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Abbott resurrects Howard's immigration policies

Broadcast: 26/07/2010

Reporter: Nick Harmsen

Tony Abbott enters week two of the election campaign closing the gap on Labor.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Tony Abbott's disowned WorkChoices, but he's securely latched himself to
John Howard's immigration policies.

The Opposition Leader says Australians no longer support immigration the way they did under the
previous Liberal government.

Mr Abbott enters the second week of the election campaign still trailing in the polls, but he is
closing the gap on Labor.

Political reporter Nick Harmsen.

NICK HARMSEN, REPORTER: No child is safe, as the Liberal campaign turns family friendly.

Tony Abbott brought along his wife Margie to announce he'd indexed the childcare rebate and boost
occasional care at the cost of $89 million.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: This would be worth $300 a year a child for families on the maximum
rate of rebate.

WAYNE SWAN, TREASURER: Less than one per cent of families earning less than $100,000 a year stand
to benefit.

NICK HARMSEN: The family focus is not entirely unexpected. During last night's debate, one worm
controlled by women worked wonders for the Prime Minister, while the male-dominated worm turned
positively for the Opposition Leader.

TONY ABBOTT: I'm not gonna offer a running commentary on the debate. I just want to offer the
Australian public solutions, not waffle.

NICK HARMSEN: A more traditional mode of audience feedback is showing positive signs for Mr Abbott.
Newspoll has him closing the gap as preferred prime minister and Labor's lead sliding back to where
it was before Kevin Rudd was dumped.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: It is a tough, close contest and it'll be a photo finish on election

NICK HARMSEN: Looking back while moving forward, Julia Gillard tried some old-fashioned electoral

JULIA GILLARD: Do you know this man - Jeff, your local Labor candidate?

NICK HARMSEN: Pledging $96 million to train extra doctors and nurses, the money's already contained
in this year's Budget.

JULIA GILLARD: I think this is an important step forward. It's an important step forward for our
emergency departments right around the country.

NICK HARMSEN: On the other side of the country the Prime Minister's being urged to take a step

MINING ADVERTISEMENT (female actor): Prime Minister, taxing mining might sound like a good idea,
but have you really thought this through?

NICK HARMSEN: Smaller miners still unhappy with the tax have launched their own advertising blitz.

DAVID FLANAGAN, ATLAS IRON: The concept that industry has done a deal with government and that
industry is satisfied with this agreement is wrong.

WAYNE SWAN: They oughta focus on Tony Abbott's increase in the company tax rate of 1.7 per cent.

NICK HARMSEN: Another of Tony Abbott's figures is drawing Government scrutiny: the Opposition
Leader wants to limit Australia's migration rate to 170,000 people per year. It's a figure he
acknowledges is much lower than in the final years of the Howard Government.

TONY ABBOTT: We have gone through a global financial crisis. There has been an economic slowdown
since then. The public no longer support immigration the way they did under the Howard Government.

NICK HARMSEN: The Prime Minister won't pick a number at all. She says the immigration figures
should be set year-to-year.

Nick Harmsen, Lateline.

Wikileaks defends release of classified US documents

Broadcast: 26/07/2010

Reporter: Leigh Sales

Wikileaks has published more than 90,000 classified US military documents with the New York Times,
The Guardian and Der Spiegel.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Wikileaks has published more than 90,000 US military documents in a
co-ordinated release with the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel in Germany.

The massive pile of classified material is being described as one of the biggest leaks ever of US
military intelligence.

It reveals details of the war in Afghanistan and the NATO allie's relationship with Pakistan.

To assess some of the detail, we're joined now from Washington by North America correspondent Craig

Craig, I appreciate that this is a mountain of documents, but talk us through what is the type of
information that's included in them?

CRAIG MCMURTRIE, NORTH AMERICA CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leigh, they're quite mundane field reports.
It's raw intelligence that Wikileaks has released.

The documents talk about frustration and anger that US forces feel toward Afghan forces and their
equipment levels. There's anger over Pakistan's reluctance to engage with insurgents near the
border. There are reports about insurgents using surface-to-air heat-seeking missiles, which
certainly hasn't been spoken of before.

Possibly the most damaging of the reports deals with the Pakistan military spy service the ISI, and
direct reports suggesting that it has had contact with Taliban leaders and that this involves
strategy sessions and may have included killings or assassinations of Afghan leaders.

Now, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was giving a press conference a short time age and he was
asked to identify the most explosive revelation and he gave this reply:

JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKES: I'm often asked this question: what is the most single damning
revelation, what is the thing that is easily capturable, the single event, the single personality,
the single mass killing? But that is not the real story of this material. The real story of this
material is that it's war - it's one damned thing after another.

It is the continuous small events, the continuous death of children, insurgents, Allied forces, the
maimed people. Search for the word "amputation" in this material, or "amputee", and there are
dozens and dozens of references. So this is the story of the war since 2004.

LEIGH SALES: Julian Assange there of Wikileaks.

Craig, where has this information come from and how reliable is it?

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: Well, we certainly can't independently verify it. It is raw intelligence, it's
come from the field.

Now, it's suggested that some of the information has come from paid informants. There's speculation
here that there may be a link to Private Bradley Manning, who you may remember was arrested for
leaking to Wikileaks before, last time over a video of an apache helicopter attack in Baghdad back
in 2007 where civilians died.

Now, that hasn't been confirmed. No-one at the Pentagon or the White House is confirming that, but
there's speculation it may link back to this private who did work for Army intelligence.

LEIGH SALES: What has been the response from the White House?

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: Well, Leigh, the White House has been furious. National security advisor James
Jones has said it's a threat to national security, it's irresponsible. Now the White House has
known this was coming. They knew about the documents about a week ago.

Wikileaks, in quite a sophisticated strategy, shared the information with some mainstream press -
the New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, as you said earlier. But they're also suggesting
behind the scenes that Wikileaks, as a website, is opposed to the war and that that explains why
this leak has been prosecuted by the website.

Now, Julian Assange of the website denies that it's against the war. But there'll be a lot more on
this through the day here in Washington.

LEIGH SALES: Craig McMurtrie, in Washington, I'm sure you'll keep across it. Thank you very much.


Khmer Rouge leader Comrade Duch found guilty

Broadcast: 26/07/2010

Reporter: Zoe Daniel

There is fury in Cambodia after an international court sentenced Kaing Guek Eav to a sentence that
may end in his lifetime.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: There's been a furious response from victims and families to the sentence
imposed on Khmer Rouge prison boss Kaing Guek Eav.

31 years after the end of the regime, an international court has delivered a guilty verdict against
this first leader to be tried.

Known as Duch, he was the head of the notorious torture centre S21, where up to 15,000 people were
incarcerated and exterminated.

But even though Duch was found guilty, he may walk free in his lifetime.

South-east Asia correspondent Zoe Daniel reports from Phnom Penh.

ZOE DANIEL, REPORTER: 31 years after he walked free from S21, Norng Chan Phal went to court and saw
justice served. When he was only nine years old, he and his brother were jailed along with their
parents. They survived, but he never saw his father or his mother again.

NORNG CHANPHAL, SURVIVOR: I saw her two or three times, and then when I looked back at her again,
she disappeared.

ZOE DANIEL: Only seven people survived the torture centre, and today they and relatives of the dead
have finally seen a murderer punished. Prison boss Kaing Guek Eav, known as Comrade Duch, admits he
oversaw the killing of up to 15,000 people - supposed enemies of the state, most were horrifically
tortured, bashed to death and buried in mass graves.

Now the man who ordered their death has been convicted of crimes against humanity, extermination,
torture, persecution and enslavement.

JUDGE: The chamber finds Kaing Guek Eav guilty.

ZOE DANIEL: Taking into account time already spent in prison, Comrade Duch will spend another 19
years in jail. Conceivably that means that he could be released within his lifetime, although he'd
be well into his '80s. Some Cambodians may question the length of the sentence because some are
already asking why the court couldn't impose a death penalty.

In fact, once it sank in that a 35-year sentence would amount to less than two decades in prison,
some observers broke down.

OBSERVER (voiceover translation): I expected life in prison because I lost my older sister in S21
and she was raped.

ZOE DANIEL: Chun May survived two years of torture in Duch's prison only to see his wife and child
shot and killed by his jailers. He seemed dumbfounded by the sentence, which took into account the
executioner's apology and regret.

CHUM MEY, SURVIVOR (voiceover translation): There is no justice for me. Duch cried tears before,
now I can cry. I know how to do that too.

ZOE DANIEL: Prosecutors say they'll look at the reasons behind the sentence reduction before they
consider an appeal, but 1.7 million people died of torture and starvation under the extreme
communist ideology of the Khmer Rouge and Comrade Duch was not the mastermind.

With leader Pol Pot dead, attention will turn to the next case and whether the higher-level Khmer
Rouge leaders will also be prosecuted before the aged and ailing defendants are dead. Among them, a
former prime minister, Khieu Samphan, and the second-in-charge of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea.

Despite allegations the Cambodian government has been undermining the court, prosecutors say
there's been no direct interference and they will push on.

BILL SMITH, INTERNATIONAL CO-PROSECUTOR: I am extremely confident that if there is an indictment
against these four senior leaders in September, that there'll be a trial starting in early next

ZOE DANIEL: For today, though, it's about the victims of Comrade Duch.

VICTIM (voiceover translation): I cannot forget it, but I can release a small part of the pain.

ZOE DANIEL: And hopefully, so can a damaged nation.

Zoe Daniel, Lateline.

Under-fire BP chief may fall on his sword

Broadcast: 26/07/2010

Reporter: Leigh Sales

Europe correspondent Phil Williams discusses speculation BP chief Tony Hayward will stand down.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: There's speculation tonight that BP's chief executive Tony Hayward will
stand down in the wake of persistent criticism of his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Mr Hayward's been the focus of public anger in the United States over the crisis which will cost BP
and its shareholders many billions of dollars in compensation and clean-up costs.

Let's go to London now and Europe correspondent Phil Williams. Phil, what do we know about Tony
Hayward's situation as we go to air?

PHILIP WILLIAMS, EUROPE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there'll be a board meeting here in London in a few
hours' time and it's at that board meeting - it's widely expected that his severance conditions
will be arranged - we think about a million pounds, plus a ?10 million pension pot, that he'll be
moved on and the announcement will be made probably tomorrow morning.

And that, presumably, hopefully for the company's point of view'll put a line under the terrible
publicity that he generated. He was seen as a good geologist, as a good CEO up until the point that
he had to open his mouth in public, and of course, disaster after disaster, and the board said -
the board, it's assumed, can stand that no longer and they want to put a line under that whole
terrible, terrible series of gaffes.

LEIGH SALES: And if he were to stand down as CEO, presumably that would be well received in the
United States?

PHILIP WILLIAMS: That's right. Bob Dudley is likely to replace him.

Now, he has one enormous advantage: he is an American. He has an American accent and will be seen
by many as a welcome change and able to talk to Americans of course who are extremely angry.

Now, initial reaction has been from the States, from the congressmen and the senators that have
been asking for answers and very angry with Tony Hayward, has been positive and from those in the
Gulf states, ordinary people in the Gulf states saying, "Yes, he had to go," and this will be

But it is speculation at this point, but we think it's very well-founded speculation.

LEIGH SALES: And Phil, briefly, what impact has this speculation and uncertainty had on BP?

PHILIP WILLIAMS: Well, the share price this morning has gone up 2.4 per cent on this news, so it's
seen very much as a positive event by the market, but of course they've gotta make a 40 per cent
loss in the sharemarket since the whole disaster began, so it's a long way to go. They are hoping
this is a new beginning, but of course the oil has to be stopped permanently and the clean-up has
to be completed and that may come at a cost to this company, they estimate, privately at the
moment, of up to US$30 billion.

LEIGH SALES: Phil Williams in London, thank you.


Infidel author promotes her second book

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Tonight's guest is Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

She was raised a Muslim in Somalia, but fled her home to escape a forced marriage and moved to
Holland as a refugee.

She eventually became a member of the Dutch parliament and denounced Islam after the September 11
terrorist attacks.

She's campaigned against the religion ever since, arguing it promulgates a flawed and violent

After Ayaan Hirsi Ali and filmmaker Theo van Gogh made a film about Muslim women called
'Submission', an Islamic extremist murdered van Gogh and death threats forced Ayaan Hirsi Ali into
hiding in 2004.

She's had a permanent bodyguard ever since.

She's currently in Australia to promote her latest book, Nomad, and she joined me in the Sydney
studio a short time ago.

Thank you very much for coming in to speak to us.

AYAAN HIRSI ALI, AUTHOR OF NOMAD: Thank you very much for having me.

LEIGH SALES: In Nomad you write that, "A lot of well-meaning people in the West have trouble
accepting that all human beings are equal, but all cultures and religions are not." Elaborate on
that for us.

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Um, I took notice of this when I was a member of the Labour Party in the
Netherlands and I would talk about the position of Muslim women in the Netherlands.

And so many of the enlightened liberal people around me would respond by saying, "But we've got to
respect their culture." And when we talked about the specifics of what it was that we had to
respect, it boiled down to forced marriages, honour killings, female genital mutilation, the forced
veiling of women - I'm not talking about those who choose to do it, but those who are forced to do

We would ignore all of this, do nothing about it and the only rationalisation that these people
could give me - and these were people in power - was to say, "But we've got to respect their
culture." And I thought, yeah, cultures are not equal. It's individual human beings who are equal
and if we're talking about Holland is a very egalitarian society, so are the other European

If we want to discuss equality before the law for immigrants and natives, men and women,
homosexuals and heterosexuals, then we have to first and foremost acknowledge the individual human
being regardless of colour and whatnot, regardless of culture and whatnot.

LEIGH SALES: The argument that I've heard your critics make in response to that is that, well, all
cultures and societies are flawed and have their problems.

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: That's true; all cultures are flawed. But what I learned in the last 18 years when
I came to the West is Western flaws, the white man's flaws, his sexism, his racism, his prejudices
have been criticised and radically changed.

The white man is no longer as racist as he was 50 years ago or 100 years ago. But men of colour -
and I'm not talking only about men who are Muslim, but I'm talking about Chinese, Indians - men of
colour are excused from that same critical scrutiny of cultures, their customs, their habits, their
religious principles.

And so again, it boils down to: yes, all cultures are flawed, but if we want to aspire to a
society, whether it's on a national level or on the global level of individual rights and the
respect for human rights, then we have to criticise these other cultures just as much as the white
man's culture was criticised. That's good for it.

LEIGH SALES: You also argue in your book that there's no such thing as a moderate Muslim. What do
you mean by that?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: What I mean by that is I try to separate Islam from Muslims. Muslims as
individuals - and each and every research shows that people who identify themselves as Muslim don't
know very much about what's in the Koran.

They don't know very much about what the Prophet Mohammed said. They've only been taught you've got
to obey the Koran and what the Prophet Mohammed said, and they're both infallible - the book is
infallible, the Prophet is infallible - the founder of Islam.

And increasingly, agents of radical Islam take advantage of that, but if you scrutinise Islam as a
moral philosophy - I'm not talking about the religious dimension of prayer and fasting, I'm talking
more about the political dimension: sharia law, the concept of jihad and the social laws that
govern the relationship between men and women - you see that it is not - they aren't very different
flavours to it.

There's really one big flavour, and everywhere where sharia law is introduced, you see the same
violations of human rights and the subjection of women.

LEIGH SALES: How do you reconcile that, say, with a country such as Indonesia with the world's
largest Muslim population where there's a secular democracy existing alongside I think it's about
90 per cent of Indonesians identify as Muslim. They had a female head of state before Australia
had, they work closely with Australia to stamp out extremism and Islamist movements within their

How does that fit with what you're saying?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: It fits very well with what I'm saying, which is Muslims as individuals can choose
how much of their religion they can practice and countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey were
famous for a long time in the fact that a majority of their populations would only practice the
religious dimension of Islam and they neglected to practice the, say, political dimension of Islam
like Saudi Arabia or Iran.

That is changing. You see that more and more Indonesians are succumbing to the propaganda, mostly
financed by countries like Saudi Arabia and spread by the Islamist Brotherhood in Egypt, they're
succumbing more and more to the political dimension of Islam.

So anywhere in the world, whether it's Indonesia or Libya or Nigeria or Pakistan, anywhere where
you see people wanting to practise more of Islam and introduce the sharia perspective, the sharia
side of Islam, you see the same violations of human rights.

And in Indonesia, we've seen not only the terrorist acts, but the intolerance to what Christians
and the Christian minorities and the Chinese minorities and also, again, the subjection of women.
So, it fits very well with what I'm saying.

It's an ideology, it's not a race. Muslims are believers in what they think is a good moral
framework, but most of them really don't know the content of that moral framework.

LEIGH SALES: You're calling for an Enlightenment in Islam similar to what occurred in Christianity
centuries ago. How do you see that coming about?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Well I think first and foremost I'm calling for a separation of, if you want,
mosque and state; in other words, that's why I keep emphasising the political dimension.

I have no problems with the religious dimension of Islam - the prayer, the fasting, the visiting of
Mecca - anything spiritual. But anything that has to do with sharia law, I think that is something
that Muslims should reject and by doing so they'll be accused by the fundamentalists that they're
not really true Muslims, but I think that is something that they could - Muslims could come
together and say, "We don't want that part."

And if they find that rejecting the political dimension of Islam in a way is to - doesn't really
fit in with - because you have to - Islam demands that you submit to the will of Allah. If you
don't submit completely, that means if you also don't adopt both the political and social
dimensions of Islam, you're not a true Muslim then I would say to those Muslims: seek other
alternative sources of morality and spirituality.

Christianity, for instance, and I'm talking established, moderate Christianity, or the
Enlightenment - become rational humanists. So Islam should not be the only source of moral
framework for 1.57 billion people in the world.

LEIGH SALES: But isn't that a big thing to ask people who believe in Allah to say, "OK, well, just
toss that aside now and believe in the Christian God"? You know, is there not a way that that
religion could be, I suppose, modernised to deal with some of the issues that you're pointing out
over human rights and womens' rights and things like this, but still retain its essential core?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Well, many Muslim reformers, from the time that the religion was founded or
actually the political philosophy was founded, have propagated that and they've all systematically

Why? Because they were killed, put in exile, they were considered to be heretics, and over and over
again when the radicals come about who want the purest form of Islam, they get what they want and
they get the major following - the majority following. Again, because they go back to the true
meaning of Islam, which is submit to the will of Allah - all of it, not just a part of it.

And submitting to just a part of it means that you're not a true Muslim. I know it is difficult to
say, "OK, convert to something else," but in the 15th and 16th century - in the 17th Century in the
West, it was also a big deal for Enlightenment thinkers to tell Christians, "Start using your own

LEIGH SALES: When you're talking about it being a big deal and people facing a lot of controversy
for saying these things - I have of course noticed tonight that you've had to come in with the
heavy security presence. Will that ever end for you?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Um, I - the first threats against me came in 2002, and I remember the Dutch
authorities saying, "We think this is a temporary thing. People have just been impassioned and
they're very young. We'll send you to America and when you come back, after three weeks, things
will settle down."

That was in 2002 - October. It's now 2010. And in 2006 when I went to the United States, one of the
members of the Secret Service of the United States, I asked him the same question: I said, "How
long do you think this is going to take?" And he said, "Unfortunately for you, you have to outlive
a generation," because it's an entire generation today all over the world that have been
contaminated with these radical thoughts and with this form of intolerance.

LEIGH SALES: Do you have any regrets, then, given that, about coming out and saying the sorts of
things you have? Has it been worth the cost to you personally?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Yes, it's been worth the cost. I am - I feel privileged to have been able to at
least, in this great debate in the 21st Century, to have contributed my little bit.

LEIGH SALES: We're currently having a debate in Australia about appropriate levels of immigration
and also how asylum seekers should be processed. How should countries decide who to allow in?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: I think we just completely and radically have to change the way we look at
immigration, given the new context. We use the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention. It is completely

We use human right treaties that were established also for the period between the 1945 and 1989,
and after 1989 the world has changed.

Just to give you an example: there were about one million refugees in 1951. Today the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports 40 million people who are refugees, asylum seekers
and internally displaced.

That scale calls for a complete revamping of immigration policies, and I don't think we should look
only at - I mean, we should feel sorry for all 40 million people, but a country like Australia
cannot take all 40 million in, so the concept of compassion is not enough now and it's not
practical anymore.

And I think that relationships should be, also given the advent of radical Islam, that liberal
democrat countries like Australia should establish a new relationship with immigrants. Who is good
for our country and who's going to contribute to Australia?

And in exchange, we'll provide them with the opportunity to live in a peaceful, prosperous society
where they can build a life for themselves. If they say no to that, then I think it would be
justified to say such a person cannot stay and will not be a part of this society and can be
returned. That is more honest, it's more practical and it becomes a two-way contribution. One
person gets an opportunity (inaudible) good life and a society gets an immigrant that is useful for
that society.

LEIGH SALES: But if an immigrant said, "Well, I don't like those terms," it doesn't necessarily
make them any less of a refugee, if they were seeking asylum.

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Well, yes, but that is the harsh reality. If there are 40 million people, and we
already have established that Australia or the Netherlands or the United States can't take in all
40 million of them, we have to make choices, and unfortunately for that person who wants to reject
the values of the country, he or she wants to seek protection and even become an insurgent and
reject democracy, cause harm, then that person just has to drop to the latter part of the 40
million, and it's better to give an opportunity to someone who really will make is something of his
life, will not harm other people and is just going to contribute to the society.

LEIGH SALES: Do you think that that should include various specific targets in terms of numbers
that are coming in, regions and countries from where people come?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: That would be the realistic thing to do. It is inevitable to think that way,
unless you think we can take in all 40 million. I haven't - from America to the Netherlands, which
is a very small country, and America is a very big country. I haven't met anyone who says, "Let's
let everyone in."

LEIGH SALES: You have declared yourself as an atheist. Given the value in your book and in your
speaking that you put on doubt and critical thinking, I'm wondering why did you come down as an
atheist as opposed to, say, an agnostic?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Um, I think I thought over very much the proposition that is it God created man or
is it man who created God? And I find now that there's more evidence to suggest that it's man who
created God, and not the other way round, starting with the fact that there's several different
gods and several different concepts of a god.

But that doesn't make me hostile to all religions. In the last four or five years, I've thought
about the differences between religions, between concepts of God, and a God of submission demands

So for instance in Islam, he's a god I reject, not just because I'm an atheist, but also for other
people. Just the idea that you persuade people to submit their will and the concept of a god of
love, the concept of a god you argue with - the Jewish god for instance - or Buddha, a god that
requires you to meditate - I think those concepts of God, those man-made concepts of God, I find
are more attractive for those who are seeking spirituality.

LEIGH SALES: You've written in your book that you feel that your time as a nomad is coming to an
end. Want what do you mean by that?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: I've settled in the United States of America. I've found a final home. I'm happy
where I am. I can do my work, I can write. And, I mean, I'm ready now to stop moving around, moving
house and settle down finally.

LEIGH SALES: The final chapter in your book is titled Letter to My Unborn Daughter and you've
written elsewhere about your desire to be a parent. Is that all part of this same thing about
putting roots down?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: It's part of that. It's also part - I feel that part of life is to give life and
to contribute in a way - also it's a contribution to society, but also to my own happiness, and
yes, it is part of that.

LEIGH SALES: Thank you so much for coming in and I hope you do enjoy your visit to Australia.

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Four months on a plastic boat

Broadcast: 26/07/2010

Reporter: Karen Barlow

Plastiki sailed 14,000 kilometres across the Pacific to raise awareness of plastic waste in the


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Four months on a non-leaky boat, and considering what it's made of, that
may surprise some people.

The crew of the plastic bottle boat Plastiki sailed through Sydney Heads today after an 8,000
nautical mile mission across the Pacific Ocean to get rid of waste.

Karen Barlow reports.

KAREN BARLOW, REPORTER: 12,500 plastic bottles glistened in the sun as the Plastiki slid past the
whales, into Sydney Harbour, under the Bridge and to its new home as an exhibit at the National
Maritime Museum.

Adventurer and banking heir David de Rothschild and his six crew members have brought an end to a
four-month voyage and a four-year dream.

It began in San Francisco - a project to create a clever catamaran out of plastic bottles to attack
what Mr De Rothschild calls a "dumb problem".

DAVID DE ROTHSCHILD, PLASTIKI EXPEDITION LEADER: We've got this crazy problem with plastic in our
ocean that is not abating. We got this addiction to single-use plastics.

KAREN BARLOW: The Earth's oceans are large and so is the problem. The United Nations says plastics
can be found in every corner.

ELLIK ADLER, UN ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME: Still, in some places of the world, the ocean is seen as
this endless toilet in which you can dump everything into it.

KAREN BARLOW: The UN's environment program says attitudes are changing, but not fast enough.

ELLIK ADLER: The quantities of plastic that go every year into the ocean, 6.4 million tonnes of
plastics every year - this is not an endless dustbin. And if we continue to behave like this, if we
turn our oceans into a dustbin, we eventually - all of us are going to pay the price.

KAREN BARLOW: The Plastiki crew found an ecological quagmire as they crossed the North Pacific.

DAVID DE ROTHSCHILD: When I got underneath the vessel, started to swim underneath, looking around
at the bottles and then you start to see flecks of plastic in front of your face and you realise
this is a major, major problem.

KAREN BARLOW: It's a subsurface mass of microscopic plastic degraded by salt and sunlight. At least
five continent-sized layers of sludge exist on the planet.

JO ROYLE, PLASTIKI SKIPPER: ... to reinforce the fact that we're all sea creatures and that our
life is dependent on the health of the oceans and it's really made me feel very empowered and I
want to hit the ground running into the next mission to continue to talk about the oceans through

KAREN BARLOW: The modern-day adventurers say Plastiki is no publicity stunt. They say people need
to recycle more, rethink waste as a resource and start an outright ban on single-use plastic items.

DAVID DE ROTHSCHILD: Right now, to the politicians who are standing there trying to win our vote or
win the vote, or win the vote, you know, think about the environment. That is gonna be really the
most important thing that we have.

KAREN BARLOW: Have you been keeping a little eye on the Australian election?

DAVID DE ROTHSCHILD: I have. I've been keeping a little eye on it, and I'm gonna stay out of it. I
think that's probably the wise move. What I will say though is: we've got to move past the
short-term populist vote; we have to start creating legislation that actually is protecting
ourselves, future generations and allowing us to reintegrate into the web of life.

KAREN BARLOW: David de Rothschild says the warning signs of a sick planet are welling up under the

Karen Barlow, Lateline.