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Cataract Private Member's Bill unconstitutional: Minister

Cataract Private Member's Bill unconstitutional: Minister

Sabra Lane reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:10:00

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has just announced that the Government will
introduce a new regulation to ensure that cataract surgery patients do receive a Medicare rebate
from this weekend.

Patients faced the prospect of paying the full fee when the Senate disallowed a Government plan to
cut the rebate in half.

Patients were also in limbo because the Government had rejected a private member's bill to restore
the original Medicare rebate.

The new rebates are higher than the Government had proposed but in announcing the back down the
Minister blamed the Opposition for what she called its kamikaze tactics.

In Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: In the outback Queensland town of Longreach yesterday Venus Williams got her sight

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel absolutely great. I could see. It's marvellous. It's so great to see again.
You know I was so, it was terrible trying to focus you know and you couldn't see anything.

SABRA LANE: The former head of the Australian Medical Association Dr Bill Glasson performed
cataract surgery on Mrs Williams, both telling the ABC in Longreach today that the current Medicare
rebate is essential to helping people out in the bush and poorer Australians.

Would you have been able to afford to...?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No I wouldn't have been able to afford this. There's nowhere in the wide world I
would have been able to afford it.

BILL GLASSON: The rebate is not there for the doctor. I don't get paid by Nicola Roxon. I get paid
by my patients and my patients have a thing called Medicare which is their insurance scheme.

So what Nicola's saying to the patient, not to me, to my patients, I think that your procedure is
now only worth 50 per cent of what it was worth last week.

But the reality is the cost of providing this service is going up all the time, that's what
technology does, it drives cost. And so what happens is that dear old patient yet again gets
flogged with increased out of pocket expenses.

And so what's going to happen to Venus next time I come out here, if it does cut by half, I'll have
to say to Venus, well listen in order to pay for my staff and all my equipment and bits and pieces,
I'll have to charge you $200 or something to have your cataract done.

And Venus will say, oh I can't afford that. And I'll say, well listen, you'll have to go to
Brisbane then.

So all these patients will troop off to Brisbane at a huge expense to the State Government, so it's
cost shifting to the State Government. They'll never get done anyway, I can tell you they'll go
onto this ever-expanding waiting list and probably die before they actually even get their

And so it is a complete nonsense. And as I said the downstream costs of this decision, both from
the point of view of the social dislocation of patients but also having patients languishing out
there on waiting lists will be huge.

So it's a nonsense. It's a poor decision by the Government. It was poorly thought out and was never
discussed with us at the outset.

SABRA LANE: From this Sunday the Government had wanted to halve the Medicare rebate for cataract
surgery which is currently around $620.

But yesterday the Senate voted to disallow the Government's changes and instead Opposition Senators
proposed a private member's bill to keep the current rebate.

The Greens as well as Family First's Steve Fielding and Independent Nick Xenophon support the move,
saying the Government is using a "blunt instrument" to crack down on doctors.

In the House of Representatives this morning the Opposition sought to bring on debate over the
private member's bill to restore the rebate.

The Opposition's health spokesman Peter Dutton:

PETER DUTTON: This is essential business for the Government to deal with because...

PETER SLIPPER: The Honourable member for Dixon will resume his seat. Minister.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Mr Deputy Speaker I move that the member be no longer heard.

PETER SLIPPER: All those in favour say aye.


PETER SLIPPER: Those against say no.


SABRA LANE: The Government used its majority to silence Mr Dutton and again to gag the Opposition's
Leader of Business in the House, Christopher Pyne.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: This is the cruellest cut of all for older Australians.

PETER SLIPPER: The Honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat. Minister.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Mr Speaker I move that the member be no longer heard.

SABRA LANE: The Government says it refused to support the bill and shut down debate because it
claims the private member's bill was unconstitutional.

A short time ago the Health Minister Nicola Roxon announced a Government back down though she
blames the Coalition for the mess.

NICOLA ROXON: We intend to protect patients from this blunder by the Liberal Party. Therefore I
intend to issue a new regulation which will ensure a rebate is payable for cataract surgery from
this Sunday.

The regulation will be a fair and reasonable payment for the common 15 to 20 minute procedure. The
new fee for the most common cataract procedure will be $454.35. Complex procedures will receive

Patients will not be left in the lurch and ophthalmologists will continue to receive significant
payments for these procedures. Ophthalmologists will still receive on average over half-a-million
dollars annually from Medicare alone.

SABRA LANE: Those new rebates are higher than what the Government had originally proposed; not that
the Minister was prepared to accept that argument today.

NICOLA ROXON: We want to pay a reasonable rebate for cataract procedures and the Liberal Party have
set the fee at zero. The Liberal Party is comfortable it seems with this kamikaze approach to
policy making. However we will not let the Opposition use patients as a political football.

SABRA LANE: The Senate though still has the power to disallow the new regulation.

ELEANOR HALL: Sabra Lane in Canberra.

Massive bombing overshadows Clinton's visit to Pakistan

Massive bombing overshadows Clinton's visit to Pakistan

Kim Landers reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: The United States administration today condemned the car bomb blast which killed at
least 90 men, women and children in the Pakistani city of Peshawar as "vicious" and "cowardly".

The bomb tore through a crowded market just as the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in
the country to pledge support for the Pakistani Government.

The US Government and the United Nations also condemned the suicide attack in neighbouring
Afghanistan which targeted the UN offices in Kabul.

Washington correspondent Kim Landers has our report.

KIM LANDERS: The car bomb in the Pakistani city of Peshawar destroyed much of a market selling
dresses, toys and jewellery. The carnage has sparked grief and anger from local residents.

PESHAWAR MAN (translated): My kids are injured, my house completely destroyed and my daughters are
hurt. We are very miserable and helpless with no-one to look up to. We are devastated.

PESHAWAR MAN 2 (translated): What kind of a security alert is this? It was an explosive packed car.
Look - it has left a 10 foot crater. Look at the mosque. It ceases to exist anymore. For God's
sake, do something!

KIM LANDERS: The blast is thought to have been retaliation for the ongoing Pakistani Army offensive
in South Waziristan, a tribal area close to the border with Afghanistan.

The attack came just hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Pakistan,
pledging a fresh start in sometimes strained relations.

HILLARY CLINTON: I pledge the support of the Obama administration and of the United States to work
with you, to be a partner, to understand what you need in order to achieve that future for
yourselves, to take on a common threat and a common enemy who does threaten, as the President said,
the Pakistani way of life, but truly threatens the way of life of people everywhere.

KIM LANDERS: Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shad Mahmood Qureshi has vowed that the militants will be

SHAD MAHMOOD QURESHI: We will not buckle. We will fight you. We will fight you because we want
stability and peace in Pakistan.

You are on the run and we know that. We defeated you in Swat and Malakand and the brave soldiers
and officers of the Pakistan Army will defeat you in Waziristan.

You think by attacking innocent people and lives you will shake our determination? No sir, you will

KIM LANDERS: Apart from the bombing in Pakistan there's also been a deadly Taliban attack on a
United Nations guest house in Afghanistan.

Both blasts bring a violent reminder for the United States of the difficult task it's facing in the
fight against the Taliban, both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.

So will the blast in Pakistan stir new fears about the stability of the Government there? Lawrence
Korb is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

LAWRENCE KORB: Basically it's an indication that the army and Government is finally getting serious
about taking on the Taliban and I think that they are retaliating. Previously the Government had
ignored them and this has basically led to them being able to help the Taliban in Afghanistan and
slowly undermine the Government.

KIM LANDERS: Is it important for the United States to reassure Pakistan that it's going to stand by
it as it fights the Taliban within its borders?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well I think it is and we just passed what we call the Kerry Lugar Berman Bill which
gives them aid over the next five years. We are providing them with military assistance and we're
actually willing to do even more than they let us in terms of using the drone attacks to help them.

KIM LANDERS: How do you think the carnage in Afghanistan and Pakistan is going to affect President
Barack Obama's deliberations on whether or not to send those extra troops to Afghanistan?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well I think this obviously will be a consideration whether in fact the strategy is
recommended by General McChrystal is going to have such high levels of casualties that it will lead
Americans to turn against the war, or whether he should adopt a strategy that leans towards more
that Vice President Biden is advocating, which is more counter terrorism which is going after the
terrorists rather than counter insurgency which involves moving in with the population all across
the country.

KIM LANDERS: The President certainly seems to have a couple of very volatile, very serious security
situation on his hands. How do you think Barack Obama is dealing with the complexities of these
very challenging foreign policy issues?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well I think he's dealing with them thoughtfully and methodically because we now
know that when we went into Iraq that President Bush never sat down and did a cost benefit
analysis, whether you know the objectives he had could be achieved at a cost that were, would not
in the final analysis undermine American national security interests.

KIM LANDERS: The carnage in Pakistan and Afghanistan is yet another test for a President and the
American people whose support for the war is being tested.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.

ANZ boss says Reserve Bank moved to early on raising rates

ANZ boss says Reserve Bank moved to early on raising rates

Peter Ryan reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:18:00

ELEANOR HALL: The CEO of one of Australia's biggest banks today criticised the Reserve Bank for
moving too soon on interest rates.

The ANZ chief executive Mike Smith said the RBA should have waited until after Christmas before
lifting rates and said he did not regard inflation as a "paramount" threat to the economy.

Instead he warned that the central bank board was at risk of overstating the economic recovery
particularly in the retail sector.

Mr Smith made the criticisms as he revealed that his bank made a profit this year of $2.9 billion.

Mr Smith spoke in Sydney to our business editor Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: Mike Smith, you believe the Australian economy is still fragile. So do you think the
Reserve Bank is on the right track in being worried about inflation enough to push rates higher?

MIKE SMITH: I think you can understand why inflation is a concern for many economists and many
central bankers.

But I actually feel right now that it's not something that is paramount. You know, I feel that we
should be really ensuring that the flywheel of the economy if you like has got its own momentum and
is moving the right way before we start worrying about inflation.

PETER RYAN: What's your view about the Reserve Bank's hawkish stance on interest rates?

MIKE SMITH: They see very different data from me obviously so I can quite understand why they have
these concerns.

But I would have preferred to have left rate increases 'til after the new year, you know. I think
if we'd had a good retail spend up into the Christmas period that really would have got the
momentum going.

Because we have to remember that the stimulus packages are also gradually easing off. To my mind
that would have been a bit more of a certain outcome.

PETER RYAN: Do you think the Reserve Bank erred in pushing interest rates up too early when they
moved earlier this month?

MIKE SMITH: Well you know I don't have their job, and as I say they see data that I don't see.

I just feel that I would have gone for looking at where the economy will go in the longer term
rather than looking at issues like a housing bubble or the inflation. I think you can deal with
those later.

PETER RYAN: Are you concerned that the economy is still fragile and might not withstand a series a
rate rises?

MIKE SMITH: Well I think you've got to be very careful. I mean I think in terms of our own business
it will put pressure on small business, on medium sized business and indeed on individuals. And
that in our business will create increased provisions.

Now for every dollar of provisions we write you've got to write 10 new bits of business to pay for
it. So my view is if you can reduce provisions that's a better outcome. Therefore I'd try and keep
rates as low as we can.

PETER RYAN: Do you think the Reserve Bank took a risk when they moved rates up?

MIKE SMITH: I suspect that there was probably feeling either way and I think it was certainly a
gutsy move.

I think that they also were very gutsy in the way that they reduced rates. So you know, you have to
give them credit for that as well, so maybe they're right.

PETER RYAN: But do you think it's more of a case of how quickly the move towards normalisation is?

MIKE SMITH: Yeah I think that's right. And I think that when we consider our region it's looking
much more normal.

But I think we have to be realistic about the fact that until the US economy really does get going
the global economy is not going to function properly.

PETER RYAN: What's your view on what will happen on Melbourne Cup day? Do you think that we'll be
in for a 25 basis point increase or 50 basis points as some economists believe?

MIKE SMITH: I mean I think on cup day it's quite enough to bet on the horses (laughs) and I never
have much luck on those. But I think there will be an increase. I suspect there will. And I think
it will be at the lower end of expectation.

PETER RYAN: If the RBA does act on Melbourne Cup day and continues to act into the new year will
the ANZ stick to the official increases or go beyond?

MIKE SMITH: You know I have said publicly that I would be reluctant to move above the official rate
increases basically because as I said, you know, I feel that that would just put more pressure on
our customer base and indeed it would actually risk increasing our provision levels.

However we're in a market. You know, I have to do what is in the best interest of all our
stakeholders so I haven't made any promises in that respect.

PETER RYAN: So no guarantees or commitments on that front?

MIKE SMITH: No I can't guarantee or make commitments. As I say I would be reluctant to do that. I
mean I would have to be forced to do it.

PETER RYAN: To the wider economy, do you think that Australia in the clear now or has dodged a
bullet as many economists have said?

MIKE SMITH: We have hit a period of blue sky, let's put it that way. But there is still an awful
lot of cloud around and I think we have to be careful and I think we mustn't be complacent that
this is all finished.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the chief executive of the ANZ Bank Mike Smith speaking to our business editor
Peter Ryan. And the full interview with Mike Smith will be on The World Today website later today.

Former Storm clients refuse bank apology

Former Storm clients refuse bank apology

Annie Guest reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:22:00

ELEANOR HALL: Many of the victims of the Storm Financial collapse have refused to accept today's
apology from the head of the Commonwealth Bank.

Ralph Norris used a Senate hearing to say he was sorry to more than 2,000 CBA customers. About 50
of these customers have now reached a settlement with the bank. But some victims of the collapse
who say they remain in severe financial distress described the bank chief's words as disingenuous.

In Brisbane, Annie Guest reports.

ANNIE GUEST: At a parliamentary hearing into the financial products and services industry last
night the chief executive of the Commonwealth Bank Ralph Norris made the long-awaited offering.

RALPH NORRIS: To those of our customers who have been impacted by shortcomings on our part, I'm
sorry and apologise to them on behalf of the Commonwealth Bank.

ANNIE GUEST: Hearing the words "I'm sorry" from the head of one of the major players in the $3
billion Storm Financial fiasco has failed to placate affected people.

Many of the 3,000 affected Storm clients had borrowed against their houses - sometimes with their
pensioner incomes grossly over-estimated - from banks including the Commonwealth.

Many had also invested with the Bank's Colonial Geared Investment arm and some say they lost their
life savings when they did not receive margin calls.

The Storm Investors Consumer Action Group's co-chair is Noel O'Brien.

NOEL O'BRIEN: We're always comfortable with people admitting that they've made a mistake but
frankly I think it's just a little bit too late.

ANNIE GUEST: And how do you think the apology will be received by the members of the group, the
former Storm clients?

NOEL O'BRIEN: I really can't answer for the members other than to say I think they'll probably feel
a little bit cynical as I do. Had the pressure not been brought to bear I'm sure there would never
have been an apology.

ANNIE GUEST: Investigations are ongoing into who is to blame for each aspect of the Storm debacle -
ASIC, the Federal Court and a Senate inquiry are all involved. And Ralph Norris added a reference
to this with his apology last night.

RALPH NORRIS: In truth a degree of responsibility rests on the shoulders of banks, individuals and
the regulator.

ANNIE GUEST: The comments from the bank chief are described by another former Storm client, Sean
McArdle, as hypocritical and hollow.

SEAN MCARDLE: Actions will speak a lot louder than words Annie. And the main part of this problem
was caused by a failure to deliver margin calls appropriately and it would appear that they have
every intention of fighting that tooth and nail.

ANNIE GUEST: Do you absolve Storm Financial of responsibility?

SEAN MCARDLE: Absolutely not.

ANNIE GUEST: The Commonwealth Bank has announced it has reached a resolution with more than 50 of
the 2,300 customers involved in a scheme set up by the bank. That scheme involves the loans issue,
not margin calls.

The details of the offers made and agreed are not known.

Ralph Norris again:

RALPH NORRIS: Approximately 100 offers of settlement are currently being considered by our clients
and we have reached a resolution for 53 customers.

Another clear and important priority for the foreseeable future is to expedite as many offers and
settlements as we can.

ANNIE GUEST: Some have refused to go through the Commonwealth's resolution scheme, fearing it would
preclude them from taking some legal action in future.

One of those is Sean McArdle and he's curious about who bought the shares that the Commonwealth
sold during the margin calls at the bottom of the market. He wants the bank to rule out having
purchased them itself.

The Bank and Storm each blame the other for not contacting customers over the margin calls.

SEAN MCARDLE: So here we have the biggest bank in Australia, has just taken basically my last 20
years of savings out of play - all my assets, everything out of play for a 30 cent phone call.

ANNIE GUEST: So where has that left you and your family in terms of a home, a car, money for
education for your children?

SEAN MCARDLE: Well obviously that's devastated that. But I, here is, here's the beautiful position
is that I'm still currently employed. I'm only 42 years of age. And although I've lost millions
there are thousands of pensioners out there, people who are fully retired who have lost their life
savings as I have but they don't have a job. So if I was devastated, they've basically been next to

ANNIE GUEST: Indeed some people have taken their own lives in the wake of the Storm collapse.

Former Storm investors needing help are urged to contact the Storm Investors Consumer Action Group.

ELEANOR HALL: Annie Guest reporting in Brisbane. And just to clarify, Ralph Norris did give that
evidence last night.

Regulator considering pig organ transplants

Regulator considering pig organ transplants

Bronwyn Herbert reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:26:00

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's national health regulator has confirmed that it is considering
overturning the ban on transplanting animal cells and organs into humans. The ban was imposed five
years ago because of concerns about the risk of diseases being transferred between pigs and humans.

But one key researcher behind the technology says he's had success overseas in transplanting pig
insulin cells into humans and will now apply to the Australian regulator to conduct human trials

Bronwyn Herbert has our reports.

BRONWYN HERBERT: It's known as xenotransplantation - where living tissues, cells or organs from an
animal are used in humans. In 2004 Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council put a
five-year ban on this technology because of concerns a nasty virus from a pig could spread to

CLIVE MORRIS: The risks of viral transmission from xenotransplantation at that time outweighed the
potential benefits and recommended that xenotransplantation clinical trials shouldn't happen for
five years.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Clive Morris is the deputy director of the National Health and Medical Research
Council. He says the ban is due to expire at the end of the year.

And now the council which makes recommendations to the Federal Government is now considering to
overturn the moratorium.

CLIVE MORRIS: There have been a lot of developments over the last five years and our council is
going to be asked to consider all the scientific, technical and ethical issues that have come up
over the last five years.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Professor Bob Elliott is the medical director of Living Cell Technologies. The
company has already successfully transplanted pig insulin cells into humans both in Russia and in
New Zealand.

It allowed people with type 1 diabetes to manage their insulin levels and some of them no longer
require daily insulin injections.

Professor Elliott says it's likely this international research will help overturn Australia's ban.

BOB ELLIOTT: The expert committee in Australia who looked at this thing five years ago actually
recommended to the Government at the time that it does proceed and it was only really held up at
the last minute because of some continuing doubts about safety.

And I think over the last five years that those concerns about safety have waned rather than

BRONWYN HERBERT: Do you think the safety concerns have waned enough that there is confidence to use
this type of technology?

BOB ELLIOTT: I think with all the precautions that have been laid out in great, great detail like
you don't use just ordinary pigs, you use very, very special ones that are free of any possibility
of transmitting any diseases to humans and monitoring everything properly.

I think with all the precautions and guidelines that are now being spelled out in great detail, the
risk is, whilst not zero it's mighty close to it.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Why are pigs the animal of choice in xenotransplantation?

BOB ELLIOTT: Well one of those reasons is that we have lived with pigs for millennia. We do know
about their viruses. We do know what can and can't cross into humans. Their insulin was used for 50
years in humans because it's very, very little different. And pigs like humans eat just about
anything and their blood sugar levels run about the same as humans. So from that point of view
they're pretty ideal.

BRONWYN HERBERT: But Professor Morris says xenotransplantation of organs is unlikely any time soon.

BOB ELLIOTT: Organ transplantation is miles off, if ever, because the problems of overcoming
rejection there are absolutely, astronomically huge. And that to my mind is very unlikely to occur.

We're using cells and we can avoid them being rejected by coating them with material which fools
the immune system. The immune system can't see them and that's because they're cells. You couldn't
do that with an organ.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The National Health and Medical Research Council says its recommendations will be
made before Christmas. Medical researchers will still need to apply for a licence from the
Therapeutic Goods Administration to conduct human trials.

ELEANOR HALL: Bronwyn Herbert reporting.

Rudd asylum seeker plan still in limbo

Rudd asylum seeker plan still in limbo

Alexandra Kirk reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:30:00

ELEANOR HALL: There is still no sign of an end to the stalemate over the 78 asylum seekers on board
an Australian customs ship that's anchored off Indonesia.

The Federal Government says it's committed to its plan to move the Sri Lankans off the boat but
it's providing no details on when or how it will do that.

For now Indonesian and Australian authorities appear to be waiting to see if the asylum seekers
will change their minds and disembark voluntarily.

In Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Indonesian authorities have made it clear that getting the 78 Sri Lankan asylum
seekers off the Oceanic Viking and onto Indonesian soil is a matter for Australia. The Home Affairs
Minister Brendan O'Connor is indicating that may take some time.

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: The Prime Minister of Australia and the President of Indonesia had struck an
agreement. We want that agreement realised but we have to be patient. We have to ensure that the
wellbeing and safety of the passengers is paramount.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government isn't saying how it plans to convince the Sri Lankans to disembark.

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: Now it's important that we focus upon the wellbeing of these passengers and
ensure that the transfer of these passengers to Indonesian soil is done so with dignity, done so
calmly and done so with some patience.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner didn't rule out offering a financial incentive.

LINDSAY TANNER: Oh look obviously I'm not going to speculate about those kind of things.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce was asked how he thinks the Government can get the
asylum seekers off the Oceanic Viking.

BARNABY JOYCE: How did we get ourselves into this position? The Labor Party got ourselves into this
position. Where does it go next? I don't know. Sooner or later it's going to have head back to the
Antarctic. I hope people are off by then. Otherwise we'll have to resettle them in Macquarie Island
I suppose.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government hasn't ruled out using force. West Australian Liberal MP Don Randall
says it's time for some decisive action.

DON RANDALL: This, this ship drifting in and around Indonesia, this is the Labor Party's ship of
shame. It's appalling that Australian taxpayers' money is being spent on maintaining this farce at

These people are guests on our boat and if they won't behave themselves I suspect they eventually
should be kindly escorted off.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And his outspoken colleague Wilson Tuckey suggests Kevin Rudd end the stalemate
with the help of the Defence Force.

WILSON TUCKEY: I mean he can see the problem. He can ask the army to go up there and take those
people off.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But the Opposition's immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone doesn't think that's a
good idea.

SHARMAN STONE: Send the Navy in and what blow up the boat or something? Send the Army in? No. I
think that is quite hypothetical.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Neither does her leader Malcolm Turnbull.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well given that the vessel is in Indonesian waters I would think it most clearly
is not an option.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: As to what Kevin Rudd should do, this is all Mr Turnbull has to say on the matter.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: If we were in Government, if I was the Prime Minister I would not have unpicked
the policies that worked and we would not be in the position we are.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Greens want the Opposition leader to discipline Mr Tuckey for suggesting
military force be used against the asylum seekers. They've also called on the Prime Minister to
rule out that option.

And Greens Leader Bob Brown is urging Kevin Rudd to listen carefully to union leader Paul Howes,
who's called for the asylum seekers to be brought to Australia.

BOB BROWN: I think the Prime Minister made a mistake in believing it could simply be palmed off to

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Liberal backbencher Don Randall says it's time Kevin Rudd showed some leadership
and stopped trying to handball the matter to Indonesia.

On that point he and the Greens Leader Bob Brown agree.

BOB BROWN: At the moment the process in Indonesia is very, very unbecoming for Australia. And again
it's moving to harm our international reputation. It puts pressure on Indonesia in a way that's not
good for us as neighbours.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Yesterday the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith ruled out taking the asylum seekers to
Christmas Island. But this morning the Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor declined to do the
same, despite being asked a number of times.

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: We have an agreement between the Indonesian Government...

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Do you rule that out though?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: And the Australian Government...

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You completely rule that out?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: And we, and we therefore seek to ensure that that agreement is realised. But we
are dealing with human beings here. We're dealing with the lives of 78 passengers. And both
governments have made clear that we need to be patient and we also have to ensure that the
wellbeing and safety of these passengers is paramount...

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So you don't rule that out anymore?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: And for that reason, and can I say and for that reason we'll continue to work
with the local authorities, continue to be in contact with Jakarta to ensure that the agreement
between the Prime Minister and the President of Indonesia takes effect.

REPORTER: If it doesn't eventuate, they could come to Christmas Island, simple question, yes or no?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: Again, I think it's important to understand the circumstances under which this
vessel is now docked near an Indonesian port.

ELEANOR HALL: Brendan O'Connor is the Federal Minister for Home Affairs. That report from Alexandra
Kirk in Canberra.

Trading Post published for last time

Trading Post published for last time

Barbara Miller reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:34:00

ELEANOR HALL: For more than four decades Australians have been buying cars, furniture, even pets
through it. But today the Trading Post was printed for the last time.

Telstra, which owns the paper, was faced with a huge drop in the number of people placing print
advertisements and has now turned the Trading Post into an exclusively online business.

The founder of the original Trading Post says it's a sad day but even he concedes that the rise of
online classifieds has made it inevitable.

Barbara Miller compiled this report.

(Excerpt from the movie, The Castle)

STEVE KERRIGAN: Ergonomic chairs, four of them.

DARRYL KERRIGAN: What's he want.


DARRYL KERRIGAN: He's dreaming.

(End of excerpt)

BARBARA MILLER: For years the Trading Post was something of an Australian institution, its status
cemented in the 1997 film The Castle.

(Excerpt from the movie, The Castle)


DARRYL KERRIGAN: For jousting sticks? Tell him he's dreaming.

STEVE KERRIGAN: Dad, some guy is selling an overhead projector.

DARRYL KERRIGAN: Nah. Hang on Steve, what's he asking?


DARRYL KERRIGAN: Tell him he's dreaming.

(End of excerpt)

BARBARA MILLER: But the Trading Post has been printed today for the last time. At the end of last
month Telstra confirmed the paper would be abandoned in favour of an exclusively online business.

Industry analysts had been predicting the paper's demise for some time. Harold Mitchell is the
executive chairman of the Mitchell Communication Group.

HAROLD MITCHELL: It's been all over for the Trading Post for quite a long period of time. The
arrival of the digital age in 2000 meant that people were going to move online.

With advertising generally it's now at some 16 per cent of all ad dollars and that's moving
rapidly. And so any printed Trading Post was never going to last.

BARBARA MILLER: Looking back then Telstra paid over $600 million for it in 2004. Was that too much?

HAROLD MITCHELL: Telstra absolutely picked the top of the market, not seeing here the great
structural change that was taking place, and wanted to get into this business which they thought
would continue to grow. It was far too much. In fact $1 probably would have been too much.

BARBARA MILLER: So online advertising making up 16 per cent of the market place right now, where's
that going and what does it mean?

HAROLD MITCHELL: We forecast that within four years it will have got to around 25 per cent. Already
in the UK it has reached that level.

And it will come from the other major media over a period of time as they've changed. So it's
headed for 25 per cent.

This is the greatest structural change in advertising since the beginning, since television arrived
in the early 60s which went from, you know took advertising away from newspapers, magazines and

BARBARA MILLER: Charles Falkiner the founder of the original Trading Post told the AM program back
in 2004 that he was gobsmacked that Telstra had paid $636 million for the publication, saying he
thought the price was a little high.

Today he's philosophical about the death of the paper.

CHARLES FALKINER: It's very sad of course. But having seen the Trading Post itself when I was out
there about a month ago, it's lost all its character I think and become just a big mass of
advertisements. And quite frankly it got away from the nice looking paper that we started and kept
for so many years.

BARBARA MILLER: What do you mean when you say lost all its character?

CHARLES FALKINER: Well the masts for instance had changed. And there was never, the front page was
always clean, wasn't cluttered. And it sort of was a, looked to be a classy publication. But now to
me it's lost it all.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you think though that it was inevitable that with the rise of online classifieds
that a publication like the Trading Post would eventually no longer be printed?

CHARLES FALKINER: Yes I think it's probably in the cards it was going to happen. You know, as Mr
Murdoch said the classifieds are going the way of all flesh so to speak. And I think the print
editions, the writing's on the wall.

I'm sorry it's gone but as you say it's probably inevitable and I wish it luck in their online
endeavours but I hope they improve their website what it was when I last looked at it.

(Excerpt from the movie, The Castle)

DARRYL KERRIGAN: No more guns in the house.

STEVE KERRIGAN: Yeah but he was threatening ya.

DARRYL KERRIGAN: Where'd you get it?


DARRYL KERRIGAN: And what'd ya pay for it?


DARRYL KERRIGAN: What was he asking?


DARRYL KERRIGAN: He was dreaming.


DARRYL KERRIGAN: Get rid of it. Sell it.

(End of excerpt)

BARBARA MILLER: But if he were selling now, Steve Kerrigan would have to do it online.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller with that report.

Rape reports increase by more than double

Rape reports increase by more than double

David Mark reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:38:00

ELEANOR HALL: The New South Wales Rape Crisis Centre says the number of rapes reported in the state
has more than doubled in four years. But the Centre's manager Karen Willis says she doesn't think
this increase is due to a surge in attacks.

A significant number of reports, roughly one in six, are being made by adults revealing childhood

David Mark asked Karen Willis about the 130 per cent increase in the numbers.

KAREN WILLIS: It's actually an increase in people contacting our organisation. We don't think it
equals an increase in sexual assault on a per capita basis.

But what it does equal is an increase in people who've experienced sexual violence making a
decision to seek support from services such as ours in their recovery and also increasingly women
are interested in information about reporting to police.

How we think, where we think this is coming from is that there are community attitudinal changes
going on out there. People no longer anywhere near as much as they did in the past, judging women
who've been sexually assaulted.

In fact we're calling those women heroines and brave for coming forward which means they'll seek
that support service instead of feeling they need to be shamed and silenced.

DAVID MARK: You're reporting 130 per cent increase over the past four years. How do you explain
such a massive jump in such a short time?

KAREN WILLIS: I think over the last, probably the last five to 10 years there's been quite an
increase in media coverage and community debate around sexual assault.

We've had some fairly high profile and pretty horrific gang rapes in Sydney that have been
extensively reported and we've also had some very brave young women as a result of those who have
spoken to media both publicly and not so publicly about their experiences. And all of those things
have led to increased information across the board.

What that is saying to people out there who might experience sexual violence is: no this is not
your fault; the responsibility for the behaviour lies totally and utterly with the offender; that
sexual violence is a crime and you have a right to consider accessing a responsive criminal justice

It's a community attitudinal change we're seeing. We've still got a long way to go but we're
starting to see a bit of a shift.

DAVID MARK: You're also beginning to see adult women reporting rapes that occurred in their
childhood. How much has that increased?

KAREN WILLIS: Look I don't have the exact figures for that but we do know that when children were
assaulted you know 20, 30 years ago often they were not believed or they were kept silent for the
sake of the family or all those sorts of things.

And then what happens is that a woman becomes an adult, she's still suffering all the terrible
trauma impacts, going through depression, suicidal feelings, maybe using drug and alcohol to manage
the pain, having problems with trust, having further domestic violence relationships, experience
further assaults.

And at some stage they say look, I'm actually worth more than this. And it's putting all of that
together and realising it was actually the violence they experienced as a child. And by dealing
with the violence from a child and processing that trauma they can actually then manage and resolve
some of the other impacts on their lives.

DAVID MARK: This dramatic jump that we've talked about, there are still 6,700 people coming to your
service every year. Is that a good thing? Is it a good thing that the number has increased so much?

KAREN WILLIS: Absolutely. The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that only 15 per cent of
people who've been sexually assaulted seek help so there's still 85 per cent of people out there
who don't seek support.

Now for some of those good support from family and friends is all that they need and they're okay.
Not everybody who's been sexually assaulted will need intensive therapy to recover.

But we do know that there's a good proportion who do need those support services and we know that
there is an increased willingness on behalf of people to come forward and there's an increased
support in the general community for that to happen.

A good proportion of our callers are from men who are concerned about friends, wives, partners,
girlfriends, mums, sisters, daughters who've been assaulted. So that support from men is also
helping women to make that really brave step.

DAVID MARK: These figures are for New South Wales. Is there any evidence that this is also
happening nationally; that more women around Australia are reporting rapes?

KAREN WILLIS: Yes. Certainly every state, all the sexual assault services and the domestic violence
services across the country are experiencing an increase in women coming forward.

The 15 per cent reporting rate is a national figure and we know that in police services, domestic
violence services, sexual assault services, the increase in demand is quite high.

So what we're seeing in New South Wales is indicative of the rest of the country and it's good.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Karen Willis, the manager of the New South Wales Rape Crisis Centre. She was
speaking to David Mark.

Research shows link between football and dementia

Research shows link between football and dementia

John Shovelan reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:42:00

ELEANOR HALL: A US Justice Committee has been hearing disturbing evidence today on the risks of
elite sports players becoming early candidates for dementia.

The latest research into the links between US football players and dementia-related illness shows
that even three episodes of concussion can dramatically increase the risks.

From Washington, John Shovelan reports.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Today's hearing was triggered by a Michigan University study that found the rate of
dementia among retired American National Football League players was five times the rate in the
general community.

BILL DELAHUNT: Well what I think we have is an epidemic.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Democrat Bill Delahunt was stunned by the testimony. Autopsies of NFL players have
found chronic traumatic encephalopathy - a brain disease with symptoms similar to Alzheimer's,
caused by repetitive head trauma.

The disease doesn't show on scans and can only be diagnosed after death through autopsy.

ANN MCKEE: In early 2008 I had my first opportunity to examine the brain of a retired professional
football player. It was the brain of John Grimsley, a former linebacker for the Houston Oilers who
had died of an accidental gunshot wound while cleaning his gun at the age of 45.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Dr Ann McKee, associate professor, neurology and pathology at Boston University
School of Medicine said since she had examined the brains of seven retired NFL players and four
college players and found they all had CTE.

ANN MCKEE: I've also found the earliest changes of CTE in a high school football player.

I realize this is only a handful of cases. So what can you say about that? What can you say about
only 11 cases?

Well what I can say is for the past 23 years I've looked at literally thousands of brains from
individuals of all walks of life, of all ages, and I have only seen this unique pattern of change
with this severity in individuals with a history of repetitive head trauma.

JOHN SHOVELAN: CTE is caused by a massive build up of a protein in nerve cells preventing them from
making connections with other nerve cells and eventually killing brain cells.

JULIAN BAILES: This (inaudible) protein, it's in a way sort of like sludge which clogs up the brain
cell, the neuron, it can't clear it.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Dr Julian Bailes of West Virginia University was part of the first clinic to be
established to monitor the health of retired NFL footballers.

He says he found all the expected aches and pains and incidence of heart problems but what caught
him by surprise was the prevalence of mental problems, depression, sudden outbursts of anger and at
times confusion.

JULIAN BAILES: Two years ago we published a second study that said once again if you have three or
more concussions you had a triple incidence of having depression diagnosed when you were retired.
So both of these - cognitive impairment and depression - obviously they're not good.

JOHN SHOVELAN: The committee heard that the velocity of the hits in American football contributes
to the high rate of CTE. But it also heard that other contact sports like ice hockey and rugby
carried the risk.

JULIAN BAILES: We now have enough indisputable research from examination of the brains of dead
players to the lives of retired players that confirms the reality of CTE.

Unless changes occur further injuries will happen in professional football players all the way down
to all levels of play.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Dementia among retired NFL players has grown to such a problem the league introduced
a scheme called the 88 Plan where former players suffering depression and dementia receive
financial assistance.

It's called the 88 Plan after the jersey number of a famous Baltimore Colts player, John Mackey,
who now suffers severe dementia and as a result of his illness had to be restrained not so long ago
when passing through airport security.

John Shovelan, Washington.

Stellar burst from cosmic dark ages

Stellar burst from cosmic dark ages

Barbara Miller reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:46:00

ELEANOR HALL: Astronomers are calling it their best glimpse yet of the cosmic dark ages. They've
confirmed that a blast of gamma radiation spotted earlier this year was the death throes of a star
more than 13 billion light years away from the Earth.

It's the most distant object in space ever to be detected and the research has just been published
in the journal Nature.

Barbara Miller spoke to professor Nial Tanvir who led the international team that studied the
ancient explosion's fallout.

NIAL TANVIR: The thing that we detected is something called a gamma ray burst. It's a kind of
exploding star and these explosions are so bright, so incredibly bright, they're brighter than
anything else we know of in the universe and you can see them very far away.

And in this particular case this one has sort of broken a record for the most distant object that
anyone has ever seen.

It's actually a complicated procedure to see the thing where you detect them initially with a
satellite which picks up the gamma ray radiation from this explosion which is happening far across
the universe. And then we have to use telescopes on the earth which are the sort of state of the
art, the biggest, most powerful telescopes that we have on the earth to make observations of the
burst as it sort of fades away.

BARBARA MILLER: When did it happen, this explosion?

NIAL TANVIR: The interesting thing in cosmology is that when we look out across the universe at
great distances, the light that we're seeing has taken in some cases billions of years to reach us
travelling across the universe.

So we're actually looking backwards in time. And what in this particular case the era that we're
reaching to is about 600 million years after the start of the universe itself and the big bang.
It's about 13.1 billion years.

BARBARA MILLER: How can you be sure that you're seeing what you think you're seeing?

NIAL TANVIR: Really the measurement that we use to tell us the distance is something called the red
shift. It's a sort of change in the character of the light as it takes place because the light has
come so far across the universe to us.

And by measuring the red shift you can turn that round and you can infer a distance or a time.

BARBARA MILLER: If you're right then you've said that this opens a window into the cosmic dark
ages. What's meant by that?

NIAL TANVIR: So you can imagine as we look far away across the universe, we're looking backwards in
time and there comes a point where you couldn't see any further. And the reason is not because of
the technology just not being up to it but because basically you look all the way back in time to
the big bang itself. And so that's an era we can never see.

But the first galaxies which formed after the big bang, the first stars, they formed maybe 100, 200
million years or so after the big bang. And for several hundred million years we think those first
galaxies started very slowly, the first stars within the galaxies, to what we call, re-ionise the
universe to sort of in fact turn the gas between the galaxies from a cold neutral gas into an
ionised plasma.

And so that whole process we refer to the kind of dark era before there really were any stars at
all, through to these first stars which changed the state of the gas in the universe; we refer to
that as the dark ages of the universe.

And of course what's really interesting is that really this is the last part of the universe that
we have yet to observe.

Now because our telescopes are so powerful we've been able to map out the whole reach of the
universe up to that point and then the final kind of area in our map of the universe that we have
still to fill in is this dark age region when the first stars were turning on.

So I think that's why we're particularly excited about this breakthrough. It's not just a matter of
breaking a record but it's pushing us finally into this era when all this early activity was taking

ELEANOR HALL: British astronomer Nial Tanvir speaking to Barbara Miller about those cosmic dark