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along for another State Focus. Hello and great to have you fan, you might want to hear Now, if you're a die-hard Brumbies has to say today. what one of our guests for his Australian War Memorial Michael McKernan is better known connection in Canberra, is a really different take but his new book on the Brumbies on the last 12 years of one of our favourite sporting teams in Canberra. the AAMI Black Opal Stakes Day And a little later too, a look at at Thoroughbred Park tomorrow. whether you're into the fillies It's shaping up to be a big day out or the fashion. But first to some NRL big home game of the season and the Raiders' play their first Knights at Canberra Stadium... tomorrow against the Newcastle about the Raiders' Now there's a lot of talk and how the Green machine lacking a big dose of star-power is perhaps just too "green" in the context of experience. differ that philosophy. Well, our first two guests beg to are two young props Michael Wayman and Dane Tilse things from, if only these two guys that the Raiders are expecting big could get themselves 100-percent fit. moment, you're not actually playing, You're not 100 percent fit at the what's wrong with you Dane? aren't really sure how I got it, I actually came down, the doctors this area at training 2 weeks prior I copped a bit of a knock up in sore infection, it turns out, to coming down with a really the front of my chest and a big abscess on sort of injury. which is a pretty bizarre in the first trial So I actually didn't play long layoff through suspensions. and haven't played as yet after a That's bad luck.

a kick in the guts. Yeah, it's been a bit of Michael, what's your story? finished up and I had to get With my ankle, last year we coming back from last year's injury The screws broke and I'm still of rehab and stuff like that. so it's just been a long pre-season stage of your careers, At this particular as you can get, to get noticed. you really need as much game-play it been for you, Dane? How frustrating has basically, with my layoff Oh, very frustrating, through the suspension, up that incident at Bathurst, Yeah I was going to bring it's been tough. Yeah it has been. to get back on the field, So I just basically want the first game out of the way, and I'm just worried about getting because it's been such a long time. do you think? When will you be back, been good to be back for this week, Probably around 3, so it would have I'm not quite right. being the Knights, but

you'd the Knights's strategy That must be doubly frustrating, wouldn't you. pretty well inside out, Pretty well. get on the field again It would just be good to and have a good game, me feel pretty good. it would probably make you're virtually a local. Now Michael, you're from Moruya, legendary status in Moruya, You've got a bit of a well your old man has. What's his story? of the founders of the Moruya My father was probably one so it was named after him. rugby league oval down in Moruya, legend down there. Dad's a bit of a But yeah I'm from Moruya, Canberra when I was about 16. I grew up there and moved up to Canberra and put all of that stuff Now Dane, how good was it to come to knights and that incident behind you that went on with the at Bathurst, we've all read about it. How good has your transition been? Very good, actually. around July last year, I actually came down roughly and get to know the guys so I had a long time to settle in and that sort of thing. and just start my training injury then at the time. I was actually getting over an to come down here So it's been really good really great, and the club. and all the guys have been forward to repaying them I'm just looking and getting on the field. good investment in young players Well the club's making quite a at the moment, Michael what's coach Matt Elliot particular point in your career? telling you at this to get some game time. Matty just wants me when I was a young fella, I made my debut back in 2003 out of a possible 67, I've played 12 games on the sideline. so I've had a long time want to repay the club I'm the same as Dane, I just and play footy. and get back on the park

that's what I'm here for, At the end of the day and do it for the club. and I want to enjoy that Mal Meninga during the week, I read this story from buy themselves some star power the idea of the Raiders having to experience in the team. to prop up the younger They're talking Matt Giteau. big names like Matt Giteau? Should the Raiders chase worry us too much. Yes and no, it doesn't

As long as he doesn't play prop. point of view, I suppose from a club's name players here, they really want to get some big and that attracts others. juniors coming through, Hopefully with the good young group of us, like there's a good and back those senior players up, if we could all come through all the old fellas will be gone because I suppose Jason Croker and in 2 or 3 years. Yeah, Jason Smith, Simon Woolford. Yeah, there's a lot of those. with us beyond this season Michael? Do you think Simon's going to be It'd be good if he was. I've got a lot of time for Simon, and great to play with. he's a great player and you learn a lot from him. He's good to young fellas another couple of years, So it'd be good to keep him for the future holds. but who knows what shaping up as a captain? And how's Clinton Schifoscke Is he tough?

No, he's very good, I think he's the whole package. To deal with the players itself, he's been good, talking to all the younger fellas a lot, and also he seems to handle himself really well. Well, look, you had your blinder against Manly last weekend, which was terrific, that went really well. Tomorrow's the Knights, good luck with your injury recovery. Hope to see you on the field soon fellas, it's just ridiculous. Thanks for coming in today, appreciate it. And of course Joey Johns is proving to be a star attraction wherever he goes, better not muck around with getting your tickets for tomorrow's big NRL game. The raiders website has all the details and kick off is at 3pm. Now we all know the Western Plains Zoo does some amazing things with its breeding programs and giving us a chance to really connect with our wild side. And they're definitely on to a winner with their latest attraction. Now the Roar and Snore experience is basically you, the animals under the stars for one very unique sleep-over and on the line right now is Debbie Haesler from the Western Plains Zoo's education team.. Hi Debbie how are you? I'm well thank you. I just wanted to know first up, how close to the animals do you actually get?

Very up close and personal. On some of the tours you will actually get to feed some of the animals, and probably the highlight of the tour is actually in our classrooms where you actually get to handle some of the education animals. So this is more than just a camping experience? A good part of it is behind the scenes tours. spotlighting - you can imagine being in the zoo after hours, that's an experience in itself.

And another great one again before the zoo opens again the next morning. Do people get much sleep at all? Oh yes, eventually they all do go to sleep, but I think it's just an amazing experience. Things that you wouldn't hear if you were here during daylight hours, some of the calls they make to each other. What's the noisiest animal? Probably our closest, noisiest one would be one of the lemurs, the black and white ruflima. It's actually quite an eerie sound in itself. Could you do it for us? No, I don't think I'll try to. Because I also believe lions also are quite noisy at night too. and from time to time you can hear them very, very clearly. Well it sounds like a fantastic experience Debbie, all the best with it and keep up the good work out there at Dubbo. Thank you. Now if this sounds like something your family would be right into,

Roar n Snore can be experienced in group bookings and BYO sleeping bag, pillow and mattress and warm clothing as well. The website has all the details or just call the zoo for bookings. Stay with us, after the break, what's being done to get more cabs on the road in Canberra, and how the Brumby's have evolved over the years. That's next on State Focus.

And you're watching State Focus. has become quite an experience. there'll always be some whinging about lateness, but when continual delays and even taxi no-shows lead to missed appointments and missed plane flights, well then that's when something has to be done. The ACT's minister for Taxis and Transport John Hargraves is also fed-up with the system as it is, and he wants changes as well. And he's talking to us today and also talking about a penalty system, which a lot of the drivers are unhappy about this. Tell me about it. Well, we are fed up with the way in which people are required to wait for taxis, and sometimes they don't even turn up at all. Only recently I had it brought to my attention that at 2 o'clock in the morning there was 50 people in a queue and ten cabs. Well, hey, there's got to be something going on here. We've got to get more cabs out into the streets. But it is annoying, of course, for people who ring up and it takes 35 minutes to get through to an operator,

and then even then maybe the taxi doesn't turn up. Right, so these complaints, as far as you're concerned are justified? They're absolutely justified. I get at least 2 or 3 complaints a day coming into my office and it's been going on for a long, long time now, and it's just not good enough. What we've been doing is working with the taxi industry trying to get their new network up and running. They've got teething problems. But I'm sick of waiting for that.

Most people would accept that excuse, teething problems with the system. The drivers though are sort of almost blaming the road system as well, saying that peak hours are impossible, getting to the airport. Well it's an interesting thing, because the cab company actually meets their minimum standard when it comes to peak hour, and it's the off-peak hours that they're not. What we're saying is that we're going to put another 40 cabs on the road over 4 years, and we're going to introduce a regime where minimum standards are actually applied.

Where people fail there, then there is a fining regime that comes into play. We tend to have a cab shortage, too, whenever Federal Parliament sits up on the hill, it seems the situations worsens somewhat. Could we bring in temporary licences to cover those peak periods? Is that something we could look at? We looked at the temporary licence system, Ali, but what we've actually introduced is a new regime

of demand responsive transport. That means that companies such as hire cars, limousine companies, cab companies, can actually put on mini buses from say the airport into Parliament House where they can pick up 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 people in one go, and take them up there, that should alleviate that particular issue. But we're finding that in fact most of the peak hour traffic is actually being catered for within the minimum standards. So that doesn't seem to be the problem. What we're worried about now is the times when people can't make their bookings, the cabs don't show up at all. It's pretty rich of me to say to people, don't drink and drive, when at 1 o'clock in the morning when people have finished their evening out they say OK, let's catch a cab home - no taxis. I can't really. So I've said, we're going to have to fix it. So more cabs are on the way. So just to wrap up, we're looking at 40 new plates over how many years? We're going to introduce 40 over the next 4 years, and we're going to issue 10 plates out in April of this year. Another 5 if the take-up rate is really good, and I'm expecting it. Then we will keep going until that 40 is exhausted. But if there are lots of people wanting to enter the marketplace, then we'll keep going until the equilibrium is established. Well, Minister, just for the record, State Focus did invite a representative of the taxi industry to appear on today's show, but they declined saying that they won't comment on any of these issues until they've seen a copy of the independent auditor's report. Thank you so much for joining us today John Hargreaves, I'll call you a cab. Thank you. It's hard to imagine life in this part of the world without a few icons... Of course the political palace up on the Hill, The Australian War Memorial and also those magnificent Brumbies. And our next guest has a tenuous link to all three. Doctor Michael McKernan is one of Australia's best known historians. And he's spent many years writing about our diggers and the Western Front. But for the past year he's been in the trenches with the Brumbies. And the result is a book that no rugby union die-hard can afford not to read. The Brumbies - the Super 12 years. Hi Michael how are you? G'day Ali, well. This is a sort of bizarre blend of history and sport for you, isn't it. Well yes, very much so. Sport, I think is an important part of Australian society, do is look at Australian society, try to interpret it, measure change, see what motivates people and so on. And that's what this book is about. Are you a die-hard?

I'm a great fan of the Brumbies, I can't say I grew up with rugby, I came to it late in life. Australian Rules football was my love and passion, but I went to an early Brumbies match and saw an fantastic style of football being played, and thought, this is great, this is really good. Really it's a fabulous night out in Canberra, when the Brumbies are playing at Canberra Stadium. You got the call up to do the book, they commissioned it. Did it put you in a difficult position? No. The important thing that any author, any historian will focus on is our job is to interpret for the reader what is happening, what is going on. So right from the very start I said to the Brumbies management, there have been mistakes made by this organisation, heck, it's a human organisation, why wouldn't there be? Those are some of things we'll be talking about. Obviously one of the key things is the failure to renew the contract of the premiership winning coach David Nucifora. How credible would the book be if we just skirted around that issue and said then came Laurie Fisher. It's just not credible. OK, how open were people within the inner circle to get that information into the book? Look, there may be some things that in the course of my researches

I didn't get to the detail of. But the issues that I wanted to talk about, nobody's standing and saying, oh no, well you can't touch that, or that's a bit... we'd better leave that one alone. Not at all. In fact, the opposite. How was George Gregan? Terrific. He's a tough, tough nut to crack. He is, and I know what you mean because I've watched George at media conferences. I've watched him working with journalists and very properly takes the view, in my opinion, that if the journalist asks the right questions,

or is in areas that George is comfortable talking about, and that is sport, the Brumbies, football, and his position with the Wallabies, then he will answer the question to his best ability and honestly. What defines a Brumby, for you after talking to everybody? Is there a definable quality about all of the guys that we've seen in the last 12 years? I think there is, very clearly there is.

It's a question of commitment to excellence, and loyalty to one's mates. That sounds pretty cliched and it sound like. well isn't any football team like that, I don't think so. I think there are some advantages in the Brumbies being in Canberra. It doesn't take them long to get to training, they live close together. Not all of them have grown up in Canberra, so they've come to Canberra, to some extent they've had to forge a unity amongst themselves.

And I think it is profoundly interesting to watch a group of young men who actually really care for each other. Michael McKernan lovely having you on the show, and are you an honorary Brumby member at this particular point yet? No, I'm just a bloke who sits on the inner bowl and cheers them on. And loves it by the sounds of it. Thanks for coming in, appreciate it. Thank you Ali. Stay with us on State Focus, we'll take a quick break and then a look at tomorrow's big race meeting,

the AAMI Black Opal Stakes Day.

and we found that 80 percent of our waste is a tually recyclable, like these cardboard boxes.

an saving money. So, it's good for business and the environm nt. What have you done... No matter what business you're in And you are watching State Focus. And we're pretty excited here at Southern Cross Ten, because tomorrow, we all be bringing you the action from the glamour day of the south-eastern racing calendar - it's the AAMI Black Opal Stakes Day... Live from the beautiful Thoroughbred Park in Canberra. And to get us thinking about those gees-gees it's great to have two fine stallions with us this afternoon. Racing commentator Mike Frame and well-known Canberra trainer, Gratz Vella. Thanks for having us Ali. Good to have you here boys. Look, this a 2 hundred thousand dollar event. It's big money for the Canberra scene, would agree Mike?

Absolutely, 130 thousand dollars to the winner of the race, a quick return on your investment and that's what a lot of people are looking for in 2 year old racing these days. Most of these horses are born in November, December, and 2 years down the track, plus a couple of months, they really are only babies, most have only had a couple of starts, and they're just full of potential. Gratz, you've got one of the favourites, though I'll probably back it and I've probably jinxed you

from that point of view, but One Time, she's a beautiful horse, he's a beautiful horse, sorry. How's he peaking at the moment? At the moment he's doing excellent, he's right focused for the race. How do you know a horse is peaking at the right time? What signs do you look for? Last year at Canberra Cup day, he ran his first race. Then he went out for a spell.

He's come back in, bigger and stronger, and he's had 2 races now, he's run second and third. They were short races, this race is going to be 1200 meters, but I think I've just got him peaked. Right, so he's peaked so that those races were 1000, so he can go that extra distance do you think. That's it, that's the aim. Look I can't not talk about horse racing at the moment without talking about Takeover Target. It's a sensational story with Joe Janiack, what's the magic about this horse, Mike? I think the big part of the story is a bloke that basically has been a battler, has picked up a horse at a used race horse sale. There's a couple of different figures I've heard, I've heard $1250, I've heard $1400. $150 is neither here nor there, and he's just recently won the Newmarket, which traditionally and historically is one of the great sprint races in Australia, carried top weight, and this is from a bloke that was a battler, basically living in a caravan park. He's a former cabbie from Queanbeyan. The odds of getting a horse like that in your career, Gratz? It's very, very hard. It would be a dream run, do you think? It would be. Especially the fun that he's had, and he's got a trip to Ascott in England, so there you are, look, it's a dream, fairytale, and it's still going. That's the thing, we don't know that true horse potential, do we at all. The quote I love is, 12 months ago or more he was offered I believe a million dollars for the horse, and he turned it down, it was a lot money. And he turned it down. And the quote, he was quoted saying was that I couldn't sell the horse because I'd have no one to drink with

at the pub on a Friday night. And now down the track, because anything could have happened to that horse, because horses go wrong, they go amiss, they don't live up to their potential. And this horse has exceeded anything that anyone could have dreamt of, and the fairytale hasn't finished, it's just begun. Well, lets get back to the AAMI Black Opal Stakes day, because this is a great opportunity for the winner to get to the Golden Slipper. Is that right? Is it a big ask for that horse to perform at the Golden Slipper? It is, but it has been done by 2 local trainers. John Morrissey, he won the Black Opal and went to the Golden Slipper, he ran a good race, I think he ran fifth. And Frank Cleary, he's done it twice, he's won, and ran second. Yeah, he won it with Catbird, that was 7 or 9 years after his another Clean O'Sullivan won the Black Opal. He went down there and had it won everywhere but the line, and got run down, and then he's come out with Catbird and he's won the Black Opal, and that's the only horse to have done. A lot of other horses have gone very close, back in 1977 a horse called Blazing Saddles, trained by the great TJ Smith won this race here, and then ran into a champion horse by the name of Blusking Star. So it's a terrific launching pad, isn't it, for any trainer and jockey.

Who's on One Time? I've got Peter Obel on One Time, he's been riding very well. He's had good form for the last few races? Good form, he went to Sydney last week, had one ride for one win, so he's in form. Oh look it's going to be a great event, and of course fellas, fashion in the field as well, is that something you even give a thought to on the day? We certainly have a look. You certainly have a look. Yes. So skirt lengths are pretty big with you are they?

The girls on the day look sensational. Good luck Gratz, might see you at Ascott one day with One Time. Oh it would be lovely. It'd be nice wouldn't it. Thank you so much for joining us. Thanks Ali. And of course, we'd love to see as many people get out to Thoroughbred Park tomorrow for the big race day. But if you can't physically be there, please join us right here on Southern Cross Ten for our live broadcast of all the fun, fashion and agonising over which horse to back from 2.30 tomorrow.

That includes the running of the AAMI Black Opal Stakes from around 3.15 and don't forget ladies too that there's a trip to Paris for our best dressed lady on the day, so well worth frocking up for. Well we're out of time for today hope you can join us next week for another State Focus. Have a fabulous weekend and we'll see you soon. Bye for now. Live captions by Southern Cross Ten, Canberra.