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Episode 30

This week: Reducing road accidents, is Australia a bully and using resources responsibly.

Hi I'm Krista Eleftheriou.
Also on the program today… making money from whales and saving endangered dogs.

Those items later, but first to our top story this week.
Road accidents are often in the news; nobody likes finding out about them and nobody wants to be involved in them.

But what if something can be done to decrease the number of accidents?

Well, one group believes it should be tougher for young people to get drivers licenses and that there should be more restrictions on young drivers. Sarah explains why.
(1) Driving Story

Sarah Martinelli, reporter

INSTRUCTOR: Now first check your mirrors, then put it in gear, then turn the car on, then look over your shoulder and using your indicator gently pull out in to the traffic.

Wow there sure is a lot to concentrate on when you are learning how to drive a car, before you can even pull out into the traffic!
And there's a good reason for that. Even though cars are safer these days, and roads are better, there are more crashes than ever. We know from our recent Behind the News survey that Aussie kids are worried about being involved in a car crash.

Bad road accidents often attract a lot of media attention. But on average 5 people die on Australian roads every day. That's about the same number as those who die from smoking and alcohol related diseases! And a further 20 000 people are seriously injured each year in road accidents. Those between the ages of 15 and 24 are more likely to be killed than any other age group.

One cause of car crashes is distraction, things like having lots of people in the car, eating, using mobile phones, and loud music. In cars driven by teenagers, having one passenger almost doubles the risk of having a fatal car crash. And with two or more passenger, the risk is 5 times as high.
If driving is such an important skill to have, you think there'd be pretty strict controls on how you get your licence. Well there are. They start when you get your learner's plates, or L's.
A learner's permit means you have to drive around under the supervision of someone with a full adult license. You have to put these L-plates on the front and back of the car to show other drivers that you are still learning. Next is the P plate, and no it doesn't mean professional! A provisional licence still has a few restrictions like speed limits, but you can drive around with out supervision. And again, those P plates are there to show everyone how experienced you're not!

It depends in which state or territory you live in as to how old you have to be to apply for your L-plates and your P plates. Back in the mid 1950s you only needed to pass a written test to get a full licence, you didn't even have to prove you could drive. But not as many people drove cars as they do today.

Now, because of recent crashes involving young people there is more talk of making p plate laws the same around the country. Some ideas include: a nighttime curfew for P-platers, a limit on passengers for P-platers, compulsory driver training in schools, a minimum of 15 hours night time driving for P-platers, and increasing the age of P-platers.

It might sound like it's going to be tougher for you by the time you're ready to get your licence, but get this: in the USA, Canada and New Zealand tougher P-plate restrictions have reduced the number of younger people killed in road accidents.

True or False?

There were 1481 fatal road accidents in Australia last year.

Answer: True


Other stories in the news this week ...

There was a big celebration in the outback near the border between the Northern Territory and South Australia.
Aboriginal people and hundreds of visitors marked 25-years of land rights
In 1981 The Pitjantjatjara people were given control over an area of land bigger than Tasmania - now known as the A-P-Y lands.
Over at the Mimili community a new community pool was officially opened.
It's part of the No School No Pool program
Local kids have been waiting for more than a year for their pool and they made sure they enjoyed it.
This year's Aria winners have been announced:
Best Album went to Bernard Fanning for Tea and Sympathy.
Eskimo Joe won Single of the Year for this song Black Finger Nails Red Wine.
Wolfmother scooped the pool wining three awards including Best Group.
Melbourne singer songwriter Clare Bowditch won Female Artist of the Year.
Dance group TV Rock claimed Highest Selling Single.

As Australians, we think of ourselves as a pretty friendly mob.

We help people in other countries if they need it and we try to do the right thing by our neighbours.

But, two of Australia's neighbours are cranky with us at the moment and reckon we're pushing them around.

Andrea has been investigating the problem.
(2) Pacific Relations

Andrea Nicolas. Reporter

ANDREA NICOLAS, REPORTER: Australia has a history of helping out the Solomon Islands and its other Pacific neighbours. This year it’s provided around $435 million dollars in Aid to the region. Its also helped to restore law and order when there have been riots.

But at the moment things are pretty tense. Let's examine the case:
Who's involved?
John Howard: Australia's Prime Minister and main man. He's kind of like the watchdog of the Pacific, helping out and keeping an eye on our island neighbours.

NAME: John Howard

AGE: 67

COUNTRY: Australia

ROLE: Australian Prime Minister

NICKNAME: Watchdog

Manasseh Sogavare: Solomon Islands Prime Minister and the new guy on the block. He hasn't been in charge for long. He says John Howard is stepping on his turf.

NAME: Manasseh Sogavare

AGE: 52

COUNTRY: Solomon Islands

ROLE: Solomon Islands Prime Minister

NICKNAME: The New Guy.

What's the conflict?
Let's travel to the Solomon Islands where the drama has been unfolding...
The Australian Government asked the Solomon Islands to send an Aussie Citizen to Australia to face criminal charges. They wanted to try him in an Australian court, under Australian Law.
Authorities have been told crimes were committed in nearby Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and the suspect then went to the Solomon Islands.
But the Solomon Islands didn't want to hand him over to Australian authorities.
Things worsened when an Australian-led group of police from throughout the region called RAMSI raided the Solomon Islands Leader's office.
Since then The New Guy has called Watchdog Howard a bully. And he's threatened to kick Australian RAMSI police out of the country.
But John Howard says Australia gives hundreds of millions of dollars in Aid to the country, and he expects it to be governed without corruption.
It's a bit like how parents feel when they give their kids money - they expect it to be spent properly.

MUM: Here's the money for your excursion.

KID: Thanks Mum.
ANDREA NICOLAS, REPORTER: (VOICE OVER) But instead of going to the excursion the kid buys some chocolate.
MUM: Your school rang today, why weren't you at the excursion?
KID: Umm.
ANDREA NICOLAS, REPORTER: Back to Australia and the Solomon Islands. Things haven't always been so tense between the two countries...
Just over 3 years ago the former Solomon Islands Prime Minister asked for Australia's help.
There was fighting in the country and many people were breaking the law.
Australia responded by sending in troops and police to help restore peace.
But the Solomon Islands and other Pacific Leaders have recently said Mr. Howard is using Australia's help in the region as an excuse to interfere in their local politics.
They all came face to face at the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji last week.
The meeting happens every year and gives 16 leaders throughout the Pacific a chance to discuss common issues in the region.
Many leaders were worried the tension between Australia and the Solomon Islands would dominate discussions and they wouldn't have time to concentrate on other important things.
But the leaders managed to put their differences aside and make some compromises to keep peace in the region.

True or False?

The Solomon Islands are in the Indian Ocean.

Answer: False, they're in the Pacific

You'll also find whales in the Pacific, if you're lucky.

We know that some countries hunt whales and some have promised not to.

But one country, Iceland, has started whaling again after not doing it for 21 years.

Whaling is not the only way to make money from these huge sea creatures.

Sarah looks at whaling and whale watching.

(3) Whales V Whale-Watching

Sarah Martinelli, reporter
You're looking at a billion dollar industry. That's right; whale watching is worth around a billion dollars to the world's economy. But it's not the only whale industry worth lots of money. Whaling, or whale hunting is valuable too. Japan's whaling industry is worth about 6 million dollars, Iceland's is about 20 million dollars, and Norway's is 75 million dollars.
The issue of whaling has been around for a long time. But these days it's more about whale watching rather than whale hunting. Although whales were hunted for meat, it was mainly for their oil products. One large Right Whale can provide 25 tonnes of oil, used as margarine, cooking oil, lamp oil, and in candles and soaps. The bones were used to make underwear, umbrellas and fertiliser. The tendons were made into tennis racket strings.
But, that all changed in the early 1970s with the Save the Whales movement. In 1986 commercial whaling was banned by the International Whaling Commission. But the IWC is a voluntary organisation, and most nations are members, even those that continue to hunt whales, like Japan, Iceland and Norway.
The IWC can't actually stop any countries from whaling. It splits whaling into these three types:

  1. Aboriginal whaling: where indigenous people traditionally hunt for whale meat to feed their community.

  2. Scientific whaling: to learn more about their migration and feeding habits

  3. Commercial whaling: hunting whales to sell as meat and other products.

So what are the economic benefits of whale watching? We can keep watching the whales as they migrate through the oceans throughout their lives. Whale watchers spend money in coastal and surrounding areas.

But there are some problems with whale watching: damage to sand dunes and coastal areas, litter from tourists, and distress to whales if people get too close.

If you're thinking of taking a look at some whales in Australia, these are some places you'll find them. But in Australia, whale season runs from June to October, so you don't have much time left this year. Good luck!

What if you couldn't have a shower or turn on a light because someone else used too much water or electricity?

Well, I'd be annoyed too.

If there's just enough to go around everyone should use these resources carefully.

But how does anyone know if they are using too much of anything?

As Andrea found out, there is a way.
(4) Eco-footprint

Andrea Nicolas, reporter

ANDREA NICOLAS, REPORTER: The world is full of natural resources: water, soil, wind, forests, fuels, plants and animals.

We need these to survive. But sometimes we use more than we need.
Just like I need to replace the energy I use with food or drink to sustain me or keep me going. The Earth also needs to replace its resources to keep going.
But not all resources are renewable and if we use too much they will run-out.
So how do we know how much of the earth we're using?
Well there's a test, which measures exactly that.
An ecological footprint shows us the amount of land needed to support our lifestyle - including the overall amount of resources we use and waste we produce.
It looks at things like: what we eat, the way we travel, the appliances we use and how many people we live with, and then decides if our planet can cope.
My ecological footprint says that it can't. I need 7.8 global hectares to sustain my lifestyle, which means I use about 8 soccer fields of resources.
So if everyone in the world lived like me - there'd need to be four earths!

But because there's only one earth, each person has less than two global hectares available...

That includes the space and materials to produce food and water, build houses, generate electricity; trees to absorb CO2 and produce oxygen and a place for rubbish.
But people in rich nations use much more than two hectares.
The average Australian uses 7.7, while in the less developed nation of Bangladesh, people only use around 0.6 global hectares.
So why are our eco-footprints so big?
These students from Melbourne Girls College have some of the answers...
MOLLY: Well at the moment everyone is using too much, burning too much fossil fuels and that's a non-renewable energy source. We're also using lots of plastic and packaging and that can't be recycled.
ANDREA NICOLAS, REPORTER: What's the problem?
CLARE: Well, things like Global Warming. It means more CO2 emissions which heats up the earth. We all know about the polar ice caps melting. Sea levels will rise and basically if it gets too bad the world's gonna be in a really bad state.
MOLLY: Simple things like recycling, saving water, catching public transport rather than driving a car.
ANDREA NICOLAS, REPORTER: The Marine Discovery Centre south of Melbourne is doing its part to reduce Australia's eco-footprint.
It's one of the most sustainable buildings in the country... designed to save energy.
While aquariums use electric light to show off their marine life, skylights and windows naturally light the rest of the building.
And the temperature is naturally controlled too - so there's no need for air-conditioning.
It's not me it's actually the building that's on an angle. This allows more light to come in, in winter, and reduces the amount of heat in summer.
The garden on the roof helps to control the inside temperature too.

The centre also stores rainwater in this huge tank and it's used to fight bushfires.

Wetland ponds protect the local environment and attract wildlife.
Does your home or school have any of these features?

Quiz Question

How many soccer fields of resources would 2 Andreas use?

8, 16 or 20

The answer is 16


To sports news now....

Champions trophy cricket

Australia has made the semi-finals of cricket's Champions Trophy with a six-wicket victory over host nation India.
India batted first and made eight for 249, Australia reached four for 252.
Damien Martyn was named man of the match for his unbeaten 73, but says Australia's bowlers set up the victory
Australia plays New Zealand on Wednesday night.

Australian Loss

Australia has been beaten by Ireland at International Rules Football.
It looks a bit like Aussie Rules but it's played with a round ball.
It's actually a cross between Australian Rules and Gaelic Football.
It looked like Australia would win... but in the final moments Ireland snatched a six-point goal and victory.

True or False?

Dogs are members of the bovine group of animals.

Answer: False

They are canines.

Sometimes BtN reporters get to do some pretty cool things.

As you've probably guessed Sarah really likes animals.

Recently she had the chance to go to Monarto Zoo in South Australia to find out how it is helping to increase numbers of an endangered dog.
(5) Monarto Dogs

Sarah Martinelli, reporter

In the world of dogs, there are some pretty weird and wonderful types of hound. But none is quite as unusual as these, African Painted Dogs.

These cute little creatures are some of the thirteen puppies recently raised here at Monarto zoo. As you can see, they're all healthy. Unfortunately the same can't be said for their population in the wild.
African painted dogs, or African hunting dogs, used to be found in many parts of Africa. But now, they're only found here, they are critically endangered.
Loss of habitat, domestic dog diseases and a bad reputation as a killer of livestock has all contributed to their numbers declining.
When farmers see them, they lay traps or poison them, because they are afraid the dogs will hunt their livestock. But these dogs prefer to eat hares, gazelles, wildebeest and zebras.
Colin is the dog keeper at Monarto Zoo in South Australia. He was there when the puppies were born, and has kept a careful eye on them ever since.
COLIN: Well its ah its another addition to our population here, we now have 34 of these animals and we're looking to find homes for them, for some of them, we can't just go on breeding forever but we certainly have a good population here.
One of the most unusual things about these dogs are their markings. They're a bit like fingerprints; every creature's are different. They also have an interesting way of communicating with each other.
COLIN: It's very difficult for us to really understand wild animals' signals to each other, but they certainly do have calls when there's food around, they have a particular call to call the rest of the pack, ah if one is separated from the group, you'll here this little whoo whoo, sounds like an owl, and that's a real distress call where's the rest of the pack, where are you?

Another unusual thing is their social structure. Unlike most wild animals, the female is the dominant figure, responsible for making decisions.

When it comes time to eat, the whole group shares the food, even those who didn't help in the hunt. The adults also make sure the puppies are fed first, before they eat themselves.
This is the kitchen where Colin prepares the dog's food. The adults eat up to 2 kilos a day. But he's obviously not feeding them gazelles and wildebeest, so what does he feed them?
COLIN: Oh we give them a mixture of meats, kangaroo, horse, beef, and turkey sometimes.
They might look pretty lazy now, but that these dogs can chase their prey for up to an hour, at speeds of more than 60 kilometres an hour. So if they did decide a BtN reporter was on the menu, they'd easily catch me!
With 13 puppies, this breeding group has done well. The average litter size for these dogs is 10 puppies. When they turn one, these puppies will be mature. So what's the future for them?
COLIN: Ha ha ha oh they're very interesting animals to observe because of their behaviour and it’s very rewarding to actually work with them and be breeding them and keeping them for future generations.
In the meantime, I think they just want to get some sleep!
They're doing some good work.

OK how did you go with our mystery object?

It's a bus shelter. And it can be found at Basket Range Primary School, South Australia.
That's Behind the News for another week.

Our Friday morning special is about games and sport.

That's at 10:15.

I'll be back after Rollercoaster with Short Takes.

I'll leave you with some highlights of a scale model expo held in Adelaide last weekend.

Some of these models took almost a year to make.


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