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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. to State Focus. Hello, I'm Peta Burton and welcome Illabo near Wagga, about his Today we chat with a farmer from locusts. industrious way of dealing with the Australian Country ARIA charts. And the hottest accountant to hit began on the South Coast. Amber Lawrence's claim to fame all meet Nigel Kerin, this year's New But first, to the Central West to South Wales Farmer of the Year. Nigel's sheep, wool and cropping And, earlier we headed out to thousand acres in Yeoval to see how operation on his six and a half

future for himself and his family. he's harvesting a solid farming farm. Now Nigel you've grown up on the years, particularly with the drought, What have you witnessed over those what have you seen the drought do? business drought was what we needed I guess when you look at our change into our business which to really shake us up and implement

future and make that a regenerative would take our business into the business for me and my wife and our type business, a sustainable onto the land. children if they decide to come was pretty much the kick in the bum Um, yeah drought looking back on it we needed to implement change. us about the operation here. Ok well talking about change, tell a 5 day course called the business 5 years ago we went and did a, just school about pretty much implanting of farming school which was a agriculture and I did that school change and changing paradigms in pretty much did spent 12 months and then come away from that and

about what we were doing and it doing but nothing but thinking definition of insanity was doing become quite clear that the over again expecting a different the same thing over and over and business, outcome. And when we looked at our what we were doing was pretty much everyone else and I didn't really district average, the same as see that as good a base to go on. How'd your sanity today? (LAUGHS) what it was. Ah it's a hell of a lot better than on business management, it sets Yeah once you empower people on how, come. them up for the tough times that such. So how have you adapted the farm as using now? What processes or technology are you incredibly simple operation. Yeah we've actually made it operation where we run sheep, we It's just a live stock based input live stock that require very have a low input farm, we have low costs. little use of chemicals and input And we've also got pretty much low that farm. input people as well now working on results are you seeing and how do So what are the results, what ago, 4 to 5 years? they compare to say before 5 years have been doing that for 5 years Yeah we bench mark our business and dry sheep equivalent was we always and our net return per DSE being a and when we moved over to an sat around that 28 to 32 dollars live stock we sort of doubled our elastic type style management of net returns basically straight away. we've got, not what we hope to get. And that was working with what Did that amaze you? Shock you? accept it till it actually happens It did because it's very hard to know it had actually happened on your own farm. And you wouldn't your business. unless you had been bench marking out in the paddock and it was also So we were able to see it happening statement as well. happening on paper and on our bank drought, I mean you're proof. So you can be profitable in a stocking rate to carrying capacity, Yeah I, the secret is matching managing drought, because when ever and that is the absolute secret of he's got options, whenever he's got a farmer has got grass on his farm options he's got a life. business is not so much in the And the wealth of any livestock is in the grass, so if you lose livestock themselves, your wealth your grass you lose your wealth.

lessons learnt along the way? What are the, what are some of the wanting a better word? And has this been easy to you, for and very easy, it's very dumb sort The process itself's very simple of farming system. people implementing it, that being The biggest problem is in the removed from what we were doing and me because it was just so par that was it was simple. a really simple lifestyle, it's a Um any type of farming operation is introduce people into it and all simple way to make money until you they want to do it complicate it. an example of one of the approaches Can you just explain to us, give us with cropping for example and how simple that is, say you know over, 7 year ago what, we moved to Ah well cropping now we've moved

all we do is just do one parcel to a no till type farming system where usually 2 chemical applications and sewing machine and that's it and we've actually grown a crop of this year for the first time ever and had you of said that to me a wheat without the use of chemicals impossible but, we're now sewing couple of year ago I'd said that not killing the pastures that are crops into perineal pastures and them, And getting a much better there, just sewing straight into our pasture species rather than biodiversity in our crops and in having mono-cultures. And you have wrinkle free sheep? (LAUGHS) That... (LAUGHS) How do you get wrinkle free sheep? free sheep. Just easy. You breed for wrinkle that started 15 year ago and all it And we bred a type of Marino and sheep that just wanted to live. was, was a sheep that was a Marino

wrinkles on the neck or around the It had no wrinkles on it, it had no require mulesing. back end of the sheep so it didn't shoulder area which meant it was It had no wrinkles over the rain falls, so it needed no blowfly very quick to dry out after summer protection put on it. paddocks better, and what I mean by And since we've learnt to graze our

a hundred mills, we've pretty much better is we try not to graze below drenching in our sheep. reduced and eliminated the need for since we've drenched sheep. It's been you know, a long time farm as a business, but what does Nigel you talk about running your that mean for today's farmers? business is we introduced a I think what we've done with our that was a big shot in the arm business coach 15 months ago and corporate style business reporting because what we did was brought the system into a family farm. the anguish that goes son in And alot of the worry and alot of business and that control being we farming is a lack of control in the return on assets managed, are report monthly now and we have

a computer program we use and you pretty much printed out monthly off now without any rainfall and things know we can go for 3 or 4 months but we look back at our monthly are starting to look a bit yucky, good returns in our business so it reporting system, we've still got you. just takes that mental stress off Well it absolutely relieves it completely because you're not

having to worry about how you're going to service the needs and the wants of your family and your financed and also the running of the farm. Ho free do you feel to not have that stress? People with clear minds make clear decisions, and that's the part I like about it. I think the more, the more stress you're under, the more stressed the decisions you make are. And yeah, healthy minds, healthy decisions, healthy farms and healthy environments is how I look at it. So you're able to have a good sleep at night? Yeah that's the big thing that's changed in the last, yeah probably in the last 5 years is Ah being in control of your business and more so in the last 2 years since we introduced a business coach. Sounds like you might have room for some workers. Would you take me on? Take you on? (LAUGHS) Get you a decent pair of boots and away you go. @ Get you a decent p And, that was our trip to Yeoval in the Central West. And thank you to Nigel for your time and you'd be happy to know I have got myself a pair of boots, and a big thank you as well to our wonderful crew David and Grant from Southern Cross Ten Orange. Ok, coming up the Canberra local behind November's hottest rock production in the nation's capital. That's next on State Focus.

Welcome back to State Focus. Make sure your calendar is clear on November 29 for a live performance

production extravaganza in Canberra. Foreshore's Music Event of Summer is super sized with star-studded local talent, 2008 ARIA award winners and international music makers. And all the organisers are hoping for now is sunshine. Isn't that right Ryan Phillips? It sure is. After last year it would be nice to have a clear day. (LAUGHS) I should say welcome Ryan Phillips to State Focus. Thank you for having me. Thankyou.

You're very welcome. But what if it rains? Ah well obviously if it rains we've put a hell of a lot of measures in place to provide more cover and for grass and for people this year. worth of rain down in one day which was nice for us last year. Created a unique experience though. So bring your brolly just incase. Well unfortunately not cause brollies are a prohibited item of the day. That's right, ok. But bring a poncho. Yeah.

(LAUGHS) Well they're back in now. They are, they are very cool now, so. They are, they are very cool There's, you guys, your background is in bars and bar work, so... yeah promoting and.. Yeah. How did you create this biggest youth music festival that Canberra has veer seen? I mean 8,000 people last year. of a group of good people getting together with unique ideas and a lot of drive behind them.

So Lawrence and myself who own Lexington music and also Geoff and Paul who own Friction event Management, and it's the grouping of those people coming together and sitting around and coming up with good ideas, bouncing them back and forth and them having the drive to follow them through. So where is your partner in crime today? Where is Lawrence on a Sunday morning where is Lawrence? He's, he's unfortunately very busy working. @ He's, he's unfortunate (LAUGH) Okay. That's the nature of the beast with something like this.

As it gets closer to the day being only a few weeks away now, it's really exciting but the work doesn't stop until well after the event actually. Well tell us about the event this year. Because you've said that it's unlike anything that you boys have done before. So how and why ? and how are ticket sales going with only a couple of weeks to go? Ticket sales are great which is really promising for us because we are seeing a good response from the Canberra and the surrounding community to the event and it's really different this year in the

fact that we've got so many more bigger artists, there's 3 stages of entertainment on each stage and indoor/outdoor elements at the same event as well. expect a good 10,000 though. I'd hope so. I'd hope so. ticket sales are at and that people having enjoyed the unique experience

last year of all the rain.. Yep. and do it all again this year. @ Listen, is it, has it been tough getting the names here to Canberra when you guys are just starting out. When you are somewhat green for wanting a better word, in the industry. Yeah, it is and it isn't because being, having seen what we've already done and being able to show certain artists and artists do talk to one another so that have had a great experience in Canberra.

They enjoy the crowds, they enjoy the way people respond to big acts coming here and having the opportunity to see you know, really good Aussie talent and international talent come down to the Nations Capital and put on a show. the Nations Capital and pu Any rejections? Anyone saying now don't call us, we'll call you? Um, not really, no. I think a lot of people are keen to come down to Canberra and grab that opportunity. Obviously schedules are the big thing, working in amongst busy touring schedules is one of the hardest things. How much money have you boys had to put in to get this gig up and

ball park figure. We've all put a lot of money in together to create something that's provided here in Canberra. Mortgages? Yeah those sorts of things. You know, beg, borrowing and stealing. up what the costs are to providing the type of quality show that will

be competitive with the National market. be competitive with the Is it tougher though in this financial, I guess, climate these days for you? Considering what's going on in the world. It is. Those sorts of things affect every business decision that you make as to - will the tickets still move as quickly? Will people be willing to spend this margin. I mean if you're going to increase the ticket price, you also need to increase the quality of show. Well it has. The quality of product that you're delivering @ The quality of produ It's a little more expensive this year. It is a little bit more, but obviously there's a lot more

artists on display, there's a lot more production gone into the show. Listen thank you so much for coming in. Sure. Congratulations on getting Foreshore to this stage. Can't wait to hear what's in store for 2009. events, we've got a big event for the A.C.T community called 'O in the park', which is about O week many tertiary institutions in Canberra. So that's February next year @ Canberra. So that's Februa Good on you, you're working hard. Cheers.

Okay, we're off to the Riverina now to catch up with a farmer from Illabo, which is just north of Wagga, about locusts and the looming outbreak. John Hopkins is on the phone with us right now. And John, thank you so much for your time this morning, the locusts aren't looming for you, they're on your property, how bad is it? Well Peta, good morning. They are very much here and showing the fact that they are here. They've um, they're spreading right across the whole property, that's

originated from the hard surfaces where they've laid their eggs and now we have them in the crops and on our pasture areas. Now the window of opportunity to nip them in the bud or nip it in the bud is now in report in any cases, but I guess the most important question farmers need to know is - what do they need to look out for? Well Peta, a lot of people don't realise how bad the locusts

actually are on their property. And you can miss them quite easily unless you're really being diligent and a two wheeled motor bike has been invaluable for me for finding them. They're very well camouflaged and as our country has now dried off, suddenly you could be riding a motorbike across a paddock and you'll feel them on the legs before you notice them and you look down and the whole ground seems to be

moving away from you. two wheel bike, what measures have on your four wheeler. I believe it's a rather industrious way of dealing with locusts. have their own little mini boom sprays that they have on bikes. We actually made one up to try and combat these little blighters. set aside for conservation and

planted trees and it's just impossible to get in there with our them with the four wheeler with this little boom that we have on it. But that's not all. Oh joy, this brings up the OH & S question to because it's an open air thing and we are actually spraying an insecticide which is not the safest thing, so we have to pick our days. The last few days have been terribly windy so we haven't

sprayed with that at all. Well look, appreciate your time this morning. We'll have to leave it there. We'll catch up with you in about a month just to see how things are going. In the meantime, look after yourself and those valuable crops. Thank you for that Peta. Thanks John. Good morning. Okay, next up, her claim to fame all started with a well-known name on the South Coast. Amber Lawrence has some old tales to tell on State Focus.

Welcome back to State Focus. Amber Lawrence has been known to write a mean spread sheet, but now her number crunching days are over. And earlier the former accountant chatted with us about turning herself into an award-winning, number one record-writing country music star, who actually hails from a well-known family on the South Coast. (WHOOSH) The funny thing is, I grew up in Sydney and accidentally became a country singer almost, by just picking up a country CD a long time thought, why is it? And my mum said, well you know we're actually from Eden. Our family and the fishing family, the Warren family, my grandmother is the grand daughter of Issac Warren.

Wow. And it's something that, well I probably only really discovered, I've known my whole life, but the importance of it more and more as I tour around this country and I still haven't been to Eden, but it's definitely on my list of places to tour. After today, you're going baby. (LAUGHS) Yeah, go look up the family tree. There's actually a book coming out at the moment about the fishing family, the Warren family down there and we're in the family tree, so you kind of feel really proud of your heritage when you can look back at that and see where you've come from. Absolutely. Now I want to talk about another big part of your life. Accounting. (LAUGHS) The big question is, how do you go from accounting to music making? I mean from tax to rock and roll. I mean I can't possibly imagine why you'd want to put down the spread sheets. Oh no, I can't either. It's, I did the sensible thing. Sorry to all the accountants out there who do a great job. They do and we need them and I am proud to be one of them, but it's something I did at university and quite a few years ago now because you know I wanted to be sensible and please my parents and the minute I got my degree I thought, oh gosh, what have I done? (LAUGHS) I want to be a singer! So the thing was, it takes such a long time to

built this career that I'm doing now. @ built this career that I'm But a successful year it's been for you. I mean, awards, more awards, single of the year, female vocalist of the year, artist of the year, debut album that reached number 4 on the country, Australian country ARIA chart. My question is, how hard has been to do all of that, but do it independently? Yeah it's been hard. You know, everyday you wake up and you've got

a list of people to call, emails to reply to and everything I do is from the ground level, so I write all my songs. All the musicians for the album, I worked with them personally, I answer all my own emails and fan mail. You know, everyone that emails me... What's it like getting fan mail? Oh it's nice. You can't believe some of the things people write and you realise that that's why you do what you do because you're touching people with a song or for example, the song, things that bring me down on my album, a lady wrote to me and she said she was having an operation and one of the lines in the song is - I know I'm gonna feel like hell tomorrow, and so she said over and over and over on the operation table she sang that line to her because by the end of the song, you end up feeling better. So you know, it's amazing. wake us up. That one? Yeah, wake us up, wake everyone up for Sunday morning there with a bit of that one. (PLAYS GUITAR and SINGS) Yeah, I know I'm gonna feel like hell tomorrow, just one last kiss. Yeah I know that I could end up sad and sorry, but it's worth the risk. 'Cos it feels like heaven at 3am when I don't do what I should. Oh the things that bring me down, feel good. @ Oh the things that b

I love it. Have you heard back from her after the operation? Well it was after the operation that she said that's how she made it through. Oh okay. So it's little things like that that you know, everyday, because it's, you know there's a lot of you know, if you watch any idol or anything like that, you see there's so much rejection in music that it's really great when you get just a little steps and positive enforcement along the way to go, alright, I'll do another day and I'll chase this dream a little longer. I'll chase this dream a Was it a hard decision to make to go full time though? Considering that there's bills to pay? Yeah definitely and it did take me a while. I kind of weaned myself off, when part time and I was doing crazy things like doing shows in Queensland in the weekend, then driving back through the night to get to work on Monday and after I did that a couple of times. I thought, this is now to point where I have to take a risk and you have to take that leap and I can always be an accountant. I love it! (LAUGHS) I can always go back. Listen I want to talk to you about the mile, the title song of this amazing album. Your debut album. Tell us about the title track, very timely that we are speaking about this particular song, I guess being November the horse racing season. What's the song behind the song? Why did you write it? And then give us a bit of a taste. Yeah I will. Well it's a sad story and it's pretty much the only sad

song on the album. But it's a true story about my brother-in-law who was a 16 year old jockey over in New Zealand and 3 years ago at the Easter carnival, he tragically lost his life in a race fall. And you know, devastating, devastating event for everyone in the racing community and people in Australia know all about it as well. But on the morning of the accident, him and his dad walked the race track, the mile together and so I didn't set out to write a song, but I just sat down one day and this came out. (SINGS) Dawn breaks the day and they're on their way. More like friends than father, son. Sun shines it seems, cool grass so green, but it hides a loaded gun.

They walked a mile together, not knowing the last ever, they walked together sharing things he'll forget about. One last holy mile.

That's beautiful. Do you, is it hard to ever perform that song? Was it hard the first time? Oh definitely and it's still hard and we've got a video clip coming out for this one. It's very emotional. It's shot at Randwick race track and for, Sam McCray, the jockey, for his family, it's very. It's hard for them because we've almost really living that event in

the video clip, so we had to be very careful to keep it sensitive, 'cos it's their story not my story, so I wanted to make sure it tells the right story for them. Listen, you've been praised for your maturity, for your song writing capability, for being able to connect with your audience. Don't you think though at the end of the day, it's because you have a true spirit of the sea with some old tales to tell.

Oh yeah. I hope so and I want to write a song about the sea. Actually on my album there's two songs about the water and I'm not much of a fisherman myself though. I was gonna say, what are your angling skills? Oh terrible. I've had a go and haven't caught one yet. So I'm gonna maybe go to Eden, sing them some songs and get some tips on how to fish in return. (LAUGHS) Look it's a pleasure having you on.

Congratulations on the album, and more success that's obviously destined your way. Oh thank you. You're very welcome. Thank you very much. (WHOOSH) Okay, that's the show for this week. Thanks for your company. And here's a little more of Amber Lawrence to take us out. We'll see you next Sunday morning. Bye for now.