Inbox and Environment News: Issue 280

September 11 - 17, 2016: Issue 280

Marine Reserves: Consultation To Begin Following Release Of Independent Review

Media release: 5 September 2016 - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy

I have asked the Director of National Parks to start a public consultation process to create new management plans for Australia’s world-leading network of marine reserves.

The new management plans will reflect sound science, protection of the environment and support sustainable industries.

The consultation process follows the release of the reports of the independent Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review.

This review was commissioned as part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to establish a world-class management programme for our marine parks following community concerns over a lack of consultation from Labor in 2012.

We asked two expert panels to thoroughly examine the science behind marine reserves and consult with local communities, Indigenous groups, scientists and commercial and recreational fishers.

The review received around 13,000 public submissions and held more than 260 meetings with interested groups.

The Coalition Government has already committed $56.1 million over four years to develop and implement these management plans. Management plans will support users such as community groups, recreational and commercial fishers, dive operators and promote local growth in tourism and protect our unique aquatic assets.

While noting the review’s recommendations the Government will assess the need for any industry assistance when it finalises management plans.

We will also consider the broader recommendations of the review, such as extending protection over the Bremer Canyon, which is renowned for its large aggregations of marine life including orcas, sperm whales, seals, sharks and giant squid.

Australia is a world leader in the creation of marine parks – we now have the opportunity to be a world leader in their management and will endeavour to finalise management plans by mid-2017.

Parks Australia Marine Reserves independent reports

Abbott Marine Network Review Exposes Australia's Oceans

Tuesday 6 September 2016: Media release - Australian Marine Conservation Society

A promise to be science-based has been ignored in favour of commercial exploitation by the Abbott-led review of Australia’s network of marine sanctuaries, the Australian Marine Conservation Society said today.

This broken promise would lead to a devastating loss of threatened marine life and uncertainty for business investment in Australia’s valuable dive tourism sector. 

Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg yesterday released the results of the Abbott Review. A centrepiece of the report proposes to cut back huge sanctuary protection in Queensland’s Coral Sea and expand commercial fishing in its place. This is comes at the very time our marine life is under increasing pressure from coral bleaching, mangrove die-off and disappearing kelp forests.

“The Coral Sea is the cradle of the Great Barrier Reef, and one of the last places on Earth where healthy populations of ocean giants like sharks, tuna and marlin remain,” said AMCS Marine Parks Campaign Manager Fiona Maxwell.

“It’s not only our unique marine life but our coastal communities, recreational fishers, and the valuable dive tourism sector who are the big losers in the Abbott Review report,” she said. 

“The Abbott Review ignored overwhelming scientific evidence and community support calling for an increase in protections. 

“More than 70 per cent of Australia’s massive ocean estate remains open to commercial fishing when all the scientific evidence points to the urgent need for a better balance between what we take and what we conserve,” she said.

“At a time when the world is creating large marine parks and our oceans are warming at an unprecedented scale, Australia is moving backwards. 

"A major IUCN report was issued overnight detailing a major global review of ocean warming impacts. There are truly staggering shifts in our oceans, with bleaching corals, species movements and changes throughout the food chain. One of the recommendations from the report is to expand marine sanctuaries and yet we’re moving backwards at this critical time,". 

Ms Maxwell also said that the Review contradicts itself – recognising the extensive science and consultation that led to creation of the 40 parks in 2012, but then proposing to wind back the protection in key hot spots.  

"We urge Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Turnbull to reject the Abbott Review findings and instead make the national network of 40 marine parks and sanctuaries operational, as much of Australia’s most vulnerable marine areas have now been without protection for three years," Maxwell said. 
Cutting back science-based protections for marine life would undermine former Prime Minister John Howard’s legacy of creating ocean safe havens on the Great Barrier Reef and Great Australian Bight from exploitation.
“The decision to create the world’s largest network of marine parks was based on scientific assessment and consultation that John Howard put in place,” Ms Maxwell said.

“Sanctuaries for marine life on the Great Barrier Reef have created a booming tourism industry and local business owners have been hard hit by the impacts of the recent coral bleaching event. This is yet another blow to Queensland's tourism at a time when they are seeking the certainty long term conservation measures provide for the future”, she said. 
Message from the Director of National Parks: Release of Review reports and preparation of reserve management plans

Australia is a leader in marine management, with one of the largest marine protected areas in the world.

State Governments and the Commonwealth are committed to establishing a National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. By doing this we are protecting amazing marine biodiversity and a full range of ecosystems and habitats that will provide us with multiple community and environmental benefits for years to come.

As the Director of National Parks I have commenced the statutory process to develop draft management plans for 44 of these important reserves managed by Parks Australia on behalf of the Commonwealth Government and her peoples. 

Together with Parks Australia staff I will be developing draft management plans for the marine reserves in the North, North-west, South-west and Temperate-east networks and the Coral Sea reserve. These reserves are located in Commonwealth waters, typically beyond the 3 nautical mile coastal waters of the States and the Northern Territory. They are adjacent to waters managed by State and Territory governments and a number are adjacent to marine parks and reserves managed by State agencies. 

I plan to use recommendations contained in the recently released independent Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review reports from the Expert Scientific Panel and Bioregional Advisory Panel and comments sent during this first phase of the statutory process to prepare the draft management plans. The reports are the product of extensive consultation and provide an important reference point as we move towards finalisation of Australia’s national network of Commonwealth marine reserves. 

The public notice that outlines this process is here.

Management plans provide for the protection and conservation of the marine reserves by setting out the arrangements for management of activities within reserves for a period of 10 years. They state how natural features, heritage and other values are to be protected and conserved and set out the rules about what activities can be done in reserves and where. The plans also provide certainty to communities by recognising where actions may be needed to support local and regional economies and industries and provide opportunities for people to experience and enjoy these areas within a well managed and balanced system. Management plans also recognise the long term connection of Indigenous people to these seascapes and their cultural obligations to look after these special areas. 

To make these places as successful as possible we need your input and feedback on the recommendations in the review in this first phase of consultation. 

Once we have reviewed all of the comments in this first phase we will finalise the draft management plans. These draft plans will be put out for public comment too so we can double check them with you before we present them to the Minister for his consideration and approval.

I strongly encourage you to read the reports and provide me with your feedback on the independent review’s recommendations. 
The easiest way to make a submission is to can send feedback until 11 October 2016. 

During the planning and consultation processes, activities can continue to be conducted in the same way they have since the reserve networks were declared, until the new management plans come into effect. The management plan for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network is already in place and it won’t be part of this process. 

I am very much looking forward to hearing from you about what you think should be included in the draft management plans. I am also looking forward to finalising the plans and working with you on the important job of managing Australia’s marine parks – an amazing and inspirational initiative that will make us proud for generations to come.

Sally Barnes
Director of National Parks

Financial Support For Solar Projects

September 8, 2016: NSW Government
Five large-scale solar installations across regional NSW will be built after securing $34.9 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The installations in Dubbo, Glen Innes, Griffith, Parkes and Manildra have a total capacity of 162.3 megawatts and will provide enough clean electricity to power around 62,000 homes or 2800 schools and save 350,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

NSW Minister for Industry, Resource and Energy Anthony Roberts welcomed the announcement of financial support for the new projects.

“NSW leads Australia in large-scale solar and over the past five years, the share of NSW-based solar generation has increased six-fold,” Mr Roberts said.

“Today’s announcement to provide funding for these new projects underscores the growing importance of the NSW solar industry and the role it will play in providing for the state’s future electricity needs.”  

The ARENA-funded projects will support up to 800 jobs during construction. The five new facilities, once completed, will reduce emissions by the equivalent of taking 78,000 cars off the road.

More large-scale solar projects are in the planning system with an estimated 1000 MW of generating capacity.

To find out more, visit the Resources and Energy website

Paws For Thought On Threatened Species Day 

Wednesday 7 September 2016: Media Release - Mark Speakman, Minister for the Environment
A crack team of professional sniffer dogs will be unleashed to help protect and conserve the state’s threatened species as part of the NSW Government’s five year $100 million Saving our Species program.

The team of 10 English springer spaniel and cocker spaniel detectives, trained to sniff out endangered species, would be put through their paces to mark National Threatened Species Day, Environment Minister Mark Speakman said.

The four-legged detectives are trained to sniff-out threatened species such as koalas, quolls, eastern bristlebirds and the Bell’s Turtle. They will be deployed on some of the Government’s newly established 240 threatened species projects.

“We have this class of canines all barking up the right tree – they won’t roll over until they’ve picked up the scent,” Mr Speakman said.

“Penny, the English springer spaniel, has already been successful in detecting the odour of endangered coastal emu birds in places where there is no physical evidence obvious to humans that the birds have been there.”

Mr Speakman said the NSW Government had allocated $16 million to this year’s new 240 projects.

Office of Environment and Heritage Senior Threatened Species Officer Lynn Baker said the NSW Government’s detection dogs have the best nose in the business.

“A detection dog’s nose is more than one thousand times better than a human’s at detecting a target scent and these dogs can find a species when all of our other standard survey techniques fail,” Ms Baker said.

National Threatened Species Day is held on 7 September each year to commemorate the death of the last Tasmanian tiger at Hobart Zoo in 1936. 
NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy Third Edition 2016

The NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy (OISAS):
• identifies those areas within NSW estuaries where oyster aquaculture is a suitable and priority outcome;
• secures resource access rights for present and future oyster farmers throughout NSW;
• documents and promotes environmental, social and economic best practice for NSW oyster farming and ensures that the principles of ecological sustainable development, community expectations and the needs of other user groups are integrated into the management and operation of the NSW oyster industry;
• formalises industry's commitment to environmental sustainable practices and a duty of care for the environment in which the industry is located;
• provides a framework for the operation and development of a viable and sustainable NSW oyster aquaculture industry with a clear approval regime and up-front certainty for existing industry participants, new industry entrants, the community and decision makers;
• identifies the key water quality parameters necessary for sustainable oyster aquaculture and establishes a mechanism to maintain and where possible improve the environmental conditions required for sustainable oyster production; and
• ensures that the water quality requirements for oyster growing are considered in the State's land and water management and strategic planning framework.

Also see:
all Maps-Area HERE

NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy 2016 - 
What's this about?
The NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy (OISAS) is the key management and policy document for the NSW oyster industry.
OISAS currently contains:

• Best practice guidelines;
• A code of conduct;
• Identification of areas where oyster farming is a priority;
• Water quality protection and improvement measures; and
• Streamlined approval for oyster leases in Priority Oyster Aquaculture Areas.

The OISAS was first gazetted in December 2006 and has now been revised and updated.

Have your say
The 2016 Draft OISAS is on public exhibition for 14 days from Wednesday 31 August until Tuesday 13 September 2016.

To view the 2016 Draft OISAS online, visit the DPI Website.
Send your feedback via email to:
Date: Aug. 31 - Sep. 13, 2016
Time: 9:00am — 5:00pm

Marine Fisheries And Aquaculture
Draft Report

This draft report was released on 31 August 2016. You are invited to examine the draft report and to make written submissions by Friday 14 October 2016.

The final report is expected to be handed to the Australian Government by December 2016.

Better management of Australia's fisheries needed to ensure sustainability and value
August 31, 2016: Media Release - Productivity Commission, Australian Government
Slow adoption of best practice in the management of commercial fisheries, and limited recognition of the impacts and value of recreational fishing, are imposing unnecessary costs, constraining community benefits from fisheries, and putting pressure on some stocks, according to the Productivity Commission.

In a draft report released today, the Commission says management approaches need to better reflect the fact that there are limits to the catch from wild capture fisheries. Therefore, historical attitudes to prefer one group over another will need to change if Australia is to sustain both recreational and commercial fishing into the future.

'Controls over commercial fishing in most fisheries are too prescriptive. We know that tradeable quotas generally work, but we apply them in only one-quarter of fisheries. Conversely, there is an attitude of almost benign neglect toward recreational fishing. This is despite there being millions of recreational fishers in Australia and that, with the help of technology such as relatively cheap locating sonars, recreational catch now rivals or exceeds commercial catch for some species', said Commissioner Melinda Cilento.

Most commercial fishing is still regulated through controls over fishing methods, such as numbers of allowable fishing days or size of boats. This is discouraging innovation and inhibits fishers from introducing more cost-effective practices.

'Reform across the sector is needed to reinvigorate the commercial fishing industry,' she said.

The rising sophistication and affordability of scanning technology and vessels has increased recreational fishers' ability to fish further offshore and more intensively. The limited knowledge we do have suggests this is putting pressure on some species. Despite the probability that this will increase in future with population growth and use of new fishing technologies, recreational fishing is sporadically monitored.

'While there are bag limits and other controls on recreational fishing, the nation doesn't have a handle on how overall participation is changing or how the level of catch is changing in most areas,' said Commissioner Melinda Cilento.

'This lack of knowledge makes it difficult to make decisions on how access to fisheries should be shared or what additional services or facilities should be provided for recreational fishers,' she said.

The Commission recommends that state and territory governments license all recreational fishers, with the focus being on a low-cost licence with higher reporting effort by all parties.

'We recognise that recreational fishing is important to many people and coastal communities; sometimes it is more important economically than commercial fishing.'

'We have recommended licensing to ensure recreational fishing is sustainable and better recognised in fishery management decisions as a much-loved pastime for many Australians,' Commissioner Melinda Cilento said.

The Productivity Commission released its draft report on Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture today and will be conducting public hearings around Australia where people can talk about issues raised in the report. To attend a hearing or make a submission for the final report people should go to the website at

Landholders’ Right To Refuse (Gas And Coal) Bill 2015

This Private Member’s Bill provides that landholders have the right to refuse the undertaking of gas and coal mining activities by corporations on their land without prior written authorisation; sets out the requirements of a prior written authorisation; provides for relief which a court may grant a land owner when prior written authorisation is not provided; prohibits hydraulic fracturing for coal seam gas, shale gas and tight gas by corporations; and provides for civil penalties.

The Bill was first introduced in March 2015, has had its second reading in the House of Representatives and is currently before the Senate.

Put In Your Ten Cents' Worth On Deposit Scheme

The biggest initiative to tackle litter in the state’s history has moved a step closer to reality, with draft legislation on the NSW Government’s 10-cent container deposit scheme going out to public consultation, Environment Minister Mark Speakman said today.

The scheme, which will mean eligible drink containers between 150 ml and three litres can be returned for a 10 cent refund, is scheduled to roll out across the state in July 2017.

Mr Speakman said the container deposit scheme (CDS) was now at the stage of consulting with the public on the details.

“I was thrilled to announce in May along with Premier Mike Baird that NSW was delivering on a key election promise and introducing a long-awaited container deposit scheme – something the community had been asking for for decades,” Mr Speakman said.

“We are looking at several measures to reduce costs of the scheme, including working with Queensland on opportunities for a single scheme coordinator and driving competition by allowing for multiple network operators.”

A draft bill and discussion paper, on public exhibition until Wednesday, 21 September, aims to provide details to the public on how the scheme was proposed to work, including:

  • How the scheme will be coordinated
  • How the network of collection points will work
  • How refunds will work including the potential for contactless (mobile phone) refunds
  • How the scheme will interact with kerbside recycling, and
  • Roles and obligations under the scheme

“From next year the people of NSW will be able to return most drink containers and receive 10 cents, while playing a part in reducing litter volume by 40 per cent by 2020, one of the Premier’s key priorities,” Mr Speakman said.

The draft Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Bill 2016 and Regulatory Framework Discussion Paper are open for public consultation until 21 September and feedback is welcome.

View the documents and submit comments online at

Nutrient Pollution Is Changing Sounds In The Sea

September 6, 2016: University of Adelaide
Nutrient pollution emptying into seas from cities, towns and agricultural land is changing the sounds made by marine life -- and potentially upsetting navigational cues for fish and other sea creatures, a new University of Adelaide study has found.

Published online in the journal Landscape Ecology, the research found that marine ecosystems degraded by 'eutrophication', caused by run-off from adjacent land, are more silent than healthier comparable ecosystems.

This marine 'soundscape' comes largely from the snapping of shrimps, but also the rasping of sea urchins and fish vocalisations.

The researchers -- PhD graduate Tullio Rossi, Associate Professor Ivan Nagelkerken and Professor Sean Connell from the University's Environment Institute -- studied kelp forests and seagrass beds in South Australia's St Vincent's Gulf, many of which have been impacted by excessive nutrients washing into the sea, particularly along the metropolitan coast of Adelaide.

They compared audio recordings of these polluted waters with audio recordings at natural high-CO2 underwater volcanic vents, which show what water conditions are predicted to be like at the end of the century under global ocean acidification.

Remarkably, they found the same pattern of sound reduction in both locally degraded ecosystems and those that show what oceans are expected to be like under climate change.

"Kelp forests and seagrass beds are important ecosystems for commercial fishing and maintenance of marine biodiversity," says study leader Associate Professor Ivan Nagelkerken, in the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute.

"They also function as nursery habitats for a range of species. But the decrease in sound we found in these degraded ecosystems due to local eutrophication is of the same large magnitude that we find in ecosystems that will be affected by global ocean acidification.

"We know that sound is very important for some species of fish and invertebrates to find sheltering habitats in reefs and seagrass beds. The demise of biological sounds is likely to have negative impacts on the replenishment of fish populations."

The study also suggests that soundscapes may be a suitable management approach to evaluating the health of ocean ecosystems -- a new cost-effective monitoring tool.

"Because ocean acidification acts at global scales, local reduction of nutrient pollution as a management intervention will strengthen the health of our marine ecosystems, and set them up for coping better with global climate stressors," says Professor Sean Connell. 

The above is reprinted from materials provided by University of Adelaide.

AFMA Welcomes New FRDC Chair

6 September 2016
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) welcomes the Hon. Ron Boswell as the new Chair of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporate (FRDC).

“Mr Boswell brings a wealth of experience into this position and I congratulate him on his appointment,” AFMA’s CEO Dr James Findlay said.

“With more than 30 years experience in the Australian Senate, and a keen interest and advocate of Australia’s fishing industry, Mr Boswell is well suited to lead the FRDC.

“AFMA looks forward to working with Mr Boswell and continuing to the strong relationship we have with FRDC.

“I would also like to thank the outgoing Chair, the Hon. Harry Woods for his significant contribution to the Australian fishing industry since his appointment as Chair of the FRDC in 2010.

“In the six years, Mr Woods actively worked with the three sectors of this fishing industry (commercial, recreational and Indigenous) to help make significant improvements to the industry and create real opportunities for sustainable industry growth.

“On behalf of AFMA, thank you.”

FRDC play an important role in delivering, research, development and extension activities in Australia fisheries to help ensure their sustainability.

AFMA draws on research from FRDC, along with other scientific institutions, to help inform Commonwealth fisheries management and ensure that the latest available science is being used as part of the decision making process.

For more information on the management of Commonwealth fisheries Mr Boswell’s biography can be found at

Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2016

This year, the Aussie Backyard Bird Count will be back, bigger and better than ever. With more than a million birds counted last year, how many will we see in 2016? It’s all happening during Bird Week, 17–23 October. Let’s make every bird count!  

Discover the Aussie Backyard Bird Count app!
A 'how to' guide for using the Aussie Backyard Bird Count app.
The app is currently available on:


Would you like to know more about our local birds and explore our bushland reserves? Then join us on one of our bird walks:

PNHA Birdwatching 8am Sunday 25 September, Warriewood Wetlands, followed by Morning Tea and a talk on the Birds of Warriewood Wetlands at 9.30am.

Warriewood Wetlands is one of Sydney’s birding hotspots with over 150 species recorded. Come along and see how many you can find.

At 9.30am, after the walk, join us for morning tea and a talk on the birds of Warriewood Wetlands provided by PNHA. We are holding this event as part of the Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment's Narrabeen Spring Celebration. 

Meet: 8am for the walk, and/or come at 9.30am for the morning tea and talk, Katoa Close, off Garden St, North Narrabeen.

Bring: For the walk: Binoculars, water, insect repellent, hat. Morning tea will be provided (see Bookings)

Bookings: Please book this time, for catering. Text or call 0439 409 202.

Our last walk of the year is at 7.30am on Sunday 27 November at Warriewood Wetlands. The summer migratory species will have arrived and the Wetlands will be home to nesting birds and birds with young. there should be plenty to see.Meet at Katoa Close, North Narrabeen. 

Most walks last a couple of hours. Bring binoculars and morning tea for afterwards if you like. Contact for details of each walk.

United Wambo Open Cut Coal Mine Project

Street 134 Jerrys Plains Road
City Warkworth
Exhibition Start 11/08/2016
Exhibition End   22/09/2016

See all available documents and have your say here

A Joint Venture project between United Collieries and Wambo Coal which combines the existing open cut operations at Wambo with a proposed new open cut at United. 

The Project will utilise the existing Wambo Mining Infrastructure Area (MIA), Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) and train loading facility. The Project anticipates delivering up to 6Mtpa of product coal, providing jobs for around 500 employees with a life of mine of approximately 23 years. The Project proposes to relocate a 2km section of the Golden Highway and a section of 330kV powerlines to optimise coal recovery in the United Open Cut.

Extent of Mining Areas: Refer to Figure 1.3 - The project proposes realignment of the Wambo Open Cut boundary to maximise resource recovery. The realignment would result in approximately 5 hectares of additional disturbance for the Wambo Open Cut mine.

The Proposed United Open Cut mine is situated to the weast of the existing Wambo operations (refer to Figure 1.3)

The conceptual staged mine plans are shown on Figure 3.2 to Figure 3.6

Operating Hours 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Figure 1.3

Figure 3.2

Tomato Festival Sydney 2017

Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 February
The award-winning Tomato Festival Sydney will be celebrating its fourth year in 2017. The Festival Village will once again be the epicentre showcasing celebrated Australian producers and artisans selling quality produce together with insightful cooking demonstrations and tastings. 

There will be plenty of opportunities to sample tomatoes with the ever popular Taste Test featuring heirloom and other varieties. Food stalls, music, café and bar where visitors can relax over delicious tomato inspired menus. 

The longest tomato lunch which was a sell out in 2016 for 250 people on one very long table will be back, bigger and better than ever! 

Free gardening talks with Royal Botanic Garden staff and industry experts will also be available over the weekend along with plant sales and free guided walks.  

Loads of children’s activities including nature based adventures, workshops and outdoor fun, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

For those with a green thumb and skills in the kitchen there will be another heated competition for the best home-grown tomato. 

In 2017 there will be new and exciting additions to the program – stay tuned.

Location: Royal Botanic Garden Sydney 
Age:Fun for all the family
Transport info:Public transport recommended. Limited parking available.
Price:Free entry. Some workshops, activities and lunches are ticketed.

International Community Condemns Japanese Whaling - Again

Wednesday 7 September 2016Media release - Australian Marine Conservation Society

The World Conservation Congress has just passed a motion condemning so-called ‘scientific’ whaling by the Government of Japan. The Member’s Assembly of the IUCN today formally adopted a motion calling on Japan to stop killing whales for research in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. 

Since the global ban (moratorium) on whaling was introduced in the 1980s, Japan has killed more than 10,000 Antarctic whales under the guise of ‘research’. In 2014 the world’s highest court, the International Court of Justice, ruled that Japan’s Antarctic whaling program was illegal and should stop. Despite this ruling, the government of Japan resumed Southern Ocean whaling the following year in the summer of 2015-16. 

“With today’s motion at the World Parks Congress, the international community has spoken yet again,” said AMCS Director, Darren Kindleysides from the Congress. 

"This is the latest in a long line of embarrassing rejections, but will the Government of Japan sit up and listen? 

“Japan’s so-called scientific whaling is unnecessary, unscientific and must cease. 

“Last summer, the government of Japan killed 333 minke whales under the guise of ‘scientific’ research, and they plan to catch almost 4,000 in the next 12 years.

“The Australian government must redouble their efforts to halt Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean and must challenge Japan when the International Whaling Commission meets in October this year,” Kindleysides said. 

The IUCN World Conservation Congress is the world’s leading environmental summit. Meeting every four years. Around 9,000 delegates are attending the 2016 meeting in Hawaii from 1,200 member organisations. There are government delegations from 160 countries, including both Australia and Japan.

The theme of the 2016 Congress is “Planet at the Crossroads” and is debating the most pressing challenges facing our environment. In addition to passing the motion condemning ‘scientific’ whaling today, the Members’ Assembly of the Congress adopted several other important motions to conserve our oceans, including international action to tackle marine debris pollution, to advance the conservation of sharks, rays and migratory shorebirds and to progress protected areas in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
New maps provide analysis of NSW fish communities and threatened species

31 Aug 2016: NSW Dept. DPI
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has released ground breaking results of a large scale analysis of the status of fish communities and threatened fish species distributions across NSW, which will feed into future strategic natural and land use planning programs.

NSW DPI Aquatic Ecosystems Program Leader, Marcus Riches, said the NSW Fish Community and Threated Species Distribution Project provides insight via state-wide, fine scale maps which identify the status of fish communities and where threatened species are known and likely to occur.

“Fish and fish habitats underpin the productivity of our State’s fisheries resources, and their status or health is a good measure of how we are managing our broader landscapes,” said Mr Riches.

“The Fish Community and Threatened Species Distribution Project is part of a broader approach to recognise the importance of scientific data to inform and guide strategic regional planning processes.

“This is the first time scientific knowledge of NSW fish communities and threatened species has been analysed and depicted at the river reach scale and applied consistently across the state.”

The project consolidates 20 years of data from biological surveys and, combined with complex species distribution modelling, provides insight into key fish communities.

A state-wide map indicates the status of fish communities across NSW, as well as individual species distributions for most of our freshwater threatened species.

“DPI research staff have already applied the results to determine the potential location of the threatened southern pigmy perch and combined with state of the art E-DNA testing to eliminate the potential of pest species threats, have been able to identify critical refuge areas in need of protection.

“In partnership with LLS we have now put measures in place to ensure these refuge areas are protected from incursions of redfin,” Mr Riches said. 

This work in the future will contribute to a strategic planning framework, which will integrate aquatic biodiversity considerations into planning processes.

The project findings will provide a significant contribution to development planning and assessment processes, threatened species recovery actions, ecosystem rehabilitation, water management and future research endeavours.

Funding for the project is from the National Partnership Agreement on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Developments.

More information
Visit Threatened species distributions in NSW for maps and accompanying reports from the NSW Fish Community Status Project.

NSW Call to community and government groups to apply for local environmental grants

Media release: 15 August 2016 – NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH)
A total of $4 million in grant funds is available to community groups and government entities for a range of local environment restoration and improvement projects under the NSW Environmental Trust’s 2016/17 Restoration and Rehabilitation Grant Program.

Terry Bailey, Chief Executive, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and Trust Secretary said the grants will deliver grassroots funding to local environmental projects that restore, protect and enhance a variety of NSW environments.

“This valuable grant program has been running for over 20 years, making it one of the longest running environmental grant programs in Australia,” Mr Bailey said.

“Grants are awarded to help protect important ecosystems, to restore degraded environments and care for habitats of rare and endangered flora and fauna.

“I encourage community groups, not-for-profit and government entities from across the state to apply for a grant and help their local communities protect and conserve our vital natural environment.

“Fifty-six grants were awarded under this program last year and their projects are now tackling a number of local environmental issues.

“Thanks to this grant program landholders, local councils, state government agencies and community groups are now working to restore habitats for native and endangered species, improve water quality and rehabilitate wetland areas.

“As an example, Greening Australia’s $96,730 project is helping improve habitat for the vulnerable Glossy Black Cockatoo. Working alongside landholders, 5,000 trees are being planted and community seed collection and bird identification workshops are taking place.”

Applications open for the 2016/17 round of the Restoration and Rehabilitation Grant Program on 15 August 2016. Grants between $5,000 and $100,000 are available. Applications close on 26 September 2016.

Visit the Environmental Trust website for applications and further information:

Clay Spray Drives Wasps Away

6 September, 2016: NSW Dept. of Primary Industries (DPI)
New trial results showing how clay sprays can be used to manage citrus gall wasps (CWG) will feature at a NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) field day at SS Citrus Supply, Dareton on Tuesday September 13.

DPI entomologist, Jianhua Mo, said results from Sunraysia trials in 2015-2016 showed spray treatments with calcined kaolin clay could reduce the amount of damaging galls by more than 90 per cent.

“Two applications, one just before and another during CWG emergence, of the commercially available clay reduced the size of large galls, those more than 100 millimetres long, by 99 per cent and average gall size by 35 per cent,” Dr Mo said.

“This product is the only calcined form of kaolin clay available in Australia with 3D structural properties which repel CGW.

“Originally developed to act as a protectant against sunburn and heat stress, it’s a wettable powder which is applied as a spray to form a barrier film on the plant surface.

“The barrier film also appears to deter egg-laying by CGW on citrus shoots, which reduces gall numbers and size in the following season.”
Dr Mo said investigations this season will explore ways to cut treatment costs by reducing application rates with new wetting agents and water rates.

“We have also trialled two new generation pesticides to control CGW larvae – both were effective when applied in the soil, but the level of gall reduction was not as high as the calcined kaolin clay spray,” he said.

CGW has recently emerged as a major pest in southern citrus crops, infesting orchards in the Sunraysia, Riverland and Riverina to impact on plant vigour, fruit size and citrus yields.

A national project led by Dr Mo aims to manage GWG by targeting the pest with its natural enemies, new generation pesticides and environmentally-friendly repellents.

Funded by DPI and Horticulture Innovation Australia, the CGW management project brings South Australia’s Fruit Doctors and Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia on board as research partners.

The field day will also deliver updates on Queensland fruit fly trapping and district control from the Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area Committee.

More information is available to growers and industry representatives by contacting DPI citrus development officer, Steven Falivene, 0427 208 611.

Have Your Say On The Amended Rocky Hill Coal Project Application

17.08.2016 : Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
An amended development application by Gloucester Resources Limited for the Rocky Hill Coal Project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the amended proposal which involves:
  • developing and operating an open-cut coal mine to produce up to two million tonnes of coal per year for up to 21 years
  • constructing and operating a private coal haul road linking the Rocky Hill Coal Project with the Stratford Coal Complex, approximately nine kilometres to the south
  • using the private haul road to transfer coal between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm only, Monday to Saturday
  • using the private coal haul road to deliver heavy equipment and construction materials to the mine area
  • rehabilitating the site
A spokesperson for the Department said the public should also view the modification application for the Stratford Extension Project, which is being exhibited simultaneously with the amended Rocky Hill Coal Project proposal.

“The public should also note the changes from a previous Rocky Hill Coal Project proposal which was exhibited in 2013,” a spokesperson said.

“Key changes in the amended proposal include three open cut pits instead of four and no night-time hours of work. Additionally, it proposes no evening hours of work for the first three years of the project.

“In the new proposal, coal would be hauled on a private haul road to the nearby Stratford Coal Mine. The Rocky Hill project would therefore not need a Coal Handling and Preparation Plant or a rail loop and train loading bin, or a coal conveyor.
The amended proposal does not include:
  • constructing and operating an on-site Coal Handling and Preparation Plant 
  • constructing and operating a Rail Load-out Facility, including a rail loop and overhead loading bin, to dispatch the product coal to the Port of Newcastle
  • developing a three kilometre partially-enclosed overland conveyor, to link the CHPP to the Rail Load-out Facility
  • operating the mine during night-time hours
  • operating the mine during evening hours for the first three years of the mining operations.
A spokesperson for the Department said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.
“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.” 

To make a submission or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit 

Submissions can be made from 17 August until 14 October 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to: 
Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Resource Assessments
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001 

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at: 
Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney
Nature Conservation Council, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney 
Mid Coast Council Offices:
- 89 King Street, Gloucester 
- Breese Parade, Forster
- 2 Pulteney Street, Taree
- Customer Service Centre, 6 Church Lane, Stroud (9 am to noon)

Have your say on the modification application for Stratford Extension Project
17.08.2016 : Departmental Media Release  Author: Department of Planning and Environment

A modification application for the Stratford Extension Project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on Stratford Coal Pty Ltd’s modification application which seeks to:
  • use a private haul road to transfer coal from the Rocky Hill Coal Project to the Stratford Coal Mine site
  • construct an extension of the existing coal stockpile to accommodate Rocky Hill’s coal, and process coal from this stockpile through the existing Stratford Coal Handling and Preparation Plant
  • place Rocky Hill product coal on the existing Stratford product coal stockpile
  • load and dispatch Rocky Hill product coal from Stratford’s existing rail loop and coal load-out system
The community can also view the related but separate Rocky Hill Coal Mine amended development application also on exhibition currently, and make a submission.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

"Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive," the spokesperson said.

"This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.
"It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say." 

To make a submission and the view the modification application visit 

Submissions can be made from 17 August to 14 October 2016.
Written submissions can also be made to:
Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Resource Assessments
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001
The application is also available to view in person at:
Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney
Nature Conservation Council, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney 
Mid Coast Council Offices:
- 89 King Street, Gloucester 
- Breese Parade, Forster
- 2 Pulteney Street, Taree
- Customer Service Centre, 6 Church Lane, Stroud (9 am to noon)

New Format As Pigs Fly In For Warrumbungles Concert

Media release: 9 August 2016 by NPWS
A new format for the Warrumbungles Crooked Mountain Concert will see some of Australia’s up and coming country, rock and bluegrass artists perform at the signature Coonabarabran event on Saturday 5 November.

Coonabarabran National Park Visitor Centre Manager May Fleming said the concert was one of the region’s longest running community festivals.
“The Crooked Mountain Concert has always featured a range of genres from the jazz tones of James Morrison to rock acts like year’s Boom Crash Opera.

“This year we’re delighted to have a really unique act in “The Pigs” leading an entertaining line up of artists.

“If you’ve never heard The Pigs unique way of performing well known pop songs in a toe-tapping hill billy style, then you’re in for a great surprise.

“Fresh from performances at Vivid Sydney and the Gympie Muster, The Pigs will be joined by Byron Bay Bluesfest openers Ivy as well as Golden Guitar nominee Mickey Pye, the tight harmonies of Bathurst duo Smith and Jones and local favourite Annie McKinnon.

“It’s a fresh line up and will continue our tradition of delivering great music in the phenomenal setting that is the Warrumbungle National Park, just designated as Australia’s first Dark Sky Park.   

“We plan it with families in mind and there will be kids activities, local produce and non-alcoholic drinks available to purchase, visitors can also bring along their own picnic rugs, chairs, food and alcohol and of course camping is also available.

“This year we have been able to lower the ticket price to just $55 per adult, $50 Concession, $20 child (15 – 5 years) and under 5s are free,” Ms Fleming said.

Tickets will be on sale through Moshtix from 1 August, from the Warrumbungles National Park Visitor Centre in person or by phoning 6825 4364

Bus tickets from Coonabarabran and camping can also be purchased from the visitor centre. 
For more information visit the website:

Medicare Items Review Backed By Health Professionals, Patients

06 September 2016: Media release - Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley

The majority of health professionals and patients support the Turnbull Government’s commitment to ensure every taxpayer dollar invested in Medicare delivers clinically-relevant, up-to-date and safe care, a new study has found.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley will today release the interim report of the Turnbull Government’s clinician-led review of all 5700 items on the Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS), which included consultation with over 2000 health professionals and patients across stakeholder forums, written submissions and an online survey.

Ms Ley said 93 per cent of health professionals surveyed considered parts of the MBS out-of-date and a review was required, while one-in-two nominated specific Medicare items they believed were used for “low-value purposes”.

“The Turnbull Government continues to demonstrate a commitment to working with doctors and patients to build a healthier Medicare and our MBS Review is a perfect example of that,” Ms Ley said.

“We are increasing our investment in Medicare by $4 billion over the next four years as part of our commitment to delivering affordable, universal healthcare for all Australians.

“We appreciate and understand Australians consider Medicare essential, however our consultations also show health professionals and the public understands changes need to be made from time-to-time to keep it healthy and up-to-date with modern medical practices.”

For example, Ms Ley said one in every four patients surveyed believed they, or an acquaintance, had received or been recommended a consultation, medical procedure or test that they believed to be unnecessary.

“We are having a genuine conversation with the Australian people and health professionals about what they want and expect from Medicare and we appreciate the time and effort taken by the thousands of participants in this important consultation.

“We recognise the important role clinicians undertake in keeping Australians happy, healthy and out-hospital and this work is about delivering the right balance for health professionals, patients, taxpayers and the future of Medicare in general.”

Ms Ley said the MBS Taskforce’s interim report was designed to give an update on consultations and what Australian patients and health professionals thought about current Medicare-funded health services, with further consultation to be undertaken as individual MBS items were identified for removal or rule changes.

Ms Ley said the MBS Review, combined with rolling out the Turnbull Government’s Medicare Health Care Homes and the revamped My Health Record, aimed to cut down on low-value use of MBS items through a greater focus on integrated care and stronger rules, education and compliance.

“For example, our Medicare Health Care Homes will see a patient with chronic illness sign up with one GP who will manage all of their integrated health care needs, cutting down on the potential for duplicate tests and procedures.

“The same goes with having an electronic health record that patients can use to share information with their GP, specialist, pharmacist, psychologist, practice nurse and emergency department doctor to ensure they’re all on the same page regarding everything from medical history through to recent tests, scans, prescriptions and allergies.

“In return, our work on Health Care Homes and the My Health Record will help the clinicians working on the MBS Review to ensure rules around Medicare items reflect modern, integrated clinical practice.”

Ms Ley said the results also supported the Government’s intention that the review was not just about removing low-value or outdated items from the MBS altogether, but equally ensuring the rules around a common item’s usage reflected best clinical practice targeted at the appropriate patient cohorts, with the report finding:
“Reported ‘low-value services’ were very rarely inappropriate for all patient groups; more commonly the complaint concerned the provision of services in circumstances where for that particular type of patient the benefits did not outweigh the risk or costs.”
Ms Ley said the Taskforce’s work on the removal or amendment of specific MBS items was an ongoing process and each item put forward was subject to further consultation before changes were made.

“This independent clinician-led Taskforce is committed to ensuring the right patient gets the right test at the right time.

“That’s why it has established around 40 Clinical Committees and working groups, with more than 300 clinicians actively involved in examining the MBS items they use on a daily basis to ensure we get this right first time.”

The MBS Review Taskforce’s interim report is available on the Department of Health website.

More Than 2000 Medicine Brands To Drop In Price

04 September 2016: Media Release - Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley
More than 2000 medicine brands treating common conditions will drop in price for millions of Australians from next month – some by as much as 50 per cent or more – with the Turnbull Government delivering a win-win for consumers and taxpayers.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley today announced that from October 1 2016, one-in-three medicine brands on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) would be cheaper for some consumers by as much as $20 per script per medicine – or more than $200 per year.

Ms Ley said the savings would be even higher for many Australians who took multiple medications daily.

“The Turnbull Government is continuing to deliver the largest ever reductions in the price of medicines for consumers across the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” Ms Ley said.

“Millions of Australians will benefit from these innovative reforms, with some people suffering multiple chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes and gastric reflux set to save as much as $400 per year on their medicine scripts.

“This announcement will also help ease cost pressures on a number of long-standing medicines on the PBS treating life-threatening diseases such as breast, prostate and ovarian cancer.”

For example, a non-concessional patient with diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and gastric reflux who is currently taking:

metformin for type 2 diabetes 500mg tablet twice daily;
pantoprazole for gastric reflux 40mg tablet daily;
alendronate 70 mg + colecalciferol 140 microgram tablet for osteoporosis (as per dosing instructions); and
enalapril with hydrochlorothiazide for high blood pressure 20 mg/6 mg tablet daily;
will save up to $34.19 per month on scripts, which equates to a yearly reduction of $410.28.

Ms Ley said the October 1 2016 price drops were the latest innovative reform to come into effect from the Coalition’s landmark PBS Sustainability Package, which passed Parliament last year.

More than 80 per cent – or about 1600 – of the 2000-plus brands of medicines set to drop in price next month would see a direct saving to some consumers.

The remaining 20 per cent - those priced above the general PBS co-payment of $38.30 - would see a saving to taxpayers.

“In addition to saving consumers real money cash in hand, this innovative Coalition reform will also save taxpayers nearly $900 million over the next four years by ensuring the Government isn’t overpaying for medicines either,” Ms Ley said.

“The savings from our 2015 PBS Sustainability Package are already being used to subsidise new breakthrough medicines like the $150,000 melanoma treatment Keytruda.

“It’s a win-win for taxpayers and consumers and is another example of the Turnbull Government making medicines more affordable for millions of Australians.

“However, as the health needs and costs of Australians continue to increase we still need to continue with our budget repair to protect Medicare and subsidising more medicines for current and future generations.

“We must not have a return to Labor’s day where they blocked new medicines for conditions like asthma, mental health and chronic pain from being listed on the PBS because the ALP could not afford to pay for them.

“The Coalition has made a clear commitment in Government that we will list medicines on the PBS without fear or favour if recommended by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

“That’s why today we also call on Bill Shorten and Labor to rule out a Cabinet he leads voting to block new medicines from being listed on the PBS if recommended by the Government’s independent expert committee.”

The changes deliver greater price reductions by removing the ‘originator’ or premium brand version of the drug from pricing calculations for medicines, meaning the cost of cheaper generic brands are used instead.

They come into effect from October 1 2016. Find out more

Promising Drug Leads Identified To Combat Heart Disease

September 6, 2016: UC San Diego and Monash University 
Using a unique computational approach to rapidly sample, in millisecond time intervals, proteins in their natural state of gyrating, bobbing, and weaving, a research team from UC San Diego and Monash University in Australia has identified promising drug leads that may selectively combat heart disease, from arrhythmias to cardiac failure.
Reported in the September 5, 2016 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Early Edition, the researchers used the computing power of Gordon and Comet, based at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego; and Stampede, at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin, to perform an unprecedented survey of protein structures using accelerated molecular dynamics or aMD -- a method that performs a more complete sampling of the myriad shapes and conformations that a target protein molecule may go through.

The computing resources were provided by the National Science Foundation-funded Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) program, one of the most advanced collections of integrated digital resources and services in the world.

"The supercomputing power of Gordon, Comet, and Stampede allows us to run hundreds-of-nanosecond aMD simulations, which are able to capture millisecond timescale events in complex biomolecules," said the study's first author Yinglong Miao, a research specialist with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UC San Diego and research scientist with the UC San Diego Department of Pharmacology.

Though effective in most cases, today's heart medications -- many of which act on M2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors or M2 mAChRs that decrease heart rate and reduce heart contractions -- may carry side effects, sometimes serious. That's because the genetic sequence of M2 mAChR's primary 'orthosteric' binding site is "highly conserved," and found in at least four other receptor types that are widely spread in the body, yielding unwanted results.

For this reason, drug designers are seeking a different approach, homing in on molecular targets or so-called "allosteric binding sites" that reside away from the receptor's primary binding site and are built around a more diverse genetic sequence and structure than their counterpart 'orthosteric' binding sites. Essentially, allosteric modulators act as a kind of cellular dimmer-switch that, once turned on, 'fine tunes' the activation and pharmacological profile of the target receptor.

"Allosteric sites typically exhibit great sequence diversity and therefore present exciting new targets for designing selective therapeutics," said the study's co-investigator J. Andrew McCammon, the Joseph E. Mayer Chair of Theoretical Chemistry, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, all at UC San Diego.

In particular, drug designers have begun to aggressively search for allosteric modulators to fine-tune medications that bind to G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), the largest and most diverse group of membrane receptors in animals, plants, fungi and protozoa. These cell surface receptors act like an inbox for messages in the form of light energy, hormones and neurotransmitters, and perform an incredible array of functions in the human body.

In fact, between one-third to one-half of all marketed drugs act by binding to GPCRs, treating diseases including cancer, asthma, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and heart disease.

More Targeted Therapies
Though many of the GPCR drugs have made their way to the medicine cabinet, most -- including M2 mAChR targeted drugs -- exhibit side effects owing to their lack of specificity. All these drugs target the orthosteric binding sites of receptors, thus creating the push to find more targeted therapies based on allosteric sites.

"The problem here is that molecules that bind to these allosteric sites have proven extremely difficult to identify using conventional high-throughput screening techniques," said McCammon, also a chemistry and biochemistry professor in UC San Diego's Division of Physical Sciences.

Enter accelerated molecular dynamics and supercomputing. As described in this latest study, called Accelerated structure-based design of chemically diverse allosteric modulators of a muscarinic G protein-coupled receptor, some 38 lead compounds were selected from a database of compounds from the National Cancer Institute, using computationally enhanced simulations to account for binding strength and receptor flexibility. About half of these compounds exhibited the hallmarks of an allosteric behavior in subsequent in vitro experiments, with about a dozen showing strong affinity to the M2 mAChR binding site. Of these, the researchers highlighted two showing both strong affinity and high selectivity in studies of cellular behavior. These cutting-edge experiments were performed by collaborators from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

"To our knowledge, this study demonstrates for the first time an unprecedented successful structure-based approach to identify chemically diverse and selective GPCR allosteric modulators with outstanding potential for further structure-activity relationship studies," the researchers wrote.

The next steps will involve an investigation of the chemical properties of these novel molecules by the molecular chemists from Monash, led by Celine Valant and her colleague Arthur Christopoulos.

"This is just the beginning. We believe that it will be possible to apply our combined cutting-edge in silico and in vitro techniques to a wide array of receptor targets that are involved in some of the most devastating diseases," said Valant, the study's co-lead investigator from Monash.

The above is reprinted from materials provided by University of California - San Diego. The original item was written by Warren Froelich.

Twin Study Helps Unravel The Genetic Blueprint Of The Human Brain

September 6, 2016: University of New South Wales
An internationally significant study of healthy twins, 65 years of age or older, has unlocked important clues about how genes influence the development of key grey matter structures, paving the way for a genetic blueprint of the human brain.

A team led by researchers from UNSW Medicine analysed the MRI scans of 322 individuals from the Older Australian Twins Study. The objective was to map the genetic relatedness (or heritability) of cortical and subcortical structures in their brains. These structures are responsible for functions ranging from memory and visual processing, to motor control.

"We know that genes strongly underpin brain development," says lead researcher Associate Professor Wei Wen from the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW. "But we still don't understand which specific genes are implicated, or how they contribute to different brain structures."

"In order to identify these genes, we need to first know whether they are shared by different parts of the brain, or unique to a single structure," he says. "This is the first attempt to examine genetic correlations between all of the brain's structures, using the twin design."

The UNSW-led team analysed MRI scans of 93 sets of identical twins and 68 sets of fraternal twins. These participants were all Caucasian men and women without dementia, with an average age of 70, living in the Eastern states of Australia. The scientists measured the volume of their brain structures (12 in total) and, using statistical and genetic modelling, determined the heritability for each. Heritability is the extent to which genes contribute to phenotypic, or physical, differences.

The team reported several key findings today in the journal Scientific Reports:
  • The data suggest that the volume of cortical and subcortical brain structures have moderate to strong genetic contributions (between 40 and 80%);
  • The subcortical hippocampus, which play a key role in memory processes, has a genetic contribution greater than 70% in older people;
  • Cortical structures, including the frontal lobe (movement, memory and motivation) and occipital lobe (visual processing), have genetic contributions greater than 70%;
  • There is symmetry in the brain: corresponding structures in the left and right hemispheres were influenced by the same genetic factors;
  • And finally, their data suggests that there are three genetically correlated clusters within the brain. These are regions where the same sets of genes seem to be influencing multiple structures. One cluster involves the four cortical lobe structures, while the other two involve clusters of subcortical structures.
"The presence of these three genetically correlated clusters is the most significant result, and is where the novelty of the work lies," says Scientia Professor Perminder Sachdev, a neuropsychiatrist and co-director of CHeBA at UNSW.

"It gives us a blueprint for forming a new model of the brain, subdivided into genetically linked structures. This we can apply to the analysis of big data, and use to more effectively hunt for the specific genes involved in brain development."

Sachdev says the classical twin design is an important tool for understanding whether physical or behavioural traits have a genetic determinant.

Twin studies compare the similarity of a given trait (or characteristic) between monozygotic (identical) twins, who share 100% of their DNA, and dizygotic (fraternal) twins, who share 50% of their DNA. In these studies, if a physical trait is considerably more similar for identical twins than fraternal twins, this suggests a strong genetic contribution.

Despite finding strong genetic contributions across all structures examined, Sachdev says he was surprised by the low genetic correlation between cortical and subcortical structures. These structures tended to have unique genetic determinants, and were only weakly related.

"It's a reminder that the brain is an incredibly complex organ, which cannot be treated as a homogenous structure for genetic purposes," he says.

The researchers are hopeful that their results will lead to progress in the field and a better understanding of the genetic blueprint of the human brain: "This is one of the crucial first steps that needed to be taken," says Sachdev.

"It's a long way away, but if we can understand the genetic basis for variability in human brains, we can begin to understand the mechanisms that cause these differences, and that also underpin the development of diseases in future."

Rehabilitation To Reduce Reoffending

2nd September 2016: NSW Government
High-risk offenders to attend intensive programs upon release.  A $237 million investment to reduce criminal reoffending rates in NSW will target persistent domestic violence defendants and other high-risk offenders.

It also supports ex-inmates who have served a short sentence of six months or less with intensive rehabilitation programs.

NSW Minister for Corrections David Elliott said an additional 345 psychologists, community corrections officers and other skilled staff will be employed by Corrective Services NSW as part of the record spend on rehabilitation.

“This is part of the government’s commitment to reduce the rate of adult reoffending by five per cent and also reduce domestic violence,” Mr Elliott said.

The reoffending strategy makes sure prisoners and parolees attend violence, addiction and sex offender programs once they are released into the community.

Priority domestic violence defendants will receive one-on-one case management and intervention after they are charged but before they are sentenced, as this is a high-risk period for reoffending.

There is also funding to improve exit planning and reintegration support such as housing and employment for offenders leaving prison on parole, while higher-risk offenders will be more closely monitored.

Read more about NSW Government strategies on domestic violence on theNSW Department of Justice website
New ‘Internet of Things’ network goes live
6 September 2016

Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield today launched a new Internet of Things (IoT) community network at Barangaroo as part of the inaugural Internet of Things Alliance Australia (IoTAA) ‘State of the Nation’ workshop.

The Internet of Things has the potential to transform a wide range of Australian sectors from agriculture to aged care, by placing sensors in everyday objects that can send and receive data. This data can then be analysed and used to increase the efficiency of services and develop new applications.

The Government is committed to working with industry to realise the full potential of IoT technologies and to ensure Australia takes a leadership role in this area.

The Barangaroo Community Network, developed in a partnership between the IoTAA and KPMG, will allow up to 1,000 IoT devices within a three to five kilometre range to connect to the internet. The free network is intended to help the local community, business and academia to connect devices and explore the potential of IoT technology.

The State of the Nation workshop attracted more than 200 attendees from industry, government, start-ups, academia and consumer groups.

Research undertaken for IoTAA has projected that IoT technologies have the potential to add up to $120 billion to the Australian economy by 2025.

While there are currently an estimated 6.4 billion devices connected to the internet, the development of IoT technologies will see this number continue to grow as connected devices and sensors deliver a range of benefits across many sectors including manufacturing, farming, retail, transport and health.

The IoTAA is the peak body representing a diverse group of more than 125 organisations, dedicated to empowering industry to grow Australia’s competitive advantage through IoT.

More information is available at:

Australian Industry To Benefit From Replacement Aviation Refuelling Vehicles

6 September 2016: Media Release - The Minister for Defence Industry, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP and the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne
Australian Industry to benefit from Replacement Aviation Refuelling Vehicles

The Minister for Defence Industry, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP and the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne today announced that the Turnbull Government is enhancing the capability of the Australian Defence Force to support its vital air assets through the approval to purchase a new fleet of petrol tankers and refuelling vehicles.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring the ADF has the equipment it needs to achieve the Government’s defence strategy and to create and sustain Australian Defence Industry jobs nation wide.” said Mr Pyne

“The contracts will be worth between $150 and $200 million to industry, with approximately two thirds of the work, including assembly and maintenance, to be done in Australia.” Minister Pyne said.

“This new capability will enable the Australian Defence Force to more effectively refuel and defuel its air assets, resulting in more agile and responsive defence force”

“By making and assembling these assets in Australia the government is driving jobs and growth in our local defence industry.

“The Turnbull Government is setting a new direction for the Defence Industry in Australia that, where possible and practical, we should use Australian companies to garner both the economic benefits of a thriving domestic defence sector, as well as contributing to ability of the ADF to respond to Australia’s national security requirements” Minister Pyne said.

Minister Payne said that the new aviation refuelling fleet will allow the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to efficiently and effectively refuel and defuel its entire fleet of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.

“This decision relates directly to two key concepts in the Defence White Paper, to buy and build Australian and to invest in key enablers essential for the ADF to maintain its effectiveness,” Minister Payne said.

“This project will provide the ADF with a new fleet of high capacity tankers, medium capacity tankers and elevating hydrant vehicles to be located at all military aviation bases across Australia, as well as Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth,” she said.

Business Peak Body Calls For Companies To Give Back To Students

Peak industry association, Ai Group has partnered with CSIRO to increase the number of industry professionals showcasing real-life science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills and careers in Australian schools.

The association, which represents more than 60,000 businesses, has called on industry to invest in the future workforce by getting their staff into Australian classrooms.

CSIRO’s partnership with Ai Group is through the Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools (SMiS) program which links practising scientists, mathematicians, engineers and IT professionals with students to generate interest and motivation in STEM through real-world exposure.

Of the 1972 active program partnerships across Australia, only 13 per cent of STEM professionals come from industry and corporate businesses.

Cisco, an Ai Group member, is involved in the SMiS program as part of their organisational commitment to tackle Australia’s STEM skills shortage.

Cisco Australia Vice President and SMiS mentor Sae Kwon said it was a real privilege to give back to the students that will be tomorrow’s great innovators.

“The kids are fascinated that I talk to them from other countries like Singapore over video conference, Mr Kwon said.

“It’s great to be able to talk about the cool jobs available, the great people you get to meet, the many countries you can visit and all the fun you can have working in STEM.

“I was certainly not aware of the cool jobs that exists in STEM until I started working in the field.”

AiGroup Chief Executive Innes Willox explained that participation in STEM subjects is declining but industry can do more to support the Australian economy with a robust skills pipeline.

“Our relative decline of STEM skills is holding back our national economy and causing real frustration for employers,” Mr Willox said.

According to the Ai Group and the Office of the Chief Scientist's STEM Skills Partnerships program, 75 per cent of the fatest growing occupations require STEM knowledge and skills but at the moment the number of students coming out of university is not keeping up with this demand.

CSIRO Education Manager Mary Mulcahy said students’ interest in STEM subjects is decreasing, we need to solve this early on in schooling to ensure the future workforce pipeline can meet our future demand.

“Our evidence shows that bringing real-life, hands-on STEM into classrooms results in students being more engaged in these subjects,” Ms Mulcahy said.

“Letting students know about the diversity of careers available to them is also important – jobs from accounting, construction, nursing to hair dressing all use STEM skills.

Industry also tells us that people with STEM backgrounds are more flexible and innovative and are able to take advantage of opportunities and changes in the workplace.

This will be important in the future because it is predicted that up to 44 per cent of current jobs will disappear within 20 years.

It’s part of CSIRO’s Strategy 2020 to be Australia’s innovation catalyst by increasing our engagement in education and training from school age to PhD level and the workplace to help build and equip Australia’s future STEM and innovation capable workforce.

CSIRO and Ai Group are looking for STEM professionals to get involved in the program and inspire students.

To register your interest, visit   

Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools was recently provided $10 million in funding from the Australian Government the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) partnerships with Schools initiative under the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda. The partnership between Ai Group and CSIRO came about from some work funded by Office of the Chief Scientist.

SMiSposium 2016: Partnering for the future event will be held at Doltone House on Tuesday 6 September. Come along to hear from STEM education thought leaders from the Office of the Chief Scientist, Ai Group, Cisco, CSIRO and others.  

Photo: CSIRO's Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program brings real-world STEM into classrooms.

Rolling Stones Exhibition Coming To Sydney 

6th September 2016
Sydney will play host to Exhibitionism, the multimedia exhibition celebrating 50 years of the Rolling Stones.
The exhibition celebrates the Rolling Stones' incredible recording and touring career and features their artistic collaborations in music, art and design, fashion and live performance.

500 original artefacts will be presented at the exhibition, which is making its way around the world. Sydney will be the only Australian stop on the world tour.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said the exhibition will arrive in Sydney in November 2018.

“It’s a great endorsement for Sydney as Australia’s event capital and we look forward to hosting Exhibitionism at the new International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney.”

The event showcases the technology and instruments that have passed through the band over the years, according to Rolling Stones band member Keith Richards. 

Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger said, “We've been thinking about this for quite a long time but we wanted it to be just right and on a large scale. It’s not going to be like walking into a museum. It’s going to be an event, an experience."

To find out more, visit the Rolling Stones Exhibitionism website 

Exhibitionism - The Rolling Stones is coming to Australia!
Published on Sep 5, 2016
Sign up for tickets and more information:

The Rolling Stones’ first ever major exhibition, Exhibitionism, delivered by DHL, will make its Australian debut in Sydney in November, 2018. Following its star-studded London season, which garnered rave reviews and drew huge crowds, Exhibitionism was secured exclusively for Sydney by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, in conjunction with iEC Exhibitions! and TEG Live. Exhibitionism is the largest touring experience of its kind ever to be staged, and the first time in history the band has unlocked their vast private archive. Exhibitionism tells the story of the most influential rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, allowing visitors to experience their incredible journey from their early days living together in a tiny flat to headlining the biggest stages in the world.

Heritage Listed Mamre House Restored To Its Former Glory

05.09.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
Major restoration works on the State heritage listed Mamre House in Orchard Hills are complete, following a NSW Government investment of $600,000 for the refurbishment.

Mamre House required significant structural repairs to the foundations, a major internal facelift and drainage works around the property.

“It is fantastic to see a 19th century home able to offer so much value today,” a spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said.

“Preserving heritage is important and the restoration of Mamre House ensures it will continue to be a place of great purpose for the local community.”

Mamre-House -rear
It is currently leased by CatholicCare Social Services, who help deliver many of Mamre’s community programs that include garden services, cooking and hospitality.  

Mamre House also provides a day support facility called Choices CreateAbility, which caters for individuals aged 18-65 living with a disability.

The current tenants are in the process of renovating the kitchen. Once that is complete the house and onsite cafe will be open to the public.

“CatholicCare is very appreciative of all the work that was done to restore and make the homestead structurally sound,” CCSS Community Services Director John Manouk said.

“It is an important and rich piece of our heritage to be valued and appreciated by the community.”
Major restoration began late last year and was completed on time in July.

The works were paid for through the Sydney Regional Development Fund. 

The SRDF is able to fund key heritage projects (for heritage buildings owned by the Minister for Planning’s corporation sole) from funds generated by the sale of lands owned by the Minister for Planning, which are no longer required for the purpose they were originally purchased for.

Mamre House was built between 1824 and 1832 to accommodate Charles Simeon Marsden’s family, the son of a prominent colonial.

The house has been owned by the NSW Government since 1975 and is listed on the NSW Government’s State Heritage Register.

Women Do Ask For Pay Rises But Don’t Get Them

September 5, 2016
New research from the Cass Business School, the University of Warwick and the University of Wisconsin shows that women ask for wage rises just as often as men, but men are 25 per cent more likely to get a raise when they ask.

Using a randomly chosen sample of 4,600 workers across more than 800 employers, the research is the first to do a statistical test of the idea that women get paid less because they are not as pushy as men. The researchers found no support for the theory.

The authors of the study "Do Women Ask?" also examined the claim that female employees hold back for fear of upsetting their boss, and again found no evidence for this theory either.

Co-author Andrew Oswald, Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science at the University of Warwick said: "We didn't know how the numbers would come out. Having seen these findings, I think we have to accept that there is some element of pure discrimination against women."

Various ideas have previously been suggested as to why women might be reluctant to ask for an increase in their pay packet. These include: women don't want to deviate from a perceived female stereotype, and they may fear being less popular at work.

Co-author Dr Amanda Goodall at Cass Business School said: "Ours is the first proper test of the reticent-female theory, and the evidence doesn't stand up."

When like-for-like men and women were compared, the men were a quarter more likely to be successful, obtaining a pay increase 20 per cent of the time. Only 16 per cent of females were successful when they asked.

The research uses data gathered in the Australian Workplace Relations Survey (AWRS) which covers the period 2013-14 which is a representative sample of Australian employees and workplaces.Professor Oswald said: "We realised that Australia was the natural test bed, because it is the only country in the world to collect systematic information on whether employees have asked for a rise."

The survey has the distinctive feature that it asks individuals a set of questions about whether their pay is set by negotiation with the company, whether they have successfully obtained a wage rise since joining the employer, whether they preferred not to attempt to negotiate a pay rise because they were concerned about their relationships, why they decided that, and about their levels of job satisfaction.

Using statistical methods, the authors' analysis shows that it is crucial to adjust for the number of hours worked (because part-time workers feel hesitant to 'ask'). The analysis also took into account the nature of the employer, the industry, and the characteristics and qualifications of workers.

Despite the dispiriting findings, the authors pinpointed one encouraging sign in the data -- young Australian female employees get pay hikes just as often as young Australian men.

Dr Goodall said: "This study potentially has an upside. Young women today are negotiating their pay and conditions more successfully than older females, and perhaps that will continue as they become more senior."

Benjamin Artz, Amanda H.Goodall, and Andrew J. Oswald. Do Women Ask? Warwick Economics Research Paper Series, September, 2016 Series
Opal discount for public transport transfers

5th September 2016: NSW Government
Switching between modes of public transport on your Opal card is now significantly cheaper.

Opal is removing the penalty for switching between trains, buses, ferries and light rail as part of the same journey.

The new 'transfer discount' is a $2 discount given to all adult Opal card holders, and a $1 discount given to concession card holders.

The discount targets commuters who change between modes of transport to reach their destination. It applies every time a customer taps on within 60 minutes of tapping off their previous trip - meaning an adult Opal customer who uses three transport methods on their commute will receive a $4 discount.

NSW Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance said thousands of customers who change between modes will notice savings.

“We’ve always said we want as many people to use multiple forms of transport to get around, and removing the penalty for switching modes is the best way to encourage it,” Mr Constance said.

Opal card fares will remain frozen until July 2017, which means fares won't have increased on buses and light rail since January 2014 and on trains and ferries since January 2015.

The Opal Weekly Travel Reward is also receiving an update, with customers receiving a 50 per cent discount on all fares after their eighth paid journey for the week. It applies in conjunction with the 30 per cent off-peak train fare.

Google X’s Dr Tom Insel To Deliver UNSW’s Wallace Wurth Public Lecture

06 September, 2016:   DAN WHEELAHAN

Physical activity trackers that can also monitor our mood will be increasingly used to detect, diagnose and treat mental illness, according to one of America’s top mental health experts. 

Physical activity trackers that can also monitor our mood will be increasingly used to detect, diagnose and treat mental illness, according to one of America’s top mental health experts.

Distinguished neuroscientist and psychiatrist Dr Tom Insel will deliver the UNSW Wallace Wurth Lecture: Science and Technology: New Frontiers for Helping People with Mental Illness. He will discuss the potential for the technology sector to play a central role in monitoring and cultivating mental health.

“Technology can have a greater impact on mental healthcare than on the care for heart disease, diabetes, cancer or other diseases,” Dr Insel told Chicago Ideas Week last year.

“It could transform this area in the next five years,” he said.

Dr Insel, a former Director of the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) who joined Verily (formerly known as the Life Sciences Team at Google) in December 2015, sees potential in using Google’s analytics and data-mining tools to pilot new research on mental health.

Dr Insel’s research has examined the neural basis of complex social behaviours, including maternal care and attachment. He told last year he imagines creating “sensors that give you very objective measures of your behaviour”.

“We do that already for how many steps you’ve had and your activity,” Dr Insel said, referring to wearable technology such as Fitbits, “but this would be doing it for mood, for cognition, for anxiety. It’s really actually very doable.”

The sensors would measure sleep, movement, and involve taking clinical tests in order to measure mental health. Other tools could analyse language use for early signs of psychosis.

During his tenure at NIMH, Dr Insel focused on the genetics and neurobiology of mental disorders as well as transforming approaches to diagnosis and treatment. Prior to the NIMH, Dr Insel was Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta where he was founding director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Center.  

The Wallace Wurth Lecture series is named after Wallace Charles Wurth, the University's first Chancellor.

What: Dr Tom Insel delivers the Wallace Wurth Lecture 'Science and Technology: New Frontiers for Helping People with Mental Illness'
When: 5.30pm for 6.00pm, Monday 19 September 2016
Where: Leighton Hall, The John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Kensington campus

More information about the lecture is available here. 
Booking is necessary: click here to book

New Director of the Bureau of Meteorology

Media release: 5 September 2016 - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP
Minister for the Environment and Energy

I am delighted to announce the appointment of a new Director of the Bureau of Meteorology—Dr Andrew Johnson.

A respected environmental scientist and leader, Dr Johnson is eminently qualified to lead one of the country’s most important institutions.

In his former role as Group Executive at CSIRO, Dr Johnson successfully lead research into climate, weather, water, oceans, land, urban, biodiversity and farming systems.

His trusted relationships with industry, governments and the wider community in these areas, his vision and his leadership will help the Bureau continue to maintain, develop and extend its vital services across Australia.

The Bureau of Meteorology is Australia’s national provider of weather, climate, water, ocean and space information. It has been the nation’s definitive source of weather forecasting and environmental information for more than 100 years.

Today the Bureau is one of the most trusted and widely used government services. Its website, the most popular government site in Australia, received 1.5 billion unique page views last financial year.

Forecasts, warnings and advice from the Bureau help us stay safe, be sustainable and prosper.

With a growing population and expanding infrastructure to protect, the Bureau’s services have never been more vital.

Dr Johnson has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours and PhD from the University of Queensland and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. As a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technical Sciences and Engineering he brings deep scientific credibility to this role.

I look forward to working with Dr Johnson, who has been appointed for a term of five years.

Illegal Fishing Will Not Be Tolerated

05-09-2016: AFMA
Maritime Border Command (MBC) within the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) have apprehended a foreign fishing vessel, believed to be Vietnamese, on Saturday (3 September), suspected of illegally fishing in Australian waters. The vessel was intercepted near Dianne Bank, approximately 250 nautical miles to the northeast of Cairns, and 136 nautical miles within Australia’s fishing zone. 

Officers from the Australian Border Force Cutter Storm Bay intercepted the fishing vessel and conducted an at-sea boarding and inspection. During the inspection, officers found dive equipment and approximately five tonnes of Bech-de-mer (sea cucumber).                                                                                                  
The vessel and its 16 crew were brought into Cairns today (5 September), where further investigations will be undertaken by AFMA. 

AFMA General Manager Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said Australia’s well-managed fisheries were tempting for those seeking to do the wrong thing. 

“Our strict rules and regulations mean that we have a healthy marine environment and sustainable fisheries,” Mr Venslovas said. 

“However, fishing without permission undermines the very rules and regulations in place to ensure that Australians can continue to enjoy a healthy supply of seafood for many generations to come. 

“This interception demonstrates our whole-of-government commitment to illegal fishing and sends a strong signal to those looking to plunder our resources.”

Commander MBC, Rear Admiral Peter Laver said over fishing in our waters threatens our commercial fishing interests and disturbs the delicate balance of our natural maritime ecosystems.

“MBC maintains surveillance and response capabilities throughout the Australian Fishing Zone to ensure natural resources and our unique biodiversity are protected,” Rear Admiral Laver said.

“In the last financial year we apprehended 20 illegal foreign fishing vessels and those who look to fish illegally in Australian waters should be on notice that the ABF, in partnership with AFMA, will continue to combat this illegal trade and will detect and prosecute those involved.”

More information on how Australia is working to combat illegal fishing can be found at

Australia Post Commemorates 400th Anniversary Of Hartog's Landing On The Western Coast Of Australia

7th September 2016
Australia Post commemorates the 400th anniversary of the landing on the western coast of Australia by the great Dutch explorer, Captain Dirk Hartog (1580–1621) with the release of a stamp.

Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Michael Zsolt said both stamp collectors and maritime enthusiasts alike have a fascination with this evocative period of maritime history.

"This stamp issue commemorates the landing by Dirk Hartog on the Western Australia coast during a time where maritime exploration and trade missions were often marked by perilous voyages", he said.

On 25 October 1616, Captain Dirk Hartog of the Dutch East India ship Eendracht made landfall at an island off the coast of Shark Bay, Western Australia. Hartog's ship had lost its way after setting out from Holland for Batavia in the Dutch East Indies.

This unintentional landing made the Eendracht the second recorded European ship to visit the Australian continent and the first to arrive on the western coast.

Two days later, before leaving what is now called Dirk Hartog Island, Hartog left a pewter dish inscribed with an account of his visit fixed to a wooden post at a location now called Cape Inscription.

The Eendracht continued sailing north-east, charting the Western Australian coastline, before eventually arriving in Batavia on 14 December.

The large letter rate ($2) stamp is designed by Sharon Rodziewicz of the Australia Post Design Studio and features:
A painting of the Eendracht by Western Australian-based artist Adriaan de Jong and is based on early 17th-century Dutch paintings and documents.
Chart of the Malay Archipelago, 1618 map by Hessel Gerritsz held in the National Library of Australia.
Dirk Hartog plate (detail) is reproduced from the original now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

The products associated with this stamp issue are a first day cover, sheetlet pack, medallion cover, postal and numismatic cover, sheetlet of 10 x $2 stamps and a maxicard.

The Dirk Hartog's Landing – 400 Years stamp issue is available from 13 September 2016at participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online while stocks last.

For information on the Dirk Hartog stamp and new stamp releases, visit the Australia Post Collectables website The Australia Post Collectables website is a central resource for stamp collectors and philatelic enthusiasts across the globe.

The Singing Ringing Tree

The Singing Ringing Tree is a wind powered sound sculpture resembling a tree set in the landscape of the Pennine hill range overlooking Burnley, in Lancashire, England.

Completed in 2006, it is part of the series of four sculptures within the Panopticons arts and regeneration project created by the East Lancashire Environmental Arts Network (ELEAN). The project was set up to erect a series of 21st-century landmarks, or Panopticons (structures providing a comprehensive view), across East Lancashire as symbols of the renaissance of the area.

Designed by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu of Tonkin Liu, the Singing Ringing Tree is a 3-metre tall construction comprising pipes of galvanised steel which harness the energy of the wind to produce a slightly discordant and penetrating choral sound covering a range of several octaves. Some of the pipes are primarily structural and visual elements, while others have been cut across their width enabling the sound. The harmonic and singing qualities of the tree were produced by tuning the pipes according to their length by adding holes to the underside of each.

From Tonkin Liu: The architectural competition, for “all-seeing” structures on a number of derelict, high-point sites, was organised by Mid-Pennine Arts, for the regeneration of the Lancashire Regional Park. These sites all command outstanding views of the countryside. The brief was for a landmark and a shelter, a place from which the public can enjoy the landscape. The aim is to draw city residents into the beautiful landscape that surrounds them.
From Burnley the tree’s profile will be visible on the horizon. It will appear and disappear in the mist. As the wind blows the tree begins to sing. Stories of its song would pass from mouth to ear. In cars and on foot people would make their way from the city and up the hill. The journey would be made to hear the wind make music with the singing ringing tree.

The tree is constructed of stacked pipes of varying lengths. Each layer differs from the next by 15 degrees to respond to the changing wind directions. As the wind passes different length pipes in different layers it will play different chords. Each time you sit under the tree you will hear a different song.

In 2007, the sculpture won (along with 13 other candidates) the National Award of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for architectural excellence.

Singing Ringing Tree (Panopticons). (2016, July 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia. Retrieved

Then & Now

September 6, 2016: Australian Government Department of Communication and the Arts

How our use of information technology has changed.

2.8 million households with a computer
13.5% households with internet access
7.2 million households with a computer
89% households with internet access

Devices used to connect to the internet:
Computer and laptop
6 is the average number of devices used in households to connect to the internet
[image shows desktop computer, smart television, laptop, tablet, smart phone and games console]

25% of adults accessed the internet in the previous 12 months
29% of homes with a computer use it for internet-based activity
20% of 15-17 year olds used a computer for intern
85% of adults access the internet in a typical week
Australians downloaded 1.7 million TB in the December quarter of 2015
99% of 15-17 year olds use the internet

92% of households had a fixed telephone line
29% of people had a cordless phone
43% had a mobile phone
5% had a car phone
94% if people have a mobile/smart phone

9% of employed adults used the internet for home-based work (telework)
29% had access to the internet
6% had a website homepage
2% received payment via the internet
Only 3% used videoconferencing or teleconferencing
44% of employed adults used the internet for home-based work (telework)
94% have access to the internet
48.6% have a website presence
33% receive orders online
Videoconferencing and teleconferencing is no an everyday part of work

Google was founded in September 1998
10,000 searches a day
Google now handles 3.5 billion searches a day
Which is equivalent to 40,000 searches every second!

Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.