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State Focus -

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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. Hello and welcome to State Focus. I'm Peta Burton. capital. Today a closer look at our nation's a decade. The Playhouse in Canberra celebrates actor Max Gillies, before the show We go backstage with award-winning "Heroes" opens on Tuesday. the kangaroo culling issue in And, we hear another perspective on got Sir Paul McCartney talking. Canberra's Belconnen, that's even drug talk right across the nation about But first, there's been a lot of teenage binge drinking. testing in schools and of course on these issues is David Templeman And, joining us now for his thoughts Other Drugs Council of Australia from the Canberra-based Alcohol and David good morning to you. Morning Peta, how are you? I'm very well. drinking and drug issue Now how bad is the teenage binge across our region? at a few things in perspective here, Well Peta, I think you need to look wide problem. that binge drinking is a community just the issues around youth. Let's not just singularly focus on Australia Sure ten people die everyday in as a result of binge drinking. significant problems and we do have some very in relation to binge fifteen, sixteen and seventeen year drinking in youth, where a fifth of drinking in harmful olds have reported as binge levels on a weekly basis. that we do need to attend to. So there are some serious issues in Canberra So look on any Saturday night, so or in Wollongong or Dubbo, to get drunk? how many kids are out there drinking quoted recently is about 167,000 Well I mean the figure that's been just doing that. people nationally are out there the week and you only have to talk enforcement agencies and they'll to policing officers and the law those evenings, you know, well and sort of confirm with you that on taken up in dealing with alcohol truly over 60-70% of their time is related problems. message? So where do we start to get the Are parents letting their kids down? this, two - education awareness is I mean parents are one aspect of have to look at the one issue too, but we really do whole suite of issues around the alcohol issue generally. accessibility of alcohol, it's the Whether it's dealing with it's management and responsible outlet density, it's opening hours, drinking and more importantly drinking and managing responsible great deal more about the harms of getting people to understand a alcohol more generally. ignorant of. Which people are just fairly youth And I'm talking about not only but community wide has a very poor alcohol understanding of the har understanding of the harms of warnings? Look what about these graphic These labels on drinks? I mean will they work? need to have some Well we've been encouraging the form of labelling and for quite some considerable time. some sort of idea around warnings We don't have that at the moment. and addressing At least taking the initial step this is a very positive understand what a standard drink is move and getting people to at least to understand what are some of the and more importantly getting them have been talking about for some harms which are the health experts internal organ failure, time are: Brain impairment, other and those sorts of issues. linkages to diabetes and obesity talking about linkages to seven Even the cancer council recently it's breast cancer or colon cancer. different types of cancer, whether we ran those Those sort of issues we make sure points home and get some people in the community. focus and attention here by all tighter advertising, What about other options those, increasing the drinking age? expensive? Or even making drinks more issues that should be put on the Well I think certainly they are other measures that I've already table but think along with those outlined should be looked at in the be tackled here. whole suite of things that need to drinking is concerned, I think that I mean issues around age as far as at just, you know what are the can be tackled down stream we look addressed in the first place. priorities need to be really also need to be But more importantly I think we very very focused about awareness at very informative ages better education and better harms of alcohol. of youth and children about the understanding in a more helpful way So that we can at least grow that only their peers but also help some so that they can in turn help not assistance as well. of the adults that need that What about drug testing in schools? issue? What are your thoughts on that would have seen a recent report Well you would have heard, there very encourged which came out this week and we're to see the results of number of things. that report which really indicate a you know this would cost enormous That they are very concerned about, need to - the massive overheads in amounts of money, it would also addressed the issue about trust and managing but more importantly it's student. relationship between teacher and terms of that. And that's critically important in supportive of the outcomes of that So we're certainly positively particular report. away the fact that there are But that doesn't necessarily take where you as a worker, specific employment categories you sign on and it undergo some form of random testing may be serious where you have to in the armed forces or whether it's on alcohol and drugs, whether it's and things like that. in the aviation airline industry industries and from a safety point They're certainly critical care think the idea around schools, I of view that's important, but I moment. think we leave that aside at the have to focus, The biggest issue though we really as I come back to the the moment point, the big problem we have at that alcohol is the thing to do, alcohol is a drug too message understood by our people. and we really need to get that mum or dad who are coping with Ok, what do you say though, to a stop. a son or daughter who just won't only measures that Well I think that there are not they need to do and better educate, supportive mechanisms but I think that there are very health area within the community within the community services and various agencies that exist and that they need to draw upon through through alcohol and drug referral agencies and alike and they need to actually take support and notice of those organisations who can and will provide the level of support that they do need. What about grounding? Or taking their friends away? I mean how affective are those measures? Oh, I don't necessarily think that that sort of measure really really works but I think at the same time they've really got to have a really thorough discussion and appreciation about what are the harms and what are the long term down stream affects that they could be doing to them @ Can you have a discussion though with a teenager who is taking drugs or binge drinking? Well I certainly see that some of the messages that are getting out there now in terms of people now becoming well aware of the harms that they might be ultimately facing. That's at least resonating with a few and that's encouraging. Where to from here? Is this a generational thing? Is this something that young people will grown out of or are we on the cusp of a national alcoholism crisis? Well we've been saying for some time, we do have a crisis to deal with. We can no longer tolerate seeing 3000 people dying every year as a result of this disease. We can't tolerate the fact of 10,000 people receiving on going treatment and over 1000 people daily receiving treatment in hospitals and treatment centres at enormous cost. The overall cost to the nation is 15.3 billion dollars a year and if that's not something we need to attend to and address then we will have long term crisis to face up to. So let's get with it and if I comes to the issue around cultural change and moving away from this issue about celebratory or commissitary activities that we always celebrate with alcohol, we may have to make some significant change in that area. But that will be a long term change/process to endure. Alright David, I really appreciate you joining us this morning. Thanks very much for your thoughts. Thanks very much Peta. Thanks for having us on the program. You're very welcome. Thank you. Well, coming up after break, another point of view on the kangaroo culling issue in Canberra. That's next on State Focus.

Welcome back to State Focus. Well, a couple of weeks ago, we discussed the kangaroo culling issue on Defence Land at Belconnen in Canberra's north. We caught up with Pat O'Brien, President of the Wildlife Protection Association, for his thoughts on the risks associated with moving the roos to another place, and here's what he had to say. Some would die, but if it's done well and done properly then that can be minimised. In fact it's possible that they all could have been translocated without any, if it was done properly, without any fatalities at all. It's just really really disappointing because the local groups in particular have been working for 18 months to find sites to look at other options and so on. Then all of a sudden the ACT Government said no, we're not giving any export permits out. So Defence have really got no choice but to kill them. There's been a lot of emotion with this issue, but joining us now is Doctor Maxine Cooper, who's the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment in the ACT. Dr Cooper, good morning and welcome to the show. Good morning, thank you very much. Now first up what's your response to what Pat had to say there. Well Pat O'Brien's taking a one species focus. I think what we've got to do is step back a bit and look at what I was asked to do by the ACT Government as an independent person. I was asked to look at the whole ECO system of grass lands and in grass lands of which now are unfortunately for the world, we've got less than 1% of what was originally there pre-European settlement. I emphasise that less than 1%, so we are dealing with a very small percentage. Part of the grass land ECO system are kangaroos, yes, but there are a whole lot of other species too that are part of that ECO system. And one of the things I looked at was how could the grass lands at Belconnen, one of two really iconic sites for grass lands, be protected and maintained into the future. One thing is very certain, they can't exist into the future in a viable ECO way if we don't actually address the overabundance kangaroos. On that particular site in less than 10 years, there's been a 2000% or around 2000% increase in the number of kangaroos. 10 years ago there were 30 on that site, today they're pushing 600. Okay, why are these numbers increasing? Let's address that first. The kangaroos, the Eastern Grey kangaroos on that site are a prolific breeders. So they are on a site that's too small for the numbers that are there. So unfortunately too the predators that they used to have, you know the dingoes, the hunting by the native people, no longer exists. So the predator now an urban environment, unfortunately has to be the land managers who manage those sites. But why cull? Why is it necessary to cull these animals? And is it fair to ask the question, what went wrong? Well, it's a very vexed issue. In terms of what to do with an overabundant population like that, so I actually engaged some experts. I have somebody who is very senior from the zoology department at Melbourne uni, I have a CSIRO vet, I also had on an expert panel the CEO of RSPCA. My key request of those particular group of experts was tell me the most humane way to take off the kangaroos from that particular site and they said the absolute most humane way would be to shoot them. But the AFP in Canberra said no, you can't shoot because of the proximity to residence. So for human safety reasons the most humane way advised that and euthanasia and that's why I have adopted in my recommendations that that approach be taken. It is based on humaneness issues. To trans-locate, from all the research that's been done, expert panel, means actually more agony for the animals then dealing with them, department, Professor David Morgan said, they go - snap to sleep and they're asleep. Translocation involves a great deal of trauma and there's a whole lot of animal physiology that kicks into place that really does have adverse impacts. And also too, the animals that are then released after the translocation, if they are injured there's no way they can actually get help. So they could be in considerable pain for some time once they're released and still unable to get help. Okay, are we seeing numbers increase across the territory, across the nation even and if so, why? Well I'm not sure whether the numbers increasing. I do know that we've got approximately 16 million kangaroos and as a society nationally we actually say it is permissible to cull this particular species, so at the most senior levels I would imagine at the policy level in the Commonwealth, if they thought that this species was endangered you certainly wouldn't be able to engage in culling. Looking to the future, what are we going to be doing, what will be done to manage and and control numbers? One of the very positive things about the Belconnen site because it is fenced, although that is part of the problem. It actually offers scientists the opportunity to undertake fertility control research. And that research will continue in to the future and that research should therefore be able to assist in managing kangaroos off that site as well as on that site. In hind sight would you have done anything different? I... Would you have expected anything to have been done differently? One would have hoped that the land manager would have taken action early to reduce the numbers of 'roos, rather than the numbers growing to the large percentage of the population that they have. So yes it would have been better to have taken action earlier. That wasn't done, so I think we've proposed in my recommendations to government are the best that we can possibly come up with at the moment. How tough is it though from a scientist perspective to keep the emotion out of the debate? Well it's very tough because as we know it's our national emblem, the Eastern Grey. It's also large and obvious, it's there, it's got beautiful big eyes and it's very captivating in it's hopping rhythm. Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. But we haven't all grown up to love some of the Reptiles that are they're virtually invisible to most of us. There's been comments made that Canberra just needs to wake up to this issue. Do you agree to the that sentiment? I think Canberra absolutely needs to embrace ECO System management and say - we want all species including the Eastern Grey kangaroo there into the future and not have one species cause the destruction of many other species. Yes, look these are really tough issues but the whole environmentally integration of being the "Bush Capital" into living practice and having viable ECO systems are ones we can actually embrace and go to the future or get caught up on species specific arguments and society and say well look, we could and we've lost a species. Dr Maxine Cooper, it's pleasure speaking with you. Thanks for your time today. You're very welcome. Well, time for a break here on State Focus. But coming up, actor Max Gillies joins us to chat about his new play, "Heroes", coming next week to the Canberra Playhouse. ANNOUNCER: Max Factor introduce new Colour Collections - to complement fair, medium and dark skin. freshly cracked egg, two rashers of bacon, on a toasted French roll. McDonald's Deluxe Brekkie Roll. Welcome back to State Focus. Well, the champagne is chilled and the red carpet has been rolled out for the ACT premiere of the play, "Heroes", and, it also happens to be 10 years since the curtain went up for the Canberra Playhouse. And earlier this week, I got to chat with Bree Winchester, who's met some big stars on our humble Canberra stage, including the wonderful Max Gillies, who's about to take a bow this week. Bree and Max, welcome to State Focus. Thanks for having us. Thank you. You're very welcome both. Now Bree I'm going to start with you. It is time to pour the champagne, Happy 10th birthday! Thank you, we're delighted, we're excited. 10 years! It's a long time and we've been very busy and continue to be busier and busier so we will be pouring the champagne when Max arrives on Tuesday night. Yes now Max... Yes, I'm looking forward to it, I was gonna say, it's my favourite theatre in the country but that's... I don't like to be over exuberant, it's one of the best theatres in the country and it's always a joy to come and play there. I think Canberrans have got a great little venue and if nobody's been to it they should take the opportunity to go there this week. Oh aren't you wonderful. I was going to ask you Max, any memorable moments at the Playhouse? Memorable shows, I can't recall a juicy story but I remember playing my last political review there on budget night, must have been 2 years ago, hoping that some of the politicians would make their way and I know that some of them had booked but because it was budget night, we didn't get any. (LAUGHS) (LAUGHS) I'm going to talk to you about Politicians in just a moment Max, tell us some other big names Playhouse. Look, Max is right. The Playhouse is adored not only by Canberrans who sit in the audience and love seeing the shows but also by actors on the stage. It's such an intimate, divine little venue to up there and to have the audience feel so close to you. John Bell is a huge fan of the Playhouse and of course the Bell Shakespeare Company are regulars. They come twice a year to the Playhouse. Jacqui Weaver, the gorgeous little Jacqui is a regular at the Playhouse too. We had her in Soul Mates a few year ago and last year in the Blonde, Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead. Being the marketing manager or the publicist, I've some delightful backstage, type, you know I'm allowed backstage and so I can picture one.. So any goss? (LAUGHS) There's lots of goss. But one of my favourite moments is - we had a show, Six dance lessons in six weeks, starring Todd McKenney and Nancy Hayes and just, you know, just the picture of Todd and Nancy dancing up and down the halls behind the scenes before they even hit the stage - so, some special moments for me and some special moments for Canberra. 10 years worth in fact. The fans are going to be treated to a rather special performance, Max, without giving too much away, can you tell us a little bit about 'Heroes'. Well it's hard to do anything about it without giving a lot of it away, it's about 3 old soldiers, war, set in France. So it's in an old soldiers home in France. These 3 grumpy old men meet everyday on the same terrace, plan to escape because one of them's convinced that the matron's got an elaborate conspiracy to bump all the soldiers off one by one and their turn is coming. (LAUGHS) So escaping is a bit difficult because one of them is agoraphobic, he's really had shell shock, he was a hero in the war but he's just scared to go out of the building. One of them's got shrapnel in his head and passes out at random moments and the other one has a wooden leg, so they're not going to get very far. They imagine their plan and that's what keeps the entertainment. It's a very funny play. We've been playing it around the country and audiences love it. The three of us love doing it. a certain type of actor and we've got three of them together on stage. I can hear it in your voice. This is very timely. The timing to have this work in the Capital with ANZAC Day only a couple of weeks away. It is. As somebody was saying only the other day that although this is a French play translated by an Englishman, that as Australians we'd be very familiar with the sentiments involved because the Diggers and the camaraderie on the battle field, which makes me think that it's not such a particularly Australian characteristic after all but it's probably a universal one that binds people who, you know, or heady time of war, cement relationships that are never replaced by any other sort friendship @ re Bree, do you know we have a huge year ahead. Starting off with Heroes and having someone like Max join us but 2008 is set to be bigger then ever. 140 acts for 2007, so how can be get much bigger in 2008? Is there any room? It's busy, busy, busy. Look it gets busier and busier each year. It's just amazing the demand to come to Canberra is incredible. We certainly, now have a reputation as an avid theatre going city where you know, if you bring, if you're a promoter and you bring a show to town, you're always going to get a fantastic audience turning up. So, you know, that's partly marketing, but that's also because it's the nations capital, it's a great city and people of Canberra love theatre. It's huge this year. Particularly for the Playhouse. And we've got, they're trying new things and we've got some great shows coming up, we've got Bell Shakespeare opening at the end of April obviously. We've got a show this year called Shorter and Sweeter, which is like a mini, like a film festival but on the stage. Like a mini theatre festival.. @ Well done. Which is new for us and which will just be gorgeous. I can hear and I can hear in your voice the enthusiasm, I'm gonna get everyone on the show. Yeah. Max just before we let you go. You have been able to parody a number of Australian Politicians as a performer including some Australian Prime Ministers.

Kevin Rudd? Well believe it or not, we're planning a show for next year. let a new government settle in for about a year before people really get a fix on them... (LAUGHS) ...Yes, he's going to join my little gallery next year sometime. Oh, looking forward to it. Look break a leg Max for opening night on Tuesday 1st there for Heroes and Bree here's to the the next 10! Absolutely! (LAUGHS) Thank you both. Thanks for being with us this morning. Thank you. Well, that's our show for today. We'll leave you with a few more famous faces that have performed at the Canberra Playhouse. See you next Sunday morning. Bye for now. Live captions by Southern Cross Ten, Canberra. We apologise for the temporary loss of captions. Normal service will resume as soon as possible.