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ABC Midday Report -

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Live. The PM urges the business

sector to talk up the local

economy. We're looking forward

across the day to working with you, understanding the strength

of our economy, and

understanding what we need to

do to make it stronger. UN

peacekeepers say Syria is now

in a state of civil war. Nobody

help us. Is it safe - the

global slowdown pushes people

to ignore use-by dates. And

fatal attraction - will its own

defences being the undoing of

the cane toad? We're either

eradicating them or very nearly

eradicating them from these

local areas. Hello and welcome

to ABC News across Australia.

I'm Ros Childs. The local share

market has given up this

morning's modest gains:

More finance later in the

bulletin. More than 120 of the nation's leading economic minds

have gathered in secret to

discuss ways to strengthen the

Australian economy. Most of the

Prime Minister's Economic Forum

in Brisbane today is being held

in private session, but the

Reserve Bank Governor Glenn

Stevens has made his thoughts

public with a speech reminding

everyone that the years of high spending and low saving are

gone and aren't coming back.

Narda Gilmore reports. She

began her forum with a rallying

cry to start talking up the

strength of the

economy. Australians should be confident. Today Julia Gillard

is looking for ideas on how to

make it stronger. So we're

looking for there to be some

energy in the room, good

engagement. With a focus on

productivity. We've all gone to

sleep, Prime Minister, or so

shattered or something, I don't

know. The Reserve Bank Governor

came armed with figures and

graphs confirming the

Australian economy is in good

shape But we're all unhappy,

right? There is a lot of

disquiet and dissatisfaction

out there in the community. He

blames a fundamental shift in household spending, rather than

the so-called patchwork

economy. He says the days of

big spending and no savings

have come to an end. If the

asuments was that we were going

to keep on that path, there is

a lot of disappointed people

out there. Skills, workforce

and the high Australian dollar

are all issues on the agenda at

today's forum. Glenn Stevens

says the current exchange rate

isn't necessarily a bad

thing. As consumers, the

exchange rate is one of the

devices that is imparting to us

the higher wealth that the

mining boom brings. He says

boosting productivity is

but there are Australia's biggest challenge,

solutions. They're not popular,

they're very difficult and

they're politically hard in

many instances. The Opposition

has labelled the Prime

Minister's Economic Forum as a

scripted event, amounting to

nothing more than window-dressing. Julia Gillard

is not planning to issue any

formal statement at the end of

today's meeting. But she says

the Government will continue to

work with the ideas it generated. It's civil war in

Syria - that's the view of the

UN's head of peacekeeping

there. The comments came as UN

monitors were fired upon and

forced to turn back from Haffa

in the country's north. The US

has accused Russia of making

the violence worse by supplying

military hardware to the Assad

regime. EXPLOSION. Relentless

bombardment of Homs today, but

now it's been documented by UN

observers and journalists

travelling with them. On the

road north to the town of

Talbiseh, they witness more

damage, coming not just from

government tanks now, but

helicopter gunships. Just one

snapshot of destruction in a

country that, according to the

head of UN peacekeeping, could

now be considered civil

war We're incredibly concerned

about the willing and

deliberate escalation by the

Government in the last four to

five days, but also the

increased level of the planning

and coordination of military

operations of the

Opposition. Because it's not

just President Assad's forces

behind the increased violence.

EXPLOSION. A Syrian Army

vehicle being blown up,

apparently by rebels, and

government tanks on fire,

according to this amateur

video. (Shouting) And massive

opposition funerals in broad

daylight, like here apparently

in southern Deraa province,

suggesting government control

of territory is patchy. Russia

is also part of the problem in

Syria, as well as the hope for

the solution. According to the

US Secretary of State

tonight. We are concerned about

the latest information we have

that there are attack

helicopters on the way from

Russia to Syria which will

escalate the conflict quite dra

mattic ly. Long-running

tensions have boiled over at

the Euro 2012 football

tournament. Skirmishes broke

out when Polish locals tried to

confront Russian supporters

marching towards Warsaw's National Stadium where their

SIREN WAILS two teams were to play.

. As the violence threatened to

spierl out of control, riot

police wielding tear gas and

water cannon moved in. Several

people were injured while

police made 56 arrests. It's

the latest episode in the

troubled history between Russia

and Poland.

In rush sharks the Opposition protest movement is again

showing its resill Yens. On the

Russia Day National holiday,

tens of thousands of

demonstrators ral Ied against

the Government in Moscow. State

prosecutors kept several top

Opposition Leader as way, but

that only strengthened the

Opposition's resolve. Moscow correspondent Norman Hermant

reports. This is how tens of

thousands in Moscow marked

Russia Day, by taking to the

streets to again demonstrate

against the rule of President

Vladimir Putin, against the

backdrop of increasing

government pressure, its demise

pre dikted again and again, the opposition protest movement

rolls on.

TRANSLATION: Thank you all for

coming here and not being frightened by this

repression. Several other

protest leaders were kept away,

called in for questioning by

prosecutors on the day of the demonstration. Earlier their

offices and homes had been

searched by police. Critics say

these are crude intimidation

tactics and they won't work.

TRANSLATION: The authorities

have shown that they think the

people are idiots, are stupid,

not very developed. No, we're

very developed, we're not

stupid. Many protesters

targeted a new law that levels

steep fines for taking part in

illegal demonstrations. Rally

as cross the country remain

relatively small, but analysts

say the fact that they're still

going is enough to worry the

government. The regime is very,

very afraid that these protests

may actually accelerate,

actually that the social base

may grow from middle-class to

the working classes. That's the

Kremlin's real fear, that

protests could quickly spin

beyond its control. There was a

different tone on this national

holiday from Vladimir Putin who

appealed for greater

understanding across Russia's

political divide. Whether it's

publicly stating it wants to

engage, or whether it's

cracking down on the

opposition, one thing the

Kremlin isn't doing is ignoring

it. Western Australia has

called for extra help to deal

with the aftermath of three

severe storms in seven days.

Winds in excess of 100km/h and

heavy rain buffeted the State's south-west overnight, though

Perth appears to have escape

major damage. The wild weather

took its toll on marine craft.

Tens of thousands of homes are

blacked out with crews from

South Australia and Tasmania

being flown in to help repair

extensive damage to the

electricity network. About 40

schools remain closed because

of damage or disruption triggered by the bad

weather. The struggle to

contain the march of Canetoads

across Australia is one that's

frustrated scientists for

years. Now a team from the

University of Sydney believes

it has come up with a way of

using the toad's own poison

against it to interrupt the

reptile's prolific breeding. Professor Rick Shine

explains One of the remarkable

things that we've discovered in

the course of the research is

that Canetoad tad poles are

incredibly good at realising

that a female cane toad has

laid eggs in their pond and is

about to produce 30,000 tad

poles that will then be

competitors for those that are

already there. The older tad

poles detect those newly laid

eggs and they race across and

they kill them, they eat them.

We thought this might be an

opportunity to find out what

em-Cal the cane toad tad pole

uses to find those eggs and we could use that chemical as a

bait, and it turns out that the

chemical that the cane toad tad

pole uses are the poisons that

the cane toad produces, so if

we put those poisons in a

funnel trap, we catch tens of

thousands of tad poles within a

few days and almost nothing

else because everything else is

repelled by the poison. Can you

get rid of all tad poles from

an area this way, in other

words, can you eradicate cane

toads completely It will only

work at the local level. We

won't get rid of them from

Australia altogether. We

haven't found a single baby

toad emerging from those ponds,

so we think we're either

eradicating them or very nearly

eradicating them from these

local areas. Is this something

we can do in the field by locals because the cane toad

poison is extremely harmful to

humans? Yes, and one has to be

very careful as to how the

poison is collected. You've got

to have eye protection and

you've got to use gloves and

all these sorts of things.

We're working with our

colleagues at the University of

Queensland to produce an

easier, safer method with

purified chemical that could be

a tablet that you put in your

tap. In the short term, we can

train community members on how

to gather the material safely

and deploy it and I'm hopeful

we can get field trials under

way very soon. You're coming

from it at exactly the opposite

direction from getting rid of

the adult toads The problem

with adult toads is they have

30,000 eggs that you don't

catch two nights later. If you

can stop the toads breeding,

then suddenly removing the

adults has a big effect on the

cane toad population and that's

the idea hiefnd the

research. Professor Rick Shine,

thank you My pleasure. The Ford

Motor Company is considering

axing more jobs in Victoria.

The company has struggled with

a significant drop in sales of

its Falcon model. Only a

thousand were sold last month.

Next month 1800 staff at Ford's

Geelong and Broadmeadows plants

will be stood down on half-pay

for a week to make up for the

drop in demand. 244 jobs were

cut last year. And the Indian

economy is also putting on the

brakes. Industrial output in

April was almost flat and the Standard & Poor's is

threatening to downgrade the

nation's status to junk. It's a

dramatic turnaround for a once

thriving economy. Politicians

are being blamed for not

pushing through reforms. After soaring high for years, India

is suddenly looking at aid hard

landing. Hopes it can pull its

own people out of poverty and

give the world economy a boost

are stalling. It's come as a

shock to a country that still

has a cutting edge. Using the

latest technology at this

factory to make vehicle parts

for sale around the world. Even

precision engines for Germany's

Mercedes Benz. So India is more

exposed to the global slowdown,

but the chairman tells me lack

of reform and political

paralysis at home is the real

problem. This is an opportunity

where you could be soaring up,

you could create jobs, create prosperity, create infrastructure. That

opportunity is being wasted or

frittered away simply because

political decision-making,

economic decision-making is not

being done in the manner in

which it should be. India is

the world's ninth biggest

economy and one of the BRICS

Group of emerging powerhouses

which also includes Brazil,

Russia, China and South Africa,

but with India's growth

plunging from over 9% two years

ago to just over 5% now, its

status as a global economic

player is in doubt. Even

India's call centres, a

cornerstone of its economic

rise, are struggling. This Mumbai operation which serves

UK companies, lost half its

business last year to

competitors in the

Philippines. But even Mumbai

alone has a huge potential

market in a country of over a

billion people and India

Government's message is "be

patient." When pessimism

builds up, there is very often

overpessimism. Looking back one

year from now, we will say

we're guilty the other way

around. The mood is still

buoyant in Mumbai's fish

market, but the outside world

is no longer so sure about

India's rise. Melbourne

households have been

overcharged more than $300

million for their water because

of delays in the construction

of Victoria's desalination

plant. Melbourne water says

bills from last year included

supplies that went to come from

the wanting that by

desalination plant. It was

believed the plant would be

operating by now. There is no

windfall for the Government in

this. As I've said, any charges

that have been collected by

Melbourne Water for desal and

not paid because the plant hat

not been finished on time will

be returned to customers with interest. Each household was

charged an average of $177. The

money won't be returned but by

offsetting future prices. Despite some recent upbeat Australian economic

news, shoppers remain defiantly

unconvinced. A monthly Westpac

survey shows consumer

confidence stagnating near the

lowest levels this year.

Interest rate cuts have not

overridden concern about

domestic and particularly

international conditions.

Melbourne is to get six new suburbs with the State

Government releasing some

farming and green wedge land on

the city's urban fringes. The

release will cater for an extra

100,000 people and is part of a

plan to push the city's

boundaries it the north, west

and to the south-east. And the

Government's commodities

forecasting agency ABARES says

dry weather has delayed the

winter crop and may reduce

planting by 2%. Wheat and

barley production is expected

to fall, while canola output

should rise. Let's take a check

of the markets with finance

reporter Elysse Morgan. Ellyse, Australia's biggest listed

coalminer could be going

private? That's right, Ros,

Queensland coalminer Whitehaven

has received an offer from

millionaire Nathan tinkler to

privatise the company.

Whitehaven says the proposal

from the tinkler Group is incomplete but it will consider

a more developed proposal in

the future. Shares in the

company jumped 8% when they

came out of their trading halt

today and they're now worth

$4.24. How does that gain

compare to the rest of the

market, Ellyse? Well above the

broader gains. The All Ords has

actually slipped into negative

territory. The resources sector

is under pressure. BHP Billiton

is up just 6 cents and Rio

Tinto is going the other way.

The health care sector is

showing most of the strength

today, an investors look for

save havens as concerns over ur

ron increase. Ramsay Healthcare

is the best of the bunch, up

close to 3%. Elsewhere, Qantas

is up more than 2% and that's

on takeover speculation. There

has been a bit of economic news

around. How is that shaping the

market? Closely watched data on

consumer sentiment only rose

slightly this month, despite

two consecutive cuts to the

interest rates. David Jones is

up 1%, Myer is down 1%.

Wesfarmers and Woolworths have

given up just a few cents each

and Moody's says Australia

remains one out of 12 countries

in the world with a stable AAA

rating. We'll take a check now

of the domestic market's other

big movers in the top 100:

Thanks, Ellyse. To that

comeback on Wall Street.

Traders saw value in

beaten-down shares and took the

view that US policy-makers may

do more to stimulate the

economy: The New South Wales Labor

Party is mourning the loss of

one of its senior figures. The former New South Wales Attorney-General Frank Walker

has died in Sydney from cancer.

He was 69. Mr Walker became a

senior counsel at the age of 34

before entering politics. In

1976 he was apointed the

State's youngest

Attorney-General by then

Premier Neville Wran. After the

demise of the Unsworth

Government, he entered the

Federal Parliament representing

the seat of Robertson. He was

appointed a judge of the New

South Wales District Court serving primarily on the Dust

Diseases Tribunal. Mr Walker

was a powerful advocate for

those with a mental illness. He

lost both his sons to

suicide. A 21-year-old man has

been stabbed to death along a

main road to the south of

Brisbane early this morning.

Police say he was stabbed at

Park ridge in Logan just after

2 o'clock. He walked back to a nearby petrol station and

died. We have located a scene a

couple of hundred metres up the

road where we have located a

knife and some other

property. A man is being

questioned by police and

authorities are asking for any

witnesses to come

forward. Tough times mean

cutting back and one of the

areas where people are trying

to save money is food. Reports

from the UK suggest consumers

are taking more risks with

their food as finances become

tighter, such as hanging onto

food beyond its use-by date and

leaving leftovers in the fridge

for longer. The question is how

long can you keep food without

putting your health at risk?

Brigid Treloar is a food

consult ant. Really, we suggest

you start using up your food

within one to two days. Three

is the absolute maximum, but

two is the savest. Is there a big difference between between

the use-by and best-before

dates? This causes a lot of

confusion. Use-by date means

the food should be used by that

date and if not, it should be

discarded. If it's a

best-before date, that means

the food is still save to safe

to eat after that date, so it

will start to luz nutrition,

colour, it will still be OK to

eat but not as good for you. So

no flexibility when it comes to

the use-by date? No, really not

safe to hang onto it. Take the

use-by date as what it should

be. A lot of people use the

sniff and look-at test to work

out if something is OK to eat.

Is that of any value? It is

value particularly if P- you

have your fridge overfull. If

it's within the use-by date,

stick to that, but if it is

best-before, the sniff rule

does work, but your indication

is always try to use it up

sooner rather than later. What

about leftovers, how long can

you safely keep leftover

chicken or fish in the fridge

before you have to throw it

away? Well, this is one of the

reasons that there are use-by

dates on things because these

are usually on very highly

perishable foods. With fish, we

say use things up within two

days, your seafood and try to

keep it in the best possible

condition, so that means your

fridge has to be operating

properly, so your fridge should

be 5 degrees or less and if

you're going to freeze it, it

has to be minus-18

degrees. What's the best way to shop economically in the first

place, how do you get the most

bang for your buck when buying

food? The obvious thing is to

do seasonal. If it's seasonal,

it will be cheaper. Sometimes

people are hesitant to buy

seafood when it's on special,

but often it's because there is

an abundance of it. Shop

smaller, don't buy so much

because that's always a

problem. Everybody is guilty of

this - the specials - two for

one. You think you will use up

two and you often don't and it

sits in the back of fridge and

you don't use it up and it's

cost you more in the long run

anyway. Brigid Treloar, thank

you Thank you. At present, gay

couples can only have civil

unions in the UK, but the

Government says they should be

allowed to marry. Lisa Millar

reports. Gay couples in England

have been uniting in civil

partnerships for almost a

decade, but the Government's

plans to take the next step and

make gay marriage legal have

caused an uproar. The Church of

England has called the proposal

legally flawed and

divisive. The Government has

indicated that it wants to

extend marriage and what we are

saying is their proposals have

actually changed the definition

of marriage. Churches would be

exempt from performing gay

marriages, but Anglican bishops

are concerned that ban could

easily be challenged in the

European Court of Human

Rights We ought to be extremely

cautious about that and debate

it much more fully. Snoot the

Government does not want to

impose anything on any

organisation or church. We

won't be asking anybody to do

anything that goes against

their conscience. Gay rights

groups have accused the Church

of carrying out a master class

in scaremongering. This is a

red Herring that has been set

to run by some slightly

misinformed bishops. The

reality is of course there are

people and some religious

denominations that still feel

uncomfortable with the idea

that gay people live in

long-term relationships and

they shouldn't be forced to

recognise them if they don't

want to. Opinion polls show 80%

of Britons under 50 support gay

marriage. Prime Minister David

Cameron is firmly backing the

legislation, but it has caused

Africa shun within his

Conservative Party. He will

offer members a conscience vote

when it comes to Parliament

some time in the next 12

monthless. To other stories

making news around the world.

In Italy a tornado has roared

through an island in the Venice

lagoon, ripping the roofs from

at Local Government a dozen

houses. Dozens of small boats

were also smashed by the winds

in the Port of

Sant'Elena. China's astronauts

have completed their first

first full-system drill ahead

of a mid-June launch. The

spacecraft is aiming to perform

China's first manned space

docking manoeuvre with an

orbiting space lab module. And

a team of cooks in Turkey has smashed the world record for

making the world's largest

doner kebab. It weighed in at

lamb 1,200kg more than double

the previous record set in

Dubai. Over 40,000 people

turned out for Australia's

second game in the group and it

turned out to be a high-quality

contest with the home side

missing a golden opportunity to

score in the 20th minute. The

Socceroos were dealt a blow

when Mark Milligan was sent off

for his second yellow card. A

Japanese player was left

unmarked at the back post. The

referee awarded a penalty after

a Japanese defender held back

Alex Brosque. Luke Wiltshire

stepped up to take the spot

kick. The way things went with

the red card, we had to dig in

and then we conceded an

unfortunate goal and then, as

always, a little bit of Aussie

spirit came back into play and

the crowd got behind us, thank

you, and we could have gone on

to win it. Australia now has 2 points from its first two

matches. The Socceroos will

resume their qualification

campaign in September, away to

Jordan. Scenes of lush green

fields, farm yard animals and

rain - they are quintessential

images of Britain and they're

set to feature at the Opening

Ceremony of the London Olympics

in six weeks' time. This is a

model of what around a billion

people will see at 9pm on 27th

July. It is the opening scene

of the Opening Ceremony of the

2012 Olympic Games. The show's

director also unveiled his

artistic vision. What were we?

Where have we come from, haes

the hear Taj, the historical,

what are we now and where are

we going? There is a cricket

match taking place, fielding of

sheep and horses and man-made

clouds to deliver fake rain should Mother Nature decide to

give it a rest. There will be

maypoles with flowers

representing the four countries

of the United Kingdom and at

one end, a recreation pf a four

and a mosh pit. At the other

end, something more akin to a

posh pit which will have a

slightly more civilised

approach. Above it the largest

harmonised bell in the world

will open and close the event. Be prepared for a bit of a

laugh. I don't think any show

about Britain that doesn't try

to capture our humour, people

would say, "No, that's not

right at all," but very

difficult in a stadium show,

but we are trying. Like it or

not, this is what he will be

judged against - the remarkable

Opening Ceremony of the 2008

Beijing Olympics. Danny Boyle

said that his show was as much

for the people in the stadium

as it was to the world's

television viewers. A

spectacular event is promised

with people flying in on wires

and plenty of other non-rural

scenes, but he wasn't giving

any further details. To the

weather now. The satellite

shows cloud in southern WA with

the low responsible for

potentially Des truktive winds.

Cloud near the southern Victoria, with the

sown-Victoria border in a

trough. A deep low should send

strong winds and showers across

the country's south. Mild

northerlies should blow across

the eastern interior ahead of a trough. A high pressure system should move south-east across Tasmania directing winds and showers onto the eastern seaboard. A look 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 the UN said strife in Syria was now at the level of civil war. Researchers thought they had found a way to curtail the cane toad. And Julia Gillard told business leaders to talk up the Australian economy. There's continuous news on ABC News 24 and there's also news online. Our next full bulletin on ABC1 is at 7 o'clock this evening. I'm Ros Childs. Thanks for joining us. Have a great afternoon.

Closed Captions by CSI.

This Program Is Captioned

Live. Today at the National Press Club, Press Club, the

Secretary-General of NATO

Anders Rasmussen. Before this

job, he was Denmark's Prime

Minister. Denmark's been

trying to build up ties with

countries like Australia which

aren't members, but are

fighting in Afghanistan. Mr

Rasmussen will discuss how to

strengthen the partnership

between NATO and Australia.

(Bell rings) Ladies and

gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to Welcome to the National Press

Club and today's National

Australia Bank address and we

are delighted to welcome to the

National Press Club the

Secretary-General of NATO

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who has

flown in from London through

Singapore. This is the

Secretary-General's first visit