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This is the Commonwealth assuming responsibility for a problem created by the States.

I just say to the Prime Minister, let's not have a war about water.

Tonight - John Howard's bridge over troubled water, will federal control end the squabbles over the
country's most vital resource?

We'd really like a bipartisan approach to restoring this great river system back to health.

Why we imagine that meat pies and football and Holden cars are important when the true
underpinnings, the one thing we all share as Australians is this land.

And in his first interview as Australian of the year, Tim Flannery's dire warning for the land he
loves.

It will take a single minded, united effort, people working together to overcome this problem which
I think is the greatest challenge humanity really has ever faced.

Howard pledges $10b to solve water crisis

Howard pledges $10b to solve water crisis

Reporter: Matt Peacock

KERRY O'BRIEN: After years of bickering - at times, outright brawling - over the hot button
political issue of Australia's rural water crisis, it seems we have one of those rare moments in
federal politics when both sides might eventually, actually, come together. The Prime Minister has
pledged $10 billion over the next decade to solve the crippling problems of the nation's food bowl,
the Murray Darling basin - essentially, to save the mighty Murray - to hasten national water reform
and overhaul inefficient farm water delivery, to complete the restoration of the Great Artesian
Basin and to explore the prospect of opening up rain rich northern Australia to more agriculture.
While the response from the States has been mixed to Mr Howard's plan to take over control of the
Murray Darling, Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has promised broad bipartisan support. So will
this plan work where others have failed? Shortly I'll be speaking to Malcolm Turnbull, the new
Minister for Environment and Water Resources but, first, this report from Matt Peacock.

MATT PEACOCK: Australia's once mighty Murray Darling River, a dying river system. Now just a
trickle, with permanent dredging the only way for the past half decade, it reaches the sea. The
mighty river redgums dying. The Murray cod, and other fish - dying. Three quarters of its dwindling
water goes to irrigation, providing nearly half of Australia's food. And today, the latest solution
from John Howard.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: Today I have outlined the biggest, the most costly and boldest plan to
tackle Australia's rural water challenge.

MATT PEACOCK: It's not the first grand water vision. For years the politicians have talked while
the river has shrunk. Two years ago the Federal and State governments agreed to flush 500
gigalitres through the river system as an environmental flow. It's yet to happen.

DON HENRY, AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION: We're at absolute emergency stage with the Murray
Darling, it's like it's having a heart attack. It needs to get into the ambulance immediately.
We're the challenged and privileged generation that's either going to keep it there for the future
or lose it.

MATT PEACOCK: The big difference today is that the former champion of States' rights, now Prime
Minister, wants to take control from the States.

JOHN HOWARD: This is the Commonwealth assuming responsibility for a problem created by the States.

MATT PEACOCK: It's a takeover South Australia's Premier Mike Rann says he was promised on Melbourne
Cup day wouldn't happen.

MIKE RANN, SA PREMIER: The premiers were given categorical assurances by the Prime Minister that
there was going to be a collaborative approach, not a takeover approach.

JOHN HOWARD: I will therefore be writing to all relevant State and Territory leaders requesting
that they refer to the Commonwealth their powers of water management over the Murray Darling basin.

MATT PEACOCK: The Murray Darling's a giant river system, stretching across four States from the
Queensland outback and NSW far west to the rice fields and vineyards of the Riverina and Victoria,
then on to supply the city of Adelaide - no wonder the State premiers are anxious to discuss the
details.

STEVE BRACKS, VICTORIAN PREMIER: We will cooperate with the Prime Minister. I'll ask the Prime
Minister certainly to make sure he gets the Premiers and Territory leaders together to talk about
his plans and to make sure that we have a cooperative system in the future.

MORRIS IEMMA, NSW PREMIER: We are 100% in favour of a national approach and we will certainly work
to cooperate with the Commonwealth on water. But don't just restrict it to governments, call
together the nation's leading water experts as part of a national effort.

PETER BEATTIE, QLD PREMIER: Let's not have a war about water. Let's cooperate on water in the
national interest.

PROF JOHN WILLIAMS, LAW SCHOOL, ADELAIDE UNIVERSITY: There's two ways the Commonwealth can do this.
They can ask for the cooperation of the States and they can do that by buying them, cajoling them
and using the States to refer the power. Barring that, we're into the High Court and the approach
there will be, the Commonwealth will throw every power it has to take control of the rivers.

MATT PEACOCK: Law expert Professor John Williams thinks negotiation's more likely but he's in no
doubt about the constitutional implications of the package.

JOHN WILLIAMS: For a conservative government, the Howard Government has achieved what Chifley
needed a war and what Whitlam couldn't achieve through a number of tests. We've seen possibly the
most centralist, conservative government in Australia's history.

MATT PEACOCK: The biggest beneficiaries of the package are the biggest water guzzlers irrigators,
with $6 billion for improved infrastructure and incentives for smarter farm technology.

DOUG MIELL, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, NSW IRRIGATIONS COUNCIL: We have no problems suggesting and
acknowledging that irrigated agriculture does consume a lot of water, but we're turning that into
$10 billion worth of farm gate wealth and $50 billion to $60 billion of wealth for regional
Australia.

MATT PEACOCK: But it's the irrigators whom the Australian Conservation Foundation's Don Henry
blames for thwarting the government's planned buyback of water allocations.

DON HENRY: Well, look, the big irrigation interests have been effective in lobbying the National
Party to block this within the Commonwealth Government, so the Prime Minister's got to put decision
making on the table that will reassure us all that his good plan and funding can be actually
delivered on.

DOUG MIELL: Right now the water is simply not available so even if the Government was to go into
the market this afternoon and buy 30% of the water it is simply not there to deliver, so you still
wouldn't get an environmental outcome today. All we're talking about is putting in place
sustainable systems that protect the productive base of irrigated agriculture and, long term, also
make water available for the environment but, importantly, it's got to rain to give us all some
water to work with.

MATT PEACOCK: But the Prime Minister acknowledges there may be less rain in the future as the
climate changes.

DR JOHN MARSDEN, MARSDEN JACOB ASSOCIATES: Climate change means, for most of Australia, more
frequent droughts. The average rainfall will be down - more frequent droughts, so we need to be
cleverer with the water.

MATT PEACOCK: Water economist John Marsden welcomes additional Commonwealth funds for better on
farm monitoring and an expanded Bureau of Meteorology.

JOHN MARSDEN: We know that losses in the big irrigation systems are meant to be around 20% to 30%,
but we're not actually quite sure whether that's how much of that is measurement error and how much
of that is actual losses and, if it's a loss, is it going to the local wetland or is it being
wasted and just increasing salinity. We need to know a lot more, because sometimes losses are
actually quite good. They go to the local wetland and it keeps the wetland alive.

MATT PEACOCK: Both farmers and environmentalists seem to like what they see in the Government's
package. It's now over to the Labor States.

DON HENRY: This is a good 10 year plan and it actually has the dollars required such that it would
restore the Murray Darling to health. We'd really like a bipartisan approach to restoring this
great river system and ensuring we've got a vibrant agricultural sector that cuts water waste.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That report from Matt Peacock.

Kerry O'Brien interviews Malcolm Turnbull

Kerry O'Brien interviews Malcolm Turnbull

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

KERRY O'BRIEN: Joining me now in the studio is the new Minister for Environment and Water
Resources, Malcolm Turnbull. Malcolm Turnbull, in defining the main problems you've now promised to
solve once and for all in the Murray Darling, is it as simple as saying that over the years there's
been far more water allocated to farmers than the river system could supply, made worse by sharply
diminishing rainfall. That's the core?

MALCOLM TURNBULL, INCOMING WATER AND ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: That's one way, it's a simple way of
looking at it. There has been over allocation, and it's been based the over allocation, we've been
able to get away with the over allocation, if you like, because the last half of the 20th century
was particularly wet and it was if you look at, say, the second half of the 20th century versus the
first half it was much wetter, and there has been obviously a pretty complacent assumption that
those wet years would continue. Now the only sound expectation, sensible expectation, you can have
is that the years ahead of us are going to be dryer and hotter. We've been through them before. It
was like that in the first part of the 20th century. So we have to remember, and the PM made this
point in his speech, it's a really important one, rainfall averages are almost meaningless in
Australia, because the volatility is so great. Every farmer knows that. They might be in a, you
know, 25 inch rainfall area but they never get 25 inches. It's either a lot lower or a lot higher,
and that has a lot of implications, both for the environment and for the type of agriculture that
you support.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Can we be very clear about what you mean when you say Commonwealth control. Do you
plan to take over responsibility for all the management and implementation of policy, not just the
creation of policy, but all the implementation for the Murray Darling basin?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The plan is to take over all of the water management activities in the basin
currently conducted by the States. We would maintain the storages, we would not necessarily need to
own bits of water, you know, storage infrastructure that belongs to the States but we would, as the
MBDC does now, maintain them and operate them.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That's all the dams?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Yes, that's right. Hume Dam and Dartmouth dam and the various weirs, the Menindee
Lakes system and all of those storages.

KERRY O'BRIEN: What about the Snowy dams?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, the Snowy Hydro is a separate business. It's part electricity, part water
storage.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You won't go there at all?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: It's got a very clearly articulated set of agreements and its contribution to the
system is, in percentage terms, is actually not as great as a lot of people imagine. It's
important. I don't think we would need to acquire Snowy Hydro. The most important thing, Kerry, is
to properly manage on a uniform basis, ensuring there is compliance, the water sharing plans across
the basin so that they're consistent and that they are complied with, that we address over
allocation where it occurs, we pump this very large sum of money, there's nearly $6 billion is
going to go into making our irrigation systems the most efficient in the world. We are going to
have we are going to make every drop count and we have to do that, because if we want to maintain a
big agricultural base in southern Australia, and do so in circumstances where we're going to have
less rain and of course hotter temperatures so there will be even less runoff, in those
circumstances you've got to use water as efficiently as you can, and this program will do that.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So, we'll come back to some of the detail of how you'll do it but the bottom line
is, it's going to be a Commonwealth bureaucracy rather than a combination of Commonwealth and State
bureaucracies to implement this, so presumably that means you'll end up with a lot of bureaucrats
currently working for the State in this area plus a lot of your own.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We actually don't have a lot of water bureaucrats, as it happens.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But you're going to.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We will, and I believe we'll need to have more people because one area where the
management of the basin has been lacking, or has been deficient by the States is ensuring
compliance with water sharing plans. So the States have, and I say this without any recriminations
or partisanship, but the States have not only failed to invest in infrastructure, they've failed to
invest in people. There aren't enough scientists and hydrologists and what you would call water
bureaucrats, but most of them don't spend a lot of time behind a desk, there aren't enough of those
people out there in the field any more and there needs to be more. We've got to bring that talent
together, encourage more people to take up those water sciences because, unless you understand the
water system, unless you can measure it and monitor it and that's why the metering is such an
important part of this program - that's why the water, you know, the hydrology side of it that's
going to be part of the Bureau of Meteorology, that's why that is so important - because unless you
understand what's happening in the groundwater system and the river system then you will continue
to make the sort of mistakes that have been made in the past.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Given that the registers of farmers' water entitlements in the basin seems to be a
complete shambles, will you make it a priority to establish a common register for surface- and
groundwater and, incidentally, how will the Commonwealth tackle the problem of water thieves?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Water thieves is in effect a policing issue, that's a compliance issue.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But that's substantial, isn't it?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Yes, it is, in some areas it is very substantial. Not question about that.
Particularly with groundwater, it's much harder to monitor. That's an on the ground, people
problem. As far as a national basin wide register is concerned, absolutely. The difficulties with
conveying water in the Murray Darling basin make a sort of bleak house old system conveyance look
straightforward. It has got to become very simple, you know, it's a standard gauge issue. It
doesn't matter whether the Victorians have got a better system than the New South Welshmen or the
South Australians, it has just got to be one system. One standard gauge to deal with water in the
basin.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You've already told city dwellers that they're going to have to get used to paying
more for water. Is it also time to be equally blunt with struggling and unviable farmers and simply
buy them out? Is that going to happen anyway?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: That will happen. Struggling and unviable farmers who have water rights will
undoubtedly sell them. They may sell them to the Commonwealth under the program that we're talking
about today. They may sell them to other farmers, but there is a market for water and, of course,
in a sense, this is where water trading is so important because it gives the battling irrigator
something to sell, whereas of course if you're a battling dry land farmer and you're not getting
the rain you're used to, you really have nothing to sell. The irrigators, as long as they've got
that water right, that's going to have some value.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Very briefly, if we can look at the northern Australian plan, which sounds
ambitious. On Senator Heffernan's hopes for northern development, let me put this proposition to
you. That the north is a place of extreme dries as well as extreme wet, that half the year the
benefits of the wet is undone by the evaporation and so on of the dry. Big storage problems and not
a lot of good farming soil for irrigation. I wonder if this, in the end, isn't just a blind alley,
as it has proved in the past?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: All of those points have got it's like the curate's egg, they're good in parts.
There is nearly 70% of all of our runoff can be found in northern and tropical Australia. There is
a huge amount of water there. There is also some very big groundwater systems. Some of the largest
fresh water, fresh groundwater systems are in northern Australia and groundwater systems that are
recharged by the rainfall you're talking about and you're right, Kerry, a lot of the country is
very flat so it's difficult to build big storages but, on the other hand, you do have terrain that
enables you to build storages. The Ord River, Lake Argyle is an example of that. It's a huge,
gigantic area and the fact is, we don't know enough about it. John Howard has been putting tens of
millions of dollars into northern Australia to get a better understanding of the hydrology of the
groundwater systems, how they interact with the surface water and so forth, because we don't want
to make the same mistakes in the north that we've made in the south, so what Bill is doing is not,
you know, rushing off to start developing things tomorrow. We've got to identify the opportunities
looking at it in a very long term way and then make sure that we do our work. There are going to be
some great opportunities there but we've got to get the planning right, we've got to get the
science right and, if we do that, northern Australia will become the new agricultural frontier for
Australia.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So is the Federal Government's number one water boy, you've been dealing in part
with the symptoms of global warming. How do you feel now about having to shape up to the cause,
global warming itself?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, global warming is a fact - climate change is a fact, not a theory. We're
living with it and water scarcity is the most obvious manifestation of it in Australia. So we have
to adapt to it and we also have to address and the Government has been addressing the issue of
greenhouse gas emissions. Australia will meet its Kyoto target or come very close to it. Many of
the countries that have ratified the Kyoto protocol, as you know, are going to miss it by a very
long way. We're also leading the way in terms of the science that will make the difference. Very
interesting paper by the International Energy Authority recently, which identified the ways in
which the world would meet its carbon reduction, its greenhouse gas reduction emission. First, the
biggest chunk of improvement was in energy efficiency. Might be hybrid cars, better light bulbs,
getting more bang out of every unit of energy. The next one was clean coal. Now, John Howard has
been prescient on clean coal. China the most important thing we can do for the rest of the world,
the thing that will have the biggest contribution is to deliver the technology that enables those
rapidly growing economies that are dependent on coal to clean up those coal fired power stations,
because China is going to be dependent on coal fired power for many, many decades, if not centuries
to come.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Yes, but it could take well over one decade to get to a point where we're even going
to know whether you can effectively clean up coal and we're being told within this next decade we
could be past a point where the price to be paid by the world, including Australia, will be
massive?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: That's right, that may be right, Kerry, I'm not - neither agreeing with you nor
disagreeing with you, but the simple fact of the matter is, China has got a lot more coal than we
have, they mine a lot more coal, they burn a lot more coal; India is in a similar position. They
are not going to abandon coal fired power as an energy source. So if you're saying clean coal may
not be a successful mission, well, maybe you'll be right, we'll have a look at it in 10 years time.
But it is clearly, and the IEA, the International Energy Authority, is my authority for this, it
is, after energy efficiency, it is the single most important contributor to the environmental
mission that we're all undertaking and after that, I might add, there's nuclear energy and after
that renewables.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Much more to talk about. Malcolm Turnbull, you'll be back before too long, I would
think. Thank you very much for your time.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Thank you very much.

Tim Flannery announced Australian of the Year

Tim Flannery announced Australian of the Year

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

KERRY O'BRIEN: As announced just minutes ago, Tim Flannery is Australian of the Year. He's a
scientist of world standing, a prolific and bestselling writer, a noted explorer, passionate about
the Australian environment, and believes global warming is a calamitous crisis facing us all. Tim
Flannery is also a controversial, outspoken stirrer who promises to use his role this year to tread
on toes if he has to, to get his blunt views across. He's already offended many environmentalists
by advocating nuclear power despite the risks it poses as part of the solution to climate change,
but not in Australia, where he says other alternatives should be pursued. I recorded this interview
with Tim Flannery.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Tim Flannery, a former governor general once said he saw his job as holding up a
mirror and reflecting the nation to itself. I wonder what you see in that mirror?

TIM FLANNERY, AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR: I suppose what I see in that mirror is a people who are
coming to terms with the land that supports them and really defines them, who don't yet understand
it particularly well and understand its sensitivities, and therefore are sort of like squatters.
We're squatting on the country rather than being true ones who have a long term future here through
a careful caring for our land.

KERRY O'BRIEN: If we've been slow learners in that, it would be in part at least, wouldn't it,
because of the kind of iconic images that we've drawn for ourselves as being hardy pioneers of the
land, and the land and our development of the land, working of the land, has been so much a part of
the ethos.

TIM FLANNERY: That's right, and that grand illusion, if you want, came from a particular history
where our ancestors came from an overcrowded and impoverished Europe into this, what seemed to be
an open continent, that seemed so easy to exploit. You could put the sheep on the land, you didn't
even need to knock down the trees and all of a sudden you were a wealthy landowner. And that
pioneer phase is due to a naivete both on the part of the land about us and us about the land and
what it can actually contain. It was as if we ate through the wealth of the continent in just a few
decades rather than carefully shepherded it. And those images and icons made it harder to realise
the reality of the situation for us and I think it's only now, as people look at the country with
new eyes and see that it is limited, that we need to take care of it and that it will define our
future, that we're starting to see a new reality.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You wrote an Australia Day article, as it happens, five years ago in which you
talked about how Australians tend to define themselves culturally as opposed to how they should
define themselves; can you remember your argument?

TIM FLANNERY: Yeah, I can, I remember thinking about it, why we imagine that meat pies and football
and Holden cars are important when the true underpinnings, the one thing that we all share as
Australians, is this land. It's what gives us our water and our food and our shelter and defines us
as a nation. Why isn't that the basis of our common sentiment about what it means to be an
Australian? The rest of it seems to me to be sort of randomly chosen bits of icons that we just
happen to like.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You share Al Gore's apocalyptic view on global warming. Do you take any comfort in
the fact that the issue has finally forced itself into the consciousness of politicians and big
business in the country?

TIM FLANNERY: I do take comfort from that, but I do so with an acute awareness that we have wasted
at least a decade in dealing with this problem and therefore the efforts we have to make now have
to be so much greater and done with so much more single-mindedness where we're not thinking about
short term self interest, whether it be the future of the coal industry or whatever else, but
thinking about the bigger picture of our position in the world, and that's the critical thing.
We've got a very short amount of time to deal with this problem. Many people argue that the amount
of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere already is too great to allow for climate stability and there
are signs of that already. If you look at the high Arctic and changes there you will see how severe
this problem's becoming. It will take a single-minded, united effort, people working together to
overcome this problem, which I think is the greatest challenge that humanity really has ever faced.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You've startled, even angered, some environmentalists with your embrace of nuclear
power as potentially part of the solution to global warming. Put that into context.

TIM FLANNERY: Well, you know, when I travel to China, to the east coast of the United States and to
parts of Europe and look at the options available to those people to generate even the minimum
amount of electricity required to keep those societies functioning, I can't see an alternative to
nuclear power, at least as part of that generation of base load. Now we all know the dangers of
nuclear power, you know, particularly nuclear proliferation, which scares the hell out of me. But I
simply cannot see another alternative. It's the lesser of two evils and for that reason I refuse to
condemn uranium mining in Australia, I think it's going to be part of the solution. What we need is
really, really good regulation where we can stand up with pride and say we're doing this in a way
that absolutely minimises those dangers and that we can do that better than anyone else. My view is
that governments immediate to set the regulatory framework. So when it comes to uranium mining, we
need to have the best regulatory framework in the world that will satisfy all Australians that we
are doing our utmost to make sure this fuel is as safe as it possibly can be.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But you know the practical realities of global politics and diplomacy and of
relationships between countries - you know that at times countries can be as pragmatic as hell to
get a desired outcome. You've said yourself, you asked in a recent article on nuclear power whether
our politicians have the moral fibre required to export uranium responsibly. Now, how do you answer
your own question? Do you have faith in our politicians' moral fibre?

TIM FLANNERY: I would say that our politicians are what we make them. We need to hold them
accountable at every level, at every election and ask the hard questions. The media is a big part
of that. You're right, it could all go horribly wrong but, you know, we have to march into that
future. It feels a bit to me like 1939, you know, with a lot of the public unaware of the reality
of this growing danger. Some people positively sympathetic to that outside evil for various reasons
and yet somehow we, as good citizens of this country and of the world, have to find a way forward.

KERRY O'BRIEN: In the race against time, isn't it too late to embrace nuclear power, by your own
benchmarks? You're saying we have no time and that you're prepared to countenance all the risks
associated with nuclear power knowing that it could take up to 20 years to get the first nuclear
power stations up and running in Australia?

TIM FLANNERY: I've thought long and hard about that and even at a personal level I think about the
world I will leave my children and I have a boy and a girl, in their 20s, and think they're going
to be dealing with the problems of nuclear waste storage and of proliferation long after I'm too
old to care about it and that's the future I've got to bequeath them, because this situation is so
difficult. It depends upon the resources available and which part of the world we're talking about.
Here in Australia I believe nuclear power makes absolutely no sense because we have an embarrassing
richness of renewable energy resources that we should be using much more aggressively or exploiting
more aggressively than we are. As I said, when you go to places like China, east coast of the US,
parts of Europe where geothermal energy is limited, where other forms of energy are not as abundant
as they are in Australia, I fail to see another alternative. Maybe one will be pointed out, in
which case I would say, thank Heavens for that.

KERRY O'BRIEN: How do you explain to Australians why they should make sacrifices to their lifestyle
and potentially the economy when collectively Australia contributes only about 1% to global
warming?

TIM FLANNERY: We are on a per capita basis the worst polluters in the world and what's even more
serious, I think, is for the last decade we've held the world up. We've not been part of Kyoto,
we've cost the global enterprise time and time is critical in this area.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Would we have made that much difference on Kyoto?

TIM FLANNERY: I think that we would have, actually. I think you would have left the US totally
isolated or standing with Monaco and Liechtenstein, which is not a good look. I think it did make a
difference and I think that we need to really work in recognition of that, of the cost that our
policies have had to the whole globe and so when you come to searching your own soul about whether
you should put on solar panels on your roof or buy green electricity or whatever else, those things
all need to be taken into account.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Is that going to be part of your message over the next 12 months, pitching
individually to Australians to do their own part in this?

TIM FLANNERY: Yes, it is. But more importantly government, because government can make it so much
easier for people to play their own part. Now, it's, you know, it's critically important that we
all do something but our efforts could be made so much more valuable with the right government
policy and I hope to see over the next 12 months or so Australia develop that policy, a very, very
aggressive policy to combat this problem of climate change, working in an integrated way with the
international community, taking a leading role, in fact, rather than dragging our feet in that
global effort to combat this problem.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Have you ever wondered about your own Australian identity? Have you ever wondered
about yourself within this country and what you are?

TIM FLANNERY: Well, I can only answer that tangentially, I suppose, in that I've tried to live
outside Australia. I was in the US for 12 months and there was something really fundamental missing
in it for me and coming back to the clear skies and the smell of the gum trees, I know that sounds
terribly

KERRY O'BRIEN: It sounds fine to me.

TIM FLANNERY: But that's very important to me and this sense of being part of an ecosystem that
supports you and nurtures you and takes you into its bosom when you die and recycles you is very,
very important to me and this country in a sense is very important to me for that reason.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Tim Flannery, congratulations on the award and thanks for talking to us.

TIM FLANNERY: Thank you.