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Stateline (Vic) -

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(generated from captions) Tonight on Stateline, managed

investment schemes are being

blamed for pushing up the price

of water leaving drought

stricken farmers high and dry.

You have got to bite the

bullet, buy the water or walk

off the farm. A agreement

comes true for a group of young

teenage ers My white dress with

Cinderella straps. Hello and

welcome to Stateline. I am

Kathy Bowlen. First, to the

drought. And the news today

that water in the Murray

Darling Murray Darling is the

lowest it has been since

records began. That stardleing

circumstances farmers find fact reinforces the dire

themselves in as they battle

for water against those who

don't live on the land but

invest in it. The advent of

water trading combined with the

drought means water has

skyrocketed. Corporate farms

are buying up the precious

resource for their crops. Mean

while in a desperate and final

roll of the dice, many

traditional farmers are turping

to banks for loans for water. Hoping

Hoping to save their crops.

This is devastating. People

should be scared about what's

happening, everything along the

river, right through to

Adelaide, they are sucking our

life blood out of the river at

on. We have got enough almond this point. What's going

s and olive trees. What is

going on. If it was market

driver it was a place but it is

not even market driver driven,

it is all tax driven. The

average farmer wouldn't dream

of it any more than he would

flooding raining but just south

of rob inveil in the state's

north during the worst drought

on record millions of almond

trees have been plapted.

Farmers this this area have a

16% water allocation but if you

have the money there is enough

water on the trading market to

any agriculture dream a

reality. Our sort of crops

take less than a quarter of the

crops of grazing. In other

words flood irrigating grass to

grow. Water prices are not

sustainable and that is really

the source of our water, people

selling the water because they

can't make any use of it at

these sort of prices. This

massive dam on Timbercorp land

is full of water bought at a

price most farmers can't

afford. Katheryn Martin is

awater trader who has watched

the price of water skyrocket

from a price of $280 per

megalitre in Jan this year to

four times that amount. At the

moment temporary water is

around 1,000, 11000 a meg,

which for some people is really

tough. They have got to bite

the bullet. Buy the water or

walk off the farm. We have had

to go out and purchase water.

It means we are using pretty much the same amount of water but it is costing us a fort

even to buy it. That only gets

us through to next June maybe

but if the water runs out in

February or March, if there is

no good summer rains we won't

be ab to pump that water we

have bought either. We have heard many times in this

drought of critical moments for

case of Sunraysia food farms, rural communities but in the

John Keame says the moment has

arrived. This disaster needn't

have happened to anywhere near

the extent it has. There was

plenty of water, but it has

been squandered and plenty of

time and funds to fix it. And

that's been squandered as well.

Agricultural managed

investment schemes allow

investors in one of the large

scale crops like olives to

claim a 100% tax deduction on

thaur investment it gives

companies like testimony

Timbercorp a - Timbercorp a massive pool up

massive pool up fronts. The

growing of olives and those

sorts of crops that we are

mainly focussed on are very

profitable crops to grow, if

you have got markets in the

ends products and they are deep

world markets and they are very

prospective crops. For small

operators like Vince Cirillo,

it mighten legal but it is hard

to stomach. They don't have to

and more or less their job's put the plants in the ground

done. Even if they die, they

are not too fussed. It's a

guaranteed source of income for

them, and I think this is where

the government should step in

plantings just to save and immediately suspend any new

Murray Valley Basin from plantings just to save the

Murray Valley Basin from going

completely dry. Timbercorp and

companies like it argue that

large scale farming is the

future. Whether tradal farming

families like it or not.

Agriculture has changed and

that's a world wide phenomenon.

It is large scale farming with

well resourced, plus on top of people osh organisations very

that you have had successive

governments who have removed

protection and subsidy s.

Under the structure of

investors own the crop but the management investment schemes

scheme managers own the lands

and the water right they buy

along the way. What happens if

it controls all this water if

an overseas company comes in

and buys them out. What

happens to our water and our

government is sitting by

letting this happen. This

thank is putting pressure on

everything. Sooner or later we

are going to have a major

disaster here. It is only just

starting to han - happen. In

yooun June next year the

favourable tax is like lick to

change for good. Timbercorp

CEO Hance says the company is

shifting its focus not just

because of the potential change

of tax interpretations but a

potential lack of water at any

price. We are curtailing a lot

of our activities next year

until the water situation

becomes clear, concentrates our

activities into forestry and

nourn based activities in

regions where they have got more water than they normally

have instead of less. The

disparity between farmers

struggling to keep their farms

and the management investment

scheme plantings is an uncome

fortd yacial juxtaposition for

any politician. Perhaps at a

time of great uncertainity on

the Murray it is not just the

farmers praying for rain but

the politicians too. National

security is nothing if you

don't have water. It is no

good running around the world

problems with security when trying to fix up other people's

ours is running out. Water is

our number one security,

everything flows from that. If everything starts from that or

you don't have water you have

got nothing, you might as well

pack up. Well, as the big dry

takes its toll, firefighters

are viewing the approaching

summer with concern. In NSW,

widespread fires have already

signalled the start of the fire

season. With thousands of

hectares burnt, and one home

lost so far. This time last

year, firefighters were already

battling blazes in Gippsland in

what became the longest run k

fire campaign of recent times.

But is there a silver lining in

the drought? Could the lack of

spring rain mean less fuel to

burn and have the floods which followed the bish fires in

Gippsland taken a toll on

volunteer numbers. I spoke

earlier to the state co-ordinator Peter Rau. We

have been fearing in up coming

fire season all year. How bad

do you think it's going to be?

Cathy, indicators available to

us suggest that this year has a

potential to be an extreme fire

season. Certainly predictions

are in the high likelihood that

we will have a dryer December,

on average, and also we will

also have a warmer temperatures

in December so certainly there

is potential there. What do

you you see as the most

dangerous places in the state?

We are concerned about a

number of areas, but Dandenong,

certainly the urban interface

areas of the state, mornington

beninsla and Balerang peninsula

and on the coast line and

central grassland areas. Has

the lack of spring rain helped

by not fueling the undergrowth

that can lead into feeding the

fire s? Certainly it is a bit

of a catch 22. Get lots of

rain and dry off for a

significant period of time is

difficult but certainly there

has been intermingling in of

rain in the preceding few

months and that has been an interesting process but the information we have from the

field is that certainly the

north-west of the state is

drying out very quickly and progressively that will move

obviously south. Last year you

were unable to meet your back-burning targets, how have

you gone with meeting those

this year? Well in fact it is

DCE who has back-burning

targets and we certainly assist

the DCE with those burns but

the DSC are people to talk to

there as far as the targets are concerned but we assist them in

that and it is an important

part. Are you satisfactory

with the amount of back-burning

being done this year, is it

enough to pref ept the fires in

the worst areas. That is

always a difficult thing to

answer. Certainly there has been some good preparatory work

for this season. And we

believe that there has been

some significant breaks put in

place. But, again, DSE have a

burn plan, we assist the DSE

with that and there has been

some burns proceeding. How are you going with your volunteer

numbers? There were thousands

of volunteers working all

through summer then you had the

floods in Gippsland since then.

Are your numbers down? Our numbers in volunteer ranks numbers in volunteer ranks have

actually increased this year.

We are up just under the 60,000 We are up just under the 60,000

and operationly, because not

all of those respond to

incidents, praisely we have

around the 35,000 markment. Do

you have any concern for water

access issues. Farmer are

complaining they haven't beep

paid - been paid for water that has been taeb to fight fires.

It is a difficult situation

and when we are fighting fires

we need to look at a number of

different processes in doing

that and certainly water plays

a significant part in that, but obviously there is dry firefighting techniques that

help to prevent fires from

getting larging and obviously

prevent fires from getting into

certain areas and we need to

look at a range of things but

during drought times obviously

does water becomes more scarce. So

does that make it more

difficult? Can you help

yourself to water in a dam if

you see it and you want is?

The ultimately there is some

significant infrastructure in

infrastructure in housing and Victoria and some significant

when it comes down to it water

on those sort of things takes a

priority but we can certainly

understand it is difficult for

farmer, they have got water to

feed their animals and but

during firefighting times, certainly that's there to be certainly

used. Would you say that

householders have prepared well

enough? Certainly if you

haven't started preparing up

until this point you should

start now and there is a number

of things that need to happen.

You certainly need to be aware

of the conditions and by

keeping an ear out to the ABC

roo - radio who provides

regular updates, certainly during

during fire activities, that's

a very important part of

keeping abreast of what is

occurring. You need to have

your bish fire plans done and

need to have them in place and

practised. Let's hope it is

not a bad fire season. Thanks

very much for your time. Thank

you.

It's been compared to the

choir of hard knocks, a group

of young people, the victims of

neglect or abuse are now wards

of the state made spectacular

debay in Melbourne this week.

It was an idea they came up

with, much to the surprise of

their carers who didn't think

they would be interested in

anything so traditional.

Victoria's commissioner for child safety, beshy Geary shed

a few tears on the night. He

says it is about the rights of

passage that these young people

miss out on. For legal reasons

we can't show you all the

debutante, only the ones over

18. Cheryl Hall reports. It

say ritual that some love and

others loathe. Right now

debutante balls siem to be back

in fashion, this one at the

Melbourne town hall on

Wednesday night was different.

Nearly 50 wards of the state,

all removed from their families

long ago because of neglect or

abuse took part. It is awesome.

I reckon it is more fun doing

it now than it would have been

doing it at cool. This group

of young people have had

anything but a traditional

upbringing. Most have had

little contact with their own

families, living instead with

multiple foster families,

living in government or

privately run units. Some have

behavioural problems and also

ended up in court. It came as

a surprise they wanted to do

something so conventional. I

was talking to a group of young

women and they, in the middle

of the conversation one of them

set, "I would really like to

may my debutante" and I thought

wow, you know. We were very

surprised because I am not a

deb ball time myself and I

didn't make my deb and we were

amazed they would want to do

something as

dress, shoelace straps and it

is tight across here and it

flows like a Cinderella dress.

These girls say they are being

given the chance what other

teenagers who live with their

families take for granted.

Living with foster carers I

never got a chance to do it and

I think for me and a lot of

other girls you want to do it,

so I guess tonight is about

fulfilling one of my life

dreams. I don't remember

looking it at how you are meant

to be presented to the world

and that sort of stuff. I

think we are doing it for fun

and so we can say we are done

our deb. But Victoria's Child

Safety Commissioner thinks it

is much more than fun. He

believes they will remember 3

October 2007 for the rest of

their leaves. I am very aware

that these young people miss

out on the rights of passage

that a lot of other young

people take for granted.

Birthday with families,

Christmas, gradations. If you

think back at our own lives as

children they are days we don't

forget and for these young

people they lack positive

memories, and I really reckon

it's important that they have

those memories as they move

forward with their lives. For

a group of teenagers not used

to a lot of discipline or

commitment, it has been a

difficult three months of

preparation. As horrific as

any deb ball multiplied by 50.

It has been very hard. Just

getting the young people

together, organising them to

dance class, ringing them and

ringing them, "Are you coming

this week? ". We have got to

make sure the gifrls start to

come out first, as in they come

out a little bit earlier.

Barbara Dunne was hand picked

as distance teach as distance teacher she has

been doing deb balls for 25

years. This may have been her

toughest job. I speak very

loudly. Very mean but as soon

as you get to know her and

listen to her, she was like

... She was only trying to tell

her we have got 12 weeks to

learn. She was doing her job.

I come from those places and

it is a point of just being

what you are and expecting some

respect and getting a mutual

respect for them. Once they

got the dresses they turned the

corner. I think the boys will

turn the corner tonight. It is

looking good and that's from

who? Your partner. That's

wonderful, isn't it? That's

good. Looking good. Go for

it. You won't be able to wear

that all right. There say few

Goths in there that I have only

seen in black and to think they

are in white dresses with

make-up on is quite

extraordinary. One girl said

could she at least wear her

black converse shoes. I think

she has taken her studs out.

She has got a lot at the back

of her neck but they seem to

have gone. They have worked

kids have never done anything hard for three months. These

for three weeks in a row. . Let

alone three months. Come on

you two, dress rehearsal is on.

Are you feeling a bit nervous?

You will be already? Good on.

You straight in to dress

rehearsal. What did you think

what you saw some of them

dressed up. It is just

extraordinary. I almost cried

to be perfectly honest because

for some of those young people,

being in this situation is something that's only a dream

for them. But even the best

laid plans went awry. When one

partner didn't turn up on

time. Are you all right honey?

Breathe it in. I mean, I

wish somebody had his phone

number. Which boy is it?

Traditionally debutante balls

were about presenting young

ladies to society. While that's

outdated, in a way that's

exactly what it was all about.

These young people who started

life at victims were ready to

come out. Liah thanks her

carers and Lauren her case

manager and her dad for coming

tonight. They made their

debutante in front of 600

people, some were family

members they don't often see.

. It is wonderful because

that's part of the story of

their lives, the fact they had

become disconnected with family and sometimes they blame them

sels for that and so this is

them saying, look at me Mum,

look at me Dad, look at me

uncle. Brother, sister. I am

doing something and I am the

centre of attention, I'm doing

it well. Also watching were

those intrinsic ly involved in

their lives. Carers and foster families and even judges and

lawyers who see some of them in

court. It was very nerve

wreaking at the start. But as

soon as you got dancing it was

like a fairy tale. A little

tiny mistake we did but apart

from that - No-one knows.

No-one knew and it was a good

experience. Well in recent

years Melbourne's inner city

laneways have become an

increasingly important focus

for tourism. Wandering through

the shops, cafes and bars has

become a must for many visitor,

as of this week the laneways

are also being used to attract

a different sort of visitor as

part of a State Government

project to explore the virtual

world of Second Life. Matthew

Stanley reports.

Like any good launch there

were last minute hiccups, and

unexpected delays. Now tonight

in conjunction with Multi Media

Victoria and the ABC we are

pleased to launch the Second

Life Melbourne Laneways

Project But at 20 past 7 last

night, one of Melbourne's big

efts tourism draw cards was

officially added to the growing

list of virtual destinations in

the virtual world known as

Second Life. So again we are

going to have a couple of

people speaking tonight but

first up let's introduce

Natalie Phillips from Multi

Media Victoria and also Lisa

Romano, please make them

welcome. Virtual worlds are

computer generated landscapes

that anyone with computer can

visit by assuming a computer

generated identity or Avatar.

Initially a sort of blank

canvas, the places and people

in Second Life are created by

users and for the last six

months a tomb of - team of

people at Multi Media Victoria

has been busy building a

virtual version of Melbourne's

famous laneways in the hope

that people reportedly using Second Life will drop by for a

visit. It is possible for

people all around the world to

be able to walk around

Melbourne streets and actually

experience something about

Melbourne. Maybe even meet

some other Melbournians, or

their Avatars in this space.

In Second Life you can fly

from place to place, cumulate

virtual possessions, trade

virtual goods and services and

meet other people but as with

most things on the intert net

you are never quite sure just

who it is you are meeting. To

some it is the latest

interamphetamine fad, a -

Internet fad a chance to create something others will find

interesting or to have virtual

sex with a stranger but to

others the idea of a virtual

community where groups of

people can meet and interact

presents endless

possibilities.. It is not about

a virtual world that is unreal

it is about taking information

from the real world, the

filtering it through the

virtual world and having it

come out at the real world

again. Whatever it might be

good for, virtual worlds have

already attracted attention of

big business. Companies like

Coca Cola, Dell Computers and

Telstra all have second life

island s. So far you can't do

much more on the Melbourne site

than walk a-around and chat

with whoever else might be

doing the same. It is a trial

which we are doing in order to

, if you like, keep ahead of

the game because it's only by

trying these new things that

you make decisions about how

far you want to go down this

track. But, we don't want to

be the last ones dragging our

heels. While most Second Life

users are based in the USA and

Europe, there are already

people here using and doing

business in virtual worlds.

Kerry Flavel's company film

Second Life events for both a

virtual audience and for real

world clients like Multi Media

Victoria Brands investing

inside the virtual world have a

very big imperative to reveal

what they are doing and prove

to stakeholders it is something

of interest and that there is

an arts fact made of it to be

seen later so as LCN is paid by

those brands to do that

capturing of footage. When it

comes to the real world value

of virtual worlds and

particularly business

opportunities. Comparisons

with the early days is

common In the early days there

was mistakes maedz, technology

was basic. People made errors.

We had the Dotcom boom but we

are seeing as tranom call

prices being paid for real

world properties. There are

few rules governs behaviour in

virtual worlds and no police

force to call. Having jumped

on the Second Life band wagon

the stag says it is not worried

about what goes on in its

space, so much as missing out

if it is really is the next big

thing. There will be issues of

fraud, issues of improper

behaviour, all of those things

are ethical issues that we will

have to deal with but that is

not a reason for us not to

examiner. - experiment with this kind of technology and see

what can be done. Well that

brings us to the end of

Stateline for this week.

Thanks for joining us our email

address is on our website. And

so are our transcripts. That

address is

And we leave you with the

work of Melbourne based

sculptor Jeffrey Bartlett an

xib session is on add federation square until the

14th of this month. We will be

back next week after the news.

See you then.

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