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Australia springs out of a hot winter -

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ELEANOR HALL: It's officially spring again and the issue of climate change is also in the air.

The National Climate Centre says the change of seasons may not be so pronounced this year and that
Australians have just experienced one of their hottest winters on record.

Charlotte Glennie has more.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: People woke to the first day of spring this morning but in parts of southern
Queensland temperatures had plunged to below zero.

Blair Trewin from the National Climate Centre says that's a stark contrast to a week ago.

BLAIR TREWIN: Early last week we saw a number of locations in northern NSW and southern Queensland
break their August record-high temperatures by four or five degrees. And to break records by that
sort of margin at a long-term station, particularly an inland station is something which is
extremely rare.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Even rarer were the temperatures recorded in the outback Queensland town of

BLAIR TREWIN: It broke its August temperature record six times during the month. It started out the
month with the record being 34.9 and by the time the month was over the record was 38.0.

There were a number of other places that got above their previous record five or more times during
the month but Windorah was the only place which did it in ever-increasing steps.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The heatwave has had grave consequences for the agricultural sector.

Lourens Grobler is for development officer for Queensland Strawberries.

LOURENS GROBLER : With the heatwave they all ripen at the same time, so you'll have a lot of
strawberries suddenly on the market, flooding the markets. We sort of ran into a glut or oversupply

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The industry was predicted to be worth $150 million this year but Mr Grobler
estimates earnings will be down by as much as ten per cent.

LOURENS GROBLER : The top quality now on the market, they're very sweet, they're big and they just
don't get any prices for them. If the public pays, say, less than $2.30 a punnet I don't think that
grower makes any money on that punnet.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: So will punnets of strawberries be selling for less than that amount given the
oversupply at the moment?

LOURENS GROBLER : Now $1.50 a punnet; yes, so the grower must get less than say $1 a punnet which
is below their break-even price.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Blair Trewin from the National Climate Centre says the mild winter has been felt
all over the country.

BLAIR TREWIN: It's been a very warm winter over most of Australia and it looks like it's going to
be touch and go whether it's the warmest winter on record for Australia. As of yesterday morning it
was running equal first.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: What was the last warm winter like this?

BLAIR TREWIN: Well 1996 is one that we're running close to.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Why do you think this August was so hot?

BLAIR TREWIN: Well, we've got a few things at play. We do see quite a bit of variability from year
to year, and the pattern we saw this year was we saw very persistent high pressure through the
subtropics and that meant there were really no opportunities for cooler air to penetrate into
central and northern Australia at all.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: John Ridley grows grain in the central west of New South Wales.

JOHN RIDLEY: We needed rain yesterday, right. We needed rain most probably a fortnight ago for our
crops to realise their full potential but obviously there's been a big setback in yield now or
yield potential.

Most probably already, there's most probably been 30 per cent of our yield potential gone and every
day it doesn't rain that will fall quite dramatically from there.

ELEANOR HALL: John Ridley is a NSW grain grower, he was speaking to Charlotte Glennie.