Show­cas­ing a land of op­por­tu­nity

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide - - ERICA THOMP­SON

PARIS Fash­ion Week sounds an un­likely place to find a re­porter from long-run­ning ru­ral-af­fairs show Land­line.

But ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Peter Lewis says swap­ping cat­tle for cou­ture is all part of the job.

‘‘This pro­gram is mainly fo­cused on the is­sues and the peo­ple and the per­son­al­i­ties within Aus­tralia,’’ Lewis says.

‘‘But be­cause so much of our pro­duc­tion is geared for ex­port, like the live-cat­tle de­bate and the live-sheep de­bate, the in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive is an im­por­tant part of agribusi­ness th­ese days and ev­ery once in a while you have to go there and find out.’’

In this case Land­line flew to the world’s fash­ion cap­i­tal to see what im­pact the con­tro­ver­sial prac­tice of Land­line ABC1, Sun­day, noon Ru­ral af­fairs Du­ra­tion: 1 hour sheep mulesing was hav­ing on Aus­tralia’s merino wool mar­ket and the Euro­pean re­tail­ers who buy it.

But while Land­line may have ex­panded its hori­zons be­yond the back fence, Lewis says the roots of the Bris­bane-based show haven’t changed since it be­gan 17 years ago.

‘‘The pro­gram has a com­mit­ment to search out the peo­ple who are hav­ing a bit of a go and are suc­ceed­ing and are tak­ing on enor­mous chal­lenges whether they be weather-re­lated ones, such as droughts and fires and floods, or mar­ket-re­lated ones such as fluc­tu­at­ing com­mod­ity prices, or gov­ern­ment­gen­er­ated ones such as pol­icy changes and so forth. The peo­ple who are hav­ing a go against all those odds, a lot of them think out­side the square.’’

He says Land­line, which has just cel­e­brated 1000 episodes, was among the first to cover is­sues such as or­ganic and ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied food, bio­fu­els and even car­bon emis­sions trad­ing.

‘‘Farm­ers gen­er­ally have a faster take-up of new tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion and new ideas than any other sec­tor in the com­mu­nity,’’ Lewis says.

‘‘They have to in or­der to stay ef­fi­cient and prof­itable in an ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive in­ter­na­tional trad­ing en­vi­ron­ment.’’

Land­line has evolved from a halfhour morn­ing news pro­gram that went to air five days a week to a one-hour Sun­day show that Lewis says reg­u­larly out­rates all of the ABC’s other news and cur­rent-af­fairs pro­grams that day.

Giv­ing it a go:

Peter Lewis.

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