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(generated from captions) I'm Joanne Shoebridge. Hello again. Welcome to the program. Also today,

a buffalo whisperer. we'll meet a bloke often called

He's taken on the challenge feral buffalo ready of making our local for an important mission overseas. an expert on drought aid. Plus I'll be speaking with

report from the CSIRO The topic will be that controversial

on the value taxpayers get spent in drought relief. out of the many millions of dollars Ian Campbell Federal Environment Minister with the Victorian Government has been at loggerheads on the issue he can't reverse the State law. but has now admitted cultural icon in Australia. It's an end to a living for Australia, That, I think, is a very sad day I'm prepared to face. but it is a reality

refuses to give up. However the Cattlemen's Association was put out by rural Victoria, The Kennett Government and I think it might happen again. Tasmanian vegetable growers fear better labelling standards their campaign for for food sold in Australia might have been in vain. the Fair Dinkum Food campaign, The Tassie farmers led but organiser Richard Bovil says

don't go far enough. the latest labelling recommendations Now is the time to act, on this draft, that if FSANZ don't get it right

vegetables go, then as far as processed before we get it right. it could be two to three years

If it's done now, in three to six months, information about the food we eat we could have good quality in Australia. Still in Tasmania - the State Government winemakers have accused in its tourism campaign. of going downmarket a 20% drop in sales Research has revealed

cellar-door outlets. at Tasmania's 56 The minister has got it wrong. on numbers rather than yield, There has been a concentration in the State is a lot of tourists - and so what we're getting on Tourism Tasmania yes, we're putting bums on seats and on the cheap airlines,

any money when they get here. but they don't necessarily have in Western Australia. The wheat harvest is under way

in the north-east The headers are rolling are high hopes for a bumper harvest. and in many areas of the State there

for sure. It will be one of our bigger ones, everything is looking good so far. The quality is there as well, so A very dry July. hurt us a bit, Five weeks without any rain fairly well, but the crops have come on

is exceptional. and, yeah, the weight and quality a $6 million advertising campaign The Federal Government has launched the country and the cities to help people in both

prepare for the bushfire season. TV COMMERCIAL: But what you do, and your local fire authority, along with your neighbours

can make a real difference. Still on bushfires - have warned authorities in Central Australia around Alice Springs that recent rain in the months ahead. could prove a headache was needed for pastoralists, Firefighters admit the rain more fuel for the fire season. but the downpour could also produce will be the same as what we've had, Our season will be pretty -

over the summer period which is really fairly heavy seasons and about March/April, between October

time over the Christmas break. so we're expecting a fairly busy sheep genetic database A new national to the value of a fleece is expected to add $40 will benefit by about $10 a head. while meat sheep producers to tailor breeding programs The database will allow producers and productivity of their flock. to improve the quality

The wool industry the sheep meat industry and, to a lesser extent, of other commodities has not matched the productive gains in recent years. will largely reverse that. This genetics database of Yuendumu The Central Australian community is celebrating 20 years now famous artists group. since the start of its A ceremony at the community, of Alice Springs, about 300km north-west and the United States. included guests from Europe

Yuendumu is one of these areas The main thing is that are living where still the traditional people their beautiful stories. and painting of well over $1 million The art centre has made a profit in the past year. to the artists, their families The money goes straight back

and the community.

with a very keen memory Landline viewers from many years back might recall our story of a Tasmanian woolgrower's wife

into a thriving home enterprise. who turned her hobby of knitting Clare McShane's business, of the family's merino wool, which used a good deal was growing well

in 1991. when the wool industry collapsed their own wool The decision to value-add was able to ride out meant the family in the wool price. the devastating crash is still going strong, Well, 15 years on, the business but it's been a roller-coaster ride there are many challenges ahead. and the McShanes understand

famous for its sandstone buildings. Oaklands in central Tasmania is and is home to Casaveen, It's in the midst of wool country, run by local woolgrowers, a knitwear operation Clare and Allan McShane.

In 1993, Landline viewers heard had spent four years how Clare McShane into a business, turning her knitting hobby 21-micron wool. using the family's It's grown quite quickly through - out there for us, we found that there is a niche outstripping supply, and because demand has been more knitters and linkers. we've obviously had to go and find

made up Mrs McShane's designs. Contract knitters working from home around Tasmania. Casaveen now employs 20 people

workers and wool supplies Clare and Allan coordinate orders, through the postal service, five days a week. which passes their door Casaveen knitwear was sold and promoted through both mail order

and the National Field Day and Ag Show circuit. That's rather nice, isn't it? Selling jumpers made from their own wool allowed the McShanes to survive the collapse in wool prices that blighted the '90s. We're producing wool below cost, so this value-adding does help a fair bit. It keeps the bank manager happy. REPORTER: Could you have imagined 20 years ago

that your wife was going to be running a business making jumpers out of your wool? No way! So, what have you learnt now you're in the knitting game? That we've got gold. Since 1993, the business has changed markedly, largely as a result of a series of knocks of which low wool prices was merely one. In 1997, Launceston wool processor, Coates Patons closed.

The McShanes adapted by having their wool processed into yarn on the mainland and shipped back for knitting. They absorbed the cost, only to be hit two years later by the closure of the manufacturer of home knitting machines. It meant abandoning home knitting. REPORTER: Did you think about shutting the business then?

Oh, yeah, because it was the year that - it was the worst year we had of drought, because we had very dry seasons during the '90s, so we were at - at the same stage we were feeding sheep and we sat down for two weeks at the beginning of January and went through all the scenarios we could. Did we sell the farm? Did we sell the knitwear? Did we close the knitwear down? Did we look at using commissioned knitters?

Or did we build our own factory? And we chose to do that. So we gritted our teeth and girded our wings and rang up the bank manager and here we are. In 2000, the business moved from people's homes into this new factory in Oaklands. Mrs McShane had to learn

how to design on and run industrial knitting machines. How did you learn how to do that? With a lot of difficulty. I had to go to Japan. I had two trips, two training trips,

which I found very hard because I'm not - I didn't grow up with computers,

and so to design, you have to use a stand-alone system that they have just for their knitting machines, and that hasn't been that easy, but it's just mind-boggling what you can do.

Oh, that looks much better. That's a better length. The size is much better. How does it feel? It's good. It's not prickly. No, no prickles. A retail outlet was added to the factory, giving Oaklands both much-needed jobs and a tourism focus. Though selling wool to the under-45s is never easy.

Hardly anybody under 45 knows about wool, or is even slightly interested. Those people who are involved in the wool industry, those people that live in the country, they've got an affinity to the product, but, by and large, nobody under that age is even remotely interested. It doesn't matter to them. The McShanes added factory tours after a customer queried where the knitwear was made.

The building that we're in now is the old Presbyterian Sunday School, built in about 1842. There are more Georgian sandstone buildings in Oaklands than in any other town in Australia. He said to me, "Where are these made, Fiji or China?" I said, "No, out the back." He said, "Oh, come off it." So I took him out. I had a look in the car park - there was nobody there.

I said, "Come out the back and I'll show you." He say, "This is fantastic. You should be doing factory tours." While Casaveen woollies aren't cheap, the McShanes say the factory tours help tourists understand why. And once they try a garment on, if they haven't worn wool before, like a lot of Americans do when they come in, they're fascinated and they will walk out with three each,

which is fantastic, especially for business. Tours on the hour were a hit, and led to yet another change. The customers wanted coffees. And at that stage you couldn't get decent coffee in Oaklands, so the we decided to do something about it and put the cafe in. CLARE McSHANE: We're sourcing as much Tasmanian product as possible, because we're involved in the region and we want to promote our region,

which is the whole State of Tasmania. It has added another dimension to this business because we're now moving into a tourist destination. We're in an historic town that's in a heritage area. It is a fully intact town, and we've got a lot of people coming in and they're very interested in what we're doing. The couple are keen to see

how tourists take to the Casaveen wool and food experience over the busy summer months. In keeping with the constantly evolving nature of the business, the couple recently made two big changes. They stopped travelling to the ag shows - for after 15 years, the constant travel was wearing a bit thin -

and they sold Casaveen, the wool property that gave the business its name. ALLAN McSHANE: When the boys said they didn't want to come home, I thought, "Why am I still here?" So I decided to move on and it was time. REPORTER: Was it a sad time to sell Casaveen? Yes, I must admit I've only been back once and I found it very difficult, but life moves on,

and there's always something interesting and new down the track. There's 18 months supply of wool from their own sheep left. After that, the McShanes will source wools similar to their own. Looking back, most of the blows to the business were surprises. The latest one came a few months ago

when the company that processed their wool closed. So as of 30 July, you can no longer have worsted wool processed in this country 19, 20 micron and upwards, with super wash - it does not exist anymore. So we are in a position where what do we do? Do we have wool processed in China? Do we have it sent to other countries? You have to send it offshore. Do we make decisions to deal with our spinner

who has offered to source similar-style wools that we have always grown with the same type specification for us? Did you see it coming? I did, I just didn't expect it just yet. I thought it had about another two years to go and it happened - we had about six weeks' notice. How sad is it that that element of the industry is disappearing?

Incredibly. We're watching our manufacturing industries disappear from the Australian landscape, and my concern is that one day there may be problems with importing from other countries for one reason or another. Now, you can tool-up quickly, but you can't skill-up. Once we've lost the skills from our manufacturing sectors, it's going to be very hard to get that back.

REPORTER: Do you sometimes wonder, "What's going to hit us next?" Oh, yes, but who knows. I mean, you just keep going. It's just a challenge, really. But that's life, and I suspect every business that survives has similar style - or similar sorts of challenges. I don't think it's unique to us.

It's just how you manage the challenges and how you move forward. The couple say they will survive the manufacturing challenge the way they have all the others. They will regroup, re-assess and adapt. The next challenge is perhaps the most threatening.

It's China. REPORTER: How much China will impact on your business, do you think? It does, because of price.

There are always going to be a large part of the population

that will buy on price. They're not going to get the quality that they get here, and they can't get the custom-knit that we offer, so we've got a niche, but it is a very small niche. We just have to hopefully get more and more people in the door here and they see how we do it and what we do, and then they're happy to be part of this company.

That's where the tourist aspect of the business should help. The couple only travel to the mainland a few times a year now to show their range to retailers who stock their knits. Many woolgrowers can claim decades and generations in the industry, as can the McShanes. But not many, like the McShanes,

can claim 15 years in wool processing and retail.

It's left Clare McShane with strong views on the industry, and why the majority of its customers are over 45. There has been a lack of marketing from anybody involved in wool at any level, any great level, for probably 15 years, and that's the price the wool industry is paying. Also, the people who are under 45 or about that age group, they were the ones that wore the really tough, scratchy school jumpers, and that has been a big turn-off. Because their memory is, "Wool? Oh, they're those things that feel like a board "and scratched my arms when I wore it." And that hasn't done us any good either. Do you see wool becoming a niche product rather than a mass product that it used to be?

I think it's a niche product now. I think that that's changed forever. I don't think we will ever see the wool days that we saw 20-odd years ago. They've gone. Despite the demise of wool processing in Australia, the flood of cheap Chinese product and the ageing fan base, the McShanes say they're here to stay. Why do you think it's evolved into what we see today? Probably necessity, to move on,

not to stay with something that's probably not working. You've got to keep moving. Your business evolves all the time, so you're always going to have a change. You might sit down and do a 5-year plan now and in five years' time, what you actually see is different,

but you have to keep moving forward because if you don't, you die. By moving forward, you find things that are interesting and exciting, because there is no point in doing it if it isn't.

The McShanes are certainly a family with courage and conviction about the future of wool. Pip Courtney with that report. Last week, the CSIRO released a report which questioned the value of drought relief for many farmers. The report suggested that money paid to poor farmers often stopped good farmers from expanding and encouraged the continued use of marginal country. I discussed the report with Dr Linda Botterill

from the University of NSW. Dr Botterill is one of Australia's leading analysts of rural policy. Dr Linda Botterill, welcome to Landline. Thank you. Is the criticism in the report to the effect that Exceptional Circumstances drought relief payments, et cetera, skew the natural order and cushion the blow to some perhaps less viable farmers

making the sector as a whole less productive - is that criticism legitimate? I would like to start by saying that that criticism is only a small part of the report. That's not what the CSIRO report was focusing on. They certainly do make some observations about the operation of the Exceptional circumstances program,

and there are problems with the operation of the Exceptional Circumstances program. The report doesn't provide a great deal of data in support of their argument that there are people being retained on the land who perhaps shouldn't be, and my understanding is

that a lot of those more marginal farmers actually left the industry following the severe drought of the 1990s. So the structure of Australian agriculture is somewhat different now from what it was 10 or 15 years ago,

but there are certainly some problems with the Exceptional Circumstances program, and these were acknowledged when the Government's drought review panel travelled around Australia last year,

talking to people about the delivery of drought relief. Does rural aid given to some adversely affect the ability of some other farmers who aren't perhaps receiving assistance to compete? Again, I haven't seen any data to suggest that.

That's part of the argument that is made in the CSIRO report, but again I have to say that's only a very small part of the report that the CSIRO have put out. Basically what they're trying to do in that report, from my reading of it, is make the very good case that if we are going to have structural adjustment packages as part of the National Water Initiative, we need to learn from structural adjustment packages that we've been running in this country for something like six decades, learn from those programs the lessons to help us make sure that any structural adjustment we put together as part of water reform is sensible. Are there inconsistencies and inequities in the way that rural aid is administered in this country? There are always problems with the delivery of government support. However you define "eligibility", there are going to be people who are left out and people who are brought in, and you have to draw a line somewhere, and that line will either let some people in who shouldn't be eligible or exclude some who should be, and you can never define that exactly. So every government program has a problem with targeting. They try as hard as they can to draw the line in the right place, but no program is going to get it completely right. Well, the Minister for Agriculture, Peter McGauran, described the report as "callous and highly inaccurate".

Was he too harsh? Was he wrong? I think he has reacted to small sections of the report which are critical of the Exceptional Circumstances program. I think the broader report itself actually has some positive messages for Government. I would hope that that immediate reaction to the drought recommendations doesn't prevent them from actually looking at the broader report and some of the messages that are included elsewhere in the report. Is it valid to impose free market rationale on a sector of the economy that does have so many variables, so many uncontrolled issues to contend with? Well, we're applying those sorts of principles right across the Australian economy. Of course, taking into account other variables is one of the very reasons that we criticise the European Union in world trade talks. Given the structure of Australian agriculture and the relevant efficiency of our industries, it's actually in Australia's national interest

to have a market-driven agriculture.

Is the report likely to have any influence on government policy? Well, I think it's just part of the policy mix. As I said, I hope their immediate reaction to the drought part of it won't prevent them from looking at some of the other messages. In terms of drought, the Government knows that there are problems with the delivery of the Exceptional Circumstances program. There are problems with using interest rate subsidies

as the main mechanism, and this isn't the first time that reports have actually pointed out that interest rate subsidies are a flawed policy instrument. So this shouldn't come as any great surprise to government. I suspect that once they've looked at the broader report, they will find that there is some useful material in there for them. Has the concept of structural adjustment become skewed in the public's mind? I think the problem is that the words "structural adjustment" or "rural adjustment" have, as the report itself pointed out,

become used pejoratively. They tend to be associated with getting farmers off the land. But, in fact, the term itself refers to the changes that occur in industry as a result of market changes. For example, structural adjustment occurs in the recording industry. We've gone from vinyl records to CDs. That's a form of structural adjustment. In general, Australian agriculture has been at the forefront of adapting, becoming more efficient and more productive in response to market forces. So are their sacred cows in rural drought aid policy? Are there perhaps some views in the report that are held indeed by farmers in the community who are reluctant to put their heads up on this issue? I think it's very difficult to debate drought policy because if you debate it during a drought it does seem particularly heartless

when there are people out there who are doing it tough as a result of what is at the moment an historically bad drought. Of course, once it rains, drought policy drops off the policy agenda and people are reluctant to talk about it. So I think getting sensible drought policy debate is difficult, but I suspect it's difficult in other areas of the community

where people are in trouble as well. Dr Linda Botterill, thank you for speaking to Landline. Thank you. There's something appropriate about buffalo being one of the enduring symbols of the Top End - they're often as wild and untamed as their natural habitat and some of the Territory's more colourful characters. Yet there's a soft side to these animals. Over the past few weeks,

an animal wrangler from the Gold Coast has committed himself to bringing out the best in buffalo, taming and training them for an important overseas goodwill mission. HELICOPTER WHIRRS ACOUSTIC GUITAR PLAYS

There was a time in the Top End when the Asiatic swamp buffalo virtually had the run of the place. GUITAR MUSIC CONTINUES The first imports from Timor were landed at settlements on Coburg Peninsula and Melville Island in about 1825

and they steadily built up into formidable herds. It's estimated that by the early 1960s, up to 1 million of them roamed the Territory's flood plains. Wild harvests and particularly the brusilosis and tuberculosis eradication program brought down those numbers dramatically. Now it's believe there may be fewer than 50,000 - mostly ferals still on the run.

Up here, buffalo are a formidable challenge for pastoralists and land managers alike, an environmental cost that's only slightly offset by returns for mustering them for their meat. There is a steady supply of them sent live to South-East Asia and a growing local niche market for younger animals under the Tender Buff brand. Yet their numbers are steadily building again

out on the flood plains,

and folks are starting to think seriously again about what else you can do with them. OK. Today we're mustering buffalos. The reason for it... Enter Graham Heffernan, who has developed an uncanny knack of communicating with these fractious ferals in his day job as an animal wrangler for the Australian film and TV industry. We dropped in on Graham and a crew

putting together a pilot for an Aussie outback adventure series that's built around lots of buffalo and one bright idea. What we plan to do here is fix two environmental disasters in one. Firstly, we take buffalo out of environmentally sensitive areas here in the Territory. Get 'em quiet, get 'em pulling carts and ploughs, send them over to Aceh, where they lost all their working buffalo

through a tsunami, huge wave. The first thing we've got to do, we've got to muster them. ROCK MUSIC BEGINS Figure that, you know, Australia is probably the only country in the world that's got enough wild buffalo - or enough buffalo that are available to be able to help them out. ROCK MUSIC CONTINUES In many respects, the fancy flying is the easy bit. They respond to the clatter of chopper blades

pretty much like cattle do. It's just when you try to work them on the ground that you come back to Earth, as it were. Buffalo are a little bit misunderstood, you know. They are pretty fearsome creatures in the beginning, you know, mainly because of the wild that's in them, and that's just survival instinct, but once you get the fear out of them, they become pretty quiet and quite social, actually.

Talk us through the training program. I mean, obviously when you first got them, they were pretty frisky and had a bit of spirit in them. How do you actually break down that initial barrier where they just want to run through you? Well, it's quietly working them up into a race, through a forcing pen into a race and hosing them while we're doing it. The hosing process is something that - well, they do themselves, you know, is wet themselves -

the only way they can cool themselves down in the heat.

Once they start to get a bit hot, that makes them more angry. So we hose them off. It's something they enjoy. That desensitises them. It takes two or three days and they're basically coming up the race

pretty much in anticipation of getting a hose and broom. You know, they begin to enjoy it. Then once you build that trust with them, we're able to start working with them to get them to give to a little bit of pressure.

to get them to give to a little bit of pressure. Hey, Niko! What I've been doing with these - I make halters up, we put the halters on them, let them carry the halter around for a day so it's not a bother to them anymore. And then work them with a little cane - just give them a little tap on the rump to go forward. And as we're doing that, we use a voice cue - just "Tsh, tsh," like this. Eventually you can do away with the cane. They get used to the voice cue and go forward. And we use a voice cue again to halt. And a lot of it is position to the eye. You get behind the eye to go forward, in front of the eye to stop, and voice command at the same time. Good girl...(gives voice cue) Good girl. It's not the first time buffalo have left here as aid gifts. In 2001, as part of the reconstruction of East Timor, Darwin vet Ross Ainsworth, who works in the live export trade, put together a small team of tamed animals for farm work,

and he says there's no reason it couldn't work again.

Aceh in particular has a severe need for draft animals and we have regular shipping going to Sumatra. So we're in a perfect position to put small numbers of animals on ships that are going there anyway

and deliver them at quite a reasonable cost. Our animals have the additional benefit of being particularly good genetic stock as well, so they have the capacity - these draft animals are used for breeding as well, so you have the capacity to upgrade your local genetics by introducing the Australian buffalo as well. So it's a bit of a dual purpose and a win-win for both sides.

Back at Tortilla Flats

and three weeks after they were mustered, the pick of the mob have responded surprisingly well to the training program. Graham and his mates move quietly around them, gently encouraging them and coaxing them

to the next stage in their journey.

It's one thing getting them quiet, it's another thing asking them to do certain things, so when we do ask something, it's only a very little bit at a time.

Of course, every little step you take with them, it's new to them, it becomes a little bit of a problem again, so you gently work them through it, so once they get to understand it, it's not a problem. With buffalo, it never seems to be a problem again. OK, well, this is a genuine buffalo yoke. It came from the Philippines, we brought it over about three years ago after a movie we done with a few buffalo -

actually, a bunch of buffalo. And I kept it after the movie. It's just come in handy right now. I'm going to put this on this cow here.

Now she was kind of a bit of a lunatic to start with, what you would call, a little bit wild... They're suited to just getting down and pulling. THE ROLLING STONES' 'BEAST OF BURDEN' BEGINS

They're low to the ground, very, very strong, and they seem to just naturally want to - once you put the yoke - or actually, you get some buffalos that don't want to go forward. As soon as you put a yoke or a collar on them, and they feel something in front, they want to push into it and all of a sudden, they start going forwards

'cause they've got something to push into.

It makes it really easy to train them.

SONG: # I will never be your beast of burden... They're so smart. And I think it's the wild in them that makes them so smart. Their instincts, you know - all their instincts are so sharp, it makes them really trainable once you've got them with you. If we can find something positive to do with them, well, why not? REPORTER: It's a win-win? Win-win, all around, yeah. And have you enjoyed the experience?

Oh, it's been excellent. I've learnt an awful lot about these buffalos and their true nature. Like I say, they're a real social animal. You feel, actually, to be accepted by an animal that can be as wild and fearsome as them - yeah, it's just a pretty good feel.

Pete Lewis with the Buffalo Whisperer. Now go back 30 years or so and just about everyone in regional and rural Australia knew about the hydatid tapeworm. In the sheep-growing areas of the southern states, hydatid disease was a serious human health risk, as well as an economic liability. But since the advent of worming tablets for dogs

and dried dog food, the incidence of hydatid disease in southern states has fallen. However, experts fear it's a different story further north, where wild dog numbers are on the rise and so is the risk of contracting this nasty disease. GUITAR STRUMS

He was helping his old nanna walk up the stairs and he fell over and we lifted his shirt up and the little side of his rib was protruding out. And so, yeah, I just jumped in the car and came in to see Dr Lock. GUITAR CONTINUES He was quiet, he was grunting. He was going - (Grunts) And he had a slight curvature of his spine,

and so it was almost bizarre. He didn't have a temperature. I just basically did a septic work-up and one of those is a chest X-ray, and he had three huge cannonball lesions.

Now, they were about 10cm in diameter. There was two in his right lung field and one in his left lung field.

So in an 18-month-old child, I mean, that was almost virtually taking up almost the whole area. REPORTER: Terry, how did you feel when you saw the X-rays? Well, yeah, it was pretty horrific. Sad! Yeah, it was very sad. But I think you just start learning to cope, you know, there is nothing you can do. You've just got to hit it front-on and keep going. Being tumours, you just think the worst. Then we got to Brisbane.

Then we got to Brisbane. They flew straight down straight through to Brisbane and we did a CT scan. We had all the doctors just baffled because they weren't quite sure what it was. You would never know it today, but before he was even two, Hunter Yates contracted a disease that very nearly killed him.

Hydatid cysts found on his lungs were so big, doctors were worried an operation to remove them was too dangerous.

Instead, he underwent a 2-year course of powerful drugs. He was very sick, like temperatures of 40 and 41. Very lethargic, very sick little boy. His parents have no idea how their little boy came to be infected. Our dogs were always wormed, and then we had Hunter two years later and we never killed on Collie Blue,

because it was just a fattening block, and, um, yeah... You killed pigs. Yeah. We had dingos come up to the house yard fence and, you know, it's - yeah, hydatid I think is pretty scattered around here. A lot of people don't realise, but it is around and since it has been made aware, there is a lot more of it showing up and turning up.

Hi, good morning, Nicky, Terry. Hi, Hunter, how are you going? Incredibly, just weeks earlier there had been another child with pulmonary hydatids in the Springshore surgery of Dr John Lock. The disease had rarely been seen in central Queensland. That sounds great, good. An 8-year-old boy. He actually presented with a pneumonia-like picture. And on his chest X-ray, the appearances were of areas of shadowing or consolidation

which really fitted in with a pneumonia and I initially thought he just did have a pneumonia. The disease begins with the tapeworm Echinocuccus granulosus, which infects the intestines of dogs, dingos and foxes. Each tapeworm produces thousands of eggs which can pass through dog faeces and can then be eaten by a secondary host

such as sheep, pigs, cattle, native fauna or occasionally humans. If those tiny eggs are ingested -

some think even inhaled - they spawn burrowing lava which imbed themselves in soft tissue and form watery cysts. Inside the cysts grow thousands of larval-stage tapeworms. The cycle is complete when that secondary host animal is eaten by a canid.

In humans, they mostly go to the liver, 70% lungs,

about 20% then anywhere in the body, all sorts of odd sites. Hydatid is often hard to diagnose. Often the lesions in the body can grow for a long period of time and not cause any symptoms, so the time from infection to diagnosis on average is between 5 and 20 years, and many times it's just diagnosed opportunistically,

perhaps on a routine chest X-ray.

When they're operated on, it's crucial that you don't break them for two reasons. One, the sudden release of all this parasite protein materials, if the patient has already been sensitised, their immune system suddenly kicks into action. They get this massive allergic reaction

known as anaphylaxis and they can be dead within a very short space of time. The other issue is, if you survive that - and some people do - all those little baby tapeworms develop into more cysts, so a patient, where a cyst breaks or there's spillage during operation, can actually end up far worse off than they were before.

I can't remember what it was like to see out of both eyes, because I just - I always want to know what it was like, but I can't, so it's just - I'm used to it now. I don't even know. From my parents I've heard that they thought it was just lazy eye until they did surgery on it. Then they found the egg, which had died on my eye.

Mark Vallis also came into contact with a tapeworm egg when he was a small child.

The scarring on his retina has left him blind in his left eye. I was horrified. I was shattered. I was guilty. I just felt really guilty - had I done something wrong? Had I not been clean enough, or maybe just...

I tended to blame myself because being a mother, you know, little toddler, until the doctor explained to me that wasn't, you know - didn't necessarily have to be from not being clean and that, that you can pick it up from a shopping trolley, just about anywhere you can pick up hydatid.

just about anywhere you can pick up hydatid. The Vallises, like the Yateses, had always wormed their dogs. How Mark came into contact with the tapeworm egg is still a mystery to Mark's parents, Julie and Gavin Vallis. Just to get it so young, like you wonder how they pick it up. Like he is only a baby, hey, like he hardly would have been near the dogs, so just how they get it, you don't know.

Mark Vallis wants to join the Army but he's afraid being blind in one eye he won't be accepted. But the teenager leads an otherwise normal, active life. We play football a bit. When John Bennett brings the workers down, we play football after they've finished working. How do you find playing football with only one eye? Oh, it can be hazardous, sometimes.

If they come at me from the left side, because I can't really see 'em, they just cream me. But it doesn't stop you taking to the field? No, not at all. I love it. Hydatid disease was a major human health problem in the southern states in the '60s and '70s.

Tasmania at one point had among the highest diagnosed incidents in the world. It caused untold misery for sufferers and led to the death of a 14-year-old schoolboy.

He was very active and he was very happy. NEWS REEL: Waverley Gram would have been 14 in August. Two weeks ago, he was riding his bicycle near the family property in the Derwent Valley when he fell. The impact burst a hydatid cyst in his liver and he died. It resulted in a massive education campaign, large-scale testing of dogs, and severe penalties for anyone feeding offal to dogs

that had not been inspected. The development of more effective drugs for domestic dogs and dried dog biscuits greatly reduced the incidence of hydatids.

But while the effects of the disease are still well-known in southern states, the same can't be said in the west and further north. When you get up into Queensland, which particularly the cattle areas, it's an area where, I guess -

or region where hydatids has never been a major issue, but it is very much alive and well up there. MAN WHISTLES TO DOG Across rural Australia, the shortage of workers has meant an increase in the use of working dogs. It is especially the case in Queensland where the expansion of the mining industry has drawn many would-be farmhands and jackaroos into better-paid work.

Biloela vet, Lee Taylor, has been trying to educate producers about the risks associated with hydatids. Hey, Stuart. How are you going? Hey, Lee. How are you? They've got a lot of working dogs on properties. If people are not aware of the necessary steps they need to take to keep hydatids out of their working dogs, then there is potential for them to become infected. So if they're feeding kangaroo or wallaby carcasses to their dogs and not removing the parts of the carcass that are potentially infected with hydatid cysts - the liver, the lungs and parts of the guts - or if their dogs are accidentally, you know, getting off the chain and not being properly restrained and going and eating those carcasses in the paddock, then they can become infected, too, and then there is a risk to people. The other major risk factor is a surge in wild dog numbers in many parts of rural and regional Australia. Wild dog attacks on top of drought and low wool prices have seen many sheep producers turn to cattle. A 2004 report by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines suggested there'd been a corresponding increase

in the amount of offal from beef cattle

condemned at Queensland abattoirs.

It found a conservative estimate of 1 million livers are downgraded to pet food as a result of hydatid disease,

costing the industry $6 million.

In recent years, there has been increasing demand for Australian offal, particularly from China. The report suggests almost 4% of Queensland's breeding cows are infected with hydatiditosis

and almost 23,000 pregnancies are aborted as a result,

costing another $3.4 million. Worryingly, there is evidence of dingos encroaching on semi-rural and even urban centres. This vision of wild dogs was filmed in a new estate in Townsville. There have even been wild dog sightings in suburban Brisbane. DOG BARKS

Mark Goullet, who took the footage, runs a professional trapping business called Ferals Out. For the past several years, he has been employed by Maroochy Shire Council on the Sunshine Coast to remove wild dogs. It's quite a serious problem. There would be literally hundreds of wild dog sightings and incursions on people's backyards every day of the week. Working for Maroochy Shire Council now for the last 2.5 years,

we've completed just over 30 weeks' work currently and during that period trapped around about 400 animals, of which 300 are dingo, wild dogs. I think we'd better move this trap, eh? Today, his traps are empty, however he has caught four dogs on this property in recent weeks. This is the damage wild dogs caused in just one night on the same property.

Farmer Malcolm Gilmore says all the animals had to be destroyed.

We've lost a pony, my daughter's pony, and pet sheep and other chooks and things have been attacked. Yeah, my neighbour's daughter, I think a pack of seven or eight came out of the forestry and harassed her when she was on the trampoline. She luckily had the presence of mind to run inside. He says the Queensland Government has dropped the ball

on wild dogs in State forests and national parks and numbers are getting out of control.

It is a complaint levelled at authorities in other states as well. They actually do live there, and they can breed in there with gay abandon,

have a food source in there and they can come out and run 20, 30 or 40km, get a feed, kill whatever they want to kill and go back again, and we can't do anything about it. When he does catch a wild dog, Mark Goullet euthanases them and sends their intestines

to the Canberra laboratory of Dr David Jenkins. So far, two in every five dogs tested have been heavily infected with hydatids. We are interested from the point of view of, "Are they spreading hydatids in these urban areas?" And the short answer is, "Yes, they are." This is the gut of the dingo or the wild dog in which we're hoping to find tapeworms.

And the tapeworms produce the eggs, which then get eaten by a sheep, and each of these cysts represent an egg that the sheep has eaten. So you don't get cysts in dogs, you do get cysts in animals like sheep. That's right. No cysts in dogs. Cysts in sheep, kangaroos, wallabies, but really importantly, this is exactly what happens in people. They don't normally get as many cysts as this, but they will be much, much bigger -

maybe 1, 2, 3 litres capacity. These dogs, too, are riddled with tapeworms. Hydatid disease is no longer notifiable in most states, which means health authorities have few statistics. David Jenkins has to resort to trawling through the records of individual hospitals to track the incidence of hydatids, which is often poorly diagnosed and recorded. Do you think this is a disease

that has largely slipped off the radar? Oh, I'm absolutely sure of it, and not just in the medical profession, in the veterinary profession as well. We get 80 to 100 new cases a year, which in the scheme of things, is not a lot of patients, but nevertheless, for those people who are infected, it can be catastrophic. They can lose a lung,

they can lose a whole lobe of a liver. It can take several years to get a diagnosis if the doctor is not really switched on to looking for hydatids, the patient can get progressively more unwell. It's something that we can't afford to be complacent about. The thing that concerns me is just that there is a lack of awareness at the moment, and we need to raise that. As that awareness is raised, then people will take the appropriate measures and the risks will be very much lower.

Marvellous what some rain can do - the cattle market has been given a genuine fillip, although it might be far too early to make any considered judgment about the future of cattle prices. Wheat is looking fragile.

Wool is steady, but the market remains without a focus.

Cotton looks good, and so too does sugar. Let's start our price check with export cattle: A numbers game here, with supplies very tight. The crucial eastern young cattle indicator is steady at 399 cents a kilo - not that far below the all-time high. The good rain forced yardings way down in the beef state. Japanese importers are said to be playing off Australian suppliers against the possibility of soon getting access to American beef.

Not unexpectedly, lambs fell 12 cents to 328 cents a kilo -

a seasonal slip as the new season lambs emerge in big numbers. Numbers were only marginally down on the previous week, but demand was soft. Here's one for alpaca fans - a new record auction sale price was set last week

for an alpaca male called Banksia Park Khan ET - it sold for $170,000 at an auction in Bendigo. To pigs now:

A word on deregulation - so many dairy farmers have left the industry in Western Australia, that State will soon have to import milk. Turning to grains now:

A very bearish market, this. The reason - a huge corn crop in America leaving little need to feed wheat, and that wheat will impact on exports. Huge crop here, and that's hardly a break-even price.

That drop is more of that influence from the massive corn crop I mentioned.

The bulls are still riding high despite that price slip and remain very confident of a strengthening market, although the key will always be China. And now finally to wool, and the slight gain of the previous week was confirmed. Prices up a fraction in a market where clearances were good,

but the general direction is described as flat. China dominated and as usual, Italy was very active among the better wool on offer at Newcastle. To the regional indices:

Sales this coming week will be in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle where just over 62,000 bales will be rostered for sale. And that's the commodities report

for the week ending Sunday, 23 October. Well, the best week for rain for many, many weeks,

but not the best timing, as graingrowers struggle to get their crop off. And the moisture will no doubt lead to some considerable downgrading of quality, but some excellent profiles for the summer crop.

Have a look at that! With the exception of central western Queensland, the eastern states all had a good drink. Even the Territory and SA were very damp. What we need now is some drying weather and then some more rain. Let's check some numbers.

And that's where the rain's been falling over the past week.

Now, next week - the story of a nasty invader from the east. Tasmania usually gets its weather from the west, but not so long back, an unusual combination of circumstances led to the island State being hit with strong easterly winds. Unfortunately for Tasmania's multimillion-dollar lettuce industry, the winds not only brought a lot of rain, they carried across the Tasman millions of aphids,

and these destructive pests landed on top of the lettuce crop. It was a freak of nature that brought it here. That's life. As far as I'm aware, there has never been a new pest occur in Australia through entry through Tasmania. It has always been through other states. We pride ourselves on our quarantine here and keeping other things out, and this came in through the back door.

The battle to save Tasmania's lettuce industry from the NZ aphid. That's one of our stories next Sunday. And that's it for today. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. I'm Joanne Shoebridge. Until next time, goodbye from Landline. Captions by Captioning and Subtitling International.

Isn't this blooming amazing? You know, here we are in Tasmania. In the middle of spring and you get a magnificent warm and sunny day like this. And people say it's just like the tropics in the winter. But, look, we're gonna have lots of tropical stories this week.