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7.30 Report -

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(generated from captions) And doesn't look too bad either,

perfect weather for our

old Parliament House rose visitors to take a peek at the

gardens. Thank you Mark. And

that's ABC News. The '7:30

Report' is next. And I'll be

back with a news update in one

hour. Enjoy your evening, good night. Captions by CSI. Tonight on '7:30 Report' -

Australia's battle against the

bing. Children as young as 8

and 9 are beginning to

drink. The human cost of a

nation's addiction. You come

on, on a Saturday or Sunday

morning and you can smell the

alcohol, you can smell the

blood. And as American as apple

pie - baseball's bid to win over fans Down Under. We're

trying to broaden the appeal of the sport

we can draw some of the fans

away from cricket, it would be

great. This Program is Captioned

Live. Welcome to the program.

I'm Tracy Bowden. Those stories

shortly, but first to

Queensland where the flood

disaster continues. Rockhampton

remains the centre of remains the centre of the transport links to the city are crisis. Most

now cut and a temporary air

base for emergency service

helicopters has been set up on the outskirts. Meanwhile, the residents of St George, 500km

west of Brisbane, are bracing

for flood levels not seen since

the 1890s. The damage bill is

reach into the rising daily and is expected to

billions. Shortly we'll be

crossing to Rockhampton for the

latest, but first this report

from John Taylor. In flood-affected

Queensland, life has a new rhythm. Parts of Rockhampton

have become Venice, but in the

most un romantic of ways. Just

going down home to check on

things. There are no gondolas

here, Justinnies and dinghies.

67-year-old Les Pye has lived

in his house for more than two

decades. I come back here every

night and in the morning again

to keep an eye on things and to keep an

everyone around here keeps an

eye on one another. He is

betting the floodwaters won't

is not is frightened. No. enter his home and one thing he

Christ, we're commercial

fisherman for 40 years and been

through cyclones and that out

the reefs and up the coast and

God knows what, you know. This

is a breeze! But Rockhampton,

with a population of 75,000

people, is, for the moment, at

the centre of Queensland's

flooding crisis. The Fitzroy River perhaps tomorrow at 9.4m with

hundreds of homes flooded. Well, at this stage we're still expecting the

inundation over floorboards to

be about 4 00. We're not sure

how many are over the

floorboards at the moment at

nearly the 9.2m mark. We have about

nearly 80 people that are

staying at the emergency

evacuation centre and we are still expecting that there will

be 4,000 parcels of land throughout this region

inundated with water. At the showground, thousands of sandbags have give out to the

public. Everybody here today is

a volunteer. These guys have

just turned up because they

want to do something to help out the community and don't know where to go to help out,

just driven past and decided to

help out. This has been a

slow-motion disaster that has

taken weeks to arrive. It's

also going to

for the water to clear. There also going to take a long time

is a suggestion that this may

remain at the peak, whatever

that peak is, for a period of

up to two days. Then as it

starts to drop and flatten out, it's likely to be about 10 days it's likely to

or so that it could stay - or

up to 10 days at the around the

8.5m mark which indicates we

will have significant water

inundation for the best part of

nearly up to two weeks. It will

also take a long tile to assess

the true cost of the floodwaters. Preliminary

estimates made thus far centre

around to a quarter to a half a percent of Australia's GDP.

That's a figure equivalent to Because the floods have around 3 and

occurred over the year break,

that is some in December, some

in January, the effects are

going to show up in both the

December and March quarters, so they won't be as big in a

single quarter as if this, for

example, had occurred since New

be Year's Day, but it will still

be a noticeable impact when the

figures are eventually

released. In flood-affected

areas, animals have been forced

to take whatever shelter they

can find. Valuable crops have been destroyed industry is also reeling.

Three-quarters of all coal

fields are unable to operate and supply markets. Queensland

supplies almost half the world's

moment and estimates are that

the floods are costing $400

million per week in income

foregone. Eventually that will be made up when the mines

re-opened and rail transport is

restored and as all those ships

waiting off the Queensland

coast get filled up again but

some of the other losses,

to a billion dollars of lost particularly losses ranging up

agricultural production

represent permanent losses and

they will be wiped off this

year's farmers' income and

national income. In Emerald,

west of Rockhampton, miners who

haven't been able to help for

weeks are helping to clean the

town. Just cleaning out, mate.

Finished this one. Probably go

over here and give these guys a hand and anyone else who wants

a hand we will go around. The

company will tell us where to

go to next. Not far from

Emerald is Fairbairn Dam,

currently at 151% of capacity, an amount of water

equal to half the water in Sydney Harbour is flowing over

the spillway every day. St

George is a cotton and grazing town near the New South town near the New South Wales

border, home to a few thousand

people. It's now bracing for

the worst, with predictions 80%

of the town could be inundated

next week. Roads are already

cut and levees and sandbag walls have been built. It will

be the town's second major

flood in less than a year and

many have had enough. I've just

last time and here we go again.

Anyway... I feel sorry there is

a person down there, she lives

in Chinchilla and her and her

dad have spent all this money

down there fixing this place up

and now it's going to go under

again. That's a direct hit in

the pocket, isn't it. A bit sad. Queensland's flood crisis

is far from over, and even when

the rivers finally do peak t won't be the

prolonged flooding event in

Queensland and it is unlikely

to recede in the very near

future, and we expect that once the peaks have been reached in and around a lot of and around a lot of these

centres, that the waters will

remain high, that is at about

major flood levels for some

days after that event. John

Taylor with that report, and

for the latest on the situation

in Rockhampton, we cross

to ABC reporter Annie Guest.

Annie Guest how close are those

floodwaters now to reaching the expected peak expected peak tonight? Well,

the mighty Fitzroy River fed by

an enormous catchment not only continuing rising but is

rushing through Rockhampton. On

the Sydney Harbour scale, it's

more than one Sydney Harbour

every two days, 1 million

megalitres of water rushing

through the Fitzroy River

rushing through just next to

this major regional city. As we

go to air,

beyond 9.2m and that's just

below its expected peak of 9.4.

High drollgists are watching it

very carefully and they say they think it will peak tomorrow afternoon. So what

have members of the community

been doing today to prepare for

that peak? Well, more that peak? Well, more people

left their homes today in

low-lying areas, and the SES

had to assist a handful, about

five, to get out of their

flooded - their homes

surrounded by floodwater, but

the total that they've helped

over the last few days has

around 140 people so they think

that that number dwindling to

five means that the community

is well prepared now. Others

left their homes under their

own steam today. own steam today. Some have gone

to the evacuation centre,

others have gone to friends and

family members, and other preparations today have been

made by businesses and by

government. Businesses have

been placing more sandbags

around shops and other outlets,

and one business that got

caught out by the rising lettuces onto a boat to take

them out of the way of the

floodwaters. And now in total

in this beef capital, in this beef capital, they think 1,200 people have been

forced to flee their homes. The

preparations made by government

today were the establishment of

a place called the recovery

centre and that's a place where

people can be referred to and

have a one-stop shop, if you

like, to talk to insurance

agents and government representatives about assistance. You've been there

for four days now, Annie. What

have you noticed about the

ability of people to adopt - to adapt to this unfolding crisis? Some people

upset about leaving their homes

and they find the upheaval very

difficult. One woman told me

that she and her husband, her

son and his family including a

baby, are all staying with one

of her friends, and she said that really the tension is

rising and the bickering has

begun. The other thing that on the other hand

strikes you here in Rockhampton

really is the stoicism of

people. Many have seen floods

before. Some have stayed in

their homes through the '91 flood, which is the same level

as this is expected to reach

and they say, "Well, there is nothing much you can do. You

just have to wait it out," and

they don't seem terribly

bothered. The other thing that

strikes you here is that people want to help, whether they are

not directly affected or some

of those who are directly

affected, and I met one woman

with a small truck rental

business today and she has

spent the last filling her truck up with

sandbags and taking it around

and delivering sandbags to people in need. Now, Annie,

we're told that the airport

could be closed for as long as

three weeks. What's the latest

on the road access, that road north? The road north north? The road north is

expected to stay open and that

has always been the case. The

reason for that is that this

flood is expected to reach the

same peak as the 1991 flood

when that road was cut off and

afterwards they built it up beyond

road becomes impassable, so

they are expecting that to stay

open. It's open to all traffic

now, but even to stay open

through the peak, to trucks and high

high vehicles delivering essential supplies. Yesterday

we saw images of the Army Hercules plane coming in with

supplies, into Mackay to be brought down to Rockhampton.

Have you been told why that

took place? Well, it appears

that there may have been a communication breakdown

Federal and local levels of government because really there

are questions about the merit

of doing that because in Queensland trucks can take the

inland route through Barcaldine

and around to Mackay and down to Rockhampton to deliver

supplies, and in fact supplies

are so sufficient here that

there is one supermarket which

has so much milk on its has so much milk on its shelves

that it's worried that it will

go out of date. Has there been

any talk yet of the future in

terms of looking at ways to

make the like this less dramatic in the

future? Well, the council here

already does not allow new

developments in low-lying

areas, but beyond that, they're

developing a new draft regional

plan that looks at flood

mitigation measures, and

they're not ruling out levees,

but they do say they're very

expensive, but they're also not

ruling out the possibility of

buying back houses in low-lying

areas. Annie Guest, thanks for

speaking to us and we will stay

in touch as that peak arrives. Thanks, Tracy. It's

the festive time of year when

the consumption of wine, beer

and spirits climbs to new

heights. Alcohol might be seen as a social lubricant, but it

has recently been ranked as the

most harmful drug to society,

above heroin and cocaine. The

cost of Australia's addiction

to alcohol has been measured at

more than $15 billion. This

amount takes into account the

cost of community policing,

hospital emergency rooms, as well as individual health.

Alcohol is now responsible for

almost half

to drug rehabilitation clinics.

Those addicted say the road to

recovery would be much easier

if there was a cultural change

in the attitude towards booze.

Bronwyn Herbert reports. It's an annual rite of passage. Happy New Year! Happy

New Year! Happy New Year! It's

also when the full fury of alcohol-fueled violence hits. SIREN WAILS . Nowhere is it more evident

than in the emergency

hospitals around Australia, in

the early hours of the new

year. The very fact that you

stabbed yourself is of concern.

What should stop you from going off

off and doing it again? The

problem is that when you came

in here, you were upset, you

were angry and you were drunk

and we are worried about your

belly. You had quite a deep

wound in there and we worried that you hit something important. But it's the time

of year. Yes. Dr Andrew fix fix

who leads the emergency ward at

St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney

says there is a constant stream

of intoxicated people. You come on, on a Saturday or Sunday

morning and you can smell the

alcohol, you can smell the

blood, and you can see a

line-up here of people in

cervical collars all waiting to

be either imaged or with scans of their heads and necks

or just waiting to sober up

enough so we can clear them

clinically. And now more than

ever, these patients are young women. Far away from the party

scene is the harsh reality of Australia's growing addiction to binge drinking. On Sydney's

south western outskirts is

Odyssey House, a rehabilitation

centre set up more than 30

years ago, focusing on drug and

alcohol abuse. What have you been drinking and how

much each day? Per day it's normally been one to two

bottles. Sharon Mestern leads the withdrawal unit. What sort of spirit.

Bourbon, mainly. New patients

are assessed and staff draw up

a plan for a medically

supervised withdrawal. And your

blood pressure is OK. But, look, your sugar levels are a

little bit too high. Here staff

are acutely aware of the

physical harm caused by addiction. Someone coming off

heroin can come in and be

completely, I guess, free of

the drug from their blood

system within seven days. Alcohol is not so kind. It's a

much harsher drug to be coming

off, far more, I guess, damaging long term. 32-year-old

Finbar tried to go cold turkey

at home, but after many failed

attempts, he realised he needed

professional help. Alcohol was actually physically the most

dangerous drug to withdraw

from. You can actually die from

it while you're physically withdrawing

withdrawing from it. Patients are encouraged to confront the

reasons why they turn to

alcohol. For Finbar, it was to

hide his own social anxieties

and drinking was part of family

life. The first alcoholic drink

I was actually given to me with

permission by adults

was 11, to celebrate an

academic achievement. By the

time Finbar was at university,

his drinking habits had grown

into a major problem. I

wouldn't be able to go down the

road to Coles to buy a loaf of

bread and talk to the cashier for something without being

slightly tipsy. At the height

of my At the height of my drinking problem I would be

consuming about 3 litres of

cask wine on and off during the

day at home, but also if I was

going out, I would

like 8 or 9 schooners of beer

as well. At Odyssey House, once

a patient is medically free of alcohol, alcohol, a year-long rehabilitation rehabilitation process begins. Patients live simply

and have to earn their and have to earn their keep, working in the garden and

cooking bulk meals. It also

includes months of group

therapy. I think everyone in

this room has probably heard

someone say, "Why can't you

just stop it?" Don't go to the

shop, just stop. Yeah, right.

Just don't buy it. It's that

easy. To everyone else it's as

simple as that. It's like a

crutch in life. It is the first

thing you grab instead of going

to talk to someone about your

problems. I used to turn to the drink. Drink from the point you

wake up in the morning to the

point where you pass out of a night.

For me it was a set time that

I thought was OK, so it would

be after the kids got home from

school or when my husband came

home and I thought that made it sort of acceptable. So how difficult is it to stop drinking? It's hard because

it's so cheap and easily accessible, too. Yes, accessible, too. Yes, it's

everywhere. The amount of

people that their lives are affected by alcohol, people

letting loose on the weekend,

it's the most ridiculous. It's

like a social lie in Australia

that everyone says because it

makes it easy for us to go out

and get hammered and do what we

want but the truth is it's not good and good and not safe. Finbar says

his addiction threatened to

destroy his marriage Whether

you like to admit it or not, I

think the substance that you

are addicted to takes press

densover our family, your job,

and in the end I think your

partner. But he hopes this year-long rehabilitation will pay life-long dividends. Yeah,

it is an investment in my

future because I could have

spent many more years stuck in

the same rout of alcoholism or just really do something about the problem. Increasingly, patients

at Odyssey House are trying to

recover from an addiction to

alcohol. In 2007, we saw, for the first time, that people

nominated alcohol as their

primary drug of concern,

superseded illicit drugs like

heroin, cocaine, cannabis, and

certainly that trend has

continued, so that now almost -

over 35% of the people who come

into the program last year actually nominated alcohol as so this is certainly a big their

change for us. Drug experts say

that recent studies have shown

that Australians are drinking

more alcohol now than at

point in the last 20 years, and

that's because of changing

consumer habits. In fact,

because of the increasing

alcohol content of wine and

because we are actually

consuming more wine, we are actually consuming more now

than at any point in the last

20 years. Professor Steve Allsop heads the National

Research Institute at Curtin

University in Perth. He says

despite the Government's

national drug strategy, plenty

more could be done to curb the country's addiction. It is

amongst our more harmful drugs.

Many people don't want to hear that, many of us enjoy alcohol,

but we've also got to recognise

that alcohol has substantial potential for harm. Professor

Allsop says easy access to

alcohol is part of the

vabling problem. How we make alcohol

and at home, how we promote

alcohol - all of these things

have a significant impact on

the amount we consume and the

ant of harm in our commount.

s--- and the amount of harm in

our community. That message is

echoed by those on the front

line. We've got kids under the

legal drinking age here

tonight. They have clearly able

to access alcohol. So that

needs to be looked at, how they

are getting alcohol and who is

seeing all ages here as well,

and not taking heed of the

message that alcohol is a

dangerous drug and you need to

take care with this sort of drug in any situation. That report from Bronwyn

Herbert. Summertime is when the sport of cricket sport of cricket takes centre stage but while fans are

focused on the battle at the

SCG, a new professional

sporting code is making a pitch

for the hearts and minds of Australians, especially those

who have been somewhat

disenchanted with the Ashes

Baseball has made a massive series. America's Major League

multimillion-dollar investment

in the sport Down Under and now

there are six capital city

teams slugging it out in a national competition. Jeff

Waters reports. It takes a

certain bravado to try to certain bravado to try to blast

your way into such a saturated

sports market. The key thing is

really to deliver a good

product, so when they're here,

they come out and say, "I had a

great time. This was awesome. I will come back and bring my that, then we're friends." If we can achieve

successful. Former coach and player Peter Wermuth has been

shipped out from Major League

Baseball in the United States

with a fat wallet and a strong

team to establish the first

international offshoot of the

American competition. The plan

is to foster new talent and to

provide a launch pad for wider multinational forays into

Asia. We're trying to broaden the appeal of the sport

internationally, not just in stepping stone for us, to start

here, but just to broaden the appeal of the game abroad.

COMMENTATOR: High flier to right field! This falls back.

Gone! Luke Hughes hits a home

run! What a moment for Luke Hughes!

Hughes! What a moment for Australia! There are more than

70 Australians playing US

baseball. About 30 at the

highest level, earning many millions of dollars a year. Of course he was there. Ever

since a arriving here in the

big league, he has been Johnny on the spot. Australia's Chris

Oxspring pitching here for the

Sydney Blue Socks in a game

against the Melbourne Aces, has just signed

just signed for next season

with the Detroit Tigers. He has

been using the new Australian

league to get back in form

after an elbow injury knocked him competition. Waited a long, him out of the US

long time for this to come. Now

that it's here, it's just a

pleasure to be involved with

and enjoy being around the guys and good to see baseball is back here in

Australia, so it's excellent to

have it. It may be excellent

for the players, but given the

first national league struck

out in 1999, this second

attempt in the cricket-loving

nation, has yet to prove it can

build a big enough fan base to

actually survive. We do hope that we are

for cricket fans because if you

enjoy a fast bowler or a spin

bowler and you enjoy good

batting, well, you might want

to go take a look at baseball

those things. as well, because we've got

The way we're going in the

cricket, we might see fewer

people going there any

way? Politically, I can't

really comment on that, but

hopefully if we can draw some

of the fans away from cricket,

it would be great. There are

already some diehard baseball fans. Not like you stand out there all day.

Kids have a go. The kids love

it. It's not boring, always action.

It's a great game. It's a great game. Really

quick, it's an exciting

than cricket? Yes. game. Do you like it better game. Do you like it

Yes. Why? Cricket you stand

there all day and it's boring,

field the ball and it's no

fun. The new league is already

attracting attention from Asian

countries where cricket doesn't

get a look-in. Japanese and

Korean players have made skills in the off-season. Goro

Yoshizaki is one of three

Japanese.

Yosh Pirks can one of three

players playing for Melbourne

TRANSLATION: The players here

are more ago aggressive and I

want to be able to learn that.

It's not been an easy opening

season thanks to persistent

east coast rain and a Test

series in swing, but

prove popular enough to attract

broadcast partners, there are

big ambitions to broadcast into

the United States on the Major League's own

network. It has 160 million

paying viewers with little to

watch in the off-season. The

Major League Baseball network

may at some point take interest

in the product that we're

producing here on the ground

and hopefully show some of that

footage. When that will be,

we'll have to on whether local sports fans

will make the cultural shift,

and take themselves down to the

ballpark.

Jeff Waters reporting there.

And that's the program for tonight. We will be back at the

same time tomorrow, but for

now, goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI.

THEME MUSIC POH: 'Darwin is Australia's youngest city, and it's got a really modern and vibrant vibe, yet it's also timeless and laidback. It's so many things. And you know, for me, the best way to really get a sense of a place is through people. In Darwin I was so lucky to have Elton.' Oh, very - How do you like my new car? (LAUGHS) It's very nice. Eh? Looks like we're gonna be travelling in style. In style. OK, Poh, you ready to see Darwin? I sure am. OK, let's go. (POH LAUGHS) ENGINE REVS 'I met Elton in Adelaide where he's a camera operator for the ABC. But Darwin is where he grew up, so he's got an insider's angle on the local food.' You look at the country and what they've got here. It's amazing, the food, the fish, the seafood, the farms, the produce. The flavour of the north. Certainly beautiful, yeah. Very lucky. 'Having spent time with Elton, I've come to realise that not only has he been everywhere, but he knows everyone. And that's perfect, cos he's taking me to a great local cook. Luckily he knows where to find him.' Everybody's got their secret spot. This is Jacko's secret spot. How's he gonna feel with me coming along? He'll be all right. 'Geoffrey Angeles, better known as Jacko, has grown up cooking. He owns more cookbooks than me and he's done the TV chef thing but above all, he has the best pantry in the world because his pantry is the ocean.' Sorry coming out to your secret spot, but I wanted to show Poh. No, no, you can bring her down anytime. This is the net, eh? Yeah. I'm trying to catch some whiting, but it's been a bit elusive. Yeah, so I gotta work hard because he can see you too. So it's always sort of a crouching thing. We just see one little bit of silver and then you gotta go bang! But the net has gotta go low, like that. Right. People sometimes throw a net and they go high, like that. And then the fish can see. The fish see it coming and just went bang. So we gotta be real stealthily cormorant style, brother. Hey, I wanna have a go. That'll be good. Cos we can sort of spread out, give you a crash course. You'll pick it up like that. 'And so after a bit of demo, I'm ready to net us some local sand whiting.' The whole lot, bang! Yeah! Look at that! Perfect! She was better than me! 'I never thought trying to catch tucker would be so much fun, but I love that the fish is so much more than food.' It's part of the entirety of culture, and that's the Dreaming. And it's something that you need to respect. Yeah. And that's about just taking enough for yourself and your family, you know? And then go to another hunting area. And that then encourages stock replenishment. OK, here I go. 'Well, no danger of us taking too many sand whiting at the rate we're going, right, Elton?' It didn't open! (OTHERS LAUGH) There you go! Got it. Yeah! 'Getting better, yet still the fish seem to be outsmarting us. Until...' Elton, you legend! (LAUGHS) Oh! This is a sand whiting. Yeah. See those markings there, the brown marking? When you look in the water now you can sort of see it on the back, so they're really camouflaged fish, same colour. And so they swim along, but the only reason why I see them sometimes is they turn on the side. The glint. Yeah. From the sun. It's a beautiful-looking fish. And they've got these distinctive bright yellow fins underneath. Yeah. They're not your big King George whiting, but they're, I don't know, sweeter. I think we'd better let him go, brother, because that's a bit under the size limit, OK? Well, I'll give him a kiss a little bit. (LAUGHS) Always kissing fish!