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Tonight - the great flood.

The 1890 flood was 13.1m in Saint George, this one's predicted to be 14m so I would imagine that
this will be the flood that will be referred to as legendary in the future.

Good evening. Welcome to Lateline. I'm Leigh Sales. It's been a bit of an unusual week in Federal
politics. Kevin Rudd kicked it off by apologising for his Government's performance and then Tony
Abbott got lost in the outback, sending an SOS satellite phone message to the one person whose
phone he knew off by heart. No, not his wife, his press secretary. In amidst the colour the Rudd
Government unveiled the Rudd Government unveiled two major policy reforms, a new national
curriculum and a massive health plan.

This has been a 2-year process to get this right. We have worked with the clinicians, the nurses
and the doctors and we believe we've got the system right

Kevin Rudd is asking the Australian public to trust him on the back of virtually a press release to
meddle in our public hospitals without giving the State Governments any information as to how he's
going to do it.

Joining us tonight are employment participation manager Mark Arbib and deputy Opposition Leader
Julie Bishop. That's coming up. First our other headlines - the suspected murder of a child
threatens to reignite tensions between Australia and India. Strife-torn Iraq heads to the polls.

Evacuations underway in flood-threatened towns

Evacuations underway in flood-threatened towns

Broadcast: 05/03/2010

Reporter: Paul Lockyer

A mounting flood crisis is threatening southern Queensland town St George - it is feared 80 per
cent of the town may be inundated.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: A mounting flood crisis is tonight confronting the town of St George in
southern Queensland.

It's feared that 80 per cent of the town may be inundated and evacuations are already well
underway. The flooding in the south and border regions is widespread. The worst appears to be over
at Roma, where the water's now receding.

Not so at Charleville; the Warrego River there is still rising. And the small town of Bollon copped
a drenching yesterday, but it could have been worse.

The main area of concern though is St George, where the Balonne River may exceed the record flood
level. Paul Lockyer has spent another day in the flood zone and reports tonight from St George.

PAUL LOCKYER, REPORTER: Few attempted the crossing at the St George weir today. The bridge has been
swamped by fast-flowing floodwaters that have been spreading higher and wider with every passing

DONNA STEWART, BALONNE SHIRE MAYOR: A lot of water going through there and of course when it does
get to a certain level at the dam then nature takes its course.

PAUL LOCKYER: Evacuations were directed in low-lying areas, but some residents didn't need to be
told. They started packing up yesterday as the water began climbing to worrying heights.

RORY GOULD, RESIDENT: It's very stressful. We're going to lose a lot of stuff. We're gonna lose our
house for a couple of days and who knows what we're gonna do.

PAUL LOCKYER: There's a very anxious 24 hours ahead for the 4,000 residents of St George.

All floods out here are measured against the biggest of them all, the flood of 1890 which left only
two spots in St George high and dry.

DONNA STEWART: Well the 1890 flood was 13.1 metres here in St George. This one's predicted to be 14
metres, and so I would imagine that this will be the flood that will be referred to as legendary in
the future.

PAUL LOCKYER: Tomorrow will tell just how big this flood will get. In the meantime, precious
possessions and pets are on the move.

KAREN BEARDMORE, RESIDENT: Yes, Lucky would have been swimming in a cage, so we're best to relocate
and put it up to higher ground.

PAUL LOCKYER: That which can't be moved, stacked high in hope.

KAREN BEARDMORE: Like, furniture's replaceable. As long as our children and our family's safe we're
happy with that.

PAUL LOCKYER: The town of Bollon west of St George has already confronted its flood crisis. Water
levels peaked there earlier today with widespread damage, but there was one resident celebrating.
84-year-old Joyce Winks resisted all calls to evacuate and saw off yet another flood.

Paul Lockyer, Lateline.

St George inundated as flood waters rise

St George inundated as flood waters rise

Broadcast: 05/03/2010

Reporter: Leigh Sales

Paul Lockyer joins Lateline to discuss emergency operations to save the town of St George.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Reporter Paul Lockyer is in flood-affected St George. He joins me now by

Paul, the water's expected to peak in just over 24 hours. Where's the water at now?

PAUL LOCKYER, ABC REPORTER: Well, I was just talking to Senator Barnaby Joyce, Leigh, and of course
this is his town. He says he measured it by the back steps that run down to his river. So there's
no fiscal measurement there from Barnaby Joyce.

It's the old steps, and he can see it rising and he believes there's a 50/50 chance of it being as
bad as they expect, which could mean that it's rising tonight towards the 13 metre mark at the
weir, and if that happens there is this expectation that by about midnight tomorrow night it will
get up to 14 metres. And if that happens, as we've heard, that will be the biggest flood in the
history of this town.

I must say tonight is a bit eerie around the place. I mean, people are just watching. The
evacuation centre hasn't got many people in it.

Those who were in low-lying areas have moved in with other family and friends, but I can tell you
that there'll be lot of scurrying and running if the water starts to get towards those heights
they're expecting.

LEIGH SALES: The hospital's been evacuated already and a relief centre's been set up in the
showgrounds. How big is this operation to save the town?

PAUL LOCKYER: It is huge. I think after this week in which we've seen all that flooding at
Charleville and at Roma, Leigh, and that came to some extent unexpected, particularly in

The Government has gone out of its way. The Premier has been on the phone to the mayor, to Barnaby
Joyce, to everybody here, to reassure them that extra people are being sent in, and they are being
sent in.

The Red Cross has started the evacuation centre. So they really have thrown a huge effort at this.
St George of course is a town that should be protected by a weir and a dam above the weir but,
look, if this happens, if 14 metres is reached tomorrow night, 80 per cent of the town could be

Now that might be just nuisance flooding in some parts, but would be very severe in others, so
they're not taking chances this time.

LEIGH SALES: Paul, will this flood reach the Murray-Darling system? Will it make it to the Coorong
in SA?

PAUL LOCKYER: The Coorong might be a stretch, Leigh, but it's already in the Murray-Darling because
it is the very top of the Murray-Darling. But I suppose the contentious issue is how far will it
run from St George down to NSW, past the biggest irrigation properties in Australia including Cubby

Well, it probably will because they already have a lot of water from past events here and there's
every chance that in the next week, that's when the water will get down there, that those dams
might full. But there is so much water coming down, Leigh. Just imagine this: tomorrow there will
be more than 300,000 megalitres coursing down the Balonne River past St George. Now that's 300,000
Olympic-sized swimming pools coming past, and that flow will continue for a couple of days.

So you can imagine that as thirsty as those irrigation properties are, that water will get down and
the Darling is already full from the Murray right up from past floods in NSW. So there will
definitely be more water going down the Darling into the Murray and then on to SA. Whether it gets
right to the mouth or not, that's a moot point, Leigh.

LEIGH SALES: Paul Lockyer,no doubt we'll be seeing you on the news tomorrow night. Thankyou for
joining us tonight.


Indian boy's death shocks Melbourne

Indian boy's death shocks Melbourne

Broadcast: 05/03/2010

Reporter: Hamish Fitzsimmons

Police have vowed to solve the suspicious death of three-year-old Gurshan Singh, after his body was
found 30 kilometres from where his parents were staying.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Melbourne is reeling tonight from an event that always shocks a community:
the disappearance and death of a child.

Yesterday afternoon, a three-year-old Indian boy, Gurshan Singh, went missing from a house in
Melbourne's north. He was on holidays in Australia with his parents.

A few hours later a council worker found his body 30 kilometres from the house.

His death's being treated as suspicious and is being investigated by the homicide squad. Police
have vowed to solve the crime, but there's already speculation about how this will further damage
relations between Australia and India, already strained by dozens of attacks on Indian students in

Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: It's the sort of crime that shocks everyone.

absolutely distressed. We have spoken to the family. We will do anything possible to support them
right through their stress time.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Yesterday afternoon the three-year-old Gurshan Singh went missing from the
house he was staying at with his parents and two other people.

SIM KAUR, HOUSEMATE: I said there is no sound of the baby, because he's a shouting, shouting - not
a quiet baby, not a shy baby. So then, when I came here, her mother as well came from the toilet
and I said, "The baby with you?" She said, "No" and we started (inaudible) here and there.

KEN JONES, VICTORIA POLICE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: The search continued till just before seven pm when
a council worker discovered the body of a small child in St John's Road, Oaklands Junction, some 30
kilometres from where Gurshan disappeared.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Gurshan Singh was about to return to India with his parents after a two month
stay in Melbourne.

RELATIVE: I'm not in the condition that I can - I can't speak.

RUPINDER SINGH, AUNT: Mum is very crying. She's very upset. She's no condition to talk with

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: An autopsy has been performed on the toddler's body. Police says there's no
clear sign of how he died and at this stage are still calling for witnesses.

STEVE CLARK, HOMICIDE SQUAD, VICTORIA POLICE: I just urge people not to speculate on what may or
may not have occurred. It's very early days in our investigation and we are treating the
circumstances as suspicious and we will see where the facts take us.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Melbourne has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late after a series
of attacks on Indian students.

Community leaders are calling on people not to connect this crime to those.

TIM SINGH LAURENCE, INDIAN COMMUNITY LEADER: And of course we're asking for calm in the Indian
community throughout Melbourne and also in the Indian community, Punjabi community back in India.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: A former consul general to India says some in the Indian community will no
doubt link the death of the boy to the other attacks.

SHABBIR WAHID, FMR AUST. CONSUL GENERAL TO INDIA: It'll be unrealistic not to think that it's gonna
be linked to all the other events that have been happening.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: But Shabbir Wahid believes this crime shows there are deeper problems in
Victoria than racial attacks on students.

SHABBIR WAHID: This incident particularly is more indicative of a law and order problem. Let's not
get into other speculative thoughts at his stage. But it is, I think, indicative of a wider law and
order problem that needs to be resolved as soon as possible.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: A crime like this reverberates throughout the entire community.

A clearly shocked Kevin Rudd says solving the death of Gurshan Singh is more important than
speculating about how it will affect Australia's relations with India.

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: If this is murder it is unspeakable and unthinkable how a little
child's life could be taken away like this - unspeakable and unthinkable. Let's sort out this case,
this person, this human tragedy first, and as for foreign policy, let's deal with that in its due

S.M. KRISHNA, INDIAN EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER: I extend my deep-felt condolences to the family and
we are all very sorry for this incident and I am sure the police will go into the depths of whether
there has been a wanton attack on this innocent boy.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Anyone with information on the case is being urged to contact Victoria Police.

Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline.

Full-time carer deported despite desperate plea

Full-time carer deported despite desperate plea

Broadcast: 05/03/2010

Reporter: Leigh Sales

Last-minute pleas to the Immigration Minister have failed to stop the deportation of a man from Sri
Lanka, who will be forced to takehis 92-year-old mother with him.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Here is an update to a story we featured last night. Desperate pleas to the
Immigration Minister have failed to stop the deportation of Edward Joseph to Sri Lanka. Mr Joseph
is the sole carer of his ailing 92-year-old mother Irene and he's been forced to take her with him.

Lateline reported last night that an oversight by the Immigration Department resulted in Irene
Joseph being given a temporary visa on her return to Australia in 1996, despite having earlier
being granted Australian residency.

This prevented her from acting as sponsor for her son and full-time carer, Edward. Edward Joseph's
multiple applications for residency have failed and today he left the country rather than be

EDWARD JOSEPH: They create the problem and (inaudible) to face the music.

LEIGH SALES: His supporters, including his lawyer, a former Victorian magistrate who once headed
the refugee review tribunal, says they can't believe the Immigration Minister Chris Evans has
ignored the Joseph's plight.

MURRAY GERKENS, LAWYER: What's to be gained? And what's to be lost is our reputation as an open,
generous society. I just cannot understand this.

LEIGH SALES: Edward Joseph and his mother flew out of Melbourne this evening.

Iraqis cast votes in troubled election

Iraqis cast votes in troubled election

Broadcast: 05/03/2010

Reporter: Ben Knight

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have begun casting their ballots in early voting, in an election
campaign marred by insurgents attempts to violently disrupt polling.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: As Iraq prepares for this Sunday's election, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi
soldiers and police, who'll provide security on the day, have begun casting their own ballots in
early voting.

Campaigning today was marred by a series of attacks near polling booths, as insurgents attempt to
disrupt the poll which many believe is critical to ending sectarian violence in Iraq. Middle East
correspondent Ben Knight reports from Baghdad.

BEN KNIGHT, REPORTER: The police and soldiers who lined up to vote early knew they would be
targets, and at the end of the day, seven of them were dead in separate suicide bomb attacks in

Seven civilians were also killed when a rocket was fired near a polling booth. More than 50 people
were wounded.

The idea of the attacks of course is to deter Iraqis from voting when the polls open for the rest
of the country on Sunday. But everyone here knew some kind of attack was going to happen and many
people expected something far bigger. And for those who've chosen to take part in this election,
the threat of violence has already been factored in.

JAWAD ABD KADHIM, HOSPITAL EMPLOYEE: Iraqis have been waiting for this day. It's a great pleasure
for the Iraqi people to elect the one who represents them. We want to elect our saviour.

BEN KNIGHT: Now that security forces and emergency workers have voted, they can concentrate fully
on security in the days ahead of the poll. Baghdad and other cities will soon close their congested
streets to almost all traffic; voters will have to walk to the polling booths.

This is a crucial election not just for Iraq, but for the entire Middle East and Iraq's Foreign
Minister says his country's neighbours have been meddling in the election.

HOSHIYAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, many of the regional powers really doesn't like our
experiment in democracy. Many of them, there is a long, long way for them to come to terms with
basic tenant of democracy - majority rule, basic freedoms, media freedom, women's rights, you know,
equal citizenship. And that's why some of our neighbours look upon this experiment with unease.

BEN KNIGHT: It's also hugely important to the United States. America still has 100,000 troops in
Iraq. They're due to end their combat operations in August and pull out completely next year.

The US wants that timetable to be kept, but it says it may delay that withdrawal if there's a
cataclysmic deterioration in security. This election will be a turning point.

HOSHIYAR ZEBARI: If we succeed, yes, it will be the end, OK?, of the American presence. If there
are setbacks, if there are deterioration in the security, if there would be people who would
challenge the outcome, who would resist, who will resort to violence, no, it would be another

BEN KNIGHT: The disastrous violence that followed the last parliamentary election had to lot to do
with the fact that the country's Sunni minority boycotted the vote.

MUNAF ALI AL-NADA, ELECTION CANDIDATE (voiceover translation): Four years ago, no-one took part in
elections because no-one was convinced about the political process. What's the point of voting for
a closed list? What's the point of voting for a number? Besides, the security situation was bad and
there were no public services. The people were in a state of desperation.

BEN KNIGHT: This time almost everyone's in. Mulaf Ali Al-Nada is the head of Saddam Hussein's tribe
and is himself a candidate in this election and many voters seem to have had enough of the
country's religious divisions between Sunni and Shia.

TAWFEED SAFI, IMAM OF AL-FAROUQ MOSQUE (voiceover translation): When you ask people, they answer
that they want to elect a secular candidate because of those who wrongly hide behind religion. When
I am talking about religion I do not mean the religion which came from heaven, but I do mean the
religion of names.

BEN KNIGHT: The most dangerous phase could still be ahead. After the last parliamentary elections
it took six months to form a government and it wasn't an easy process. So when the horse-trading
begins after Sunday's vote it's quite likely those old sectarian divisions will be severely tested
once again.

Ben Knight, Lateline.

States cop Rudd's ire over health 'scare campaign'

States cop Rudd's ire over health 'scare campaign'

Broadcast: 05/03/2010

Reporter: Dana Robertson

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has accused the States of running a scare campaign against his proposed
national health overhaul.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The Prime Minister's dropped the niceties in his campaign to win support
for his health reform plan. He's accused State premiers and their health bureaucrats of
deliberately whipping up a scare campaign about his proposed changes to public hospital funding.

It's just five weeks until he expects the states to give him the go-ahead at their next COAG
meeting, but the nation's premiers and Health ministers are demanding much more detail. Dana
Robertson reports.

DANA ROBERTSON, REPORTER: For International Women's Day, the Prime Minister's wife was centrestage,
but her husband's health plan was never far from thought.

THERESE REIN, PRIME MINISTER'S WIFE: Kristina Keneally has had to leave to go and do an interview,
I think, on health systems or something.

(Laughter from audience).

Keeping people busy, aren't you, darling?

DANA ROBERTSON: The NSW Premier's been busy with more than just interviews. She's written to Kevin
Rudd, demanding to know more about his plans, especially when it comes to funding and the viability
of small hospitals.

"... Reforms to our complex health system need to be considered as a whole," she says, "[or] we run
the risk of simply replicating the structural cost shifting ..."

CARMEL TEBBUTT, NSW HEALTH MINISTER: Each state has a unique set of circumstances. We're going to
make sure that any decisions we take are guided by what's in the best interests of the people of

DANA ROBERTSON: But the Prime Minister's in no mood for niceties.

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: And I'd say to state health bureaucrats and disgruntled State
politicians and other opposition types, I think it's time just to get out of the way of fundamental

DANA ROBERTSON: Mr Rudd's incensed about claims like this.

BOB FARNSWORTH, RPA HOSPITAL DIRECTOR OF SURGERY: We have 100 small hospitals scattered round the
northern and western parts of NSW and a lot of those would be struggling to survive if they're
funded exclusively on a case mix model.

KEVIN RUDD: This is a fantastic fear campaign being run by State health bureaucrats who don't want
change to happen. ... The guarantee from the Australian Government is absolute and that is that the
formula which will be developed on the pricing of hospital services will not lead to the closure of
any regional, rural or small hospital in the great state of NSW or anywhere else in the country.

DANA ROBERTSON: The charm's being saved for the people using hospitals rather than running them.

KEVIN RUDD: G'day, g'day. I'm Kevin.

MARIE: Hi, how are you.

KEVIN RUDD: Nice to see you. What's your name?

MARIE: Marie.

KEVIN RUDD: Hi, Marie.

DANA ROBERTSON: Kevin Rudd says his plan is fully funded within the existing federal budget, but
the lack of clarity about how much hospitals would be paid for particular services has opened the
door to all kinds of speculation.

And it's left Mr Rudd open to criticism that his plan lacks detail.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: Typical of the secrecy that Kevin Rudd operates under. Typical of
Kevin Rudd the control freak.

DANA ROBERTSON: But despite Tony Abbott's condemnation, the Opposition's yet to formally decide how
it'll vote in the Senate.

Dana Robertson, Lateline.

Health overhaul won't save Labor: Bishop

Health overhaul won't save Labor: Bishop

Broadcast: 06/03/2010

Reporter: Leigh Sales

Employment Participation Minister Mark Arbib and Coalition deputy leader Julie Bishop join Lateline
to discuss the Federal Government's proposed health overhaul.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: When the Prime Minister was asked about his long-delayed health and
hospital policy on last Sunday's Insiders program, Kevin Rudd admitted that we didn't anticipate
how hard it was going to be to deliver things.

Just days later, he unveiled what he calls the biggest reform to the national health system since
Medicare. The states and the Opposition certainly won't make it easy, but succeed or fail, will the
health plan be a winner for the Government?

To discuss that and the rest of the week in politics I'm joined in Sydney tonight by the Employment
Participation Minister Senator Mark Arbib and the Deputy Liberal leader and Shadow Foreign Minister
Julie Bishop.

Great to have both of you with us in person.



LEIGH SALES: Mark Arbib, what guarantee is there that if these hospital reforms are enacted, if all
this money is spent, that the public will receive better health care?

MARK ARBIB: You've got to look at what's happening now in the health system. When we look at state
budgets, hospital expenditure is going up each year by about 11 per cen. At the same time that we
know state revenue is not meeting that figure. So it is unsustainable in the long-term for state
budgets to meet the growing health demands of the country. So what we're trying to do is get the
structures right for the future, have a nationally-funded system, so the Federal Government steps
up to the plate, puts in 60 per cent of the funding, but at the same time making sure that it's the
people on the ground, the locals that are running the system, and we're talking about empowering
doctors and nurses to get better health delivery for patients.

LEIGH SALES: But again, how do you know that's going to be more effective than what we've currently

MARK ARBIB: Well, this has been a long process and the Prime Minister and Nicola Roxon, the Health
Minister, have spoken to health staff across the country. They've gone to 101 hospitals, spoken to
doctors, nurses, clinicians, they've spoken to medical professionals and we believe we've got the
system right.

We believe that if the Federal Government steps in and takes over a larger share of the funding in
terms of hospitals - and we're not just talking about procedures, we're also talking about capital,
about the hospital buildings and the training, then we are setting up for the long-term
sustainability of the health system for the future.

LEIGH SALES: Julie Bishop, in a press release on February 13th, Tony Abbott said that the best
change that could be made for public hospitals is giving the doctors and nurses who work in them,
as well as the community that's served by them, more say over how they're run. Isn't that exactly
what the Rudd Government's doing here?

JULIE BISHOP: Leigh, most people in Australia hope that the Prime Minister would make good on his
promise to fix public hospitals by June, 2009. He admitted the other day that the system is far
more complex than he anticipated. Nothing we have seen in this plan, which really is little more
than a press release - it's very incomplete, it's lacking crucial details, particularly how it's
going to be funded - but nothing in this plan gives us any confidence at all that the Prime
Minister is going to fix the health system.

Certainly not by the next election, and it appears that this announcement is designed to delay
action beyond the election thereafter. So it's very disappointing, and I must say very sad that the
Prime Minister raises people's expectations and then just talks and fails to deliver.

LEIGH SALES: But your plan on February 13th wasn't detailed either, yet in its broad parameters,
it's very, very similar to what Kevin Rudd's announced.

JULIE BISHOP: No, what Kevin Rudd is seeking to do is add another layer of bureaucracy. I was out
at Westmead Hospital today. They are drowning in bureaucracy. The last thing our public hospitals
need is another layer of bureaucracy.

Tony Abbott's plan is to have local hospital boards. That's what they need at Westmead: a local
hospital board with the doctors and nurses employed at the hospital having an input, having a say
on how that hospital is run, and until the Government accepts that they need local hospital boards,
all we've got is a plan without details and it's not funded.

And can I say this is vintage Kevin Rudd. He puts out a plan, says, "I have the solution," and yet
if you dare question it, as Premier Keneally did, quite rightly today, ask questions, Kevin Rudd
says, "Get out of the way." Well, when Kevin Rudd had his way and delivered a Federal Government
program, it was the home insulation program and what a disaster that turned out to be.

LEIGH SALES: Well, isn't, Mark Arbib, that pattern that Julie Bishop raises correct? Because it was
the same sort of argument with the ETS, that if you don't support our plan for the ETS, that you're
a climate sceptic?

MARK ARBIB: Well, no, we want to work with the states and the Prime Minister has said that. And of
course there'll be some argy bargy in terms of the negotiations. He said that again today. But this
a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Federal Government to work with the state governments to
finally fix the health system.

LEIGH SALES: What about this other point ...

MARK ARBIB: Leigh, the Liberal Party have talked about it for a long time. Tony Abbott was the
Health Minister for five years. He talked about it, he took control of one hospital in one of the
most marginal seats in the country ...

LEIGH SALES: Well let's not look backwards, let's look forwards. Let me put that other point to you
that Julie Bishop raised about the bureaucracy. Are jobs going to be cut in the state health
departments so we don't have duplicating when these local boards comes into play?

MARK ARBIB: Well, the Prime Minister has said that in terms of the funding agreement, there'll be
no net increase in terms of bureaucrats. That's something that he's saying will be put in place.

LEIGH SALES: So there will be job losses then, or ... ?

MARK ARBIB: There'll be no net increase in bureaucracy, in bureaucracy.

JULIE BISHOP: Well what does that mean?

MARK ARBIB: But at the same time as that, let's go back to - and again, Tony Abbott is saying local
hospital boards. We've seen local hospital boards in action. We've had them in NSW. They failed
abysmally. Tony Abbott's plan for hospitals at the moment is only in terms of NSW and Queensland.

Don't bother about improving hospitals around the country; let's just focus on NSW and Queensland.
Around the country, let me tell you, when I spoke to voters, when I go to hospitals, we must
improve the hospital system. That is what we're told, that is what the Rudd Government is doing and
we're acting.

LEIGH SALES: Well, last Sunday as I said in the introduction before, Kevin Rudd said that the
Government didn't anticipate how hard it was going to be to deliver things and then a few days
later this massive plan comes out.

Given his owned admission of the Government's failings, how can we trust Kevin Rudd's team to
deliver such a big plan?

MARK ARBIB: Well, the Prime Minister has been honest and explained it is a very, very big reform.
It is and you said at the start: this is the biggest reform since Medicare, so you've got to deal
with it carefully and you've gotta approach it responsibly.

LEIGH SALES: But if you can't get, say, something like the insulation program right, how do we know
you'll get this right?

MARK ARBIB: Well, in terms of - just to go back to your original question, that is why we
approached it carefully. This has been a two-year process to get this right. We have worked with
the clinicians, we have worked with the nurses, we've worked with the doctors and we believe we've
got the system right.

And just to go back: to compare this to Tony Abbott's record, we know when he was Health Minister
he took a billion dollars, a billion dollars out of the health system. He did.

JULIE BISHOP: Oh, Leigh, please, I've gotta break in at that point.

MARK ARBIB: Today he said that wasn't the case. The facts show it - go to the budget papers.

JULIE BISHOP: I have to break in with that point. No, I'm sorry, I am sorry. I have here the
Australian Institute Health and Welfare document that sets out the total health expenditure under
the Howard Government. We did not rip a billion dollars out. I give this to Mark Arbib.

MARK ARBIB: Well I'll give you the budget papers. The budget papers are pretty clear.

LEIGH SALES: You can swap your documents after the program. Let's look forward and not backward.

JULIE BISHOP: Can I just make this one point? Can I just make this one point, Leigh?

LEIGH SALES: Let me ask you: is the Government - is the Opposition, sorry, going to pass this
health reform through the Senate?

JULIE BISHOP: Under the Howard Government public hospital funding increased every single year.

LEIGH SALES: Let's look forward and not backwards.

MARK ARBIB: It did not keep up with the increase in costs.

LEIGH SALES: Let's talk about what's before us at the moment: is the Opposition going to pass this
plan in the Senate?

JULIE BISHOP: Leigh, the fact is in Australian history, in order for there to be state/federal
reform you need all parties on side.

This plan was dumped on the states this week and they were expected to respond at a COAG meeting in
a month's time.

The Prime Minister has not been honest and transparent with the states. He's dumped a plan on them
and said, "Take it or leave it." "Get out of the way," was his abusive comment to the states today.
Now unless you have the state premiers on side, this reform will not happen. It will be, again,
just all talk.

LEIGH SALES: You don't represent the state premiers, you represent the Opposition. So are you going
to pass it?

JULIE BISHOP: If the states aren't on board, it's not going to happen, so whatever happens in the
Senate, if the states aren't on board, it's not going to go through. And that's why Kevin Rudd has
deliberately made this announcement to take effect after the next election.

And can I take up had point about the 60/40 funding split. This was an old Whitlam trick. The
Federal Government took more of the funding of the universities, but the states continued to own
the universities, own the buildings, own the assets, employ the staff and it didn't fix our
universities, so the 60/40 split ...

MARK ARBIB: We're talking about local hospital networks though, Julie.

JULIE BISHOP: The 60/40 split in funding is just another example of how the blame game will
continue. If the Commonwealth puts in 40 per cent or 50 per cent or 60 per cent, the states are
still in there, owning the asset, employing the staff unless the Commonwealth's going to start
employing the doctors and nurses.

LEIGH SALES: Mark Arbib, Julie Bishop raised this issue of having the get the states onside and
then get it through Senate. Isn't the reality that it's going to be very, very difficult to get
this happening, Mark Arbib?

MARK ARBIB: It is going to be difficult, but at the same time as that we have seen some positive
comments. When you strip back what Kristina Keneally said today, I thought she was quite positive
in terms of her approach. She wants more information and she's entitled to do that. She's trying to
do the right thing by NSW patients ...

JULIE BISHOP: She's told to get out of the way.

MARK ARBIB: ... and we will sit down with Kristina Keneally, we'll sit down with all the state

LEIGH SALES: But do you really think though even if you get all of them onside that you're going to
get Senator Fielding and Senator Xenophon and the Opposition to back you up?

MARK ARBIB: Well, I have to say, if we can get the state premiers onside and we get it through
COAG, then if I was the Liberal Party, I'd be supporting it, because they talk the talk on Health,
they say it's gotta be fixed, but they will not put their money where their mouth is on this.

If you want to fix the health system, this is the one and only opportunity to do it. The Government
is taking action. From the Coalition's point of view, it is more delay, more negative carping from
the sidelines.

LEIGH SALES: Is this all about being able to go to an election on health instead of climate change?

MARK ARBIB: This is about actually fixing the health system. That's what we're about. Kevin Rudd
promised to take responsibility to fix the health system. He is taking ...

JULIE BISHOP: By June 2009.

MARK ARBIB: Well that is true.

JULIE BISHOP: It was a promise.

MARK ARBIB: Julie, you're right: we are running late, we're running seven months late, but this
should have happened seven years ago when Tony Abbott was the Minister for Health. He shirked it.
He took over one hospital. He should have tried to actually have the Federal Government be more
cooperative with the states rather than playing the blame game.

LEIGH SALES: Was it right of Kevin Rudd this week to tarnish the entire Government with that

MARK ARBIB: Well I don't think he was tarnishing the entire Government, nor was he tarnishing
himself. He was talking about how difficult it is to put in place large, large reform, and when
you're doing things like - in one week, we started with the national curriculum, which again was a
big, big reform. This is something that Julie in her time when she was the Education Minister
talked about.

LEIGH SALES: But did the Prime Minister undermine I guess the impact of that announcement by it
coming on the back of him and saying, "Yeah, OK, well I admit we sort of haven't been at our best,
basically, and then he announces two big initiatives during the week and we're meant to believe
despite what he said that he's going to be up to delivering these massive reforms?

MARK ARBIB: No, not at all. You can always be doing better and you've always got to self-analyse.
And he believed that he needed to do better. And i think all Government ministers - if you start
getting satisfied with your performance, then really, that's not in the interests of the voters, so
all of us have to lift our game.

LEIGH SALES: Julie Bishop, Mark Arbib in his answer used the phrase "negative carping", which is
exactly what I had in my next question to bring up with you, which is that this hospitals policy is
a whisker away from what Tony Abbott's advocated.

JULIE BISHOP: That's not right.

LEIGH SALES: The Government's ETS is a whisker away from what the Coalition took to the last
election under John Howard. Isn't the Opposition undermining its credibility and authority by
simply opposing everything that the Government does all the time?

JULIE BISHOP: Well we will always oppose bad public policy that results in bad outcomes.

LEIGH SALES: But don't there have to be sometimes things that you agree with?

JULIE BISHOP: Just a minute. There's an auditor-general's investigation into the home insulation
program and Mark knows all about that; he's up to his neck in it. There's an auditor-general's
investigation into the school halls program, because of the debacle, the waste and mismanagement in
that program. And now Kevin Rudd's asking the Australian public to trust him, on the back of
virtually a press release, to meddle in our public hospitals without giving the state governments
any information as to how he's going to do it. Why would anyone trust Kevin Rudd's government to
run a program, let alone our public hospitals.

LEIGH SALES: But why would anyone trust the Opposition when you are negative about absolutely

JULIE BISHOP: Because we did have a plan and we put out a plan before Kevin Rudd came up with his
press release on hospitals, and that was for there to be local boards.

Now it sounds simple, but there's a lot of complexity behind that because you need doctors and
nurses employed by the hospital to have input into the running of that hospital. On climate change,
we have pointed out the fundamental flaws in Kevin Rudd's system. Under Malcolm Turnbull, we tried
to amend it.

Under Tony Abbott, we've come up with our own direct action plan, so we are coming up with positive
ideas, we're coming out with positive policies. But on behalf of the Australian people we must
point out the fundamental flaws in these rushed, ill-thought-out political fixes that Kevin Rudd
insists on coming up with.

And this hospital plan is a political fix, it is not a fix for our public hospitals.

LEIGH SALES: I want to whip around a couple of other quick issues before we run out of time. Mark
Arbib: is the Government scared to release the Henry tax review?

MARK ARBIB: No, not at. This is a ...

LEIGH SALES: Well what's taking so long?

MARK ARBIB: This is an independent tax review that will look at our taxation system for decades, so
we've gotta get it right.

LEIGH SALES: Isn't the delay creating the impression that there's something to hide in it?

MARK ARBIB: No, not at all. This is a reform that will set country up in terms of taxation for
decades. We've gotta look at it carefully, we've gotta get it right. As I think the Treasurer has
said, there'll be some things we agree with, there'll be other things we don't agree with, but
certainly we've gotta take our time and make sure we do this responsibly.

LEIGH SALES: But the review's in. You don't have to look at the review and get it right.

MARK ARBIB: But we've got it - well, this was an independent review and we need to decide which
elements we're going to be actually putting in place and which we're not.

LEIGH SALES: You can do that when the review's out.

MARK ARBIB: Sure, but as I've said - hang on a sec', Julie. As I've said, we've got take our time,
we've got to get it right and that is what the Treasurer is doing, that is what he said.

LEIGH SALES: Julie Bishop, the Coalition commissioned its own tax review from Henry Ergas. Remind
me again what it said.

JULIE BISHOP: Well can I just make this point?

LEIGH SALES: Can I get you to answer my question?

JULIE BISHOP: I will, I will. Can I make this point: all Kevin Rudd has to do is put the Henry
review up on a website. He said he was too busy to release the report. Just put it on a website,
then everybody can have a look at it.

MARK ARBIB: And then we do that and you'll say, "Why isn't Government the acting?," so, we can't.
No win situation.

JULIE BISHOP: Just a minute, mate. He's got the full forces of Treasury, the power, the resources
of Treasury to do a response - and that's fine, they'll do their response when they want to - but
please, let the Australian people, business and the Opposition have a look at the Henry review
because so much depends upon this root-and-branch review of taxation.

LEIGH SALES: OK, now what did your review say?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I don't have our review. It was commissioned by Malcolm Turnbull. He asked
Henry Ergas to do it.

LEIGH SALES: So, it's not been made public either?

JULIE BISHOP: No, he asked Henry Ergas to do it and Henry Ergas undertook some work. It was always
going to be dependent upon what we were able to receive from the Henry review, because the Henry
review's got all the Treasury costings, all the modelling, we assume, and we will be able to
respond. Now, Henry Ergas has not been asked to do anything for us this year. We are waiting for
the Henry review. We thought we'd have by last Christmas and then we would be able to give a
considered response.

LEIGH SALES: Tomorrow, arguably, Labor's highest profile backbencher Belinda Neal is battling for
pre-selection in the Government's most marginal seat, Robertson. Mark Arbib, is Belinda Neil
Labor's best hope of retaining that seat?

MARK ARBIB: Leigh, this is a pre-selection, we're on the eve of a pre-selection, so you can imagine
I'm not going to be stepping in and wading into a rank-and-file pre-selection.

LEIGH SALES: It's the just you and me and 300,000 viewers, come on.

MARK ARBIB: On a Friday night.

LEIGH SALES: Well does she have your backing?

MARK ARBIB: Ah, there's two good candidates, they're running in a pre-selection and it's up to the
160 rank and file party members to make that call.

LEIGH SALES: Julie Bishop, the Liberal Party'd be rooting for a Belinda Neil victory, wouldn't it?

JULIE BISHOP: I think that it's going to be a very interesting outcome for the Labor Party.
Likewise, I don't comment on pre-selections, whether they're Liberal or Labor. I don't think it's
fair and may the best person win.

MARK ARBIB: Here, here. Here, here.

JULIE BISHOP: But the Liberal Party will be ready to contest the seat. We've got a great candidate,
so whoever Labor puts up I'm hoping that the Liberal candidate wins the seat.

MARK ARBIB: Who's the candidate?

JULIE BISHOP: I've met him. He's a policeman.


LEIGH SALES: Well, I think we'll leave it there and you can both go outside and beat each other up
with your documents and whatnot. Thankyou very much for coming in in person, Julie Bishop, Mark

JULIE BISHOP: Thanks. OK, Mark, show me where the - no money came out of it ...

MARK ARBIB: Here's the budget papers, budget papers ...

Arthritis patients demand Vioxx compensation

Arthritis patients demand Vioxx compensation

Broadcast: 05/03/2010

Reporter: Leigh Sales

Controversial arthritis drug Vioxx has been found to double the risk of heart attacks, and now its
users are demanding compensation.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: An Australian court has found the controversial arthritis drug Vioxx to be
defective and dangerous and now its users want compensation.

In a landmark ruling, the Federal Court found the drug doubled the risk of heart attacks. Vioxx was
voluntarily withdrawn from worldwide sale more than five years ago, but Melbourne man Graeme
Petersen has successfully led a class action alleging the Australian arm of the drugmaker, Merck,
covered up the risk of heart complications.

GRAEME PETERSON, VIOXX USER: I'm still bitter. There's people dying. There's people dying that have
waited and there's still people dying. I'm one of the lucky ones: I've survived.

LEIGH SALES: The court ordered Merck to pay Mr Petersen more than $200,000 in compensation.

Lawyers for more than 500 other Australian users are now demanding a multimillion-dollar settlement
while the pharmaceutical giant has indicated it will appeal.

Indigenous man takes out Glover Prize

Indigenous man takes out Glover Prize

Broadcast: 05/03/2010

Reporter: Bronwyn Perry

Ian Waldron has become Australia's first Indigenous man to take out the nation's richest landscape


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: A Queensland artist is the first Indigenous Australian to receive the
nation's richest landscape award.

Ian Waldron beat out hundreds of other entries to take out the Glover Prize. It's also the first
time the Tasmanian award has gone to an inter-state artist.

Bronwyn Perry reports.

BRONWYN PERRY, REPORTER: There's been record interest in the $35,000 Glover Prize this year.

The entries must depict a Tasmanian landscape, but the prize still attracted 272 paintings from all
over the world. They range from weird and colourful to dark and mysterious.

IMANTS TILLERS, GLOVER JUDGE: Well I hope it grows because there's such incredible enthusiasm
around the prize here in Evandale.

ANDREW HEAP, JOHN GLOVER SOCIETY: We're pleased this year that Ian Waldron has won the prize with a
piece called Cockle Creek. He's a Cairns artist. It's on an unusual medium of Tasmanian oak.

BRONWYN PERRY: Ian Waldron's painting combines his Northern Queensland heritage with Tasmanian
Aboriginal history.

IMANTS TILLERS: This work has some historical depth and it goes back to early colonial contacts
between Tasmanian aborigines and Europeans.

BRONWYN PERRY: The prize is named after 19th Century British landscape artist John Glover, who
spent the last 20 years of his life painting in Tasmania.

ANDREW HEAP: He captured the history and light and sense of being of northern Tasmania. So he's a
great model to work from.

BRONWYN PERRY: The finalists' works are on show this weekend for the peoples' choice vote. The
crowd favourite will be revealed on Tuesday.

Bronwyn Perry, Lateline.

Now to the weather: That's all from us. If you'd like to look back at tonight's discussion with
Julie Bishop or Mark Arbib or review any of Lateline's stories or transcripts you can visit our
website and you can also follow us on twitter and Facebook. I'll see you again on Monday.