Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
State Focus -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) plenty happening this week, panel from last week's show, including a follow through on our eligible for public housing looking at what makes someone in the ACT. soon, Well, joining us on the show very of the current debate. will be the politician at the centre joining us Greens MLA Deb Foskey will be to explain why she is reluctant home in Yarralumla. to move out of her public housing But first - number of whales that the steady increase in the in South Coast waters, tourists, has proven to be a big hit with and conservationists alike. of weeks, But in what could be only a matter of whales in Australian waters. we could again see the hunting International Whaling Commission Japan will this month ask the quota for minke if it can extend its current kill from 400 to 450. and humpback whales request Is Japan making an unreasonable affect whale numbers in our waters and just how will a bigger harvest Society Australian Whale Conservation Paul Hodder is President of the Maroochydore studios and he joins us from our and on the line is John Smith, businesses. whale-watching charter boat he runs one of Eden's top I'll get to John in a moment but Paul how are you? Fine, how are you? Terrific, what kind of numbers, are we talking about as far as increases in numbers regarding the humpback species waters? in South Coast or Eastern sea-board the East coast of Australia Those humpbacks that migrate along have seen a remarkable comeback hundred in the mid 60s because they were down to a few or so of them now and there are around about 7,000 but they've got a long way to go before there fully recovered. What on earth would the Japanese research? want with a humpback for scientific expand their commercial It's the method they use to slowly guise of science, whale watching processes under the whales in the southern ocean they've been doing it with minke for quite a number of years now, and fin whales down here they want to expand into humpbacks and they're also killing as well. four species in the north pacific in Eden, Look I'll go to John Smith now it's a great little business John you run Freedom Charters, watching business in Eden? just how healthy is the whale over the last few years Well it's been on the up and up of Overseas tourists and like we are getting a lot as well including Japanese coming over local town and it's just so great for the of year. that used to be such a quiet time it's excellent. So tourism wise for every body guarantee tourists Yeah so you can pretty well boats they'll see a humpback or two? that when they get on one of your We run about a 99% success rate. whale watching in Eden Right OK, when it comes to actually just what sort of investment business? do you put into that for your watching alone The money tied up in Eden in whale with the vessels that are down here, it, we have two vessels that are doing million dollars yeah your talking well into the worth of boats that are tied up. in humpbacks of the South Coast Right so to suddenly see a depletion problem for you? that would be a serious business For us and like the motels, in the town really. the restaurants, every body that's international whaling commission Paul Hodder when it comes to the at all, does Australia have any weight and pulling weight there? other nation, Australia has one vote like every of people whether you're a nation of millions or a small island nation one vote on all of the issues. of a few tens of thousands you have Commission Right so when Japan goes to the well? will it have its own allies there as allies over the last few years Oh yes Japan has been building to a worrying degree, a number of nations they are shall we say encouraging within whom they have aid programs vote on their side and investment programs to not only but encouraging others to join and vote on their side and it's a worrying concern of the current turned on us. because we could see the tables would you say If you were a betting man though what it wants? that Japan will actually get We can't stop them, regardless of our points of view, this scientific whaling occurs commission there is a loop hole in the that says all they've got to do these whales is declare that their going to kill the permits themselves and the government actually issues so we can't stop them. to their own whaling fleets You can't stop them at all, Overseas lobbying, so matter, we've got ministers really do you think it's futile? No, it just needs to happen more into other issues and we need to introduce this issue we talk to the Japanese about, the Japanese government about, such as investment, such as trade, discussions. just keep introducing it into these I know it's 400 to 450 whales for their research. there looking for an extra 50 whales to 15 years for humpback numbers? Just what could that mean in say 10 are currently taking Well our understanding is that they for the last few years 400 and 40 odd per year, have been fin whales they want to double that with minke and add ten humpbacks and add ten and of course this is pilot program humpbacks and next year you can expect more and more fin whales and build and build. and it's just going to build And just finally John Smith, watching trip when people take their first whale these majestic creatures? just how much of a buzz is it to see Look the most comment you get is it's a life changing experience, by it people are just really blown away take with them and it's just something that they ever. and I don't think they'll forget it, It doesn't matter how often you do habitat like that it's special. just to see the creatures in their on his promise to rescue our farmers current drought, who are just devastated by the and the prospect of a long, dry winter. Our rural battlers will get another $250 million in aid but the PM did stop short of giving farmers what they wanted most, direct cash grants. However, the rescue package will bring government drought assistance to a total of $1.2 billion. Farmers will be able to earn another $10,000 in another job, without affecting their Exceptional Circumstances benefits. And interest rate subsidies will go up from 50 to 80% for farmers who've been getting EC support for the last two or three years. But another crucial part of this package is easing some of the emotional pain. More financial advisers will be sent out into drought regions to help property owners sought out their money troubles, and there'll also be $4 million spent on face-to-face counselling. And there is also thought for the future, with a forum planned for September on how to keep young farmers in the industry, when so many families are now wondering if it is better to sell-up the family property and move on. Next week - We'll take a closer look at how the Big Dry Rescue package will directly affect farmers within our drought zones from the Central West to the Monairo. Stay with us - After the break, Canberra politician Deb Foskey explains why she's not planning to move out of her public housing home. That's next on State Focus. and Southern NSW. Now not too far away, we'll see if we can get to the bottom of why so many local councils are wanting to put rates up this year and whether they'll get what they're asking for. But right now, to our next guest, Deb Foskey, Greens politician with the ACT Legislative Assembly, and a woman who's been getting plenty of airtime lately, but not the kind that most politicians dream of. Deb, thank you very much for coming on State Focus today. My pleasure Ali. Now it has been a couple of weeks since the revelation that you are still living in a public housing property in Yarralumla, have you been surprised at the reaction that you've caused? I have been surprised by the virulence of some reaction but it has never been a secret Ali that I live in a public house, it's of course in the ACT we are lucky to have security of tender for public housing tenants so while I thought that there might be a problem because not everybody understands that and a lot of people see public housing as being as of course For welfare cases and people in need. Well lets talk about the circumstances, what lead to you getting this particular house? Right well of course when I first applied for government housing I fitted all the criteria, I was a single mum, I was on a very low income. And we are going back to when, what year? Well we are going back to the early 90's actually and it takes some time to be allocated a house, of course it takes a lot longer now these days. Well the waiting list is around 3,000 and I think what people seem to be most concerned about is the fact that your circumstances have changed. In deed they have, I should say that I've lived in my house in Yarralumla for 12 years, in my current house for eight years and of course when I got elected to the assembly I was suddenly earning a decent wage. Well it is a decent wage, when you look at the average Aussie workers weekly earnings around about $990, I mean it's a little, I'm actually on a little less then that but do you believe that most people on that weekly income should be able to afford a commercial rental property? And are you on a similar income to that, that's I guess the issue here Deb. There's no secret about my income and so and all of that is in the public domain and of course what happens is that most people in public housing who do manage to earn a secure job because lets remember that I'm not actually in a secure job, that's not necessarily the issue here but many people do move on after awhile but it takes quite awhile to recover from poverty and it's simply not fair to turf people out the minute that they start earning that income. Individual circumstances differ. I don't think people want to see you turfed out, I really don't. I think people want to perhaps maybe see you making a change because of your circumstances, do you think you'll ever be ready to make that change? I'm in the lucky position now that I can choose and of course it's not just me who is involved here, it's my family. And yes certainly I am looking at all of those options but it's really important that any decision that I make doesn't make other people who are paying market rent for their government house feel insecure. Now if we got rid of any number of those properties and as you know the numbers have been diminishing over the years then we are going to need the tax payer to subside more and more public housing and the real fear is that governments will start selling off the houses already we are going to see government housing go down by a few hundred in the next year and in fact we've got a problem here in the ACT. Well it is in crisis. We're in crisis. We are in crisis housing, so as a politician do you feel or can you understand peoples saying hey, set an example, are you feeling that pressure? I'm certainly seeing that people are concerned and it's interesting about setting set an example because all public figures should and as a Greens person I want to show how Greens policy is enacted. What if the Stanhope Government decided that the current system is outdated and that really full market renters would have to go, what would happen to those full-market renters? I'm fine for the next four years but we have to remember a lot of market renters are well their on even shorter term contracts then I am and we live in a casualised work force. So people don't have that security. Four years for a lot of people is time enough to I guess get themselves feeling in a secure position to leave, do you think you will? I'm going to take my daughters and my needs into account I do have the luxury of choice, I'm in secure housing, it was that secure housing that enabled me to live the kind of life,

that has enabled me to become a politician. That's important, everyone should have that opportunity but it could be that life will, the right property that I can afford, it has to be a move. Has it been particularly nasty, have people been nasty? There has been some very nasty moments mostly I think because people don't understand. Well look Deb Foskey I'll leave it there, please let us know if your circumstances change. Have a house warming shall I. Thank you so much for coming on State Focus today. Thank you very much, my pleasure. the queue for elective surgery in ACT hospitals isn't getting any shorter. New stats on the subject has found the average waiting time was 46 days, but 10% of patients had to wait longer than 12 months. Goulburn's water crisis was worthy of a mini-summitt in Canberra this week. Pejar Dam is now below 8% capacity. Answers to the January 18 bushfires, are still months away, as three judges sift through piles of evidence to decide if Maria Doogan should stay on as coroner. And Queanbeyan may soon have a new suburb called Googong, about seven kays south of the city. 20,000 could live there within 20 years. While Canberra may be sticking to Stage two water restrictions, on the South Coast, there's talk of Stage three soon. Warragamba Dam is down below 40% for the first time, and Avon Dam is at 47%. Property sales in the Illawarra have also dropped, by around 23%. And we are going to be talking about council rates next but it's official Bega Council will apply for a 12.5% increase next year.

And Eden is one of 11 regional areas to win Federal money to improve broadband services in the town. TO the Central West this week - It's taken awhile but Dubbo Council is hiring an aboriginal liaison officer. After trouble in Gordon Estate, $50,000 has been found to fund that position. Orange is to have a cannabis treatment clinic, to help heavy users break their habit. If you are restocking the wine cellar, the 2005 vintage of wines from Mudgee are said to be the best in 10 years. And the drought is making sports grounds too hard for junior soccer, with Orange Council now looking at drilling for bore water to keep the grass growing. And in the Riverina - The focus has been on what the NSW budget delivered for Wagga Hospital. Six extra beds have been promised, but any more have been limited by the lack of space.

Wagga's Oasis swim centre will stay open, even though it is running at a million dollars loss. The next big thing in power, may be pig poo. Energy Australia is looking at building a methane-powered plant to harvest the gas of pig manure at Corowa. And West Wyalong wants it known that the town is a very pretty little town despite being named the 8th ugliest town in Australia, by a travel magazine. those quarterly rate payments! And right around Southern NSW, Councils are busily calculating exactly how much those rates should rise. And in some cases, the increases are substantial. For instance, in Bega, Councillors have been looking at a general rate rise of 14% in the Wingecarribee Shire Council, it could be somewhere around about 8% while in Dubbo, it may be a more moderate 4%. So, how do councils begin to justify such figures? Phyllis Miller is the President of the NSW Shires Association and she's made the trip down from Forbes today. Hi Phyllis. Hi Ali. Can you just explain to me is it really a case of crumbling roads, not enough wheely bins, fixing up the street lights, is that why councils have to increase their rates?

Each year councils get the opportunity to increase their rates, the pecking limit is 3.5% anything over and above that must be approved by the minister. OK so they go to the minister and say we'd like to go for 14%, but how do they justify that to him? community consultation It must be justified through full and a management plan project and it must be for a certain throughout that council area. or infrastructure project right

picture here for councils, OK so we are looking at a big like 10 year plan, is that what we're looking for? wanting to increase their rates? Right, why are so many councils each year with rate pegging Basically being on a 3.5% increase the eight ball, has certainly put councils behind we have in cost, that does not cover the increases each year by 3.5% that is what our wages go up so everything else is by the board, so what we are doing, go further for more services we are trying to make our money both state and federal government. that are being inflicted upon us by is it unreasonable? Do you think 14% say for Bega, as to why their asking for 14%. I'd have to look at the reasons rate pegging first came in Over many years councillors when their own communities being heroes within I suppose they were given 2.2% rise each year and we won't take it. So you are looking at councils that are millions of dollars behind increase by not taking that rate pegging early in 1978. that was given to us increases, Right, what if they don't get there community? what does it mean for a local It's to go back to the budget deliver and see what services you can with what revenue you have. so much for joining us today. Terrific, Phyllis Miller thank you Thanks Ali. After the break, Jason Smith, we'll chat with Canberra Raider of sitting on the sidelines. feeling the frustrations He's next on State Focus.

only too well well, our next guest knows rollercoaster ride that is the NRL. the frustrations of the Very little could stop Jason Smith machine at the start of the year when he burst back into the green until that right knee went crunch and Jason is with us this afternoon. Hi how are you doing? Yeah not bad. How is the right knee? Yeah it is pretty good, this morning you know I did a bit of training obviously not running but it's responding really well are confident and the doctor and physio I can get back a bit earlier. Because you were just, of the year, no one could stop you at the start you were all powerful side-lined, frustration of having to be and here you are with the what do you do to kill the time? as well as training Well physios got me pretty busy and a few promotions here and there obviously. stage at all? Not driving the wife made at this No the kids are doing that for me. You know it's just part of the life and we know how to get through it then later. and hopefully I'll be back sooner Yeah it's all apart of the game. came in at the start of the year You know when we last spoke you season in me at least, you said I think I've got one NRL

how are you feeling at this point? Yeah well obviously until the knee injury I was feeling really good, I made a decision probably the Friday before the Cronulla game which is about three weeks ago now that I definitely go around again next year, I feel good in myself and I feel like I'm going well with the team, you know contributing fairly well to the team so you know while I feel this way I might as well go around. Fore sure now what's this talk of a mid-season slump with the Raiders, the last five of seven games we've lost. Is Matt Elliott pulling out his hair at this stage? No I think a lot of it has got to do with injuries and suspension and I think out of the starting 17 that we have at the start of the year there is probably about eight blokes that are missing from that squad so when your missing eight senior players, it's pretty hard to do and in saying that the games that we've lost we've only just lost and we've performed pretty well. So the next big one for you because it's a bye this weekend and then the next ones the long weekend on the Saturday against the Broncos, they probably won't be at full strength will they? No the State of Origin is the following week, the Wednesday after and don't have five or six players missing but in saying that they'll probably miss Darren Lockyer the most but outside of that they've still got Shane Webkye and virtually the whole back line has played origin or will one day. You know I've got to ask you when you made the decision I'm just not going to play rep footy any more, how did you feel sitting through that origin match, knowing that you were selected in the squad? You know I'd made my decision and I made it because I wanted to play with Canberra through that time and as it worked out I'll probably miss all of that time through this knee injury but it was hard sitting there, but I enjoyed watching the game, it was a great game to watch. At 33 is the old dog learning any new tricks this season? Yeah we always keep learning no matter who old you are and how gifted you are, you always keep learning. I'm sure if you asked Andrew Johns he still learns everyday so it's good to have that attitude that you know you want to keep learning. Absolutely, can I ask you that voice I was going to ask you the last time you were in, where is it from? I got an elbow in 94 on a Kangaroo tour and it just never recovered. I probably didn't treat it right, I had a few beers after the game and never looked after it too well but yeah I've been stuck with it ever since and you know I'm just use to it now. Is it actually sore or it's just part of what Jason Smiths about now? Yeah. Your not planning a duet with Tommy Raudonikis at any stage? No probably Jimmy Barnes more my style. Fantastic well look as we mentioned back for June 11 Simon Woolford hopefully Clinton Schifcofske will be back, what about yourself, when can you see yourself back on the field? Well doctor said I'd miss six weeks, obviously I've missed one I'm hoping for four but it might be realistic to be six weeks. Oh well it would be good to have you and the side back at full strength. Thanks for dropping in today, really appreciate it. No problem. And it's also good luck to a certain Brumbies star Canberra born and bred, Matt Henjak has decided it's time to move out of George Gregan's shadow and he's off to Perth to join the Western Force for the Super 14. Henjak has a dream to play scrumhalf for the Wallabies, and he's hoping that breaking ties with the Brumbies might allow him to shine, so if Gregan does decide to retire after 2007, he'll be ready for that Number 9 jersey. And for a bloke who still lives at home, part of his contract says that his mum and dad will be flown to Perth for the home games, isn't that nice. Enjoy whatever code of footie you follow this weekend, we'll see you next week, on State Focus, bye for now.