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Cigarette companies threaten to fight back

Cigarette companies threaten to fight back

Broadcast: 29/04/2010

Reporter: Hayden Cooper

The tobacco industry is threatening legal action over the Federal Government's move to force plain
packaging on cigarettes.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Well the tobacco industry is threatening legal action over the Government's
move to force plain packaging on cigarettes.

The Prime Minister unveiled details of the move today along with new restriction on internet
advertising and a 25 per cent increase on tobacco excise. From midnight tonight prices go up,
earning the Government an extra $5 billion over four years.

The Prime Minister says the crackdown will help smokers quit and he's rejected talk of an industry
challenge.

Political reporter Hayden Cooper.

HAYDEN COOPER, REPORTER: This is how cigarettes used to be sold.

ADD: Craven cigarettes, the clean cigarette that's kind to your throat.

HAYDEN COOPER: Clean, smooth and no hint of side effects.

ADD 2: More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.

HAYDEN COOPER: It was the golden age for big tobacco.

ADD 3: Come to where the flavour is. Come to Marlboro country.

KEVIN RUDD: Thank you folks.

HAYDEN COOPER: That was then. This is now.

KEVIN RUDD: That is what we mean.

HAYDEN COOPER: Plain packaging for cigarettes. It's the only place they had left to advertise, now
that's gone too.

KEVIN RUDD: This, as I said, will be the most hardline regime for cigarette packaging anywhere in
the world.

CUSTOMER: Ahh, just a packet of Winfield Blue 25s thanks.

HAYDEN COOPER: Then there's the price hike. From midnight tobacco excise goes up by 25 per cent.

That's more than $2 a packet. Smokers are getting in before it happens.

CUSTOMER 2: I think it's a great load of bulls**t.

HAYDEN COOPER: And some share his view.

SMOKER 1: It's disgraceful. I think, they've, you know, kicked us out of pubs everything else. Why
you gotta put up the cigarettes for?

SMOKER 2: Well, I'm quitting today so ... {laughs}

HAYDEN COOPER: Coupled with plain packaging, the Government predicts the change will help 87,000
smokers kick the habit.

PROFESSOR MELANIE WAKEFIELD, CENTRE FOR BEHAVIOURAL RESEARCH IN CANCER: Plain packs, umm, are less
attractive to adolescents and also to adult smokers.

HAYDEN COOPER: The major tobacco companies are staying quiet. None would talk on camera, but in a
statement British American tobacco says "We will defend the intellectual property which lies in
that packaging. If that requires us to take legal action, we would do so."

TIM WILSON, INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS: The acquisition or the destruction effectively of
intellectual property and trademarks could have a very significant, create a very significant basis
for a claim from tobacco companies.

BECKY FREEMAN, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY: According to their own internal documents they know they
actually don't have a legal leg to stand on.

HAYDEN COOPER: Academic, Becky Freeman says as far back as 1994 the industry has been preparing for
this day. She cites a presentation from a meeting of British American Tobacco managers in that year
which acknowledged they could do little to stop it.

BECKY FREEMAN: The, uh, internal documents from the tobacco industry show that they were
exceptionally afraid of plain packaging and they knew that there were not serious legal impediments
to implementing this type of legislation.

I think it's quite clear from the legal opinion of constitution lawyers, intellectual property
lawyers that the industry really is on very shaky legal ground here.

HAYDEN COOPER: And the Prime Minister says he won't pay a cent in compensation.

When the packaging crackdown reaches Parliament it's likely to find the support it needs. Few
politicians would dare oppose it, but the Opposition is complaining about the timing of the
announcement. A move it considers a diversion.

It's also suspicious of the $5 billion the tax hike will add to the budget coffers.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: This is not a health policy. This is a tax grab.

KEVIN RUDD: We believe this and other measures help to reduce smoking.

LUCKY STRIKE EXECUTIVE, MADMEN EXCERPT: Our product is fine, I smoke them myself.

KEVIN RUDD: But there's only so much Kevin Rudd can do. Tobacco may have lost the advertising war
but it still has Hollywood.

LUCKY STRIKE EXECUTIVE, MADMEN EXCERPT: Damn straight {blows out cigarette smoke coughs. All around
table cough}

HAYDEN COOPER: Hayden Cooper, Lateline.

Soldiers in 'Collateral Murder' video apologise

Soldiers in 'Collateral Murder' video apologise

Broadcast: 29/04/2010

Reporter: David Mark

Two soldiers pictured in a leaked US military video showing Iraqi civilians and Reuters staff being
killed have written an open letter of apology.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: A leaked video showing the death of 12 to 15 civilians, journalists and
children in Baghdad has become one of the most compelling and controversial stories of the Iraq
conflict.

The video called 'Collateral Murder' has been viewed by millions since it was posted on Wikileaks
and YouTube three weeks ago.

Now two of the soldiers involved in the attack have written an open letter to apologise. We'll
speak to one of those soldiers shortly.

First David Mark takes us through the footage obtained by the Wikileaks website.

And a warning this piece contains some graphic and violent footage.

DAVID MARK, REPORTER: It looks like a video game.

SOLDIER 1: See all those people standing down there.

DAVID MARK: But the grainy images taken from a US Army Apache helicopter as it circles a group of
suspected insurgents in Baghdad three years ago are very real.

SOLDIER 1: Yeah, Roger. I just estimate there's about twenty of them

SOLDIER 2: There's one, yeah.

DAVID MARK: Among the group are two employees of the Reuters News Agency, the photographer Namir
Noor-Eldeen and his driver Saaed Chmagh. The Wikileaks video identifies the two and the cameras
they're holding. The US soldiers on board the chopper claim they can see weapons.

SOLDIER 1: Copy on the one-six {inaudible} .. Roger ... F***kin' p***k.

SOLDIER 2: Hotel two-six this Crazy Horse one-eight. Have individuals with weapons.

SOLDIER 1: ... radio ...

SOLDIER 2: ... he's got a weapon too... Hotel two-six, Crazy Horse one-eight. Have five to six
individuals with AK47s. Request permission to engage.

DAVID MARK: With permission granted the helicopter circles the group of men waiting for a chance to
shoot. ... Tension rises on board the Apache.

SOLDIER: Light 'em all up ... come on fire.... Roger ... Keep shootin' . Keep shootin'.

DAVID MARK: Eight people are killed.

SOLDIER 1: Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards. ...

SOLDIER 2: Nice ... Good shootin'

SOLDIER 1: Thank you.

DAVID MARK: Saaed Chmagh manages to escape the attack but the crew keep circling.

SOLDIER 1: Yeah, we got one guy crawlin' around down there. But uh, yeah, we got, definitely got
something. We're shootin' some more.

DAVID MARK: Then they find him.

SOLDIER 1: He's gettin' up.

SOLDIER 2: Maybe he has a weapon there in his hands.

SOLDIER 1: No, No, I haven't seen one yet. We'll see you guys got that guy crawlin' on the curb.

DAVID MARK: After a few minutes a van drives up and people run to help Saaed Chmagh.

SOLDIER 1: Yeah, we're trying to get permission to engage ... c'mon let us shoot. One-eight engage.

SOLDIER 2: Clear.

SOLDIER 1: Come on.

SOLDIER 2: Clear. Clear.

SOLDIER 1: We're engaging.

DAVID MARK: When the dust clears an estimated 12 to 15 people are dead and two children are
injured.

This video would never have been made public if it weren't leaked to a little known website called
Wikileaks.

Since it was posted online three weeks ago it's been seen more than seven million times and
refocused attention on the war in Iraq.

The Pentagon has been forced to defend the crew's actions while two former US soldiers have
publicly apologised for the attack on the van.

SOLDIER 1: Well it's their fault for bringing their kids to a battle.

SOLDIER 2: That's right.

DAVID MARK: One of them, Ethan McCord, arrived at the battle scene eight minutes after the van was
shot. He carried one injured child to safety.

He's seen here carrying a small boy who died in his arms.

David Mark, Lateline.

Former US soldier speaks

Former US soldier speaks

Broadcast: 29/04/2010

Reporter: Tony Jones

US soldier Ethan McCord speaks to Lateline about the fourteen months he served in Iraq and the
'destructive policies' of the US Government.

Transcript

TONY JONES: Well as we just heard, two former US Army soldiers have written an open letter to the
people of Iraq. In it Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord apologise for the attack on the van and more
broadly for the war in Iraq and what they call the destructive policies of the US Government.

The letter says, quote "The Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created."
They accuse the US Government of ignoring the Iraqi people in favour of its public image.

Well, the two served in Iraq for 14 months and as we've seen, Ethan McCord was at the scene on the
attack on the van. I spoke to him earlier today.

TONY JONES: Ethan McCord, thanks for joining us.

ETHAN MCCORD, FORMER US SOLDIER: Thank you for having me.

TONY JONES: Now can I start by asking you, what went through your mind when you first saw the
Wikileaks video?

ETHAN MCCORD: Well I, I, I didn't know that the ahh, there was actually a video, umm, until the day
that it was released and I, ahh, I dropped my children off at school, went home, grabbed a cup of
coffee, sat on the couch and turned on the news and, ahem, saw myself running across the television
screen carrying a child, umm.

My initial reaction was shock and, umm, anger. Anger that this scene, that had been playing over in
my head, was now in front of my face.

TONY JONES: What you finally saw on the video was what happened before you got there; starting with
the helicopter gunners looking down on that group of men that, as we now know, included the two
Reuters journalists.

Now, tell me what you thought about that first attack. Was it reasonable, from your perspective, to
have attacked those men on the ground?

ETHAN MCCORD: From being in the perspective of the Apache helicopter crew, umm I can see where a
group of men gathering, um, when there's a fire fight just a few blocks away, which I was involved
in, um, and they're carrying weapons, one of which is an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade.)

Umm, their overall mission that day was to protect us, to provide support for us. Ahh, so I can see
where, where the initial attack on the, on the group of men was warranted.

Umm, however, personally, I don't feel that the attack on the van was warranted. It, it, it seemed
more, it, I think that the people could have been deterred from doing what they were doing in the
van by simply firing a few warning shots versus, um, completely obliterating the van and its
occupants.

TONY JONES: Ethan we know that soldiers in war are expected to kill, but one of the things people
find disturbing about this video is the matter-of-fact way the gunners go about their business and
that they're very pleased when they see the bodies lying on the ground.

Now, did you find that disturbing at all as a former soldier?

ETHAN MCCORD: Well, you know, I, I think that instead of, the, the way that the Apache crew members
were talking isn't unusual. It's kinda the way that we're trained to deal with our own personal
emotions and feelings about the situations that we're placed in. Um, it's almost like a coping
mechanism.

Um, you use humour and, ahh, say callous things to kind of dehumanise what, had, had, the people
that you're fighting against and you use that push your emotions down.

TONY JONES: In the first attack the Reuters journalists were killed carrying a camera and a tripod
that were identified as being a weapon and the second part, as you say, the helicopter shot up a
van and the people who were simply trying to help carry away the wounded. You clearly feel
differently about that second attack.

ETHAN MCCORD: Yeah, yeah, um, the second attack, which was on the van, again I felt was, was, was
not warranted. Now, in, in war time you're not supposed to go pick up the wounded but how is every
Iraqi citizens supposed to know that if you see somebody laying on the ground wounded that you're
not supposed to pick them up. Um, ah, I think it's a problem, um, definitely that we engaged this
van, um, with children inside it as well, um, simply for the fact of picking up a wounded person.

TONY JONES: Did you see that particular attack on the van as a breach of the rules of engagement?

ETHAN MCCORD: Mmm, you know, when I was in Iraq, the rules of engagement were changing on, ah,
almost a constant basis. There was never any actual, like, rules of engagement that you, um, stuck
to, um, the entire time you were there. Ah, there was, there was, many times that they changed,
almost for a case for case, you know, situation.

So, at that time, I'd, um, in 2007, I don't think that they broke the rules of engagement per se
but, I feel on a more moral and human level, um, instead of engaging the van the way that they did
by simply firing a warning shot, being that this person was a citizen and not a combatant. Um, if
you were to fire a warning shot, say, in the general direction, into the wall or something, they
would have definitely dropped what they were doing and left.

TONY JONES: The Wikileaks site refers to the footage they've shown as 'Collateral Murder.' Do you
think that's going too far?

ETHAN MCCORD: I do.

I, I, I personally feel that the, um, the way Wikileaks released this video was more of a, a shock
factor to try to, to, ah, it was more of a political way of releasing this. Um, I feel that they
could have been more responsible in the release of this video.

Um, I do know that when I, when I watched the video they made sure to point out the cameras that
the journalists were holding, but failed to point out the weapons that the other people were
holding as well.

Collateral murder I think, is, is going a little far, um, as far as saying that soldiers
intentionally murder civilians.

TONY JONES: Ethan let me take you back to what happened when you actually arrived on the scene.
You'd heard the helicopters, you'd heard the shooting, but when you arrived there, yourself, on
foot. What did you actually see? Describe that for us if you can.

ETHAN MCCORD: Yes, ahh ... When I got to the scene I was one of the first six soldiers who were
dismounted that day to arrive actually on the scene of where the Apaches, um, open fire.

Ah the first thing I saw was about four men, um, laying on the ground and ah, they were pretty much
completely destroyed. I'd never seen anybody who had been shot by a 30 millimetre round before and,
ah, I don't want to see that again. It was, it almost didn't, it didn't seem real, um, in a sense
that it looked more like I was looking at something that would be in a bad horror movie.

Um, I did also notice a couple of RPGs as well as AK47s when I got to the scene. Um, I could hear a
small child crying and, ah, the crying was coming from the van that was shot up. I, I I ran over to
the van and got to the passenger door and there, it was me and another soldier who was in my unit,
and you can see in the video where we both get up to the van, and um, the soldier that I was with
turns around and started vomiting at the sight of the children, turned around and ran off not
wanting to deal with that situation or, or even look at that.

Um, looking inside of the van I saw a little girl about three or four years old. She had a belly
wound, um, as well as glass in her eyes and her hair, pretty much all over the place. Ah, laying
next to her, half on the floorboard with his head resting on the bench seat of the van, was a boy
approximately seven or eight years old. He had a wound to the right side of his head, um, and next
to him, in the driver's seat was a man who I assumed to be the father at the time.

He was slumped over, almost in a protective nature, over his children, um, and it looked like he
had taken one of those 30 millimetre rounds to the chest. So, I, I immediately, ah, assumed he, he
was deceased, also the boy wasn't moving, so I focused my attention on the girl who was sitting
there and she was alert and crying.

I picked her up yelled for a medic, ah, the medic and I went into the houses that were behind the
van, where the van had crashed and, ah, started tending to the child. Um, we dressed her wounds, I,
I picked out as much glass as I could from her eyes, and um, you can hear in the video where the
medic states "there's nothing else I can do here" ah "we need, she needs to be evaced." Um, and
that's where you can see him running the girl, um, to the Bradley.

Ah, in turn I went back outside to the van, um, looked in and I saw the boy take what appeared to
be a laboured breath. I started screaming out "the boys alive, the boy's alive" and, ah, I picked
him up and cradled him in my eyes and told him "don't die, don't die", um and started running
towards the Bradley with him.

In doing so he opened his eyes, looked up at me, I told him "it's OK I've got you" and, ah, his
eyes rolled back into the back of his head and that's when I got to the Bradley and placed him
inside the Bradley.

TONY JONES: So, what effect did it have on you, seeing children so badly wounded in that way?

ETHAN MCCORD: Well, one of the first things that I thought about when looking in the van was of my
own children. I had a son who was born, um, just one month prior to this incident while I was in
Iraq. So I had, I hadn't seen him yet but I had another child and, you know, you're first thoughts
go to, go to children, um your children back home. I was, I was heartbroken seeing this.

Um, I'm still heartbroken to this day I have, that day I felt, um, it was, it was very hard for me
to justify after that day what I was doing in Iraq because I felt that in going to Iraq I was going
to be doing the Iraqi's this great justice of helping of them and, ah, ah, protecting them from the
so-called insurgents when, after that day, I couldn't justify, 'cause it seem that we were doing
more harm to the citizens of Iraq than good.

TONY JONES: Can you tell us what happened when you got back to your base, after this, because as I
understand it, your sergeant was not at all sympathetic, to say the least, to the way that you were
feeling?

ETHAN MCCORD: Right, um well, when we went back to the Fob later that evening I was in my room and
I was cleaning the blood from the children off of my uniform, off of my IBA (Individual Body
Armour), my protective gear and, um, you know, the flood of emotions that I was havin' it was very
hard for me to deal with and to cope and understand exactly what had happened that day.

So I went to the staff sergeant who, um, was in my chain of command and asked him if I could go see
mental health there on the Fob. Um, he kind of chuckled and told me to get the sand out of my
vagina and to suck it up and to be a soldier and told me that there would be repercussions if I was
to go to mental health, um, and said that it's viewed upon as malingerer in the Army, um, that
you're not doing your job.

A malingerer in the Army is actually a crime. So, I, I, not wanting to have anything to do with
that and, um not wanting to have to deal with the, the added pressure of somebody else looking down
on me I, ah chose not to go to the mental health and, um, to bottle up as much emotions as I can
and move on with my job.

TONY JONES: Was it bad for you doing that, bottling it up and what effect did that ultimately have
on you?

ETHAN MCCORD: Um, I think it did because, ah, I, I started becoming very, very angry with the
people around me. I would blow up at people, um, and yell and scream at them. I would be angry with
everybody and even be angry with myself.

I started, um, watching a lot of movies and listening to music to try to basically escape the
realities of what was going on in my own head. So, um, I was escaping into movies and not dealing
with my emotions and the realities of what I had seen,

TONY JONES: Did you have the impression, Ethan, that this was unusual or did you see the same sorts
of things happening to other soldiers around you?

ETHAN MCCORD: Yeah, the, ah, a lot of, a lot of the same things were happening to the other
soldiers that I was serving with. Um, we, you could tell people losing some more of their sense of
humour, their ah, their smiles fading, getting upset at the smallest things. Screaming and lashing
out at other soldiers if the line at the phones to call home were too long. Um, it just got to the
point where everybody, I think, I was kinda breaking in a sense.

TONY JONES: So, why did you actually write this letter? Because reading it you get the impression
that, ah, that you started to feel personally responsible for civilian deaths and other terrible
things that happened in Iraq.

ETHAN MCCORD: Well the personal responsibility goes as far as, we are a part of the system that
injured this Iraqis. That have injured thousands of Iraqis, you know, we want everybody to see
that, that this one video is not just an isolated incident, that these things are war. There is,
there is no difference between that day or any other day in Iraq other than that one was caught on
video and the world got to see it.

TONY JONES: It does seem to me that, that the power of what you've done here is because you
actually served in the conflict and it's similar in a way to what happened during the Vietnam War
when veterans came home and started speaking about their experiences and turning against the war. I
mean, do you see that this has happened before in American history and this is a sort of continuum
of that?

ETHAN MCCORD: Ahh, I, I think so. I think that the, ah, you know, veterans who see wars know
firsthand what wars um and, come back, and, and want to let people know that war is not, you know,
some glorified thing that you watch on television.

Um, you know, you grow up watching John Wayne movies and you start to glorify war in your own head
but, in all actuality war is a dirty, ugly, disgusting thing and, ah, if we can speak out any way
to help shorten this war and get our troops home where they belong. Um, then we're going to do
anything possible that we can.

TONY JONES: Ethan McCord, we'll have to leave you there. We thank you very much for taking the time
to come and talk to us tonight on Lateline.

ETHAN MCCORD: Thank you for having me.

Brown forgets the microphone in bigot scandal

Brown forgets the microphone in bigot scandal

Broadcast: 29/04/2010

Reporter: Philip Williams

British prime minister Gordon Brown has made the old mistake of mouthing off while the microphone's
still on.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: When you are running last in the opinion polls it is probably better not to
insult voters.

The British Prime Minister has learnt that lesson the hard way, making the old mistake of mouthing
off while the microphone's still on.

Europe correspondent Philip Williams reports.

PHILIP WILLIAMS, REPORTER: Gordon the gaffer, a campaign that had been relatively error free
descended into high farce after 66-year-old pensioner Gillian Duffy collared the Prime Minister on
the issue of immigration.

GILLIAN DUFFY: Well, all these eastern Europeans what are comin' in, where are they flocking from?

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: A million come from Europe but a million people, British
people, have gone into Europe. You know, you know...

PHILIP WILLIAMS: And so it ended and she seemed happy with the encounter but as the Prime Minister
departed he forgot he was wearing a microphone which picked up this:

GORDON BROWN: That was a disaster...

AIDE: What did she say?

GORDON BROWN: Well, just that ... you should never have put me with that, that woman. Whose idea
was that?

AIDE: I don't know, I didn't see her.

GORDON BROWN: It's Sue I think. It's just ridiculous.

AIDE: What did she say?

GORDON BROWN: Everything. She just was a sort of bigoted woman that...

PHILIP WILLIAMS: The Prime Minister's unguarded character assessment didn't impress the woman in
question

GILLIAN DUFFY: Why has he come out with words like that? He is going to lead this country.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: At the same time the Prime Minister was having his unguarded conversation replayed
during a live radio interview.

GORDON BROWN: He should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that?

AIDE: I don't know I didn't see.

GORDON BROWN: It's Sue I think. That is ridiculous.

Now, I, I apologise profusely to the lady concerned. I don't think she is that. I think it was just
the view she expressed that I was worried about that I couldn't respond to.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: But that wasn't enough so it was round to Mrs Duffy's terrace for a face-to-face
mea culpa cuppa. He emerged 45 minutes later with that now fixed smile for what he hoped what a
problem fixed.

GORDON BROWN: I've just been talking to, to Gillian. I am mortified by what's happened. I have
given her my sincere apologies. I misunderstood what she said.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: The question for the Labor Party is how much residual damage is there? Initial
polls suggest not a lot and that's certainly a line pushed by Gordon Brown's exasperated
colleagues.

ALAN JONES, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: Gordon's not slick. He's not one of these people who, you know,
kinda gets up every morning in a kinda sophisticated approach to politics in the sense of it all
being about PR and all carefully formulated. He is a very human person, we all know that.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: Very human and extremely humiliated and not helped by headlines like this: 'Day of
disaster'; 'A hypocrite who shames Britain'; 'Demonised: The granny who dared utter the I-word',
meaning immigration, and, of course, the good old Sun: 'Gillian only popped out for a loaf, she
came back with Brown toast.'

Just how burnt that toast really is we'll know in the next few days.

Philip Williams, Lateline.

Tougher anti-people smuggling laws proposed

Tougher anti-people smuggling laws proposed

Broadcast: 29/04/2010

Reporter: John Stewart

Human rights groups are concerned that proposed new anti-people smuggling laws could see refugee
supporters jailed for up to 10 years.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Human rights groups are concerned that a proposal to beef up Australia's
anti-people smuggling laws could see refugee supporters jailed for up to ten years.

The proposed laws could snare family members and refugee activists who send money to asylum seekers
coming here by boat.

The draft bill also gives ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) new powers to spy on
people it suspects of involvement in people smuggling both in Australia and overseas.

John Stewart reports.

JOHN STEWART, REPORTER: Since the Rudd Government came to power in 2007 more than 100 asylum
seekers' boats have made the perilous journey to Australia.

The Federal Government and security agencies say the increasing number of arrivals is a potential
security threat.

DAVID FRICKER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL, ASIO: It is a very lucrative business. There are large
volumes of money involved. It is organised.

JOHN STEWART: But a proposed new anti-people smuggling bill has brought them into conflict with
legal and human rights group.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR BEN SAUL, SYDNEY CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW: It means people like Oscar
Schindler, who put his own life at risk to save Jews in the Second World War, could find themselves
criminalised as a people smuggler here in Australia.

JOHN STEWART: Currently ASIO is restricted to investigating issues of national security like
terrorist threats, but under the new laws ASIO could become directly involved with gathering
intelligence about people smuggling activities; including the use of telephone intercepts to
monitor people both in Australia and overseas.

ROBERT MCLELLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We will now, as a result of these amendments, if they're
passed, enable ASIO to become directly involved. We don't believe and it's not intended diminish
from its primary role of counter terrorism.

DAVID FRICKER: So it would mean that if a people smuggling operation was being led by, for example,
the Australian Federal Police, they required to a compliment of some analytical capability that
ASIO possessed they could ask us, for no other reason than to investigate people smuggling, they
could make that request to us and we would be able to contribute. At the moment that wouldn't be,
that wouldn't be possible.

JOHN STEWART: Sara Nathan fled from Sri Lanka over 20 years ago. Today she works as an asylum
seeker activist providing support for Tamil people who've travelled to Australia.

She says she has already been approached by ASIO to gather information about Tamil asylum seekers
but she knocked them back.

SARA NATHAN, ASYLUM SEEKER ACTIVIST: It was very suspicious. I didn't want to meet them at a
strange place that I had not chosen and they wanted me to come alone and they didn't want me to
tell anyone. So, all this was bit intimidating and I said "No, I don't feel safe doing that".

JOHN STEWART: Aside from the changes to ASIO's powers the new bill also makes it an offence to
provide material support for those who have become involved with people smuggling. The offence
carries a 10 year jail term.

Sara Nathan fears that refugee activists and family members who send money to asylum seekers could
be caught in the net.

SARA NATHAN: At times we have sent money for phone credit and medicine and so on which all adds up
to, perhaps, a substantial amount because we have done fundraising. We don't want to be suspected
by ASIO that we are funding people smuggling and thrown in jail.

JOHN STEWART: Refugee activists say that if the new anti-people smuggling bill becomes law later
this year, Australians will become far more reluctant to help people fleeing from war zones and
political persecution.

SARA NATHAN: The main thing is humanitarian assistance is going to cease because if I ask people to
send money to buy mediciation or to buy basic clothing or food people are gonna say "Oh look I
better not get involved in this just in case ASIO suspects and then I have to go through the whole
process".

JOHN STEWART: ASIO officials made a rare public appearance at a recent Senate hearing and backed
the Government's view that people smuggling has become a sophisticated international crime.

DAVID FRICKER: The logistical organisation to gather people together, to move them from one point
to another, to meet a vessel, to meet another vessel to then come to Australia requires a high
level of organisation. There's just not one person acting alone on a one-off voyage and the money
and the amounts of money are significant.

JOHN STEWART: Critics say the new laws will give too much power to ASIO.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR BEN SAUL: The long term consequence, of course, is that ASIO might use that
information to issue adverse national security assessments against a person here in Australia and
then deport that person on the basis of that information and in those kind of cases nobody can see
the evidence.

JOHN STEWART: The anti-people smuggling bill will be debated in Parliament later this year.

John Stewart, Lateline.

US prepares to burn spilled oil

No transcript available.