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Despite the exit timetable,

Australia takes a lead role in Afghanistan's Oruzgan Province.

Puts us in a better position

to drive the transition

process. Back home, Defence

takes some flak for spending millions on mud huts in South

Australia. An Australian

company gives the hockey field

a makeover in time for London

2012. To win an Olympic Games

contract is a massive thing for

us. And they can be annoying

anywhere, but what's the ad

most complained about in Britain in 50 years?

Hello and welcome to ABC

News across Australia. I'm Ros

Childs. Once again it's the

fallout from Europe that is

dragging the local share market

down. The:

More finance later in the bulletin. First to the Middle

East and Syrian rebels have

given the regime of President

Bashar al-Assad a deadline to

comply with the UN ceasefire.

The Syrian Free Army has

signaled a resumption of

hostilities in 48 hours if that

doesn't happen. The warning

came after the head of the UN's

observer mission said he was

deeply disturbed by the latest

apparent massacre. A warning,

this report containing

confronts images. There is no

sign of Kofi Annan's plea for

peace in Syria being heeded.

Outbreaks of violence in

different parts of the country.

Syrian forces may have pulled

bag from this checkpoint in

Houla where last Friday's

massacre took place, but the

government still insists that

terrorists, not its forces,

carried out the atrocities. The

Syrian Government,s the Syrian

people are extremely troubled

with this heinous and unjustified terrorist

crime. Today in eastern Syria,

another massacre was uncovered.

13 corpses. The head of UN

monitors says some had had been

shot from close range. Denot

blame any particular

group. Kofi Annan, the UN peace

envoy in Jordan today fears

that pitiless killing,

increasingly sectarian, could

spread through the region. It

is a concern widely shared. The

worst case which seems

unfortunately at the present to

be the most probably and that

is that the violence escalates,

the conflict spreads and

intensifies t reaches a higher

degree of severity. It involves

countries in the region. But

it's Syria which is facing the

bloodiest horrors of the

so-called Arab Spring. These

pictures apparently show rebels

attacking a government

position, then catching and beating a government soldier.

Today the rebel Free Syrian

Army, part of a deeply divided

opposition, gave the Assad

regime 48 hours to stop

fighting or face greater

violence. The signs are of

increasing polarisation and a

determination on all sides to

fight on. The African leader

who profited from so-called

blood diamonds during Sierra

Leone's civil war has been

jailed for 50 years for war

crimes. The former Liberian

President Charles Taylor showed

little emotion as the sentence

was handed down. He was

convicted of 11 offences over

support given to rebels in

exchange for diamonds extracted

by child slave labour. The

accused has been found

responsible for aiding and

abetting as well as planning

some of the most heinous and

brutal crimes recorded in human

history. Those included the

forced recruitment of child

soldiers, mass murder and

cutting off the limbs of

victims. Taylor denies any

wrongdoing and has foreshadowed

an appeal. Australia is

stepping town take control of

military operations in Oruzgan

Province. Until now, the US has

been in overall command of

forces in the province, but

ahead of the transition to

Afghan control over the next 18

months, America will hand over

to Australia. The command

change won't alter Australian

troop numbers or access to US

military equipment. On a

day-to-day basis when we

determine what sort of assets

we need to support the work

that's being done today, or if

we have a contact and we are

required to bring in offensive

fires or so forth, the control

comes to Australia to seek that

support. And make arrangements

for its delivery. Part of a soldier's training before

heading out to war zones like

Afghanistan to practice

procedure in mock-up war zones.

The Milt tri-build replica

villages on home soil to give

soldiers a taste of what lie as

head. Now the cost of these

pretend landscapes has come

under the spotlight. Responding

to a Senate Estimates question,

the Defence Department says one

such replica village made up of

just over 12 mud huts cost over

$3 million to build, $26 o,000

for each mud hut. The huts are

at Cultana training Base near

Port Augusta. Rowan Ramsey is

the local MP. When did you

realise that these mud huts

cost so much to build? Well,

kicking around the wail of Port

Augusta area. I said I would

see what I could find out. I've

got no idea what these things

cost. Perhaps we better get a

handle on it." ' We found out,

they built 12, I think in two

villages of six, actually. Now,

I don't know what they look

like, but I have seen these

village buildings in

Afghanistan and there is not

too much to them there and $2

of o,000 sounds pretty

excessive. You can buy a

four-bedroom house for that and

pop it on a block somewhere. I

think this problem demonstrates

the kind of problem we have in government procurement right

across Australia, actually,

where there is a headline

contract and then you sublet it

to someone else and they sublet

it to someone else and sublet

it to someone else and probably

the people who did the work

didn't get a huge payment for

it, but it cost the taxpayer $3

million. Now, recreating

villages in combat zones is a

common practice for training

and we do have some pictures of

similar facilities being used

by American soldiers training

in section as and we've also

got shots of a village mock-up

in England that cost $30

million and had paid actors

involveded in the whole thing.

You accept, though, that there

is a need for these things to

be built in the first place and

they need to be as realic as

possible to be effective? Absolutely, and we

do need to prepare our defence

forces properly before they

embark on the missions that we

send them, so that's not the

argument, it's just whether or

not we are getting value for

money in this particular case.

The same time, I might say,

that the Cultana expansion, it

has been on the slate for 8

years as finally started

negotiation with the local land

holders there. Now, we don't

know - they've been sitting on

the edge of their chair for 8

years, no idea what they will

do. I hope Defence is similarly

generous with the people who

actually own the land when they

give them their forced eviction

notices. We have asked the

Defence Department for a

response to these issues. They

haven't got back to us as yet.

We'll leave it there. Rowan

Ramsey, thanks for joining

us Thank you. They call it the

a shab sent tri-and Australia's

part in it ee - the Asian

Century and Australia's part in

it evolving every day. The

Trade Minister has been

negotiating with officials in

Beijing who see potential for

investment in Australia's north

but the Greens and the

Nationals are warning against

foreign powers buying up the farm. George Roberts reports

from Canberra. They call it

puppy love. A friendly farm

animal brings a welcome change

to Canberra's dog-eat-dog

politics. Right, the paw is

up. Working dogs, working with

disadvantaged country boys, to

help them make the leap back

into employment. Its plans to

let China into prime Australian

farmland that has got

politicians cultivating

caution. We create all sorts of

problems for ourselves when we

get excessive foreign

investment and economic choke points that controls large

sections of production, or when

you get large-scale purchase of

agricultural land. The Trade

Minister has been pushing the

idea in China with eyes on WA's

Ord River and Queensland's

Atherton Tablelands as

potential food bowls for China.

The Greens want to know exactly

what has been proposed. I will

certainly be taking it up with

the Government, with the

minister, when he gets home, in

the committee and with the

Prime Minister when I can,

thank you. Craig Emerson says it's not a

it's not a sell-the-farm

scenario and a study will be

released in months. Christine

Milne doesn't want to wait. I

think we need to know now,

exactly what is the Government

proposing in relation to future

ownership of Australian

agricultural land and water

resources. It is the second

time in a week the Government

has got supporters off-side over foreign interests in

Australian prosperity. Coming

after the flare-up over foreign

workers, for one of Gina

Rinehart's mining projects. Now

the Prime Minister has moved to

put miners in their place. You

don't own the minerals, I don't

own the minerals. Governments

only sell you the right to mine

the resource. A resource we

hold in trust for a sovereign

people. She made it very clear

that the Labor Party sees the

mining industry as an endless

milking cow for money. But it's

made Labor's left faction a bit

happier. I thought the Prime

Minister's speech was terrific.

I think the speech is from some

of the Minerals Council people

was a bit as if they live in a

parallel universe. And if the

mining lobby thought wining and

dining might change things... I

don't think a bottle of wine

and a meal would make much

difference to my point of view.

Thanks. See ya. ..think again.

The ABC has learned that as

many as 1500 Hastie Group

workers in the Middle East have

been left high and dry after the company's collapse late

last week. The termination

entitle mets for the stood-down

workers are in jeopardy after

more than $3 million was

transferred back to Australia,

days before administrators and

receivers were brought in. The

ABC's business editor Peter

Ryan has this exclusive

story. Ros, I've seen the copy

of a bank transfer document

showing the equivalent of more

than $3 million was transferred

from Hastie's branch in Dubai

to a branch of the ANZ Bank

here in Sydney. Now, the issue

with this is that that money

was required or is required in

the United Arab Emirates to pay

out the termination

entitlements of Hastie's 1500

workers, so long as that money

isn't there, those workers in

the United Arab Emirates stand

not to have any termination

benefits at all. And once that

money was transferred back to

Australia, what happened to the managers who authorised

it? Well, this document that

we've seen was signed off by

two of Hastie's top executives

in the United Arab Emirates,

and after that was signed off,

those executives, plus another

senior executive, left the

country and flew back to

Australia. That was on Monday,

the day that administrators and

receivers were appointed to

Hastie, and the reason is not

because they had anything to

answer in the UAE, but because

of local laws, they could well

have been detained because

Hastie had no money in the bank

or the ability it pay out the

termation benefits for workers

which was a breach of law there

locally. How many of the

workers left without entitle

mets, how many of them are

Australian? I'm told that about

30 of those workers are

Australians. The rest that have

1500 comprise other labourers

of different levels from India,

Pakistan, Kuwait, Malaysia. All

of those are entitled to

termination benefits. All of

those workers are in jeopardy. They currently have been told

that they have been terminated,

but have certainly not received

anything. And what are Hastie

administrators saying about the

likelihood that Hastie workers

in the Middle East will be paid out? Hastie administrators told

me that they are working very

hard throughout the night to

unravel what is a very, very

complex situation. They are

confident though that, like in

Australia , that some of those

workers might be taken on by

other contractors in Dubai and

Abu Dhabi, but that remains to

be seen given the complexity of

the situation, Ros. Peter,

thank you. Journalists strikes

are continuing at Fairfax

Media's biggest newspapers

today as anger grows at the

company's plans to move jobs

offshore. Reporter s at 'The Age', 'Financial Review' and

'Sydney Morning Herald' walked

off the job yesterday. It came

after they learnt of Fairfax

plans to sack 41 production

staff, including subeditors,

from the Newcastle 'Herald' and

25 from the Illawarra

'Mercury'. At least some of the

jobs are likely to go to New

Zealand. The heart of Fairfax

is its editorial and when you

cut and cut and cut in

editorial, as this company has

done for the last 20 years, you

get to the point where we're so

close to the bop, that journalists believe they're not

properly serving their communities. The strike action

is unprotected and Fairfax has

not ruled out taking its case

to Fair Work Australia. Less

than two months out from the

Olympics, all eyes are on

London and this year Australian

business is going for gold. Two Melbourne-based companies have

taken a creative approach to

win contracts, turning the

traditional green hockey pitch

rainbow bright for the first

time in Olympic history. Forget green, Australia's world

champion kookaburras will be

seeing bright pink and blue

when they get on the pitch in

London It is a bit of a change

- most of us are grown up on

the green turf all our yearless

of the I thought it was a bit

out there, but it's good. The

eye-catching colour scheme was

the brainchild of a

Melbourne-based company,

drawing inspiration from the

logos from the 2012 Games. To

win an Olympic Games contract

is a massive thing for us, a

big significant contract for us

and something we're very proud

of. The balls are getting a

makeover, too, switching from

white to yellow so they're easy

to see, and despite cost pressures luring many

manufacturers offshore, these

sporting staples are here to

stay. It's always a great

thrill to think that you can

still make things in Australia

and make them to the best

standards in the world. So with

London calling, local companies

are vying for a slice of

Olympic glory. If the

Kookaburras and Hockeyroos can

come back with a medal, we are very happy with that. I've had permly the opportunity to stand on the surface and it is a sense of pride that you feel and say, "Wow, we've achieved this!" The hockey centre will host 780,000 spectators during the Games, but for the players, the colour of the pitch is the last thing on their minds. There blue will convert to gold. A new survey shows that Australian is losing its competitive edge. A report from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia or CEDA, shows Australia is No. 15 in the world competitiveness rankings and that's a drop of 6 places from the previous year. It's prompted a warning that we can't relie on the mining boom to get us through the global slowdown. Professor Stephen Martin is the chief executive of CEDA. Well, the fact is, of course, that some 80% of the Australian workforce is supported by the services industry, and whilst we're going extremely well in an aggregate sense for Australia and in fact are the envy of the world in terms of our economic ability, the fact is that the mining industry, while ploughing ahead, is not going to sustain us forever. What we have seen in this report is that things like improving

skills, the fact that the

Australian dollar is very - the

Australian dollar's very high

value for much of last year has

impacted negatively in a number

of industries, particularly

manufacturing and retailing,

all of this means we've had

this slippage in terms of our

world competitiveness

ranking. And is using foreign

labour for the mining industry,

in particular that's in the

news right now s that one of

the answers to the answers to this? Look, it

is a potential answer to a

short-term problem. The answer

real sli about skilling and it's about having people

willing, of course, to work in

those rather isolated areas of

Australia. The fact is it's all

well and good for people to say

there are a vast pool of

skilled labour that, available

to go to Western Australia or

to North Queensland, but the

fact is many of those people

simply, for family reasons and

other personal reasons, can't do

do that, so the answer really

lies in ensuring that we have

skilled people available for

jobs that are going to be

created not just in the mining

industry, about you in the next

generation of jobs, and I think

we have to, as a country, as a

government, as business, what

we have to do is spend a lot

more on training and skilling

and R and D, so that the challenges of the future in

fact can be met. So that money

has to come from both has to come from both the

Government and from a private

enterprise? Oh, there is no

doubt that this is a

partnership. The Government

will rightly say that they're

spending a lot of money in

training and education.

Business, on the other hand, if

you look at the statistics,

simply R and D is on the wane

and that's something that I

think we have to address. What

we have to be is competitive in

a world stage. Globalisation,

whether we like it or not, is here to stay, and

here to stay, and we have to be

prepared to commit resources in

education, in training, in

skilling, in R and D, looking

at those industries of the

future and be able to compete

effectively. Professor Stephen

Martin, thank you. My

pleasure. While Tasmania's most famous goldminer Beaconsfield

is on the brink of closure, the

State's only other goldmine is

enjoying a lot more success. Just three Just three years after the

Henty mine was also set to

close, the west coast operation

is looking towards the

future. Three years ago the

Henty goldmine was owned by

global mining company Barrack

and was about to be shut down.

Now the story is very

different New ownership, a

company that really wants to

grow the place and expand it,

we've now got five years' mine life which we never had

life which we never had

before. The new owner Unity

Mining has mined about 120,000

ounces of gold since taking

over and kept 160 people in

full-time work. It's impressed Tasmania's Resources Minister I

think anybody who goes to that

mine site and has a look at the

operation, the small footprint

and the work they do to ensure

that they comply environmentally is

fantastic. The Henty mine isn't

the only focus for the company in z

in z Tasmania. Unity Mining is

spending $10 million a year on

exploration on the West Coast

Coast and south of Devonport.

Around Henty, the search is on

for extensions of the ore

body At Henty itself we're

looking for extensions of the

Henty ore body, so looking for

anything that will keep us

going to, say, one year to

something that will keep us

going for so

going for so years. Unity has

teamed up with Greatland Gold

in Devonport. So far, no

mining We look further and

further afield and the further

away we go, I guess the bigger

the target gets, but we're

looking for gold. The company

still needs permission from

Minerals resources Tasmania

before it starts drilling. If

all goes well, Tasmania could

have another goldmine in the

foreseeable future. Let's foreseeable future. Let's take

a check of the markets with

Martin Lakos from Macquarie

Private Wealth. Our market is captive to events in

Europe? Yes, Ros, good

afternoon, most definitely. We

saw bond yields in the Spanish

and Italian bonds really blow

out through the day and that's

clearly got the markets quite

concerned. There has been

clearly a flight to safety with

US dollar assets being picked

up, to give an example, 10-year bonds

bonds in the US now at 1.6%,

the lowest yield event in

almost 60 years and that has

been reflected here as well.

Aussie bonds 2.89%,

significantly lower for quite

some I'm time and a yield curve

steep enning once again. All

this raises the question of

interest rates of course and

pressure is growing on the

Reserve Bank to cut again next week? The Reserve week? The Reserve Bank meets

next Tuesday. We actually don't

think the are Reserve Bank is

likely to cut. It's more of a case of forcing Australian

businesses through a series of

tough love measures which is

basically not cutting rates and forcing businesses to look for

growth options themselves

rather than relying on lower

rates to drive growth. No doubt

the Reserve Bank is watching

very closely to make sure the

Aussie economy keeps its head above

above water, unless things

deteriorate dramatically in

Europe, and we're obviously

watching that scenario, we

think rates are on hold until

later in year and going

forward. But certainly markets

are betting that there could be

a rate cut. We just don't see

it at the moment. Martin, we're

seeing figures coming out from

David Jones, and I guess

they're coming out in the they're coming out in the

shadow of the poor retail sales

numbers that we had

yesterday? Yes, those numbers

were weak. David Jones came out

with sales at 2.9% of the

better performing sectors was

women's wear and accessories

and certainly no surprise, very good performances out of Queensland and Western Australia. The good thing for

David Jones was they have kept

their guidance, their profit

guidance in line. The stock is up about 1.5%. up about 1.5%. No doubt they

will be relying on the upcoming

June sales period to continue

to clear inventories. Martin,

thank you Thanks, Ros. To that

tumble on Wall Street and 29 of

the Dow's 30 stocks closed in

the red:

Two men have died and two

others were left seriously

injured after a high-speed

crash in Central Victoria last

night. A car carrying the four

slammed into a parked vehicle

and then a tree in a residential street of Bendigo

at about 1:30. Two men were at about 1:30. Two men were

thrown from the vehicle and

died at the scene. Another was

flown to hospital in Melbourne

in a critical condition and a fourth man was treated in Bendigo. Police believe the

crash may be earlier related to

a an earlier break-in at a

nearby hotel Police are

investigating a burglary a

short distance away and we are

investigating whether the two incidents are in incidents are in fact

linked. Investigations into the

crash are continuing. To other

stories making news around the

world - a British aid worker

has been released after being

hold hostage forral 6 days in

Western Sudan. Patrick Noonan

had been working for the World

Food Program when he was

abducted by armed men in

Sudan's Dar burr region. Pope

Benedict has spoken about the scandal of leaked documents from the Vatican, saying he from the Vatican, saying he is

saddened by the betrayal. He added that he was grateful to

those aides who worked

faithfully and in silence to

help him do his job. And a

collection of Tintin

memorabilia, including first

editions and drafts by or thour

Georges Remi, better known as

Herge, is expected to set new

records when it's auctioned in

Paris. A rare cover of 'Tintin

in America' drawn by the author,

author, is expected to go for

more than 1 million. Samantha

Stosur is through to the third

round of the French Open, after

a straight-sets win over Irina

Falconi. Other winners on Falconi. Other winners on Day 4

included men's No. 1 seed Novak

Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Stosur's victory is impressive

as she tries to go one better

than her 2010 run where she

made the final of this event. Obviously got to that

5-0 lead and that was a great

way to start the match and

really fought hard to win that

service game when I was down

0-40 to win the match and,

yeah, I was happy with

yeah, I was happy with the way

I played and continued to play

throughout the match. Stosur will meet Russian Andrea

Petkovic in the third

round. Australians have been

quick to complain about all

sorts of ads, especially those

suggesting sex, but topping

Britain's ad is one that features

features bad table manners.

Once a land where the weather

was very, very strange. Awful

heatwaves in some parts. The Government's climate Government's climate change

warning was for some too

alarming, vole, weigh en's fighting engineer was too

violent, but the most

complained-about advert in the

last 50 years was this. The

problem? People were worried it

encouraged children to talk

with their mouths full. When it

comes to children and

advertising, we have become increasingly increasingly sensitive. This is

something that everyone that we

talk to agrees with. Children

and vulnerable groups must be

protected and it is a difficult

job sometimes getting that

balance right but it's what the

ASA has been trying to do for

50 years. There is another top

pick that is a red button for

complaints. Many didn't think

this was funny. Animals,

children, religion, they

provoke the complaints, but remember this

remember this advert by

Benetton? Advertisers have a

long history of hitting the

headlines. Are they really

setting out to shock us? Once

upon a time, this might have

raised eyebrows. Instead, 26

million found it funny and

watched online. The digital

world has changed

everything. Good advertising, everything. Good advertising,

genuinely engages, but average

advertising today is just

ignored, whereas when people

are forced to stare at a TV

set, there is nothing nels the

home and you enter it, you have

a chance. So the No. 1

complaint - table manners. Very

British, but this is an

exception. 80% of all

complaints is on one topic - is

an ad telling the truth? A an ad telling the truth? A look

at the weather now. The

satellite shows cloud over

Queensland, northern South Australia and New South Wales

in a developing trough, a cloud

band crossing the south west

with a trough and some cloud

over the West Australian coast.

Widespread rain and a few

inland storms. This should

extend into South Australia and New South Wales. A trough and front should front should bring showers to

south-west WA and to

Tasmania. And around the

capitals:

Let's go back to the Stock

Exchange for a final check of the markets:

And that's the news for now

on a day when Australia took a

leadership role in Afghanistan's Oruzgan Province

and there were warnings about

foreign powers buying up the

farm as the Government explored

a farming deal with China.

There is continuous news on ABC

News 24 and there is also news

online. Our next full bulletin

on ABC1 is at 7 o'clock this

evening. I'm Ros Childs. Thanks for

for joining us and have a great

afternoon. Bye for now. Closed Captions by CSI.

THEME MUSIC

ENGINE TOOTS Girls, girls, you are too wild.