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The Sydney Morning Herald smh.com.

au Monday, September 4, 2006 News 5

Costello Rough trot to the track makes champions of also-rans

Daniel Lewis
Regional Reporter

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IT IS 125 years since they first ran

Australia’s most famous outback
race meeting at Birdsville.
Over the weekend the tiny
south-west Queensland town

float of again attracted the bush trainers

who are the great nomads of the
thoroughbred industry. They
had come from Winton, Quorn,
Armidale, Barcaldine, Mount
Isa, Tamworth, Port Lincoln and

Medibank Longreach.
They travel vast distances and
often roll out their swags for race
meetings in places few city
people have ever heard of, such
as Louth and Enngonia.
Phillip Coorey owns the fund and should profit They love Birdsville for the big
Political Correspondent
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from its sale. prizemoney, the party
Cabinet has agreed to sell atmosphere created by
A PUBLIC float of Medibank Pri- Medibank, which is worth about thousands of spectators and the
vate appears most likely after the $1.5 billion, but has not decided fact it can make champions of
Treasurer, Peter Costello, threw whether to float it or sell it it to even the worst horses.
his weight behind the idea. another company or institution. Birdsville is so far from
Mr Costello indicated yesterday The Finance Minister, Nick anywhere that just about
that, as reported by the Herald on Minchin, will make the final everyone has to travel several
Saturday, the health fund’s decision in consultation with days to get there and the journey
3 million policyholders would re- senior colleagues. includes hundreds of bone-
ceive beneficial treatment in a He is waiting for advice from shaking kilometres over red
float to sweeten the process. the investment bank Carnegie, dunes and gibber plains.
‘‘I would like to see us very Wylie and the Australian Compe- The Nyngan trainer Rodney
carefully examine the possibility tition and Consumer Com- Robb says the road to Birdsville is
of offering Medibank to the pub- mission, which is investigating the greatest leveller in Australian
lic, particularly to policyholders,’’ any competition issues that may racing. After three days on the
Mr Costello told the Nine Net- arise from the sale. Like Mr road, he arrived last Tuesday and Winners are a bonus ... raceday fashions at Birdsville are often as unorthodox as the horses that win there. Photo: Steve Christo
work’s Sunday program. Costello, he favours a share float stabled his six horses next to the
‘‘The usual thing would be to rather than a trade sale. tree on the banks of Diamantina On such long journeys horses gelding called Amirreb. ‘‘I never 500 better than him, but they Springs, Darwin and Broken Hill. For the Condobolin owner and
just sell Medibank Private to A decision is expected in the River where Burke and Wills can get fatigued, dehydrated, go had much time for him,’’ Robb probably wouldn’t be able to win His parents were drovers and trainer Mark Ward, race horses
another health fund and you next two weeks, but the timing of once camped. In the coming off their food, suffer travel said, ‘‘but the conditions suited at Birdsville.’’ that’s where he got his love of life are merely an excuse to get away
would get a larger health fund. the sale will depend on whether weeks he will do hundreds more sickness and injure each other by him. He came here, he travelled Robb spends about three on the road. ‘‘I think I’m droving from the farm and have some fun.
‘‘But I would like to see the Government can sell kilometres travelling on to the kicking and biting. well, he ate, he drank, he was up months each year on the road half the time. I love the lifestyle. ‘‘If a winner comes along,
serious work done on offering it $8 billion in Telstra shares as outback race meetings at To his amazement, Robb won for it. He was a very ordinary going to race meetings as far Horse people are good people. that’s a bonus,’’ he said.
to the public.’’ planned before Christmas. Bedourie and Betoota. the Birdsville Cup in 1999 with a horse and I reckon I have had afield as Balranald, Alice Racing’s been good to me.’’ ‘‘Everyone’s here for the party.’’
He hinted that a privatised Labor voiced its opposition to
Medibank would be transformed selling Medibank, saying it sup-
into a for-profit fund when he ported neither a share float nor a
trade sale.

‘I would like to see

serious work done on
offering it to the public.’
The shadow minister for
health, Julia Gillard, said selling
or floating Medibank would
reduce competition in the indus-
try and push up premiums,
Mother and toddler caught in stem cell scam
which have risen 40 per cent Jane Lyons With the help of family and one of its founders, Laura Brown, laid 51 charges against them in Ethan was treated, after com-
PETER COSTELLO, Treasurer since 2001.
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friends, Ms Reagin raised the had written the certificates ver- March for selling fraudulent stem plaints from neurologists.
Late on Friday Labor referred A SYDNEY mother determined to $34,000 fee and set off for the ifying the cells’ purity. cell therapies through a previous Clinics administering Ad-
said that policyholders would to a Parliamentary Library report find treatment for her brain- Netherlands in July. Stem cells from cord blood are company, Biomark International. vanced Cell Therapeutics’ stem
have an added incentive to buy that said the Government was damaged son has become the un- ‘‘You grieve for the child that used in Australia to treat blood- Bob Williamson, chairman of cell therapy have been found in
shares by benefiting from the the legal owner of Medibank but witting victim of an apparent in- you lost, but it doesn’t mean you related illnesses such as leu- the National Committee for Medi- South Africa, Spain, the Nether-
company’s growth. did not own its assets. ternational stem cell scam. love them any less when some- kaemia. Scientists say their effi- cine from the Australian Academy lands, India and Mexico. The
The Treasurer said a publicly Fund members had rights to Sibel Reagin’s three-year-old thing happens to them or a cacy in treating other conditions of Science, said patients with Irish Medicines Board recently
listed health fund ‘‘would be a bit the benefits of the fund and son, Ethan, is one of at least three tragedy takes place,’’ she told the has not been clinically proven. severe neurological diseases had closed a clinic in Ireland.
of a first’’ and might lead to associated assets, it said. Australians who have been in- Herald. ‘‘And so you have every Advanced Cell Therapeutics’ approached him about stem cell Ms Reagin is now looking into
reform in the increasingly expen- Senator Minchin dismissed jected with cord blood stem cells bit of hope and faith that you website says the company has transplants overseas. compensation.
sive industry. the findings and said legal advice never intended for human use. have got to give your child every treated 500 patients with 80 dis- ‘‘Unfortunately, I have to tell However, she believes her
The Government is consider- showed the Government owned After meningitis left Ethan chance that you can so they can eases including multiple scler- them that there is no data what- story has a moral for the Aus-
ing offering Medibank’s policy- the lot and was entitled to sell it. severely brain damaged a year regain that life they had before.’’ osis, autism, cerebral palsy, soever to support the use of hu- tralian Government. ‘‘People
holders a g ua ra nteed a l lo - Mr Costello would not be ago, his mother was told he But her excitement turned to spinal cord injury, brain damage, man stem cells to treat severe want these treatments and it’s go-
cation of shares or a discount on drawn on Telstra yesterday, say- would not survive but he fought anger when a BBC documentary Deceived ... Sibel Reagin and her Parkinson’s and diabetes. disorders such as Alzheimer’s ing to happen anyway. The
their purchase. ing he could not offer the public back against the odds. team uncovered the cells’ source. son Ethan. Photo: BBC ‘‘Benefits have ranged from disease, Friedreich ataxia or mul- Government should come on
‘‘We’ve got to get to this any advice on whether to buy Then Ms Reagin heard about a ‘‘I feel deceived, duped,’’ she said. mild to full restoration in many tiple sclerosis,’’ Professor Wil- board and form legislation that
decision [about a share float] the shares. family friend in Sydney whose Last week Newsnight revealed AllCells’ general manager, Jay areas of degenerative disease liamson said. makes it foolproof.’’
before we work that out,’’ ‘‘Telstra has got its strengths little boy had regained movement that Advanced Cell Therapeutics, Tong, was shocked to learn the and injury,’’ it says. ‘‘In the absence of evidence, Advanced Cell Therapeutics
a Coalition spokesman said and if that fits in and you after a spinal injury from a car the biotech company behind the cells were being injected into Brown, an American ex-model, people are being given false hope originally welcomed an inter-
yesterday. have got some cash and you accident. He had received an in- treatment, had been buying the people. He said they were not and her South African business and are taken advantage of both view. Three emails and two
Giving Medibank’s customers believe that the prospectus is jection of stems cells derived from cells for only $US900 ($1174) a guaranteed free from bacterial partner, Steven Van Rooyen, are financially and emotionally.’’ phone calls later, its media de-
free shares is not an option the one that appeals to you, umbilical cord blood at a Rotter- shot from a US company, AllCells, or viral contamination. fighting extradition orders from The Dutch health inspectorate partment asked for a list of ques-
because the Government wel l, ma ke you r dec ision dam clinic that was being extolled which sold them for in vitro re- Two former employees of Ad- South Africa to the US. The US is investigating the Preventative tions. Emails now bounce back
believes it, not the members, accordingly,’’ he said. in the international media. search purposes only. vanced Cell Therapeutics said Food and Drug Administration Medicine Clinic, the clinic where and the phone has been cut off.

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