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This program is captioned live. talk TV program for the ACT as well Welcome to State Focus; our weekly Wales. as southern and central New South Hello it's Guy Sweeting. Wollongong area is impacting water Today, concerns coal mining in the supplies. about Canberra's - and Australia's - Rob De Castella joins us to talk running course. first dedicated cross country we meet a capital country Christmas And with only 5 weeks 'til Christmas, the cast of a 'Christmas in tree farmer, and get introduced to Arts Centre. December' show, coming to the ANU election day we have another quick But first, with less than a week to fence in Wollongong and Canberra. look at both sides of the political

senate with Labor joining forces The focus has continued to be on the Democrats - running a campaign to with minor parties The Greens and the upper house. unravel the Coalition dominance of coalition may only be lucky enough But is it a waste of time, as the government at all. to have a slim minority if it wins combined parties campaign is ACT Lending her support to the that us now. Labor Senator Kate Lundy, who joins Welcome. Hi. against Coalition senate majority, Now your combined party campaigned just explain the reason for that. grass-roots political movement that Well the 'Get Up' campaign is a parties to participate in such an ad. Our Senate' one of their campaigns, Get Up have decided to make 'Saving how they wanted to express it. and the production of this ad was ad and I'm obviously the Labor agreed to participate in the

came about; to try and un-seat the spokesperson, but that's how it here in ACT - hence making that Liberal Senator, Gary Humphries, after the election, which is when balance of power change immediately seats @ territo territory senators take up their campaign, that would happen anyway? Do you think, even without that majority that - judging by the polls Because the Coalition's got such a the election campaign anyway - that and the mood of voters so far into

government does get back, it might it looks like, if the Coalition be a far slimmer support base. that that would have had happened Look I think there's all likelihood anyway. I think it's a tough... campaign, do you think? So was it a waste of time doing that ACT, I think the Liberals have got Well I think it's a tough call in challenge for us to try and change a core vote here, so it's a big ACT. the balance of power here in the tapped into a group of people in I think what Get Up has done is politically active and care about the community who want to be be part of a political party. their democracy - but don't want to form of change and I think they They just want to initiate some mood that's going on at the moment. complete dominance of the senate by People have seen the results of the

manifesting itself in the extreme the Coalition, most obviously Work Choices legislation. think, should always be welcomed And yeah, grass-roots activity, I expression of change that these and in this case it's a real people want to initiate. you for coming in today. We have to leave it there, but thank A real pleasure, thank you. Thank you. ACT Labor Senator, Kate Lundy. South Wales Liberal Senator, Well now to Wollongong-based New joins us in our Illawarra studio. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who

Welcome to State Focus. Hello. Democrats campaign against a Is the combined Labor, Greens and time, as it's not likely to happen Coalition senate majority a waste of post-election anyway? very hard. Look I think they're trying very, last election, the Coalition I mean, the reality is that at the senate and that was when one looks received a majority vote in the did receive - it was a conscious at the increase in the vote that we

to give us a majority in the senate. decision by the Australian public make is: that's not likely to happen But I guess the point I'm trying to Well it's really a matter... again, is it?

in the first place. It's pretty rare that that happened Australian people.'s really a matter for the constitution - it basically says I mean when one looks, Guy, at the that senators shall be elected. whether they be blue, pink, green It doesn't say what colour they be, or red. Australian people and in the past, The reality is, it's a matter for to give governments majority in the the Australian people have seen fit senate to give go operates that doesn't happen very Because of the way the senate has happened in the past and you often, but the reality is that it government has held the majority in have had occasions where one that has happened rarely - not the senate, it's been a situation there are provisions for it to often - but it does happen and happen... there Yeah. governments in succession where it's Because we've had a whole lot of been minorities, haven't we? had a Liberal Coalition minority for We've had a Labor minority there, we a while. - as I said, it is up to the Well it is a feature, I mean that's they saw fit to do at the last Australia people and that's what election. infer that that is wrong - and that And can I just say, to somehow

the Greens and their fringe really seemed to be gist of what somehow inferring that this is left-wing groups are doing - is bring this back to a control by a wrong, and that somehow we need to have to say in the case of the minority group of people, which I group Greens - i Greens - is a very extreme minority has to be a house of review rather But don't you agree that the senate than a rubber stamping process? It would ideally operate that way. review when indeed the Australian Well it has always been a house of houses of review in the democratic Senate is one of the most powerful successfully functioned as a house world, and indeed it has of review. is perhaps not well-known amongst A lot of the work that senate does work that it does is in its the Australian public, a lot of the legislation. committee work, in its review of

had the majority in the senate, we And can I say that since we have and a very effective senate, where have maintained a very efficient legislation, we have had bills we have had good scrutiny of record number of questions being referred to committees, we've had had the continuation of a very asked in question time, and we've

effective senate estimates review. Alright. We are running out of time, but just a couple of quick points to make: first of all, every general election that we have - federal election - is always a half senate election. So this time, you're not changed, you stay there for another 3 years? Yes. So how do you think you'll go if there's a considerably reduced Coalition membership in the senate? Well as we have functioned in the past, I mean let's not forget

before 2005, the Howard government did not have a majority in the senate. Certainly there were occasions where our legislation was obstructed, one only has to look at the Unfair Dismissal Legislation, which was rejected 40 times. Governments have functioned in the past without control of the senate and I'm sure that that will continue.

We have negotiated amendments in the past and I'm sure that - just as we have before 2005, if that control of the senate is no longer there - we will continue to effectively govern as we have in the past. Okay, just one quick thing: you're Illawarra based - Wollongong based - New South Wales Liberal senator, what are some of the things you'll be keeping an eye on for the Illawarra in the years ahead? Well can I say that Howard government has well and truly

delivered billions of dollars worth of funding for the Illawarra, and I'm sure that the strong economy that we have had - and in the end it does come down to a strong economy - when you do have a strong economy, you can deliver on important initiatives. Here in the Illawarra we've seen many important record funding to the university, a new technical college of almost 20 million dollars, 5 million dollars Port Kembla Industry Fund, record

investing in our schools - almost 9 million dollars. Many, many small and large initiatives which have been given to the Illawarra as a consequence of that dividend of good economic management. Alright, that's where we have to leave it. Thank you very much for coming in to talk to us today. Thank you. Okay, thank you. That's Wollongong-based New South Wales Liberal Senator, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, joining us in our Illawarra studio.

And what do you think of how voters in the ACT, as well as southern and central New South Wales, will be represented in the Senate beyond election day? Have your say at our mytalk website, follow the links. And while you're there, vote on our regional election issues poll, and details again at the end of the program. Well next up; finding out about concerns coal mining in the Wollongong area is impacting water supplies. Back shortly.

In Millamolong, you're watching State Focus. Young drivers in the Bathurst and Blayney areas are being encouraged

to take part in a Rotary Youth Driver Awareness program on at Mount Panorama. Its being launched at midday Tuesday, just ahead of afternoon sessions. It's been organised by the Tablelands Area Road Safety Program, which has the support of Bathurst and Blayney councils. Well still ahead, we meet a man who runs a Christmas tree farm just outside of Canberra. There's concern coal mining areas near Wollongong are severely

impacting local water catchments, river systems and swamps. Just how likely is it that Wollongong's entire water catchments could be at risk of drying up as a result? To explain the concerns we're joined in our Wollongong studio by David Burgess, from the Total Environment Centre and also from Austinmere. Welcome to State Focus. Hello, how are you? Very well. What is the concerns? What's happening there? Well, over the past 10 years we've seen a dramatic increase in a technique of underground mining called Longwall Mining, which came in - well it came in in the 1960s, but expanded massively in the 1990s, mainly due to its increased ability to take a greater amount of coal and maximise profits, also using less workers, etcetera.

So... So how does that impact on water suppliers locally? What takes place is that the mining 500 metres underground causes great amount of land subsidence and you see the landscape dropping up to 2 metres, in some cases. This results in a series of cracks from the mine workings up the surface, they're not connected cracks but they're - it's a series of fractures, and in the cases where they occur too close as to rivers or swamps, we're actually seeing water draining through these cracks, and there's also other things such as pollution and surfaces of these rivers. It would probably be a bit unrealistic to say "Stop mining all

together." So what is the answer? What the environment movement has suggested - and there's a New South Wales government inquiry going on into this very issue at the moment - and the recommendations we put forward to the inquiry, at this stage, come up with a 1 kilometre buffer from major rivers, and in an effort to prevent the damage, rather than just mitigate it or

even attempt to repair it after the even - which is the case at the moment even - Okay. But there is, I take it, some damage already. What about the areas that are damaged and are causing leaks and

drainages from crucial systems? What repairing measures might recommended? We have a proposed new area of BHP Billiton's Dendrobium Mine. That was set to undermine Wongawilli Creek, they've since change their designs which is good for the creek but unfortunately it impacts upon yet more upland swamps - this is near the Avon and Cataract Dams - and one of looking at it is the swamps is the

regulators of waterflows to the rivers of the Upper Hawkesbury Catchment... Okay. ...are just as important as creeks. We'll have to keep an eye on this one, but thank you for coming in to explain it. Thank you. Thank you very much. David Burgess from the Total Environment Centre, joining us in our Wollongong studio. Well still ahead; Canberra based Aussie marathon legend Rob De Castella on a new purpose built cross country running track for

Stromlo Forest Park. Santa will be saying "Ho,ho,ho" at shopping centres in Dubbo in the lead up to Christmas this year, after concerns the saying frightens children. People described in the local paper as fun police said kids would prefer "Ha, ha, ha" to "Ho,ho,ho", but Dubbo retail centres Myer, Centro and Orana Mall all say the tradition for Santa to say "Ho,ho,ho" will continue in their city. Well still on matters yuletide and Christmas in December is on at Teatro Vivaldi at Canberra's ANU Arts Centre, which is meant to be just like Christmas in July, only later of course. It's a revue described as satirical, silly but yet sharp and inspired by both Elvis Presley and oddly, former federal opposition leader Mark Latham. Christmas in December stars John Shortis, Moya Simpson and Peter J

Casey. Hi Guy. Hi. Good to be here. Got to ask: how does Mark Latham get into the act? Well he's a role model, you see, for our performance, because many years ago we did creative dance interpretation of 'The Latham Diaries' so we try and aspire to that height, and the only way he actually makes it into the act is in fact that we do give a definition of the suburb Latham, and our definition of what it

really means is a sense of failure. Yeah, so, okay. Right, I'm glad I asked. Okay, Moya - what will you be doing in 'Christmas in December'? A very large number of songs, and singing with these two reprobates here. Anything from a Gregorian chant in full monk robes, about the Canberra suburbs, to - as you said - an Elvis interpretation, to obviously

some political songs because we are actually going to be performing on election, so will it be Howard, will it be Rudd and will we be able to tell the difference? That's right. Now Peter, how much is singing and how much is talking? How does it all unravel? Yeah look it's more when we shut up that the audience really enjoys it, 'cause there is a bit of talking and there is a bit of singing.

John and I will do at least one piano number with no hands, so we're calling that election dysfunction number. So I think - it's always moments like that where we think, is this about as crass and as broad as we've ever been, and yes it is - and that always gets the biggest laugh, so... I wonder, will you be playing by ear? Yep, I plan to. No, no ears involved. I thought I've just got to keep it clean that way, yes. And John, you're sort of doing the musical aspect on the instruments?

Ah yep, basically we've written the show ourselves, it's a completely original show and we - I've written a number of the songs and I usually play the piano, but here I am on the guitar today. But there's a bit of guitar and piano accordion, and various other odds and ends of percussion instruments that we play, but it's sort of a 2 piano thing; Peter and I are set up with 2 pianos and you

know, duelling pianos I And Peter, you've always been based in Canberra? Do you sort of go out to the areas a little bit sometimes? Oh look yeah, I mean we've actually done a Christmas show in Burrawang. We did one... And not many people can say that. ...I know what you're thinking is where is Burrawang? And it turns out to be where QCs and dentists live @ A Their second home. ...yeah, yeah, yeah. We thought it was like a little country town, but they were this really savvy crowd. So the Christmas show itself though has tended to be a Canberra thing, hasn't it? Yes. Yep. Absolutely. And this is our 4th... Together. ...working as a team. 4th Christmas show And it's Christmas in December but it's something different themed each year... Yeah, that's right. be relevant to the times, yeah. Yep. Okay, we do have to leave it there. That's John Shortis, Moya Simpson and Peter J Casey from 'Christmas in December' on at Teatro Vivaldi in the ANU Arts Centre until December 8. Well next up, Canberra-based Aussie marathon legend Rob De Castella.

But to take us to the break, a musical sample of 'Christmas in December'.

From Ulamambri to Jincumbilly, this is State Focus. Kioloa, now have a greater say in the Shoalhaven City Council area. The council says it will now consult the district's Ratepayers and Residents Association for issues affecting the far south of the council area. The association has 80 members. Well later this morning, Australia's first dedicated cross country running course will be opened at Stromlo Forest Park, by ACT Chief minister Jon Stanhope and Canberra-based Aussie marathon legend Rob De Castella. He's dropped in to have a chat with us about it before he heads out there. Welcome to State Focus Deeks. Good morning Guy. Alright, tell me about what's going to happen at Stromlo Forest Park. Well it's a really exciting occasion for us; this is the official opening of our dedicated cross country circuit. It's a 5 metre-wide grass, 2 and a half kilometre loop that we've designed specifically to cater towards all levels of cross country, from primary school - local primary school races - all the way through

to be able to host a major international world championship, and.. internati It's been specially built, it's taken a while to build it and to get it up to the standard that, I suppose, you've overseen and wanted it to be at. It has, I mean it's what - 4 and a half, nearly 5 years - since the fires.. @ half, to decide that this was a good thing to put there? Well it was one of the recommendations that came out of the taskforce and work really started on it, I guess, about sort of 9-12 months after the fires went through there. I remember going out there initially and it was just a ugly, horrible rubble of burnt pines and blackberries and whatever, and you go out there today and it's a beautiful green serpent that tracks its way through the slopes of Mount Stromlo. I'm sure lots of Canberra residents that have been, you know, sort of driving through Coppins Crossing and Cotter Road there have seen it, and today is the first opportunity that everyone - whether it's school kids, there's a race there for primary schools and high school kids, there's an event for the community, a 2 lap which is 5 kilometres walk or run, and it's open for everyone.

And then later on in the morning we've got 2 elite races; we've got some of Australia's top mens and womens distance runners competing out there all. So it's really just showcasing the event and demonstrating what can be done. Well glad it's turned into fruition, and wish you all the very best with event. Thanks for coming in today. Thanks very much Guy. Thank you. Canberra's resident veteran marathon runner, Rob De Castella.

Well aside from being the seat of parliament, Canberra is also known for its wine grown in surrounding areas. But nestled in the wineries just to the east of the ACT is a very unique rural industry: a Christmas tree farm. And as it's only 5 weeks to Christmas, I thought it would be timely to find out more about this farm run by Keng Tan, who joins us now. Thanks Guy. How many Christmas tree farmers do we have around the ACT? Ah, at a guess, probably about 6, I think Ah, at a g Yeah, not many. Okay. Yes. What do you do at your farm? Ah, basically we grow and prune Christmas trees for the Canberra market and we also run 'Farmstay', which sort of helps as part of the income for the year, yeah. Okay, alright. And each year, at this time, Christmas trees are ready to sell? Do they grow in a yearly cycle or have you got to wait a few years for them to establish? Christmas trees are grown on a 5 year rotation cycle. Right. So it takes 4 or 5 years before they are ready to be sold. Okay, so do you have like 10, 15 paddocks on the go where there's trees of 1 year old, trees of 2 years old...

Yeah. ...because I suppose if you grew them all at the same time you'd have a big sale one year, then have to wait 5 years for the next one. That's right. You'd be in trouble then.. That's right. You can't get rid of them then. So a bit lean in between. So you have graduated sort of paddock areas... So at this point in time, you would have picked your trees which are 5 years old, and the trees 4 years old, 3, 2 and 1. And the youngest ones are the ones you've just planted in winter... Right, okay. ...which is about 6 months old, yep. Okay and so 5 years is the right size to put them in your lounge room? Do they get too big or people want bigger ones sometimes? Oh yeah, some people want big ones. Yeah. Is that like for community events, or something like that? Well, do supply a tree to Parliament House every year... Right. ...and that's a big one, that's something up to 4 metres high, and you're.. @ somethi So how many years would that take to grow? Ah that normally would be a bit longer - 5 to 6 years, yep.

Right, okay. And we also supply trees to High Commission, and... Right, so for very official things as well. ...and lately - National Library. But the bulk of our business is from people in Canberra. How long have you been on the farm there? On our present farm - which is on the Federal Highway... Yeah. ...can I say how to get there? Yes. To get there you West Goulburn on the Federal Highway, go past the 2 overhead bridges, you come to Middletown rest area, turn left and we are 2.4 on the right. So we've been there for the last - yeah, almost 9 years, I think. Yeah. Yep. Bywong. Yep, Bywong's on the right, we're on the left, yep. Right, okay. How big, in an area, is your farm there? It's 31 acres but it's only about 15, 20 acres which is under Christmas trees as at any one time, yeah @ Christmas Yeah. So what can people do if they'd like to have a real Christmas tree? Come out and see you? Yep, that's the place to come. 6236 9689 Yep, Alright. Make an appointment or come to us after December the 1st and we'll be there for you. Well it's certainly an unusual thing and a delightful service that you supply, and having a Christmas tree farm. So thanks for coming in to talk about it. Oh okay, thanks very much. Alright, no problem at all. Thank you. That's Keng Tan, who runs a Christmas tree farm to the east of the ACT. Well before we go, our viewer feedback contact details. During the election campaign we're running a poll on what you think are the biggest election issues for regional voters. Choose between climate change, the drought, healthcare and Work Choices. It's at our mytalk website. Follow the links: click on Regions then State Focus. So far our mytalk poll has found climate change continues to be the major issue, with a third of polling. Healthcare and drought still both on 27%, Work Choices down on 13%. And we'll have a final check of how the State Focus election issues went on our next program. Well aside from our poll, for general viewer feedback including on

the election, you can email us at: Also check our mytalk digital TV channel for local information and highlights of State Focus programs. Well that's as it happened this week. I'm Guy Sweeting, join us next week for State Focus. Live captions by Southern Cross Ten, Canberra. We apologise for the temporary loss of captions.

Normal service will resume as soon as possible.