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Liberals win by-elections as Turnbull takes aim

Liberals win by-elections as Turnbull takes aim

Broadcast: 07/12/2009

Reporter: Chris Uhlmann

There was good news for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott over the weekend - the Liberal party's recent
troubles did not impact on the by-elections in two safe Liberal seats. But former Opposition Leader
Malcolm Turnbull is not making things easy for Mr Abbott launching an on-line assault on the new
leader saying any climate change policy he produces will be a con.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Since his overthrow as party leader Malcolm Turnbull has clearly taken a
lead from the poet Dylan Thomas; he is definitely not going "gentle into that good night".

He has launched a furious online assault on new leader Tony Abbott, saying any climate change
policy he produces will be a con.

He adds that he, Malcolm Turnbull, will be crossing the floor to vote for the Government's
emissions trading bill early next year and urges, quote, "sensible", unquote, colleagues to follow
him.

But there was some good news for Mr Abbott from the weekend; his party's recent troubles didn't
impact on the by-elections in two safe Liberal seats.

Political editor Chris Uhlmann.

CHRIS UHLMANN, REPORTER: Predictions of the Liberal Party's demise in Saturday's by-elections
proved premature.

Both the Melbourne seat of Higgins and the Sydney seat of Bradfield were won by the Liberals
without recourse to preferences, which many might see as unremarkable because they were both safe
seats and Labor didn't stand a candidate in either.

KELLY O'DWYER, MEMBER FOR HIGGINS-ELECT: Didn't get a lot of sleep last night, no. It's a
tremendous privilege to have been selected by the people of Higgins to represent them.

After the Liberal fortnight from hell some foretold disaster, predicting the leafy urban
electorates would punish the party for its right turn on climate policy.

The ABC's election analyst Antony Green says there isn't a lot to glean from the results.

ANTONY GREEN, ABC ELECTION ANALYST: I think we can over analyse these results. The Liberal Party
got exactly the same result it did at the last election, with a per cent or two here or there.
There was no Labor candidates, a lot of Labor voters voted Green and in the end we got roughly the
same result. I think people should move on.

CHRIS UHLMANN: There might be a small lesson for those Greens claiming the results as a victory.

BOB BROWN, GREENS LEADER: So the Greens have really had a big surge in these two electorates, and
it's the shape of things to come.

ANTONY GREEN: I think the Greens do themselves a disservice by constantly claiming a swing to them
at these sorts of by-elections. There was no Labor candidate and that's the sole cause of swing to
the Greens. They've had a credible result but it's not some surge of support.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Politicians always view such affairs through their own prism and the new Liberal
leader's Sunday was improved by the results.

LAURIE OAKES, TODAY: Why wasn't there a backlash against what's been happening in the Liberal Party
though, it's been pretty ugly?

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: But I think it's been resolved and I think that once it's resolved
people look forward rather than look back.

CHRIS UHLMANN: People are looking back at Tony Abbott's colourful past as he settles into the job
of Opposition leader. He has helped define himself as a head kicker and arch Catholic, and now he's
faced with the difficult task of having to redraw a stereotype.

TONY ABBOTT: My religious views, a) they're personal, they're not out there in the political
marketplace, and they're very similar to those...

LAURIE OAKES, TODAY: Except when you put them out there.

TONY ABBOTT: Well, I don't do door stops in front of church Laurie. I mean, if there's one person
who's put religion front and centre in the public square, to use his phrase, it's Kevin Rudd. So
please, next time Kevin's here, grill him on evolution and all these other subjects.

LAURIE OAKES, TODAY: I'll certainly ask him the question.

REPORTER: Tony Abbott would like to debate you on the ETS, will you debate Mr Abbott?

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: Dispute our differences Mr Howard had a policy on the climate change,
as did Mr Turnbull, it was called an emissions trading scheme. I have a policy on climate change,
it's called an emissions trading scheme. Mr Abbott, the current leader of the Liberal Party, does
not have any policy on climate change.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull agrees. He was out of sight on Sunday but
clearly not at rest. He spent some part of the day musing on a small essay before posting a furious
Monday morning attack on Tony Abbot.

He says, "So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a
favourite term of Mr Abbott's, 'bullshit'. Moreover he knows it."

He goes on to say that it's not possible to criticise the Coalition's climate policy because it
doesn't exist and, "As we are being blunt, the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his
job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global
warming. As Tony observed on one occasion 'climate change is crap'."

TONY ABBOTT: My argument is with Kevin Rudd. He's the Prime Minister, that's the person I'm arguing
with.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Perhaps the most damaging comment in the Turnbull attack is that any climate policy
the Coalition produces will be a con. He ends by saying he'll be voting for the Emissions Trading
Bill when it returns in February and, "If my colleagues have any sense they will do so as well."

PETER GARRETT, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: The bell has already tolled on Tony Abbott's absolutely absent
climate change policy.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Prime Minister has a few troubles of his own.

KEVIN RUDD: OK, thumbs up?

CHRIS UHLMANN: Under a timetable he set for himself, by now the states should have agreed to a
hospital reform plan or be faced with the prospect of a Federal takeover. A meeting with the states
and territories today ended a long way short of that goal, or in the Prime Minister's words:

KEVIN RUDD: On the agenda today what we have been dealing with is very much a working agenda of
continuing reform.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Tony Abbott has many challenges now and ahead, and the safe money is on a
comfortable Labor win at the next election, but he does come with clarity and definition, something
the Prime Minister often lacks. He is also a long shot and he knows it, and that makes him
dangerous for his own and for his foes.

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Political editor Chris Uhlmann.

Out of Africa - landmark project traces human origins

Out of Africa - landmark project traces human origins

Broadcast: 07/12/2009

Reporter: Heather Ewart

A landmark global project tracing the history of humankind's ancient migration out of Africa sixty
thousand years ago is using residents of Melbourne to form a key part of its research. The project
has been initiated by national geographic and IBM with the Melbourne snapshot overseen at the
University of Melbourne.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: A landmark global project tracing the history of humankind's ancient
migration out of Africa 60,000 years ago is using residents of Melbourne to form a key part of its
research.

Prominent AFL footballers have taken part, so too has the Governor of Victoria, as well as World
Vision chief Tim Costello and other Australians who simply want to know more about their ancestry.
The project was initiated by National Geographic. Results were given to participants yesterday,
including reporter Heather Ewart.

HEATHER EWART, REPORTER: On a chilly Sunday morning in early October 100 Melburnians line up
outside the University of Melbourne to get free DNA tests that will trace their ancestry back
60,000 years.

VOX POP: Interesting to find out about the family roots.

VOX POP 2: Does it really tie back to a particular lady in, where is it, Africa?

VOX POP 3: I've been here approximately 2.5 hours.

VOX POP 4: Yeah, about that now.

VOX POP 3: Quite a long time.

VOX POP 4: So quite a while.

VOX POP 3: Quite chilly this morning.

VOX POP 4: But it's worth it.

HEATHER EWART: They'll find out in a few months once all the tests have been analysed in the United
States, whether it's all been worth it. Inside the building I'm doing the cheek swab test as well.
Who knows what surprises might be in store.

DNA SAMPLE COLLECTOR: And there it is, it's in the tube and your coded sample is going to be sent
off for analysis.

HEATHER EWART: And for the purpose of the exercise, why not compare myself with fellow test taker,
World Vision CEO Tim Costello, brother of former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello.

TIM COSTELLO, CEO WORLD VISION: You go into this really hoping that you're special, that you're
different, that you're going to find the last skeleton in the Costello closet.

HEATHER EWART: And I'll also contrast my results with the Governor of Victoria, David De Kretser, a
career scientist. Maybe we have something in common.

DAVID DE KRETSER, VICTORIAN GOVERNOR: I guess I was curious because of the data that's coming out
that man originated in Africa.

HEATHER EWART: Melbourne has been selected as the latest snapshot in this genographic project
because of its cultural diversity. So far 340,000 people from around the world have taken the
do-it-yourself DNA test over the past four years. The aim is to answer the basic question, where do
we come from?

SPENCER WELLS, PROJECT DIRECTOR: I think it's something we all ask ourselves at one point or
another. We look around and see people who seem to be so different from each other. You know, do we
share a common origin, am I related to that person over there?

HEATHER EWART: The answer is an overwhelming yes.

SPENCER WELLS: Yes, we're much more closely related than we ever suspect. So when you see that
person that seems to be so different, in fact, they're your cousin.

HEATHER EWART: And that's because scientific and archaeological evidence shows we all originated in
Africa 200,000 years ago. No one left until about 60,000 years ago when climate change and the need
for greener pastures forced them out. It was around this time that humans are thought to have begun
creating finely crafted stone tools.

SPENCER WELLS: In fact we had to become smarter because according to the genetic data we nearly
went extinct around that time. The population probably dropped down to about 2,000 people and so we
became smarter and that intelligence allowed us to expand the population size and led some people
out of Africa.

HEATHER EWART: Ultimately that gave rise to the first humans in Australia and this bunch of
Melburnians today.

SPENCER WELLS: Well the evidence is there was an early costal migration. About 60,000 years ago
people following the coastline of the South Asia, moving down through India and South East Asia and
probably making it to Australia.

HEATHER EWART: But of course not everyone chose that route, and now scientists can use genetic
markers to trace the journeys our ancestors took.

So now for the moment of truth. According to my DNA results it turns out my ancestors opted for the
inland route into the Middle East, gradually heading for northern Europe.

SPENCER WELLS: And by looking at the pattern of markers we can place you onto the tree and you
belong to a linage known as haplogroup K. This is a lineage that is relatively common in
(inaudible) Jews, but you don't happen to have the Jewish version of it.

HEATHER EWART: So, no unexpected twist here to announce to the family. I decide to check how Tim
Costello's faring with his results. He's in haplogroup R1B, which is a very common northern
European lineage.

TIM COSTELLO: Ninety-five per cent Iberian, or Spanish, 90 per cent Irish, 70 per cent of
Englishmen have it. So I was hoping to be a bit more special, but they're the results. Can't fight
them.

HEATHER EWART: Apparently not. So we decide to compare our ancestors' journeys.

TIM COSTELLO: Then I go across Saudi Arabia, top of India. You do the short trip.

HEATHER EWART: Yes so you've done the circular route.

TIM COSTELLO: Yeah we love scenic trips.

HEATHER EWART: Do you? Mine were clearly way more direct.

The fact is our results show we share ancestors. So it seemed appropriate to check out family
photos.

TIM COSTELLO: That's my father, my sister Janet, my mother, Peter and I.

HEATHER EWART: So were they all interested to know the results?

TIM COSTELLO: Yeah they were, they were very interested because you know, you see Peter and I here
with my father, very white. To think we started here in Africa, and were black is a bit of a shock.
And you?

HEATHER EWART: Well these look very white as well don't they? This was my grandmother.

TIM COSTELLO: Mmm. Side saddle.

HEATHER EWART: And then this is me and my mother. So can you see any family resemblances at all
here if we all came from this one big family? I don't really.

TIM COSTELLO: Well I do between your mum and my mum, but that's the hairdos in the '50s styles.

HEATHER EWART: The hairdos of the day.

TIM COSTELLO: Yeah, at a stretch.

HEATHER EWART: Time now to visit the Governor. He already knows his family moved from Holland to
Sri Lanka and then Australia when he was a child. But what's he found out about his ancestors'
movements?

So from Africa to where?

DAVID DE KRETSER: Africa through the Middle East, through a bit of Central Asia, then across
through Europe.

HEATHER EWART: The Governor shares the same haplogroup as Tim Costello, and they're both quite
happy about that.

DAVID DE KRETSER: Nice to have a brother in a different way, in Tim, and no, that's fascinating.

TIM COSTELLO: I'm very, very honoured and, look, I think most of us have this strong sense that
even when you find your family story, there are so many parallels to other families.

DAVID DE KRETSER: We're far more similar than we are different. And any grounds that you could have
for claiming racial superiority have gone out the window.

TIM COSTELLO: Our DNA is profoundly connected to the whole planet.

HEATHER EWART: We look different because over thousands of years we've adapted to different
climates depending on where we live, say the scientists on this project. So as these tests become
more sophisticated and give forecasts of genetic related medical problems, what does it mean for
the future?

DAVID DE KRETSER: If it tells you that you're at risk of some disease you want to know about or
whether you don't want to know about it, these are issues that, as a society we need to debate and
discuss, and obviously who has access to that information becomes important.

HEATHER EWART: But that's not on the minds of those people who lined up eagerly two months ago and
have now learned from their results they share more history than they could ever have imagined.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Heather Ewart with that report.

Martin Seligman joins The 7.30 Report

Martin Seligman joins The 7.30 Report

Broadcast: 07/12/2009

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

Dr Martin Seligman is one of the world's most high profile psychologists. His work on positive
psychology, learned helplessness, depression and the power of optimism has featured in many of his
books, and led to ground-breaking research work in classrooms around the world. Dr Seligman is in
Australia at the moment, where he was attending the Science of the Mind forum with the Dalai Lama
and another conference on the mind and it's potential. He spoke with Kerry O'Brien in Sydney.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Martin Seligman is one of the world's most high profile psychologists.
His work on positive psychology, learned helplessness, depression and the power of optimism is
featured in many books and led more recently to ground breaking programs attacking depression and
anxiety in classrooms around the globe.

But his most thorough school experiment has been at Geelong Grammar where for six months he worked
and lived with the teaching staff, preparing them for a new style of teaching. That experiment is
still under review, but in the meantime the US Army - concerned about an increasingly high rate of
suicides, depression and post combat trauma within its own ranks - has been impressed enough with
the results at Geelong Grammar so far that it has commissioned Dr Seligman to apply the same
principles to its 1.1 million soldiers.

Martin Seligman, director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, is in
Australia at the moment and I interviewed him in Sydney where he was attending a major global
conference with the Dalai Lama on the mind and its potential.

Martin Seligman, what are the fundamentals of the program that you've been implementing at Geelong
Grammar?

DR MARTIN SELIGMAN, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Positive psychology and positive education have
four basic pillars - so one is the teaching of more positive emotion, the second is the tuition
toward more meaning and purpose in life, the third is what we know about better human
relationships, and the fourth is very allied to traditional schools, which is accomplishment,
achievement and mastery.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And this is woven through the whole kind of culture of the teaching.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Yes, well the idea behind it, if you think about what you most want for your
children, what Australian parents say is happiness, fulfilment, civility, balance.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Independence from our purse.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: When I asked them well what do schools teach your children? They say discipline,
conformity, literacy - there's no overlap between the two. So the idea of positive education is to
take the things that we have been finding out about building positive emotion and life satisfaction
and merging that with the traditional education towards successful work place.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So what have been the results so far?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Well there are 21 replications across the world in which we taught teachers the
skills of positive psychology, and then we measure how the students do on anxiety, depression and
life satisfaction. So the results are that teaching teachers in large groups these principles - you
first learn them as a teacher in your own life and then you learn to apply them to your students -
lowers the probability of anxiety, depression, conduct problems, raises satisfaction as kids go
through it. Geelong Grammar is a special case that is we got the whole school.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And you're convinced that this will represent a genuine revolution in education?
That this is actually going to spread and be effective?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: No, I'm an eternal sceptic and pessimist so I'm not convinced of anything. I'll
tell you what I believe as opposed to being convinced; I think there's quite good evidence that
when children learn the skills of positive psychology, in tandem with learning the usual workplace
skills, that they, as they go through puberty they have less depression, less anxiety, and they do
better in school.

And I think as a parent that's what we want. So the hope is, and there's reason to think it's
catching on, that more and more schools and government will say, hey, wait a minute, let's train
our teachers not only in how to teach mathematics but how to teach good relationships.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Now this is pretty much the same program, the fundamentals of the same program that
you're applying with the US military, starting with, I think, 150 crusty sergeants.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: First I started with a group of 30 drill sergeants, then 60, and then when I just
left there was 150 drill sergeants who are nothing like your image of drill sergeants. They are not
these grizzled, mean, obsessive compulsive people, rather they're, for the most part, 40-year-old
black and Hispanic kids - they were kids - who were war heroes, who worked their way up through
three deployments and their highest characteristic is capacity to love and be loved.

So we've been basically changing the curriculum, not too much from Geelong Grammar. We thought we'd
have to do it about combat and they said no, you know, when our guys fall apart they've got cell
phones and right before battle they call their wife in St Louis and have a fight about the kids.
And that's so a lot of our examples...

KERRY O'BRIEN: So modern warfare is a dramatically different...

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Modern warfare is you're arguing with your spouse about the dishwasher right
before. So yeah, it's really quite astonishing it never happened before. And a lot of the
demoralisation is about stuff that's happening with the family on the home front in addition...

KERRY O'BRIEN: So your life is no longer in the capsule of at home or at war or on leave. It's all
with you wherever you are.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Right so it's not like being on a whaling ship anymore in which you don't see your
spouse for three years. So as a result of that, to my surprise, as - so, I carefully measure
teachers' reaction to this course, and they like this course, the Geelong Grammar teachers gave it
about a 4.7 out of five. The drill sergeants give it a five out of five.

And I, just before I came here Kerry, I was walking down to do instructions and this drill sergeant
came to me and said, you know, Dr Seligman, I really have to thank you. If I had had this training
three years ago I wouldn't be divorced now. And so from the subjective reaction of this, we've done
about 200 drill sergeants now, they believe they can teach it, they like the material and they
think it's just what their soldiers need for resilience.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But this could be a five year exercise before a very clear picture emerges?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Well they've got a different time scale. So what they're doing is they're, we're
now simulcasting it to different forts. So there'll be training probably at the University of
Pennsylvania once a month of 150 with my faculty and then this will be simulcasting to several
forts.

And at the same time, if we do 150 drill sergeants we identify the 15 best ones and then we bring
them back and make them master trainers. So my hope is, just as with Geelong Grammar, that we just,
they can get rid of the University of Pennsylvania very soon and they'll have this within a couple
of years.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You've been at the forefront of psychology for decades now; an outrageously general
question I know, but in your assessment are people happier today than they were 30 years ago, or to
put it differently, is there more or less happiness?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: There's more depression now than there was 30 years ago. So that's really quite a
negative, particularly among young people. There are 52 nations in which there's been a measure of
happiness at time one and then time two. Forty-six of them went up slightly in happiness, nothing
like the way, say, the economics have gone up. Five have gone down, and one nation has stayed flat.
That nation is Australia.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Any rationales developed as to why?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: No, but I think it's a paradox. Last time I looked at your economic statistics,
Australia had had something like 14 or 15 years of unbroken growth.

KERRY O'BRIEN: It's about 17 now.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: If one has a belief that happiness is a function of economic growth, people in
Australia ought to be out there leading the world, but they're not. And that tells us that notions
of happiness and depression are something much more than material growth.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And having said all that, and having written a book on learned optimism, you're
actually a pessimist yourself.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Yes.

KERRY O'BRIEN: After all these years...

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Actually I'm better than I was the last time you interviewed me.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well, so after all these years how well have you been able to train yourself to see
the glass half full rather than half empty?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: I measure these things in myself and I actually take my own medicine. So the way I
work on exercises, like creating more meaning in life or strengths, is I first do it on myself and
if it works then I give it to my wife and seven children. And if it works with them, then I start
to do controlled experiments on it.

So I actually use these techniques on myself and, you know, I know you're not my age yet, but I
think there's really hope even for people in their 60s, that I am, to my surprise, a noticeably
happier person than I was and it's by using techniques that have been developed psychologically.

KERRY O'BRIEN: I think that's a very good note to end the interview on.

Martin Seligman, thanks very much for talking with us.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: You're welcome Kerry. Good to see you again.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And there's a longer version of that interview with Martin Seligman on the 7.30
website.

Rough road to fame for opera star

Rough road to fame for opera star

Broadcast: 07/12/2009

Reporter: Lisa Whitehead

Stephen Smith is considered a rising star and is performing in Opera Australia's Melbourne season
of A Streetcar Named Desire. But it has not been an easy path to success for the opera singer; he
left home at fifteen and found himself living on the streets, often going hungry, sleeping rough or
seeking refuge in youth shelters.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: It's been an unorthodox journey from the mean streets of Melbourne to the
stage of the Sydney Opera House for Stephen Smith. At 15 he left home and found himself sleeping on
the streets, often going hungry, sleeping rough or seeking refuge in youth shelters, with stints as
a fruit packer, flower seller and courier driver.

Now, at 32, Stephen Smith is considered a rising star and is performing in Opera Australia's
Melbourne season of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Lisa Whitehead reports.

STEPHEN SMITH, PERFORMER: On one hand, you know, you don't really know if anything is ever going to
come of it. On the other hand, you have dreams of, you know, hitting the top of the industry.

LISA WHITEHEAD, REPORTER: Lyric tenor Stephen Smith didn't discover his love of music in the school
choir or by learning an instrument as a child. His journey to becoming a professional singer and
performing with some of opera's most respected artists began on the streets of Melbourne when he
was 15.

STEPHEN SMITH: I found music as a homeless teenager. There are a lot of ways you can go when you've
got a lot of time on your hands and luckily the group that I fell in with were into RNB and hip hop
and all these sorts of things and I really enjoyed that. We'd spend our time rehearsing down on St
Kilda beach or wherever we were, just walking around town singing and practising our dancing.

LISA WHITEHEAD: As a child Stephen Smith barely knew his Samoan mother. He grew up in a foster
family in Melbourne until he moved to western Victoria at the age of 10 to live with his father.

STEPHEN SMITH: My father was a lot older than me; he was 57 when I was born and so we had quite a
generation gap. He was always good to me, but you know, as a teenager who's pushing boundaries I
didn't appreciate that.

LISA WHITEHEAD: At 15 Stephen Smith dropped out of school, leaving the country town of Port Ferry
for the bright lights of Melbourne. But the reality of big city life was tough. With no job, and no
support he was sometimes forced to sleep rough or find a bed wherever he could.

STEPHEN SMITH: We used to come down here. I used to live in a squat just next to the station. We
used to come up to the station several times a day with a little cup and we'd jump down on the
tracks and we'd pick up all the cigarette butts and go home and smoke them.

We basically used to steel food a couple of times a week. You know you'd take the donuts from
outside the cafes at five in the morning or knock off a pie from the service station up the street.
But we didn't eat much and we didn't eat often and I lost a lot of weight.

LISA WHITEHEAD: But there was no shortage of food on hand when Stephen Smith eventually found his
feet and discovered his voice at the age of 17, working as a fruitier in David Jones.

CASEY JONES, FRUITIER: We would just sing along with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martins, it comes out like
three times bigger than everybody else and he has this deep voice that echoes in the food hall.

Frank Sinatra.

STEPHEN SMITH (sings): Start spreading the news.

STEPHEN SMITH: And one of the girls I used to work with, her name was Leanne, she told me that I
had a beautiful voice and suggested I get lessons and I was quite open to it and she sent me along
to her teacher.

She showed me Pavarotti, singing Nessun Dorma and, you know, the power in these voices and the
passion, these heartbreaking stories, for a kid who'd been through a bit, I really connected with
them and it just gave me this wonderful outlet and something to aspire to.

LISA WHITEHEAD: One year later, the Victorian College of the Arts saw his potential, granting him
entry to the Bachelor of Music solely on his audition.

STEPHEN SMITH: I was a long way behind to start and it was very difficult. You know, I had a voice
but I had no musical training at all.

LISA WHITEHEAD: But he was a quick learner. While selling flowers and packing fruit to support his
family, he completed the three year course and had started his honours year when he had to make a
heartbreaking decision.

STEPHEN SMITH: It was singing or the family and I decided that there really wasn't much decision
there at the time. It was the family and that's what I did. So I left singing and I bought a van
and worked as a courier driver for a couple of years and tried to turn my mind away from singing.

STEPHEN SMITH (sings): It's the paper man.

LISA WHITEHEAD: But he couldn't resist the pull of Pavarotti forever. After his marriage broke
down, the first thing he did was make contact with his old singing teacher.

STEPHEN SMITH: Within probably two or three months I was getting corporate work with The Three
Waiters, and very soon after that I had my first professional opera and within six months, you
know, I'd given up the day job full time and I haven't had to have one since.

OPERA AUSTRALIA MEMBER: It's an extremely unorthodox journey and he's a wonderful young man. Coming
from the background he comes from and the experiences that he had and to achieve what he's already
achieved is remarkable.

STEPHEN SMITH (sings): Will I kiss your...

LISA WHITEHEAD: He's toured regional Australia with Oz Opera, performed in the Macado in the Sydney
Opera House and is now a member of Opera Australia's young singers program.

STEPHEN SMITH (sings): I'm collecting for the Evening Star.

LISA WHITEHEAD: Stephen Smith is currently performing in the Melbourne production of A Streetcar
Named Desire. Acclaimed filmmaker Bruce Beresford is directing.

BRUCE BERESFORD, DIRECTOR: I think your glances can be shorter. I thought you did it very well
because it was simpler and more straight forward and sort of, it had that sort of college boy
naivety which we need.

STEPHEN SMITH (sings): No ma'am, no thanks. Can't drink on the job.

LISA WHITEHEAD: It's a long way from street kid to this production of Streetcar. Stephen Smith is
now in a good place. He's reunited with his mother and remains close to his two sons. And he's
found his home in the world of opera, where at 32 he's considered a young rising star with a big
future.

STEPHEN SMITH: I was walking home from the Opera House one day across the Harbour Bridge in my
tails and it struck me just how far I've come.

FEMALE OPERA SINGER (sings): Thank you.

STEPHEN SMITH (sings): Thank you.

STEPHEN SMITH: It wasn't until I found something I wanted to do that I really started my journey
and I'd encourage any young person to find what you love and go with it.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That report from Lisa Whitehead.

That's the program for tonight. We'll be back at the same time tomorrow, for now, goodnight.