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7.30 Report -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

(generated from captions) a chance of showers and

thunderstorms. Unsettled

weather later in the week as

a change moves across the

region on Friday. Before we

go, a brief recap of our top

story, the Federal government

has plemed support for the

nation's doubt stricken

farmers offering an extra

$350 million in aid for now

and promise in more to come.

That is ABC News. Stay with

us for the '7.30 Report'

coming up next and we leave

you tonight with an elaborate

reenactment in Germany

marking Napolean's victory

over the Prussian army 200

years ago. Enjoy your

evening, goodnight. Cap calm Captions by Captioning and

Subtitling International

You see people cry because

it's just, where am I going to

go and is what am I going to

do? It'd be nice to see water

right there. Counting the cost of the big dry as the

Government announces more

support for struggling

farmers. On this farm alone

we've lost 30 people since

April. We're about 90% down in

sales. And the tiny community

that's a nursery for champions

finally playing under its own

colours. It's in our blood.

The first thing these kids do

when they start walking is they

want to kick a football. This program is captioned live.

Welcome to the program. For

the past week, barely a day has

passed without another dire

warning about the impact the drought will have on the

nation. The emerging economic

and social costs could be huge. Today, the Prime Minister

pledged hundreds of millions of

dollars in extra drought relief

and we'll examine that package

shortly. One of the most

worrying assessments of the

present drought from the

scientists at the National Climate Centre has all but

ruled out any hope of relief in

the short-term and the short to medium-term picture of the

nation's most vital river

system the Murray-Darling basin

remains bleak. None of this

comes to a surprise to the

people of Bourke on the banks

of the Darling in western NSW.

The drought has literally been

squeezing the life out of the

outbreak town. From Bourke,

Paul Lockyer filed this report.

It's not unusual for the

Darling River to stop flowing,

but it's happening with much

greater frequency. The river

has now begun drying out below

the weir at Bourke sounding a

new alarm in a drought that has

intensified its hold over much

of the continent. I was born

here and have seen many dry

spells and reasonably major

droughts but this one is the

daddy of them all because it's

gone on for so long and has

been so severe. Bourke has a

reputation as a tough outbreak

town, but this drought is

testing even the strongest in

the community. And it's really

sad, because having grown up

here you know what a wonderful

town it is and just to see the

people within it, feelings

going down and they're sadder

and that type of thing, it

really hurts. Pain generated by

acute water shortages that are

stifling the irrigation

industries that support Bourke.

We should see tractors

running, people running, things

moving and things growing, but

right now we see few weeds and

very dry country. Steve Chen's

father Jack pioneered cotton

growing in Bourke 40 years ago.

A huge family enterprise has

since been created. But

there'll be no cotton crop this

summer and the future is

grim. It'd be nice to see water

right there and everywhere in

between in the 400 hectares of

it. But as you can see,

there's not a drop to be

found. The Buster family has

now put the property on the

market, adding to the

uncertainty surrounding the

future of Bourke. On this farm

alone we've lost 30 people

since April, and um, and

there's more that will go between now and the end of the

drought. So all that means is

less people, less buying power,

less doctors, less teachers,

less in the community. And

it's got to have an impact.

There'll be little water for Bourke's horticulture industry

either. That'll deprive the

economy of the annual influx of

up to 300 annual workers for

the orchards. Before this drought deepened, Bourke was

already reeling from a string

of dry years. A major economic

study just produced for the NSW

Government charts that dramatic

decline in agricultural

production and in employment in

the region. And it has this depressing conclusion - unless

the drought breaks soon and or

some form of assistance is

provided the Bourke economy and

the community will become an

economic and social disaster.

Bourke, it says, is on the

brink. It's almost a downward

spiral. It's really hard work.

It's hard for the community.

So you'll need one for your

tap. Yes. You'll need two for

each filter. Sam Maroulis has

watched the family irrigation

and fertiliser supply company

decline almost every year since

1999. We're about 90% down in

sales. So we're surviving off

10% of our sales in the late

'90s. And staff? Again in '99

we had 13 full-time staff in here, all these offices were

full. We had guys out in the

merchandise area, drivers.

We're now, besides myself, I've

got one full-time staff member

here. For 33 years the family

outfitters have served the

Bourke community. Bob Culhane

is determined to keep his doors

open, but admits it will be

tough. Because it hasn't rained

in the last few weeks means

it's yet another 12 months

before any real prosperity or perspective employment will be gained and it's the employment

that keeps the shops and the industries, service industries

going. So yeah, we look like

being 12 months down the track

even if it rained tomorrow.

There's no prospect of any

flows in the river for them to

be able to plant a cotton crop

this year. That has had a huge

impact on morale and the

likelihood of relief in what's

been a long drought. When Wayne

O'Malley took over as Bourke's

mayor he was confident he'd see

the drought out. That was six

years ago, six terms ago and

the water shortages make the challenges bigger than ever. That has driven at the

nail into the coffin as far as any cash flow for our local

economy goes. Customers that

come into the shop are very

negative. It's just a tough

time generally and it's tough

to survive. So the social

fabric of the community you're

saying is really eroding and

it's really sad. As the

daughter of the Bourke grazier,

rural counselor Sharon Knight

has an intimate knowledge of

the pressures being felt in her

community. People often turn

to her first. You see people

cry and even the strongest

people. You see people cry

because it's just, "Where am I

going to go? What am I going to

do?" I guess they have their

cry and then we can - and

probably they've been holding

that in for a long time. I

think there's a lot of silent

sufferers out there putting on

a brave face. Inside they'd be

hurting very much. And if the

long-term weather forecasts are

correct, the people of Bourke

will have even bigger problems

to confront - a drought that

extends into yet another year.

I wouldn't like to think what

the fallout would be if it

doesn't rain by the end of

summer and not only for this

area, but for all of the Australian continent that's

suffering from this drought at

the moment. We've just got to

live with what happens at this

point in time. No-one can

change it and no-one can make a

difference except the old fella

up there that might send us

some rain. Paul Lockyer with

that report. Acknowledging the

worst drought in Australian history, the Prime Minister

today announced more aid for

struggling farmers. The first instalment of an assistance

package that's still in the

making came in the form of an

extra $350 million in grants

for exceptional circumstances.

The money won't cover

contractors or other rural industries, but the Prime

Minister has left that

possibility open. Cabinet is

still discussing the rest of

the assistance package, but

while all sides agree the

farmers need help, the wider

political argument is focussed

on the best way to tackle the

ongoing problems of climate

change. Political Editor

Michael Brissenden reports.

Politicians don't need to go

too far from Canberra these

days to find evidence of the

drought, if anymore were

needed. Even the countryside

just half an hour from the

Parliament is looking drier and

dustier than it has in living

memory and those who have a

closer association with the

land are warning there's worse

to come. For a long time I've

had the view that climate

change is here. When you see

your ice caps melting. When

you see the changing weather

patterns, the drift of the weather southwards and if you

are not, as I said the other

day in the'Financial Review' if

you're not the world's greatest sceptic then you have to

believe your advice and science

and I do. Down Junee way on

farms like Bill Heffernan dust

is the only thing growing these

days. But no-one makes money

from airborne dirt and today the Government announced assistance. This is the first

of what could be a number of

decisions to be announced by

the Government to respond to

this terrible drought. What we

are announcing today is the

commitment of an additional

estimated $350 million for exceptional circumstances

drought assistance to support

farmers during the ongoing dry

conditions. All eligible

producers in 18 exceptional

circumstances declared areas -

and I'll provide a list in NSW,

Victoria, Queensland, South

Australia and the Australian

Capital Territory - will

receive an extension to their

income support and interest

rate subsidies until 31 March,

2008. Australia has now been in

drought for nearly six years

and as dams dry up the crops

fail and the blistering record

October temperatures scorch

their way across the nation, everyone is wondering if this

is just the start of a

permanent change. Even the

sceptics are starting to

reluctantly accept that climate

change is upon us. As to the broader issue of the relationship between drought

and climate change, obviously

you can't totally separate the

two. But I think it's

important that we don't overdo

the link. This country has

been afflicted by drought for a

very long period of time. This

is clearly worse than probably

any we've had in the last

century and there are many

responses to the challenge of

climate change. There certainly

are and we'll get to the views

of the mainstream parties on

that in a moment. But first,

it's worst reflecting on the reminisces of the one

politician in this place who's

never been a sceptic. In fact

Bob Brown has been banging on about climate change for more

than 10 years and he raised it

in one of his first speeches to

the Senate. The Government

benches broke out laughing.

Bill O'Chee bellowed out,

"You're out of your depth. "

Afterwards Dr Wood came across

from the Government benchs and

said, "Look you made a mistake

Bob you were meaning six

centimeters and you said six

metres. " I said, "No, I meant

six metres. " The smile went

from his face. The Government

benches aren't laughing now. No

surprise you might think given

green politics are Bob Brown's

bread and butter. These days

on climate change at least

there's not too many sceptics

yet and the major parties are

staking out positions in response to the facts and the

growing public alarm. For the

Government this means in part

at least, embracing a nuclear

future. I do believe this, that

nuclear power is part of the

solution to the problem of

global warming. And those who

say they're in favour of doing

something about global warming

but turn their faces against

considering nuclear power are unreal. It helps, of course,

that the nuclear issue is a

difficult one to say the least

for the Labor Party. But then,

as Labor points out, this is a

Government that's been

reluctant to embrace

alternative renewable energy

solutions with quite the same

enthusiasm. Our mandatory

renewable targets are still

just 2% well behind targets in comparable industrialised

economies. Even China is

looking to reach 10% by 2020. Isn't it the case that

the Government's failure to

increase the renewable energy

target meant that the Roaring

Forties has cancelled projects

in Tasmania and South Australia

worth $550 million that would

have employed 200 Australians

and the Vestus renewable energy

assembly plant in northern

Tasmania is closing with a loss

of 100 jobs? Prime Minister, is

there any other country on the

planet where renewable energy

projects are being closed? Well, we're still none

the wiser on that one. The

point is like many things dealing with climate change is

a matter of political emphasis.

But with every unseasonably hot

day adding to public concern

and with a drought and a long

summer to come, climate change

is now hot politics for

sceptics and believers

alike. Political Editor Michael

Brissenden. And so is water.

While the drought worsens,

governments continue to bicker

over the national water

resource and the range of

crises afflict ing cities and

towns around Australia as well

as the bush. The man charged

with oversight of the Prime

Minister's new national office

of water resources

parliamentary secretary Malcolm

Turnbull was trading

accusations with the States

last Friday over who is

dragging the chain on urgent

water reforms. At the heart of

those reforms is the critical

but ticklish political issue of

redistributing water from

agricultural use to the cities

and to protect ailing river

systems, in particular the

Murray-Darling. To underscore

the problem in the seven years

to 2001, water consumption in

Australia increased by

one-third. Figures from the Bureau of Statistics show that

90% of that increase was in the

agricultural sector. The nation's most eminent

scientists are adamant that

governments have to embark on a

massive water buyback program

or else. To look further at

these issues I'm joined by

Malcolm Turnbull in our

Canberra studio. Malcolm Turnbull, while farmers

struggle with the worst drought

on record and urban Australia

grapples with its own water

crises. We've had the

spectacle in the past few days

of yet another blame game

between the Commonwealth and

the States over who's not doing

what. So water has become just

another war of words and

numbers like health and

education, it seems. Are you

there to flame the fans of that

boring old battleground or are

you going to break the

cycle? I'm working

collaboratively with all the

States. I was in Bendigo

supporting a recycling program

and I'll be meeting with all of

the States about their big

metropolitan water plans, their

big iconic project s that we've

asked them to present to us.

I'll be sitting down with all

of them working through their

water challenges and seeing how

we can help. We are putting

more money into Australia's

water problems Kerry, than any other Australian Government,

any national government has

ever done in this nation's

history. Well, you've got no

other choice? Well, the reality

is that the constitution put

water management in the hands

of the States. You talk about

pointing fingers and blame

games and so forth. Let's just

be quite clear about what

happened. In 2004, John Howard

led all the governments of

Australia into an agreement to

ensure that we had a secure and

sustainable water future, the National Water Initiative.

Under that agreement all of the

parties took up certain

obligations and most of the

obligations in terms of

managing water were taken up by

the States because that's what

they do. Commonwealth's

obligations were largely to

monitor and to provide cash,

which we do by the bucketload.

The monitor, if you like the

observer of compliance, was the

national Water Commission upon

which the States are

represented. The NWC wrote the

record card. Not John Howard

or anyone else in the

Government. They wrote the

record card. The question is

who leaked it. And you talk

about cooperation. Last Friday's'Australian'' newspaper

carried a front page headline

'States fail on water crisis'

it was based on a leaked copy

of the national water audit,

did you have a hand in or any

knowledge of that leak. You

don't have to be Ian Stein to

work out that the leak came

from somewhere within the Commonwealth? You're clearly

equal or approaching Ian Stein

in your deduction. What was it

if it wasn't designed to score

points against the States? The

report card had to be published

at some point. The decision

was presumably taken for it to

be published then. Whether it

was published on that day or

another day it gave the States

Cs and Ds. It also gave the

States the feeling they'd been

ambushed. As a result of that

leak Peter Beattie accused the

Howard Government of political

bastardry and the States

generally said it was the

Federal Government stalling key

projects. In other words it

became another slanging

match. The problem is that they

- the States - are responsible

for water management. Now that

is part of their obligation

under the NWI. That's what was

found wanting. Look, let's not

trawl over this for too long.

The most important issue is how

are we going to move forward

together to ensure we have a

secure and sustainable water

future for all Australians.

Now we are putting enormous

resources into that. A $2

billion water fund of which

$500,000 has already been spent, mostly supporting

projects brought to us by the

States, the vast majority falls

into that category. We've put

another $500,000 into the Murray-Darling basin Commission

mainly to promote the very

thing that we're accused of not

doing. That is to say,

acquiring water for the

environment. I am in a few

weeks about to launch a tender

to buy water for the Living

Murray Initiative. Buying

water. On precisely that point

the Federal Opposition leader

Kim Beazley said the Prime

Minister had promised three

years ago to feed an extra 500

gigalitres into the Murray as a

first step to restore it to a healthy working river. Kim

Beazley says after three years

not a drop of that promised

water has flown into the mury.

What responsibility does the

Government take for that? 35

gigalitres was committed to

environmental purposes this

year. Committed to, or in the

Murray? Used, it was

deployed. In the Murray? In the

Murray to water environmental

sites many of which I was

visiting only two weeks

ago. That's out of 500? Just

let me finish. The target is

to acquire the water by 2009.

By the middle of next year

around half of that target will

be available for environmental

purposes. But you are not going

to reach that target by 2009,

are you sn. I have no doubt

that we will and we are taking

steps to do so. This is where

Mr Beazley is disingenuous.

Under the Living Murray

Agreement. It is the three States including the ACT who

are to acquire the water and in

effect present it to the LMI.

Our role as the Commonwealth is

to pay 40% of the cost. 200

out of $500 million and we've

committed another $200 million.

We're now into it for four out

of $700 million. You see we do

not at the Commonwealth level deliver a bucket of water to anybody. That's what the

States do. So Mr Beazley

instead of lecturing the Commonwealth Government should

be saying to his Labor

comrades, "Why are you dragging

the chain?" Well a minute ago you were talking about the

things you were doing in which

the States were cooperating and

they were spending their money

as well. Now you're saying they're dragging the chain.

You're doing all the good stuff

and they're dragging the chain.

Is that really an accurate

reflection? Kerry I'm afraid to

see with the Living Murray

Initiative it is, because the

obligation under the agreement

is for Victoria, NSW, South

Australia and the ACT in a very

small way to deliver the 500

gigalitres. Look, all of -

none of this is easy work.

Victoria is ahead of NSW, South

Australia was behind and is now

come up to the mark, or very

close to the mark. So I'm

confident that we will get

there. We are collaborating on

projects with all of those

States. And supporting them.

But the point is that Mr

Beazley is wagging his finger

at the wrong governments.

These are Labour Governments

that have not delivered the

water yet that they're bound to

do by 2009. Were you aware of

those ABS water account figures

that in the seven years to 2001 water consumption in Australia

had increased by one-third, but

nearly all of it on

agriculture. Do you know who

the users are that are

responsible for most of that

use? Because surely that's un

sustainable and the follow-up

question is, when are we going

to actually see a proper

national buyback plan laid

out? Well, we have programs

that we are supporting that are

doing that all around the

country and I imagine more will

be done. If I could just go

back to the figures. Very

briefly. The figures you quote

don't actually paint the real

picture. The increase in

diversions of surface water and

ground water to irrigated agriculture has been much

greater than a third over the

last 20 years and very very

large. No, I said over seven,

but go on. These increases,

what we've seen is a massive

increase in irrigation activity

and, of course, that makes us

more vulnerable to drought

which is one of the reasons

this drought is hurting

agriculture. Which is why the

buyback is so urgent? But Kerry

there is structural adjustment

happening all around the

country. It is fundamental to the National Water Initiative.

We've just gone through a very

painful structural adjustment

of ground water entitlements in

NSW to which the Commonwealth

contributed one half of the

cost, $55 million and there are

buybacks as we discussed

earlier occurring for the

Living Murray Initiative. But

you have to remember this Kerry - Briefly I'm sorry, because

we're out of time. Kim Beazley

it's fine to stand up in front

of an urban audience and say we

should solve this by buying the

farmers out. Who is going to

produce the food and fibres we

consume in the cities? Isn't

this at the heart of the

political problem? On the one

hand, of course, the food has

to be produced but on the other hand you are now one of the

first to acknowledge that the

buyback has to happen? Well

buybacks are happening.

Buybacks are happening. Every

State is acquiring water in one

way or another right now and

the Commonwealth is - particularly in the

Murray-Darling basin - is

putting very substantial

resources behind it. But the

aim is to have a sustainable

river environment but also a sustainable agricultural sector

for all Australians. Malcolm

Turnbull we're out of time,

thanks for talking was. Thank

you. Very complex topic that

one and obviously there'll be a

lot more on it. While

footballers where else across

the country have well and truly

hung up their boots in the Top

End the footy season is getting

started. Saturday's round of the Northern Territory football

league featured a notable

debut, the first appearance of

a team representing the Tiwi

Islands north of Darwin. Since

Australian Rules was introduced Australian Rules was introduced

more than 60 years ago, the

Tiwi Islands have become

synonymous with a brand of

sparkling football that have

produced big names in the AFL.

They've never had their own

team, until now. Murray McLoughlin reports from


Overwhelmingly, the crowd

sympathies ran with the

visitors from Tiwi Islands at

Mararra Stadium in Darwin on

Saturday afternoon. The Tiwi

Bombers playing their first

match in the Northern Territory's Aussie Rules

competition won by 34 points

against the league's strongest

team, St Mary's. Labor Cabinet

minister Marion Scrymgour,

herself a Tiwi islander, summed

up the mood. Absolutely fantastic, I don't think the

crowds in Darwin have seen this

style of football for a long

time. And if you look at the

crowd, this has certainly

brought the crowd back and it

is just fantastic. Makes me

proud. Fantastic! When you're

weak, when you think you can't

kick the goal or make that

tackle, you think back. What

would this mob do? The night

before the inaugural match, Captain Thomas Simon drew

inspiration for his team from a

tour of the Tiwi museum at

North Adelaide, the

administrative centre on

Bathurst Island. Out of the

Tiwi population of just 2,500,

500 boys and girls, men and

women, one fifth of the

population, play football

regularly. And Tiwi players

like Maurice Rioli and Michael

Long have gone on to win the

AFL's highest honours. It's in

our blood, the first thing

these kids do when they start

walking is they want to kick a football, they want to be like

their dad. They want to be

like their grandfathers. The

Catholic Church and Australian

Rules Football are the two for

that matterive influences on

modern Tiwi culture. And it

was the church which brought

footy to the islands during the

Second World War. It's what

brought us together, it's what

made us stop fighting each

other. It just created a lot

of opportunities. That legacy

was honoured on Saturday.

Brother John Pye introduced the

game when he arrived on the

islands in 1941. Now aged 99,

he was acknowledged by each of

the Tiwi players before the

match. We thank Brother Pye for

bringing football to our

people. The Tiwis' opposition

on Saturday was St Mary's the

NTF L team which has most drawn

Tiwi Islands players since its

founding in the early 1950s.

So Saturday's contest gave rise

to serious conflicts of

interest. I've been waiting

for years for the Tiwis to get

in but I'm the patron of St

Mary's for the last 20 years so

I've got divided loyalties. It

makes me proud to see my son

and grandson playing together

and also there's a grandson on

the St Mary's side. The Tiwi

bombers' slogan is 'Tiwi for

Life' a recognition of the high

suicide rate among young men.

The entry of a Tiwi Islands

team into the Darwin

competition is being used to

promote good health and arrest

suicide. This time last year we had

had close to 20 attempt

suicides, four of them being

successful. This time last

year was a pretty sad time for

both islands in the Tiwi. Four

months solid training four nights a week went into

Saturday's match. Among the

squad, young men who've been

able to use the experience to

lift themselves out of danger.

Team administrator, Brian

Clancy. There's a couple of

kids in particular have been at

risk for quite a few years and

these are kids who've we've been worried about and they

don't smoke now. They look

terrific. They stand up

straight. None of this head

down, and the red eyes and the

glassy eyes, just that look of

depression. They've got life,

energy back into them. It's

just amazing. Given the

reputation of the St Mary's

opposition, Saturday's victory

augurs well for the Tiwi

bombers. It brought tears to my

eyes when I heard that first

siren and just pretty awesome.

Awesome. We've waited a long

time. Certainly waited 20

years for this to happen. The

Tiwi bombers are playing in

only the first seven matches

this season. Saturday's result

staked an early claim to

that. They played a beautiful

style of football. I think

probably 80% of the support

would have been for the Tiwi

team. People appreciate the

skills and the way they play

and the fact that it's an

all-Aboriginal team's just

historical in itself as well.

Murray McLoughlin. That's the

program for tonight. We'll be back at the same time tomorrow.

For now goodnight.

This program is not subtitled THEME MUSIC Hello, I'm Caroline Jones. When Steve Irwin died last month, it was his off-camera friend and manager who stepped up to become the public face of the Crocodile Hunter phenomenon. John Stainton had to simultaneously protect the Irwin family, handle his own grief and manage the global media frenzy. Now the focus is fast switching to 8-year-old Bindi Irwin,

a development that's starting to draw criticism. Tonight's program tracks the unfolding events and takes a look into the future. MAN: This is our first day back on location filming with Bindi. Steve was supposed to get on it, but Paddy got on it. ALL: Ohhh. Well, Steve told him to get on. That's what we do with Bindi. We say, "Ride the bison, and if you're safe, then we'll look at it." (Laughs) Bindi can kind of lead him up. We'll take him down there and...just start him from there, and you can kind of lead him up here.