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

Australian aid flows to devastated districts of Sumatra

SHANE MCLEOD: The shift from rescue to the grim task of recovery in Indonesia's earthquake disaster
hasn't slowed down the flow of Australian aid to the island of Sumatra.

The city of Padang is at the centre of the clean-up effort but the earthquake has also caused
significant damage and loss of life in villages elsewhere on the island.

I spoke a short time ago to our correspondent Karen Percy.

Karen Percy in Padang, the conditions there this morning, are they helping the rescuers or is that
rain still hampering their efforts?

KAREN PERCY: No, we've certainly seen an easing up of the rain which is a good thing, and in fact
we didn't see much heavy rain last night so that will certainly help those workers today as they
work through the debris.

There is still the threat of landslides, not so much because of the rain but because we are still
feeling some small tremors here. There's a seismology group that's based out at the governor's
house, which is the main aid and distribution centre, and they have their devices showing that
there are in fact still very minor tremors here but if anything were to get a big bigger with the
conditions that might get a bit worse.

But certainly at the moment it's dry, it is overcast but it's also cooler. That will help a little
as well because conditions have been very hot and humid at times making it just really slow going
and hard going for those workers.

SHANE MCLEOD: I understand you're heading out today to an area where there'll be some Australian
aid workers setting up equipment. What are they going to be doing?

KAREN PERCY: We're going to be travelling out with the Australian Defence Force. They have a medic
team who flew in yesterday. They're going to be setting up, I guess, a field clinic if you like,
out in the outskirts of Padang.

One of the real questions or queries and concerns over past couple of days is how little assistance
has been given to the people in the outlying areas who are closer to the epicentre of the quake. So
that's now been a real focus of, not just aid groups, but the military here.

So we'll be heading out to see their medical facilities and how the locals are dealing with this
because of course they don't have the greatest, some people don't have shelter, some people don't
have proper water, so as well as any injuries they might have sustained during the earthquake there
are also the kinds of health ramifications that come from the conditions after an earthquake like

SHANE MCLEOD: Karen you've been out talking to people who've been directly affected by the quake.
How are they holding up nearly a week after the tremor itself?

KAREN PERCY: It's really amazing to see the strength of the people. I was chatting to a businessman
yesterday. His entire motorbike business was levelled. He actually owned a three storey shop house
and he's very sad and he's lost a lot of money, but his main concern is for the friends and people
he hasn't been able to contact so far.

And in the row of shop houses his motorbike business was in, he knew the people down the end who
ran a bank and they did not come out of the rubble. His staff, his customers were able to get out
in time but the friends, colleagues down the end weren't.

But he was very upbeat saying, "I'm going to rebuild this". He was talking to his staff and
reassuring them; "we are going to reopen. We had this earthquake three years ago, we were okay
then, we're going to get back up".

But, you know, there have been reports of looting and stealing and that often happens in these
kinds of circumstances but I do think, in the main, that people will, you know, try to rebuild
their businesses, their homes and their lives.

SHANE MCLEOD: Karen, thank you.

Opposition ETS bickering blights poll numbers.

SHANE MCLEOD: The Federal Opposition's internal bickering over an emissions trading scheme now
looks to be having an impact in the polls.

In yet another blow for Malcolm Turnbull's leadership, today's Newspoll shows any ground made by
the Opposition leader has evaporated.

Support for the Coalition has slumped to levels seen when Brendan Nelson was first appointed to the
Opposition leadership.

And to make matters worse for Mr Turnbull, he'll now have to confront the entire West Australian
Liberal Party, with that branch set to vote against negotiating on the ETS until after global
climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

From Canberra, Samantha Hawley reports.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: The West Australian Liberal Party state conference will be held this weekend, and
agenda item number one will be an ETS.

MATHIAS CORMANN: We should not be negotiating amendments with the view of finalising the
legislation before Copenhagen.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Senator Mathias Cormann is a member of the WA Liberal branch.

On Saturday members will vote on whether they agree that ETS negotiations should stop until after
the climate change summit in Copenhagen at the end of this year.

And if that's how the vote does go on Saturday, it will be direct contradiction of Malcolm
Turnbull's position.

MATHIAS CORMANN: The Coalition should stick to our position adopted by the party room in June, and
that is if Labor's flawed ETS is put to a vote before Copenhagen or before the US has finalised its
legislation, we should vote against it.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Okay, and do you think that Malcolm Turnbull is right to negotiate with the

MATHIAS CORMANN: Look, we should put forward strong amendments which will help identify the flaws
in Labor's scheme, but I don't believe we should negotiate amendments with the view of passing the

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: So what's the point in negotiating if you have no intention of actually supporting
the legislation?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, I mean the common sense position is to wait until we know what the rest of
the world is prepared to do.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: It's a confusing message coming from the Liberal Party and it's translated into a
new slump in support for the Federal Coalition.

SOPHIE MIRABELLA: It doesn't help when a party sends out mixed messages.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: On Sky News Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella didn't seem surprised by today's Newspoll
in The Australian newspaper.

It's shows on a two party preferred basis the Coalition has lost 3 percentage points in a fortnight
and it's now at its lowest level since Brendan Nelson was leader.

And only 18 per cent of voters now think Malcolm Turnbull would make a better prime minister.

SOPHIE MIRRABELLA: There's a message there from the Australian people that we can't be sending
mixed messages. Yes, we can have vigorous debate, which we do, and I think that's a very healthy
thing to have a vigorous debate within the party.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But it's the vigorous debate in public that Mr Turnbull wants to stop.

Opposition frontbencher Joe Hockey is calling for that too.

JOE HOCKEY: We've got to be more disciplined. We've got to be focused.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Mr Hockey is a leadership possibility but he's told Channel Nine he's not after
the job.

JOE HOCKEY: Well my hat is not in ring, it will not be in the ring. Malcolm Turnbull is doing
everything he can to try and lift the Liberal Party...

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Is that enough?

JOE HOCKEY: Well every Liberal needs to do that. Everyone needs to...

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: These polls indicate it is not enough.

JOE HOCKEY: It's a tough job.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: The former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett says it's not a job anyone would really

JEFF KENNETT: I've always said that being Opposition leader is not a job of choice in one sense.
It's a tough gig but it's character building. I'm sure that Malcolm and those around them are
developing their characters in ways that they never thought was imaginable.

SHANE MCLEOD: The former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett ending that report from Samantha Hawley.

Report warns higher rates means higher defaults

SHANE MCLEOD: As the Reserve Bank prepares to announce its latest decision on whether to raise
interest rates, a new report is warning higher rates will lead to rising defaults on home loans in
the Australian mortgage market.

The report by investment bank JP Morgan and Fujitsu Consulting found housing affordability has
barely improved, despite interest rates being near 50 year lows.

And households remain highly indebted with first home buyers borrowing on average 25 per cent more
than they did before the global financial crisis.

Martin North from Fujitsu Consulting told Sue Lannin that house prices here remain among the most
expensive in the world.

MARTIN NORTH: In Australia, the average price compared with income, is a lot higher than the UK or
the US or almost any other Western country. And what that means is that most people have to pay
more than they would in those other markets.

So affordability at low levels of interest rates are roughly along term levels, that's what the
Reserve Bank says, but of course as rates go up then affordability will deteriorate quite rapidly.

SUE LANNIN: The Reserve Bank last week talked about the risk of a housing bubble. Is there a risk
of a housing bubble in Australia?

MARTIN NORTH: Well it depends how you define a bubble. If you look back since 1990, house prices
have moved up dramatically and consistently, with a few wobbles. We've seen areas of the market
move up very quickly. So, for example, the first home owner grant stimulated the bottom end of the

I don't think we're in a bubble. I think it's a much more fundamental economic question, which is,
what is the right supply and demand equilibrium point in the housing industry? I think at the
moment, we've got the situation where we have a lot of demand and we haven't got enough supply, and
therefore long term rates are high, prices are high, and what that means is not so much a bubble as
a longer term economic challenge.

SUE LANNIN: Now we know that interest rates are going to rise. What does that mean for the people
who got into the market while rates have been at 50 year lows?

MARTIN NORTH: I think for some of them they will begin to feel the pain of rates moving up. Now,
sensibly the banks pulled back on their loan-to-value ratios and there was also a lot of
communication with potential borrowers about think about what happens when rates go up. But people
will be shocked and surprised.

And, you know, long term, you've got to expect rates to go up 1.5 to 2 per cent, and that's going
to be a very considerable pain point for many people. I think in 18 months to two years time we may
well see some of those first time buyers worrying about whether they can make the repayments and
thinking about what they should do.

SUE LANNIN: Will it be a substantial number that face default?

MARTIN NORTH: Well the Reserve Bank said 25,000 have defaulted over the last 12 months. Our own
modelling suggests if rates go up a couple of per cent that could get up to about 35,000 to 40,000.
So still not big numbers absolutely, but for every one of those households who actually are in
default they are 100 per cent in default.

SUE LANNIN: Now when interest rates do rise, do you think the banks will follow the Reserve Bank
changes or will they move above the Reserve Bank's changes?

MARTIN NORTH: I think you can probably expect the banks to follow any upward movements from the
Reserve Bank unless there's a competitive reason why they would not want to for a little while.

SUE LANNIN: Are we out of the woods yet?

MARTIN NORTH: It's too soon to say that we're really out of the woods. You can see some glimpses of
hope however we are part of a global financial situation that is still not fixed. There's got to be
global movements in terms of taking out some of this stimulus, there's 17 trillion of funding
thrown into the banking system globally that's got to be unwound in some way. I think this is a two
to three year thing, not an 18 month or even six month thing.

SHANE MCLEOD: That's Martin North from Fujitsu Consulting talking there to Sue Lannin.

Commission concerned by buyback policy

SHANE MCLEOD: The Productivity Commission has raised concerns that the Federal Government's $3
billion water buyback may end up purchasing the wrong amount of water.

It backs up irrigators' concerns that water purchases aren't being effectively targeted and have
limited benefits for the environment.

It comes on top of reports that only a third of the water purchased in the past financial year has
actually made its way into the rivers as "real" water.

Bronwyn Herbert reports.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Over the next decade the Federal Government will spend $3.1 billion to buy water
from farmers in a bid to improve the health of the Murray Darling system.

The buyback operates on a policy of no regrets, presuming that water for the environment is so
severely under-allocated that there's little risk of purchasing the wrong water.

But the Productivity Commission disagrees, saying if this continues purchases could end up the
wrong amount or distribution of entitlements.

Professor Mike Young directs the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide.

MIKE YOUNG: We could very easily end up with an environmental portfolio made up particularly of air
and not of real water and real opportunities to manage cleverly. The Government's chosen to go down
what is ultimately going to be a very complicated process, which will be very, very difficult to
get right and hence the Productivity Commission's warning.

Clearly the more right you get the portfolio, the less water you have to buy. The more clumsily you
buy the water, the more water you have to buy.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Professor Mike Young says it's a very real risk that the Government is buying the
wrong water.

MIKE YOUNG: You would expect an environmental manager to want to be able to stockpile water so you
can create a medium sort of level flood from time to time, and then very strict carry over
restrictions that apply to any water that's bought.

You'd expect them to have to be very careful in terms of what water was bought so that you can
deliver environmental outcomes, rather than having environmental water that can't deliver outcomes
because it's held in the wrong form in the wrong way.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Danny O'Brien is the chief executive of the National Irrigators Council.

He says there are flaws in the method used by the Government to purchase water.

DANNY O'BRIEN: It doesn't set any target or outcome that the Government wants to achieve in terms
of the environment with it's a buy back process. Certainly they have said that the needs of the
environment are so great that they can just go in and buy as much water as possible but we're
concerned about the impact that that has on irrigation communities and irrigators themselves, not
least the impact that it potentially has on the taxpayer if the Government overshoots the mark in
the water that it needs.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The Australian Conservation Foundation disagrees.

Dr Arlene Buchan says the no-regrets policy is needed until the basin-wide sustainability plan is

ARLENE BUCHAN: By the middle of next year we should have a much clearer view of exactly what our
sustainable diversion limits are from each river valley, and how much water our important wetlands
and rivers need.

But until we have that basin plan in place, a no-regrets policy of purchasing water in areas which
are clearly identified as being environmentally important and in need of water is a good strategy.

BRONWYN HERBERT: A water trading company has analysed water purchases made by the Federal
Government over the last financial year.

Tom Rooney is the chief executive of Waterfind and says 65 per cent of water purchased has not yet
been transferred.

TOM ROONEY: Well out of the 521,000 or so megalitres which have been announced to have been
purchased by the Federal Government, we estimate that 182,000 of those have been actually settled
through government registry.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The Climate Change Minister Penny Wong's office says contracts have been exchanged
for 545 gigalitres of water purchased up until August.

But it takes time for the purchases to be registered.

The Productivity Commission's draft report on market mechanisms for recovering water in the Murray
Darling Basin is due next month.

SHANE MCLEOD: Bronwyn Herbert reporting.

World Food Programme closes Pakistan offices

SHANE MCLEOD: The World Food Programme will close its offices in Pakistan after its main base in
Islamabad was attacked by a suicide bomber.

Five people were killed and many more were injured in an attack that came a day ahead of the eighth
anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

It also came immediately after the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban vowed fresh assaults on
America and its allies.

This morning, the US Defence Secretary is warning that the Taliban now has the momentum in
Afghanistan because coalition forces can't put enough troops into the country.

Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: The blast occurred in the same upmarket Islamabad neighbourhood where President
Zardari has a private residence.

Security camera footage shows the alleged bomber walking through a front door carrying a long
cylindrical object, possibly a detonator, in one hand.

Dressed as a security officer, the suicide bomber talked his way into a UN Food Aid office by
saying he needed to use the bathroom.

Once inside he set off an explosion which killed 5 people and injured many more. One of those
killed was an Iraqi, the rest were from Pakistan.

Police say the bomber had at least eight kilograms of explosives strapped to his body.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

REHMAN MALIK (translated): According to my initial investigation, the suicide bomber was wearing a
Frontier Constabulary uniform. He asked the security official for permission to enter as he wanted
to use the washroom.

The security personnel allowed him and that's how he entered. We are investigating those security
officials who were present and on duty and who allowed him inside.

ALISON CALDWELL: As yet no one has claimed responsibility for the attack but the Pakistani
Government was quick to blame the Taliban.

Rehman Malik says, like a wounded snake, the Taliban are taking revenge for recent offensives by
government forces in the Swat Valley and northern and southern Waziristan.

The attack could also be revenge for the death of the former Taliban leader who was killed by a US
drone attack.

The UN's World Food Programme has temporarily closed its offices in Pakistan as a result of the
attack, meaning its work delivering food aid will be suspended for the time being.

Communications director Nancy Roman.

NANCY ROMAN: It's obviously a terrible tragedy not only for the families of the deceased but for
the entire humanitarian community and for the hungry everywhere.

ALISON CALDWELL: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the bombing, calling it a heinous

BAN KI-MOON: I condemn in the strongest terms the attack at the office of the World Food Programme
in Islamabad, Pakistan. Such an attack is unjustifiable. This is a terrible tragedy for the United
Nations and for the whole humanitarian community in Pakistan.

ALISON CALDWELL: Less than a week ago the Pakistani and US governments believed the new leader of
the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, had been killed by a rival.

But yesterday Mehsud released a video showing he was alive and vowing to strike back at Pakistan
and the US.

HAKIMULLAH MEHSUD (translated): Right from the beginning we want to make this clear, that America
has illegally captured Afghanistan and this is our top priority to finish this and remove America
from the soil of Afghanistan and get rid of these people from the Afghan nation.

We were against the Americans and NATO forces right from the beginning but our army has left us
with no choice. In truth, we don't want to fight against the Pakistan army. Our aim is to remove
the Americans from this region and to fight with the American troops.

ALISON CALDWELL: Flanked by other Taliban commanders in a show of unity, Mehsud made his aims

HAKIMULLAH MEHSUD (translated): My policy is very clear and history will prove this. The first
thing is that we should bring humility to the Pakistani nation and rid it of slavery and bring it
to humanity. Within Pakistan we would finish this system and bring the Islamic system and also give
justice to Muslims. This is our aim.

ALISON CALDWELL: The suicide bombing comes on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the war in

Deakin University's senior lecturer in international relations, Dr Scott Burchill.

SCOTT BURCHILL: We're coming up to tomorrow, the eighth anniversary of the Afghanistan war, where
the United States is considering its position as a result of the fairly corrupt and fraudulently
held presidential election in August.

So, lots of activity and lots of concern about what to do about Pakistan in particular. Many people
think that if you want, you know, the Afghan policy has to be framed around what we're concerned
about in Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan are not going away. The Taliban are being taken on
in Pakistan by the Pakistani military, but they still hold significant influence in large swathes
of the provinces I think in the north-west of the country.

SHANE MCLEOD: That's Dr Scott Burchill from Deakin University.

Kangaroo industry seeks restructure funding

SHANE MCLEOD: Some people might not be happy with the idea of eating an animal that appears on the
national coat of arms, but it's clear there's a market for kangaroo meat.

Australia's kangaroo industry is worth about $270 million a year and until recently a major income
stream came from the Russian market, but that all changed in August when the Russian Government
suspended imports citing food safety concerns.

Now the industry is on the ropes, and wants the federal and state governments to help pay for an
assistance package to restructure itself.

Timothy McDonald reports.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Kangaroo shooters, abattoir workers and exporters have fallen on tough times

JOHN KELLY: The industry has been forced to shed about 2,500 jobs across the country. So it's been
a fairly substantial impact.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Russia was a huge market for the industry but it was one that dried up virtually

John Kelly is the executive officer of the Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia.

JOHN KELLY: Russia was taking about 60 to 70 per cent of industry productivity. That was all of our
low value, lower grade cuts, so it certainly wasn't 60 per cent of industry from a monetary point
of view, but it was a substantial market.

Without markets to place that manufacturing meat, that low grade product into, we can't afford to
process kangaroos just for their fillets. So its importance outweighed, even outweighed the volume
position I guess.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The pinch is being felt most strongly in Central and Western Queensland, which
has the largest number of registered harvesters.

David Arnold is the manager of the Remote Area Planning and Development Board.

DAVID ARNOLD: The impact is rather large in that businesses, as in individual harvesters, it's
their, for a lot of professionals, it's their sole source of income. There's a range of
semi-professionals, and again, it's a large part of their income.

So it's as simple as a number, a large number of individuals, let's call them small business
people, have had their major source of income pulled from them. It's as simple as that and as an
economic contributor to our region it's having an impact on the region.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: John Kelly says the problem is not insurmountable, it's just that the industry
needs to restructure. Kangaroo harvesters want about $20 million in state and federal money to help
people in the industry re-skill.

Mr Kelly says other industries receive assistance and he sees no reason that the kangaroo industry
shouldn't receive similar treatment.

JOHN KELLY: The clothing industry and the car industry and the banking industry, the building
industry indeed have received substantial government support when they've been in a similar
position over the past 12 months. I guess we feel that the bush is worthy of similar support to the
city from the Federal Government and indeed the state governments.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The Federal Minister for Agriculture Tony Burke says the solution isn't an
industry restructure.

He says the Government is trying to expand the export market.

TONY BURKE: Something in the order of 65 per cent of all exports of kangaroo meat were going to one
country and that country was Russia. Our focus is on trying to spread that risk. We're still
negotiating with the Russians trying to re-open that market.

We've had recent success in China in being able to get closer to opening up market access to
kangaroo meat in China, but for an emerging industry, export industry like kangaroo meat, we
believe the pathways to be opening up markets is not structural adjustment packages.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Even so, Mr Burke has been pushing to re-open the Russian market as well, but has
found the process a difficult one.

TONY BURKE: In those meetings, there hasn't been a capacity yet for Russia to be able to tell us
precisely what it is that they want changed which would then open the market.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The Queensland Minister for Primary Industries Tim Mulherin made no direct
comment on the idea of a structural adjustment program but in a statement he indicated that there
has been some action. State authorities are holding consultations with harvesters on food safety
and market issues.

SHANE MCLEOD: Timothy McDonald.

Colleagues laud Nobel Australian scientist

SHANE MCLEOD: It's not really an international competition but Australia has chalked up another win
on the scientific scoreboard with the awarding overnight of a Nobel Prize to Tasmanian-born
scientist Dr Elizabeth Blackburn.

Professor Blackburn and two colleagues have been recognised for their research on cells and an
enzyme that could lead to new treatments for diseases including cancer.

She becomes Australia's 11th Nobel winner and the first Australian woman to be awarded.

But putting aside the nationalistic chest-beating for a moment, the scientific community here says
it's justified recognition for impressive research that will make a real difference in people's

For more, I spoke to Professor Bob Williamson, who's secretary of science policy at the Australian
Academy Of Science, and asked him first to explain why Dr Blackburn's research was worthy of the

BOB WILLIAMSON: One of the big problems facing scientists was we could never work out how a
chromosome knew when it came to the end when it was duplicating. There was obviously all that
genetic information, all that DNA, has to be copied every time a cell divides. Every cell has got
the full amount of genetic information.

But when the cell is dividing how did it know when it came to the end? And Liz Blackburn's research
and her colleagues' research showed that there's a little sequence, a very special sequence, a run
of DNA letters at the end, which is repeated a few times and when the cell divides, that's how it

And Liz herself commented, it's sort of like, the thing you have at the end of a shoelace. It tells
you where it is and if you don't have that thing at the end of the shoelace, the shoelace begins to
fray and the telomere is the thing that tells the cell you've got to the end of the DNA sequence,
and when the cell divides there's an enzyme, telomerase, that puts a little but more onto that
sequence, and that's the reason the cell keeps on living.

If it loses its telomerase it sort of switches off and dies.

SHANE MCLEOD: And so this has implications for diseases like cancer?

BOB WILLIAMSON: Well, that's the interesting thing. At first everyone, including, I suspect
Elizabeth Blackburn, thought wow this is a really interesting bit of biology but not really much
importance for the real world out there.

And then it turned out that she showed that cancer cells have a very high level of this enzyme and
cancer cells seem to have a way of making themselves younger by adding more and more of these
sub-units on to the DNA, using the telomerase.

So now there are drugs that are being made specifically to attack the telomerase in cancer cells
because this is a new mechanism, a new way of attacking cancer. And the most exciting thing is not
only if it works will it be an interesting way of distinguishing cancer cells from normal cells,
but it will be added on to the existing methods of treating cancer.

So it would be a tremendous outcome and a really good example of the way in which basic science can
lead to important medical applications.

SHANE MCLEOD: It's no understatement to say this is really the pinnacle of a recognition of a
scientist's work and I notice that the Government here, for example, has been very quick to claim
Professor Blackburn as one of our own here in Australia but she has conducted a lot of this
research abroad. Is it fair to be able to claim her as an Australian?

BOB WILLIAMSON: We have lots and lots of Australians who work abroad and we have lots and lots of
people from other countries who work in Australia. One of the wonderful things about being a
scientist is that you're part of an international community and all of us, and I'm sure this is
true of Liz Blackburn, are very proud to be part of an international community and to be making our
contributions in Australia, in Britain, in the United States.

Liz Blackburn thinks of herself as Australian. She was born in Tasmania, she was educated here at
the University of Melbourne, she is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and she's been
wonderful every year coming back to Monash University and to the Walter and Eliza Hall and to the
Academy of Science and mentoring young Australian scientists and making sure that they really have
the ambition, the vision, the insight to make contributions to science at the highest level.

I think it's absolutely appropriate that we claim Liz Blackburn as one of our own, at the same time
acknowledging that she, and all of us, are part of a world scientific community.

SHANE MCLEOD: The president of your academy has recently warned that Australia risks getting cut
off from the rest the world unless more money goes into funding scientific research and
technological research. This particular award going to an Australian scientist who works overseas,
does that again highlight that point?

BOB WILLIAMSON: If we don't collaborate internationally, if we don't send Australians abroad and
bring people from other countries here, we won't have a seat at the table when it comes to the
highest level of achievements in science.

And that will also be very bad for our medical research because one of the great things about
having these international links is that when the time comes to apply it in medical research, we
have a seat at the table and I think that obviously Australia has to do its very, very best to
maintain these international contacts.

And I think the Government is aware of this and I think the Australian Academy of Science will
continue to emphasise, we play a role internationally. We're not just Australia on its own. We have
links with the United States, with Britain, with France and with our European and Asian neighbours
more generally. So we now have very strong links with science in China and India as well.

SHANE MCLEOD: Professor Bob Williamson, from the Australian Academy of Science.

Film piracy case begins in Federal Court

SHANE MCLEOD: The world of illegal internet downloads is on trial in court in Sydney today.

One of Australia's largest internet service providers, the Perth-based iiNet, is being sued by a
consortium of film distribution companies.

The movie houses say the internet company hasn't been doing anything to stop its customers from
illegally sharing movies and TV programs on the net.

But iiNet says if the movie company's demands are met, it would breach privacy laws and freedom of

The case is before the Federal Court in Sydney today and Meredith Griffiths is there for us.

Meredith, in court today has there been any evidence about the extent of what's alleged to be
illegal downloading?

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Yes Shane. Now the barrister representing the entertainment companies, Tony
Bannon SC, began his opening address this morning by saying that 42 per cent of all net traffic in
Australia is files shared by BitTorrent, which he described as the program of choice for people who
want to illegally download TV shows and movies.

Over 59 weeks investigators tracked nearly 100,000 instances of iiNet customers are sharing files
illegally. The plaintiffs have narrowed down their case by focusing on just 86 popular movies and
TV shows, including the latest Batman film, Pirates of the Caribbean and the TV shows The Simpsons,
Bones and Heroes.

In just over a year, those 86 TV shows and movies were illegally copied 29,914 times and Tony
Bannon SC said each download means profits lost for his companies. And really it's just the tip of
the iceberg because once downloaded they can then be shared with further people through DVDs or
other means.

SHANE MCLEOD: Meredith what has the court been hearing about the way that the industry has
uncovered this alleged illegal downloading?

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Well over a year ago, about July last year sorry, the entertainment companies
hired two investigators to subscribe to iiNet, to get accounts there, and then begin trading files
using different BitTorrent networks.(*See Editor's note)

They kept track of what movies and TV shows they were sharing, when they downloaded them and ID
numbers of the computers they were sharing these files with. Now every week the entertainment
companies send all that data to iiNet, every week, and they ask that iiNet then disconnects the
users who've been sharing the files illegally, but they say iiNet has done nothing about it.

SHANE MCLEOD: So the entertainment companies are essentially telling the court what they think the
responsibilities are of the internet provider. What are they saying those responsibilities are?

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Well, when people actually sign up to get an iiNet account they sign up to a
user agreement saying that they will not download files or anything illegally. Now Tony Bannon is
saying that iiNet is refusing to enforce its own user agreement.

In his opening address he also said that the plaintiff's investigation has found an draft policy
document of iiNet's that would have outlined how iiNet should have dealt with people who repeatedly
make, download material illegally, but he says that policy document never saw the light of day.

Basically Mr Bannon is arguing that iiNet profits from selling bandwidth on the internet. Now
illegal downloads use a lot of bandwidth, so the more that users download, the more money iiNet
goes on to make from them.

SHANE MCLEOD: Meredith, it sounds like a pretty high-stakes case, is there any indication how long
it's likely to go for?

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Well there's going to be hearings at the Federal Court here in Sydney over the
next month. In fact, the opening address by Tony Bannon for the entertainment companies is still
going on as I speak to you, it hasn't even finished yet. We will be hearing from iiNet later this
week, maybe tomorrow.

Previously they have indicated that privacy considerations, or they say privacy considerations stop
them using information about what their users, their clients do online. They also say they'll
contest the notion that they've been authorising any of this illegal file sharing and they've given
an analogy, saying when people, if people were to send cocaine through the mail, would you be
taking Australia Post to court for that illegal activity?

So, look, we will be hearing from them later this week. The court case will continue for at least
over the next month and indeed there is lots at stake here because it really will determine to what
extent Australian internet companies, how far they have to go to stop illegal downloading on their

SHANE MCLEOD: Meredith Griffiths, outside the Federal Court in Sydney, thank you.

*Editor's note: This transcript was amended on 07.10.09 to correct an error in the audio which
referred to the month of May as the month when the investigators were hired.

Push for kids to shoot with their families

SHANE MCLEOD: In New South Wales, laws that restrict young people from using air rifles at shooting
ranges are being targeted by the small but powerful Shooters Party.

The party's numbers in the Upper House of Parliament allow the State Labor Government to stay in
power. It will introduce what it says are common sense amendments to the next sittings of
Parliament, to allow kids under 12 to go shooting with their families.

But the Coalition for Gun Control says it's a dangerous scenario and has accused the gun lobby
group of trying to recruit young people.

Lindy Kerin reports.

LINDY KERIN: Many Australians would be shocked to see children under 12 with a gun.

But Roy Smith from the Shooters Party says that's what many shooting families would like.

ROY SMITH: Well lots of families that shoot together as a sport, adults and juniors, and we've had
a significant number of people asking us to remove the age restrictions so that younger siblings
can shoot air rifles alongside their older brothers and sisters.

LINDY KERIN: Roy Smith says the restrictions in New South Wales are nonsense and he's trying to
change the law so that kids under 12 can use their rifles under adult supervision at target ranges.

ROY SMITH: I mean there's a restriction that really only applies in some states of Australia, not
all states. Most states have legislation allowing juniors to shoot on approved shooting ranges and
the legislation we have in Australia with respect to air rifles is probably unique around the

LINDY KERIN: The private member's bill will be introduced at the next sittings of New South Wales

Roy Smith says he's confident he'll get the support of the Government and Opposition.

ROY SMITH: We're talking about juniors receiving instructions, under instruction, by a licensed
adult on an approved target range. I mean there's absolutely no risk whatsoever to anyone within
the community, and in fact the benefits are significant because we're getting juniors and we're
teaching them sensible and responsibility at an early age rather than waiting till they get an
opportunity or try and find an opportunity to do something the wrong way.

LINDY KERIN: But that's what concerns the Coalition for Gun Control's Samantha Lee.

She says the move is dangerous and absurd.

SAMANTHA LEE: Young people in New South Wales, they can't drive a car till they're 16, they can't
drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes until they're 18, and it's absurd to think that they may be able
to use a firearm when they're 10 years of age.

When you think of air rifles, they're kind of lighter firearms, it's a bit like introducing young
people to light nicotine cigarettes and hoping that they'll move onto full strength cigarettes in
the long-term.

Martin Bryant, the perpetrator or the Port Arthur massacre, began training with air rifles and then
moved onto semi-automatic firearms and this is our concern with introducing young people to
firearms at such an early age.

LINDY KERIN: But Roy Smith from the Shooters Party has rejected the criticism.

ROY SMITH: That shows the unrealistic nature and the stupidity of these people and just how far
they will go in an attempt to paint responsible law abiding firearm owners as being irresponsible
and I'm sure that most people in the community will see this in a sensible light.

LINDY KERIN: The New South Wales Police Minister Michael Daley was unavailable for an interview but
in a statement he said the Government is working through the complex and detailed policy ideas.

He says it's important to strike the right balance between allowing for responsible shooting sports
and making sure that young people are strictly supervised on shooting ranges.

Meanwhile the New South Wales Greens MP Lee Rhiannon says the Shooters Party campaign is part of a
bigger agenda.

She says the party is in a strong position to negotiate with the New South Wales Government, which
needs its support for key legislation.

LEE RHIANNON: I remain concerned that the latest push from the Shooters MPs to weaken gun control
measures and make it easier for young people to shoot in New South Wales could be part of their
wider agenda which is they get a win and return, if the Government grants that, they will then work
with the Government on passing unpopular legislation.

SHANE MCLEOD: New South Wales Greens MP Lee Rhiannon ending Lindy Kerin's report.

Space tourist may have last laugh

SHANE MCLEOD: That old saying that "all the world's a stage" can now extend to space.

At the moment, floating above the Earth, is a man dubbed the first clown in space.

Guy Laliberte is the founder of the circus Cirque du Soleil and he's used some of his fortune to
buy a 12-day experience on the International Space Station.

But he could be the last so-called space tourist for years.

Our Moscow correspondent Scott Bevan has spoken with the billionaire adventurer during a
communications hook-up to the station from Russia's Federal Space Agency.

SCOTT BEVAN: Outside it's a chilly autumn day in Moscow but inside the mission control centre of
Russia's Federal Space Agency all eyes and thoughts are focussed on something far removed from the

On one wall is a series of large screens and the one in the centre depicts a map of the world.
Crawling across the map is a small purple icon. Now that represents the International Space
Station, as its orbit a few hundred kilometres above the Earth is traced.

Inside the ISS is a crew of nine, including Canadian space tourist and the founder of Cirque Du
Soleil, Guy Laliberte.

GUY LALIBERTE: I feel great, it's been an amazing journey so far, an experience of a lifetime.

SCOTT BEVAN: Guy Laliberte was one of three on board the Soyuz spacecraft that blasted off on
Wednesday from the Russian launch centre in the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan. The craft
docked at the ISS about two days later.

The billionaire had reportedly paid $US 35 million for his place on this mission, and as Laliberte
told the ABC by an audio-visual hook-up, from the moment of lift-off, he's been collecting

(To Guy Laliberte) What has been the most profound or the biggest pinch-yourself moment that you've

GUY LALIBERTE: The most profound moment is when I was in the Soyuz capsule coming up and I was
looking through that small window, obviously to see that small layer protecting Earth from all the
rest of the universe is kind of stunning and very, very fragile.

SCOTT BEVAN: Highlighting the Earth's fragility is part of the reason Guy Laliberte is floating
above it for almost two weeks. He's calling this his poetic social mission.

On Friday, he's planning to participate in a concert that will also feature Earth-bound performers
in 14 cities, including Sydney, all with the aim of promoting the need to protect and save clean

Guy Laliberte is the seventh space tourist but he could be the last for some time. Seats on the
Soyuz craft will become even more scarce from next year when NASA retires its shuttles and American
astronauts will be relying on the Russians to get them to the International Space Station.

Guy Laliberte has told the ABC he hopes space tourism continues.

(To Guy Laliberte) What do you think the future of space tourism should be? Is there literally
enough room up there for space tourists?

GUY LALIBERTE: I absolutely don't know what will happen actually, for the space participants
program in the future. But I just hope there will be more and more space available though, like me
to be able to go in space (inaudible) the future for many people to experience what I've

SCOTT BEVAN: Even if the space tourist program continues, this is one experience that will remain
reserved for those few courageous souls with the right stuff, or whose wealth is astronomical.

This is Scott Bevan in Moscow for The World Today.

Red cloud dusts off fertile idea

SHANE MCLEOD: Last month's red dust storm that hit parts of eastern Australia may have been a
fairly regular occurrence for rural communities, but it shocked and surprised city residents
uncomfortable with a first-hand taste of the bush.

Now, a side-effect of the weather phenomenon has also rekindled a debate about fertilising the
oceans, and changing the marine food chain and eco-system to deal with climate change.

Research has found the nutrient-rich red topsoil from the outback created an explosion in the
amount of phytoplankton, or microscopic plants, found in the upper layers of coastal waters.

It's a natural version of what some scientists are promoting to deal with climate change because
the bloom of tiny plants absorbs and traps carbon dioxide and can boost fish stocks.

Professor Ian Jones is from the Ocean Technology Unit at Sydney University. He's told Barney Porter
the plan is to nourish the ocean with nitrogen in the form of urea.

IAN JONES: Plants when they break down, break down into urea, so they're very ready to use it. Now
urea is a convenient form of nitrogen, their most important nutrient, because it's kind of granular
and you can handle it and we can move it in ships and of course a lot of it's manufactured.

We manufacture nitrogen fertilizers for the land, about 100 million tonnes, so we know how to do
this rather well.

BARNEY PORTER: But there have been concerns, studies done of waters off, say, the Queensland coast
where fertilizers have run off the land after heavy storms or floods, gone into the ocean and
they've had a negative impact on, say, coral formations.

IAN JONES: Yes, now if you have too much nutrient, just like if you were a farmer you could
over-nourish, over fertilize your fields. The technology of ocean nourishment is how to put in a
controlled amount of nutrient that doesn't make anything like harmful algal bloom, it just makes a
modest increase that fish will be able to exploit.

BARNEY PORTER: You're talking about manufacturing a particular type of nutrient on land and then
dropping it into the ocean?

IAN JONES: Yes, shipping it from shore, some 50 kilometres of shore where there isn't a shortage,
and then distributing, broadcasting it on the surface and it would then drift away and after a few
days you'd have a patch of nutrient rich water with fighter plankton in it where fish could graze,
like fattening lots for beef cattle maybe.

BARNEY PORTER: Have you done studies into other possible ramifications, for example, changes to the
eco-system? If you're creating more food at the bottom of the food chain, must that necessarily
have an impact on the entire food chain?

IAN JONES: Oh yes, yes. Our aim is to change the food chain, of course, to increase the amount of
sustainable fish catch. So we want to change the environment.

BARNEY PORTER: Have you envisaged every possible change to the food chain and can you guarantee
that you won't be introducing some major change that might have very negative consequences?

IAN JONES: No, in a novel technology you can't guarantee there won't be unexpected consequences.
The secret of engineering is how to manage those consequences, and so we need to introduce this
process slowly, and we've done, we've put 100 kilograms of urea in the ocean and we've put 1,000
kilograms, now we're going 2.5 tonnes, so we're creeping up, watching the impacts to see that
there's nothing that we'd consider undesirable.

BARNEY PORTER: When are you hoping to conduct this experiment?

IAN JONES: At about the end of the year we hope to do the experiment and that'll be a precursor, if
that's successful, to a larger experiment in the middle of next year.

BARNEY PORTER: The Royal Society recently came out with some reports and some concerns about the
high potential for unintended and undesirable ecological side-effects from ocean fertilization. Do
you have any reaction to the Royal Society's observations?

IAN JONES: Well yes, we're trying to understand those uncertainties and quantify them. So we agree
with the Royal Society that there's things we don't understand yet and we need an experimental
program which we're trying to put in place and we're busy doing to resolve those but there's no,
while people say there may be unintended consequences, no one can actually identify what they are
yet so this could actually, they could be very benign.

BARNEY PORTER: Alternatively, they could be very significant.

IAN JONES: And you stop doing these experiments if you found that to be the case. When we stop, the
ocean just returns the natural situation. That's what happened in the dust storm. Only for 10 days
did the ocean respond to the dust storm and then went back to its normal condition again.

BARNEY PORTER: And on the other side of the ledger there's possible benefits in terms of helping
you tackle the climate change problem and also feeding hungry people.

IAN JONES: Yes we're very interested in this latter thing. There's a billion people who can't
afford the protein they need to have a healthy life, and there's another two billion who have to be
fed in the next 30 years. How are we going to get the protein for those? Well, we could try to more
intensely farm the land but we're seeing some of the consequences of that, but the ocean's an
enormous 70 per cent of the globe almost unexploited for food for people.

SHANE MCLEOD: Professor Ian Jones from Sydney University speaking to Barney Porter.