.

BARBARA MILLER: Dr Kirsten Howard from the University of Sydney's School of Public Health is the
lead author of the study which is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

KIRSTEN HOWARD: If we screen 1,000 men every year from the ages of 40 to 69, we will reduce the
number of people who die from prostate cancer from about 30 people down to about 28 but at the same
time we also increase the risk of them actually having a diagnosis of prostate cancer by about two
to four times.

BARBARA MILLER: And what is wrong with having a diagnosis of prostate cancer?

KIRSTEN HOWARD: I guess essentially it is a matter of balancing off a diagnosis of prostate cancer
against the fairly small potential benefit in terms of the mortality reduction.

So we know that often prostate cancer, it is quite an invasive, potentially invasive treatment so
that means that because the mortality benefit is quite small, but we are getting a much larger
number of cancers being diagnosed, that that really suggests that maybe some of those cancers are
actually cancers that wouldn't have ordinarily been diagnosed and treated in the absence of
screening.

So that means that there is potentially a reasonable number of those cancers where we are actually
treating men unnecessarily.

BARBARA MILLER: Is that treatment detrimental to their lifestyle or their health?

KIRSTEN HOWARD: It definitely can be detrimental to their lifestyle. Anyone who has a positive PSA
test will have a biopsy. Biopsies can cause haemorrhaging and infection and the treatment itself
for prostate cancer carriers with it a risk of impotence and incontinence.

BARBARA MILLER: The Cancer Council of Australia also has its doubts about the PSA test.

CEO, Professor Ian Olver.

IAN OLVER: The bottom line is we simply need a better test and we have got to direct research money
into trying to find a better test before we can advocate the screening of the whole population.

So I don't think we should accept that PSA will be the be all and end all of testing.

BARBARA MILLER: When do you think such a test might be available?

IAN OLVER: Look there is a lot of work being done on the genetics of tumours that may lead to a
better test and I would be very hopeful over the next 10 years that we will see that happening.

BARBARA MILLER: But just last week the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand urged men
aged between 40 and 50 in particular to get tested for prostate cancer. The society's president is
Dr David Malouf.

DAVID MALOUF: A man who is at low risk can be reassured - and that will be the vast majority of men
-can be reassured that his risk is low and he has less frequent testing over the next 10 to 15
years. Those men who fall into the higher risk category should be monitored more closely because
they are the ones at risk of developing prostate cancer and with close monitoring, any prostate
cancer that does develop can be picked up early and treated.

BARBARA MILLER: Are you worried that these kinds of studies, like the one from the University of
Sydney, may deter men from having tests?

DAVID MALOUF: I think men are confused. I think there is mixed information out there. The
particular study that you are referring to, which I have only had a brief chance to read this
morning, makes a lot of assumptions.

It is a mathematical model. It is not a study involving patients. So I think some of the parameters
which they have factored into their model are incorrect or flawed and I think that reduces the
validity of the study.

BARBARA MILLER: Cancer specialists are in agreement that men need to have a detailed discussion
with their physician about PSA testing, but on that front there is concerning news from the USA.

More than half the participants in a new survey there who had a PSA test were not asked if they
wanted it and more than two-thirds did not receive counselling on the potential downside of testing
and diagnosis.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller reporting.

Death toll mounts in Philippines floods

ELEANOR HALL: The Philippines Government has revised up its estimate of the number of people killed
in severe flooding around the capital, Manila, to 240.

The storm which hit the country at the weekend has seen almost 2 million people struggling to cope
with the dangerous flooding and aid agencies are scrambling to help but say the situation remains
chaotic.

Simon Santow has our report.

SIMON SANTOW: In a sign of just how serious this crisis has become, Philippines President Gloria
Arroyo has opened up parts of her Malacanang Palace to the homeless.

It's just one of many measures being tried to alleviate the suffering brought on by tropical storm
Ketsana.

The hurricane brought six-metre floods to the capital Manila and surrounding provinces on Saturday.

Ramon Ilagan is the mayor of Cainta Province.

RAMON ILAGAN: Almost 100 per cent of Cainta under water. What we need right now are our relief
boats for our constituents affected, no. Especially in the Urban poor areas.

SIMON SANTOW: This man's house was wrecked in the flooding and he's now dependent on food handouts.

FILIPINO MAN (translated): For sure we will starve if we don't line up for relief goods. The floods
were really deep in our town. We were the worst hit.

SIMON SANTOW: World Vision Philippines' Minnie Portales says aid agencies are only just beginning
to understand the extent of the suffering.

MINNIE PORTALES: Simon, right now we are having sunshine and this is a welcome treat for all of us
because it will mean that the water will subside in the four affected areas and this is giving us
all hope.

SIMON SANTOW: Minnie Portales, can you say yet what the extent of the damage or is it too early to
know?

MINNIE PORTALES: The extent of damage right now is that there are 70 per cent of houses and
facilities covered by water and also mud at this point in time and there are children who are
suffering from colds and infections because of their exposure.

And right now we have problems in terms of accessing the community to give relief food aid and
medical attention to those families who are still in their respective homes and trapped on the
second floor of their houses.

SIMON SANTOW: There has already been some criticism that the most needy are missing out on the aid.
Is that a fair thing to say, do you think?

MINNIE PORTALES: The Government is trying their best to provide facilities for evacuation and to
provide resources as well as the rescue operation, but I think the challenge on the limited number
of rubber boats and chopper.

They are very expensive equipments but very useful and very valuable in this kind of disaster.

Because the situation that we had yesterday, on Saturday, because of typhoon Ketsana, it is after
42 years, we were able to experience this kind of heavy downpour which was compared for a 30-day
downpour that was poured in for six and seven hours last Saturday.

SIMON SANTOW: What do you think that Australians can do?

MINNIE PORTALES: Right now we would like to call all our Australian brothers and sisters to help
these poor Filipinos who are submerged in water and were affected with this typhoon Ketsana to
please provide your donations to World Vision Australia so that we will be able to provide the
relief and food assistance to these communities.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the director for advocacy and communications at World Vision Philippines,
that is Minnie Portales. She was speaking in Manila to Simon Santow.

Iran fires missiles as talks draw closer

ELEANOR HALL: The stakes are rising in Iran's standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

Iran has put on a defiant two-day show of its medium-range missile capabilities - weapons it says
can strike any of the threats against the Islamic republic.

Iran says the missile tests were part of long-planned exercises but they appear to have ramped up
tension just days ahead of international talks on Iran's nuclear programs.

As Shane McLeod reports.

SHANE MCLEOD: It was a defiant show of some of Iran's most advanced military technology.

Two days of military exercises concluded with demonstrations of an upgraded version of a Shabab-3
medium-range missile. It can deliver warheads up to 2,000 kilometres away - far enough to leave
Israel and parts of Europe worried.

Not that they should be says Iran's ambassador to the international atomic energy agency Ali Asghar
Soltanieh:

ALI ASGHAR SOLTANIEH: This is normal that any country could have a manoeuvre to improve their own
defence capability and of course, for the missile, there is no conventional treaty banning missile
technology or also doing the tests.

SHANE MCLEOD: Iran says the missile tests were part of military exercises that have been
long-planned but their timing increases tension ahead of talks later this week on the Islamic
republic's nuclear programs.

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says that forum is what the world should be
paying attention to.

STEPHEN SMITH: We should focus on that dialogue and not be distracted by the missile tests which I
suspect, frankly, Iran's intention was to cause consternation and for it to be provocative.

SHANE MCLEOD: But speaking on Radio National this morning, Stephen Smith said it's not certain the
talks can actually make progress.

STEPHEN SMITH: The fact that Iran has agreed to the talks is of itself a good step. We do believe
as the disclosure of the com facility reinforces that there is real concern with Iran's nuclear
program. We are worried of course about enrichment and in the longer term any weapons capacity.

But it does require a change of approach from Iran, a change of policy, a change of attitude and
entering into the dialogue of itself won't be enough.

SHANE MCLEOD: The talks involve five of the seven UN Security Council permanent members -- the US,
Russia, China, France and the UK as well as Germany.

They are talking place in Geneva on Thursday amidst an even more tense backdrop after the
revelation of a second Iranian nuclear enrichment facility by the US and its allies.

Iran's IAEA ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh denies that the plant was kept secret.

ALI ASGHAR SOLTANIEH: You would forgive me if I asked you how much money you have in your pocket
and you are not having an obligation I am sure to tell me. Are you doing deception or concealment?

We are only obliged to inform 180 days before we put in nuclear material. Not from the starting of
construction or designing it.

Therefore the word I am talking to you know and the letter I wrote and delivered to
director-general on 21st September. We are not using nuclear material and there is no enrichment
yet and therefore we are informing well in advance.

SHANE MCLEOD: Yet the missile tests have been condemned as needlessly provocative by some of the
nations involved in the talks.

The French Foreign Ministry says the missile tests were "deeply destabilising". The UK says they
sent the wrong signal.

Richard Dalton is a former UK ambassador to Iran. He believes it's a case of Iran pushing back
against the international pressure.

RICHARD DALTON: There is no surprise that Iran has a missile capability and it has also tested
these particular rockets before. So in choosing to use the sacred defence week in commemoration of
the awful ordeal that Iran faced at the hands of Iraq in the 1980s, they are showing their own
population and I believe also the outside world that they are strong.

They may be also sending a message that they aren't going to be bullied in advance of the 1st
October talks.

SHANE MCLEOD: Now the international community waits to see the outcome of those talks.

Whether Iran's defiant stance will endure in the face of concerted effort from the UN powers or
whether social and economic pressures within Iran will force a more conciliatory approach.

ELEANOR HALL: Shane McLeod reporting.

Being Bill Clinton

ELEANOR HALL: Now to that intriguing look inside the mind of former US president, Bill Clinton.

The Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Taylor Branch, has written a presidential biography based on
secret tapes of scores of secret interviews that he conducted with Bill Clinton while the president
was in the midst of governing.

He didn't use the tapes themselves as the basis for his book. They remain in a secret location but
even so, the book The Clinton Tapes - Wrestling History with the President", manages to have an
intimacy that a conventional biography doesn't.

When Taylor Branch spoke to me from New York this morning, I asked him how this unusual project
began.

TAYLOR BRANCH: Well, it was a project initiated by president Clinton to preserve a more vivid raw
material for future history. He had read my civil rights books based a lot on presidential records
and said he wanted, for historians fifty years from now to be able to do the same thing for his
presidency.

And I told him that the chances were very slim because we can't record phone conversations and that
the modern presidency is buried in paper without much human dynamics and he wound up resolving to
record this secret diary all through the presidency and that started an amazing adventure for me as
the one that would go down periodically at night and ask him questions.

ELEANOR HALL: Yes, you used to go down secretly, didn't you?

TAYLOR BRANCH: Well, it all... was, they would call me. Usually I was working away on my Martin
Luther King work and they would call me a five o'clock in the afternoon, the president has a hole
in his schedule at nine o'clock tonight. Can you come down?

They wanted to do it at night when the staff was gone and in the residence away from the offices
where a lot of people burn the midnight oil in the West Wing.

So I would drive down and park a pick-up truck under the Truman balcony and go up into the
residence and never know what I was going to encounter because he could be in the middle of a
crisis, he could be depressed, he could be exuberant and he could be all of those because on any
given night he would discuss eight or ten different subjects.

ELEANOR HALL: It does give a very personal fly-on-the-wall portrait of Bill Clinton and indeed the
Clinton family. Before we look at some of the issues in his presidency, I would like to get your
general impressions firstly on Bill Clinton the president.

What did you learn about him through this project and how do you rate him as a president?

TAYLOR BRANCH: As a president I would say that he was well motivated and highly skilful but unlucky
in that he undermined some of his best efforts in the end.

ELEANOR HALL: Would you rate him as a great president?

TAYLOR BRANCH: No. I would rate him; I would rate him as an above average president. I would say I
think he was a well-motivated and skilful politician who was under-rated as a president but will
not be ranked great.

ELEANOR HALL: Because of his own weaknesses?

TAYLOR BRANCH: Yes and because he didn't manage to succeed in the mission which would have been to
shake America out of its cynicism. It still exists now. He did some amazing things. He was involved
in peace negotiations on half a dozen continents and he created 20 million jobs and 4 per cent
unemployment would look mighty good in the United States now.

But the cynicism that he failed to dispel meant that the American people didn't even care about it.

ELEANOR HALL: What about Bill Clinton as a father and a husband? Controversy of course there as
well but did you find some surprises?

TAYLOR BRANCH: Oh, many, all the time. Well I found surprises, the biggest surprise that I found is
that I had not seen him for 20 years since we were kids and I thought he was going to be a very
careful and modulated and somewhat superficial politician only to find out that I think he, in
private he seemed much more idealistic - not only about politics but about his own mission than the
people that were writing about him.

He seemed so much more idealistic than the singer in the wind, undisciplined, crass politician that
was being caricatured in the media. He and Hillary were, Hillary would just come in on our sessions
and so would Chelsea.

There was a lot of warmth there and with Hillary in particular, a real political partnership in the
sense that they would finish one another's sentences.

ELEANOR HALL: More than a political partnership though?

TAYLOR BRANCH: Yes, in the sense of a warmth. I never saw any coldness between them at all. Even
during impeachment which was surprising since it was all over personal behaviour that was very
painful to her.

ELEANOR HALL: And did working on this project show you a different side of Bill Clinton as a friend
as well?

TAYLOR BRANCH: There were times when he would explode. We had a good rapport but we were working on
something that in a way will never have again because he was at the pinnacle of his skill as
something that he had wanted to be, a you know, president of the United States and I had been
working and writing history for a long time and believed passionately that we need to get our
presidents right.

So we were collaborating at a level that really brought us together through a lot of thick and thin
even though he yelled at me at times and I yelled back at him at times.

ELEANOR HALL: Why did you keep the tapes secret until now or perhaps the other way around, why have
you revealed them now?

TAYLOR BRANCH: He hasn't revealed his tapes. That is the verbatim tapes that I made of us talking
but the whole purpose was for historians to have them so I know he will.

The reason they had to stay secret is because if anybody knew about them, there would be a great
hue and uproar to get hold of them. You know, nobody has taped presidential phone conversations
since Richard Nixon was driven from office so ever since then, having this kind of intimate record
has been too dangerous.

And so we were doing, we were trying to buck the tide and get something and create something that
was vivid and a good record without hindsight in the moment for the future and we really felt the
only way we could do it was secretly.

ELEANOR HALL: Now there will be inevitable comparisons with the latest Democratic president Barack
Obama. In some ways, they couldn't be more different. Do you agree?

TAYLOR BRANCH: Well, I think they have kind of different styles but I think they are both very
cerebral, thoughtful, policy wonk politicians.

ELEANOR HALL: And President Obama is grappling with some surprisingly similar issues both domestic
and foreign. To take health care reform - I mean what lessons could he learn from the Clintons on
that?

TAYLOR BRANCH: Well, there are a lot of lessons that the president leaves on the tapes along the
way. I mean he felt that he mistimed it. But perhaps he should have done it incrementally to ease
the fears that the world was going to fall in if you did anything with this system and wound up,
they both wound up in a sea of trouble.

So it may be that you had the two of them at lunch they would say it doesn't matter what approach
you do, there is so much money involved in this and our politics are so unbalanced right now with
people throwing spit balls from both wings that it is going to be difficult no matter what you do.

ELEANOR HALL: On the Middle East peace it is interesting that Bill Clinton was dealing for a time
with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and now Mr Netanyahu is back in the prime
ministership.

What do you think Bill Clinton really thought of Netanyahu as a peace partner?

TAYLOR BRANCH: He surprised me at times saying that he wasn't essentially that he wasn't as bad as
I was afraid he was going to be but he makes some very candid remarks later on that the objective
structure of Israeli politics - he said all of the people that were against the peace process, all
of them, were Netanyahu supporters and therefore it made it almost impossible for him to do
anything.

ELEANOR HALL: And Bill Clinton was very frustrated in the end that he couldn't get a Middle East
peace deal. By then he was dealing with Ehud Barak but you did one of your interviews with him at
Camp David during some of the most intense negotiations.

There has long been blame shifting about just why there wasn't a deal from that meeting. Who do you
think Bill Clinton blamed.

TAYLOR BRANCH: Well, mostly Arafat although I mean to me that was just one of the most spine
tingling adventures in the whole thing was to be able to go to Camp David with Barak and Arafat
there - and we talked about it really for the rest of his presidency because it didn't just end
there.

He blamed Arafat for not being able to say no shortly after the Camp David process. Then he tried
at the very end of his presidency to have an interim agreement that he thought would leave some
momentum toward peace and he couldn't get that either.

It is the only time I think he thought Barak may have made a mistake to say yes to Clinton's final
plan right before he left office. That if Barak had said no, Arafat might have said yes and then
Barak could have closed the deal behind him by changing his mind.

But Bill Clinton worked on this with all of his heart and soul and it is a tragedy and a sadness
that he couldn't succeed.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, it is a remarkable portrait of a president. Taylor Branch thanks very much for
speaking to us.

TAYLOR BRANCH: Thank you very much.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Pulitzer Prize-winning civil rights historian Taylor Branch who has just
launched a book on Bill Clinton, called The Clinton Tapes - Wrestling History with the President.

And you can listen to a longer version of that interview on our website www.abc.net.au/worldtoday.

Indigenous educator calls for change

ELEANOR HALL: Indigenous educator Chris Sarra is calling for a transformation in Australia's
approach to teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Dr Sarra is one of the keynote speakers at a national Indigenous education summit that's taking
place in Brisbane as Charlotte Glennie reports.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Mrs Nirrpurrandji is the principal of a school of 300 students in Arnhem Land.
They range in age from 5 to 18.

But on any given day Mrs Nirrpurrandji says up to third of the pupils don't turn up to class.

SHIRLEY NIRRPURRANDJI: Because sometimes we have got families living out bush and them kids have
got to go off with their parents on such a such day. Like this time of the year, there is a lot of
ceremonies that happen, a lot of our kids go off with their parents to attend ceremonies and...

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: And that is all different aged children, is it?

SHIRLEY NIRRPURRANDJI: That is different age, yes and part of our truancy also is in involved by
funerals also. If there is funerals, because everything just works around the funeral ceremony. We
are always, you know, we have got to be here at such a such a time or we have got to be here
because it is the extended family business and we have to be there.

And that is one of the things that we as educators need to work with our communities to try and,
try and shift in the ways we think.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Mrs Nirrpurrandji says there are other challenges as well.

What are the greatest frustrations for you in what you do?

SHIRLEY NIRRPURRANDJI: One of my greatest frustrations it is, I guess, getting our teachers,
getting teachers, the right teachers to come to our schools to teach our students. For kids to
learn from them and what teaching do they bring into our schools.

Because a lot of our schools do not have those sorts of teachers that come to our schools and we
just hope that one day, you know, as we sit and plan and implement things, together, strategies of
how we bring good teachers to our communities would be a wonderful thing to see happen in the
future.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Indigenous school children are lagging behind non-Indigenous, when it comes to
performing in the classroom.

In Queensland alone, as many as a third of the state's Indigenous children are getting results
below the national minimum standard, in literacy and numeracy.

Several hundred educators and policy makers from around the country have gathered in Brisbane to
discuss ways to improve the statistics.

Among them is Indigenous educator and former Queenslander of the Year Chris Sarra, who is part of a
group working on a 25-year national plan to overhaul the education system.

CHRIS SARRA: I wanted to just make it clear that whilst there has been a lot of interest in a
25-year plan, we haven't yet got to a point where we have formally tabled anything of a plan; so it
is still in that conversational phase.

Although one of the things that frustrates me is further calls for broader consultation and review
when we have had lots and lots of reviews. We kind of know the stuff that we need to know and in
fact I think the truth is we have known for about 30 or 40 years because all of the reviews have
told us these sorts of things.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Instead Chris Sarra says it's time for action. Already he says some Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander children are making great progress.

CHRIS SARRA: Whilst we are learning from the Closing the Gap agenda, I think it is important that
in education we don't see this as a Closing the Gap agenda, but one more of transformational change
because as my good friend Ian Mackie over there says, if we are saying that in 25 years we close
the gap then he is going to have to tell his kids in his school to slow down.

And I think in a lot of schools across the country, the gaps are closing. In fact there are lots of
kids in the country beyond the gap. So it really is about doing business differently.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Yesterday the Federal Government announced $16 million worth of funding over
four years for an Indigenous education initiative - where high-performing principals will be sent
into struggling schools to act as mentors.

Today Aboriginal elder and social justice commissioner Tom Calma told conference goers that's a
good start - but people also have to be realistic about their expectations.

TOM CALMA: If there is only four years funding, what are we going to see in four years' time?
Probably not a lot. We'll see some really strong achievement but we are not going to see everybody
literate and numerate within four years.

You know that is unrealistic and they are not all going to meet the benchmarks in four years.

ELEANOR HALL: Social justice commissioner Tom Calma ending that report from Charlotte Glennie in
Brisbane.

Australians pay higher fees for super

ELEANOR HALL: Now to research that shows that Australians are paying higher fees to super funds
than people in other advanced nations.

The research was commissioned by the Investment & Financial Services Association, which represents
retail superannuation funds.

Global accounting firm, Deloitte, says the country's largest funds are internationally competitive
but admits that there is room for improvement.

Finance reporter, Sue Lannin, has more.

SUE LANNIN: Australia has one of the most regulated retirement incomes systems in the world.

Accounting firm, Deloitte compared local superannuation funds to those in countries including the
United States, Japan and the United Kingdom.

It found that the larger funds were broadly competitive although comparisons were difficult.

Deloitte partner Michael Monaghan headed the study.

MICHAEL MONAGHAN: The key finding was that the larger Australian superannuation funds in each
sector are broadly competitive with global pension funds and superannuation funds.

Issues like the regulatory regime have a major impact on the structure of industry and the costs.

In all of the countries that we surveyed maintained a highly regulated pension system but our
system is quite different from a number of the others.

SUE LANNIN: Australians are paying more to have their investments managed but Michael Monaghan says
that's because we expect higher returns.

MICHAEL MONAGHAN: We looked at things in a cross sector. So we looked at the corporate fund sector,
the retail and superannuation funds and the industry superannuation funds and we found in each
sector, by and large, our larger funds are quite comparable in terms of fees for administration
after adjusting for differences in approach for also for investment fees.

Our investment fees are higher than in most other countries and the reason for that is because we
have a different system. We have more defined contribution, accumulation style schemes compared to
defined benefits in most countries.

We have more active management. We have more focus on growth asset classes like equities and we
have a greater investment in most of our superannuation funds in alternative assets; so like
property and private equity, hedge funds and the like. And they tend to be more expensive asset
classes to invest in.

SUE LANNIN: So is there potential to bring down those investment management fees in Australia?

MICHAEL MONAGHAN: The potential is certainly there but one might question whether that is the right
thing to do. The reason that we are paying higher fees is that we are seeking higher returns than
typical funds in most other countries which for the most part are defined benefit funds.

They have a different objective for their investments than we have with our typical account based
accumulation funds here in Australia.

SUE LANNIN: At Industry funds, funds run by unions, costs were higher too and there was room for
improvement.

MICHAEL MONAGHAN: There aren't very many countries that have a well developed industry funds sector
like ours. So we're mainly compared with the Netherlands and Denmark. What we found there was that
when you make a proper comparison of the administration fees in particular, we are actually very
competitive with the Netherlands which has the largest funds in the world.

When you look at things on just a percentage of the members account balance you get a different
picture. That highlights one of the problems with making that kind of comparison particularly for
administration fees which don't really bare any relationship to assets.

SUE LANNIN: But in the report you say that there are system efficiencies in industry sector and
there is multiple small accounts. So are these factors that make the fees higher?

MICHAEL MONAGHAN: They inevitably do increase costs, but haven't made us globally uncompetitive. We
do certainly say that there is room for improvement in efficiency, not just in the industry funds
sector but particularly in that area with multiple small accounts.

Lots of people having numerous accounts in different funds and not really being aware of that.
There should be an opportunity to rationalise that, clean it up a little bit and therefore reduce
the costs.

ELEANOR HALL: Deloitte partner, Michael Monaghan with Sue Lannin.

Adelaide looks at sticky solution

ELEANOR HALL: The Adelaide City Council is so tired of cleaning up chewing gum from the city
streets - that it is considering banning the sale of gum in the CBD.

The Lord Mayor says the council is in negotiations with the main distributor of chewing gum in
Australia for it to pay to remove any gum from the sidewalks.

But he says if that fails the ban will go ahead.

As Nance Haxton reports.

NANCE HAXTON: The Adelaide City Council is determined to rid itself of at least one blot on the CBD
landscape - that of chewing gum on the sidewalks.

Lord Mayor Michael Harbison says the cost of removing the chewing gum has forced the council to
act.

MICHAEL HARBISON: Adelaide City Council is now spending over $200,000 a year scraping chewing gum
off footpaths and it is just the tip of the iceberg. So we finally lost patience. We've said to
Wrigley's chewing gum, put up or shut up.

Fund an education program or scrape the chewing gum off yourself; but we are not going to take
responsibility for their product.

NANCE HAXTON: And how would a ban work? What is the city council looking at there?

MICHAEL HARBISON: That would be a ban on the sale of chewing gum in the CBD unless Wrigley's can
demonstrate that they have an education program that works or as a last resort, they are going to
get out there and scrape up the chewing gum instead of rate payers having to pay to scrape this
mess off the footpath.

NANCE HAXTON: Wouldn't there be a problem though that people could still bring in their own chewing
gum, even if they didn't buy it in the CBD?

MICHAEL HARBISON: Well, that is for Wrigley's to work out. We want them to demonstrate that they
have a solution to this problem that doesn't cost the ratepayers of Adelaide.

NANCE HAXTON: In a statement the Wrigley Company corporate affairs director Catherine Pemberton
says that correct disposal of any kind of litter is a personal responsibility.

She says the prevention of litter is the only sustainable solution to the problem, which requires
the provision of bins, and the enforcement of litter laws.

But Lord Mayor Michael Harbison says council staff are now looking at the best way to implement a
ban on the sale of chewing gum in the CBD to try and stop the problem.

MICHAEL HARBISON: We have had our staff set to work on a by-law which would be intended to ban the
sale of chewing gum unless Wrigley's can demonstrate that they have a program in place to get this
mess off our footpaths.

NANCE HAXTON: How have negotiations with Wrigley been going on this issue?

MICHAEL HARBISON: Well for years Wrigley's have been telling us the only sustainable solution is
education and that is all very well but I think Wrigley's should pay for the education not the
ratepayers of the city of Adelaide.

NANCE HAXTON: So Adelaide could be going down the same path as Singapore by banning chewing gum on
the city streets?

MICHAEL HARBISON: Well Singapore hasn't banned chewing gum. They have just said that it is an
offence to drop the chewing gum in the streets.

We are saying it is up to the chewing gum company. There is only one chewing gum company
effectively, that is Wrigley's. We have said it is your chewing gum. You work it out.

NANCE HAXTON: What sort of punishment would there be for people who are caught dropping chewing gum
if it is banned?

MICHAEL HARBISON: There are fines for littering. We would be pleased to see something that is more
appropriate for a smaller offence like this. That is not the reason we are pursuing. We are asking
the company that produces this themselves and profits from the chewing gum to take some
responsibility for their product.

We call it product stewardship. The concept of product stewardship is growing in popularity. In
South Australia we have a Beverage Container Act that requires manufacturers to make a charge to
fund the collection of the empty containers and it is a good system - admired around the world.

In this case we want the chewing gum manufacturer, Wrigley to take a bit of product stewardship. To
take responsibility for what's happening with the product.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Adelaide Lord Mayor Michael Harbison with Nance Haxton.