Inbox and Environment News: Issue 285

October 16 - 22, 2016: Issue 285

More Than 2.2 Million Hectares Of NSW Koala Habitat Could Be Cleared 

14 Oct 2016: WWF
WWF-Australia has commissioned a report that finds more than 2.2 million hectares of koala habitat could be cleared under proposed changes to tree clearing controls in NSW.

That represents about 10% of the known or likely koala habitat in NSW.

In total more than 8 million hectares of the state’s trees, forests and woodlands could be bulldozed.

The NSW Government is introducing four new self-assessable codes for land clearing: management, efficiency, equity and farm planning.

Environmental consultancy Eco Logical Australia analysed the potential impacts of just one of those codes - the Equity Code.

WWF-Australia commissioned this report because the NSW Government has failed to provide any estimates of the impact on clearing rates from these proposed changes and all freedom of information requests have been denied.

“Under what’s proposed tree clearing will be out of control,” said Dr Francesca Andreoni, WWF-Australia Forest and Woodland Conservation Policy Manager.

“We can’t allow our last remaining areas of forest and bush to be bulldozed. 

“Scientists have warned that the new laws could see a return to broad scale clearing in NSW – this report is further proof that they’re right.

“There are already major concerns about koalas with fears they are rapidly disappearing in New South Wales.

“This amount of clearing would put koalas and many other species of wildlife in the express lane to extinction in NSW,” she said.

About 38% of the trees, forests and woodlands that remain in NSW could be cleared, much of it out west.

In fact in the Western Local Land Services Area, about 84% of the remaining bush could potentially be cleared.

Other parts of the State with large areas that could be cleared under the Equity Code include:
- The North West LLS (nearly 800,000 ha making up 45% of total mapped woody vegetation)
- Northern Tablelands LLS (over 500,000 ha making up about 29% of total mapped woody vegetation), and
- The Central West LLS (nearly 500,000 ha making up 39% of total mapped woody vegetation).

Over 2.2 million hectares of forests identified as either known or likely koala habitat could potentially be cleared under the equity code.

This equates to about 13% of the mapped forests and woodlands across the State.

Local government areas with the greatest potential impact to koala habitat include:
- Walgett LGA (183,420 hectares) in the North West
- Warrumbungle LGA (164,964 hectares) in the Central West
- Inverell LGA (105,917 hectares), in the Northern Tablelands
- Tenterfield LGA (164, 035 hectares) in the Northern Tablelands, and
- Clarence Valley LGA (150,945 hectares) in the North Coast

Read Eco Logical Australia 2016. Potential Vegetation clearing under Proposed NSW LLS Act Equity Code – Analysis Paper. Prepared for WWF-Australia. HERE

Distribution of lots (properties) which may meet the Equity Code criteria:

Save Our Wildlife Rally

Wednesday, October 19 at 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Parliament of NSW
6 Macquarie Street, Sydney, Australia 2000

The fate of our wildlife rests in your hands. A proposal to weaken land-clearing laws could be voted on in Parliament as early as next week. If it passes, this would be the biggest weakening of our environmental protections in decades. 

The changes have been widely criticised by scientists, local government and conservation organisations as they will push our threatened species like the koala, quoll and pygmy possum to extinction. We need to turn out in force to stop these changes! 

Join the Save Our Wildlife rally and SHARE with your networks!

Top 10 Concerns With The Draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 AndLocal Land Services Amendment Bill

By EDO NSW Policy and Law Reform Director Rachel Walmsley
13 May 2016

The NSW Government’s proposed biodiversity legislative and policy package removes many of NSW’s long-held environmental protections, and represents a serious backward step for environmental law and policy in New South Wales. Here are EDO NSW's top 10 concerns with the draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 and Local Land Services Amendment Bill.

1. Repeal of the Native Vegetation Act and environmental standards that go with it
The Local Land Services Amendment Bill replaces the Native Vegetation Act and its world class Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology (EOAM) with self-assessable Codes, exemptions and discretionary clearing. There are no clear environmental baselines, aims or targets. There is no ban on broadscale clearing, no mandatory soil, water and salinity assessment, and no ‘maintain-or-improve’ standard to ensure environmental outcomes – either at the site scale or at the landscape scale. Provisions are less stringent, less evidence-based, less accountable, and are likely to result in significant clearing increases in NSW.

2. Heavy reliance on flexible and indirect biodiversity offsets
The proposed scheme is heavily reliant on ‘offsetting’ biodiversity impacts (by managing other areas for biodiversity) rather than preventing the impacts, and adopts the standards of the problematic Major Projects Offsets Policy. The Biodiversity Assessment Methodology (BAM) is therefore significantly weakened, for example, direct ‘like-for-like’ offsetting requirements are relaxed and can be circumvented. The option to pay money in lieu of an actual offset will result in net loss of certain threatened species and communities. Offset areas and set asides may be further offset later on rather than actually protected in perpetuity.

3. Conservation gains aren’t guaranteed in law, but dependent on funding decisions
The proposed regime places almost complete reliance on political, budgetary decisions (which may be short-term) to achieve biodiversity gains, rather than on protections in the Bill to prevent continued biodiversity decline. We strongly support incentives and stewardship payments to rural landholders to conserve and protect environmental values, but funding must be supported by rules and targets that stop valuable biodiversity being cleared in both rural and urban areas.

4. Uncertainty and discretion
While great reliance is placed on a ‘single scientific method’ to inform land-clearing decisions, there is discretion as to whether a consent authority actually has to apply the results. Offset requirements may be discounted based on other subjective considerations. There is even some discretion around “red lights”, i.e., where clearing and development could cause serious and irreversible biodiversity loss. SEPPs, Regulations and variation certificates provide for unnecessary exemptions from standard pathways. This will create uncertainty and loopholes instead of clarity and consistency.

5. Public participation is not mandatory
Decisions and instruments are not invalid even if consultation processes aren’t followed. Public consultation may be based on summary documents, and issues raised in submission may be ‘summarised’ by proponents instead of directly considered by decision-makers. The proposed public register provisions are far less detailed (for example, in terms of providing information about vegetation clearing and set asides).

6. Administration of a complex regime
The logic of repealing three and a half Acts to create one coherent Act and scheme is actually resulting in a carving up of responsibilities into the Local Land Services Act, Environmental Planning & Assessment Act, the new Biodiversity Conservation Act – and associated regulations, SEPPs and Codes. The NSW Government is departing from a key recommendation of the Independent Biodiversity legislation Review Panel – i.e., that land clearing involving a change of use should be assessed under planning laws – and is instead, handing the vast majority of clearing approvals to the Local Land Services which currently do not have the resources or expertise to carry out these functions. Furthermore, how the legislation will be applied will depend on future mapping, which is likely to be problematic and highly contested.

7. Contradictory legislation
On one hand, the Biodiversity Conservation Bill carries over provisions of our current threatened species laws (like listing threatened species and ecological communities by a scientific committee), while at the same time the Local Land Services Bill will increase known threats to those species. The Bills fail to tackle the conflict between reducing the impact of listed key threatening processes to biodiversity, and permitting more land clearing via self-assessed Codes and discretionary development applications. For example, the Biodiversity Conservation Bill lists “loss of hollow bearing trees” as a key threatening process, while at the same time, the Local Land Services Bill allows clearing of paddock trees without approval.

8. Lower environmental standards for ‘Biocertification’ at the landscape scale
The revised Biocertification scheme for large areas of land removes the requirement to ‘maintain or improve environmental outcomes’. Instead, it applies the BAM and imposes a broad discretion to impose conditions. It replaces the current positive test with a negative one - to avoid ‘serious and irreversible’ environmental outcomes as a result of biocertification. Removing the current test contradicts the Bill’s aim to conserve biodiversity and ecological integrity at regional and State scales.

9. Uncertain compliance, enforcement, monitoring and reporting
The NSW Government has been unable to estimate how much landclearing will occur under the new relaxed system – in particular, how much clearing will occur under the new self-assessable codes. The proposed legislation includes updated offences and penalties, but there is no indication who will undertake compliance and enforcement responsibilities. The Biodiversity Conservation Bill’s objects include improving and sharing knowledge (including drawing on local and Aboriginal knowledge) and the Biodiversity Panel’s report hinged on high-quality environmental data, monitoring and reporting. However, the legislation does not set clear requirements for these essential elements so it will be difficult to determine how much biodiversity is being lost under the relaxed rules.

10. Missed opportunities for key reforms
Rewriting our biodiversity laws is a once in a generation opportunity to put in place laws that will actually address the most significant threats to biodiversity. Unfortunately, the proposed legislation does not address necessary and important reforms, for example to address cumulative impacts and climate change impacts of clearing (and potential carbon gain). Instead, the Bill carries over deficiencies of current system for example: exemptions and wide discretion for projects with the biggest impacts (State Significant Development), vulnerable ecological communities are excluded from the definition of threatened species, and mining is still permitted in areas that supposedly offset previous losses and areas of outstanding biodiversity value.

Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 - public consultation draft, NEW SOUTH WALES DRAFT GOVERNMENT BILL
Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2016 - public consultation draft NEW SOUTH WALES DRAFT GOVERNMENT BILL

Community Values At Odds With Crown Lands Sell-Off Plans

13 October, 2016: Nature Conservation Council NSW
A report released today by a NSW upper house parliamentary committee found the community opposes government plans to sell off Crown lands, which people cherish for their environmental, social and cultural values. [1]

Off the back of today’s report, the NSW Nature Conservation Council and the NSW National Parks Association are is calling for a full audit of Crown lands to ensure threatened species habitat is adequately protected and never sold.

“Premier Baird is poised to introduce significant changes in Crown lands management without coming clean with the people about what’s really at stake,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

“We have not seen his draft legislation and the government can’t tell us what environmental values are at risk from these proposals.

“The parliamentary report shows that when the government looks at Crown lands, it sees dollar signs, and when the people look at Crown land, they see a rich environmental and cultural legacy that they want protected for future generations.

“Citizens have a right to know what treasures these lands contain before Mr Baird flogs them off or transfers them to local councils.

“Crown lands are often the last remnants of critical threatened species habitat, especially in the heavily cleared inland districts of the state, so the government has a duty to retain and protect them.”

NSW National Parks Association CEO Kevin Evans said: “This report sends a strong signal to the government that its focus on the economic benefits of Crown lands is misplaced and that it should move away from its proposed business-style approach.

“The community has made its views on Crown lands clear. People want them managed for their environmental and cultural values, not as just another resource to be exploited.

“The inquiry recommended the government consider an audit of the ecological values of Crown lands, including its local, regional and state environmental significance.

“We strongly support this recommendation and want to see ongoing protection of areas of high ecological value.”

Both organisations are calling on the government to release a draft exposure bill for community consultation, rather than introduce the bill into parliament without giving the community a changes to see what it contains, as is currently the plan. 

Government announced comprehensive review of the NSW Crown land estate.

Crown Lands Management Review (Carapiet Review) and Government Response

White Paper consultation

Local Council Pilot Study (confidential)
Government released response to White Paper submissions

Early 2016
Targeted stakeholder consultation

Late 2016
New Bill introduced into NSW Parliament 

Inquiry into Crown land- Report October 13, 2016

BP Announcement On Plans For The Great Australian Bight

NOPSEMA is aware of the announcement by BP Developments Australia (BP) on 11 October that it will not be progressing its exploration drilling programme in the Great Australian Bight. This decision by BP not to proceed with plans to drill exploration wells is a commercial decision for the company, and questions regarding the decision should be addressed to BP.

NOPSEMA has made no further notification to BP following a request for information issued on 28 September, in relation to their environment plan for the drilling of the Whinham-1 and Stromlo-1 wells. The environment plans submitted by BP for drilling in the Great Australian Bight remain under assessment by NOPSEMA. This assessment process will proceed until the environment plans are withdrawn by BP. NOPSEMA has not received a withdrawal request.

To date NOPSEMA has had productive dialogue with BP and other stakeholders, including community interests such as fisheries and environmental groups. NOPSEMA will continue to engage with industry, other interested stakeholders, and the wider community.
Questions regarding the plans of other companies holding titles in the Great Australian Bight should be directed to the specific companies.

National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority: 

Independent PAC To Make Final Decision On The Mount Owen Continued Operations Project

12.10.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
The independent Planning Assessment Commission will now make the final decision on the Mount Owen Continued Operations Project near Muswellbrook as the Department of Planning and Environment submits its final assessment report, with recommended strict conditions responding to issues raised by the community.

In its assessment, the Department has carefully considered all recommendations made by the Commission in its February 2016 review, issues raised in public submissions, advice from Government agencies and the findings of independent air quality and economics reviews.

Glencore’s response to the Commission’s review made several changes to the project and these have also been addressed by the Department.

Changes include a revised mine plan which no longer proposes mining from the RERR pit, reducing total proposed coal extraction by six million tonnes and resulting in no additional final voids, beyond those approved for the current mining operations. Glencore also provided updated rehabilitation plans.

Based on its extensive assessment, the Department has recommended approval of the modified proposal and concluded that recommended, stringent conditions would appropriately address all issues raised and effectively minimise the project’s potential impacts.

A spokesperson from the Department said 45 environmental performance conditions have been recommended. A significant number of conditions focus on key issues raised by the community and the Commission such as biodiversity, air quality and mine rehabilitation.

Key updates to the conditions recommended by the Department include:
  • a stronger air quality management plan requiring the construction of a weather station near the closest affected residences and a proactive dust management plan to better manage dust generating activities at the mine
  • strengthened requirements to monitor the mine’s compliance with air quality and noise limits
  • strengthened requirements for seasonal flora and fauna monitoring
  • strengthened requirements for reporting of biodiversity management, rehabilitation and regeneration measures, including independent audits of the mine’s performance on these measures every three years
  • targeted conditions relating to biodiversity offset and rehabilitation outcomes, including a focus on the regeneration of threatened animal and plant species and rehabilitation of their habitats
  • voluntary acquisition rights for a total of eight private properties.
“The Department has closely considered the new mine plan and the company’s efforts to address the Commission’s recommendations on the mine’s final landform and rehabilitation. The Department has found the project now meets contemporary standards for final landform design and has recommended seven strict conditions to ensure that rehabilitation meets appropriate standards,” a spokesperson said.

“Glencore’s updated rehabilitation plans propose a new 144 hectare biodiversity offset known as the Mitchell Hills Offset Area, and additional rehabilitated woodland corridors. This brings the total proposed biodiversity offsets to 1,430 hectares, including 518 hectares of rehabilitated woodland vegetation.

“The Commission is an important part of the NSW planning system ensuring major developments are subject to expert, independent review and assessment.

“The Commission will now consider the Department’s report and recommended conditions as well as community submissions to make a final decision.”

For more information visit the Department’s website

National Heritage Listing For Snowy Mountain Scheme

14 October 2016: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
The biggest industrial development Australia has ever attempted, the Snowy Mountains Scheme, today become the 107th place to be added to the National Heritage List.

Constructed between 1949 and 1974, the scheme is made up of 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts, with only two per cent of the entire construction visible above the ground.

The National Heritage Listed area includes 15 major dams, nine power stations and a pumping station, covering a mountainous area of 4,600 square kilometres in southern New South Wales.

The scheme’s dams, tunnels, aqueducts and power stations are some of the most complex and technical engineering and construction feats in the country and the world. Significant engineering advancements were achieved during the construction of the scheme, including rockbolting and the use of 330 kV transmission lines. Importantly, the scheme was completed on time and on budget.

More than 100,000 people from around 30 countries worked on the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

Seventy per cent of these were migrants displaced from their homes in Europe during the Second World War. These workers and their children lived in towns and camps across the Snowy Mountains during construction and still holds a special significance for workers, their descendants and the wider community as a symbol of multicultural Australia.

The Snowy Mountains Scheme is an audacious and brilliant example of modern Australia—a bold idea brought to life by the hard-work of thousands of people coming to Australia from all over the world.

The Snowy Mountains Scheme remains one of Australia’s largest producers of renewable energy, including nearly a third of renewable energy fed into the eastern mainland grid, and water flowing from the scheme supports over $3 billion in agricultural production.

The scheme’s inclusion in the National Heritage List formalises the important chapter the Snowy Scheme has in the Australian story and cements its place in the nation’s history.

Top: Snowy mountains scheme - Talbingo Dam, 1981
courtesy National Archives of Australia. Image No.: A6135, K12/1/81/183

Nature In Cities: Can Urban Planners Enhance Human Well-Being Using Biodiversity?

The University of Sydney is conducting a survey on how diverse communities interact with components of nature and biodiversity in cities, and how this affects their well-being. 

The results will help urban planners to prioritise specific elements of greenspace in order to maximise the community’s benefit.

Please take a short survey to help with this research.

Floating Landcare In The Pittwater/Hawkesbury Area 

Volunteers needed:
Where: Portugese Beach, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
When: Tuesday 8th November 2016
Time: 8:15am start and return 2:00pm
Meet at: Taylors Point Wharf, Clareville
Cost: FREE

RSVP: Essential by Friday 28th October! Please email your name and phone number to or call Rebecca Mooy at Greater Sydney Local Land Services on 02 4724 2120. Confirmation details will be sent to all volunteers via email on 1.11.2016
8 volunteers so far, can take another 12.

Amazing progress on the Lantana on the steeper slopes at the southern end of the beach and a sweep through the dune for Aspargus Fern, Cotton Bush and litter. Looking for a few more volunteers to enjoy this trip and help with some follow up. This Beach could also be ideal for a swim in November.

Return transport on an oyster barge will be included as will morning tea, lunch, tools, gloves and bush regen knowledge from Judy Morris and Natasha Funke from NPWS.

To find out more about Floating Landcare: 

Northern Gates To Open In Kosciuszko National Park

Media release: 11 October 2016 - Office of Environment & Heritage, NSW Government
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) plan to open gates to the seasonally closed northern section of Kosciusko National Park this weekend, from Friday 14th October, following an extended closure due to bad weather.

NPWS Regional Manager, Mick Pettitt said visitors can now safely access Long Plain, Currango Homestead, Blue Waterholes and other popular sites across the northern section of the Park.

“Unseasonal late snowfalls and wet weather forced us to delay opening these gates earlier this month to ensure visitor safety,” Mr Pettitt said.

“Inclement weather created hazardous road and driving conditions and we had incidents of trees falling across trails.

“Late snowfall also meant some sites were not suitable for vehicle access.

“The extended closure also prevented serious damage being caused to our trail network and campgrounds.

“Delaying access now means that these trails are in reasonably good condition and can be accessed and enjoyed by visitors.

“Most gates, trails and campgrounds in the northern section will be open from Friday 14th October,” Mr Pettitt said. 

Unfortunately Broken Cart Trail remains closed due to very wet conditions and treefalls across the trail. 

NPWS reminds visitors to check NPWS Alerts before coming to the park to get up to date information on closures still in place and check local conditions.

For more information on Kosciuszko National Park, go to the NPWS Website or call the NPWS Tumut Visitor Centre on 6947 7025 or NPWS Jindabyne Visitor Centre on 6450 5600


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

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.

Have Your Say On The Extension Of Martins Creek Quarry

13.10.2016: Departmental Media Release-Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Buttai Gravel Pty Ltd to extend the Martins Creek Quarry near Maitland 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 proposal, which seeks to:
  • clear 37.8 hectares of vegetation to expand the existing extraction area
  • rehabilitate the quarry site progressively, and after extraction is completed
  • extract up to 1.5 million tonnes of hard rock material per year
  • increase the hours of operation
  • transport processed material to market by road trucks and trains
  • construct a new access driveway and bridge.
The project at Station Street in Martins Creek would create approximately 36 jobs when the quarry is fully operational (an increase from the current 24) and provide a substantial number of additional short-term construction jobs.

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 or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit

Submissions can be made from Thursday 13 October until Thursday 24 November 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: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
  • Dungog Shire Council: Council Administration Office,198 Dowling St, Dungog
  • Maitland City Council: 285-287 High Street, Maitland
  • Nature Conservation Council: 14/338 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Have Your Say On Modifications To A Sand Quarry In The Hills

11.10.2016: Departmental Media Release  -Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Dixon Sand Pty Ltd for modifications to its Haerses Road Sand Quarry in Maroota 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 proposed modification, which seeks to:
  • expand the approved extraction area by approximately 19 hectares
  • extend the life of the quarry by 15 years until 2046
  • use mobile crushers and mobile watering equipment
  • import up to 100,000 tonnes per annum of clean recycled natural materials, such as soil and gravel, to be blended with the extracted sand.
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 or view the Modification Application and accompanying documents, visit

Submissions can be made from Wednesday 12 October until Thursday 10 November 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to:

Department of Planning and Environment
Attn: Director – Resource Assessments
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001

The Modification Application and accompanying documents are also available to view in person at:
Department of Planning & Environment: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
The Hills Shire Council: Customer Service Centre, 3 Columbia Court, Baulkham Hills
Nature Conservation Council: 14/338 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Nature Conservancy Writing Prize 2017

Enter The Nature Conservancy Australia Nature Writing Prize today!
Calling all writers! The Nature Conservancy Australia is delighted to open the fourth biennial Nature Writing Prize. 

$5,000 will be awarded to an essay of between 3,000 and 5,000 words in the genre of ‘Writing of Place’. The prize will go to an Australian writer whose entry is judged to be of the highest literary merit and which best explores his or her relationship and interaction with some aspect of the Australian landscape. The competition’s judges are award-winning journalist, author and editor Jo Chandler and novelist and critic James Bradley. The winning entry will be published in Griffith Review online as a multimedia essay.

The prize has been made possible thanks to a generous donation from the McLean Foundation, which promotes and celebrates the art of nature writing in Australia.

The deadline for submissions is January 27, 2017Click here to learn more about the prize and review the terms and conditions of entry.

$50 Million For New Macquarie Island Research Station

14 October 2016: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
Australia’s science and research capacity will be boosted with the Turnbull Coalition Government set to spend up to $50 million to build a new state of the art research station on Macquarie Island.

This significant investment is in addition to the $2.2 billion the Coalition Government is already investing to support its landmark Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan.

The new station will be the most advanced of its type in the Southern Ocean, capable of supporting the full range of priority activities we have conducted in the past and to ensure a permanent and recurring year round presence.

Due to its position as the only base between Australia and Antarctica, Macquarie Island is an important global monitoring location for scientific research, including monitoring southern hemisphere weather and climatic data.

The new station guarantees continued support for high priority science and long-term monitoring by the science community, including the work of the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.

The continued year-round presence on Macquarie Island means integral international weather data will be maintained and that our ongoing global contribution to monitoring radioactive and nuclear activity will continue.

The new modern station will be significantly more efficient than the existing station and be designed to have minimal environmental impact, lower operating and maintenance costs.

The existing station, which is reaching the end of its life, will be decommissioned and the old buildings removed over the next decade. Permanent operations will be maintained in the lead up to the new station being fully operational by 2021-22.

The Federal and Tasmanian governments have a long and proud historical association with Macquarie Island and preserving this heritage will also be a priority. This is a sensible and modern approach to our future research effort in the region while also ensuring we protect what is a precious environmental asset.

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

Counting On Birdwatchers For Nation-Wide Big White Bird Count

Media release: 10 October 2016 - Office of Environment & Heritage, NSW Government

People all over Australia are being asked to help count some of our most loved and misunderstood big white birds in partnership with the Aussie Backyard Bird Count during National Bird Week.

From October 17-23 citizen scientists are invited to participate in the annual Australian white ibis and sulphur-crested cockatoo census coordinated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

Dr John Martin, Wildlife Ecologist for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, said the survey aims to better understand the numbers of these native birds, where they breed and the habitats they use across Australia.

“People normally have a good knowledge of their local areas so they can help us by reporting the number of ibis and cockies they observe in their favourite outdoor space,” Dr Martin said. 

“Reporting your sightings through the Aussie Backyard Bird Count app is an easy way you can help us determine if current management practices are working.

“Although we are specifically interested to get a more accurate assessment of the ibis and cockatoo populations, the survey asks participants to report all of the species they encounter and the app can assist with bird ID,” Dr Martin said. 

Cockatoos and ibis are native to Australia and have both increased in numbers along the coast over the last 40 years in response to drought and changes to the inland woodlands and wetlands.

“Both species have made an incredible adaptation to living within close proximity to humans and have even altered their diet to include hand-outs such as bread,” Dr Martin said.

“The ibis survey began in 2003, since that time more than 2000 ibis have been colour-banded and wing-tagged to enable us to learn more about their movement behaviour.

“They have been recorded moving 30 kilometres between daily foraging sites, with fledglings found to move from Sydney to as far away as Townsville, 2500 kilometres north.

“Since 2011, a similar study has wing-tagged cockatoos at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney and from this it appears that the cockies have only moved within 30 kilometres,” Dr Martin said.

In previous years volunteers have counted birds in wetlands and parks from Tweed to Dubbo to Albury and it is hoped the coverage will increase this year.

Participants can submit their data to, the Aussie Bird Count app or through the white ibis survey  and cockatoo survey

Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2016

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

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

NSW Coastal Council

October 13, 2016: Office of Environment & Heritage, NSW Government
Do you have the expertise to contribute to improved management of the NSW coastline?

The NSW Government is inviting applications for membership on the NSW Coastal Council from those with the relevant technical knowledge and expertise in:
  • coastal physical sciences, including geomorphology
  • coastal engineering
  • coastal land use planning
  • coastal ecology
  • social science
  • economics
  • local government management
  • property law
  • dispute resolution
  • traditional and contemporary Aboriginal use and management of the coastal zone.
The Coastal Council will provide independent advice to the Minister administering the Coastal Management Act 2016 on coastal planning and management issues.

The Coastal Council will meet in Sydney as required, expected to be 6-8 times in the first year. Appointments to the Coastal Council are paid positions for an initial 18 month to 3 year term.

Members of the Coastal Council will be remunerated at $30,000 per annum. The Chairperson will receive $55,000 per annum. Annual fees will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

Members will be able to demonstrate capabilities to perform the following functions:
  1. provide strategic advice to the Minister, including in relation to the Minister's functions under the Coastal Management Act 2016
  2. assess compliance by local councils with management objectives and the coastal management manual in preparing and reviewing coastal management programs
  3. conduct a performance audit of the implementation of a coastal management program of a local council
  4. provide advice to a public authority on coastal management issues.
To submit an expression of interest please send a cover letter and resume to:
Applications close 31 October 2016.
For more information, email 

NSW Litter Volume Drops

October 12, 2016: NSW Government
NSW is almost halfway to meeting the Premier's Priority target to reduce litter volume by 40 per cent by 2020.
There has been a 19 per cent reduction in the state's litter volume from 2013-14 to 2015-16, this year's Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index results has found.

Environment Minister Mark Speakman said the results showed campaigns, litter reduction programs and public education initiatives were helping to keep our environment clean.

“The message is getting through that we need to prevent litter from ending up in our waterways, beaches and communities, but there is still more to do,” Mr Speakman said.

The latest survey found drink containers made up 49 per cent of total litter volume. The NSW container deposit scheme starting in July 2017 is expected to further reduce this type of litter.

Gloucester Community Vows To Fight Rocky Hill Coal Mine And Its Impacts On Local Land And Water

October 14, 2016: Lock the Gate Alliance
After fighting off the AGL CSG project near Gloucester, community group Groundswell Gloucester today reaffirmed its opposition to the proposed Rocky Hill coal mine, as public submissions on the project closed.

Groundswell Gloucester will today hand more than 1,000 community submissions against the project to the Department of Environment and Planning.

Groundswell Gloucester Chair Julie Lyford said, "We’ve shown our strength as a community in standing up for our land and water against coal seam gas and I’m confident we’ll be able to work together to protect our community’s health and tourism industry from this damaging coal mine.

"Community submissions on the Rocky Hill project point out that the proposed mine is less than one kilometre form the Forbesdale residential estate and within five kilometres of Gloucester’s schools, hospital and most of its residents’ homes.

"This is no place for a coal mine. It’s unacceptable for our community to be put at risk of particulate pollution from open-cut mining, which is known to lead to reduced respiratory health and increased death rates in surrounding communities.

"Gloucester is home to a thriving $50 million tourism industry and protecting its sustainability along with the health of our community, is worth far more than the dubious economic claims being made by the mine’s proponents.

"Simply putting conditions on the mine will not be enough to protect our community, which has no reason to trust conditions will be complied with, based on past experience in Gloucester and the Hunter Valley of conditions, such as night-time work hours, being changed.

"The only acceptable outcome is for the state government to reject this damaging project outright," Ms Lyford said.

Come To The Harvest Festival On Liverpool Plains

Join the people of the Liverpool Plains and their supporters for a fun family-friendly weekend, bringing people together from far and wide to protect our food bowl and cultural heritage from Shenhua’s mega coal mine.
Harvest Festival against Shenhua, Friday 6th Nov – Sunday 8th Nov, at Breeza on the Liverpool Plains. 
There will be live music, tours, kids activities, food, plus workshops on local farming, Gomeroi culture and heritage, the risks posed by the Shenhua mine, the skills to defend the Liverpool Plains against the mine… and more!
To ensure you have the most up to date information about Harvest Festival, and to help organisers with numbers, it is important register to attend. Registering is quick and easy, simply click the "register here" link and fill out the form.
Harvest Festival against Shenhua is taking place at “West Garawan” (next to the proposed Shenhua mine site) at Breeza on the Liverpool Plains. The program kicks off at 7pm Friday 6 November, and runs through to 4pm Sunday 8 November. Gates open 12pm Friday for camping set-up.
Toilets and adequate showers will be provided, otherwise come self-sufficient to camp on a hot open plain (eg. bring your tent, sleeping bag, torch, water bottle, and personal items). There are a range of alternative accommodation options in the nearby towns and villages of Quirindi, Gunnedah, Werris Creek or Spring Ridge. All of these options are roughly 20-30 minute drive from the event site. Food will be available on-site either to purchase or via suggested donation to cover costs.
A full program detailing speakers, workshops, and other activities will be posted here once it is available.
Each day there will be workshops, talks, tours, and fun for the kids throughout. It will be an inspiring and memorable weekend of good times, learning, and the chance to meet new people. On Friday and Saturday evenings there will be quality country music and the option to relax over dinner and a drink on your picnic rug.
The workshop program will:
  • Offer education by locals and key experts in: local farming practices, water impacts and other threats of the mine, and local ecology – including koalas.
  • Provide Gomeroi culture and heritage education by Gomeroi traditional owners.
  • Sightseeing and photography tours of the beautiful and iconic Liverpool Plains.
  • Focus on building capacity, preparedness and next steps to take action against Shenhua.
  • Provide skills sharing in peaceful direct action.
From Sydney: 4 ½ hours, via Pacific Motorway and New England Hwy
From Newcastle: 3 hours 15 minutes, via New England Hwy
From Tamworth: 50 minutes, via Werris Crk Rd
From Armidale: 2 hours, 10 minutes, via New England Hwy
From Lismore: 6 hours, via New England Hwy
From Brisbane: 7 1/2 hours, via New England Hwy
From Melbourne: 12 hours, via Newell Hwy
From Canberra: 7 hours, via Pacific Motorway and New England Hwy
There is also a daily train service available from Sydney to Gunnedah.

Have Your Say On Increased Coal Production At The Mandalong Southern Extension Project

06.10.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Centennial Mandalong Pty Ltd for an increase in maximum coal production at the Mandalong Southern Extension Project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The proposed modification seeks to increase the maximum annual production of unprocessed coal from six to six-and-a-half million tonnes.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposed modification for the mine near Morisset, approximately 35 kilometres southwest of Newcastle.

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 or view the Modification Application and accompanying documents, visit

Submissions can be made from Thursday 6 October until Monday 24 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 Modification Application and accompanying documents are also available to view in person at:
Department of Planning and Environment: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
Central Coast Council: 2 Hely Street, Wyong
Lake Macquarie City Council: 126-138 Main Road, Speers Point
Nature Conservation Council: 14/338 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Have Your Say On Modifications To The Bengalla Continuation Project

06.10.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Bengalla Mining Company Pty Ltd for modifications to the Bengalla Continuation Project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The proposed modifications seek to change the locations of explosive storage and reloading facilities, a water supply pipeline from the Hunter River and top soil stockpiles from fixed positions to more flexible locations within the mine’s approved disturbance boundary.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposed modifications for the project located four kilometres west of Muswellbrook.

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 or view the Modification Application and other accompanying documents, visit

Submissions can be made from Thursday 6 October until Monday 24 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 Modification Application and other accompanying documents are also available to view in person at:
Department of Planning and Environment: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
Muswellbrook Shire Council: Administration Centre, 157 Maitland Street, Muswellbrook
Nature Conservation Council: 14/338 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Have Your Say On The Springvale Mine Water Treatment Project

26.09.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Springvale Coal Pty Limited for a water treatment 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 proposal, which seeks to:

• construct a pipeline to transfer mine water to Mount Piper Power Station
• treat this water at a new desalination plant at the power station
• use treated water in the power station’s cooling water system
• discharge any excess treated water through the Springvale Coal Services site
• place remaining by-products from the treatment process at the Springvale Coal Services site.
The Planning Assessment Commission granted Springvale coal mine a 13-year extension of its operations last September.
As part of its approval, the Commission required the mine to reduce the salinity of its discharges into the water catchment over the long term.

This proposal would allow the mine to achieve these water quality improvements while also supplying the power station with most of the water it needs to operate.

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 or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit  

Submissions can be made from Tuesday 27 September until Tuesday 8 November 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: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
• Lithgow City Council: 180 Mort Street, Lithgow
• Nature Conservation Council: Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Have Your Say Invincible Coal Mine - Southern Extension Modification

Exhibition Start 27/09/2016
Exhibition End 08/11/2016

"Castlereagh Coal are seeking approval for the extension of mining to occur over a period of up to 8 years to provide for flexibility in the supply of nut coal through: 
• providing an option for Manildra to source all required nut coal directly from Invincible 
• continuing to source nut coal from a range of other existing sources supplemented by supply from Invincible where necessary or cost effective to do so 
• utilising a blended product using coal from the other seams within the Southern Extension Area where this can be used at the Shoalhaven Starches Plant. 

The mining of coal in the target Lithgow Seam will necessarily involve the extraction of coal from the Lidsdale and Irondale Seams which are located above the Lithgow Seam. In total, there is an estimated 2.7 Million tonnes (Mt) of run-of-mine (ROM) coal in all seams down to, and including, the Lithgow Seam. 

Investigations are currently being undertaken to assess whether coal from the Lidsdale or Irondale Seams can be used at the Shoalhaven Starches Plant when washed and blended with coal from the Lithgow Seam. Surplus coal from the Lidsdale and Irondale Seams which is unable to be used in the Shoalhaven Starches Plant will be sold to Mt Piper Power Station for energy production consistent with the previous mining operations at Invincible."

Ghost Net Retrieval A Work Of Art

Joint media release with Australian Fisheries Management Authority
10-10-2016 - Maritime Border Command
Following a joint operation by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and Maritime Border Command (MBC) within the Australian Border Force (ABF), a large ghost net has been removed from the Arafura Sea, north-east of Darwin.

The abandoned gillnet was sighted by Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Cape Byron south of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (AEEZ) boundary, North West of Cape Wessel during patrol on 29 September 2016.

ADV Cape Byron, spent several hours retrieving the 800 metre net weighing one tonne. During the retrieval, a number of turtles were released unharmed and a quantity of fish were found dead and discarded.
AFMA arranged for the recovery of the net and is in discussion to provide a piece of the net to an Australian gallery for use in a ghost net display. 

The rest of the net will be split between indigenous art centres Pormpuraaw Art & Cultural Centre Incorporated and Erub Arts, Darnley Island Art Centre to be turned into ghost net art.

AFMA’s General Manager of Operations, Peter Venslovas, said this latest retrieval was a great outcome; both in removing the threat to the marine life and that the net will now be used to highlight the damage ghost nets inflict on the marine environment. 

“Ghost nets wreak havoc on our oceans and AFMA is committed to working with other Australian Government agencies to ensure that this threat continues to be minimised,” Mr Venslovas said.

“Recycling ghost nets for the purposes of art raises public awareness about the impacts abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear have on our oceans.”

Commander Maritime Border Command, Rear Admiral Peter Laver, said this operation again illustrates the ABF’s commitment to protecting Australia’s maritime environment.

“Our marine officers play an important role in safeguarding the natural resources and unique biodiversity found across our maritime border,” Rear Admiral Laver said.

Maritime Border Command is committed to protecting our wildlife by removing these ghost nets. If you do encounter a ghost net I would urge you to report it to Border Watch on 1800 009 623.”

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

Upper Namoi Valley FMP

Public Exhibition of the draft Floodplain Management Plan for the Upper Namoi Valley Floodplain

What's this about?
The proposed Upper Namoi Valley Floodplain Management Plan (FMP) will manage the development of flood works on the Upper Namoi Valley floodplain.

Once the plan commences, all new flood works and amendments to existing flood works will require approval in line with the Upper Namoi Valley FMP prior to their construction. The FMP provides management zones, rules and assessment criteria for determining flood work applications. 

Have your say
Public submissions are now invited on the Draft Upper Namoi Valley FMP.

The draft plan and additional information can be obtained from the DPI Water website -

The exhibition period is open until 28 October 2016 and written submissions must be received by this date. 

Date: Sep. 19 - Oct. 28, 2016
Time: 9:00am — 11:59pm

More Information

Email Rebecca Ballard:
 02 6774 9583 

Exposure Draft Of The Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill

10 October 2016: Media Release - 
Attorney-General for Australia 
Senator the Hon George Brandis QC

The Government today has released an Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill. The Exposure Draft will form the basis for ongoing consultation should the same-sex marriage plebiscite go ahead.

The key features of the Exposure Draft are:
  1. The definition of marriage would change: The definition of marriage in s 5 of the Marriage Act would be changed to replace “a man and a woman” with “two people”. 
  2. The conditions for a valid marriage would stay the same: It will continue to be the case that a marriage would be void if, for example, the parties are in a ‘prohibited relationship’, consent was not real, or one or both parties are not of marriageable age.
  3. Foreign same-sex marriages would be recognised in Australia: All valid marriage solemnised under the law of a foreign country, including same-sex marriages, would be recognised in Australia if they are consistent with Australian law. A foreign marriage would not be valid in Australia if the marriage would be unlawful in Australia, for example, if the parties are siblings, in a parent-child relationship, or are polygamous.
  4. Existing protections for ministers of religion would be retained and strengthened: ministers of religion would be able to refuse to solemnise a marriage on the grounds that the marriage is not the union of a man and a woman, if that refusal conforms to the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of the minister’s religion, or is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of the religion, or if (irrespective of the teachings of his or her church) the minister has a conscientious objection to same-sex marriage.
  5. Marriage celebrants (including those who are not ministers of religion) would be able to refuse to marry a same-sex couple: In addition to the existing law whereby marriage celebrants are under no obligation to solemnise marriage, the Marriage Act would be amended to allow marriage celebrants who are not ministers of religion to refuse, on the basis of conscientious or religious beliefs, to solemnise a marriage on the grounds that the marriage is not the union of a man or a woman. Religious bodies and religious organisations would also be able to refuse to provide facilities, goods or services for the purpose of solemnisation of a same sex marriage, or for purposes reasonably incidental thereto, if the refusal conforms to the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of the religion, or is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents to that religion.
In the event that the Parliament passes the Plebiscite Bill, the Government proposes the establishment of a Joint Select Committee to review and report on the Exposure Draft. The composition of the Committee would be as agreed by the Government, the Opposition, and Crossbench parties.

In all its dealings in this matter, the Government has acted in good faith to acknowledge the diverse and strongly held views of all participants. The Government recognises that it is important for Australians to know what the effect may be of voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at the plebiscite.

The Government went to the 2016 Federal Election with a commitment to hold a plebiscite as soon as practicable. By introducing the Plebiscite Bill and this Exposure Draft, we are honouring the commitment we made to the Australian people.

This is the quickest way towards achieving same-sex marriage in this Parliament. For those who believe in same-sex marriage this is the most immediate and only feasible opportunity to achieve this in the foreseeable future.

The Labor Party did nothing to progress same-sex marriage during their six years in Government. They should not get in the way in Opposition. The Government calls on Bill Shorten and the Labor Party to get out of the way, stop the delay and make same-sex marriage a reality.

More Mental Health Prescriptions Dispensed—But Government Spending Falls Due To Lower Costs

Canberra, 14 October 2016 
While more subsidised mental health-related prescriptions are being dispensed in Australia, government spending on these medications has fallen, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Mental health services—in brief 2016, shows that $753 million was spent by the Federal Government on mental health-related subsidised prescriptions under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS)—accounting for about 8% of all PBS/RPBS subsidies.

AIHW spokesperson Tim Beard said that after adjusting for inflation, spending on subsidised mental health-related prescriptions fell on average by 1.4% per year between 2009–10 and 2013–14.

'Despite this, more prescriptions were dispensed—rising by an average of 2.6% per year over the five years from 2010–11,' Mr Beard said.

'This was largely due to the decreased cost of many subsidised medications.'

In total, there were 35 million prescriptions dispensed to 3.9 million patients during 2014–15.

'Antidepressant medication was the most frequently dispensed medication, accounting for about 68% (or 24 million) of mental health-related prescriptions dispensed,' Mr Beard said.

The rate of prescriptions was highest in Inner regional areas, at 1,934 prescriptions per 1,000 people. It was lowest in Very remote areas, at 436 prescriptions per 1,000 people.

'Among the states and territories, Tasmania had the highest rate of prescriptions, at 1,942 per 1,000 people. The lowest rate of prescriptions was 738 per 1,000 people in the Northern Territory,' Mr Beard said.

Today's report also shows that overall, an estimated $8 billion was spent on mental health-related services in Australia during 2013–14—equivalent to $344 per person. This included $2.1 billion on public hospital services for admitted patients and $1.9 billion for community mental health care.

The report is accompanied by other updates to information on the Mental Health Services in Australia website, including emergency departments, community and residential care, hospitalisations and GP activity.

$8.6 Million For Innovative Medical Devices

11 October 2016: NSW Dept. of Health
Four companies have been granted $8.6 million through the NSW Government’s Medical Devices Fund to bring their innovative medical technologies to market.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner presented the fourth annual Medical Devices Fund (MDF) grants at NSW Parliament House. The grants, which will help develop new medical devices and deliver hope for people with a range of medical ailments, were awarded to:
  • Elastagen Pty Ltd ($4 million) for Elastatherapy, a skin regeneration and wound repair product based on its unique tropoelastin-based biomaterial platform used in the surgical treatment of severe scars.
  • Nano-X Pty Ltd ($2.5 million) for Nano‐X, a smarter and smaller cancer radiotherapy machine that will enable affordable, accessible best‐practice radiotherapy in resource‐limited areas.
  • Respiratory Innovations Pty Ltd ($1.3 million) for Breathe Well, a device that provides breast cancer patients with breath hold instructions to reduce the risk of radiotherapy causing unnecessary and potentially fatal radiation heart damage.
  • HEARworks Pty Ltd ($750,000) for the development of the Auditory Cortical Discrimination (ACORD) test to assist clinicians in deciding which hearing‐impaired infants should receive cochlear implants.
Mrs Skinner said the government is determined to capitalise on the growth of the state’s medical technology industry through the MDF, a key election commitment.

“This year’s winners offer a range of pioneering devices with the potential to transform the delivery of health care and deliver life-saving benefits for patients,” she said.

Since the first round in 2013, the MDF has helped multiple companies establish successful products, including Saluda Medical, which received $5 million and is about to celebrate the 12-month anniversary of its first pain relief device being implanted in a NSW patient.

Atomo Diagnostics, which received $1.8 million in the 2015 round for its rapid ‘self- testing’ HIV test, recently received a $6 million investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

An independent expert panel, chaired by NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Mary O’Kane, selected this year’s MDF grant recipients.

The NSW Government annually invests more than $8 million in the MDF. Please visit the NSW Medical Devices Fund page for more information.

Australian College Of Nursing Launches Nurses Are Essential In Health And Aged Care Reform White Paper 

October 11, 2016
Today the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) launches its Nurses are Essential in Health and Aged Care Reform White Paper at a Parliamentary Breakfast in the Mural Hall, Parliament House, in front of a host of dignitaries. The event will be attended by key nursing leaders, industry CEO’s and academics from the health profession. ACN is honoured that Adjunct Professor Debra Thoms FACN DLF, Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer will be attending today.

The Nurses are Essential in Health and Aged Care Reform White Paperfocuses on the following key points:

  • With a workforce of 360,000, the nursing profession is ideally placed to drive health reform in Australia.
  • Ensuring the nursing voice is heard in strategic policy debates and reform developments.
  • The pursuit of improved access, quality and sustainable health and aged care will only be possible if nurses are supported to allow them to work to their full scope, and expanded scope where necessary.
  • Investing in nursing leadership to support systems of mentoring, professional development, resilience and capacity building.
Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, CEO of the Australian College of Nursing said, 
“Today’s launch will highlight that the voice of the nursing profession cannot be ignored in the health and aged care reform agenda. ACN is ready and willing to work with the Australian Government and health care partners work towards positive health and aged care reform.”

ACN’s Nurses are Essential in Health and Aged Care Reform White Paper is available here: 

Antarctic Snow Vehicle Goes Pink In Support Of Hope

11th October 2016
One of Australia’s tracked Antarctic snow vehicles has been painted pink and filled with messages of love and support as a unique tribute to those whose lives have been affected by cancer.

Social Club president Mel Pike and BreastScreen Tasmania representative Lyn Gibson (Photo: Eliza Grey) 

The Hägglunds will head south to Antarctica later this month on the Aurora Australis, arriving at its new home – Davis research station – in November.

Australian Antarctic Division staff were invited to name the pink Hägglunds, nominating ‘Opal’ – the birthstone for the month of October and symbol of inspiration and hope.

The Australian Antarctic Division’s Social Club officially unveiled Opal at a fundraising breakfast at the Division’s headquarters in Kingston, this morning.

The Division’s Social Club President, Melanie Pike, said painting the Hägglunds pink was a way to honour those whose lives have been affected by cancer and raise awareness of the support available through organisations such as BreastScreen Tasmania.

“Like many people in the community, staff at the Australian Antarctic Division have been touched by cancer and we wanted to show our support,” Ms Pike said.

“Hägglunds are commonly used in Antarctica and as the only pink one on the continent, Opal will be a very special part of the Australian Antarctic Program.”

Ms Pike said staff were being invited to write messages for those affected by cancer inside the Hägglunds before it departs for Antarctica.

“We wanted to find a way to bring the Hägglunds alive and personalise its presence in Antarctica, so we are encouraging our staff to leave a tribute for any loved ones who have lost their battle with cancer, or to write a message of support for family and friends living with cancer,” she said.

The Division’s Social Club joined forces with BreastScreen Tasmania.
BreastScreen Tasmania Acting State Manager, Lyn Gibson said the pink Hägglunds was a wonderful way to communicate an important message regarding a cancer diagnosis.

“Not only does a diagnosis of cancer affect the individual concerned, but also their family, friends, work colleagues and even expeditioners in Antarctica,” Ms Gibson said.

“Providing access to screening and support services in remote locations through the Mobile Screening Units is a vitally important role of BreastScreen Tasmania.

“Women and their families are able to access screening services from the Bass Strait islands, to as far south as Dover.”

The Hägglunds will stay at Davis research station where it will be used to transport scientists and expeditioners over the coming years and serve as a reminder around the importance of screening and early intervention.

As part of this initiative, staff at the Division and in Antarctica have raised over $750 for the cause. The money will be used to purchase iPads for cancer patients undergoing treatment at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Astroglia Zip The Two Halves Of The Brain Together

October 11, 2016
Scientists have identified the cellular origins of the corpus callosum, the 200 million nerve fibers that connect the two hemispheres of the brain. A study of mice and human brains published on October 11 in Cell Reports shows that during development, astroglia, the main supporting cells of the brain, weave themselves between the right and left lobes, and form the bridge for axons to grow across the gap. Without these astroglia, the corpus callosum doesn't form correctly, causing a condition called callosal agenesis -- which affects 1 out of 4,000 people -- and a range of developmental disorders.

"Very little is known about the cause of callosal agenesis, and there hasn't been a satisfactory explanation for how it occurs," says first author Ilan Gobius, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland in Australia. "We believe we've finally discovered one of the major causes for this group of disorders."

During development, the hemispheres of the brain are separated by a gap filled with fibroblasts -- and other non-neural cells. In order to see how callosal axons navigated around this area to connect the hemispheres, the researchers used mice embryos to observe the growth of individual axons. They observed that the axons cannot grow through this gap, and instead grow down and around it to connect the two hemispheres of the brain. However, they don't do this on their own; instead they rely on astroglial cells to guide their path.

Using the mice embryos and human brain scans, the team lead by Linda Richards, Deputy Director of the Queensland Brain Initiative found that these astroglial cells are initially located beneath the area filled with fibroblasts, but during fetal development a molecular pathway signals the astroglia to migrate forward and mature, allowing them to weave together into a thick column along the center of the brain, which pushes back against the gap and causes it to shrink. This column of astroglia acts as a bridge for callosal axons and allows them to cross between the two sides of the brain. As this bridge grows, the gap between the hemispheres shrinks until only a small portion of it remains, and the corpus callosum begins to form.

The researchers saw that when there was an issue with molecular signaling, the astroglial cells didn't change into multipolar cells. This prevented the formation of the callosal tract and resulted in callosal agenesis. "This midline area is one of the first places in the brain that you normally start to see these astroglial cell changes," says Gobius. "And we found that if these cells don't make this transition, the remodeling process that you need to form the corpus callosum doesn't get started."

Moving forward, the team hopes to use this knowledge to help make better diagnostic tests for callosal agenesis. As of now, doctors can only diagnose the disorder during fetal development using an ultrasound or MRI, but since the condition can range in severity, the lack of an accurate genetic test makes it difficult to council parents about what developmental issues to expect in their child.

"The field is desperate for a genetic test for this disorder," says Richards. "This opens up the possibility for testing for genes like those that Dr. Gobius identified. Identifying the cellular process that causes this range of disorders is very important for looking to the future and finding new genes for possible therapeutic targets."

Ilan Gobius, Laura Morcom, Rodrigo Suárez, Jens Bunt, Polina Bukshpun, William Reardon, William B. Dobyns, John L.R. Rubenstein, A. James Barkovich, Elliott H. Sherr, Linda J. Richards. Astroglial-Mediated Remodeling of the Interhemispheric Midline Is Required for the Formation of the Corpus Callosum. Cell Reports, 2016; 17 (3): 735 DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2016.09.033

Intestinal Diversity Protects Against Asthma

October 10, 2016: Linköping Universitet
Children who develop asthma or allergies have an altered immune response to intestinal bacteria in the mucous membranes even when infants, according to a new study from Linköping University, Sweden, and Center for Advanced Research in Public Health, Spain. The results also suggests that the mother's immune defence plays a role in the development of asthma and allergies in children.

"The results confirm our idea that the intestinal flora (also known as the 'intestinal microbiota') early in life plays a role during the development of allergy symptoms. We believe that diversity among the bacteria contributes to strengthening the immune defence in the mucous membranes. In our new study we saw differences in the immune response against intestinal bacteria in children who subsequently developed allergy symptoms," says Maria Jenmalm, professor of experimental allergology at Linköping University and one of the authors of the study.

The researchers investigated in detail the immune defence of the mucous membranes against different bacteria. Mucous membranes are present in the airways and gastrointestinal tract, where they come into contact with large amounts of bacteria and viruses. High concentrations of antibodies known as "IgA antibodies" are present in mucous membranes. They bind to microorganisms that they recognise and act as a barrier, preventing them from entering the body.

The researchers in the new study analysed stool samples from infants aged one month and again at 12 months. The first year of life has a profound influence on how the immune defence reacts later in life when challenged with bacteria, viruses and allergens. The researchers identified the intestinal bacteria and determined whether they had IgA bound to them or not.

"Children who subsequently developed allergies had a lower fraction of IgA antibodies bound to their intestinal bacteria when aged 12 months than children who did not. This difference may suggest that the barrier function of the mucous membranes is less effective in children who later develop allergies. The lack of IgA was particularly noticeable in children who developed asthma during the first seven years of life," says Maria Jenmalm.

The researchers looked at the composition of the bacteria in the stools and used bioinformatic methods to study differences in IgA antibodies against intestinal bacteria between healthy and allergic children.

"There were clear differences in the types of bacteria that the immune defences of the two groups of children reacted against. We were interested to note that these differences were clear in infants as young as one month. This surprised us, since the IgA antibodies in children so young come largely from the mother, through breast milk. So it seems that the immune response of the mother and the antibodies that the child receives in breast milk are connected with the development of allergies. This is something we want to look at in more detail," says Maria Jenmalm.

Maria Jenmalm has led the study together with Alex Mira at the Center for Advanced Research in Public Health, Valencia, Spain. The research has received financial support from donors that include the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, and MINECO in Spain.

Majda Dzidic, Thomas R. Abrahamsson, Alejandro Artacho, Bengt Björkstén, Maria Carmen Collado, Alex Mira, Maria C. Jenmalm. Aberrant IgA responses to the gut microbiota during infancy precede asthma and allergy development. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.06.047

Cortisol-Free Rheumatoid Arthritis Medication Also Works For Rare Eye Disease

October 10, 2016
A well-known rheumatoid arthritis medication containing the active agent adalimumab, a therapeutic human monoclonal antibody, is also effective for treating non-infectious uveitis, a rare eye disease. This has now been discovered by an international research group, in which MedUni Vienna was also involved with significant participation by Talin Barisani-Asenbauer of the Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology & Immunology and the Laura Bassi Center at MedUni Vienna. The results of the VISUAL-I study have now been published in the leading journal New England Journal of Medicine.

"We were able to prospectively demonstrate for the very first time that non-infectious uveitis can also be successfully treated with a cortisol-free medication. That will significantly improve the management of uveitis patients who have only partially responded to corticosteroids, need a corticosteroid sparing therapy or who are unsuitable for treatment with corticosteroids," explains Barisani-Asenbauer. The biologic medication adalimumab has long been used to treat rheumatic diseases and has to be injected subcutaneously every two weeks. For sufferers, steroid-free means there are fewer side-effects, so that it can be used over a longer period of time.

In Europe, up to 5/10,000 people (Source: suffer from some form of uveitis. Non-anterior, non-infectious uveitis, which was the subject of the recent study, affects around 40% of sufferers. Uveitis is the name used for inflammatory conditions of the inner eye, in particular the uvea, which consists of the iris and the ciliary body in the front section and the choroid in the back section.

Inflammation can also affect other parts of the eye, such as the retina and the vitreous body. 70 -- 90% of sufferers are aged between 20 and 60 and are in the middle of their working lives. The first symptoms are floaters in the visual field, blurred vision, visual disturbances and photosensitivity. Potential complications of uveitis are macular oedema (accumulation of fluid in the retina), glaucoma or cataracts, for example. Uveitis can even lead to loss of vision.

Glenn J. Jaffe, Andrew D. Dick, Antoine P. Brézin, Quan Dong Nguyen, Jennifer E. Thorne, Philippe Kestelyn, Talin Barisani-Asenbauer, Pablo Franco, Arnd Heiligenhaus, David Scales, David S. Chu, Anne Camez, Nisha V. Kwatra, Alexandra P. Song, Martina Kron, Samir Tari, Eric B. Suhler. Adalimumab in Patients with Active Noninfectious Uveitis.New England Journal of Medicine, 2016; 375 (10): 932 DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa1509852

Calcium Supplements May Damage The Heart

October 11, 2016
After analyzing 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people in a federally funded heart disease study, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and elsewhere conclude that taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears be protective.

In a report on the research, published Oct. 10 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers caution that their work only documents an association between calcium supplements and atherosclerosis, and does not prove cause and effect.

But they say the results add to growing scientific concerns about the potential harms of supplements, and they urge a consultation with a knowledgeable physician before using calcium supplements. An estimated 43 percent of American adult men and women take a supplement that includes calcium, according the National Institutes of Health.

"When it comes to using vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly calcium supplements being taken for bone health, many Americans think that more is always better," says Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., associate director of preventive cardiology and associate professor of medicine at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "But our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system."

The researchers were motivated to look at the effects of calcium on the heart and vascular system because studies already showed that "ingested calcium supplements -- particularly in older people -- don't make it to the skeleton or get completely excreted in the urine, so they must be accumulating in the body's soft tissues," says nutritionist John Anderson, Ph.D., professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health and a co-author of the report. Scientists also knew that as a person ages, calcium-based plaque builds up in the body's main blood vessel, the aorta and other arteries, impeding blood flow and increasing the risk of heart attack.

The investigators looked at detailed information from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a long-running research project funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which included more than 6,000 people seen at six research universities, including Johns Hopkins. Their study focused on 2,742 of these participants who completed dietary questionnaires and two CT scans spanning 10 years apart.

The participants chosen for this study ranged in age from 45 to 84, and 51 percent were female. Forty-one percent were white, 26 percent were African-American, 22 percent were Hispanic and 12 percent were Chinese. At the study's onset in 2000, all participants answered a 120-part questionnaire about their dietary habits to determine how much calcium they took in by eating dairy products; leafy greens; calcium-enriched foods, like cereals; and other calcium-rich foods. Separately, the researchers inventoried what drugs and supplements each participant took on a daily basis. The investigators used cardiac CT scans to measure participants' coronary artery calcium scores, a measure of calcification in the heart's arteries and a marker of heart disease risk when the score is above zero. Initially, 1,175 participants showed plaque in their heart arteries. The coronary artery calcium tests were repeated 10 years later to assess newly developing or worsening coronary heart disease.

For the analysis, the researchers first split the participants into five groups based on their total calcium intake, including both calcium supplements and dietary calcium. After adjusting the data for age, sex, race, exercise, smoking, income, education, weight, smoking, drinking, blood pressure, blood sugar and family medical history, the researchers separated out 20 percent of participants with the highest total calcium intake, which was greater than 1,400 milligrams of calcium a day. That group was found to be on average 27 percent less likely than the 20 percent of participants with the lowest calcium intake -- less than 400 milligrams of daily calcium -- to develop heart disease, as indicated by their coronary artery calcium test.

Next, the investigators focused on the differences among those taking in only dietary calcium and those using calcium supplements. Forty-six percent of their study population used calcium supplements.

The researchers again accounted for the same demographic and lifestyle factors that could influence heart disease risk, as in the previous analysis, and found that supplement users showed a 22 percent increased likelihood of having their coronary artery calcium scores rise higher than zero over the decade, indicating development of heart disease.

"There is clearly something different in how the body uses and responds to supplements versus intake through diet that makes it riskier," says Anderson. "It could be that supplements contain calcium salts, or it could be from taking a large dose all at once that the body is unable to process."

Among participants with highest dietary intake of calcium -- over 1,022 milligrams per day -- there was no increase in relative risk of developing heart disease over the 10-year study period.

"Based on this evidence, we can tell our patients that there doesn't seem to be any harm in eating a heart-healthy diet that includes calcium-rich foods, and it may even be beneficial for the heart," says Michos. "But patients should really discuss any plan to take calcium supplements with their doctor to sort out a proper dosage or whether they even need them."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronary heart disease kills over 370,000 people each year in the U.S. More than half of women over 60 take calcium supplements -- many without the oversight of a physician -- because they believe it will reduce their risk of osteoporosis.

John J.B. Anderson, Bridget Kruszka, Joseph A.C. Delaney, Ka He, Gregory L. Burke, Alvaro Alonso, Diane E. Bild, Matthew Budoff, Erin D. Michos. Calcium Intake From Diet and Supplements and the Risk of Coronary Artery Calcification and its Progression Among Older Adults: 10‐Year Follow‐up of the Multi‐Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Journal of the American Heart Association, 2016; 5 (10): e003815 DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.116.003815

Greyhound Fiasco: News Corp's Role As PR Co. OfSelf Interest

Just weeks ago we were celebrating a monumental leap forward for animals. Greyhound racing — along with 'live baiting', drugging, fatal injuries, and mass graves — was set to become a thing of the past in NSW. We know that as long as greyhound racing continues, so will animal cruelty. Just yesterday another NSW greyhound trainer was arrested for live baiting. 

But since I last wrote to you, News Corporation waged a relentless attack on the Premier and has successfully overturned the historic greyhound racing ban. Is it a coincidence that News Corp recently invested in a lucrative online gambling website..?

It seems that, again, the interests of animals — to be free from pain, fear and abuse — have come second to the interests of the almighty dollar and self-serving politicians. The industry and its supporters think they have won.

The initial disappointment I felt turned, in an instant, into determination. Not for a moment does this signal that this industry has a future. It remains teetering on the precipice. And one misstep is all it will take...

The opportunistic politicians who pressured Premier Baird to overturn this ban are set to have many sleepless nights. Their political destinies are now wedded to an industry whose sense of right and wrong went missing decades ago. 

But politicians have forgotten that they have 'befriended' an industry where no behaviour, no matter how abhorrent or criminal, was off the table if a race could be won. Sickening cruelty and highly illegal drugs were commonplace 'training' methods. And now that prize purses are back on offer it is only a matter of time until they will be again.

Now, once again, these animals need us. It is our ability to continue these investigations that provides animals with the only hope this cruelty will ever end. Because when the industry takes that misstep — and it is inevitable that they will — our investigators need to be there.

That's why I'm not wasting energy thinking about what might have been. Our focus is now on what must be done to make the industry's celebrations short-lived. But this is where we need your help. Going back into battle against this industry again isn't something we've planned for. But it is exactly what we need to do.

This is about every animal abused for profit. It's about every industry that thinks it can bully its way out of obeying what limited laws exist to protect animals.

What happens next will send signals far and wide. You can bet that cruel industries everywhere — from factory farming to live export — are watching.

The greyhound industry didn't deserve a second chance. It will be up to us to ensure this is its final chance. 

A colleague of mine recently reflected: the arc of history may be long, and it may bend towards justice. But it doesn't bend by itself. 

Lyn White AM
Campaign Director
Animal Australia

ACCC Invites Feedback On News Corporation’s Proposed Acquisition Of APN's Australian Regional Media Division

6 October 2016: ACCC - Media Release
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a Statement of Issues on the proposed acquisition of Australian Regional Media (ARM) from APN News and Media (ASX: APN) by News Corporation (ASX:NWS).

The proposed acquisition would combine the two main newspaper publishers in Queensland, adding ARM’s community and regional publications in Queensland and northern New South Wales to News’ extensive portfolio of community, regional, state, and national publications. The ACCC is investigating the effect that this would have on competition for both readers and advertisers.

“One area of focus is the loss of competition between ARM’s paid regional newspapers and News’ The Courier Mail. If the proposed acquisition proceeds, News will own both The Courier Mail and the local paid newspaper in nearly every city or town in Queensland. This may result in a reduction of quality and diversity of content available to readers. Reinforcing that concern is that both News and ARM have a strong presence in online news through their websites associated with the Queensland newspapers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC is seeking to understand whether the competitive tension between News and ARM is an important factor in maintaining quality and range of content, or whether the threat of readers shifting to alternatives, particularly alternative online news sites, will competitively constrain News after the acquisition.”

ARM publishes paid daily regional papers in Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Gympie, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Ipswich and Warwick. The ACCC will be looking closely at these areas.

“In particular the ACCC will test how important diversity of content and opinion is to readers when assessing the extent of competition between papers,” Mr Sims said.

ARM and News both also publish overlapping community papers in Caboolture/Bribie Island, south west Brisbane, Brisbane northern bayside, Logan, and Tweed Heads/southern Gold Coast. These are mostly free papers with a strong local focus. The ACCC is seeking to assess the effect on readers and local advertisers in those areas, and to assess whether the reduction in competition is significant. 

“The ACCC will be assessing the importance of diversity of local content in these competing community publications.  The ACCC is also seeking to understand whether advertising opportunities on other media platforms, such as local radio, pamphlets, and online, will constrain prices for advertising in the ARM and News community newspapers,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC invites further submissions from industry participants in response to the Statement of Issues by 27 October 2016. 

Submissions should be forwarded electronically (preferably in PDF format) to with the title Submission re News/ARM proposed acquisition (attention Lisa Campbell/David Wang).

Alternatively submissions may be forwarded by fax to 02 92315652 or by mail to Mergers Branch, ACCC, GPO Box 3648, Sydney NSW 2001.
The ACCC expects to announce its final decision on 1 December 2016.

Further information and the ACCC’s Statement of Issues is available on the public register:

News is a global media company with subscription television, magazines, newspapers and publishing operations and interests. In Australia, News publishes a number of state, regional and community newspapers as well as its national publication The Australian. It also publishes websites associated with many of its newspapers as well as

APN is an ASX-listed Australian company with media, radio, publishing and digital assets in Australia, and outdoor advertising assets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. The ARM division of APN, which is proposed to be sold to News, includes a large number of mostly regional publications in Queensland and northern NSW, including 12 paid daily, 14 paid non-daily and 32 free non-daily community newspapers.

APN's radio and outdoor assets are not part of the proposed acquisition and will be retained by APN.

A full list of ARM’s print publications is set out below:

North Queensland (Mackay region)
Daily Mercury, The Midweek, Whitsunday Times, and Whitsunday Coast Guardian.

Central Queensland
The Morning Bulletin, The Observer, Capricorn Coast Mirror, Central Telegraph, and Central Queensland News.

Wide Bay Burnett
NewsMail, Fraser Coast Chronicle, The Gympie Times, Guardian, Isis Town & Country, Central & North Burnett Times, Hervey Bay Observer, The Maryborough Herald, Cooloola Advertiser, and Hervey Bay Independent.

South-East Queensland - Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast Daily, Sunshine Coast Sunday, Noosa News, Coolum & North Shore News, Maroochy Weekly, Kawana Weekly, Caloundra Weekly, Nambour Weekly, and Buderim Chronicle.

South-East Queensland (Greater Brisbane and Ipswich)
Caboolture News, Bribie Weekly, The Logan Reporter, The Satellite, Bayside Northern Suburbs Star, The Queensland Times, and The Ipswich Advertiser.

South-West Queensland
Warwick Daily News, The Chronicle, Stanthorpe Border Post, Dalby Herald, Gatton, Lockyer and Brisbane Valley Star, Laidley Plainland Leader, South Burnett Times, Southern Downs Weekly, Balonne Beacon, The Western Star, Western Times, Chinchilla News and Murilla Advertiser.

Northern NSW (Gold Coast, Tweed and northern NSW)
Tweed Daily News, Tweed Daily News – Community Edition, The Northern Star, The Daily Examiner, The Woolgoolga Advertiser, Byron Shire News, Ballina Shire Advocate, Lismore Echo, The Richmond River Express Examiner, Coastal Views, and The Coffs Coast Advocate.

Specialist publications
Surat Basin News, Rural Weekly (five editions, including a Northern Territory edition), Big Rigs, CQ Industry, Style Magazine, Seniors Newspaper (eight different editions distributed in South-East Queensland and NSW), and APN Educational Media publications (business-to-business publisher of Education Review, Nursing Review, Aged Care Insite and Campus Review).


10 October 2016: Parliament House, Canberra
Prime Minister of Australia - Hon. Malcolm Turnbull

On September 28, Shimon Peres, former President and Prime Minister of Israel, died.

We mourn his passing, but we honour and we celebrate his long and eventful life.

The passion of Shimon Peres for the State of Israel, which he helped to found, was matched only by his commitment to pursuing peace for Israel with its neighbours.

The man whose chosen surname is derived from an ancient Hebrew word for “bird of prey” would become known over seven decades of statesmanship as a “dove” of peace.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in support of the Oslo Accords. To this day, his Peres Centre for Peace seeks to link Israelis and Palestinians in programmes that promote co-existence and reconciliation.

Shimon Peres’ deep personal commitment to his nation began when the State of Israel was but a dream for the Jewish diaspora.

Born Shimon Persky on 2 August 1923 in Poland, he was the son of Jewish parents Yitzhak and Sara. At the age of 11, Shimon and his family moved to Tel-Aviv in British-mandated Palestine.

Shimon formed his first political leanings in Israel’s Kibbutz system, joined the Zionist movement to establish the nation state of Israel, and served in Israel’s pre-independence military organisation, the Haganah.

Following Israel’s independence in 1948, he worked alongside Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

At the age of just 29 Shimon was appointed Director-General of the Defence Ministry.

In 1959 he was elected to Parliament and served in the Knesset until 2007, working for multiple governments as foreign minister, finance minister and defence minister. He served twice as Prime Minister, once in the early 1980s, and again briefly after incumbent Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995.

Shimon Peres served as Israel’s’ ninth President from 2007 to 2014, retiring just days before his 91st birthday, and remained a powerful advocate for a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ‘The Palestinians’ Shimon said, ‘are our closest neighbours; I believe they may become our closest friends’.

His dream was to see both Israelis and Palestinians live in peace and security—to build; to educate their citizens; and to prosper.

My wife Lucy recently visited Israel with a group of businesswomen to visit hi-tech innovators and universities, key assets in the economic success story of modern Israel.

The group had the privilege of visiting Shimon Peres at the Peres Centre for Peace.

Mr Peres told Lucy the secret of perpetual youth was to ensure that your list of dreams always remained longer than your list of achievements.

Unfortunately, Shimon Peres never visited Australia,* but he certainly respected us.

He spoke emotionally of the sacrifices made by Australians who fell in World War 1 in the Middle East, and he would recall warmly the friendliness and informality of the Australian troops stationed in Israel during World War 2.

But perhaps his affection for Australia was more personal.

His father, Yitzhak Persky, was saved from Nazi execution by a fellow Prisoner of War, Australian Methodist Minister Rex Dakers.

After escaping from the Nazis, his father was re-captured.

Padre Dakers convinced the Nazi soldiers that Persky and his co-conspirator had not received a proper trial and to shoot the men would be considered a war crime. Then Padre boldly warned that if they were shot, the Nazis would have to shoot him as well.

Yitzhak Persky lived because of Rex Dakers’ moral courage.

When Shimon Peres’s son, Chemi, visited Melbourne last year, he visited the Dakers family: a moment that Shimon called the closing of a circle.

I extend Australia’s sympathy to his children: Yoni, Zvia and Chemi and their families and I take this opportunity to acknowledge his marriage of 66 years to their mother Sonya Gelman, who passed away a few years ago.

I also extend Australia’s condolences to the Government and people of Israel and the many people in the Australian Jewish community who enjoyed a friendship with Shimon Peres.

We understand and share your loss.

Mr Peres once said that, ‘The duty of leaders is to pursue freedom ceaselessly, even in the face of hostility, in the face of doubt and disappointment. Just imagine what could be’.

He echoed there, and often invoked, David’s words in the 34th Psalm verse 14 - “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” It is not enough to want peace, to yearn for it, but we must, like Shimon Peres did and David urged, pursue it with the relentless determination of the hunter.

Israel’s prosperity—forged by the intellect and innovation of its people—has proved Shimon Peres was right to believe in great opportunities for his nation and he was right to dream of greater possibilities in a peaceful future to come.  

*I have since been advised by a mutual friend in the Jewish community that Mr Peres did, in fact, visit our country - and I am very pleased to learn that he did so.

Have Your Say On A Mixed Use Development At Barangaroo South

29.09.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
Three separate proposals by Lend Lease Pty Ltd for residential buildings at 51A Hickson Road, Barangaroo 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 proposals, which seek to construct three residential buildings of 72, 60 and 29 storeys.

These will provide 775 new apartments, of which 39 apartments will be for key worker housing in the 29 storey building.

Each of the buildings will provide retail space and will include underground car spaces, storage and rubbish facilities.

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 or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit

Barangaroo South
Barangaroo South
Barangaroo South

Submissions can be made from Thursday 29 September until Monday 14 November 2016.

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

Bush Fire Bulletin Archive Now Online

The entire collection of the Bush Fire Bulletin, dating back to September 1952, is now online.

History buffs in the Service will be happy to hear that the entire collection of Bush Fire Bulletins is now available online and fully searchable.
In a collaboration with the National Library of Australia, the Service has digitised the Bulletins which have been regularly published and read since September 1952.

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has praised the opportunity for the Bush Fire Bulletin to be so accessible.

“I am very proud that this history of the NSW RFS will be available for all of Australia and the world to see.”
“The skill and dedication of our volunteer service has been recorded in the pages of the Bush Fire Bulletin, informing and bringing to life the important work our members undertake,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

Find the Bush Fire Bulletin on Trove search engine on the NSW RFS website at: 

Iranian Coastal Waters: New Home To A Rarely Seen Venomous Sea Snake

October 10, 2016

This is the head of an adult Günther's sea snake. Credit: Mohsen Rezaie-Atagholipour; CC-BY 4.0
Günther's sea snake (Microcephalophis cantoris), a rarely seen venomous sea snake with distribution thought to stretch from the Malay Peninsula to Pakistan, has now been recorded from Iranian coastal waters off the western Gulf of Oman, more than 400 kilometers away from the westernmost boundary of its previously known range.

In 1864, German-born British zoologist, Albert Günther (1830-1914), discovered a new species of highly venomous viviparous (giving live birth) sea snakes, thereafter named Günther's sea snake. The species is famous because it has a very small head, compared to its body and is, therefore, sometimes called Günther's narrow/small-headed sea snake. It is a rare species, and, since its discovery, it has only been recorded from the coastal waters of a few countries in the western Malay Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent.

Scientists Mohsen Rezaie-Atagholipour, Qeshm Environmental Management Office, Qeshm Island, Iran, Parviz Ghezellou, Medicinal Plants and Drugs Research Institute, Shahid Beheshti University, Iran, Dr. Nicolas Vidal, Département Systématique & Evolution, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, France, and three Iranian fellows, are collaborating on a project on the biodiversity of sea snakes in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.

During their survey, an adult Günther's sea snake was caught by a fishing trawler (a fishing vessel pulling a baglike net) in Iranian coastal waters off the western Gulf of Oman. This was the first record of this rarely seen venomous viviparous sea snake in the area. The specimen is deposited and available in the Zoological Museum at the Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Iran.

As a result, the researchers have now published a checklist of the sea snake species in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, including this new record, in the open access journal ZooKeys.

There are about 60 living species of highly venomous viviparous sea snakes in the world, distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical coastal waters of the Indo-Pacific region. Out of them, nine have been previously recorded from the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Following the discovery of the Günther's sea snake, the total number of sea snakes in the area is ten.

Nicolas Vidal, Parviz Ghezellou, Mohsen Rezaie-Atagholipour, Majid Askari Hesni, Seyyed Mohammad Hashem Dakhteh, Hooman Ahmadian. Sea snakes (Elapidae, Hydrophiinae) in their westernmost extent: an updated and illustrated checklist and key to the species in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. ZooKeys, 2016; 622: 129 DOI:10.3897/zookeys.622.9939

New VET Student Loans Course List Focussed On Employment Outcomes

Monday 10 October 2016: Media Release - Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training
The Turnbull Government today announced the 347 courses that are expected to attract funding support under the new affordable, sustainable and student focussed VET Student Loans program.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the courses had been informed by the skill needs lists that states and territories already have in place and areas of national economic need to ensure that the courses Australian students are studying, and that taxpayers are subsidising, have the maximum chance of leading to jobs.

Minister Birmingham said that all diploma level courses were automatically eligible under Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP scheme, resulting in a list of more than 800 courses, many that had been superseded or were lifestyle focussed with little relevance to employment outcomes.

“Vocational education and training is fundamental to Australia’s future success as we transition to a 21st century economy. It offers skills that are in high demand and provides broad post-school study options for students,” Minister Birmingham said.

“We want to ensure that the courses that Australian taxpayers are subsidising and that we are encouraging students to study, will optimise employment outcomes.

“Currently there are far too many courses that are being subsidised that are used simply to boost enrolments, or provide 'lifestyle' choices, but don't lead to work. 

“To develop this list, the Turnbull Government has run a test over all of the different diploma-level and above qualifications that are out there to ensure they are on at least two state and territory skills needs list and we’ve looked at other areas of high economic need, such as STEM skills or agricultural skills, to make sure the list represents our national economic priorities.”

Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government would consult with stakeholders to finalise the list to ensure there is the opportunity for the case to be made for any of the 478 courses that have been knocked off the list to be added back in if they can demonstrate very strong employment outcomes or strong cases to remove some of those proposed to be included.

“We have ensured that all agriculture, engineering or related technologies, information technology and natural and physical science courses remain on the new course list recognising the national importance of agriculture and STEM jobs as we transition to the 21st century economy,” Minister Birmingham said.

“The two week consultation period continues the Turnbull Government’s comprehensive and consultative approach to implementing the new Vocational Education and Training Student Loans program in 2017.”
Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government was acting swiftly to end Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP scheme and implement a new program that will provide value for money to both students and taxpayers via tougher barriers to entry for providers, properly considered loan caps on courses, stronger course eligibility criteria that aligns with industry needs, mandatory student engagement measures, a prohibition on the use of brokers to recruit students and a stronger focus on students successfully completing courses.

“The Turnbull Government’s new VET Student Loans program will return integrity to the vocational education sector and deliver a win-win for students and taxpayers through a range of protections,” Minister Birmingham said.

“VET Student Loans will only support legitimate students to undertake worthwhile and value-for-money courses at quality training providers.
"We will close off new loans under VET FEE-HELP at the end of 2016, with the new program including course restrictions for providers, loan caps to begin from January 2017 and student engagement requirements commencing from mid-2017.

“Central amongst our new program is the need for providers to go through a rigorous application process and extensive monitoring and evaluation to ensure they are delivering education that students and employers value and that taxpayers are willing to continue supporting.

“The belt and braces approach to safeguards the Turnbull Government is undertaking should ensure there is no repeat of the mess and mistakes Labor made with their poorly thought-through and ill-considered policies for VET FEE-HELP.”

The Turnbull Government wants to hear your views on the eligible course list. You can have your say by providing feedback

Feedback must be received by 23 October 2016.

Further information about the Turnbull Government’s new VET Student Loans scheme can be found at

Mice Sing Like A Jet-Engine

October 10, 2016
Mice court one another with ultrasonic love songs that are inaudible to the human ear. New research shows they make these unique high frequency sounds using a mechanism that has only previously been observed in supersonic jet engines.

Mice, rats and many other rodents produce ultrasonic songs that they use for attracting mates and territorial defense. These 'singing' mice are often used to study communication disorders in humans, such as stuttering. However, until now it was not understood how mice can make these ultrasonic sounds, which may aid in the development of more effective animal models for studying human speech disorders.

Now, new research co-authored at the University of Cambridge and published in the journal Current Biology has found that when mice 'sing', they use a mechanism similar to that seen in the engines of supersonic jets.

"Mice make ultrasound in a way never found before in any animal," said the study's lead author Elena Mahrt, from Washington State University.

Previously, it had been thought that these 'Clangers'-style songs were either the result of a mechanism similar to that of a tea kettle, or of the resonance caused by the vibration of the vocal cords. In fact, neither hypothesis turned out to be correct. Instead, mice point a small air jet coming from the windpipe against the inner wall of the larynx, causing a resonance and producing an ultrasonic whistle.

Using ultra-high-speed video of 100,000 frames per second the researchers showed that the vocal folds remain completely still while ultrasound was coming from the mouse's larynx.

"This mechanism is known only to produce sound in supersonic flow applications, such as vertical takeoff and landing with jet engines, or high-speed subsonic flows, such as jets for rapid cooling of electrical components and turbines," said Dr Anurag Agarwal, study co-author and head of the Aero-acoustics laboratories at Cambridge's Department of Engineering. "Mice seem to be doing something very complicated and clever to make ultrasound."

"It seems likely that many rodents use ultrasound to communicate, but very little is known about this -- it is even possible that bats use this cool mechanism to echolocate," said the study's senior author Dr Coen Elemans from the University of Southern Denmark. "Even though mice have been studied so intensely, they still have some cool tricks up their sleeves."

Elena Mahrt, Anurag Agarwal, David Perkel, Christine Portfors, Coen P.H. Elemans. Mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations by intra-laryngeal planar impinging jets. Current Biology, 2016; 26 (19): R880 DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2016.08.032

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.