Inbox and Environment News: Issue 282

September 25 - October 1, 2016: Issue 282

Road Construction Contractor Fined $15,000 For Water Pollution At Frenchs Forest

Media release: 21 September 2016 - EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued a $15,000 fine to Ferrovial Agroman (Australia) Pty Ltd for water pollution, after sediment laden waters flowed into the Trefoil Creek from the road construction site of the Northern Beaches Hospital Connectivity and Network Enhancement Project in Frenchs Forest.

Ferrovial Agroman are the major partner of a joint venture with York Civil Pty Ltd for the Northern Beaches Hospital Connectivity and Network Enhancement Project - the Ferrovial York Joint Venture. As the minor project partner York Civil received an official caution for the water pollution incident.

EPA Director Metropolitan Giselle Howard said companies have a responsibility to ensure all works by subcontractors are undertaken in accordance with the company’s environment protection licence and measures are taken to prevent pollution. 

"A subcontractor was drilling at the construction site to relocate telecommunications cables on 22 April 2016 when the drilling struck a redundant stormwater drain. 

"An estimated 12,000 litres of drilling mud then left the construction site through the stormwater drain and flowed onto bushland and Trefoil Creek, impacting the local environment. 

"The EPA required the company to clean up sediment from the local bushland and the creek and take required actions to prevent any further pollution. 

"The subcontractor and Ferrovial York undertook works to seal the redundant stormwater pipe so that drilling works could recommence without causing further pollution.

"However, on the 5 May the EPA was informed that the sealing of the stormwater pipe partially failed and approximately 2,000 litres of additional drilling mud flowed into Trefoil Creek. 

"The EPA again required the companies to clean up the sediment from the local bushland and the creek and this was promptly undertaken.

"The EPA does not believe that adequate measures were taken, following the initial incident, to prevent a reoccurrence of drilling mud discharge to Trefoil Creek and issued a penalty notice."

The Ferrovial York Joint Venture holds an environment protection licence issued by the EPA for this project. This licence does not permit pollution of waters. The $15,000 penalty notice was issued on 2 September 2016 for the breach of this licence.

Penalty Notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions.

The EPA takes a range of factors into account before delivering a proportionate regulatory response including the degree of environmental harm, whether or not there are any real or potential health impacts, if the action of the offender was deliberate, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

For more information about the EPA's regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy

Phorocantha recurva (yellow longicorn) beetle or longhorned beetle - Spring 2016 in Clareville this week

Members of this family are known as long horned or longicorn beetles due to the long antennae possessed by most adults. Most have antennae at least two thirds as long as their bodies, while some species have antennae much longer. Longicorn beetles range in size from about 3 to 80 millimetres in length and usually appear elongate and flattened, although some may be more rounded. Adults have prominent mandibles and kidney shaped eyes, which partly surround the base of the antennae. Many adult longicorn beetles are known to feed on pollen while others may eat leaves or bark.

Green Globe Awards Finalists Announced 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016: Media Release - NSW Department of Environment and Heritage
NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman today announced the finalists for the 17th Green Globe Awards, which recognise environmental excellence, leadership and innovation.

This year’s finalists come from a wide variety of sectors including education, local government, community groups, large and small businesses, property management and banking, with strong representation from regional NSW.

“I am thrilled by the extraordinary calibre of the 33 finalists from 10 different categories and congratulate them on their ideas, passion and exemplary commitment to protecting our environment,” Mr Speakman said.

“The Green Globe Awards celebrate the work of NSW organisations and individuals leading the way in making our state a place where people and nature thrive.

“The finalists are movers and shakers of NSW, who inspire us all to take action in caring for our local environment through small and meaningful changes in our everyday activities.”

An independent judging panel of NSW environmental leaders assessed all nominations to choose the finalists. Judges include chief executive officers, policy managers, professors from leading universities and industry association groups.

The Green Globe Award winners will be announced on Thursday, 27 October at the Art Gallery of NSW.

More information about the 33 finalists is available online at

Fewer Homes Among The Gum Trees New Research Warns

20 September 2016: University of Melbourne

Corymbia papuana, credit Freya Thomas
Australians could see fewer suitable environments for the country’s iconic eucalypt trees within a generation, according to a new international research project.

The findings, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, paint a stark picture with the habitat of more than 90 per cent of eucalypt species set to decline, with 16 species forecast to lose their home environments entirely within 60 years, due to climate change.

The study was led by the University of Canberra and included experts from the University of Melbourne, Colombian Agricultural Research Corporation- Corpoica, National Research Collections of Australia – CSIRO, University of California, Berkeley, University of Grenoble Alpes, France, National Science Foundation in the US, University of New South Wales, The Australian National University, James Cook University, Macquarie University, Griffith University, University of Queensland; and the Australian Museum.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, Dr Laura Pollock and Dr Heini Kujala led the computer modelling work on eucalypt habitats. 

The team used over 260,000 geospatial data points from eucalypt specimens stored in Australia herbaria and accessed through Australia’s Virtual Herbarium. This information was used to create models of current locations and preferred environmental conditions for 657 species of eucalypt trees.

“Once we had developed the models, we could then determine which areas in Australia would be climatically suitable for the species in the future, as the climate changes,” Dr Kujala said.

“Our study found that the majority of the eucalypt species are predicted to shift towards coastal areas, and further south along coastal regions. Many other species groups, such as birds and mammals, that are dependent on eucalypts, are also likely to follow.

“This will mean that for many rare species, conservation efforts will increasingly focus on coastal regions where human population density is also highest. This may lead to increased conflicts between conservation and different land use needs in the future."

Associate Professor Bernd Gruber of the University of Canberra’s Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE), one of the co-authors of the report, said the study was the first to examine the impact of climate change on the distribution of a large group of closely related tree species at a continental scale.

“This study demonstrates the importance of not simply counting the number of species in biodiversity conservation, but also considering their evolutionary history, which determines how closely related species are to each other,” Dr Gruber said.

“Using this approach we were able to identify hotspots that will contain high levels of eucalypt diversity under a changing climate, both in terms of the number of species and their reflection of the trees’ evolutionary pathways. Protecting these hotspots will be important to ensure we retain biodiversity in the future.

“We predict that a three degree rise in temperature over the next 60 years would see a decline of suitable habitat for 91 per cent of the 657 species of eucalypts we studied.

“As a consequence, the distribution of many species will change, and we expect trees suited to temperate and southern Australia to be hit particularly hard, contracting to more climatically suitable areas further south or at higher elevations.

“At least 16 species would have suitable climatic zones disappear altogether.”

The research found that rare, evolutionarily ancient trees which have existed for a long time will feel the brunt of climate change.

“There will be a cascading effect on biodiversity, but the impact of climate change will certainly be felt by most of these iconic tree species,” Dr Gruber added.

“Our analysis suggests that only nine per cent of eucalypt species have the potential to increase their distribution over the same time period.”

Dr Gruber and IAE colleague Carlos González-Orozco acknowledged the important collaboration with world leading experts.

“Dr Andrew Thornhill formerly of the National Research Collections of Australia – CSIRO and now based at the University of California, Berkeley, obtained DNA from the leaves of over 700 eucalypt species, many of which are cultivated in Australian Botanic Gardens. This facilitated the task to gather material more easily to create the world’s most complete evolutionary tree of Australian eucalypts,” Dr González-Orozco said.

“I would also acknowledge Dr Laura Pollock from the University of Melbourne, currently at the University of Grenoble Alpes, France, for her work using super computer infrastructure to enable the modelling of the climatic distribution of all 657 species on a continental scale at a very high level of detail.”

Carlos E. González-Orozco et al. Phylogenetic approaches reveal biodiversity threats under climate change, Nature Climate Change (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3126 

Twitchers Delight As Rare Ospreys Nest Near Georges River

Media release: 19 September 2016- NPWS
An eagle-eyed National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) officer has photographed a pair of rare and endangered Eastern Ospreys nesting at the very southern edge of their known breeding range, near Georges River in Sydney's South.

NPWS Regional Manager Gary Dunnett said the sighting is great news for the species as they are not known to breed this far south and may indicate they are repopulating a greater area of their range.

"The Eastern Osprey is quite magnificent to see in flight but despite a wingspan of up to 1.7 metres, they are still much smaller than the White bellied sea eagle," Mr Dunnett said.

"The species is uncommon to rare or absent from closely settled parts of south-eastern Australia so for this part of Sydney to have a breeding pair in the area is really very special.

"The fact that an apex predator such as Ospreys are nesting is also a great sign about the environmental health of the Georges River system.

"These birds favour coastal areas where they hunt for fish to feed their growing brood.

"It was not possible to see the number of chicks these birds are tending but they usually incubate 2-4 eggs.

"I am looking forward to seeing the chicks fledge in a month or so and hope they too stay in the area when they fly the nest," Mr Dunnett said.

For more information on Osprey visit.
Photo Credit: G Dunnett OEH
Unacceptable that coal mine assessment is being based on secret biodiversity offset rules

22 September, 2016: Media Release - Nature Conservation Council (NSW)
The NSW government has hit a new low with revelations it is using a “secret” planning assessment tool that has never been made public to assess biodiversity impacts of a major new coal mine near Singleton in the Hunter Valley. 

The United Wambo Open Cut Coal Mine Project will destroy 464 hectares of bushland, half of which is Central Hunter Valley Eucalypt Forest, a federally listed endangered ecosystem that is home to Koala, Spotted-tailed quoll, and other threatened species.

“It is utterly scandalous that the NSW government is using a policy that only public servants and mining companies have seen to assess the biodiversity impacts of a massively destructive project,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

“We can have no faith that biodiversity values of the Hunter are being properly considered when the public does not even know what criteria is being used to assess the impacts of this project.

“Where is the commitment to transparency and openness? Where is the commitment to good governance? Where is the commitment to preventing extinctions of our unique wildlife? The planning system in NSW has hit a new low.”

The application, which has been developed in close consultation with the Planning Department, proposes using rehabilitated mine site to meet 56% of its biodiversity offset required for the Central Hunter Valley Eucalypt Forest.

“That is an extraordinary overuse of mine rehab given that scientists have raised serious concerns about the ability to rehabilitate degraded mine lands. It doesn’t even meet the NSW Government’s poor offsets policy for mines,” Ms Smolski said.

“This proposal has been developed in close consultation with the Department of Planning and OEH. These departments have collaborated in the development of a proposal that plainly breaches the government’s own standards and threatens to make endangered species locally extinct.

“The significant uncertainty around the biodiversity assessment and offsetting rules that apply to the project means this project should not proceed until the Upper Hunter Strategic Assessment is finalised and made publicly available.

“We demand that the government use only laws that have been subject to public scrutiny and comment to assess any development proposals in NSW.”

  • United Collieries Pty Limited (United) and Wambo Coal Pty Limited (Wambo) operate neighbouring mining operations about 16km west of Singleton in the Hunter Valley.
  • They hope to develop the United Wambo Open Cut Coal Mine Project by combining the existing open cut operations at Wambo with a proposed new open cut coal mine at United, extracting 150 million tonnes (Mt) of run-of-mine coal over 23 years.
  • The development will result in clearing 464 hectares of bushland, half of which is Central Hunter Valley Eucalypt Forest, a critically endangered ecological community under the Commonwealth Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act that could become extinct in 45-60 years if threats (like mining) continue. 
  • The forest is habitat for Koala, Spotted-tailed quoll, which are nationally listed threatened species.
  • The proponent plans to meet 56% of the required biodiversity offset credits for Central Hunter Valley Eucalypt forest through mine rehabilitation. NSW offset policy allows for 25% of offsets on mine rehab.
  • This proposal has been developed in close consultation with the Department of Planning and OEH. These departments have collaborated in the development of a proposal that plainly breaches the government’s own standards and threatens to make endangered species locally extinct.
  • Link to the project page on the Planning Department website:

Wettest August Since 2003 With More To Come

20 September, 2016: Media Release - NSW Department of Primary Industries
Map Rainfall Relative to Historical Records August 2016
The wet weather is set to continue throughout September to November after the State saw the wettest August in 13 years.

Areas of NSW Northern Tablelands, north coast and the Hunter Valley received more than 100–200 mm during August, whilst areas of the Central West, Central and Southern Tablelands, Riverina, far south and North West received between 50–100 mm.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Seasonal Conditions Coordinator Ian McGowen said during August most of the State received above average rainfall.

“77 per cent of NSW received wetter than normal conditions” said Mr McGowen.

Relative to historical records August pasture growth was well above average across most of northern, north eastern, western and central NSW and near average across the remainder of the state. Pasture growth was restricted in some areas of the tablelands, far south east and far west, with some areas in central and southern NSW experiencing waterlogging.

“The early sown winter crops continue to show the best potential, with yields in better drained areas or on lighter soils likely to be average to above average,” said Mr McGowen.

“In some areas of the Central West and Riverina crop losses from 10-30 per cent of sown area to complete crop failure have occurred. Pulse crops have been worst affected.

“The wet conditions have greatly increased crop disease problems such as yellow leaf spot and stripe rust in wheat and net blotch and bacterial stripe in barley.

“Pulse crop diseases such as Ascochyta blight and Botrytis grey mould in chickpeas are also significant threats to production.”

Across most of the state, stock condition remain reasonably positive, with supplementary feeding declining as pasture growth improved.

“The wet conditions have contributed to issues with foot scald, bloat and increased worm burdens for livestock producers,” Mr McGowen said.

During September wetter than normal conditions are likely across the southern areas of the central west, the western areas of the Riverina, areas of the far south and the southern half of the far west.

DPI Water, Manager Surface Water, Brian Graham said rain bands continue to track regularly across NSW producing strong runoff, storage improvements and increased water allocations.

“High priority entitlements across the State’s regulated river valleys have received full or near full allocations, and allocations to general security licences are improving from a generally low start to the year,” Mr Graham said.

Independent PAC To Make Final Decision On Drayton South Coal Project

9.09.2016: Departmental Media Release  Author: The Department of Planning and Environment
The independent Planning Assessment Commission will now make the final decision on the Drayton South Coal Project as the Department of Planning and Environment refers its final assessment report on the project, with recommended strict conditions.
This is the second Drayton South Coal Project proposal and the Department’s assessment found the coal mining and thoroughbred stud industries have operated as neighbours for decades without major impact on either industry. 
“Based on independent reports, new evidence, and considering the proposed mine now complies with the Commission's original minimum setback by remaining behind two natural ridgelines on the site, the Department has concluded that, with appropriate management and mitigation measures, the two industries can continue to operate in proximity,” a spokesperson said.
“Findings from the independent Commission’s two earlier assessments as well as responses from the community, the company, the Hunter thoroughbred industry, and agencies to these earlier processes have also been considered.
“As a result of this extensive assessment, the Department has recommended the project be approved by the Commission subject to strict and updated conditions, including an ongoing liaison committee to establish and strengthen relationships between Anglo American and the two key neighbouring studs.”
The Department has also recommended 23 detailed conditions to manage dust, noise, blasting and water including:
  • strict air quality criteria and management requirements to ensure dust emissions are minimised
  • stringent noise criteria and management requirements to ensure that construction, operational, low frequency, road and rail noise are minimised 
  • strict blast criteria and management requirements to ensure that blasting is undertaken in a safe and controlled manner that minimises impacts on the surrounding environment and nearby studs
  • comprehensive water management performance measures and management requirements to minimise surface and groundwater impacts.
The Department commissioned an independent peer review to provide an impartial third party assessment of the most likely impacts of the project on the nearby studs and broader thoroughbred industry. The review considered Anglo American’s response to the Commission’s Review Report and additional information provided by the thoroughbred industry
This independent review was conducted by Professor Jeff Bennett of the Australian National University, an environmental economics expert, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a Distinguished Fellow of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society. 
Professor Bennett acknowledged the importance of Coolmore and Darley Studs to the Upper Hunter thoroughbred industry and the Upper Hunter’s “comparative advantage as a location.” However, Professor Bennett found, “the Studs’ operational potential will not be compromised by the Drayton South operation” and “the physical off-site effects of the Project (like dust and noise) have been acknowledged as within accepted guidelines”. 
Overall, Professor Bennett’s findings indicate there are “good profit based reasons for the Studs to stay in their current locations” and that “the benefits of the Project will exceed its costs”.
As well as this independent expert review, in preparing its final detailed assessment the Department has also closely considered:
  • a new expert review commissioned by Anglo American, into the likelihood the studs will relocate and associated implications for the thoroughbred industry 
  • new submissions from the Hunter thoroughbred industry and neighbouring studs
  • community submissions in support of and opposition to the proposal
  • the findings of the independent Commission’s 2015 Review Report
  • updated advice from the Department of Industry accepting that the mine’s final landform proposals meet contemporary best practice standards 
  • updated advice from the Office of Environment and Heritage on impacts on biodiversity and accepting the mine’s proposed biodiversity offsets. 
“The Commission will now consider the Department’s report and recommended conditions as well as community submissions in making its final decision,” a spokesperson from the Department said.
“The Commission is an important part of the NSW planning system ensuring major developments are subject to expert, independent review and assessment.
“All state significant coal mines operating in NSW are subject to regular inspections and audits by the Department of Planning and Environment’s compliance officers, who are able to issue the highest on-the-spot fines in the country.”

Secretive Assessment For Glencore-Peabody Coal Mine ‘Super-Pit’ Must Be Re-Done

September 22, 2016: Media Release - Lock the Gate aaliance
Lock the Gate has made a scathing submission against the proposed new United Wambo coal mine between Warkworth and Jerry’s Plains in the central Hunter Valley saying it is based on secret information that has not been disclosed to the public and the mine risks pushing a critically endangered ecological community towards extinction. 

Georgina Woods said, “Despite financial question marks hanging over Peabody Australia and despite detailed assessment material being kept secret from the public, the NSW Government seems to be rolling out the red carpet to rush through this ill-considered project.

“Our analysis shows that proposed United Wambo pits will clear over 200 hectares of a critically endangered forest that occurs only in the Hunter.

The conservation advice for the listing of the critically endangered Central Hunter Eucalypt Forest warned that the community could be extinct in 45-60 years if key threatening actions are taken, and lists avoiding further clearing for mining as a first priority for its preservation.

“The proponent is attempting to apply the secretive ‘Upper Hunter Strategic Assessment’ to get approval for this mine, a process which has not been finalised and has never been seen by the public.

"The offsetting arrangements they propose are in violation of established offsetting policy, promising ‘rehabilitated’ mine areas as replacement vegetation for most of their destruction of intact native bushland.

“This mine project is the epitome of NSW’s failed mining laws.  The NSW Government is going to allow nationally unique bushland to be destroyed by a company that is teetering on the precipice of financial ruin.

 “We’re calling for the flawed environmental assessment documents to be withdrawn and more studies conducted on the impacts of the project as well as urgent investigation into the financial viability of Peabody to undertake such a project,” she said.

In 2015, Peabody Australia made a $3b loss, and auditor Ernst & Young has warned of doubts about the Australian company’s ability to keep operating as a going concern. 
Owner of Shen Neng 1 to pay Commonwealth $39M following out of court settlement

19 September 2016: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
The Australian Government has won a significant legal challenge and reached a $39.3 million dollar out of court settlement with the owners of a Chinese coal carrier that ran aground in April 2010 causing the largest known direct impact on the Great Barrier Reef.

For more than six years, Shenzhen Energy Transport Co Ltd and its insurer refused to accept their responsibility for restitution after the 225-metre long, fully laden Shen Neng 1 ran aground 100 kilometres east of Rockhampton at Douglas Shoal.

Our ongoing actions to pursue funds to clean-up the pollution sends an unambiguous signal that damage to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is unacceptable, and that we will use every available means to pursue ship owners who are negligent in causing damage to the Reef.

The funds, sufficient for the clean-up, will allow the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to initiate field operations to remove toxic anti-fouling paint and rubble, which will enable the restoration of the natural ecological processes of the reef.

The anti-fouling paint at Douglas Shoal contains a highly toxic component known as tributyltin (TBT), which is now banned from use. The paint also contains copper and zinc. Impacts to marine life on the seafloor could potentially last for many decades if the toxic anti-fouling paint remains in place.

Logistical planning for the clean-up has already begun, however due to the deep nature of Douglas Shoal and its exposure to strong tidal currents, work can only safely take place at certain times of the year. Allowing for seasonal weather, the clean-up operation will begin in mid-2017.

The terms of settlement mean $35 million will be paid to the Commonwealth for the cost of removing polluted rubble while a further $4.3 million will also be paid to cover costs incurred by the Australian Government in the immediate aftermath of the grounding.

Heatwaves In The Ocean: Risk To Ecosystems?

September 19, 2016
Did you know that heatwaves not only occur on land, but also in the sea? We all remember the record-breaking European heatwave in summer of 2003: forests burned, rivers dried up and more than ten thousand people in Europe died as a result of the extremely high temperatures. The marine environment -- and in particular the organisms -- also suffer from heat stress. Two exceptional heatwaves in the ocean during the past few years have alarmed us scientists. Humans will also feel their consequences in the long term.

Heatwaves in the Northeast Pacific
An unusually long-lasting warm water bubble -- nicknamed 'The Blob' -- spread across the surface of the Northeast Pacific from winter 2013/2014 to the end of 2015. The warm water bubble at times measured up to 1,600 kilometres in diameter and had water temperatures of more than 3 degrees Celsius above the long-term average. Because warm surface water has a lower density than the cold deep water, the exchange of nutrient-rich deep water with warm surface water was reduced, especially along the west coast of North America. This had far-reaching consequences for marine organisms and ecosystems: the growth of phytoplankton decreased due to the reduced supply of nutrients, and some zooplankton and fish species migrated from the warm and nutrient-poor water to cooler regions. By contrast, researchers found pygmy killer whales in the North Pacific for much longer than usual: this tropical whale species is usually observed 2,500 kilometres further south.

And on the west coast of Australia
A stronger but shorter heatwave hit Australia's west coast at the turn of the year 2010/2011, with sea temperatures of up to 6 degrees Celsius above normal levels for that time of year. The seabed along the coast of Western Australia is known for its high concentration of brown algae. These marine 'kelp forests' have similar functions as terrestrial forests: they provide habitat and food resource to numerous species; in particular a large number of fish. Australian researchers demonstrated that most of the kelp forest stocks rapidly disappeared during this heatwave. In total, an area of 1,000 square kilometres of kelp forest was lost -- this corresponds to twice the size of Lake Constance. Today, algae stocks haven't recovered yet. Instead, a new ecosystem with tropical fish and seaweeds has developed.

Risks for marine ecosystems?
We have known for some time that extreme weather and climate events on land, such as heatwaves, shape the structure of biological systems and affect their biogeochemical functions and the services they provide for society in a fundamental manner. It is also known that heatwaves affect a number of biological systems, including humans, more strongly than slower changes in the average temperature. This has to do with the fact that such extreme events push organisms and ecosystems to their limits of their resilience and beyond, potentially causing dramatic and irreversible changes.

The two extreme events in the North Pacific and along the west coast of Australia detailed us for the first time that marine heatwaves can also lead to a number of unprecedented ecological and socioeconomic consequences. For example, it revealed that a large number of fish moved to colder northern waters. Escaping to cooler ocean depths is often not an option because deeper depths lack sunlight, oxygen and plants for food. This may ultimately lead to losses for both the fishing and tourism sectors.

Looking ahead
As the world's oceans continue to warm, marine heatwaves are likely to become more frequent and intense. Observations and model simulations also demonstrate that other factors such as ocean acidification and deoxygenation are putting additional stress on marine organisms and ecosystems.

Until recently, climate models were unable to accurately represent the relevant physical and biogeochemical processes to simulate extreme events in the ocean and predict future changes. The uncertainties in future projections, particularly at the regional scale, were simply too large. New model simulations linking the global carbon and oxygen cycle with high-resolution physical processes now enable us to make quantitative predictions about the frequency, strength and spatial distribution of future extreme events in the ocean for the first time. And this is precisely what my scientific research focuses on. But in order to better understand the impact of these extreme events on individual organisms or entire ecosystems and their socioeconomic services, interdisciplinary collaborations are urgently needed. Research on understanding such events is only just beginning.

Journal References:
Thomas L. Frölicher, Keith B. Rodgers, Charles A. Stock, William W. L. Cheung. Sources of uncertainties in 21st century projections of potential ocean ecosystem stressors. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2016; 30 (8): 1224 DOI: 10.1002/2015GB005338

Emanuele Di Lorenzo, Nathan Mantua. Multi-year persistence of the 2014/15 North Pacific marine heatwave. Nature Climate Change, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3082

Department Decision On Champions Quarry Modification Application

20.09.2016: Departmental Media Release_Department of Planning and Environment
The Department of Planning and Environment has partially approved a modification application to change the project approval for Champions Quarry near Lismore, having considered issues raised during public consultation in its assessment.
Champions Quarry 2 Pty Ltd proposed modifications to four aspects of the quarry’s existing project approval. The Department has approved modifications to three of the four aspects:
  • public road maintenance contributions for Lismore Council can continue to be calculated with scales fitted to front-end loaders, which weigh materials transferred from the quarry. As an alternative, the quarry is still permitted to build and use a truck weighbridge.
  • an internal road connecting the central and southern extraction areas of the quarry will now be watered to manage dust, rather than being sealed.
  • boundaries identified in the Biodiversity Offset Strategy have been amended to better protect existing vegetation on site.
The company also sought to change the required frequency of Community Consultative Committee (CCC) meetings, however the Department determined this condition should remain unchanged. This means that the CCC will continue to decide the frequency of its meetings.
A spokesperson from the Department said consultation with the community is enshrined into the process for assessing applications.
“The modification application was publicly exhibited for community feedback during March 2016,” a spokesperson said.
“Key issues raised during public consultation include dust emissions, the ongoing need of the CCC and the accuracy of using scales as a measurement method.
“The Department has closely considered potential dust impacts on the local community and is satisfied that watering the internal haul road is a satisfactory and practical alternative to sealing.
“The accuracy of scales for weighing quarry products has also been considered. The Department is satisfied that accuracy will be maintained provided the company appropriately manages these processes, as outlined in its application, and required by the Department through a condition in its approval.
“The Department has thoroughly assessed the modification application under clear and consistent rules.”
For more information visit

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:


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.

Wilderness Horse Riding

Draft amendments to plans of management
Draft amendments to the plans of management for Far South Coast Escarpment Parks, Kosciuszko National Park and Mummel Gulf National Park and State Conservation Area are on public exhibition until 31 October 2016.

The plans of management for the above parks were amended in 2014 to enable a pilot program to trial horse riding in wilderness areas. The trial concluded in April 2016 and is currently being evaluated. The draft amendments propose to allow horse riding to continue in the same locations until 31 December 2017 while the evaluation is undertaken.

Have your say
To view the draft amendments, visit the Environment NSW website.

Online Consultation
Date: Sep. 16 - Oct. 31, 2016
Time: 9:00am — 5:00pm

More Information

Resupply Contingency Plans For Early Sea-Ice Retreat

21st September 2016: Media Release - Australian Antarctic Division
The Australian Antarctic Division is putting in place contingency plans for an aerial resupply of Davis station after an early retreat of Antarctic winter sea-ice coverage this year.

A view of Davis station from the sea ice. (Photo: Rob Cullen)

The sea ice began its retreat four weeks earlier than normal, after its lowest winter maximum on record of 18.5 million square kilometres.

Operations Manager at the Australian Antarctic Division, Robb Clifton, said the sea ice retreat is being factored into the season plan.

“Each year we normally do an over-ice resupply at Davis station at the start of the season using heavy machinery to move cargo and people across to station,” Mr Clifton said.

“While our regular drilling program on the sea-ice in front of Davis is still showing it's thick enough to drive on, we may have to use helicopter sling loads if the ice isn’t solid enough when Australia’s icebreaker Aurora Australis arrives at the beginning of November.”

Additionally the satellite imagery is showing some fast-ice, which is sea-ice connected to the land, is breaking up earlier.

“The fast ice off Davis is sheltered between the surrounding islands, which usually reduces the likelihood of the ice breaking out early,” Mr Clifton said.

“The Antarctic Division is used to working in a highly variable Antarctic environment, with sea-ice, ocean conditions, wind speeds, temperature and visibility often changing rapidly.

“We build as much flexibility and contingency into our shipping and aviation operations as possible to cope with a range of eventualities.”

The Aurora Australis sails for Davis on voyage 1 on 27 October.
Contractor fined for illegal logging on a private property near Kempsey

Media release: 20 September 2016 - EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined a forestry contractor $3,300 for illegally logging trees on a private property at Dondingalong near Kempsey on the Mid North Coast.

The EPA investigated the contractor and issued the fine following an incident of illegal logging on the property.

EPA Acting Director of Forestry Brett Nudd said EPA officers followed up shortly after the incident occurred and were able to collect strong evidence against the contractor for the offence, including photos and GPS coordinates of the site.

“A site inspection and interviews with the offender confirmed that the contractor had deliberately chosen to cut down five Blackbutt trees on the private property, despite knowing it was against the law,” Mr Nudd said.

“Under the Native Vegetation Act 2003 it is an offence to log trees without prior approval from the EPA. The logging contractor had decades of experience in the NSW forestry industry and was well aware of his legal obligations.”

“The EPA is committed to protecting forest areas across NSW and we encourage ecological sustainable harvesting practices. Illegal logging like we’ve seen in this case risks both environmental protection and sustainability so it needs to stop.”

The community can play an important role in helping the EPA to monitor forestry activities. If you have a concern about illegal logging or knowledge of a particular incident, report it to the Environment Line on 131 555. Environment Line reports are confidential and can be made 24hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information about the EPA’s role in regulating private native forestry in NSW visit:

Penalty notices and fines are just some of the regulatory tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance. For more information about other regulatory tools download a copy of the EPA’s Compliance Policy.

Govt’s Own Report Shows Overwhelming Opposition To Proposals That Increase Land Clearing

20 September, 2016: Media release - Nature Conservation Council (NSW)

The Nature Conservation Council is calling on the Baird government to abandon plans to loosen land clearing controls after the government’s own analysis of public submissions revealed overwhelming opposition to its legislative package.

The government’s analysis found that at least 5,350 of the 7,166 submissions to the draft legislation were made by supporters of the Stand Up For Nature Alliance, which opposes to government’s plans to scrap the Threatened Species Conservation Act and Native Vegetation Act. [1]

Conservation groups, wildlife groups, scientific bodies and researchers made a further 175 submissions expressing a range of concerns, including the likelihood that the proposals would increase extinction pressure on threatened species.

“The results of this analysis show the Baird government has no support for loosening land clearing controls and putting our native wildlife under more threat,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said. 

“This is another example of Premier Baird pushing through changes without community support.

“Mr Baird has outsourced the state’s environmental policy to the most radical elements of the National Party and the NSW Farmers.

“Only 150 of the 7,166 submission received were identified as coming from the farming sector, which goes to show these changes are not being made in response to a groundswell of support from the farming community.

“These backwards reforms have been crafted to further the interests of a vocal minority who stand to make money from land clearing.

“The laws the government is proposing will further the short-term interests of big agribusiness and property developers, not the communities and wildlife in regional areas that depend on healthy soils, waterways and bushland for their long-term survival.

“Mr Baird should scrap this flawed package and either fund Local Land Services to make the Native Vegetation Act work as intended, or go back to the drawing board and come up with another way to provide workable, strong protections for nature in NSW.”

The report indicates that environment groups, scientists, environmental consultants, community groups, local councils and individuals, including some individual farmers, shared a wide range of concerns, including that:

  • the proposed legislation puts development ahead of conservation (p9)
  • the Biodiversity Conservation Bill should be amended to ensure that biodiversity is conserved or improved (p8)
  • the Local Land Services Amendment Bill would not ensure adequate protection of biodiversity (p10)
  • Endangered Ecological Communities could be cleared under codes (p15)
  • the “improve or maintain” standard had been removed (p10)
  • set-asides (biodiversity offsets) need to protected in perpetuity (p15)
  • codes should be limited to low-risk clearing and not used for broad-scale clearing (p13)
  • landholders lack expertise in identifying environmental values (p13)
  • expanded clearing distances for allowable activities were not justified (p 12)
  • the proposed codes would allow the clearing of paddock trees without approval (p14)
Individual farmers:
“Some individual farmers expressed concern that the aim of the maintaining or improving native vegetation in New South Wales was not included in the objects of the Bill” (p8)

“The Encroaching Native Vegetation Code allows clearing for 900ha in 1000ha and is self-assessable which can allow for dramatic land clearing rather than proper land management (p115)

[1] NSW Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation Reforms: Summary of submissions report,
Options for a continuing permanent year-round presence on Macquarie Island to be considered

16 September 2016: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
Earlier this week the Director of the Australian Antarctic Division announced a shift to summer-only activities and a greater use of field huts to undertake research on Macquarie Island.

It was made clear that there would be no job losses or budget savings from this change as funding would be redeployed to other priorities within the Australian Antarctic Division.

Following the announcement, I have had further consultations with key stakeholders including the Bureau of Meteorology, the Premier of Tasmania and my Federal parliamentary colleagues. I have now asked my department to provide me with options to ensure a permanent all-year-round presence on the island is maintained. In the meantime, operations on Macquarie Island will continue as normal.

The Turnbull Government has made an unprecedented financial commitment to Antarctic science and research including the announcement on 28 April this year of $1.9 billion for a new - world class - ice breaker. On top of this, the Coalition committed an additional $255 million in funding over the next ten years to greatly enhance Australia’s Antarctic operations and science capabilities; this includes $55 million for important infrastructure and $200 million for the ongoing Australian Antarctic Program.

Tasmania’s Macquarie Island will remain an important part of the Government’s climate science and Antarctic research agenda.

New Science Released By FRDC

20 September 2016: AFMA
The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) has today released the report, Critical knowledge gaps: estimating potential maximum cumulative anthropogenic mortality limits of key marine mammal species to inform management.

The report assesses known information about a range of marine mammals such as seals, sea lions and dolphins.  The report provides expert advice on population status of these marine mammals and information about the resilience to human induced mortality.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) makes decisions about fisheries management using the best available science and data.  Consistent with this approach, AFMA will consider this report when making future decisions on Commonwealth fisheries management.

AFMA will consult with stakeholders such as relevant management advisory committees, resource assessment groups, scientific panels and the Commonwealth Marine Mammal Working Group to seek their views on any proposed fisheries management changes as a result of the findings of the FRDC report.

The report, including a summary of key findings, can be found
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

Scientists Uncover Insights Into The Formation Of Earth’s Oldest Continental Crust

September 19, 2016

Samples of the world's oldest precisely dated rock. Credit: Image courtesy of University of Alberta
Addressing fundamental unknowns about the earliest history of Earth's crust, scientists have precisely dated the world's oldest rock unit at 4.02 billion years old. Driven by the University of Alberta, the findings suggest that early Earth was largely covered with an oceanic crust-like surface.

"It gives us important information about how the early continents formed," says lead author Jesse Reimink. "Because it's so far back in time, we have to grasp at every piece of evidence we can. We have very few data points with which to evaluate what was happening on Earth at this time." In fact, only three locations worldwide exist with rocks or minerals older than 4 billion years old: one from Northern Quebec, mineral grains from Western Australia, and the rock formation from Canada's Northwest Territories examined in this new study.

While it is well known that the oldest rocks formed prior to 4 billion years ago, the unique twist on Reimink's rock is the presence of well-preserved grains of the mineral zircon, leaving no doubt about the date it formed. The sample in question was found during fieldwork by Reimink's PhD supervisor, Tom Chacko, in an area roughly 300 kilometres north of Yellowknife. Reimink recently completed his PhD at the University of Alberta before starting a post-doctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington, D.C.

"Zircons lock in not only the age but also other geochemical information that we've exploited in this paper," Reimink continues. "Rocks and zircon together give us much more information than either on their own. Zircon retains its chemical signature and records age information that doesn't get reset by later geological events, while the rock itself records chemical information that the zircon grains don't."

He explains that the chemistry of the rock itself looks like rocks that are forming today in modern Iceland, which is transitional between oceanic and continental crust. In fact, Iceland has been hypothesized as an analog for how continental crusts started to form.

"We examined the rock itself to analyze those chemical signatures to explore the way that the magma intrudes into the surrounding rock." One signature in particular recorded the assimilation step of magma from Earth's crust. "While the magma cooled, it simultaneously heated up and melted the rock around it, and we have evidence for that."

Reimink says that the lack of signatures of continental crust in this rock, different from what the early continents were expected to look like, leads to more questions than answers. Reimink says one of the biggest challenges as a geologist is that as we travel back in time on Earth, the quantity and quality of available evidence decreases. "Earth is constantly recycling itself, the crust is being deformed or melted, and pre-history is being erased," remarks Reimink.

"The presence of continents above water and exposed to the atmosphere has huge implications in atmospheric chemistry and the presence or absence of life. The amount of continents on Earth has a large chemical influence both on processes in the deep Earth (mantle and core) and at the Earth's surface (atmosphere and biosphere). There are constant feedback loops between chemistry and geology. Though there are still a lot of unknowns, this is just one example that everything on Earth is intertwined." "No evidence for Hadean continental crust within Earth's oldest evolved rock unit" appears in the October issue of Nature Geoscience.

J. R. Reimink, J. H. F. L. Davies, T. Chacko, R. A. Stern, L. M. Heaman, C. Sarkar, U. Schaltegger, R. A. Creaser, D. G. Pearson. No evidence for Hadean continental crust within Earth’s oldest evolved rock unit.Nature Geoscience, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2786

Have Your Say On The 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)
Abalone and lobsters seized as DPI apprehends offenders on NSW South Coast

21 Sep 2016: NSW Department of Primary Industries
A Sydney man illegally trafficking 575 abalone and a NSW commercial lobster fisher who exceeded his quota are facing prosecution after being caught in separate alleged incidents on the NSW South Coast.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries Officers from the Statewide Operations and Investigations Group arrested the Sydney man, 59, at Ulladulla on the evening of 17 August.

The arrest was part of a lengthy investigation, named Operation STROBE, into the illicit trade in abalone from the NSW South Coast to Sydney receivers.

DPI Acting Senior Fisheries Investigator Matt Cartwright said the 575 abalone were seized as well as the alleged offender’s vehicle and other documentation related to illegal fishing.

“It is also alleged that 166 of the abalone were of a prohibited size,” he said.

“Investigations are continuing and other persons involved in the alleged illegal abalone network may also be charged.”

In a separate incident on Sunday 31 July this year, a NSW commercial lobster fisher was apprehended for a range of offences at Kiama.

During a targeted inspection of the commercial fisher by DPI Fisheries, numerous alleged offences were detected, including contravening quota, re-using tags and supplying false and misleading information.

Mr Cartwright said a quantity of live eastern rock lobsters, lobster tags and commercial logbooks were seized from the commercial fisher.

“All of the seized lobsters were returned to the water alive,” he said.
“As a result of the number of offences detected, it is anticipated that the fisher will be prosecuted.”

The commercial lobster fishery is a high-value, share-managed fishery that involves an annual quota system. Fishers need to tag all eastern rock lobsters they take and complete a logbook outlining the details of their catch.

There are strict regulations in place to ensure these obligations are met by commercial fishers in order to effectively manage the sustainability of this resource.

Commercial lobster fishers found guilty of lobster related offences can also face the possibility of having their shares in the fishery forfeited.
Both Abalone and Lobster are listed as a priority and indictable species under the Fisheries Management Act. A range of tough penalties apply to persons found committing offences involving these species.

Persons convicted of trafficking Abalone or Lobster can receive a maximum of 10 years as well as a monetary penalty up to 10 times the market value of the fish.

Hurricanes, Storm Surges And Icebergs: How Warmer Seas Are Changing Our Planet

September 20, 2016
Severe hurricanes, storm surges and an increase in the number of icebergs are just some of the changes planet Earth has experienced due to warming oceans over the last 20 years, according to a new report.

The report, Explaining ocean warming: causes, scales, effects and consequences, which was presented at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii recently (5 September 2016), has found the upper depths of the world's oceans have warmed significantly since 1995.

A chapter of the study, led by Professor Grant Bigg and Professor Edward Hanna from the University of Sheffield's Department of Geography, has revealed how this increase in sea temperatures has changed global weather patterns.

The Sheffield scientists have shown that the rise in ocean temperatures has caused an increase in the number of severe hurricanes and typhoons, such as Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005, and Typhoon Haiyan, which caused massive destruction in the Philippines in 2013.

Hurricanes have even been observed in the South Atlantic for the first time since satellite records began in the 1970s. The area was traditionally viewed as an unlikely region for hurricane formation because of its cooler sea surface temperatures, however in 2004 conditions were more favourable than normal due to warmer ocean temperatures, spawning Hurricane Catarina off the coast of Brazil.

The report also shows that warmer seas have resulted in a significant loss of ice in the Arctic region. The atmosphere in the polar regions has warmed at about twice the average rate of global warming with Arctic coasts experiencing a rise in the occurrence of storm surges.

This increase in storm surges can have a detrimental effect on fragile ecosystems in the area, such as low relief tundra, underlain by permafrost, according to the report.

Warmer oceans have also caused a distinct change in El Niño events -- the warmer currents associated with the cycle have now been observed towards the central Pacific rather than the west, according to the Sheffield scientists.

Professor Grant Bigg, from the University's Department of Geography, said: "Many people may associate warmer seas with the pleasant weather conditions they're used to experiencing while on holiday, but the fact of the matter is that an increase in sea temperatures is having a huge impact on the world's weather.

"Our study has shown that severe hurricanes, storm surges, melting ice in the Arctic region and changes to El Niño are all being caused by sea temperatures rising across the planet. These are all things that can have a devastating impact on the way we live our lives.

"We hope that this research, together with studies presented by our colleagues in Hawaii this week, will help to shape the response of conservation and sustainable development to ocean warming."

The report also predicts what implications warming seas may have for our planet in the near future if current trends continue.

The continued warming of tropical oceans is likely to cause stresses on ecosystems, such as coral bleaching, and stronger tropical cyclones. It may also cause changes to climate over land, which could reduce crop production as temperatures rise.

This research is part of a report on ocean warming by some of the world's leading climate change scientists. The report was presented at the IUCN's World Conservation Congress in Hawaii on 5 September 2016. 

For more information on the IUCN's World Conservation Congress, please visit:
EPA fines Qube Ports Pty Ltd for water pollution in Newcastle

Media release: 20 September 2016: EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Qube Ports Pty Ltd $15,000 after fertiliser was spilled into Newcastle Harbour.

This is the third time Qube has been fined by the EPA for a water pollution incident. On all three occasions, Qube employees have used bucket cranes to unload fertiliser from vessels but, due to poor cargo handling practices and inadequate environmental controls, fertiliser spilled into the harbour or was placed in areas where it could be washed, blown or fall into the harbour.

NSW EPA Acting Hunter Region Manager Karen Marler said it was unacceptable that Qube had not rectified its behaviour after the first two offences but that the company had now taken steps to improve its practices.

“Since the company was issued with this fine, Qube has taken positive action, including training staff to better understand how to prevent water pollution,” Mrs Marler said.

“Poor handling practices and inadequate environmental controls are contributing to high nutrient levels in the harbour and Hunter River. Fertiliser spills can cause algal blooms and harm and disrupt estuarine ecosystems.”

EPA officers observed the latest breach during unannounced inspections of Qube’s unloading of urea from a vessel at the Kooragang No. 2 Berth between 29 July and 2 August 2016.

“The EPA will continue to inspect cargo handling operations to ensure Qube and other stevedores handle products like fertiliser properly and keep environmental impact front of mind in all of their harbourside operations,” Mrs Marler said.

The EPA also met with Port of Newcastle Operations, Qube and the Kooragang Berth 2 Port user group to reinforce the need for better management of material loading operations to prevent these type of incidents occurring.

Qube was fined under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 for water pollution.

Penalty notices are just one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings, legally binding pollution reduction programs and prosecutions.

For more information about the EPA’s enforcement work visit

Australia No. 10 on world health scorecard, but alcohol & weight pose challenges

22 September 2016
Australia has come in at No. 10 of a global study tracking progress on health, but faces challenges around suicide, alcohol consumption and overweight children. 

Timor-Leste, Tajikistan, Colombia, Taiwan and Iceland have made the greatest strides in areas such as expanded health coverage, and malaria and tobacco control; while Brazil has almost halved deaths of children under five.

The study, by the international Global Burden of Disease (GBD) collaboration, published today in The Lancet, analyses the progress of 188 countries, over a 15-year period, towards achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on health. 

Countries were ranked on a scale of zero to 100, with Iceland topping the list at 85, Australia at 81, the United States at 75, and the Central African Republic — one of the 10 poorest countries in the world — at 20. 

Unexpected results included India ranking 143rd, despite rapid economic growth; and the United States performing more poorly than other high-income indicators  such as alcohol consumption, childhood overweight and death from violence. 

Lead author, Laureate Professor Alan Lopez, the Rowden-White Chair of Global Health and Burden of Disease Measurement at the University of Melbourne, said the findings were important for policymakers for allocating domestic health spending, prioritising foreign aid budgets, and benchmarking themselves against other countries. 

“Income, education and birth rates are behind a large part of health improvement,” said Professor Lopez, who is the co-founder of the Global Burden of Disease study and leads Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Data for Health Initiative. 

“But there is a lot to learn from the countries that have shown the biggest improvements, especially in how they have managed economic development with investments in improving universal health coverage.”

Australia scored 63 on Overweight, 55 on Suicide, 54 on Alcohol and 66 on Smoking.

The Global Burden of Disease collaboration is the largest and most comprehensive effort to quantify health loss across place and time. It has more than 1800 researchers in nearly 130 nations and territories.

Read: Measuring the health-related Sustainable Development Goals in 188 countries: a baseline analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31467-2

On Migrant Welcome Wall

September 20, 2016: ANMM
Welcome Wall unveiling ceremony
25 September 2016, Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour

Around 900 people are expected to attend a special ceremony at the Australian National Maritime Museum on Sunday 25 September to see 882 new names unveiled on the museum’s migrant Welcome Wall. The Welcome Wall stands in honour of all those who have migrated from around the world to live in Australia.

Special guest at the unveiling ceremony will be Dr Hari Harinath OAM Chair, Multicultural NSW who will reflect on his own family’s migrant history and the importance of multiculturalism in Australia.

Dr Harinath will be joined by two migrant speakers who have placed names on the wall. Ilse Fait will honour her parents who were Donau Schwaben (ethnic Germans) and migrated from Serbia in the mid-1950s and Lin Hu will share the story of his family’s migration from China in the 1980s.

Australia is a multicultural nation with 44 per cent of its population born overseas or with a parent who was born overseas. The museum’s Welcome Wall is a celebration of this diversity.

Today’s Australians are invited to pay tribute to migrant family members and friends by having their names inscribed on the bronze paneled wall. They can also reflect on a new life downunder by adding their own names.

For each name, people can contribute a brief (150-word) story about the person being honoured to describe their journey. The name appears on the wall and the brief biographical note is available on a kiosk at the museum and on the Welcome Wall website -

The National Maritime Museum considers the arrival of waves of migrants on these shores to be one of the major themes in Australia’s maritime history.  It has built the Welcome Wall on its northern boundary, facing Darling Harbour and Pyrmont Bay where many new settlers arrived. 

The 882 new names will bring the total number of names on the wall to 28293. Of these 7693 are from England, 3472 from Italy, 1614 from The Netherlands, 1611 from Germany, 1533 from Scotland, 1306 from Ireland and 1255 from Greece.  In all, more than 200 countries are represented.

The Australian National Maritime Museum on Darling Harbour is open daily from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm. For further information call 02 9298 3777.

NSW Government Invests $340 Million In Quality Teaching

September 21, 2016: NSW Government
The new Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2017-2020 covers student education from kindergarten until they complete their HSC.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said the new strategy was about helping students succeed with extra support where they need it.

 “The skills of reading, writing and numeracy are crucial – particularly in the first few years of school. Everything a student achieves in school depends on a solid foundation in these skills,” Mr Baird said.

 The NSW Literacy and Numeracy Strategy includes:  

  • expert early intervention support for the literacy and numeracy skills of at-risk kindergarten to Year 2 students in nearly 700 schools
  • evidence-based literacy and numeracy progressions that map student learning from kindergarten to Year 10
  • ‘Best Start’ Year 7 literacy and numeracy assessments on entry to high school to identify students needing additional assistance and plan the support they need to succeed
  • ensuring graduating primary and secondary teachers are better prepared to teach literacy and numeracy due to strengthened teacher education programs.
All literacy and numeracy skills in NSW schools will be taught explicitly and reported regularly so parents can understand their child’s progress and teachers can better identify areas needing improvement. Explicit teaching means teachers clearly show students what to do and how to do it, rather than having students discover or construct information for themselves.

Read more about the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy
Government orders further 16 forced sales of properties illegally held by foreign nationals

19 September 2016: Media Release - Hon. Scott Morrison, Treasurer of the commonwealth of Australia

Treasurer the Hon. Scott Morrison has ordered the divestment of a further 16 Australian residential properties that have been held by foreign nationals in breach of the foreign investment framework, taking the total purchase price of Australian residential real estate divested to over $92 million.

“The divestments of these 16 properties, which have a combined purchase price of over $14 million, are further evidence of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to enforcing our rules so that foreign nationals illegally holding Australian property are identified and their illegal holdings relinquished,” Mr Morrison said.

“Foreign investment provides significant benefits for Australia but we must also ensure that such investment benefits all Australians, is in-line with our rules and is not contrary to our national interest.

“The 16 properties were purchased in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia with prices ranging from approximately $200,000 to $2 million. The individuals involved come from a range of countries including the United Kingdom, Malaysia, China and Canada.

“The foreign investors either purchased established residential property without Foreign Investment Review Board approval, or had approval but their circumstances changed meaning they were breaking the rules.

“Since taking office in 2013, the Coalition Government has forced foreign nationals to divest a total of 46 properties. Under the previous Labor government, no foreign nationals were forced to divest illegally held Australian property.

“These divestments are a reminder that the Coalition Government's increased compliance measures, which include transferring responsibility for residential real estate enforcement to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), are working to ensure our foreign investment rules are being enforced.

“Since the Government's transfer of responsibility to the ATO for compliance in May 2015, over 2,200 matters have been referred for investigation. Through information provided by the public, together with the ATO's own enquiries, approximately 400 cases remain under active investigation.

“Since a new penalty regime was introduced from 1 December last year, 179 penalty notices have been issued, totaling over $900,000. Penalty notices have been issued to people who have failed to obtain FIRB approval before buying property as well as for breaching a condition of previously approved applications.

“Illegal real estate purchases by foreign citizens attract criminal penalties of up to $135,000 or three years' imprisonment, or both for individuals; and up to $675,000 for companies. The new rules also allow capital gains made on illegal investments to be forfeited.

“In addition to divestments, a number of people came forward during the reduced penalty period who were not in breach and some who voluntarily sold their properties while the ATO was examining their case. There are at least 25 examples of foreign investors self-divesting in this way showing a change in behaviour towards more compliance with the rules and a strengthening of the program overall.

“While Australia welcomes foreign investment, foreign investors must comply with our laws,” Mr Morrison said.

Welfare System Shake-Up Must Invest In Older People

September 22, 2016: by National Seniors
National Seniors says any reform of the welfare system needs to ensure that assistance for older people is maintained.

The federal government this week announced the first stage in a new Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare that uses new data to identify and target groups most at risk of long-term welfare dependency.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter said that for the first time, government had evidence of exactly what was happening to people in the welfare system, down to very small groups.

“The future foundation measure of success must be whether we can improve individual prospects for a better life, made meaningful by employment, community contribution and self-reliance,” Mr Porter said.

The key to creating better policy will be the $96 million Try, Test and Learn Fund, which will enable organisations to compete for a chance to try a policy that proposes to create a path out of the welfare system.

“Young carers, young parents and young students will be the initial priority groups to receive additional support through the fund.

“In the longer term, government will be looking at innovative early intervention strategies, targeted supports and services for other groups across the Australian population, including for older age groups.”

National Seniors Chief Executive Dagmar Parsons said an investment approach that helps people find jobs and break their welfare dependency has the potential to deliver positive results.

“For older people, this new approach must help address the challenges of mature age workforce participation,” Ms Parsons said.

“Early intervention to address youth unemployment is important, but we equally need investment to better support older workers find a job.”

Ms Parsons also said that new approaches needed to reflect the income support needs of those already retired.

“Greater self-reliance is a worthwhile goal but we would be concerned if this led to a sudden change to income support for older people.

“For pensioners and other low-income retirees, government income support is a key determinant on their well-being.”

Advocating For Better Aged Care Services

16 September 2016: Media Release - The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP
Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

Advocates and consumers are being encouraged to have their say to help inform the design of future aged care advocacy services that focus on individual advocacy support. 

The Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP said the consultation period on the draft National Aged Care Advocacy Framework is now open.

“Advocacy is a fundamental element of the aged care system, and consumers of aged care services, their families or representatives have the right to participate in decisions about the services they receive and to have their views heard,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The recent review of Commonwealth aged care advocacy services looked at how individual advocacy can best support consumers to access and interact with the aged care system, including supporting them to have increased choice and control.

“The development of this Framework was a key finding of this review and will help support a nationally consistent approach to the delivery of Commonwealth-funded advocacy services for aged care consumers.

“This process is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to giving older Australians greater choice and control over their aged care needs.”
Minister Wyatt has also announced a short-term extension of funding to advocacy providers.

“To allow time to gather early perspectives on the draft Framework, existing providers delivering advocacy services under the National Aged Care Advocacy Program and Commonwealth Home Support Programme will have their funding extended to 30 June 2017,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This will also allow an open funding round to be held later this year with the new advocacy program to be implemented from 1 July 2017.”

Submissions on the draft Framework close on 7 October 2016 and can be made through the consultation hub on the Department of Health’s website. Information regarding the advocacy open funding round will be made available on the Department’s Tenders and Grants webpage. The final report for the Review is available on the Department of Health’s website.

Dementia Diagnosed Every 3 Seconds Worldwide

21 September 2016: Media Release - The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP
Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

Every 3 seconds one person worldwide is diagnosed with dementia – a group of conditions, which affects over 350,000 Australians and 46 million people worldwide.

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day – a day that aims to increase awareness about dementia and the most common form, Alzheimer’s.

Assistant Minister for Health & Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, MP said, “This is a condition that affects an individual’s cognitive function, with no known form of prevention or a cure.

“Dementia has life altering consequences, not only for the person living with it, but it also has a heavy toll on their family and friends.

“In Australia, we have about 200, 000 informal family carers involved in the care of a person living with dementia and this number is only going to increase.

“It’s important if you notice a loved one acting out of the ordinary, showing symptoms of confusion, memory loss, and personality changes that you know help is available.” 

Dementia is the greatest cause of disability in Australians 65 years of age and over, however it doesn’t discriminate. It could strike at any age, Assistant Minister Wyatt said. 

Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s thinking, behaviour, memory, and the ability to perform everyday tasks. The early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and more broadly dementia are very subtle and can sometimes go unnoticed for months or even years. 

Dementia can be diagnosed by your general practitioner through a series of assessments, as there is no single test that is able to diagnose the condition. 

The Australian Government recently provided $3.9 million to Alzheimer’s Australia to provide a Dementia Friendly Communities Program. 

The Dementia Friendly Communities Program will deliver community awareness programs to give people an increased understanding of dementia and the support services that are available.

World Alzheimer’s Day will further complement the work being done throughout September for Dementia Awareness Month, which encourages Australians to find out more about living with dementia and what you can do to increase the quality of life for someone living with the condition. 

For more information about dementia, please visit the Fight Dementiawebsite, or visit your general practitioner.

NCAT: Guardianship: “Managing My Sister’s Affairs” 

Published on 13 Sep 2016  Justice NSW
In this scenario, Steffi wants to apply to be appointed as her sister’s guardian. Her sister, Lena, has dementia. Steffi also wants to be appointed as Lena’s financial manager to allow her to look after Lena’s financial and legal affairs. This video shows how NCAT hears a typical guardianship and financial management matter for a person with decision-making disability. For more information visit

International Expert Supports Calls For Urgent Action On Dementia

19 September 2016: Media Release - Alzheimer’s Australia
One of the world’s leading dementia experts starts a national speaking tour in Sydney today to support Alzheimer’s Australia in their call for a fully-funded, national strategy to tackle the growing challenge of dementia, which affects the lives of seven in 10 Australians.1

Dr Ronald Petersen is the Director of the US Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and was appointed by US President Barack Obama’s Administration to head up the Advisory Council for the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), which is an integrated national plan to overcome Alzheimer’s disease in the US by 2025.
Dr Ronald Petersen, who was also Ronald Reagan’s personal physician and treated the former President of America’s Alzheimer’s disease, said dementia is undoubtedly the biggest health and care challenge facing the world today.

“The NAPA, which is the first of its kind in the US, has enabled opportunities for significant advancements in our efforts to combat Alzheimer’s disease by focusing everyone in America’s attention to the challenges of dementia. It is a robust framework with measurable, publically-reported outcomes that transcends the political cycle,” Dr Petersen said.

“It also resulted in a historic increase in federal funding for research from $450 million at the beginning of NAPA to $991million in 2016 to tackle Alzheimer’s disease, focusing on increasing and sustaining funding for research and supporting people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and their families. 

“The value of a national approach to addressing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease not only has the potential to create the same success that has been demonstrated in the fights against other diseases, such as influenza and pneumonia, it allows governments to assess whether the nation is meeting the challenges of the condition, for people living with dementia, their families, for communities as well as the nation’s economy.”
Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO Maree McCabe said with 353,800 Australians currently living with dementia and that figure expected to rise to more than 900,000 by 20502, drastic action was needed on dementia now.

“Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia3, the Federal Government has officially named it a National Health Priority, yet Australia still does not have a National Dementia Strategy to tackle this issue,” Ms McCabe said. 

“As a nation, we simply cannot ignore the impact this disease is having on the lives of Australians. There is both a social and economic imperative to take a more national, holistic approach, as has been done in other countries such as the US and the UK, so people affected by dementia can experience much better outcomes.” 

Alzheimer’s Australia has, for some time, been calling for a strategic, coordinated National Dementia Strategy with measurable outcomes based on the National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019. The Framework identifies key areas for action but without funding and long term commitment little progress will be made in developing better supports for people with dementia. A National Dementia Strategy would focus on:

  • Increasing awareness to reduce stigma and social isolation associated with dementia
  • Risk reduction strategies which look to partner with other health promotion campaigns sharing common risk factors
  • Timely diagnosis, to connect people with dementia to the support and services they need sooner
  • A coordinated approach to post-diagnosis care and support
  • Initiatives to improve the quality of care for people with dementia
  • End-of-life care to support the choices of people with end-stage dementia
  • Investment in dementia research and support for consumer involvement in dementia research
Dr Petersen was also appointed to the World Dementia Council in 2014 by the then UK Prime Minister, David Cameron. The World Dementia Council unites leading experts from across the global dementia community to find solutions to the devastating condition. 

Dr Petersen will be conducting a national speaking tour from 19 - 23 September visiting Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide presenting on the latest insights and findings in dementia research, the importance of early diagnosis, as well as current diagnostic techniques, how the diagnosis is made, treatment options and future directions.

Dr Petersen’s Australian visit is part of Alzheimer’s Australia’s Dementia Awareness Month, held annually throughout September and supported by the Australian Government. 

This year’s Dementia Awareness Month theme is ‘You are not alone’. World Alzheimer’s Day in on Wednesday 21 September. 

Can Nicotine Protect The Aging Brain?

September 20, 2016: Texas A&M University
Everyone knows that tobacco products are bad for your health, and even the new e-cigarettes may have harmful toxins. However, according to research at Texas A&M, it turns out the nicotine itself -- when given independently from tobacco -- could help protect the brain as it ages, and even ward off Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.

Ursula Winzer-Serhan, PhD, an associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, and her collaborators found that nicotine's ability to be neuroprotective may be partly due to its well-known ability to suppress the appetite. Their research is published in the Open Access Journal of Toxicology.

Using animal models, Winzer-Serhan and her collaborators added nicotine to the animal's drinking water. There were three different groups that received nicotine at three different concentrations (low, medium and high) corresponding to occasional, low and medium smokers, respectively, in addition to a control group that did not receive any nicotine.

The two groups that received nicotine at low and medium doses didn't show any levels of the drug in their blood and they experienced no changes in food intake, body weight or number of receptors in the brain where nicotine acts. In contrast, the group getting the highest concentration of nicotine ate less, gained less weight and had more receptors, indicating that at higher doses, the drug gets into the brain where it can impact behavior. However, even at high doses, it didn't seem to have worrying behavioral side effects like making the individuals more anxious, which the researchers were concerned could happen.

"Some people say that nicotine decreases anxiety, which is why people smoke, but others say it increases anxiety," Winzer-Serhan said. "The last thing you would want in a drug that is given chronically would be a negative change in behavior. Luckily, we didn't find any evidence of anxiety: Only two measures showed any effect even with high levels of nicotine, and if anything, nicotine made animal models less anxious."

The next step is to test nicotine's potential anti-aging effects using aged animal models. Although early results indicate that nicotine can keep older individuals from gaining weight like the control group does, Winzer-Serhan hasn't yet determined whether this lower body mass index translates into less degeneration of the brain. It is also unclear if nicotine's effects are related only to its ability to suppress appetite, or if there are more mechanisms at work.

Because there are still so many unknowns, Winzer-Serhan urges caution. "I want to make it very clear that we're not encouraging people to smoke," she said. "Even if these weren't very preliminary results, smoking results in so many health problems that any possible benefit of the nicotine would be more than cancelled out. However, smoking is only one possible route of administration of the drug, and our work shows that we shouldn't write-off nicotine completely."

Still, Winzer-Serhan cautions people not to purchase nicotine-containing products just yet. "Although the results are intriguing, we would need large-scale clinical trials before suggesting anyone change their behavior," she said. "At the end of the day, we haven't proven that this addictive drug is safe -- and it certainly isn't during childhood or adolescence -- or that the benefits outweigh the potential risks."

Investing In People – Improving Lives

20 September 2016: Media Release - The Hon. Christian Porter MP, Minister for Social Services
Today the Coalition Government announced the first stage in a new approach aiming to revolutionise the welfare system by focusing on improving the individual lives of people trapped in it.

The new approach analyses data assembled from a variety of sources, and the first wave of this data is presented in a Baseline Valuation Report.

Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, said for the first time government had evidence of exactly what was happening to people in the welfare system, down to very small groups.

“For the first time in history through the Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare, we have a clear, transparent and detailed profile of the welfare system,” Mr Porter said.

“This information allows us to identify and target those groups most at risk of long-term welfare dependency.

“Revolutionary change is required, but required in stages, which shifts the focus on to real people for whom the mere passive receipt of welfare is failing, sometimes spectacularly, to actually make their lives better.”

The baseline valuation is constructed collating welfare information collected over the last 15 years, along with data from the ABS and other sources.

It then applies the type of algorithmic and actuarial analysis used in insurance industries to predict the likely movements on, off and between welfare payments for specific groups of people over their future lifetime, and the likely welfare cost of target groups.

The analysis shows that there are a number of groups who have particularly poor outcomes, such as:

  • For 11,000 young carers, it is expected, on average, they will access income support in 43 years over their future lifetime;
  • For 4,370 young parents it is expected, on average, they will access income support in 45 years over their future lifetime; and
  • For 6,600 young students it is expected, on average, they will access income support in 37 years over their future lifetime.
The analysis also shows the total estimated future cost of the welfare system for Australia’s current 24 million people is $4.8 trillion.

“While this is a large figure, the more important purpose of our data system is to allow us to identify what happens to people in receipt of welfare with the highest risks of long-term dependency and to analyse the impacts of policy designed to help those people break cycles of welfare dependency,” Mr Porter said.

“The outcomes highlighted from the report are particularly concerning for the young people identified. Nobody wants to see a life spent in the welfare system from a very young age.

“The moral imperative here is to move away from being content with policy approaches that just spend more money because that is the way it has always been done.

“Our data is quite clearly showing us this does not improve lives, and that must be our goal.

“The future foundation measure of success must be whether we can improve individual prospects for a better life, made meaningful by employment, community contribution and self-reliance.”

The key to creating better policy will be the $96 million Try, Test and Learn Fund, which will enable organisations to compete for a chance to try a policy that proposes to create a path out of the welfare system.

Mr Porter said the fund will be open by the end of the year for not-for-profit organisations, governments, social policy experts and industry to pitch their ideas.

“Government will consult on how the Fund should operate to best encourage innovative proposals from a wide range of stakeholders,” he said.

“Young carers, young parents and young students will be the initial priority groups to receive additional support through the Fund.

“In the longer term, Government will be looking at innovative early intervention strategies, targeted supports and services for other groups across the Australian population, including for older age groups.”

The underlying data from the Australian Priority Investment Approach will help foster innovation throughout society. Social policy experts and service providers outside Government will also be provided access to de-identified information developed for the approach, available through a secure website.

Subsequent annual valuation reports are due each year, with the final valuation report to be completed by the current provider, PwC, in 2018. From 2019, the Department of Social Services will take on the responsibility of producing annual valuations.  

The full report can be found on the Department of Social Services website –  

Getting Western Sydney Residents Off Congested Roads, Into Local Jobs

20 September 2016: Media release- The Hon Angus Taylor MPAssistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation
The daily commute of outer suburban residents to the CBDs of our cities will only reduce when the right jobs are offered closer to homes.

Hundreds of thousands of residents leave Western Sydney every day for jobs closer to Sydney’s CBD.

Assistant Minister Taylor said the Commonwealth was working closely with state and local governments to create new, high growth industries in outer suburbs and regional cities, as well as specialised job precincts, to incentivise people to work locally.

Touring Nepean Engineering on Tuesday, a manufacturing operation at Narellan near Camden which employs 200 staff, Assistant Minister Taylor said high growth, small to medium sized businesses, were central to creating rewarding, competitive industries.

“Advanced manufacturing in southwestern Sydney is already booming. The new Western Sydney Airport will be the catalyst for a larger logistics and advanced manufacturing precinct, to drive more local employment opportunities.  

“Companies such as Nepean Engineering are well positioned to take advantage of the economic activity that will develop around the new airport. The Camden area is set to grow from 80,000 residents (2016) to 224,000 (2036) in coming years and that huge population growth will require new locally based employment.”

Assistant Minister Taylor said job precincts based on like-minded industries, for example health (Westmead precinct), or education (University of Western Sydney), offered great potential for jobs closer to homes.

In NSW, ‘industry hotspots’ represent only 1.2% of the geographic area in the state, but account for 12% of all jobs (312,500 jobs) and deliver more than 26% of new jobs. *NSW Jobs for the Future

Western Sydney Airport is expected to create more than 60,000 direct jobs and a further 27,000 in surrounding business parks in coming decades. More than 430 people are currently employed on road upgrades around the airport site.

Research To Reverse Spinal Cord Injury Offers Renewed Hope To Thousands At UTS

16 September, 2016: By University of Technology Sydney(UTS)
Research aiming to reverse the paralysing effects of spinal cord injuries that devastate the lives of countless Australians and their families will soon begin at UTS.

A new Centre for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine being established in the Faculty of Science will build on astonishing research results produced by UCLA-based scientist Dr Reggie Edgerton, welcomed to the Faculty this week by new Dean of Science, Professor Judith Smith.

Tweny paralysed people have so far had the ability to mover limbs for the first time after chronic spinal cord injury through novel new techniques pioneered by the US researcher. Results for the first twelve of these subjects have been published.

Professor Edgerton presented his discoveries to guests at a major research fundraising event launching Project Edge and and then a packed public forum hosted by UTS this week.

He was joined by neuroscientist Professor Bryce Vissel who'll lead the University’s newest science research initiative. Taking a transdisciplinary approach to its work, the centre will also seek novel treatments and cures for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, further enriching UTS as a centre of innovative future-focused health research.

Professor Vissel urged guests and VIPs at the event to call for and contribute to the substantial funding needed for the research which is offering the first new solutions supporting recovery in decades.

“Every day in Australia another person is paralysed from a spinal injury due to a vehicle accident, sporting injury or simple fall,” Professor Vissel said. “Promising therapies such as Professor Edgerton’s will finally be tested with people here who so desperately need them.  We will take a multi-disciplinary approach and collaborate with a broad range of scientists, designers and engineers at UTS to deliver real solutions,”
Professor Edgerton’s first four patients who received epidural stimulators recovered hand movement, bladder and bowel control, sexual function and the ability to stand – never previously achieved following a devastating SCI.  

The people behind Project Edge. Photo by Carmen Lee Platt
Celebrity journalist Kerri-Anne Kennerley, whose husband John suffered partial quadriplegia from a simple accident this year shared her tragic personal experiences with the audience at the UTS public event and sent an equally urgent call for research funding and for people to donate to Project Edge.

“What Professor Edgerton has achieved is truly astonishing.  As one who is faced with seeing the impact of spinal cord injury on a loved one, I am so proud of UTS and SpinalCure Australia for bringing this ground-breaking to Australia and giving us such real reason for hope of a better life,” Ms Kennerley said.

UTS is working with SpinalCure Australia (SpinalCure) and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) to support focused integrated research in neurological disorders such as spinal cord injury.

Professor Edgerton has agreed to collaborate with UTS to establish trial and develop his groundbreaking research in Australia.  His work offers hope to the 15,000 Australians currently paralysed by spinal cord injuries and the hundreds of thousands worldwide. His work could also benefit people living with other mobility conditions caused by stroke or Parkinson’s.

“After meeting with Bryce and the team at UTS, I came to the view that UTS is the only program, worldwide, that together with our established program in the US, has the capacity, commitment, breadth of expertise and community support to develop the technology and take it forward to the next phase,” Prof Edgerton said.

Epidural electrical stimulation is one of the most promising avenues of research in spinal injury. The treatment, (described as like “currents of electricity jump-starting the spinal cord”) involves the implantation of a small electrode array against the spinal cord below the site of injury.

Professor Edgerton has developed a new generation of electrical stimulation that allow transcutaneous (through the skin) stimulation eliminating the dangers and cost of surgery and allowing a much quicker roll-out of the trials.  His team has showed that in combination with pharmacological treatment, it can achieve results comparable to those seen using the epidural stimulation implants.

Speaking on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, Provost Professor Peter Booth said UTS was committed to making a real difference to the community through its research, teaching and outreach.

"We have a proud history in a broad spectrum of health research and naturally excited Professor Bryce Vissel has joined the Faculty of Science to expand our existing expertise in neuroscience," Professor Booth said.

Subject to securing funding, UTS will roll-out neurostimulation combined with exercise for patients across Australia within five years.  A world-leading research program for exercise training and rehabilitation for people with SCI, stroke and Parkinson’s disease will be developed with SCIA, which has over seven years’ experience in managing specialty, best-practice, exercise programs for people with mobility issues. 

Now in its 21st year SpinalCure Australia funds research to end paralysis. Every day in Australia another person has a spinal injury generally from a car accident, sports injury or everyday fall.   

To donate to this extraordinary new spinal cord research at UTS

Fungus In Humans Identified For First Time As Key Factor In Crohn's Disease

September 20, 2016
A Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine-led team of international researchers has for the first time identified a fungus as a key factor in the development of Crohn's disease. The researchers also linked a new bacterium to the previous bacteria associated with Crohn's. The groundbreaking findings, published on September 20th in mBio, could lead to potential new treatments and ultimately, cures for the debilitating inflammatory bowel disease, which causes severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.

"We already know that bacteria, in addition to genetic and dietary factors, play a major role in causing Crohn's disease," said the study's senior and corresponding author, Mahmoud A Ghannoum, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Medical Mycology at Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center "Essentially, patients with Crohn's have abnormal immune responses to these bacteria, which inhabit the intestines of all people. While most researchers focus their investigations on these bacteria, few have examined the role of fungi, which are also present in everyone's intestines. Our study adds significant new information to understanding why some people develop Crohn's disease. Equally important, it can result in a new generation of treatments, including medications and probiotics, which hold the potential for making qualitative and quantitative differences in the lives of people suffering from Crohn's."

Both bacteria and fungi are microorganisms -- infinitesimal forms of life that can only be seen with a microscope. Fungi are eukaryotes: organism whose cells contain a nucleus; they are closer to humans than bacteria, which are prokaryotes: single-celled forms of life with no nucleus. Collectively, the fungal community that inhabits the human body is known as the mycobiome, while the bacteria are called the bacteriome. (Fungi and bacteria are present throughout the body; previously Ghannoum had found that people harbor between nine and 23 fungal species in their mouths.)

The researchers assessed the mycobiome and bacteriome of patients with Crohn's disease and their Crohn's-free first degree relatives in nine families in northern France and Belgium, and in Crohn's-free individuals from four families living in the same geographic area. Specifically, they analyzed fecal samples of 20 Crohn's and 28 Crohn's-free patients from nine families and of 21 Crohn's-free patients of four families. The researchers found strong fungal-bacterial interactions in those with Crohn's disease: two bacteria (Escherichia coli and Serratia marcescens) and one fungus (Candida tropicalis) moved in lock step. The presence of all three in the sick family members was significantly higher compared to their healthy relatives, suggesting that the bacteria and fungus interact in the intestines. Additionally, test-tube research by the Ghannoum-led team found that the three work together (with the E. coli cells fusing to the fungal cells and S. marcescens forming a bridge connecting the microbes) to produce a biofilm -- a thin, slimy layer of microorganisms found in the body that adheres to, among other sites, a portion of the intestines -- which can prompt inflammation that results in the symptoms of Crohn's disease.

This is first time any fungus has been linked to Crohn's in humans; previously it was only found in mice with the disease. The study is also the first to include S. marcescens in the Crohn's-linked bacteriome. Additionally, the researchers found that the presence of beneficial bacteria was significantly lower in the Crohn's patients, corroborating previous research findings.

"Among hundreds of bacterial and fungal species inhabiting the intestines, it is telling that the three we identified were so highly correlated in Crohn's patients," said Ghannoum. "Furthermore, we found strong similarities in what may be called the 'gut profiles' of the Crohn's-affected families, which were strikingly different from the Crohn's-free families. We have to be careful, though, and not solely attribute Crohn's disease to the bacterial and fungal makeups of our intestines. For example, we know that family members also share diet and environment to significant degrees. Further research is needed to be even more specific in identifying precipitators and contributors of Crohn's."

G. Hoarau, P. K. Mukherjee, C. Gower-Rousseau, C. Hager, J. Chandra, M. A. Retuerto, C. Neut, S. Vermeire, J. Clemente, J. F. Colombel, H. Fujioka, D. Poulain, B. Sendid and M. A. Ghannoum. Bacteriome and Mycobiome Interactions Underscore Microbial Dysbiosis in Familial Crohn’s Disease. mBio, September 2016 DOI: 10.1128/mBio.01250-16

Can Nicotine Protect The Aging Brain?

September 20, 2016: Texas A&M University
Everyone knows that tobacco products are bad for your health, and even the new e-cigarettes may have harmful toxins. However, according to research at Texas A&M, it turns out the nicotine itself -- when given independently from tobacco -- could help protect the brain as it ages, and even ward off Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.

Ursula Winzer-Serhan, PhD, an associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, and her collaborators found that nicotine's ability to be neuroprotective may be partly due to its well-known ability to suppress the appetite. Their research is published in the Open Access Journal of Toxicology.

Using animal models, Winzer-Serhan and her collaborators added nicotine to the animal's drinking water. There were three different groups that received nicotine at three different concentrations (low, medium and high) corresponding to occasional, low and medium smokers, respectively, in addition to a control group that did not receive any nicotine.

The two groups that received nicotine at low and medium doses didn't show any levels of the drug in their blood and they experienced no changes in food intake, body weight or number of receptors in the brain where nicotine acts. In contrast, the group getting the highest concentration of nicotine ate less, gained less weight and had more receptors, indicating that at higher doses, the drug gets into the brain where it can impact behavior. However, even at high doses, it didn't seem to have worrying behavioral side effects like making the individuals more anxious, which the researchers were concerned could happen.

"Some people say that nicotine decreases anxiety, which is why people smoke, but others say it increases anxiety," Winzer-Serhan said. "The last thing you would want in a drug that is given chronically would be a negative change in behavior. Luckily, we didn't find any evidence of anxiety: Only two measures showed any effect even with high levels of nicotine, and if anything, nicotine made animal models less anxious."

The next step is to test nicotine's potential anti-aging effects using aged animal models. Although early results indicate that nicotine can keep older individuals from gaining weight like the control group does, Winzer-Serhan hasn't yet determined whether this lower body mass index translates into less degeneration of the brain. It is also unclear if nicotine's effects are related only to its ability to suppress appetite, or if there are more mechanisms at work.

Because there are still so many unknowns, Winzer-Serhan urges caution. "I want to make it very clear that we're not encouraging people to smoke," she said. "Even if these weren't very preliminary results, smoking results in so many health problems that any possible benefit of the nicotine would be more than cancelled out. However, smoking is only one possible route of administration of the drug, and our work shows that we shouldn't write-off nicotine completely."

Still, Winzer-Serhan cautions people not to purchase nicotine-containing products just yet. "Although the results are intriguing, we would need large-scale clinical trials before suggesting anyone change their behavior," she said. "At the end of the day, we haven't proven that this addictive drug is safe -- and it certainly isn't during childhood or adolescence -- or that the benefits outweigh the potential risks."

Research Finally Reveals Reason For Perplexing Red Skin Disease

September 20, 2016: Northwestern University
The children and adults travel from as far as Australia, Africa and Mongolia to see her, because she is one of the few dermatologists in the world who specializes in the rare and perplexing genetic disease that causes their skin to be disfigured by redness and dark scales across their entire bodies.

There aren't any great treatments for the disease with the hard-to-pronounce-name, ichthyosis.

But now Dr. Amy Paller, who has spent 30 years researching the disorder, for the first time has found the reason the disease causes the red skin and has a promising biologic drug to begin testing soon in clinical trials.

In a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Paller, the Northwestern Medicine chair of dermatology, together with Dr. Emma Guttman-Yassky of Mount Sinai Medical School, discovered that an arm of the immune system -- the Th17 pathway -- in these patients is way too active, and the higher its activity, the worse the disease severity.

Paller is about to launch a clinical trial to test a new biologic (a cutting-edge drug) for it, with the goal of targeting and calming down this pathway.

In ichthyosis, the skin barrier is abnormal, so the skin is inflamed, dry and scaly.

"These patients are tremendously disfigured by this skin disease," said Paller, also an attending physician at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. "It can be painful, itchy and easily gets infected. They may have trouble using their hands and walking."

Patients also have trouble sweating, so it's hard for kids and adults to participate in sports.

The drug Paller will test, secukinumab, has already been highly effective in psoriasis, a more common skin disorder with an increase in this Th17 pathway, leading to inflammation and scaling. And with Paller's new discovery, she thinks the drug could be even more helpful in ichthyosis because the overactive immune pathway was actually more strongly correlated with ichthyosis than with psoriasis.

Amy S. Paller, Yael Renert-Yuval, Maria Suprun, Hitokazu Esaki, Margeaux Oliva, Thy Nhat Huynh, Benjamin Ungar, Norma Kunjravia, Rivka Friedland, Xiangyu Peng, Xiuzhong Zheng, Yeriel D. Estrada, James G. Krueger, Keith A. Choate, Mayte Suárez-Fariñas, Emma Guttman-Yassky. An IL-17-dominant immune profile is shared across the major orphan forms of ichthyosis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2016; DOI:10.1016/j.jaci.2016.07.019

Smoke From 2015 Indonesian Fires May Have Caused 100,000 Premature Deaths

September 19, 2016: Harvard University

Smoke from agricultural fires over Borneo in the fall of 2015.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
In the fall of 2015, hazardous levels of smoke from agricultural fires blanketed much of Equatorial Asia. Schools and businesses closed, planes were grounded and tens of thousands sought medical treatment for respiratory illness.

In a new study, Harvard University researchers and their colleagues estimate that the 2015 smoke event caused upwards of 100,000 deaths across Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

To mitigate the impact of future smoke events, the team developed a model framework which could help governments and policymakers in Southeast Asia identify, in almost real time, the fires with the highest potential to cause damage to human health.

The research is described in Environmental Research Letters. It was led by researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in collaboration with colleagues from Columbia University.

"Although the regions experienced several major haze events over the past twenty years, the 2015 event was one of the worst," said Shannon N. Koplitz, first author and Harvard graduate student. "We understand many of the underlying conditions that lead to these extreme events, and we can often predict when smoke pollution will be severe based on particular meteorological indicators, but regional efforts to mitigate the effects on public health have not been successful."

"Our hope is that this framework can inform early-response efforts to identify areas where effective fire and land use management would yield the greatest benefits to human health, even as the haze event is still unfolding," said Loretta J. Mickley, Senior Research Fellow at SEAS and coauthor.

The research is part of a larger effort by Harvard and Columbia to provide local stakeholders with an effective tool to assess the public health costs from fires and guide policy decisions. The framework uses a mathematical model to quickly identify the fires that will have the biggest impact on human health downwind.

"Decisions on how to manage the lands, which geographies to protect, how industries are regulated and where fires are allowed to burn are decisions of life and death," said Samuel Myers, Senior Research Scientist at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Director of the Planetary Health Alliance and coauthor of the paper. "We want to support local policy makers to make those decisions with clear data."

Fires started by farmers in Indonesia, particularly those producing palm oil and timber for wood pulp and paper, are the main culprits of haze events in this region. The fires, largely in coastal peatlands, burn at relatively low temperatures and can smolder for weeks or even months before extinguishing, resulting in lots of smoke.

During periods of extreme dry weather caused by El Niño and a phenomenon called the positive Indian Ocean Dipole, smoke emissions are considerably higher -- either because farmers are taking advantage of the dry weather to burn more land or because once burning, the fires are more difficult to control. Although many fires burn in remote areas of Indonesia, prevailing winds can carry the smoke hundreds of miles to densely populated cities like Palembang in Sumatra, and Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

The region experienced similar smoke conditions caused by El Niño in 2006 but the Harvard-led team found that deaths from air pollution more than doubled between the 2006 and 2015 events, from about 38,000 to about 100,000. This is largely because of where the fires burned in relation to population centers, and their intensity. Fires in southern Sumatra and nearby Jambi province turn out to be particularly deadly.

"Based on years of epidemiological research, we understand very well the relationship between pollution and mortality," said Jonathan Buonocore, coauthor and research associate at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "We know for each incremental increase in air pollution, you get a certain incremental increase in mortality risk."

Being able to identify the most dangerous fires could help save lives in the future, Buonocore said. "For the first time in Indonesia, we have a rapid assessment modeling tool that can quickly estimate the cost to human health of these haze events, as they are happening," he said.

In ongoing work, the researchers are using the model to diagnose the health impacts of different land-use scenarios over the next 20-30 years. This effort could promote more rational land-use decisions and management that could save thousands of lives.

"If regional policy makers understand fully the health dimension of these biomass fires, we believe they will be in a better position to manage them more effectively and improve human health and ecosystems at the same time," said Ruth DeFries, of Columbia University and coauthor of the paper.

This research was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Shannon N Koplitz, Loretta J Mickley, Miriam E Marlier, Jonathan J Buonocore, Patrick S Kim, Tianjia Liu, Melissa P Sulprizio, Ruth S DeFries, Daniel J Jacob, Joel Schwartz, Montira Pongsiri, Samuel S Myers. Public health impacts of the severe haze in Equatorial Asia in September–October 2015: demonstration of a new framework for informing fire management strategies to reduce downwind smoke exposure.Environmental Research Letters, 2016; 11 (9): 094023 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/9/094023

Thunder Fox

Members: Sam Dawes - Lead Vocals/Guitar Sam Frank - Lead Guitars/Vocals Connor McCool - Bass Amanda Clarke - Drums Jesse Tachibana - Trumpet Travers Keirle - Saxophone
Genre: Psychedelic, eclectic funk explosion

Taronga ‘Stands Up For The Wild’ With 100 Year Birthday Parade

School children celebrate 100 years of Taronga Zoo - photo by Rick Stevens
A parade of giant animal light sculptures will make their way down Macquarie Street, Saturday 15 October, Taronga Zoo announced today,marking100 years since the Zoo officially opened in Mosman in 1916.

Starting at Hyde Park at 8pm, the amazing light sculptures will be escorted by a cast of school children who will dance, sing and light up the streets for the wild to the Sydney Opera House, where a live performance will take place. 

The giant animal light sculptures represent Taronga’s ten year commitment to the conservation and preservation of 10 Centenary Species, iconic and beloved animals which include the Asian Elephant, Platypus, and Sumatran Tiger. 

The fabulous light parade will recreate the historic moment 100 years ago, when Jessie the elephant made her way from the original Zoological site in Moore Park, through the CBD, down Macquarie Street to a spot on the foreshore directly where the Harbour Bridge and Opera House would rise years later. Jessie boarded a barge, to be transported across the harbour as did hippos, primates, reptiles, and many other animal species Taronga still cares for today.

Taronga is encouraging Australians to ‘Stand Up #FortheWild’ by coming along to cheer the parade or by donating to its Centenary Commitment to turn around the plight of these 10 critical species.

Creative Director, Ignatius Jones, said: “This will be the most amazing parade that Sydney has seen in a 100 years! An absolute carnival of lights, dancing and music!”

“A great night out for friends and families, the Taronga Birthday Parade will spread the word that we need to stand up for these amazing animals and help Taronga ensure their future.” 

Taronga Zoo’s CEO, Cameron Kerr said: “We’re inviting everyone in Sydney to ‘Stand Up for the Wild’ by coming along to what will be an amazing spectacle and help support the work being done for these 10 vital species.”

“We’re asking Australians not just in Sydney but across the country help us raise $1 million dollars to kick-start a lifetime conservation commitment.”

The parade is the exciting culmination for Taronga’s Centenary program, presented by long-term supporter ANZ, which has also included Vivid Sydney at Taronga, EID at Taronga, inviting guests to come in for $1 on their birthday, creating a stunning collection of past and present Taronga memories at #IGrewupWithTaronga, hosting an amazing birthday party on the 7 October Centenary anniversary and the commencing of amazing field-work to conserve the 10 Centenary species. 

Donate $10 to help Taronga save 10 endangered species from extinction. Visit:

What: Taronga Birthday Parade
Cost:  FREE
When: Saturday 15 October 2016 at 8pm 
Where:Starting from Hyde Park North and continuing along Macquarie Street to the Sydney Opera House grand finale performance

NASA Begins Study Of Australia's Great Barrier Reef

September 15, 2016: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Gulfstream III carrying NASA's PRISM instrument being readied for science flights from Cairns, Australia. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/BIOS

A NASA airborne mission designed to transform our understanding of Earth's valuable and ecologically sensitive coral reefs has set up shop in Australia for a two-month investigation of the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest reef ecosystem.

At a media briefing on Sept. 13 at Cairns Airport in North Queensland, Australia, scientists from NASA's COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) mission and their Australian collaborators discussed the mission's objectives and the new insights they expect to glean into the present condition of the Great Barrier Reef and the function of reef systems worldwide.

"CORAL offers the clearest, most extensive picture to date of the condition of a large portion of the world's coral reefs," said CORAL Principal Investigator Eric Hochberg of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), Ferry Reach, St. George's, Bermuda, prior to the briefing. "This new understanding of reef condition and function will allow scientists to better predict the future of this global ecosystem and provide policymakers with better information for decisions regarding resource management."

CORAL's three-year mission combines aerial surveys using state-of-the-art airborne imaging spectrometer technology developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, with in-water validation activities. The mission will provide critical data and new models for analyzing reef ecosystems from a new perspective. CORAL will generate a uniform data set for a large sample of reefs across the Pacific Ocean. Scientists can use these data to search for trends between coral reef condition and the natural and human-produced biological and environmental factors that affect reefs.

Over the next year, CORAL will survey portions of the Great Barrier Reef, along with reef systems in the main Hawaiian Islands, the Mariana Islands and Palau.

In Australia, CORAL will survey six discrete sections across the length of the Great Barrier Reef, from the Capricorn-Bunker Group in the south to Torres Strait in the north. Two locations on the reef -- one north (Lizard Island Research Station) and one south (Heron Island Research Station) -- will serve as bases for in-water validation activities. Scientists from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the University of Queensland in Brisbane are collaborating with NASA and BIOS to conduct additional complementary in-water validation activities.

The Great Barrier Reef: Australia's National Treasure
Located in the Coral Sea off Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef encompasses more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. It is more than 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) long and covers an area of about 133,000 square miles (344,400 square kilometers). The largest single structure made by living organisms on Earth, the reef teems with biodiversity, including about 400 species of coral. It attracts about 2 million visitors a year; in turn, tourism and fishing generate billions annually and employ tens of thousands of people. However, the reef faces environmental pressures from various human and climate change impacts.

"The Great Barrier Reef is Australia's national treasure, so having a broader understanding of its condition and what's threatening it will help us better understand how we can protect it," said Tim Malthus, research leader of CSIRO's Coastal Monitoring, Modeling and Informatics Group in Canberra, Australia. "Along with surveying several large sections of the reef, CORAL will also survey the health of corals in the Torres Strait, a complex high-tide area that has been historically less studied. It is also opportunistic for us to see if the reef is recovering after the recent bleaching event."

Stuart Phinn, professor of geography at the University of Queensland (UQ), said CORAL will provide Australian coral reef science and management with unique new maps and mapping approaches. These will expand ongoing efforts to map and understand Great Barrier Reef dynamics. "Being able to support and collaborate on NASA's CORAL project will enable groups like ours to advance our capabilities and transfer them to Australian science and management agencies," Phinn said. "Part of this includes building a process for mapping the entire reef. UQ and CORAL will exchange field data, knowledge and experience to cross-validate mapping and monitoring approaches."

An Urgent Need for Better Data
Around the world, concerns among scientists, resource managers and the public that coral reef ecosystems are degrading at alarming rates due to human-induced factors and global change have motivated increased assessment and monitoring efforts. The urgency of the problem has forced estimates of global reef status to be synthesized from a variety of local surveys with disparate aims, methods and quality.

The problem with current assessments of reef degradation, said Hochberg, is that the data supporting these predictions are not uniform and surprisingly sparse. "Virtually all reef assessments to date rely on in-water survey techniques that are laborious, expensive and limited in spatial scope," he said. "Very little of Earth's reef area has been directly surveyed. More importantly, there are no existing models that quantitatively relate reef conditions to the full range of biological and environmental factors that affect them -- models that can help scientists better understand how coral reefs will respond to expected environmental changes. CORAL addresses an urgent need in the face of ongoing worldwide reef degradation, and also serves as a pathfinder for a future satellite mission to globally survey the world's reefs."

Natural, balanced coral reefs comprise mosaics of coral, algae and sand on the seafloor that, together, drive the structure and function of reef ecosystems. When corals die, algae rapidly take over their skeletons. A non-stressed, healthy reef will usually increase coral coverage as it recovers from disturbance. But when a stressed reef is disturbed, the carbonate structure of its coral erodes, and the reef ultimately becomes a flat-bottom community dominated by algae, shifting rubble and sand, with little to no coral recovery. Such ecosystem phase shifts, as they are called, represent a radical change in a reef's character, marked by a decline in the diversity of reef flora and fauna.

CORAL will generate scientific data products describing coral reef condition, measuring three key components of reef health for which we currently have limited data: composition, primary productivity and calcification. Primary productivity is a measure of how much energy is available to drive biological activity in a reef system. Calcification measures the net gain in carbonates, which determine a reef's long-term growth.

PRISM: Shining New Light on Coral Reef Condition
To accomplish its science objectives, CORAL will use JPL's Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM). PRISM will literally peer through the ocean's surface to generate high-resolution images of reflected light in the specific regions of the electromagnetic spectrum important to coral reef scientists. Mounted in the belly of a modified Tempus Solutions Gulfstream IV aircraft, PRISM will survey reefs from an altitude of 28,000 feet (8,500 meters) to generate calibrated scientific data products.

"PRISM builds on an extensive legacy of JPL spectrometers that have successfully operated for NASA and non-NASA missions," said Michelle Gierach, NASA CORAL project scientist at JPL. "It provides the coral reef science community with high-quality oceanographic imagery at the accuracy, range, resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, sensitivity and uniformity needed to answer key questions about coral reef condition. PRISM data will be analyzed against data for 10 key biological and environmental factors affecting coral reef ecosystems, acquired from pre-existing data sources."

NASA collects data from space, air, land and sea to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information about NASA's Earth science activities, visit:

The Big Six: Our Innovation Hacks For The Future

Published on 19 Sep 2016
Been wondering what blue-sky research projects we're investing in? Well wonder no more! All is revealed in this two-minute animation about our Future Science Platforms. Learn more about Probing Biosystems, Digiscape, Synthetic Biology, Environomics, Deep Earth Imaging and Active Integrated Mater. 

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.

See It Before It's Gone: The Paradox Of 'Last Chance Tourism' On The Great Barrier Reef

September 22, 2016
Many of the tourists now flocking to see Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are hoping to 'see it before it's gone' -- in the latest example of what's come to be known as 'Last Chance Tourism (LCT)'.

Annah Piggott-McKellar and Karen McNamara from the University of Queensland (Australia) explain the concept of 'LCT' in the current issue of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

They write: "LCT is a niche tourism market focused on witnessing and experiencing a place before it disappears. This tourism market can also be referred to as climate change, disappearing or vanishing, doom, dying, endangered or 'see it before it's gone' tourism."

As Piggott-McKellar and McNamara note, at the heart of LCT is a paradox: the tourists scrambling to visit a particular site 'before it's gone' are themselves contributing to its destruction. Population pressure, on-site activities associated with access and carbon emission related to travel can cause a site to deteriorate further, thus raising its 'destination status' by being in greater danger and creating more demand for visits.
To investigate this paradox, and learn more about what motivates tourists to travel to the GBR, the pair questioned over 230 visitors to the site last year.

Overall, the data suggested that just under 70% of respondents were 'strongly motivated' to see the Reef 'before it's gone' -- the first concrete evidence of the GBR having become an LCT destination.

'Last chance tourists' were found to be predominantly 'older, more environmentally conscious females who are visiting the region for the first time and who have travelled greater distances, both on a domestic and international scale.'

Those seeking a 'last chance experience' were also more likely to be concerned about the health of the reef -- in particular coral bleaching and climate change, both of which, incidentally, would have an effect on a tourist's experience of the site.

"This finding was of interest," they write, "as it emphasises the paradox involved in LCT, in that tourists are travelling greater distances to view the destination that is in danger, contributing higher levels of emissions and thus exacerbating the impacts of climate change."

In contrast, the tourists surveyed only had moderate to low concern about the impact of the tourist industry or other destructive factors on the reef itself. That tourists do not associate their own travel to the reef with damage is part of the paradox of LCT.

This study provides an important baseline for further research into travel to the GBR. It also provides insight into the need to improve tourists' awareness of real threats to the reef, which includes the tourists themselves, among a host of other threats.

Annah E. Piggott-McKellar, Karen E. McNamara. Last chance tourism and the Great Barrier Reef. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 2016; 1 DOI:10.1080/09669582.2016.1213849

Wynyard Walk Opens To Public

September 20, 2016
Wynyard Walk, Sydney's newest pedestrian tunnel, is open to the public and offers increased convenience and safety for commuters under the CBD.

The new 180-metre tunnel means commuters can walk between Wynyard Station and the new jobs precinct at Barangaroo in six minutes, with capacity for 20,000 people to walk through per hour.

NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said the new tunnel is critical in providing the pedestrian link between Barangaroo, the new ferry hub and the light rail project.

“It’s now about six minutes from the station to Barangaroo, you don’t have to cross roads or navigate steep inclines. We’ve also just completed the first stage of the Wynyard Station renovation. New lifts, escalators and lobby are also on the way for Wynyard,” Mr Constance said.

The tunnel will initially open from 5am to 9pm daily to allow construction to continue on the Clarence Street entrance, as well as other minor finishing touches. Following the opening of the Clarance Street entry, Wynyard Walk will be open 24 hours.

Phase two of the Wynyard Station upgrade is expected to be completed by mid-2017.

RBA Senior Staff Changes: Appointments And Retirement

20 September 2016: Media Release - Reserve Bank of Australia
The Governor, Philip Lowe, has today announced that Christopher Kent, currently Assistant Governor (Economic), has been appointed to the position of Assistant Governor (Financial Markets), the role previously held by Guy Debelle prior to his appointment as Deputy Governor.

The Governor also announced that Michele Bullock, currently Assistant Governor (Business Services), has been appointed to the position of Assistant Governor (Financial System), which will be vacated by Malcolm Edey following his decision to retire at the end of October. As part of her new role, Ms Bullock will be appointed as Deputy Chair of the Payments System Board, succeeding Dr Edey.

The resulting vacant positions of Assistant Governor (Economic) and Assistant Governor (Business Services) will be advertised and a selection process will consider both internal and external candidates, as is usually the case for these senior appointments. Dr Kent will remain in his current role as Assistant Governor (Economic) until a successor is appointed. 

Chris Ryan, Head of International Department, will act in the position of Assistant Governor (Financial Markets) for the time being. Ms Bullock will take up duties in her position as Assistant Governor (Financial System) at the beginning of November.

Commenting on the retirement of Dr Edey from the Bank after almost 40 years of service, the Governor said:

‘Malcolm epitomises what it means to be a dedicated public servant. He has provided wise counsel to the Reserve Bank's two boards over many years. He is respected internationally and domestically for his extensive knowledge in a broad range of economic fields and for his tireless work as one of Australia's representatives on the Basel Committee. He will be sorely missed by Bank staff and his peers in the financial community. I wish him and his family every success and happiness in the next phase of their lives.’

‘10 Qubits In 5 Years’: UNSW Strikes Deal To Commercialise Quantum Computer Tech

21 September, 2016: by   Steve Offner - UNSW

Industry , Innovation and Science Minister Greg Hunt inspects UNSW's quantum labs with UNSW's Professor Michelle Simmons. Photo: Simon Anders

UNSW has struck a $70 million deal to create a consortium to develop and commercialise technology that could lead to the world’s first quantum computer in silicon.

The four-way agreement between UNSW, the researchers, business and the federal government will pave the way for the development of a prototype silicon quantum integrated circuit – the first step in building a functional quantum computer.

The UNSW team is the only research group in the world that can make atomically precise devices in silicon. The scientists and engineers, within the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computing and Communication Technology (CQC2T) led by UNSW Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons, hope to have built a 10-qubit circuit within five years.

Winning the global race to build a functional quantum computer will give Australia a significant competitive advantage, creating new growth and job opportunities.

Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Greg Hunt announced the $70 million consortium during a tour of the UNSW-based Centre’s new quantum computing laboratories, opened by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in April.

In funding already announced, the federal government has contributed $25 million over five years to the consortium through its National Innovation and Science Agenda, complementing $25 million from UNSW, and $10 million each from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Telstra. Other partners are expected to join the consortium to bring the founding investment to $100 million.
The Australian Research Council recently extended funding to the CQC2T as a Centre of Excellence. This funding, comprising $34 million in government contributions and $103 million in cash and in-kind support from participating organisations, supports the Centre’s fundamental research over the next seven years.

Minister Hunt said this week's announcement was the culmination of negotiations over the IP of the technology development and was an example of how governments, universities and business could work together to translate great research into commercial reality.

Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionise the industries of the future, solving in hours or minutes problems that would take conventional computers – even supercomputers – centuries, he said.

“Winning the global race to build a functional quantum computer will give Australia a significant competitive advantage, creating new growth and job opportunities,” he said.

The Minister said he agreed with a categorisation that likened the international competition to build the first functioning quantum device as “the space race of the 21st Century”.

“I would call it Space-Plus: it’s the development of the next great economic activity for Australia and for the world.

“San Francisco and the Bay area have Silicon Valley … we want to create Sydney as the Quantum Harbour for the 21st Century,” he told research, business and University leaders, including UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs, Telstra Chief Operations Officer Brendon Riley, and Commonwealth Bank Executive General Manager Edward Easton.

The CQC2T is a collaboration of six Australian universities; UNSW, the Australian National University, University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, Griffith University and University of Sydney; and 12 international university and industry partners.

The Centre’s director, Professor Simmons, acknowledged her research team leaders Professor Sven Rogge from UNSW Science, and Professors Andrew Dzurak and Andrea Morello from UNSW Engineering and thanked the Minister, Telstra and CBA for their financial backing.
“The Government has supported our fundamental research over many years and this new agreement is a unique opportunity that will allow us to do things that we would not be able to do under the normal research banner in Australia.

“It is a phenomenal opportunity for us to prototype potentially transformational quantum computing technology here in Australia, and be the first in the world to build 10 qubits [of quantum circuitry] in five years,” she said.

Minister Hunt said he personally believed in the work of the centre, and set Professor Simmons and her team a goal – “that the Centre give rise to at least one Nobel laureate over the next 20 years”.

“I think you can deliver because if the promise of what is being posed and researched and developed today reaches just one-fifth of its expectation, that will be of Nobel scale, and for Australia that will be an immense global achievement.”

UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Jacobs agreed. “You’ll be interested to know what motivates academics more than anything else … it’s parking spaces,” he joked, and explained that the University had set aside a parking spot outside the Chancellery building, as a reward for its first Nobel Prize winner.

“I echo your hope that that first Nobel Prize comes from this great group of scientists, that it leads to developments that are truly important for the future of humanity, and to the creation of Quantum Harbour in Sydney, to the benefit of this nation,” he said.

Australian Children Spending More Time On Screens

Media Release — 20 September 2016: Australian Institute of Family Studies - Australian Government
A majority of Australian children are spending large amounts of time on screen activities in excess of the recommended 2-hour daily limit for screen entertainment, according to research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children has tracked the screen habits of 4,000 pre-schoolers through to their early teens over the last decade, recording a steady increase in time spent watching television, on computers and playing electronic games.

Institute Director, Anne Hollonds said by the age of 12-13 years old, Australian children spent an average of 3 hours per week-day and almost 4 hours per weekend day using screens, or around 20 per cent of their waking time on weekdays and 30 per cent on weekends.

“By their early teens, 64 per cent of 12-13 year olds are spending considerably more than the Australian Government’s daily recommended 2 hour limit on screen time for entertainment,” she said.

LSAC Manager, Associate Professor Ben Edwards said that watching television was the main contributor to screen time across all age groups, peaking during the late afternoon, with a smaller peak for younger children in the morning.

“Children watched more TV on weekends than weekdays, with overall viewing rates high at age 4-5, reducing at 6-7 and then edging their way back up again every two years after that, to peak when kids are 12-13 years old,” he said.

“However, parents can help curtail their children’s screen time by setting rules about watching television and not allowing TVs into kids’ bedrooms.

“The proportion of children watching 2 or more hours daily TV was higher in families with a large number of TVs, when there was a TV is the child’s bedroom and in homes where there are no rules limiting the amount of TV children can watch.

“Among households with more educated parents there were fewer children watching 2 hours of TV during the week. But by the weekend, all kids were watching roughly the same amount.

“However, kids who take part in a team sport or activities, like art or music were less likely to exceed the 2 hours, particularly boys whose usage dropped significantly compared to boys without extracurricular activities.”

Professor Edwards said the study also examined children’s enjoyment of physical activities and their physical wellbeing and found a link to less screen time. 

“Boys and girls from 10-13 years who reported that they were ‘fit’ were significantly less likely to spend more than 2 hours with screens on a weekday, compared to those who said they were ‘unfit’,” he said.

“Boys and girls who classified themselves as ‘high energy’ were also significantly less likely to be watching more than 2 hours of TV a day. These children tended to be less interested in screens and had more time for physical activities.

“At the same age, children who spent more time on devices reported feeling less energetic and fit.

“Our research suggests that if children are offered physical activities they enjoy, they will tend to reduce their screen time.”

Professor Edwards said that as screens become more ubiquitous in adults and children’s lives, expecting children to stick to 2 hours of daily screen entertainment might no longer be achievable.

“While technology can unlock new skills and there is value in children using computers for gathering information and socialising, it may be time to have another look at how realistic these guidelines are,” he said.

“However, some management of screen time is important so kids have a quality engagement with television, computers or games and they are not undertaking these activities at the expense of keeping fit and well.”

Read the LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2015: Chapter 5 - Australian children's screen time and participation in extracurricular activities

The Big Six: CSIRO'S Plans For The Future

20 September, 2016: by CSIRO
CSIRO will grow its investment in new areas of breakthrough science to over $52 million per year by 2020, helping to turn Australia's challenges into opportunities and invent a better future.

The creation of six Future Science Platforms (FSPs) which will underpin innovation in health and biology, resources, agriculture and manufacturing, have the potential to support the reinvention and creation of new industries and new jobs for Australia.

CSIRO Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall, believes investing in challenging and riskier science will ensure research continues to meet the needs of industry, community and the environment in a rapidly changing world.

Photo: CSIRO's Future Science Platforms are critical to turn Australia's future challenges into opportunities to invent a better future for us all

"Exactly as planned in Strategy 2020, we've freed up resources to enable this initial $17 million investment in 2016/17 to launch the FSPs, growing to over $50 million per year by 2020," Dr Marshall said.

"We're seriously excited about CSIRO's next chapter and how we're investing in Australia's science future.

"The platforms fuel deeper collaboration across disciplines as we tackle things that haven't been done before, which is exactly what we need to stay ahead of accelerating global disruption of all kinds from economic to environmental."

Some FSPs will draw on big data to make strides forward for health and environment, some use CSIRO's precision science to transform biological systems and others focus on our deep knowledge of resources and manufacturing to create more sustainable industries to support the jobs of tomorrow.

Not only will the Future Science Platforms invest in research and delivery of solutions, they're also an investment in the next crop of researchers.

"FSPs will attract a new generation of researchers to work collaboratively on genuinely challenging science and help invent Australia's future," Dr Marshall explained.

"The platforms empower CSIRO's strategy of solving Australia's toughest challenges, and getting science off the lab bench and into people's hands as quickly as possible to improve Australia's sustainability and prosperity."

The six Future Science Platforms are:

Unlocking genetic and other knowledge from our vast species biodiversity so we can preserve and manage ecosystems under environmental change, better manage economically useful species, detect biosecurity threats and create new products based on previously unknown biological data.

Synthetic Biology
The design, fabrication, and construction of new biological parts, devices, systems, and machines, as well as the re-design of existing biological systems for useful purposes. Synthetic biology enables revolutionary advances in cellular factories, designer organisms and biological devices.

Deep Earth Imaging
Discovering the previously undiscovered minerals, energy and water resources that lie deep under the earth or sea. The science of Deep Earth Imaging will help us more precisely image subsurface geology to unlock the potential of this vast and relatively under-explored area.

Helping agricultural industries to be more productive and providing more valuable knowledge to environmental policy makers through a new generation of decision tools. Using sensors, data visualisation, artificial intelligence and assisted decision making to generate timely and relevant advice and insights will allow better choices for more productive and sustainable outcomes.

Probing Biosystems
A revolution in healthcare and agriculture through devices and systems to obtain real-time information from living organisms about their health and well-being. This will lead to the ability to provide health and medical interventions that are timely, customised and highly specific.

Active Integrated Matter
Reinventing fields as diverse as manufacturing, agriculture, emergency services, infrastructure and mining through combining advanced materials, robotics, sensing technologies, data processing and autonomous capabilities. New forms of autonomous robots will operate safely in dangerous environments while smart materials will enable new types of customised and personalised products and services.

For more information on the Future Science Platforms,

Ancient Skeleton Discovered On Antikythera Shipwreck

September 19, 2016: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Archaeologists Brendan Foley, Theotokis Theodoulou and Alex Tourtas excavate the Antikythera Shipwreck skeletal remains, assisted by Nikolas Giannoulakis and Gemma Smith.
Credit: Photo by Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO
An international research team discovered a human skeleton during its ongoing excavation of the famous Antikythera Shipwreck (circa 65 B.C.). The shipwreck, which holds the remains of a Greek trading or cargo ship, is located off the Greek island of Antikythera in the Aegean Sea. The first skeleton recovered from the wreck site during the era of DNA analysis, this find could provide insight into the lives of people who lived 2100 years ago.

Led by archaeologists and technical experts from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the team excavated and recovered a human skull including a jaw and teeth, long bones of the arms and legs, ribs, and other remains. Other portions of the skeleton are still embedded in the seafloor, awaiting excavation during the next phase of operations.

"Archaeologists study the human past through the objects our ancestors created," said Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist with WHOI. "With the Antikythera Shipwreck, we can now connect directly with this person who sailed and died aboard the Antikythera ship."

The Antikythera Shipwreck is the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered, possibly a massive grain carrier. It was discovered and salvaged in 1900 by Greek sponge divers. In addition to dozens of marble statues and thousands of antiquities, their efforts produced the Antikythera Mechanism -- an astounding artifact known as the world's first computer. In 1976, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the CALYPSO crew returned to the wreck and recovered nearly 300 more objects, including skeletal remains of the passengers and crew.

The skeleton discovered on August 31, 2016, is the first to be recovered from an ancient shipwreck since the advent of DNA studies. Ancient DNA expert Dr. Hannes Schroeder of the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, hastened to Antikythera to view the remains. Once permission is obtained from the Greek authorities, samples will be sent to his laboratory for a full suite of analyses. If enough viable DNA is preserved in the bones, it may be possible to identify the ethnicity and geographic origin of the shipwreck victim.

"Against all odds, the bones survived over 2,000 years at the bottom of the sea and they appear to be in fairly good condition, which is incredible," said Schroeder.

The Antikythera research team generates precise three-dimensional digital models of every artifact, allowing discoveries to be shared instantly and widely even if the objects remain on the sea floor. Several 3D models of the skeletal remains are available for researchers and the public to view on the Antikythera Projectwebpage.

Jonathan Knowles, Autodesk Explorer In Residence, said, "Our reality capture technology is not only helping share the amazing story of the Antikythera wreck with the world using digital models and 3D printed artifacts, it is enabling important preservation and furthering meaningful research."

The project is supported by corporate partners Hublot, Autodesk, Cosmote, Costa Navarino Resort and private sponsors Swordspoint Foundation, Jane and James Orr, Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, the Domestic Property Committee of Kythera and Antikythera, the Municipality of Kythera, and private sponsors of WHOI.

The research team consists of archaeologists Dr. Theotokis Theodoulou and Dr. Dimitris Kourkoumelis (Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports); Research Specialist Dr. Brendan Foley (WHOI); archaeologist Alexander Tourtas; professional technical divers Edward O'Brien (WHOI), Philip Short, Alexandros Sotiriou, Nikolas Giannoulakis, and Gemma Smith; videographer Evan Kovacs; documentary director Michalis Tsimperopoulos; supported by Michalis Kelaidis, Dimitris Romio, and Dimitris Manoliades. 

The robotic mapping survey was conducted by Prof. Stefan Williams, Dr. Oscar Pizarro, and Christian Lees from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, University of Sydney. U.S. National Parks Service underwater photographer Brett Seymour and archaeologist Dr. David Conlin volunteer their time and expertise.

The Return to Antikythera project is supervised by the Director of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities Dr. Aggeliki Simosi and is under the aegis of the President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos.

The above is reprinted from materials provided by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

WMO Rules On Longest Distance And Longest Duration Lightning Flashes

September 20, 2016: World Meteorological Organization
A World Meteorological Organization committee of experts has established two new world records for the longest reported distance and the longest reported duration for a single lightning flash in, respectively, Oklahoma (United States of America) and southern France.

The lightning flash over Oklahoma in 2007 covered a horizontal distance of 321 kilometers (199.5 miles). The lightning event over southern France in 2012 lasted continuously for 7.74 seconds, the WMO evaluation committee found.

"Lightning is a major weather hazard that claims many lives each year," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "Improvements in detecting and monitoring these extreme events will help us improve public safety."

It is the first time that lightning has been included in the official WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, which is maintained by the WMO Commission for Climatology and documents details of records for heat, cold, wind speed, rainfall and other events.

Full details of the assessment are given in an Early Online Release posting of the article published on 15 September. The article will be formally published in an upcoming issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Dramatic improvements in lightning remote sensing techniques have allowed the detection of previous unobserved extremes in lightning occurrence and so enabled the WMO committee to conduct a critical evaluation.

The WMO evaluation committee judged that the world's longest detected distance for a single lightning flash occurred over a horizontal distance of 321 km (199.5 miles) using a maximum great circle distance between individual detected VHF lightning sources. The event occurred on 20 June 2007 across the state of Oklahoma.

The committee also accepted the world's longest detected duration for a single lightning flash as a single event that lasted continuously for 7.74 seconds on 30 August 2012 over Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France.

"This investigation highlights the fact that, because of continued improvements in meteorology and climatology technology and analysis, climate experts can now monitor and detect weather events such as specific lightning flashes in much greater detail than ever before," said Randall Cerveny, chief Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for WMO.

"The end result reinforces critical safety information regarding lightning, specifically that lightning flashes can travel huge distances from their parent thunderstorms. Our experts' best advice: when thunder roars, go indoors," he said.

The investigating committee was composed of lightning and climate experts from the United States, France, Australia, Spain, China, Morocco, Argentina, and the United Kingdom. As part of their evaluation, the committee also unanimously agreed that the existing formal definition of "lightning discharge" should be amended to a "series of electrical processes taking place continuously" rather the previously specified time interval of one second. This is because technology and analysis have improved to the point that lightning experts now can detect and monitor individual lightning flashes with lifetimes much longer than a single second.

Validation of these new world lightning extremes (a) demonstrates the recent and on-going dramatic augmentations and improvements to regional lightning detection and measurement networks, (b) provides reinforcement to lightning safety concerns that lightning can travel large distances and so lightning dangers can exist even long distances from the parent thunderstorm, and (c) for lightning engineering concerns.

A full list of weather and climate extremes is available at the WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes ( This includes the world's highest and lowest temperatures, rainfall, heaviest hailstone, longest dry period, maximum gust of wind, as well as hemispheric weather and climate extremes.

Timothy J. Lang, Stéphane Pédeboy, William Rison, Randall S. Cerveny, Joan Montanyà, Serge Chauzy, Donald R. MacGorman, Ronald L. Holle, Eldo E. Ávila, Yijun Zhang, Gregory Carbin, Edward R. Mansell, Yuriy Kuleshov, Thomas C. Peterson, Manola Brunet, Fatima Driouech, Daniel S. Krahenbuhl. WMO World Record Lightning Extremes: Longest Reported Flash Distance and Longest Reported Flash Duration. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2016; DOI:10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0061.1

International Healthcare Leader Wins Top Alumni Honour

21 September 2016: By University of Technology Sydney(UTS)
The Chief Executive Officer of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Dr Frances Hughes, responsible for leading a global force of more than 16 million nurses, has been recognised with the prestigious UTS Chancellor's Award for Excellence at the 2016 UTS Alumni Awards.

Dr Frances Hughes receives the UTS Chancellor's Award for Excellence from Chancellor Brian Wilson. Picture: Carmen Lee Platt/Encapture Photography

UTS Chancellor Brian Wilson paid tribute to the impact of Dr Hughes' work at last night's awards and to her embodiment of UTS's core values, including equality and social justice.

"Dr Hughes is working at the top of her profession, leading an international effort to ensure that health care is accessible and affordable to all – particularly to vulnerable populations," he said.

Hughes has played a significant leadership role in general and mental health nursing across the globe and has been instrumental in the development of government policy around nurse prescribing, primary care and rural scholarship schemes, the nursing workforce, nurse practitioners and mental health.

She was the first nurse to be awarded the Harkness Fellowship in Health Care Policy by the Commonwealth Fund in New York and was a Fulbright Scholar. In 2005 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to mental health as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Hughes spent six years as a World Health Organization (WHO) facilitator for the Pacific Island Mental Health Network and is regularly called upon by the WHO, governments and non-government organisations to consult on critical matters relating to nursing, policy and mental health across the globe.

Hughes commenced her role with the ICN in February this year – it is the first time in the organisation's 100 year history that it has appointed a chief executive from the Southern Hemisphere.

"It is a great honour," says Hughes, who travelled from her home in Geneva, Switzerland, to receive the award. "Personally, it has meant stepping up and challenging myself, my philosophies, my beliefs and my knowledge of nursing and health," she said.

The UTS Alumni Awards gala awards ceremony was attended by more than 200 alumni, staff and students in the UTS Great Hall. Eleven of the university's most outstanding graduates were honoured for achievements in innovation, leadership and compassion that are changing the world for the better.

This year's recipients included innovators in technology and health, drivers of social justice and change in the community and leaders across business and the legal profession.

Kate Burleigh, Managing Director of Intel Australia/New Zealand, was recognised with the UTS Business School Alumni Award for her role as a technology industry leader and passionate advocate for building Australia's innovation economy.

Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Russell Taylor AM, was recognised for his work promoting knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, traditions, languages and stories.
ther award recipients included Associate Professor Richard Ferrero, whose world-leading medical research is working towards an understanding of the cellular processes involved in stomach cancer – one of the leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide – and Cristina Cifuentes, Commissioner of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The event was hosted by UTS Chancellor Brian Wilson and Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs, with journalist and UTS alumna Sunanda Creagh acting as Master of Ceremonies.

To read more about the 2016 Alumni Awards, and the inspiring stories of this year's Award recipients, visit the UTS Alumni website.

This year's full list of recipients:

Emmanuel Freudenthal
Freelance Investigative Journalist
Bachelor of Business (2006) Hons 1 (2007) 

Russell Taylor AM
Chief Executive Officer, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Master of Business Administration (1993)

Nguyen The Trung
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DTT Technology Group
Bachelor of Science in Computing Science (2002)

Emre Celik
President and Chief Executive Officer, Rumi Forum
Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Systems Engineering (2001)

Kate Burleigh
Managing Director, Intel Australia/New Zealand
Master of Business in Marketing (2000)

Kim Crestani
Director, Order Architects
Bachelor of Architecture (1984)

Sean Gordon
Chief Executive Officer, Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council
Bachelor of Education in Adult Education (2000)

Bettina McMahon
Executive General Manager, Government and Industry Collaboration and Adoption, Australian Digital Health Agency
Master of Business in Information Technology Management (2007)

Dr Frances Hughes ONZM
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, International Council of Nurses
Doctor of Nursing (2003)

Cristina Cifuentes
Commissioner, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Bachelor of Laws (2005)

Associate Professor Richard Ferrero
Research Group Head, Gastrointestinal Infection and Inflammation, Hudson Institute of Medical Research
Bachelor of Applied Science Biomedical Science, 1985

Return Of Sculptures To India

19 September 2016: Media Release - Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
Minister for Communications
Minister for the Arts
Manager of Government Business in the Senate

At an event today with the Minister for the Arts, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, and the Indian Minister for Culture and Tourism, the Hon Dr Mahesh Sharma, the National Gallery of Australia formally returned two statues from its Asian art collection to the Government of India.  

The Australian Government welcomes the National Gallery’s decision to voluntarily remove these antique statues from its collection.

The decision to return the Goddess Pratyangira and Worshippers of the Buddha statues is the result of extensive research by the National Gallery into the provenance of its Asian art collection.

The National Gallery is to be commended for showing leadership in maintaining a collection that meets the highest ethical standards.

The statues have been significant items in the National Gallery’s Asian art collection and treated with the utmost care while in Australia, but as significant examples of India’s heritage, the statues will be returned.

Throughout its investigation, the National Gallery has worked closely with its Indian counterparts, developing strong and enduring relationships.

The work between our institutions and governments leading up to this return is a demonstration of Australia’s close relationship with India.

The bilateral relationship with India is robust, with more than 500,000 people of Indian origin studying, working and living in Australia.

In 2014 Australia and India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cultural cooperation. An outcome of this MOU is the Festival of India in Australia which is showcasing India’s arts and culture across Australia until November 2016.