After just over five years in operation, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research facility is running out of money.
The federal government hasn't extended its funding and from June it's expected to be wound up.
That has the industry worried that the current projects won't be followed through and that Australia's preparedness to deal with the impacts of global warming will suffer as a result.
Australia's Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet says the government has invested over $120 million in climate change adaptation over the past six years.
That includes $20 million for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility to publish a wide range of research over the past four years to help vulnerable communities and industries better manage the risks of climate change.
Speakers:Jean Palutikof, National Climate Change Adaption Research Facility; Antony Sprigg, Australian Green Infrastructure Council; Nathan Fabian, Chief Executive Officer, Investor Group on Climate Change
MOURIE: Well I think there's two areas really, I think over the years obviously the scrum's been seen as an area which is paramount in the safety of players, and I think that's always the driving force behind any change in the scrums. I think the other driving factor is really the professional game and really the state of scrums certainly at professional and international level. And I think general agreement really is that probably at club and community level scrums are fine. I think when it becomes extremely competitive with highly trained big fit athletes, then we are having difficulties in getting the amount of ball out of the scrum into the game that we'd like to see.
EWART: And I think I'm right in saying that one of the issues you hope to address with this trial is the collapsing scrum, and plainly when that happens that is the thing that puts players most at risk of injury?
MOURIE: Yes certainly although that's interesting I think from a safety perspective, and my knowledge obviously is more about New Zealand. We feel that the game is very safe at scrum at the moment. I think we've had as far as we know and our statistics are pretty sound, two what you'd call major scrum injuries since 2001, which is very low incidents given the number of people playing the game over here. So probably safety is part of it, I think just the look of the game and the scrum collapses, the penalties, the resets of scrums which the IRB certainly at that rugby committee in general level has felt it's just not good enough. And we have been trying to work on different interpretations of the engagement and certainly about two and a half years ago we engaged one of the universities in England to do a major scrum analysis, so they've been working pretty solidly over a couple of years testing scrums from community level right through to international level to find out exactly what the scrum forces are. And I think we've got some pretty good information out of that which shows that since the game's gone professional the amount of power the force of engagement has increased considerably, and we've also got some information from that which shows that the trial that we are going to undertake in the Pacific Rugby Championship actually reduces those forces. And hopefully creates a more stable scrum. And I guess the only sort of thing we can go by on the first trial now was that one of our senior scrummages observed the first trial in New Zealand and he was pretty heartened by what he saw.
EWART: You talked there about reducing the impact, particularly at the point of engagement, and I gather the figure mentioned is somewhere around about 25 per cent. So for people watching on during the Pacific Rugby Cup, what will they see in terms of changes? How will the scrum technically change?
MOURIE: Well I think what's happened over the last few years that as certainly the professional scrums have developed their technique, the contest has been very much about that, and so you see players touching. And I think again the scrum, the crouch, touch, pause, engage sequence has by all the statistics been pretty successful in reducing any injuries. And I think the thing that has come from that though is that the senior scrums if you look at them they tend to be a bit like boxers, they'll sort of touch before they punch really. So they tend to touch, and then they get back and they set, and then they engage with some force from a distance. The new engage will actually have them actually touching and basically holding or maintaining that forward position of the arm when they touch, which actually puts them partway through the engage sequence and really takes some of that built-up force that they create when they go back again out of it. And then you're right, I think the information seems to show that about 25 per cent less force on the engagement.
EWART: So would you see this change as being something that the forwards and particularly the props who will be most involved in the change, could adapt to quite easily?
MOURIE: Interestingly and I'm not going to quote any names, the game that I'm referring to where we had some feedback from a senior scrummaging coach actually involved two or three current All Black and Super Rugby players in the front rows, and I think while the feedback was that they were a little bit apprehensive at the start, in fact they found the engage quite stable, and they actually had no issues with it. So I think it's going to take a little bit of adjusting, but I think in the end it actually does reduce the force and it puts the front-rowers bodies in a very sound position for the engage, and actually reduces the opportunity to be out of line or for example to line-up heads or that sort of thing. So I think it has a number of fix really.
EWART: So based on the information that you already have, based on the anecdotal evidence that you talked about there, and the trial to come in the Pacific Rugby Cup, would you see this change being introduced across the board quite soon?
MOURIE: Look one of the things that the IRB has been very careful about I think is the health and safety of players. I think going back probably to 2007, certainly when I became involved with the Rugby Committee and with law changes and that, there was very much a decision made that nothing would be changed without trailing it at the lower level, and then at a reasonably senior level, because you sometimes get unexpected consequences when you make these things. So the program really has been that it's been through a series of trials at what you might call slightly above community level. It's now going through this current trial, which is probably slightly below professional level, but certainly at a level above community level. And should that be successful, and there's every possibility that it may be adopted by one of the IRB council meetings in the next few months, and come into the game within the next six or nine months. But again, we have to collect the evidence, and I think one of the key things is that any change must be not only look good, but it's also got to be scientifically based and definitely proven to be in the interests of the players' health and safety.