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Page: 1 Transcript Station: ABC 612 BRISBANE Date: 13/07/2006 Program: DRIVE Time: 03:05 PM Compere: KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE Summary ID: B00022639175 Item: HIGGINS-DEVINE SAYS ABC MANAGING DIRECTOR MARK SCOTT HAS BEEN VISITING LOCAL STAFF TODAY. INTERVIEW WITH MARK SCOTT INTERVIEWEES: MARK SCOTT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ABC Demographics: Male 16+ Female 16+ All people ABs GBs 12400 12500 24800 5300 12400 KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: Mark Scott is the new Managing Director of the ABC. He has been visiting local staff today. Six days into the job, and of course had intentions to visit staff in Brisbane, but that meeting has come a little quicker than expected after another staff member was diagnosed recently with breast cancer - - the 12th case in the past decade. As you'd know, last Friday ABC staff in Brisbane called a snap strike demanding management propose plans for relocating local operations within seven days. And tomorrow is that deadline. Mark Scott, good afternoon and welcome to 612. MARK SCOTT: Hi Kelly, good to be with you. KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: So you held a meeting with staff earlier this afternoon, they want off this site. What's your plan? Page: 2 MARK SCOTT: Yeah Kelly I've had a very interesting day here with staff. I've done a tour of the site, I met with a number of the women who'd been diagnosed with breast cancer over the last decade, and I had a full meeting with staff in the cafeteria over lunch time. And firstly, I thank the staff for their frankness and their openness in talking with me about their concerns here, and there is a reality that we have to deal with and that is that a number of our colleagues have been diagnosed with breast cancer – that's very distressing news. That is a fact. What we don't know is a few critical things. We don't really have the scientific evidence that says it's an atypical number -- that it's a spike even though we fear it might be. And then what we don't know is, is there something about the building, is there something about the premises, is there something about the technology we use that may have been a cause, or a trigger, of that breast cancer. So, you know, you and I are both trained as journalists and so what do we do in circumstances where the facts aren't known? Well firstly we try and find out what the facts actually are and if in fact those facts are confusing, then we go to experts to try and explain, and work out what the facts mean and what we should do. And that's what I've done. KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: Is that what you're doing? Page: 3 MARK SCOTT: That's what I've done. What I've done today, announced to staff, is that I'm setting up an expert advisory panel to advise me on issues related to the illnesses that have arisen at the site. That panel is going to be chaired by Dr, Bruce Armstrong, who's a Professor of Public Health, and he also heads the Sydney Cancer Centre. And we're going to be pulling together an advisory panel of epidemiologists and breast cancer specialists. They're going to look at the previous research work that's been done on the site, and the previous testing results. They're going to tell us whether there is any another work that we need to do – be it surveys of staff, be it scientific testing, be it anything else. And then they're going to give me advice arising from that. I mean it's a most unusual circumstance. I know the staff are very concerned, and it is distressing that people have got sick. But we really don't know, and that's why I've taken advice on the very best panel that I can find. I consulted the Chief Medical Officer of the Commonwealth – he said if you could get anyone, Dr Bruce Armstrong would be the best person to get, and I'm delighted that he's come on board. KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: Mark, we had Professor Beth Newman from QUT, a leading breast cancer expert in here talking with us yesterday. And the upshot of her conversation, with staff, was that we don't really know what causes breast cancer. Page: 4 We know risk factors, but we don't really know what might trigger it in somebody, and somebody with all the risk factors may never get it, somebody with only one might get it, somebody with none might get it. When we were talking about all the technology and how that might be interfering, she said who knows. The guts of that conversation was, we don't really know. We could do months and months, and years of study and may never know what the problem is. Whether it's the site, whether it is just, it just happens to be coincidence, one of those things that happens. What if in 12 months after the panel does their work, we're back to square one again? What are you going to do? Because in the end we're rolling the dice on people's lives. MARK SCOTT: Well I think that's a fair question Kelly. One of things I think we can know for sure that we don't know yet, is to complete the work that says is this an atypical spike or not? Now there have been two, and to do that, I have asked for the staff's help and support on this today and I have had a very positive feedback. One of the things we've got to try to find out is – yes we know people have had breast cancer, but is it, given people's backgrounds, given that they're genetic background, family background, other Page: 5 things to do, within a sense their lifestyles and whatever else – is this an atypical spike? Now Queensland Health weren't able to be definitive on that, and in order to do that we need staff members to be pretty open and pretty honest to complete surveys, to talk about their family history, to talk about decisions they've made in their lives, I guess -- lifestyle decisions. We need that information. And in fact if you could get that, then in fact your part of the way to unlocking the mystery because it says look, this isn't just coincidence, this isn't just chance, we've got an issue here. Even though you may not then be able to go the second step and identify environmental factors. I would say that there are identified some environmental factors that trigger and cause cancers, and they would be things that you would want, you know, the advisory panel might say they want to do further testing on. But I don't want to put the cart before the horse. I mean, one of the things that is inevitable that you want to do, is you want to speculate and you want to come up with theories and hypotheses. I found myself doing that myself. That's why I've got the expert panel. Page: 6 And I think, you know, one of the things that they might say is we think you've got a problem with the site but we can't work out what that is. And what I've said to the staff here is quite clear. If the advice I get from the expert panel is – you've got a problem with the site, we believe that keeping staff here increases their risk of becoming unwell – we will move. KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: In the meantime, why not move staff off, just in case it is the site because otherwise we've spent 12 months at a site where there is something wrong. MARK SCOTT: Yeah, I think that's a fair question. Firstly I've never said that it's going to take 12 months. KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: Sorry, well whatever time period it might be. MARK SCOTT: Yeah, and as I think the advisory committee will find out, staff here are very concerned. They don't want to wait, and I'm going to be doing everything that I can to expedite the work that's being done, so if the committee wants testing done, it will be done as soon as we can possibly to do. If there's surveys of staff they want done, we'll do them as soon as we possibly can, so we're really going to try and expedite that. Page: 7 Why not move off? You see part of the question we've got to deal with here is that, is it the building? Is it the site? KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: But while we don't know... MARK SCOTT: Is it the technology? KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: Why not move them? While we don't know. MARK SCOTT: Is it because -- if it's the technology we'd be moving the technology with the people. If it's the site, you could be relocating people on the site and moving them to another part of the site. We think the absolute priority is to get the information and get the data. And some of that might be preliminary reports. What I'm not envisaging a process here – I've said to the staff, we're going to be very open. I'm not going to get a report from the professor that I don't share with the staff. When I have more information, I'll let them know. And I think part of the thing I'll be asking them is, do they have any initial advice given the data we have now, and whether it would be better to move or relocate on a temporary basis. And if I'm told that by the experts, then I will – it's very hard for people because it's so emotional. But as journalists we kind of do this all the time. Page: 8 We ask what are the facts and what are the experts telling us. And that's what I ask the people here. If the experts tell me, that it would be smart to move people out, we'll move them out. But I'm not going to make that judgement. I'm encouraging staff not to, to simply leap to that, but we've engaged the experts to provide the advice and that's what we're going to do. KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: If in the end, and I realise that you don't want to pre-judge the panel, but if in the end, and from what Beth Newman said yesterday, it's quite a possibility that they can come up with no definitive answer -- if no causal links are found -- what can be done then? Because staff are frightened. The women who work in that building, and the men as well, are frightened for their lives. And that's just the truth of it. So, how do you convince those people to stay with the ABC that they love working for, and to stay in a building that they don't trust? MARK SCOTT: Look, I think that's a fair question and I don't know the answer to that yet. I want to talk with the experts, see what they say and see what they advise me with. We aren't the only organisation to ever face this. Other organisations have faced this and had to deal with this, and I will take advice. But I do want to create an environment -- you know, as Managing Director of the ABC, what Page: 9 struck me in my first six days Kelly, people are immensely proud of working at the ABC, they're proud of their work and they love working here. I've been amazed at how positive and upbeat people have been. KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: I think we're all cynics. MARK SCOTT: Yeah, about working at the ABC. People love it. And I want to create an environment whereby people feel safe and secure at their work and that you can come to work and people at the ABC can come to work and worry about creating great programs, breaking important news stories, rather than worrying about their health. So that is of concern to me. But, you know, one of the things my wife said to me over the weekend as we were discussing this, because this arrived on my plate on you know day two in the job – we've got three daughters and she said to me -- would you be happy with your daughters to work in that site? KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: Would you? MARK SCOTT: Well let me tell you how I worked that through. I mean they're teenagers and it's a hypothetical question, so it's very easy to say yes and that's not a meaningful answer. What's a meaningful answer is when your children face some threat, or when your children face some difficulty, what do you do? If your child is sick, what do you do? Or if you're Page: 10 fearful of your child, what you try and do, and what we've had to do in circumstances in our family – you ring around and find out who are the very, very best people to help you in this. Who are the specialists in this area? Who does this better than anyone else? Then you go to them and you do what they say to do. You have the medical tests done that they say to have done. If they say you need surgery done, you have the surgery done. You put your trust in their expertise and their insight. And that's really what I am trying to do now. Now finally, they might come back to me this panel and say, we've done all we can do, but finally decisions need to be made by the ABC. If they say that, then decisions will be made by the ABC, Kelly, and I'll be back talking with you explaining to you what those decisions are and why we've made them. I've been very clear and upfront with the staff today. I've answered every question that they've asked. We've got nothing to hide. And on day six, I've got nothing to hide. I'm not the least bit defensive here. There are no previous decisions that have been made that we have to cover up or be worried about. We want to know – that's why we've got the panel, and that's what we've engaged them to help us with. Page: 11 KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: We'll be talking with Bruce Armstrong, the head of that panel after five o'clock. MARK SCOTT: Terrific. KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: Mark Scott, new indeed, thank you very much. Let's hope that your next six days are a little bit less eventful than your first six days. MARK SCOTT: I appreciate that. Bye. KELLY HIGGINS-DEVINE: That's Mark Scott, the new Managing Director of the ABC. * * END * * TRANSCRIPT PRODUCED BY MEDIA MONITORS target-monitor-analyse ADELAIDE BRISBANE CANBERRA HOBART MELBOURNE PERTH SYDNEY 08 8362 2323 07 3259 2100 02 6124 5200 03 6224 2000 03 9348 9191 08 9228 5800 02 9318 4000 AGENCY REPORT For private research and not to be disseminated. 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