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Beaconsfield struggles after mine closure -

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Beaconsfield struggles after mine closure

Reporter: Jocelyn Nettlefold

KERRY O'BRIEN: Almost six months after the rescue that made news around the world, the Tasmanian
community of Beaconsfield is still struggling to overcome the closure of the mine that provided
most of the town's jobs. Today, as Todd Russell and Brant Webb launched the book detailing their
two week ordeal trapped underground, they announced a trust fund to support the town's children.
But while laid-off miners are still waiting for Macquarie Bank to honour its promise to establish a
special trust fund for them, Beaconsfield has tapped a rich vein of Commonwealth funding. As
Jocelyn Nettlefold reports, grants worth $8 million have been handed out to local business and
community groups.

TODD RUSSELL: We would have gone off our heads by now without people in the community. We'd like to
thank you and thank you very much.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Selling the story of their two week ordeal 'Trapped Underground' has become a
lucrative business for Todd Russell and Brant Webb. Today as they launched their book with a
sausage sizzle at Beaconsfield primary school, both men pledged an undisclosed slice of their new
found wealth to a trust fund to support the town's children.

TODD RUSSELL: The reason for the legacy is to give some thanks back to them people who supported us
and also it's to set up something so the children have got the future for themselves. So they've
got play equipment and stuff like that.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: They are not alone in their concern about Beaconsfield's future. Almost six
months after the rescue which made headlines around the world, the gold mine which provides most of
the town's jobs remains closed. While investigations continue into possible safety breaches, 53
miners have been laid off. That's nearly half the total workforce.

DANIEL PISCIONIERI: We said, "Yeah we'll take the redundancy and go for a look".

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Daniel Piscionieri was the miner who found the body of Larry Knight, who died
in the Anzac Day mine accident. Once Todd Russell and Brant Webb had been rescued, he decided that
nine years at the mine was enough.

DANIEL PISCIONIERI: Even though that was just a mining incident, it's just a bit of a shock. We
just thought it was time for a bit of a change.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: With his mine payout and $200,000 from the Federal Government's community
recovery fund, Daniel Piscionieri is going to buy a special mulch spreader and establish a business
servicing Tamar valley vineyards. After what he's been through underground, he's relieved to change

DANIEL PISCIONIERI: It has been difficult but as time goes on you sort of get better and better as
it goes along.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Such projects are part of $8 million the Commonwealth promised to help the town
recover. When it comes to the community cashing in, it's been a complex and, some would say,
fraught process of bureaucrats deciding who gets what, and why.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: It's a hard thing, though, isn't it for a town?

KAREN DALLY: It certainly is hard and money can divide people. But we've just got to work together.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Beautician Karen Dally, whose son lost his job at the mine, got special funding
to expand her business.

KAREN DALLY: I got $29,000, that's what I applied for. It's a big area and there's a lot of
potential. Couldn't believe it. Being so many applicants, I think I was pretty lucky.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: 16 applicants won grants to either establish or expand their businesses. Other
projects involve improvements to sporting facilities, social services and cultural preservation.
The council run Grubb Shaft Museum received nearly $1 million to upgrade the historic site.

BARRY EASTHER, WEST TAMAR MAYOR: We wanted to try and depict just what it was like 925 metres below
the surface where Todd and Brant were found to be alive.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: With more curious visitors and Winnebagos rolling into town, tourism is shaping
up to play a big role in Beaconsfield's future.

VISITOR: I never ever knew them. You feel like you lost a mate and you really felt for these two
blokes to get out alive, and coming here now, it just feels like you've done your bit for them.

VISITOR: We thought we'd drop in at Beaconsfield because it's been put on the map now.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Philip Ridyard, who's a vodka and gin producer, couldn't be happier. His
boutique business, born out of mid life unemployment and launched just weeks before the mine
disaster, is already quenching a substantial thirst from Russia, but a $145,000 leg up from the
Commonwealth means production of straight vodka can be ramped up and diversified.

PHILIP RIDYARD: The more that we are able to export and develop our domestic markets, the more jobs
we can create. Given that this whole project came out of unemployment, we feel a sort of synergy
with the local community on that one.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: The majority of the Government funding, $4.8 million worth, ended up not with
the community but with the mine's operators to help maintain it during the coronial and safety
investigations. It's a hand out that's generated some hostility.

BARRY EASTHER: There was some eyebrows raised, but it's all conditional and it's all conditional
upon the mine doing work and progressing towards reopening. And if the mine reopens, it will be
money very well spent.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: The Tasmanian Government's special Melick investigation into the Beaconsfield
mine disaster is still taking evidence. Premier Paul Lennon has not guaranteed that its findings
will be made public.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Do you think the town has a right to know?

DANIEL PISCIONIERI: I think it would be good. I don't think no harm would come of it, if they were
to come out and tell everyone. I reckon it would be nice to know what the verdict is.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Meantime the community is focusing on creating jobs and, Commonwealth funding
or not, it appears this fresh spirit of entrepreneurship in the town runs as deep as the gold
shafts beneath.

NOEL 'NOBBY' RUSSELL: Naturally, I suppose, when so much money is about a lot of people are jumping
on the bandwagon.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Todd Russell's father has even produced his own fashion range.

NOEL RUSSELL: I've got tees and caps and shirts. I thought if I don't do it, someone else will so
I'd better go and sell a few of these, see how it goes.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Where do the proceeds go?

NOEL RUSSELL: I don't really know at the moment. I hope there's nothing much to worry about there.