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(generated from captions) # At last I'm home for real

# At last I'm home for real. # Songs Of Praise. That's it for this St Patrick's Day the magnificent mountains of Mourne So, from Patrick's country where

sweep down to the sea, goodbye. on St Patrick's Day itself, Oh, wherever you find yourself have a good one. whether you're Irish or not, Closed Captions by CSI

This Program Is Captioned Live.

Hello - Claire Aird updating ABC

news. The Federal Government's set

release the Henry tax review by the

May budget. Some state Premiers have

been demanding the report be

before they decide whether to been demanding the report be released

to the Government's new health before they decide whether to sign-up

funding plan. The Opposition says it

doubts the states will agree to

proposal without first seeing the

review. The Deputy Opposition

leader's also played down the impact

the coalition's paid parental leave

plan would have on big business. It

would grant parents six-months leave

at salary paid for by a new levy on

larger businesses. But Julie

suggested the levy could be scrapped larger businesses. But Julie Bishop's

once the budget returns to surplus.

At least 30 people have been killed

and 40 wounded in a series of

bombings in southern Afghanistan. and 40 wounded in a series of suicide

Taliban has claimed responsibility bombings in southern Afghanistan. The

describing the attacks as a message

to Nato commanders. And Taronga

new baby elephant has moved into his to Nato commanders. And Taronga Zoo's

new home. It didn't take long for

to start exploring his new new home. It didn't take long for him

surroundings. Keepers say the calf

thriving. More news later. surroundings. Keepers say the calf is This program is not subtitled This Program is Captioned Live THEME MUSIC On Landline today - energy initiative goes up in smoke, another Federal Government renewable

to cop the losses. this time leaving canegrowers for 30 seconds, And if you could get Penny Wong what would you say to her? "Wake up". I don't need 30 seconds. on an agricultural aid program And we return to check to food security that's helping make a big difference for one of our nearest neighbours. for 30 seconds, And if you could get Penny Wong and heartbreaking situation I see. This, for me, is the most pressing to have a proper meal a day. People who cannot even afford number one priority. So yes, it's absolutely Welcome to the program. Hello, I'm Anne Kruger.

stories of the week One of the big agribusiness on beef imports. was Tony Burke's backflip

the Federal Agriculture Minister, Only last week the Red Meat Advisory Council, on the advice of with a history of BSE. lifted a ban on meat from countries to demands Now Minister Burke has bowed of the quarantine risks, for a more rigorous study for at least two years. so the ban stays for a Minister It is an unusual situation and decide to initiate that. to personally intervene

I believe, has been sufficient The level of community concern, to the process. to add that level of formality Last week on this program, no scientific basis Tony Burke was firm there was whipped up by the Opposition for the hysteria of the beef industry. and some sections put the ban in place, When the previous government they did the right thing. Because BSE was a new disease whether it was contagious, and no-one knew no-one know how it could spread. between animals, Now we know it's not contagious particular feeding methods. we know that animals get it through that we've received, We also know, from all the science is carried in the spinal cord, that the disease itself not the muscle tissue. with no scientific argument So we ended up that says you can keep it out. Federal Minister under the pump And it seems he's not the only over policies affecting the bush. Nearly 18 months ago, green energy development Landline reported on a world-first that was all set to revolutionise sugar cane industry. the New South Wales Unfortunately, though, the final future the project that promised to cement of the States' 600 growers, and environmental credentials financial problems from the start. hit political, technical and Now, what was once touted non-hydro renewable energy project, as the country's largest from going into receivership. is days away If it does, meant to foster green energy projects the Federal Department that's will cop a lot of the blame. Wales cane industry for 125 years. Fire has been part of the New South takes out leaf trash, Burning prior to harvest transport and process. making cane easier to harvest, Spectacular, maybe, get a kick out of them. but growers no longer we enjoyed it. One time we were young,

They are big fires. We don't enjoy it any more now. every second night. We are burning every night, it's a physical strain. It's a mental strain, I'll tell you. Good for growing ulcers, to these annual bonfires. Cogeneration was going to put an end in the paddock, Instead of being burnt along with the cane the trash would be harvested the fibre left after crushing. and burnt at the mill with bagasse, is a six-month operation, As cane milling would run on local wood waste. in the off-season the power plant was a bold move, Investing in cogeneration

anywhere in the world. for it hadn't been tried the milling cooperative partnered To fund it, Delta Energy, with the State Government-run to form Sunshine Electricity. converting two sugar mills $220 million was spent into 30 megawatt power plants. a triple bottom line winner. It was touted as for cane and power, Growers would be paid the end to burning of greenhouse gases every year, would save 400,000 tonnes ash and haze. as well as clearing the air of smoke, to the long term sustainability It's going to add in New South Wales, of the sugar industry drivers and economic drivers and it has so many environmental but be excited by this project. that you can't help for 60,000 homes, Providing baseload power it was just the sort of investment the Federal Government needed to meet its target of 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It's been a revolutionary change, and a very expensive one. We have been given the incentive to do so by the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target Scheme, which provides a premium price for renewable electricity. Greg Messiter retired just before the cogeneration plants opened in December 2008. Neither he, nor anyone else at the opening that day could have predicted what would happen next. Right from the start we had difficulty with the handling of the product. The mill had trouble handling excess volume. We also had major issues in the field with being able to handle the extra volume. It's 80% increase in volume, so it's a substantial amount of extra traffic we have to deal with in the field. The recovery rates went down. The guys couldn't believe it when they found out that our mills were losing about $170,000 a week in lost sugar just through not being able to reclaim it out of the trash. In August 2009, it came to a standstill and we are running it now just on wood and timber. What was it was built for - all the trash is left out there being burnt, and as growers, we have to say there was some mistakes made. When I spoke to Vince Castle in 2008,

he was one of the industry's more cautious voices about cogeneration. Even so, he thought it would work. I thought you might come back within three years and say what a great success story, and catch up on how it's been so successful. I didn't think you'd be coming back with it in such jeopardy at the present time. He says an objection hurt the project before it was even built. We certainly were held up in the Land and Environment Court for far too long, which cost the venture $70 million extra, from $150 million to $220 million.

The cost blowout

meant the co-op scrapped plans to build cleaning plants to sort the trash and cane before milling. At the time, no-one realised the impact this would have. Milling cooperative and other experts and consultants believed they could do it whole of crop and put it in there. I have to say, many of the growers, including myself, had doubts all along whether that could be achieved. To prepare for cogeneration, growers spent more than $5 million modifying equipment and buying new machinery to cope with the volume of the unburnt crop. Wayne Rogers is a member of a 20-man harvesting group. Basically, I lifted the old baskets - they were 24 cubic metre standard baskets for burnt cane. On our right is a modified power haul with a 36 cubic metre basket and extended chassis to fit the basket, and it cost roughly $75,000 per unit. So it's a substantial capital spend to get ready for the whole crop harvesting. We would have spent upwards of $500,000 up front to bring ourselves up to speed. The big drama was we didn't really know what we had to achieve. It was all cutting edge stuff. Alf Lock expected his investment would pay off, now he's not so sure. By the time cogen now gets up and away, there's a fair chance that most of that machine will have to be replaced anyhow. It will be past its use-by date, so we are back to square one. Chris Connors took over at the co-op just before the cogeneration plants were commissioned. He delivered the first reality check. He told growers whole of crop harvesting wasn't working. We won't do it overnight and we won't do it in the next 12 months, but over the next two to three years, we'll find an alternative to be able to bring the material in. While the seriousness of the harvesting problems were being absorbed,

the project was dealt a crippling blow from an unexpected quarter - the Federal Government. It changed solar energy rebates, causing a plunge in the price of renewable energy certificates, or RECs. When you come down to the real risks in this project, it was always going to be about fuel and energy prices,

and the risks we have at the moment are effectively playing out right now, with the Government changing legislation, to effectively decimate renewable or green energy prices through the REC scheme. Instead of claiming a rebate, home owners who installed solar panels received a solar credit and four bonus RECs. So they get these four phantom systems for every one real system. The phantom systems don't actually generate renewable electricity, they don't generate anything - they are true phantoms. They flooded the marketplace, prices have dropped from over $50, $52 on our last sale prior to the system coming in, dropped to $24. We dropped something like $8 million out of our cash flow simply because the Government introduced this scheme. The Government had predicted REC prices would sit at around $60, and could go as high as $90 this year. At $42, Sunshine Electricity can survive. At $24, it's not viable. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. There's no doubt we had other problems in cogen. It was the first of its kind, and we did have some other problems, but if the renewable energy certificates had have stayed at $54 as they were at that time, the program could have carried on and we could have sorted out the other problem. Sunshine Electricity hit financial trouble in November. Now, there's talk of receivership. How are the bankers? Nervous. Is it a week-by-week proposition? It's a day-by-day proposition at the present time.

Ian Causley was a co-op board member 30 years ago. He resigned to go into politics. After 23 years in state and federal parliament, he's back to help Chris Connors steer the co-op out of this expensive mess.

I think it's a good project in the long term, yes. I don't know whether we can carry on with it, because I think the financial situation at the present time with the cogeneration is probably left us behind. I think we'd probably be looking for someone else to take it over. Chris Connors is amazed the Government didn't act immediately to fix the problem, given the wind-energy sector was affected too. You know, you've just got to read the papers. Every week there's something about a renewable energy project not happening. People are saying, "we are going to mothball this," "we are going to put these people off." Last week's paper, 150 people put off out of the wind energy industry, because the projects can't move ahead. For months, the renewable energy sector pleaded with Climate Change Minister Penny Wong to do something.

Everybody out there is saying there's a problem. Everybody. Even in the Clean Energy Council, that represents solar people as well is saying there's a big problem here.

Front line headlines last weekend. What else do you need? She has to stop the renewable energy certificates that are just being handed out like confetti, to stabilise the market. If you could get Penny Wong for 30 seconds, what would you say to her. "Wake up". I don't need 30 seconds. Last year Penny Wong announced a review of the REC scheme, handing Greg Combet responsibility for the renewable energy target. Both declined an interview with Landline, but in a statement, Mr Combet said: If Australia is to hit the 20% of electricity from renewable resources target by 2020, there needs to be a four-fold increase in green energy generation over the next decade. In his statement, Greg Combet says: The challenge for Sunshine Electricity now is to stay solvent until the REC program is changed. The mills can burn the gas for half the year, but they also need wood waste. The fuel's out there, it's just that under State Government rules Sunshine Electricity can't have it. There's frustration that native forest cleared for roads and residential developments, can be burnt on site, but not for power. And that it's illegal to divert the thousands of tonnes of wood from the demolition sector that goes to landfill every year, to the mill.

The Condong Mill last ran on 4th February. Further south, the Broadwater Mill has only operated for eight days since early December. The co-op's constant search for fuel has taken it as far north as Gympie, as far west as Chinchilla in Queensland, and as far south as Kempsey in New South Wales. To keep going, the mill is making use of a declared noxious weed that infests hundreds of hectares in the Northern Rivers. This load of camphor laurel wood chips will keep the Condong boiler going for an hour.

Camphor is expensive. There's chopping, chipping, trucking and rehabilitation of the land. They are a high cost operation, but they do give you significant fuel source, and for the most part, at the moment, that's our additional fuel stream. But it's not enough. This paddock across the road from the boiler should hold 40,000 tonnes of fuel. At the moment it stores just eight.

Two weeks ago, Penny Wong announced an overhaul of the REC system. These are changes that are about improving certainty, enhancing the renewable energy target,

and delivering more renewable energy and more clean energy jobs. But the changes won't kick in until next year. The former Mayor of the Tweed Valley

says the region and the industry can't wait till then. He wants the Prime Minister to step in, the way he did with the insulation crisis. If he was consistent, he would take a keen interest in this particular situation,

and try and rescue them.

We have a project here that's on knife edge, and very close to the wind, and the Government's simply sitting there taking their time, and it's frustrating, that's a word. Like most risky ventures, the bankers will probably have the last say. They're expected to show their hand this week. It's certainly been a costly experience, but it's a world first, so it was very hard to find a benchmark. It's very much a steep learning curve for us. Possibly, in hindsight, we could have done things better, but we had to make that initial jump. We needed to make a start. They were dead unlucky that things went the way they did.

And in the big scheme of things, I think it would be extremely sad to see them now lose a very valuable asset, and their courage in backing it. And now to our news summary, and it's hard to go past the drought-breaking rains It's certainly been a costly experience, but it's a world first, so it was very hard to find a benchmark. It's very much a steep learning curve for us. Possibly, in hindsight, we could have done things better, but we had to make that initial jump. We needed to make a start. They were dead unlucky that things went the way they did. And in the big scheme of things, I think it would be extremely sad to see them now lose a very valuable asset, and their courage in backing it. And now to our news summary, and it's hard to go past the drought-breaking rains that have swept through Queensland's south-west

and into New South Wales over the past week. Paul Lockyer and his crew have been charting the course of some mighty floodwaters since they first burst their banks, and he joins us now from St George. Yes, well, Anne, I guess in the towns to start with, I guess it's easier to measure the property damage, isn't it, because the houses go under, the streets go under, and you know exactly what's happened in the towns, as they wait to get back into their flooded homes. But once you get out into the countryside it's a bit more difficult. Already, we are hearing right across southern Queensland the rail and road network is facing immense damage. But when you get out into the farming land, and that's what we've been seeing in our chopper rides right through this flood zone, you can tell that the damage is immense. Kilometre upon kilometre of fence line has been washed away. We've seen sheep, hundreds of sheep, swept up against fence lines, cattle stranded on ever diminishing islands, and you can imagine that out there too, the farm machinery is standing deep in water, as are the farm buildings. Grain also stored out in the open, some of that has definitely been spoiled and soiled. There's no doubt that the damages bill from this will be great, But we won't know for weeks about that. The thing is it's getting bigger, every day it's bigger because floodwaters are spreading wider across the area. But the bigger picture is more positive, isn't it? This is the break this part of the country has been waiting a long time for.

Well, I guess, Anne, the thing is when you go through these difficulties, it's quite hard to look down the road. Look, you only have to talk to people for a few minutes

and they'll tell you in places like St George here and right through southern Queensland how dry it was before Christmas. I mean, St George has got this huge river now cascading past us, behind us here, and just before Christmas there was not much water in this river, and they were talking about even more severe water restrictions for St George, and everything around here was drought dry. I mean, Queensland and western Queensland has been drought dry like that for 10 years. Now they can see the water flowing, and what does that mean? Well, it means deep subsoil moisture for the crops, it means water going down this river course for the irrigators, all the way down to Dirranbandi on the border and they'll get two or three good seasons out of that. Farm dams will be topped up,

and of course after that, when the water begins to recede, the pastures. And what will the pastures look like? Well, already, as we criss-cross this country, there are parts of this southern Queensland area that I have seen in drought for 10 years, that looks the driest you could possibly find, it looks like the wetlands of Kakadu. Wherever there's a depression, there's water. There's green grass as far as the eye can see.

This is going to be a huge bonus for this area and for the national economy. It will generate enormous growth in the agricultural industries of this area. The towns will boom and the national economy will benefit. Now, smack bang in the middle of this inland sea is Australia's best known irrigated cotton property, Cubbie Station. I guess it's a pumping station right now. Well, Anne, they'd prefer to say, "a gravity fed station," because they don't do much pumping there. It's engineered so all the water just flows into that station from the Culgoa, and goes right down, where it's collected off the floodwaters. The dams are being topped up as we speak. They will be full in about another 10 days time from now. Something else happened this week, and that is that a resources operation plan for that area has finally been sorted out with a court decision. What it means is that Cubbie can now more easily sell its water separate to its property title. And even as we speak, the administrator is going back to the Federal Government to revive offers to them to buy some of Cubbie's water entitlements. So if they can't sell the place, they might sell some of the water. But I tell you what, they'll have a lot of water to sell, something between 400,000 and 500,000 megalitres of water. How much further could this water reach into the Murray Darling Basin? I imagine people on the New South Wales side of the border are watching all this anxiously. It's taking a long time for the floodwaters to move down from places like St George, because we had those wet events earlier, pastures are there, it's just creeping across the floodplain. But there's an enormous amount of water behind it. I don't think anyone doubts that even after the irrigators get a drink between here and the border, that a lot of water will go down the Culgoa, and the other rivers that flow to the Darling. But it's not just this system, of course, there are record-breaking flows in a lot of water ways that run into the top of the Murray-Darling right across this country. The expectation is that the Darling had a flow earlier this year, quite a big flow, went down to the Menindee Lakes and all the way to South Australia. That one will be bigger, it's expected. It must be expected this water will get to Bourke, and go all the way down to the Menindee Lakes. Then the politics comes into play - New South Wales has to say, "We'll let some go down to South Australia." But there'll be so much going down, I expect, that there'll be water all the way down to South Australia, and who knows? It might even get to the Murray mouth. Paul Lockyer, thanks for your time and the effort of your crew, Taryn Southcombe, Simon Beardsell, and chopper pilot Rick Howell, for keeping us in the picture. Thank you, Anne. Let's start with cattle and the emerging power of Brazil. While our exports are struggling, in the first two months of this year, Brazilian exports of raw beef grew 26% percent on last year, reaching a massive USD $666 million. Of course, Brazil, with 188 million cattle, has long surpassed Australia as the world's biggest exporter of beef. At the saleyards, slaughter numbers were way down last week as rain, floods and damaged roads restricted transport. At the same time, the rain has encouraged producers to hang on, and overall competition was strong. Strangely enough, it's been relatively dry across the Top End and into WA, and live export prices have eased a fraction.

Indonesia is still not issuing import permits, but nobody seems especially worried and it's tipped they'll be back on next month. Lambs slipped a fraction but the mutton price is heading into Star-Trek territory, where no man has gone before. The current edition of ProFarmer Newsletter poses the interesting question - Will the drifting price of wheat push graingrowers into livestock, especially sheep meat? The answer is "Probably not." Although ProFarmer also points out it's not called the wheat-sheep belt for nothing.

Overseas futures struggled with the bears dominant. Over in New York, the bulls were in hiding. Dairy prices, meanwhile, remain rock steady. has seen dairy prices rise considerably. That butter price is 100% up on March 2009. Finally, to wool, where the market held up well against our rising dollar. China again led the buying ahead of Taiwan, Europe and India. A season highlight will be this week's auction in Melbourne of a bale of ultrafine wool measuring an astounding 11.4 microns. And I promise next week, we'll get to rural property values. It's a hot topic right across the country. Now there's a new book to help people understand the valuation process. We'll hear from its author, Professor James Baxter, and one of the most respected land valuers, Kerry Herron. But for now, that's the Landline check on prices. Eight years since independence, massive amounts of international aid continue to pour into East Timor. The majority of its people live in rural areas in grinding poverty, surviving on less than $1 a day, and enduring several months a year of near starvation. An Australian-funded aid agency develops and distributes new varieties of seeds for crucial staple crops such as rice and maize. And as Landline reporter Tim Lee discovered, it's starting to transform whole communities. The rain clouds are building over the spectacular ranges of East Timor. The wet season is coming and across the land the farmers are restless. In the mountains south of capital Dili, a woman stabs the earth with a digging stick, bobbing as she flicks seed into the smooth jungle soils, a method unchanged in centuries. This is a fairly typical farm. It hasn't been farmed for three or four years. She's now chopped down the trees, burnt the weeds, and is planting a mix of species into this area. Already I've count eight different species that she's planted, or is planting, in this small little area. You have maize, a number of beans, a number of root crops, and a great diverse of bananas in the middle.

A great diversity in a very small area. Almost one million people live in East Timor. About three quarters of them live in rural areas. Most raise large families on less than one hectare of farmed land. It's barely subsistence, a poverty track. This, for me, is the most pressing and heartbreaking situation I see. People who can't even afford to have a proper meals a day. So, yeah, it's absolutely number one priority. FOLK MUSIC PLAYS It's almost 10 years since East Timor gained its independence from Indonesia. The steps on its march to nationhood have often been faltering.

Real progress is often excruciatingly slow. The departing Indonesian forces left a country in ruins, its infrastructure in tatters. Number one priority for us is food security to eliminate the malnourishment of children who are stunt, because of malnutrition, in the first few years of their lives.

It's one of the fundamental hurdles, if you like, to development.

A country can't grow economically if its peoples can't feed themselves properly. This farmer has five children aged under 10 years. On average, east Timorese women have eight children who make it past infancy, in a country which has one of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality in the world. Half the country's population is less than 10 years old.

Children are seen not so much as burdens, as essential labourers, and most endure hard physical work from the age of six. The Timorese economy, if you exclude the oil and gas, is very much a rural agrarian economy. Services are restrict to the urban centres, of which there are few, Dili being the biggest. Probably 80% of the population is still engaged in agriculture of varying sorts, and most of that is subsistence agriculture. Of the many hundreds of aid organisations

which have worked in East Timor during the past decade, none are more elemental or effective than Seeds of Life. Seeds of Life aims to do two things.

One is to increase yield on farm. The second most important aim is to train East Timorese researchers, East Timorese scientists,

to a level that they can solve their own agricultural problems. So they can do research that assist their farmers. (CALLS IN TETUM) The four months from the end of the dry season, until the new wet-season crops can be harvested, are called the hungry months. For most rural people, these are the leanest times. Often the only food is a form of corn meal. Yes, in East Timor, the main food that they eat every day are corn and rice. First, they dry it, and after that they they took it and they pounding,

because they want to make a little bit softer. After pound, they clean it, and they will cook a porridge. Sometimes they mix it with beans and peanuts, and sometimes they mix pumpkin and some vegetables so they can feel better in eating. Though these few grains of corn are the families' very last reserves of food, they share it with us without hesitation. It will be several months before the wet season crops will bring fresh produce. In the meantime, the family must rely on buying food with the meagre income derived from their roadside store. But the coming season promises far more corn. For the first time, the people here will have access to two far superior corn varieties, courtesy of Seeds of Life.

In East Timor's Aileu district, one farmer proudly shows us his flourishing corn crop. Senior Zacharias Mozino Guzmal took a punt, planting his corn near the end of the dry season. He says that this get the high yielding and also big crops,

and so he's very interested, because in the dry season he planted to get the early yield. That's why there are multiple stalks. Some might wither, he reasoned, but some would survive. Happily, the crop is thriving, due to unexpected early rains and irrigation water delivered by a foot pump supplied several years ago by an aid agency. This variety is known as sele, the word for corn in local dialect. Sele is one of the two corn varieties introduced, tested and released by Seeds of Life in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture. TRADITIONAL MUSIC Senior Guzmal is on track to cash in by selling fresh sweet corn for the Christmas market. MUSIC RESUMES Landline viewers first learnt of Seeds of Life in 2006. Seeds of Life was necessary for a number of reasons. The first reason is the yields of the main food crops in this country, particularly maize, hasn't increased over the last 20-30 years. The average yield has hovered around 1.5 ton per hectare over that period. While in the rest of world, maize yield has almost doubled. Back then, agronomist Rob Williams and his team were testing varieties which they knew held promise. When you were here last, we thought we had some varieties that were suitable to East Timorese farmers. We've since tested them with 2,000 or 3,000 East Timorese farmers, seeking their opinion. Do they like it? Do they produce high yield? Can they store it? Does it eat alright? If they sell it at the market, do they get a good price? Many questions we've asked about each variety. From hundreds of hopefuls,

nine varieties of stable crops have so far been chosen for release. Rice, sweet potatoes, cassava and peanuts. The next step is building up enough quantities of seed to try to meet the overwhelming demand. These newly installed seed-cleaning machines in Baucau province to the east of the country, has revolutionised the process. We've tested these new varieties on thousands of farmers. As a result of this, last year we distributed about 100 tonnes of seed in 5kg lots that have gone out to more than 20,000 farming families. So we are starting to have a large impact on farming families in East Timor. It's hard to conceive that just one bag of maize seed like this can be so vital. But in this young nation, where the average wage is just US$1 per day, something like this is helping to break the chains of hunger. Those varieties are public domain varieties, which means the farmer can plant them,

keep the seed, and plant them next year. The Baucau region has rich red volcanic soils, and unlike most of the country, has flat rolling plains. Today Rob Williams is the guest of honour at a field day. This crop is a new variety of sweet potato, grown on a one hectare plot of community land which has been fenced to keep out wandering livestock, such as cows, pigs and goats. (SPEAKS TETUM) Some of the farmers are skeptical of what it might yield. There's not a lot of growth above the ground. But the tubers are very impressive. Early results suggest crops of 18 tonnes per hectare. That's double the traditional varieties, but on par with world standard. (ALL CHATTER) There's no more effective advertisement for the new superior varieties. APPLAUSE These sweet potatoes are being sold in the capital, Dili. For the first time, families here have some disposable income. Some say they'll now be able to send their children to school, and most want tractors, which can break the limestone-encrusted soil far easier than metal hose. Outside the office of the Minister for Agriculture, some shiny, newly imported tractors are ready to roll. But this number can only meet the needs of a handful of districts. The Minister saying his pressing duty is overcoming rural poverty. How to realise the dream of the minority of people in Timor-Leste. We fight for independence, and continue to fight how to reduce the poverty in Timor-Leste. MUSIC GROOVES Crucial to the success of Seeds of Life

are locally trained staff. We currently have a group of 40 young researchers, mostly graduated from the University of East Timor as agronomists and we've taken them on board and are training them in many, many skills. Some never knew how to ride a motorbike when they started with Seeds For Life. An important part is getting out to the farm, working with farmers, riding motorbikes. Some now can interview in English, they can go out and run a field day by themselves. They work with farmers testing the new innovations. They can conduct their own research experiments and then analyse those to choose the best varieties for their own country. Four years ago, Luis Perriera was one of the those trainees. Now his work centres on the Maubisse region in the central highlands. (SPEAKS TETUM) Seeds of Life annually evaluates about 700 new plant varieties at trial sites across East Timor. Luis Perriera says farmers are quick to embrace the new varieties. (SPEAKS TETUM) TRANSLATION: The farmers really like it. I've been working with them for the last two years in this district. They can see with their own eyes that the yields are better and they prefer to keep growing the new varieties. The farmers themselves will be producing more seeds so that they can grow their own seed in future years. Until 1974, East Timor was under Portuguese colonial rule. Its legacy is most apparent in hilltop towns such as Maubisse. TRADITIONAL MUSIC Its high altitude climate made it a resort for Westerners escaping the coastal heat. For Seeds of Life, the climate presents new opportunities.

Maubisse is very famous for a colourful bright market on a Sunday. Maubisse is a special location within East Timor. It's up off the flood plain. It's up off the sea level, it's at about 2,000 metres sea level. And here people grow - they can grow wheat, they grow barley, grow red beans, European potatoes and a range of temperate species. So here today you have trucks coming up from Dili ready to buy the carrots, the cabbages, the European potatoes, the green beans that people here can grow because they have such a cool, high altitude environment. Today, Rob Williams and Luis Perriera are checking on which crops and which varieties are finding favour. Here amongst the colourful stalls, Seeds of Life varieties are well represented. TRADITIONAL MUSIC (SPEAKS TETUM) TRANSLATION: I think it's very important work, very worthwhile work, because I'm working for the development of my own country through agriculture. And in this way, we can marry the hard work of the farmers together with new varieties to get better yields for farmers.

Being small has been no barrier to success for one of the Australia's more unique beverage manufacturers. In fact, Queensland's Tamborine Mountain Distillery boasts the most international awards of any Australian distillery for its range of spirits, schnapps and liquors. All from humble beginnings on a two-hectare orchard growing fruit rejected as unfit for supermarket shelves. GENTLE MUSIC Well, mate, what a bloody day.

I can't believe the rain we've had, hey? It's been fantastic, but the tics are all out. Tics? Oh, stuff the bloody tics. Just stick some spirit on, that'll sort them out. This little farm we had, it was a citrus farm and the fruit was - we didn't want to spray, and the market didn't want to take the fruit because it was all wrong size and colour and all that bullshit stuff, like Coles and Woolies, how they perform and carry on. So it was like value adding. We could then use the fruit to make the spirit to make the farm viable and work.

You know, Alla, 17 years.

As I walk up this lovely avenue of trees, to think we planted it - I reckon it's pretty damned good, don't you? Well, that's the great thing about being up here. At just two hectares, it must be one of the smallest productive farms in Australia. But since 1996, it's been the main source of supply for Michael and Alla Ward's acclaimed Tamborine Mountain Distillery. We don't spray or don't use pesticides. And we just go to the - find us the best quality that we can possibly do in the way we do it. The little hands-on way, the artisanal approach, if you like, and that's sort of paying off. What staggers me is how quickly it's all come back after we cut it all back.

I know. It grows so quickly. I just - our little babies. What you have to do - Let me get in. What do you - ? You concentrate on the wormwood. I might just grab a bit of mudwort. Today, they are harvesting herbs for Australia's only commercially produced Absinthe. MUSIC SWIRLS

Absinthe was the drink of choice in bohemian Paris in the late 19th century. Its mystique comes as much from its association with artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec as it does from its reputation for psychoactive ingredients. The effect from its potent mix of herbs, such as wormwood, was known as the green fairy.

I guess it was very much the drink of artists, and the intellectuals of the time. And as it sort of evolved, it gathered up a lot of myth and artistry along the way. So that's probably what it's all about. I can only - we can only just all presume. We don't - we haven't got the years of experience of actually living in that era, so we are just sort of re-enacting and just sort of explaining what we have heard along the way. So it's probably - the story gets bigger and stretched out more every time you talk to someone.

As a self-taught distiller, making absinthe, for Alla Ward, is more about the challenge of producing an authentic beverage from local produce, such as aniseed myrtle. It's an aniseed spirit which is laced and layered with various bitter herbs. Essentially, I distill a spirit from fruit. It can be anything, could be from grapes, could be from kiwifruit - anything that's on the go. And then I steep various herbs that I - that we grow, a lot of bitter herbs such as wormwood and hyssop and such, and we seep them in the spirit, and then that spirit is re-distilled and there are several layers. They are all distilled individually, and then, of course, they are blended to create your own, or my own, take on the absinthe. For the Alcoholic Beverages category, goes to Tamborine Mountain Distillery. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (MICHAEL CHEERS AND WHOOPS) Last year, the Tamborine Mountain distillery scooped the pool at the Australian Food Challenge Awards. Its local success comes on top of more than 100 international awards

for its range of 70 different spirits, schnapps and liquors. We are now the most rewarded distillery and liquor brand in the whole of Australia, which is, like, huge. It gets us recognition. Wherever we go, people have heard of us more overseas than what they have here, through entering these competitions in America, and England and all over Europe. It really does pay, and I'm - I will continue doing it all the time, just to stay an edge, a nose ahead of your competitor. And I love sticking it up the big boys saying, "Yes, we knocked them off again." And I love that, the little Aussie battler having a go, I reckon it's exciting. And clink and say, "Nazdrovia". ALL: Nazdrovia! And throw it straight down. It'll warm and you get this nice lemon flavour. Oh, wow. Isn't that good? Beautiful.

Didn't burn, did it? No, not at all. Delish! Ultimately, though, the Wards measure their success in laughter. They sell most of their product at the cellar door, where having fun is compulsory. (ALL SING HAPPY BIRTHDAY) How about that? # Happy birthday to you. #

It's just a fun place. Business is fun, but it's not funny. There's a little difference. And so we just have this exciting time and we give this all to the people, and people just keep coming back, coming back. And looking in the visitor's book, you read in there, "what a fun place", "I love this." Of course they get a little tiddled and they spend some dosh so the tellers are happy. It's just a great, wonderful experience. Good, isn't it? She wants sweet and yummy. # Sweet and yummy. # Where's toffee? Here. Oh, she's sweet and yummy. You can't taste her, you gotta have this. Wooo-hooo! The image may be pure eccentricity, but the marketing is calculated and professional. Trade events such as the four-city Good Food and Wine Show are an important showcase and the business is starting to build a national client base. We are pouring out a vodka, anyone want a vodka? Come on, line up, just line up if you want a vodka, come on. Nazdrovia, that's the go. Don't all shout at once. The company's produce is now available at more than 100 outlets nation wide. But Michael Ward insists he's not interested in doing business with the biggest players in the liquor industry. He says he's not prepared to carry debt for months at a time from Coles or Woolworths. They are just so heavy handed and just so Gestapo. They stand and laud it over you. And I said, "No bloody way. I don't need you blokes. Piss off." They couldn't care a stuff, they are only interested in money, money, money, money, screwing the people who supply them and tearing up the paperwork and the contract. Look, you got to pray for them, they are just bloody whackers. You are going to get a really, really good crop this year. Well, some of these vines might even fall over, there's a lot on them. But unfortunately, mate, the market doesn't want them that much. And the preference for small business extends to using local produce wherever possible. I think everybody in the fruit business is having a bit of trouble. Woolworths and Coles keep the prices down to what they want to. The fruit seen on the vines here, they won't even accept. So if you didn't have the distillery buying your seconds next door, where would it go? Well, we'd then throw what we could on the back of a ute and go to Southport, to the fruit shops,

and just sell it straight off the back.

They'll always take it, they give you nothing for it.

It's better than letting it stay here and let the crows eat it. (SOFT CHATTER) Tamborine Mountain's beverages may be award-winning internationally, but Australians generally still need to be educated about new exotic flavours. The company's marketing includes courting cocktail bartenders such as Brisbane's Chris Denim, David Gregory and Lucy George. So I have a name. OK. The Moonlit Minx. (CHUCKLES) There's a lot of beer drinkers in Queensland, I find, so to get them to try something new can be quite challenging. But that's part of our job, makes it more fun. 50ml of the lemon wild citrus.

The liquors are overly sweet, but still got all the flavour background. As well, there's not too much burn or too much spice, so they come out fine in cocktails, perfect to use in cocktails. 40ml and the chocolate and chilli. Where a lot of companies will add a lot of sugar and keep their percentages down low, he's kept most of them at a very high proof,

which means that they're not being diluted,

you can actually - they've got a bit of weight to them when you're actually making drinks. Last year the Wards invested $500,000 in a new bottling plant and storage, now being managed by their daughter Sonya. But even with huge potential for expansion, Sonya Ward says she wants to maintain the company's personal appeal. It's very important to us. We're obviously very proud that we're a family business, we're not too bothered about getting too big, we're happy to stay small.

It's important to us to have family orientation and yeah, keep a nice boutique and that quality up there. While we're alive, we'll remain as we are, because it really is hard to learn new tricks when you are an old dog, essentially. (LAUGHS) To that end, the company unique handpainted bottles and a commitment to quality local produce will continue. You've got to have quality, high quality, premium product, presentation, and handpainted bottles, and that's really what - And natural, don't use any chemicals or nothing. I love sniffing on it. We go the furlong to create different flavours and tastes, things they tell us they would like us to do. Being tiny like we are, we can do individual things for them. We could never do that if we were multinational. Multinationals don't give a bollocks, they don't give a toss. Anyway, don't get me on the subject, I'll start saying things I shouldn't say. But there again, you just pray for the bastards, that's what I do. It was the turn of the south-east to get the rain last week with good falls across much of southern New South Wales and Victoria. Rarely have we seen a better set-up for the winter cropping season, it's just a pity the outlook for grain prices is so gloomy. Here's a quick check on the southern oscillation index. Central pacific temperatures have warmed and the SOI is now at -16 and rising. The Bureau is expecting neutral conditions heading into late Autumn. And now to rainfall and here's the national map from last week. The south-west corner of WA is a standout for being so dry. There's still concern in the Top End about the dryness of the wet season. Rainfall is still well below average. To numbers - Dalby in Queensland had a handy 44mm. Junee in New South Wales recorded 116mm. 109mm was the reading at Jamieston in Victoria. Ross in Tasmania scored 42mm. Some reasonable falls in South Australia with Maitland registering 31mm. There were some bigger falls around, but Darwin Airport was more typical with just 6mmm. And Kununurra in WA scored 33mm. And that's the Landline check on rainfall.

That's our show for another week. When we return, Kerry Straight will be spinning a yarn about wool from some rather special sheep. Cleanskins, not the wine, but the wool shedders. Are these easy-care breeds the future of the sheep meat industry? The past six years have just been an amazing turn around. And you can go to field days and so on with your sheep and you don't get people walking past, you know, taking a wide berth and trying to ignore you. Now they are all there wanting information. Flick go the shears, one of our features when Landline returns this time next week. We'll leave you with some of those compelling images from when a drought breaks over south-western Queensland. See you next time. THEME MUSIC Closed Captions by CSI