Inbox and Environment News: Issue 337

November 12 - 18, 2017: Issue 337

Surf Collective Initiative  Part II: PROGRESS

Some of you may be aware that Surf Collective ran a competition with the Year 10 Business Studies students at Barrenjoey High School. The students had to come up with a surf related product, and did all their business studies learning around this product. Surf Collective spent time with the kids in the classroom and in the end put together a "Shark Tank" of some of their brands to listen to all their pitches and select a winner.

Some kids worked in groups and others individually. All kids were extremely engaged in their subject as making it about a product that they came up with really brought it to life. The winner was Lily McElligott with her company Coastal Upcycling, where she is upcycling old skateboard decks to make Surfboard Wax Combs. Watch this space as she has some other products in the pipeline!

Surf Collective put up $2,000 to get Lily going and she now has her products up on their website and in their collaboration with The Sneaky Grind Cafe in Avalon Beach.

Please take the time to have a look at her video below. Its so well put together!!

The project was so successful in engaging the kids that Surf Collective will be doing it again next year.

Thanks Surf Collective for engaging with our kids!

Barrenjoey H.

Introducing Coastal Upcycling

Published on 16 Oct 2017
Hand-crafted from 100% recycled skateboard decks. You can now find us at the Sneaky Grind Cafe in Avalon, Sydney (Australia). For more info check us out at

Second Exemption Granted For NSW Shark Net Trial

Media release: 9 November 2017- The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
The Turnbull Government has granted the NSW Government a second exemption under national environment law to conduct shark net trials over two years on the NSW north coast between 1 November 2017 and 31 October 2019 due to the risk to human life from shark interactions.

The second exemption allows the NSW Government to deploy nets ahead of the peak swimming seasons and to continue its research into shark mitigation measures over consecutive summers. It follows a similar decision made in November 2016 to grant a 12 month exemption which expires next week.

The trials will continue to assess the catch of target sharks and bycatch of the nets against SMART drumlines used in the trial area. The NSW Government will also use the further trials to scientifically test technical and operational modifications to mesh nets to minimise bycatch and mortality of non-target animals.

The research outcomes of the trials are expected to have broader application to other jurisdictions to inform the use and design of shark mitigation measures nation-wide.

In making this decision, the Turnbull Government considered the important scientific, social and economic interests in exempting further trials from the requirements of national environmental law as well as the potential impacts to nationally-protected species and the marine environment.

The mesh net trials must be conducted in accordance with strict operational requirements and are limited to coastal beaches and other tidal waters on the NSW north coast within the boundaries of Richmond Valley Council and Ballina Shire Council Local Government Areas.

A maximum of ten nets may be used in the trial area at any one time.

The NSW Government will put in place a range of measures to minimise impacts to the environment, including procedures to release all live fauna with the least possible harm and to avoid the deployment of mesh nets during peak whale migration.

The Australian Department of the Environment and Energy will continue to receive regular reports from NSW on the implementation and monitoring of the trial.

A notice of the Government’s decision to grant the exemption and reasons are available at

Bird Walks And Talks 2017: PNHA

Come and see and hear some of our fantastic native birds, many of which you'll never see in your garden. Join in a Sunday guided bird walk with Pittwater Natural Heritage Association. All walks  start at 8am and end about 10am.

November 26 Warriewood Wetlands. Meet end of Katoa Close, north Narrabeen. 

Bring binoculars if possible. Drink, hat and comfortable shoes.
More information contact or 
Ph Kerry on 0402 605 721.

You don't need to book but if we know you're coming we'll watch out for you. Call if in doubt about weather as we won't go out if it's raining.

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

Spotlight Walk 8:15pm Monday Nov 27
This walk will take place after Jayden Walsh has shown pictures and talked about amphibians and reptiles in Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment.
8:15pm Meet at Katoa Close. Spaces limited to 30 people

Spotlight Walk - 8pm Friday Dec 15
Spotlighting walk - meet at start of Slippery Dip Trail. Spaces limited to 20 people

Wildlife Walk - 7:30am Friday January 19, 2018
Meet at end of Deep Creek Carpark. Spaces limited to 30 people
Email: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment to get a ticket and book a place for one of these fascinating Wildlife Walks led by Jayden Walsh.

Bush Regeneration - Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment  
This is a wonderful way to become connected to nature and contribute to the health of the environment.  Over the weeks and months you can see positive changes as you give native species a better chance to thrive.  Wildlife appreciate the improvement in their habitat.

Belrose area - Thursday mornings 
Belrose area - Weekend mornings by arrangement
Contact: Phone or text Conny Harris on 0432 643 295

Wheeler Creek - Wednesday mornings 9-11am
Contact: Phone or text Judith Bennett on 0402 974 105
Or email: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment :

Eco Paddle on Narrabeen Lagoon
1pm, Sunday Feb 11, 2018
Black Swan have returned to the lagoon after 20 years - come and see these majestic creatures! This paddle will visit the Western Basin, Deep and Middle Creeks. Beautiful Deep Creek attracts migratory birds from as far away as Russia and Middle Creek has been the subject of a substantial remediation programme. A relaxing 2 to 3 hour afternoon paddle. No previous kayaking experience required, tuition given. BYO boat or a hire kayak can be arranged for you at cost. 
Bookings essential.
Email or call 0417 502 056.

Human-Caused Warming Increasing Likelihood Of Record-Breaking Hot Years

November 8, 2017
A new study finds human-caused global warming is significantly increasing the rate at which hot temperature records are being broken around the world.

Global annual temperature records show there were 17 record hot years from 1861 to 2005. The new study examines whether these temperature records are being broken more often and if so, whether human-caused global warming is to blame.

The results show human influence has greatly increased the likelihood of record-breaking hot years occurring on a global scale. Without human-caused climate change, there should only have been an average of seven record hot years from 1861 to 2005, not 17. Further, human-caused climate change at least doubled the odds of having a record-breaking hot year from 1926 to 1945 and from 1967 onwards, according to the new study.

The study also projects that if greenhouse gas emissions remain high, the chance of seeing new global temperature records will continue to increase. By 2100, every other year will be a record breaker, on average, according to the new study accepted for publication in Earth's Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The new findings show how climate change is visibly influencing Earth's temperature, said Andrew King, a climate extremes research fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia and lead author of the new study.

"We can now specifically say climate change is increasing the chance of observing a new temperature record each year," he said. "It's important to point out we shouldn't be seeing these records if human activity weren't contributing to global warming."

The study strengthens the link between human activity and recent temperature trends, according to Michael Mann, a climatologist and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, who was not involved with the new research.

"This work builds on previous research establishing that, without a doubt, the record warmth we are seeing cannot be explained without accounting for the impact of human activity on the warming of the planet," Mann said.

Record-breaking heat
Record hot years have been occurring more frequently in recent decades. 2014 was the hottest year on record since 1880, but that record was quickly broken in 2015 and again in 2016. Research published earlier this year in Geophysical Research Letters found these three consecutive records in global temperatures were very likely due to anthropogenic warming.

Record-breaking temperatures tend to attract attention because they are one of the most visible signs of global warming. As a result, understanding how and why the rate of record-breaking is changing is critical for communicating the effects of climate change to the public, King said.

Previous research examined changes in rates of record-breaking temperatures in specific countries or regions. However, these studies couldn't analyze global temperature trends because they relied on gathering large numbers of daily temperature records from different sources, according to King. Additionally, they didn't directly attribute changes in record-breaking to human activity.

In the new study, King developed a method to isolate the human role in changing rates of record-breaking temperatures globally. Unlike previous studies, the method uses a single source of temperature data, in this case global annual temperatures, allowing King to study temperature records on a global scale.

King first looked at global temperature data from 1861 to 2005 and identified which years were hot record breakers. He then used a wide array of climate models to simulate global temperatures in this period. Some of the models included only natural influences on the climate such as volcanic eruptions, while other models featured both natural influences and human influences such as greenhouse gas emissions and the release of aerosols into the atmosphere.

King found only the climate models that included human influences had the same number of record-breaking hot years as historical temperature records -- 15 to 21, on average. The models without human influences only had an average of seven record-breaking hot years from 1861 to 2005.

He also determined human-caused climate change at least doubled the odds of having a record-breaking hot year from 1926 to 1945 and from 1967 onwards. The odds didn't increase from 1945 to 1967 because human-made aerosol emissions generated a cooling effect, which counteracted warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

King's research can also be applied to quantify the influence of human activities on a specific record-setting event. He applied his method to record-setting hot global temperatures in 2016 and record-setting hot local temperatures in central England in 2014. He found human influence led to a 29-fold increase in the likelihood of seeing both new records compared to a situation with no human influence on climate.

Andrew D. King. Attributing changing rates of temperature record-breaking to anthropogenic influences. Earth's Future, 2017; DOI:10.1002/2017EF000611

Major Changes: State Environmental Planning Controls(Draft Enviro. SEPP)

The Berejiklian government has just announced changes that propose to repeal and replace the following State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) with a single Environment SEPP:

• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 19—Bushland in Urban Areas - [Manly, Warringah, Pittwater; pages 28 to 32]
• State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) 2011
• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 50—Canal Estate Development
• Greater Metropolitan Regional Environmental Plan No. 2—Georges River Catchment
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan No. 20—Hawkesbury-Nepean River (No.2-1997) [*Pittwater and Warringah]
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 2005
• Willandra Lakes Regional Environmental Plan No. 1—World Heritage Property.

Aimed at reducing 'red tape' and 'streamlining' NSW's planning system, some changes are commended such as protecting Sydney Harbour's natural assets by prohibiting new canal estates.

However other changes will enable development in sensitive areas that are currently protected.

Designed to marry up with other planning instruments, such as the controversial Biodiversity Act 2016, the changes also give greater effect to Ministerial Directions.

The changes also propose to revise the term ‘bushland zoned or reserved for public open space purposes’ to ‘public bushland’. This includes all land that is zoned non-rural, and owned or managed by a council or a public authority, or reserved for acquisition for open space or environmental conservation by a council or a public authority, and that has vegetation which meets a clear definition of bushland.

Critically the current SEPP (no 19) SEPP 19 extends 'beyond the protection of environmental values of bushland by identifying 'the need to protect the aesthetic and community values as well as the recreational, educational and scientific values of this resource'.

The proposed SEPP also enables the Roads and Maritime Services, to undertake the subdivision of foreshore lands in order ‘to lawfully reclaim Sydney Harbour land’ and redefine the ‘heads of consideration for consent authorities when assessing Development Applications on Foreshore lands.

The changes also include amending the aim of the Harbour Regional Environmental Plan that ensures Sydney is a ‘working harbour’ to enable a range of recreational, transport, tourism and commercial uses. Greater flexibility to 'mooring pens' is also proposed, which are currently prohibited.

Other changes include transferring heritage provisions to the relevant local environmental plan, thereby reducing the protection of heritage assets.

In addition, concerns have been flagged that moving the prohibition of extractive industries in parts of the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment to the SEPP for Mining, Petroleum and Extractive Industries - and moving the Sydney Opera House provisions in the Harbour Regional Environmental Plan to SEPP (State Significant Precincts) effectively reduces the current protections.

The changes are on exhibition for public comment until the 15 January.

*page 26:
Provisions to be updated and moved to Ministerial Directions
Provisions within the Hawkesbury Nepean Regional Environmental Plan related to local plan making will be updated and are to be moved to a new Ministerial Direction.

The following current provisions contain plan making guidance suited to a Ministerial Direction:
• Clause 3 ‘Aim of This Plan’
• Part 2 ‘General Planning Considerations, Specific Planning Policies and Recommended Strategies’
• Clause 6(3) ‘Water Quality’
• Clause 6(10) (a) ‘Urban Development’ - rezoning or subdivision of land
• Clause 6(11) ‘Recreation and Tourism’.

Other aspects of Clause 6, such as water quality, total catchment management, biodiversity and environmentally sensitive
areas will be transferred to the proposed new SEPP.

$3 Million In Grants Now Available For Commuity Recycling Centres

Media release: EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the NSW Environmental Trust (ET) are calling for local government, not-for-profit organisations and businesses from select Local Government areas to apply for grants to set up Community Recycling Centres (CRC) for the collection of household problem wastes.

The $3 million Community Recycling Centre grants program is now open as part of the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.  Community Recycling Centres make it easier for NSW residents to recycle or safely dispose items like oils, paints and batteries.

Applications are open until Wednesday 15 November 2017 with funding of up to $200,000 available to enhance existing facilities or build new facilities for the collection of problem waste. 
This is the fourth round of funding and it is designed to help keep problem waste out of the kerbside bin system by providing convenient and easy to use facilities for the community.

EPA Chair and CEO Barry Buffier said the aim of the program is to establish a network that will provide 90 per cent of NSW households with access to a free Community Recycling Centre for common household problem wastes.

“This funding focuses on our priority to establish Community Recycling Centres based on existing gaps in the network.

‘The funding to establish facilities in 22 priority Local Government Areas will mean residents will have a permanent facility available to people to drop-off low toxic wastes, such as gas bottles, household batteries, paint, oils and smoke detectors, Mr Buffier said.

‘To date, over 100 Community Recycling Centres have been funded in NSW and 62 are currently operational. Almost two million kilograms of household problem waste has been collected since the program started."
Priority LGAs for funding include: Blacktown, Canterbury Bankstown, The Hills, Ku-ring-gai, Northern Beaches, Sydney, Bayside, Camden, Goulburn Mulwaree, North Sydney, Parramatta, Ryde, Shellharbour, Wagga Wagga, Waverley, Wollondilly, Woollahra, Yass Valley, Central Coast, Cumberland, Lake Macquarie and Sutherland.
On behalf of the ET, Peter Dixon, Director Grants in the Office of Environment & Heritage states:

“This is one of our most successful community level grants programs. The take-up by local councils has been tremendous and the neighbourhoods with a new or upgraded Community Recycling Centre are enjoying the benefits of a free and convenient way of dropping off their problem wastes for environmentally friendly disposal and recycling”

Applications close 5pm, Wednesday 15 November 2017

For more information about the grants including how to apply and information sessions please visit:

For more information about Waste Less, Recycle More go to the EPA website:

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Board Meeting In Public

06 November 2017 by Sydney Harbour Federation Trust
The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust invites the public to observe the next Board Meeting.
When: Wednesday 20 December 2017 at 3.30pm
Venue: Boardroom, SHFT offices, Building 28, Best Avenue, Headland Park, Mosman
Members of the public may submit a question/s (maximum of two) in writing prior to the meeting. Questions must be received by 15 December 2017. Questions may be emailed (link sends e-mail)
The Chair has the discretion to allow a question to be asked and/or answered at the meeting.
If you would like to attend, please RSVP by 15 December on (02) 8969 2100 or

Tahmoor Coal Mine
Tahmoor Colliery MOD 4

Proposed modification to the Tahmoor Colliery (see attached Environmental Assessment)
To permit low levels of subsidence within an area where subsidence is not currently permitted to occur...
Exhibition Start         08/11/2017
Exhibition End         22/11/2017
Tahmoor Underground Mod 4_EA_Final.pdf (3.194 MB)
Tahmoor Underground Mod 4_EA_Appendices 1-4.pdf (3.462 MB)
Tahmoor Underground Mod 4_EA_Appendices 5-6.pdf (9.177 MB)

Centennial Northern Coal Services: Northern Coal Logistics Project - Mod 1

Centennial Northern Coal Services Pty Limited is seeking to modify Development Consent SSD-5145 pertaining to the Northern Coal Logistics Project in order to increase the number of employees based at the Cooranbong Entry Site and make administrative amendments to the operational noise criteria and air quality criteria.

Exhibition Start    10/11/2017
Exhibition End  24/11/2017

Documents and have your say: 610.17594 SEE Letter 201710 Final_ Revised.pdf (4.539 MB) at HERE

Moolarben Mine: Moolarben Coal 1 - MOD 14

Modifications to the Moolarben Coal Complex.
Increased annual run-of-mine (ROM) coal production from the open cuts
Exhibition Start 07/11/2017
Exhibition End 07/12/2017

Executive Summary.pdf (8.561 MB)
Environmental Assessment.pdf (8.664 MB)
Attachment 1_ Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirements.pdf (250.0 KB)
Attachment 2_ Stage 1 Project Approval _05_0117_.pdf (4.053 MB)
Attachment 3_ Stage 2 Project Approval _08_0135_.pdf (2.841 MB)
Appendix A_ Noise Assessment.pdf (3.138 MB)
Appendix B_ Air Quality Assessment.pdf (4.144 MB)
Appendix C_ Biodiversity Assessment Review.pdf (6.051 MB)
Appendix D_ Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment.pdf (9.078 MB)
Appendix E_ Site Water Balance and Surface Water Assessment.pdf (5.173 MB)
Appendix F_ Controlled Water Release Assessment.pdf (2.348 MB)
Appendix G_ Aquatic Ecology Assessment.pdf (17.43 MB)
Appendix H_ Geochemistry Review.pdf (1.942 MB)
Appendix I_ Groundwater Assessment.pdf (5.885 MB)
Documents and have your say at HERE

Barangaroo South
Building C1

- construction of a seven-storey commercial building (maximum height RL 33.2), comprising retail on the ground floor and commercial on levels one to six; 
- provision of an outdoor terrace on level 6 of the building; 
- installation of photovoltaic cells on the rooftop of the building; 
- business and building identification signage zones; 
- allocation and use of 18 car spaces within the approved basement below and provision of end-of-trip facilities 
- public domain works; and 
- alterations to basement structures below. 

Exhibition Start  09/11/2017
Exhibition End   08/12/2017

Documents and have your say HERE

Magenta Shores: DA 32-01-2003 MOD 5 - 

Modification to North Entrance, "Magenta Shores"
Seeks to modify the original masterplan to increase the number of lots in the R07A Release Area, amend lot orientation, change road layout and remove pedestrian access points to the golf course.
Proposed to be amended to 58 lots ...
Exhibition Start   08/11/2017
Exhibition End    22/11/2017

Plan of Proposed Subdivision.pdf (628.8 KB)
Updated Environmental Assessment Report .pdf (705.7 KB)
Documents and have your say Available HERE

Reducing Threats To The NSW Marine Estate

30 October, 2017: Media Release - NSW DPI
The NSW Marine Estate Management Authority independent Chair, Dr Wendy Craik AM, today called for feedback on the draft Marine Estate Management Strategy, which outlines eight initiatives to address the major threats to the state’s oceans, wetlands, coastline and coastal lakes and lagoons – our ‘marine estate’.

“The NSW Government is committed to the long term future of our coastal waterways, estuaries and oceans, by balancing economic growth, use and conservation of the marine estate,” said Dr Craik.

According to Dr Craik the draft Strategy is a first for NSW. It will help to achieve holistic, co-ordinated and evidence-based management, to ensure NSW’s coastal and marine environments can be enjoyed in a sustainable way.

“In developing the draft Strategy, the Authority has consulted extensively to understand the NSW community’s views on the importance of the marine estate, any perceived threats to its future and opportunities to improve how it is managed,” said Dr Craik.

The draft Strategy outlines initiatives to:
  • Improve water quality and reduce litter
  • Achieve sustainable coastal use and development for healthy habitats
  • Assist planning for a changing climate
  • Reduce impacts on wildlife
  • Protect the cultural values of the marine estate
  • Ensure sustainable fishing and aquaculture
  • Enable safe and sustainable boating
  • Improve governance and enhance social and economic benefits
The draft Strategy also includes proposed management initiatives for the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion (termed the ‘central region’).

A separate consultation process will take place for spatial management in the Hawkesbury Shelf bioregion, as any proposal for spatial management must undergo extensive and rigorous consultation before a making a decision.

“We’d like to know what the community and key stakeholders think about the eight initiatives and proposed management actions included in the draft Strategy so it delivers on their expectations and needs,” said Dr Craik.

A series of regional workshops with peak marine estate stakeholders, local government, State agencies and Aboriginal communities will take place between 30 October and 8 December 2017.

The community and key stakeholders are encouraged to make a submission online by visiting the marine estate website

The NSW Government has re-set the Marine Estate Management Authority’s work priorities to take into account several related reforms that are at a crucial stage of development. This has allowed the Marine Estate Management Strategy to progress ahead of other marine estate reform projects, ensuring a consistent, co-ordinated and evidence-based statewide approach to management of the marine estate. 

Consequently, we have a number of important updates on the marine estateSchedule of Works to bring to your attention:

1. Draft Marine Estate Management Strategy - the Authority has released the first Draft Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018-2028 for public consultation, with feedback required by Friday 8 December 2017 via ouronline submission form. The draft Strategy is a first for NSW and is a key element of the marine estate reforms that sets the framework and strategic direction for marine estate management over the next decade.

2. Final Statewide Threat and Risk Assessment - the draft Strategy is underpinned by the NSW Marine Estate Threat and Risk Assessment Final Report (statewide TARA) which has also been released for information. The report identifies and ranks the priority statewide threats and risks to the environmental assets and social, cultural and economic benefits the community derive from the NSW marine estate.

3. Community and Stakeholder Engagement Report – Draft Statewide TARA - This report provides a summary of changes made to the final statewide TARA based on additional evidence and feedback provided during public engagement on the draft statewide TARA earlier this year.

4. NEW NSW Marine Protected Areas Policy Statement - this policy statement outlines the role and purpose of marine protected areas in marine estate management in NSW.

5. Phase 2 Community Engagement Report - Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment - the report provides an overview of the outcomes from community engagement (28 February to 8 May 2016) on eight suggested management initiatives to enhance marine biodiversity conservation in the bioregion while achieving balanced outcomes for all users of the marine estate.

Given the extent of work currently underway with implementation of the marine estate reforms, the Authority has developed a new e-newsletter to provide you with regular updates on projects outlined in the Schedule of Works.  Further details on all of our work can also be found on the marine estate website. 

Draft Environment SEPP

The Explanation of Intended Effect for the Environment SEPP is on exhibition from 31 October 2017 until the 15 January 2018.
The NSW government has been working towards developing a new State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for the protection and management of our natural environment. These areas are important to communities in delivering opportunities for physical health, economic security and cultural identity.
This consolidated SEPP proposes to simplify the planning rules for a number of water catchments, waterways, urban bushland, and Willandra Lakes World Heritage Property. These environmental policies will be accessible in one location, and updated to reflect changes that have occurred since the creation of the original policies.
The Department of Planning and Environment is seeking your feedback on the proposed SEPP to update and improve the planning framework in regards to these environmental issues. This is discussed in the Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for the proposed Environment SEPP.
Changes proposed include consolidating the following seven existing SEPPs:

• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 19 – Bushland in Urban Areas
• State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) 2011
• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 50 – Canal Estate Development
• Greater Metropolitan Regional Environmental Plan No. 2 – Georges River Catchment
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan No. 20 – Hawkesbury-Nepean River (No.2-1997)
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 2005
• Willandra Lakes Regional Environmental Plan No. 1 – World Heritage Property.
Changes are also proposed to the Standard Instrument – Principal Local Environmental Plan. Some provisions of the existing policies will be transferred to new Section 117 Local Planning Directions where appropriate.
The EIE outlines changes to occur, implementation details, and the intended outcome. It considers the existing SEPPs proposed to be repealed and explains why certain provisions will be transferred directly to the new SEPP, amended and transferred, or repealed due to overlaps with other areas of the NSW planning system.
Download the EIE document (PDF: 6.215 MB)

Have your say on the Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed Environment SEPP until 15 January 2018

We welcome your feedback on the Explanation of Intended Effect and encourage you to have your say.
• Or write to:

Director, Planning Frameworks
Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001

Primary Production And Rural Development
Draft SEPP And Planning Reforms

The agricultural sector is vital to the NSW economy as it provides food and other products for local consumption and export, and is a major employer in regional areas. The NSW Government is proposing changes to the planning system to further support sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and rural development. These changes will help ensure planning proposals affecting rural land are properly assessed and provide greater certainty to farmers on the types of activities that will require development consent.
The Department of Planning and Environment is seeking your feedback on a package of reforms to update and improve the planning framework for primary production and rural development. These are discussed in the Primary Production and Rural Development - Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE).
The proposals outlined in the EIE will help industry and the community respond to existing challenges. Simpler and more streamlined processes will allow us to adapt to emerging economic opportunities as they arise. They also support commitments in the NSW Right to Farm Policy.
Changes proposed include consolidating the following five existing SEPPs:
• State Environmental Planning Policy (Rural Lands) 2008 (Rural Lands SEPP)
• State Environmental Planning Policy 30 - Intensive Agriculture (SEPP 30)
• State Environmental Planning Policy 52 - Farm Dams and Other Works in Land and Water Management Plan Areas (SEPP 52)
• State Environmental Planning Policy 62 - Sustainable Aquaculture (SEPP 62)
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 8 - Central Coast Plateau Areas (SREP 8)
The EIE outlines provisions to be included in a new SEPP. It also highlights proposals to transfer existing plan making requirements to the Ministerial Planning Directions under section 117 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and to amend the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan.
• Part 1 – Executive summary
• Part 2 – The new SEPP
• Part 3 – Proposed amendments to other planning legislation
• Conclusion
• Attachment A – Planning framework
• Attachment B – Summary of key policy proposals
• Attachment C – Existing SEPPs
• Attachment D – Existing clause analysis and proposed action
• Attachment E – Outline of revised definitions and clauses
Download the whole EIE document
Download the FAQs
Planning guidelines for intensive livestock agriculture development
Draft guidelines have been prepared to support the proposed planning reforms. These are intended to assist applicants and planning authorities to understand the assessment requirements for new intensive livestock developments, such as feedlots, poultry farms and pig farms.
Download the draft guidelines

Have your say until 18 December 2017
We welcome your feedback on the Explanation of Intended Effect and draft planning guidelines and encourage you to make a submission.
• Or write to:

Director, Planning Frameworks
Department of Planning and Environment
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001
Published submissions will include your name and the organisation on whose behalf you may be writing. Contact details such as email and postal addresses, and telephone numbers are not published. The Department reserve the right to not publish selected submissions (in full or part).
Please read our privacy statement.

Where can I find out more about the Draft Primary Production and Rural Development SEPP reforms package?
• For further information please see the Frequently Asked Questions, or phone 1300 305 695.
• If you require translation assistance, please call 131 450.
You can also subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates from the Department.

EP&A Regulation Review

Review of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000

The Department has recently commenced a review of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (the Regulation).

This review follows proposed changes to the Regulation’s parent Act, theEnvironmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act).  While the EP&A Act provides the overarching framework for the planning system in NSW, the Regulation supports the day-to-day requirements of this system.

This review affords an opportunity to undertake a comprehensive look at the Regulation and remove any unnecessary complexities or outdated rules which make the system hard to use. 
As a first step, the Department is seeking feedback from stakeholders on the current Regulation. 
The Department has prepared an issues paper that outlines the key operational provisions of the Regulation and seeks:
• Stakeholder views on known issues with the current Regulation
• Stakeholder feedback to help identify other issues, including suggestions for updating and improving the function of key operational provisions and reducing unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens.

What does the Regulation address?
The Regulation contains key operational provisions for the NSW planning system, including those relating to:
• Planning instruments, including requirements and procedures for planning proposals and procedures for making and amending development control plans
• Procedures relating to development applications and complying development certificates 
• Existing uses and designated development
• Requirements for environmental assessment under Part 5 of the EP&A Act and applications for State significant infrastructure
• Environmental impact statements 
• Building regulation and subdivision certification 
o Note: the review of the Regulation will not examine these building and certification provisions, as broader building regulation reforms are being fast tracked through a separate process.

• Fees and charges, including fees for development applications, building certificates and other planning services 
• Development contributions, including the preparation of contributions plans
• Planning certificates, which provide information about land
•Other miscellaneous matters, including amounts for penalty notices (or fines) that may be issued for breaches of the EP&A Act and the Regulation, provisions for planning bodies (the Planning Assessment Commission and Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels), development by the Crown, and record keeping requirements for councils.

What are the objectives of the review?
The review of the Regulation presents an opportunity to build on the proposed changes to the EP&A Act and further improve the architecture of the planning system.

The objectives are to undertake a comprehensive review of the Regulation in order to:
• reduce administrative burden and increase procedural efficiency (e.g. by removing any outdated rules which make the system hard to use)
• reduce complexity 
• establish a simpler, more modern and transparent planning system.

Have your say until 24 November 2017
The NSW Government welcomes your feedback on the EP&A Regulation Review issues paper. Feedback received in response to this issues paper will be used to inform the preparation of a draft regulation, which will be released for consultation in 2018.
You can provide your feedback by:
• Writing to:
Director, Legislative Updates
Department of Planning and Environment
GPO Box 39 Sydney NSW 2001

Your feedback can play a vital role in the review of the Regulation. 
Where can I find out more?
• Call us on 1300 305 695
• Email:
• If English isn’t your first language, please call 131 450. Ask for an interpreter in your language and then request to be connected to us on 1300 305 695.

Repeal Of Two Operational SEPPs

By NSW Dept. of Planning
Exhibition Commences 27/10/2017
Exhibition Concludes 22/12/2017
The Department of Planning and Environment is reviewing State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) to simplify and modernise the planning system by removing duplicated, redundant and outdated planning controls. 

The Department proposes to improve and simplify NSW development standards by repealing SEPP No. 1 - Development Standards and SEPP (Miscellaneous Consent Provisions) 2007 (MCP SEPP). The planning provisions contained in these two policies will be incorporated in local planning controls. 

Both SEPPs now only apply to lands which have been deferred from the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan. Councils that have adopted the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan already have the equivalent measures in place within their areas. This means local controls will essentially replace the function of the repealed SEPPs. 

The Department of Planning and Environment will work with affected councils to manage the transition of planning provisions into their Local Environmental Plans. 

The Repeal of two operational SEPPs package is currently on exhibition until 22 December 2017. 

Calorie Counts On Menus Make A Difference

November 6, 2017: University of Technology Sydney
One the most comprehensive pieces of research into the impact of displaying calories on menus reveals it not only influences consumers to make lower calorie choices but also encourages retailers to provide lower calorie options.

The research confirms the move that has been made in Australia towards, and supports a push in the United States, for greater disclosure of calorie or kilojoule information on menus at fast-food outlets and restaurant chains.

The researchers, Dr Natalina Zlatevska from University of Technology Sydney, Dr Nico Neumann from Melbourne Business School, and Professor Chris Dubelaar from Deakin University, collated 186 studies on the effect on consumers of displaying calories on menus, as well as 41 studies on the effect on retailers.

The results of the meta-analysis, to be published in the international Journal of Retailing, show that displaying calorie information encouraged a reduction of 27 calories (112 kilojoules) per meal for consumers and 15 calories (62 kilojoules) per menu item by food retailers.

Lead researcher Natalina Zlatevska, from the Marketing Discipline Group at UTS Business School, says while the calorie reduction isn't much if you only eat out once a year, for those who eat out regularly it can make a real difference.

The impact was also greater for women, with a 60 calorie (251 kilojoule) reduction per meal, and for those who are overweight, with a reduction of 83 calories (347 kilojoules) per meal.

"With more and more food dollars spent on meals purchased outside the home, anything we can do to educate consumers, and make them a bit more aware of their choices is a good start," Zlatevska says.

Obesity increases the risk of many chronic and lethal diseases including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and is a leading cause of premature death in the US, UK and Australia.

Zlatevska says the finding that retailers adjust the choices they offer when required to display calorie information is significant.

"In the same way that corporate or financial disclosure changes behaviour, here we see the disclosure effect changing the food environment," she says.

"We know that retailers are adjusting so there is the possibility of a combined effect. That is where I think bigger change will probably happen. All these incremental changes add up, it is cumulative."

In the US providing calorie information on menus has proved controversial, with constant delays and "push back" from food industry groups fearing the cost of implementing the laws.

First mandated in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, labelling laws are due to be implemented in the US in May 2018, but already there are suggestions they will again be postponed or watered-down.

In Australia, displaying kilojoule information on menus is mandatory in NSW, SA, ACT and Queensland for food outlets and restaurant chains with more than 20 stores in a state or 50 nationwide, with Victoria to follow suit next year.

Remarkable Results For Spinal Muscular Atrophy Drug Trial

November 8, 2017: By Gabrielle Dunlevy, UNSW
An international study involving researchers from UNSW Sydney and Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick has led to the first approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), providing hope for families.

SMA is a devastating but little-known genetic neuromuscular disorder that affects one in 10,000 babies worldwide, causing severe physical disability and profound implications for the health and wellbeing of patients and their families.

The drug nusinersen, marketed as Spinraza, was registered on 3 November with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as a treatment for SMA, after results of the first phase-three study of the drug were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Two of the 31 study sites internationally were in Australia, including Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick / UNSW Sydney, led by paediatric neurologist Dr Michelle Farrar and involving families from across the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network.

In the blind trial of nusinersen involving 122 patients worldwide, 41% of babies with various SMA types reached motor milestones (such as sitting, crawling and walking), compared to none in the group receiving the placebo.

Dr Farrar said it was challenging to work with such a devastating condition in young children, but the team was motivated by the unmet need and remarkable results it was witnessing.

"It was clear the treatment was working, we were seeing babies getting stronger, defying the natural history of progressive weakness and limited survival," Dr Farrar said.

"This has led to the first approved treatment for SMA and, importantly, provides hope for families."

There is a long road ahead before nusinersen is widely used in clinical practice.

The drug has been available free to infants with SMA Type 1 under a compassionate access program.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug for all SMA patients last year.

Reducing Cigarette Butt Litter

November 8, 2017: EPA
The EPA is developing a Cigarette Butt Litter Reduction Program to reduce cigarette littering behaviour and butt litter.

Why tackle cigarette butt litter?
The National Litter Index shows that cigarette butts are consistently the most-littered item in NSW. Cigarette butts are unsightly, toxic and harmful to the environment. They are easily carried in stormwater runoff through drainage systems and eventually to local streams, rivers, and waterways. Cigarette filters contain cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that does not readily biodegrade and can persist in the environment.

Resources available
The EPA has developed the 'Butt litter check' tool to help understand why smokers may be littering cigarette butts and how you can use the results to develop targeted ways to stop this behaviour. The tool was adapted from the 'Local litter check', and targets cigarette-butt littering behaviour.

The Butt litter check tool contains the following
  • how to do a butt litter check
  • location inspection form
  • litter count form
  • observation form
  • location user survey
Cigarette Butt Litter Reduction Program
The EPA is developing a Cigarette Butt Litter Reduction Program to reduce cigarette littering behaviour and butt litter.
Extensive research has been completed to understand smokers’ behaviour, attitudes, and knowledge towards cigarette butt disposal. This includes understanding the benefits of and barriers to breaking habits and adopting appropriate butt disposal actions.

This research will help to guide interventions and strategies to influence smokers’ disposal behaviour, which will then be tested in a variety of site types and locations via several trials, to determine the most effective strategies to reduce cigarette butt litter.

Program approach
Desktop research of relevant studies into cigarette butt litter
Development of a community based assessment tool
Quantitative research and baseline study
Qualitative research
Trial intervention strategies – scheduled for early 2018
Analysis of strategy, and program development
Cigarette butt litter research reports

Round 4: NSW EPA Council Litter Prevention Grants
Amount available: $1.25 million
Status: Open – Applications close 1 December 2017 at 4pm

Introducing Ernie, The Return And Earn Wombat

05 November 2017: NSW EPA
The awareness campaign for the NSW Government’s Container Deposit Scheme – Return and Earn – has commenced in the lead up to the 1 December scheme commencement.

Ernie the wombat with a recyclable bottle and coins

Ernie, the star of the campaign, is a wombat and a natural forager prevalent across most of the state. He embodies the pristine environment we’re working to protect.

The awareness campaign coincides with the roll out of the first Return and Earn reverse vending machine kiosks currently being installed as part of hundreds of collection points around the state.

Small volume drink containers account for a staggering 44% of the total volume of litter across the state and have a detrimental impact on the local environment and community. To address the issue of drink container litter the ‘Return and Earn’ campaign encourages people to collect and return used eligible containers for a 10c refund.

Drink containers eligible for the 10-cent refund include most bottles and cans between 150ml and three litres. Containers should not be crushed or broken and should have the original label attached to be eligible for the refund. People who use Return and Earn will be able to transfer their refund to their designated bank account or donate directly to selected charities. Alternately, they will be able to redeem the refund for cash from Woolworths supermarkets or use a credit voucher towards their shopping at Woolworths across NSW (except Metro branded Woolworths stores).

Return and Earn will make a major contribution to helping achieve the Premier’s Priority of reducing litter volume by 40% by 2020. It will also provide people with a financial incentive to do the right thing and recycle, to significantly reduce the estimated 160 million drink containers littered every year.

A New Standard For Inclusive Kids Play Spaces

08.11.2017: Ministerial Media Release - The Hon. Anthony Roberts, Minister for Planning and Housing
Playgrounds and play spaces across NSW will need to meet a new standard of design by catering for all people, including disabled and able-bodied children and their carers.

Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts, said the NSW Government wanted to ensure everyone was able to enjoy these spaces safely and inclusively and would provide an injection of funding for councils to retro-fit all existing parks within five years.

“I want all playgrounds in NSW to be reviewed as part of an in-depth audit that will see them assessed and rated against universal design principles,” Mr Roberts said.

A retrospective review of the existing playgrounds across NSW will determine what work needs to be done to ensure people of all abilities have the same level of accessibility to play and will identify opportunities for improvements to play spaces.

“There are more than 1.3 million people in NSW who live with a disability or added needs. It is imperative that our open spaces and playgrounds in parklands are able to be enjoyed by every citizen regardless of their level of ability.

“We are a government that cares about its community and that’s why we want to ensure open space, parks, outdoor recreation areas and play spaces are able to be enjoyed by everybody equally.

“To make it happen, we are introducing a clear set of playground and park design guidelines for councils and developers to follow, that will provide facilities for kids with challenges and the elderly, parents, children and support carers access to any play spaces or parks in NSW with ease.

“This can be achieved, for example, by having wheel-on carousels for children using wheelchairs, or shaded seating areas for disabled parents and ramp access for elderly people using motorised scooters.”

The Department of Planning and Environment’s recently appointed Commissioner of Open Space and Parklands, Fiona Morrison, said the NSW Government’s initial contribution of $750,000 would kick-start the initiative in regional NSW and Western Sydney as part of inclusive play spaces currently in the development stages, by the ‘Touched by Olivia Foundation’.

After losing their eight-month-old daughter Olivia to a rare disease in 2006, John and Justine Perkins felt compelled to transform their tragedy into a positive for others and create a lasting legacy in their daughter’s memory.

“During Olivia’s sickness, the Perkins’ realised that many children, including children with disabilities, are not always afforded the basic human right to play with others. They decided the cornerstone of Olivia’s legacy must be born out of play for all, where everybody can belong, regardless of difference, through inclusive play spaces,” Ms Morrison said.

“The Touched by Olivia Foundation is a wonderful organisation that is leading the way for world-standard inclusive facilities for children of all abilities and creating play spaces that all of the community can enjoy.

“We are delighted to support the fantastic work the Foundation is doing across NSW and Australia by contributing towards the development of ‘Livvi’s Places’ in Wagga Wagga and Warragamba. These are just two of the 25 playground projects the Foundation has already helped build.”

Bec Ho, Director of Touched by Olivia welcomed the review and the establishment of a set of guidelines on inclusive play spaces.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to develop and play, irrespective of their ability or added needs,” Ms Ho said.

“Playing is how children learn and grow and our play spaces are important places in our community that bring people together and contribute to our sense of belonging. Over 20 per cent of Australians are disadvantaged by not being able to enjoy the basic joy of visiting a playground freely.

“We are excited to see the NSW Government setting provisions to change this and providing the opportunity that will see every child can equally enjoy in their neighbourhood.”

The Department will undertake preliminary targeted consultation with councils and industry stakeholders prior to seeking public feedback from the community before finalising its guidelines and policies for universally designed play spaces next year.

Impact Of Coral Bleaching On Western Australia's Coastline

November 8, 2017
Researchers from The University of Western Australia (UWA), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and Western Australian Marine Science Institution have examined the impact of the 2016 mass bleaching event on reefs in Western Australia (WA). They found significant bleaching occurred in the inshore Kimberley region, despite Kimberley corals being known as exceptionally stress resistant. They also found mild bleaching at Rottnest Island and that the Ningaloo Reef escaped bleaching.

The 2016 mass bleaching event is the most severe global bleaching event to ever be recorded.

Coral bleaching occurs as the result of abnormal environmental conditions, such as heightened sea temperatures that cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, called 'zooxanthellae.' The loss of these colourful algae causes the corals to turn white, and 'bleach'. Bleached corals can recover if the temperature drops and zooxanthellae are able to recolonise the coral, otherwise the coral may die.

The researchers, led by UWA's Dr Verena Schoepf and Masters student Morane Le Nohaïc, conducted surveys on the health of coral reefs along the Western Australian coastline from tropical to temperate locations.

"We found a concerning 57 to 80 per cent of corals on inshore Kimberley reefs were bleached in April 2016 -- this included Montgomery Reef, Australia's largest inshore reef," Dr Schoepf said.

"Our research also found that there was mild bleaching at Rottnest Island -- 29 per cent of corals were moderately bleached."

"Ningaloo Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, escaped bleaching, but had some temperature-unrelated coral mortality. Temperate corals at Bremer Bay (Southwest) experienced no bleaching."

Dr Schoepf said bleaching patterns were consistent with patterns of heat stress across WA.

"This is the first documented regional-scale bleaching event in WA during an El Nino year and the first time we have been able to measure the percentage of impacted corals in 2016," she said.

"Coral reefs in WA are now at risk of bleaching during both El Nino years, such as in 2016, and La Nina years, such as 2010/11. But the geographic footprint differs -- the northwest is at risk during El Nino years, whereas Ningaloo Reef and reefs further south are at risk during the La Nina cycle."

"As bleaching events become more common in the future, it is critical to monitor how bleaching events impact coral reef resilience, and how long it takes reefs to recover from such catastrophic events."

Morane Le Nohaïc, Claire L. Ross, Christopher E. Cornwall, Steeve Comeau, Ryan Lowe, Malcolm T. McCulloch, Verena Schoepf. Marine heatwave causes unprecedented regional mass bleaching of thermally resistant corals in northwestern Australia. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-14794-y

Bleached Kimberley coral communities. Credit: Morane Le Nohaic

Great Barrier Reef Protected Zones Help Fish In Even Lightly Exploited Areas

November 8, 2017
Protected zones of the Great Barrier Reef benefit fish even at the relatively lightly-fished northern reefs, according to a study published November 8, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Carolina Castro-Sanguino from the University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues.

The Australian Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is the largest network of marine reserves in the world, and includes both 'no fishing' ('no-take') and 'no-entry' zones as well as fished areas. The authors of the present study analyzed the effect of such policies in the relatively lightly-fished northernmost regions. They measured, counted and calculated the biomass of commonly-fished species found at 31 northern, central and southern reefs in the area north of Cooktown, as well as assessing the seabed habitat at these sites.

The authors found that fish biomass was up to five times greater in protected zones which prevented fishing, whether they had 'no-take' or 'no-entry' policies. The most remote northern reefs had greater fish biomass than more southern zones, regardless of the zones' policies, and the authors speculate that poaching may be common in southern reserves. They also found indication that fishers may frequently operate at reserves' boundaries to exploit the increased fish biomass in these reserves.

The specific seabed habitat of different reefs had a strong effect on the amounts and types of fish found, making it impossible for the researchers to discern any distinct effects of 'no-take' versus 'no-entry' policies. Nonetheless, they did find clear differences in biomass between protected and unprotected areas, despite this region being generally fished relatively lightly. They state that this illustrates the high sensitivity to fishing of many species, reinforcing the case for their protection.

"Even in remote reef habitats, marine reserves increase the biomass of exploited fish but detecting these benefits can be challenging because the state of corals also varies across some management zones and these patterns also affect fishes," says Castro-Sanguino. "We also conclude that fishing is most intense near reserve borders leading to a reduction of biomass just outside reserves."

Carolina Castro-Sanguino, Yves-Marie Bozec, Alexandra Dempsey, Badi R. Samaniego, Katie Lubarsky, Stefan Andrews, Valeriya Komyakova, Juan Carlos Ortiz, William D. Robbins, Philip G. Renaud, Peter J. Mumby. Detecting conservation benefits of marine reserves on remote reefs of the northern GBR. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (11): e0186146 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186146

Has Protecting Marine Species Become A Job For Statisticians?

November 8, 2017
Fishermen have no way of separating the fish they catch when they cast their nets at sea. Protected species and fish with no market value -- the hammerhead shark, for example -- end up being trapped and dying for no reason. In an attempt to minimize this incidental fishing, statisticians from theUniversity of Geneva (UNIGE, Switzerland), Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada) and the Australian National University (Canberra) have devised a new statistical method for predicting bycatches more accurately in the future. The technique, which is explained in full in the journal Annals of Applied Statistics, can also be applied to other research fields, including health economics, medicine and educational science.

When fishermen set out on their expeditions at sea, protected species are caught up accidentally in their nets alongside the fish intended for sale. Biologists are collecting datasets on fish numbers and species conservation figures so they can study the volume of incidental fishing and its impact on marine fauna. The structure of this data, known as "nested," is complex because it integrates a mass of technical information, such as the number of expeditions or the type of boats used. The data also records the amount of protected fish caught in the nets on each fishing trip. However, some species -- the hammerhead shark is one such case -- are usually not caught, making it difficult to establish models that include the number of nil catches for each species. "Until now, there has been no general statistical method that combines a nested data structure with a large quantity of zeros in the observations," explains Eva Cantoni, professor at the Research Center for Statistics at UNIGE's Geneva School of Economics and Management (GSEM). "So this gap needed to be filled, which we did by setting up a very general and flexible model, called the Random-Effects Hurdle Model."

The complexity of generality
The statisticians developed a new method with the ultimate goal of introducing managed fishing and reducing bycatch. "We had to take a range of dynamics into account," continues Cantoni. "The aim was not just to analyse the changes in the number of catches over time but also to study the different seasons and the weather, all the while factoring in the technical conditions: the depth of the nets, the seasons (as I've already mentioned), the type of hooks used, whether light sticks were used or not, and the kind of vessel." Based on this data, the researchers identified the easily influenceable conditions (such as the depth of the hooks) that would reduce the volume of non-marketable species that are caught.

The statisticians then created a new methodology that combined older models specialising in either nested structures or zero management. "The difficulty lay in bringing these two aspects together while ensuring the model was as general as possible so that it could adapt to many situations," says Joanna Mills Flemming, from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Dalhousie University. The more general a model is, the more complex it is to process. Modern simulation techniques were used to estimate the model's parameters (related, for example, to the depth of the hooks) and their variability. The authors demonstrated theorems that determine and quantify the margins of error for the model and its predictions. Preventing incidental catches and supporting environmental policy. This modelling means it is now possible to estimate potential bycatches for a fishing expedition. "When fishermen give us their voyage data, we can predict the incidental catch for hammerhead sharks, for example, with more precision," states Cantoni. "The method can be used to back up environmental policies by prohibiting fishing at a certain depth at a particular time of year since it would involve too much bycatch," adds Alan Welsh from the Australian National University.

The model fills a statistical gap: previously, there was no general model capable of simultaneously factoring in complex and nested data structures and a high number of observations equal to zero. Today, the new model does not just serve commercial fishing: it can also be used in other areas with complex data structure, including health economics, medicine and educational science.

Eva Cantoni, Joanna Mills Flemming, and Alan H. Welsh. A random-effects hurdle model for predicting bycatch of endangered marine species.Annals of Applied Statistics, November 2017

Lock The Gate Takes Qld Government To Court To Unlock $1 Coal Mine Sale Secrets

November 09, 2017

Lock the Gate has today filed an application in Qld’s Supreme Court for the Queensland Government to release reasons for setting the financial assurance amount required of smaller miner Orion after it bought Blair Athol coal mine from Rio Tinto for $1.

The action, in what what may be the first time public concerns with mining rehabilitation has reached the court, follows numerous requests by EDO Qld client Lock The Gate to government to release the information, which were refused.

The application is in addition to a separate action by Lock the Gate to also obtain reasons for the Government’s decision to allow the mining lease transfer for the coal mine near Clermont, with a hearing marked for 15 November 2017.

In a media statement, Lock the Gate spokesperson Rick Humphries said: “The mine site has extensive rehabilitation needs after it was mothballed by Rio in 2012. Given the potentially serious financial risks to the taxpayer posed by the ill-conceived decisions to allow the mining lease transfer and set a low financial assurance, we believe the public has the right to know on what basis these decisions were made.

“We want to see how the Government found that Orion has the resources to effectively operate and rehabilitate the Blair Athol site, how the public interest was considered in the lease transfer, and how the financial assurance was calculated. They are a junior miner which has never completed the rehabilitation or closure of a mine,” he said

“In addition, Orion’s parent Terracom is carrying a massive debt load and we believe the financial assurance of $80m paid for by Rio Tinto to facilitate the deal is absolutely inadequate. All this exposes the taxpayers to potentially tens of millions in liability if TerraCom and/or Orion fall over.”

EDO Qld CEO Jo Bragg said: “Our client Lock the Gate is acting in the public interest calling for transparency and accountability around financial assurances for the rehabilitation of this project.

“Without sufficient financial assurances Queenslanders risk being out of pocket in the millions for the rehabilitation of site alone. There’s also a risk of impact to the environment, groundwater as well as people’s health and safety if Orion doesn’t hold the finances to properly rehabilitate the site.

“This application highlights a long term issue in Queensland, that current mechanisms are failing to be transparent and/or ensure mining projects are properly rehabilitated without risking the placement of the burden on public finances.

“The current Government has done great work in moving to more accountability on mine site rehabilitation and we hope those good reforms on assurances, which will hold mines more financially accountable for clean-ups, continue.”

A Warbler's Flashy Yellow Throat? There Are Genes For That

November 8, 2017

University of British Columbia (UBC) research might have pinpointed some of the genetic machinery responsible for the plumage colouration in Audubon's and myrtle warblers, related but distinctly feathered North American songbirds. Credit: Alan Brelsford, University of British Columbia

Birds get their bright red, orange and yellow plumage from carotenoid pigments -- responsible for many of the same bright colours in plants. But how songbirds turn carotenoids into the spectacular variety of feathered patches found in nature has remained a mystery.

Now University of British Columbia (UBC) research might have pinpointed some of the genetic machinery responsible for the plumage colouration in Audubon's and myrtle warblers, related but distinctly feathered North American songbirds.

"Audubon's and myrtle warblers interbreed in a narrow band across British Columbia and Alberta," says David Toews, co-author of a new Proceedings of the Royal Society paper exploring the birds' colouration.

"Those hybrid warblers, while considered oddities to some birders, were key for this study because their plumage traits and genes are all jumbled and mixed, allowing us to link their differing colours to genetic markers and hopefully the genes responsible."

Both types of warblers use colourful carotenoid pigments to make several yellow feather patches, including their yellow-rumps -- the birds are colloquially referred to as 'butter butts'.

But only Audubon's also used carotenoids in their telltale yellow throats. Myrtles have white throats and the hybrids have a mix of white and yellow.

The study identified several genomic region s -- one including a member of the scavenger receptor gene family that affects carotenoids in other animals -- that might be involved in this selective distribution of yellow carotenoid colours.

"We found strong associations with several genomic regions across a handful of distinct plumage traits" explains co-author Alan Brelsford. "Now we can now dig even deeper into these regions to understand the mechanisms that make warblers so colourful and diverse."

"This study is unusual in that it focused on variation in multiple colour patterning traits," says co-author Darren Irwin, a professor of zoology at UBC. "Two of the plumage differences between the species, eye spot and eye line colouration, appear to be encoded by a single region in the genome."

Alan Brelsford, David P. L. Toews, Darren E. Irwin. Admixture mapping in a hybrid zone reveals loci associated with avian feather coloration.Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2017; 284 (1866): 20171106 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1106

Women Rock: New Symposium Celebrates Females In Earth Sciences

7 November 2017
The evolution of the Australian continent, the triggers behind volcanic eruptions, and the achievements of women in earth science will be on the agenda at a University of Queensland symposium this month.

UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences organising committee chair Dr Teresa Ubide said the inaugural Dorothy Hill Women in Earth Sciences Symposium (November 15-16) would showcase the contribution of outstanding women in the earth sciences.

“Eminent speakers will cover a range of fields in the geosciences, including marine geology, past climates, geochemistry, geomicrobiology, geophysics, mineral resources and energy, petrology, seismology, tectonics and volcanology,” she said.

“The symposium is not only a great opportunity to discuss science with internationally-renowned experts, but a chance to learn more about the pathways to academic and industry careers and leadership roles in the earth science field.”

Dr Ubide said the symposium honoured the late UQ Professor Dorothy Hill - a pioneer in geological and paleontological research and a leader for women in science.

“She was the first female professor in Australia and the first female president of the Australian Academy of Science,” Dr Ubide said.

“She left a powerful physical legacy of fossil slides and specimens, and authored more than 100 articles and books.

“She is remembered in the naming of a state electorate, a Gold Coast street, a school campus, a library, a marine research vessel, a UQ scholarship and two medals awarded annually by the Australian Academy of Science and the Geological Society of Australia (Qld).  

“While Dorothy Hill died in 1997, aged 89, her bequest of personal papers and donation to the UQ library continues to inspire new generations of students and scientists, equally keen to make a positive impact on the world.”

Find the program and registration at, onFacebook, or contact organisers at more information.

Read about Dorothy Hill in The hammer that shaped a university.

A portrait of Professor Dorothy Hill by Jiani Sheng, Bachelor of Science (Honours) student with UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Carbon Fibre Breakthrough For Australian Industry

November 8, 2017
CSIRO scientists have produced Australia’s first entirely home-grown carbon fibre, paving the way for Australian industry to mass-produce the next generation materials, used in everything from bicycles and tennis rackets to satellites and fighter planes.

The breakthrough was announced by CSIRO’s Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra today.

“Cracking the carbon code will allow industry to manufacture this incredibly strong and lightweight material for the first time from scratch, using Australia’s own top secret recipe,” Dr Marshall said.

“Together with Deakin University, we’ve created the seed to grow our manufacturing industry in Australia – generating jobs of the future built on home-grown innovation.”

Carbon fibre is only made by a handful of manufacturers around the world, each of whom hold their own secret, patented recipes.

“From wind turbines to aerospace, even the latest Mustang wheels, a carbon fibre industry signals the kind of reinvention needed across Australian industry, shifting our focus from raw exports to high value products to retain our global competitive advantage,” Dr Marshall said.

“This is another chapter in the innovation history of Geelong, where Australia’s first carbon fibre was created from scratch using CSIRO produced white fibre. It’s a major leap forward in turning the region into an international carbon fibre hub.”

Carbon fibre combines high rigidity, tensile strength and chemical resistance with low weight, and is used in everything from aviation and defence to space and car manufacturing.

Today’s announcement that Australia has joined the elite club of carbon fibre manufacturers using CSIRO patented technology is the first step in creating a generation of carbon fibre that is stronger and of a higher quality.

“We want to unlock carbon fibre’s full potential,” CSIRO Research Director Dr John Tsanaktsidis said.

“On our first attempt we created car-quality carbon fibre – we now expect to improve on that result and produce aerospace standard carbon fibre.

“CSIRO’s Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap, released in November 2016, called on Australian industry to play to its strengths by focusing on high value advanced manufacturing. Creating a future industry based on carbon fibre is an excellent example of bringing that to life.”

Australia’s first carbon fibre was produced using polyacrylonitrile fibre, spun on the joint CSIRO/ Deakin University wet spinning line, then carbonised at Deakin’s “Carbon Nexus” facility.

As part of our Strategy 2020, CSIRO has produced a series of Industry Roadmaps outlining challenges and opportunities faced by a number of sectors crucial to the Australian economy.

Released in November 2016, the Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap revealed a blueprint for how Australian manufacturers can survive and prosper in an uncertain future.

For more information, please visit our website Advanced manufacturing roadmap.

CSIRO and Carbon Nexus researchers inspect Australia’s first carbon fibre. photo courtesy CSIRO

Googong Foreshores Joins Commonwealth Heritage List

Media release: 4 November 2017- The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
The Turnbull Government is pleased to announce the Googong Foreshores Cultural and Geodiversity Area has been included in the Commonwealth Heritage List.

Forty kilometres south west from Canberra, the 223-hectare Googong Foreshores Cultural and Geodiversity Heritage Area tells the story of pastoral settlement in the Canberra and Queanbeyan area over a period of more than a century. The group of buildings in a picturesque rural setting illustrate different phases of vernacular construction techniques, typical for rural homesteads.

The area now sits alongside the Lodge, the Carillion and the Royal Australian Mint in this list of important heritage places. The Australian Heritage Council recommended the Googong Foreshores Cultural and Geodiversity Heritage Area for listing because of what it preserves and tells us of our, Aboriginal, geological, natural and pastoral history.

The London Bridge Homestead group of buildings (near what is now the Googong Dam) made up one of the first properties in the area. Starting with a stone cottage in 1860 the property expanded over the following century to include a 1870s timber clad house, the 1890s 'wattle and daub' house, the 1920s weatherboard house and a 1950s fibro annex.

The 1930s woolshed and shearer's quarters, located 1.5km away from the homestead, provide insight into that period of wool production management and demonstrate the living and working conditions of the era. This place reflects the importance of the wool industry for the local community and reminds us of a time when Australia "rode the sheep's back".

The area was used by the Ngambri Indigenous people well before the European settlement. It has been suggested that the area may represent a 'staging area' where people gathered prior to heading to the Brindabella Mountains for ceremonies.

On a nearby bend of Burra Creek, you can be taken further back in geological time and see how the local landscape evolved in the formation of the much-loved local landmark - the London Bridge Arch and caves.

The arch was given the name London Bridge by Europeans in 1825. Aboriginal visits to this sacred area started thousands of years earlier, as recent finds nearby demonstrate - stone artefact scatters, a scarred tree, campsites and cairns.

You can visit this historic site via the London Bridge Walk, an easy 3.4 km return walk which takes you to the London Bridge Arch and London Bridge Homestead.

For more details regarding the Commonwealth Heritage listing see:

Icebreaker Construction Barges Ahead

3rd November 2017: Department of the Environment and Energy
Australian Antarctic Division
Construction of Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker RSV Nuyina reached a numerical milestone this week with 5000 tonnes of steel cut at Damen Shipyards in Romania.

This marks the half way point in the steel cutting, with some 10 000 tonnes expected to be cut. (Watch our new daily timelapse video of Nuyina's construction in the Damen Shipyards).

Progress was also made on another front today with the signing of a letter of intent by Tasmanian based maritime engineering firm, Taylor Bros Pty Ltd, with Damen Group, to construct two landing barges for Nuyina. 

The barges will be launched from Nuyina to complete the ship-to-shore transfer of cargo to Australia’s three Antarctic stations.

The two aluminium landing barges are approximately 16 metres in length and will be powered by two water-jets.

A graphic representation of the RSV Nuyina with the two barges that will be built by Taylor Bros Pty Ltd. (Photo: AAD/Damen)

Study Points To Better Testing Of Seniors' Cognitive Health

November 9, 2017
Older Australians are selling themselves short when it comes to their own cognitive health, according to a new report from National Seniors.

Research Director Professor John McCallum said an unintended consequence of a growing awareness of dementia was leading some people to believe their cognitive ability was declining when it wasn’t.

Conversely, the same study discovered that cognition among older Australians could deteriorate without people realising it, causing problems in decision-making and putting people at risk.

It also revealed there could be an upside to adult children staying at home longer: older people with dependents in the household scored better in cognitive tests. On the downside, participants with less education and applied financial literacy scored worse in cognitive tests.

Prof. McCallum said the findings were among the key outcomes of National Seniors Australia’s new research report titled Better ways of assessing cognitive health.

He said the importance of normal cognitive function to decision-making in later life had prompted National Seniors to undertake the study.

“Cognition can deteriorate without people being aware of it,” Prof. McCallum said. “People have to make important decisions about their finances as they age, and these decisions can have a major impact on their quality of life, where they live, even their health.

“So, it’s important we understand better the attitudes of older people to cognitive screening and the impact of cognitive health on financial decision-making among Australians aged over 55.

“We wanted to assess alternative ways of screening for cognitive function; if people would use services if they were available; and where they would prefer to have the services delivered and by whom.”

Prof. McCallum said it took on average about three years from when symptoms of cognitive decline first appeared to disease diagnosis. But during this period, people could be making important decisions that impacted their personal life and their jobs.

“This is especially risky in occupations where a high level of cognitive functioning is assumed, for example among doctors; when people are managing large amounts of money; or when they are deciding on health treatments, housing, or when to retire,” Prof. McCallum said.

“Early detection is critical as it allows people to be better prepared to make choices or adjustments before cognition is significantly impaired.

“The flip side of this is people may also self-limit their behaviour if they believe they have serious cognitive decline, even if the reality is they don’t.”

Fear of consequences such as losing their driver’s licence, being ostracised, or anxiety about where to go for help caused people to delay diagnosis of cognitive decline.

The study was conducted in two stages. The first examined self-reported levels of cognitive function and attitudes to screening, financial literacy, and decision-making networks.

Stage two trialled a new and innovative online cognitive assessment, known as CANTAB, which originated from Cambridge University in the UK, and was completed in the participants’ homes.

Prof. McCallum said the online assessments were well received, with more than half the participants preferring this type of evaluation.

National Seniors was focussing on promoting financial, digital and information literacy among its members, and the new study was an important first step in developing tools that older Australians could use to assess their own cognitive function.

“The study revealed that cognitive health, age and level of education are important factors in how people cope with financial decision-making and in maintaining financial sufficiency as they age,” Prof. McCallum said.

“It also shows that regular cognitive screening of older community members is warranted, especially given the positive response to the online assessments.”

Nominations Open For 2018 Australian Surfing Awards Incorporating The Hall Of Fame

November 9th, 2017
By Surfing Australia  
Nominations are now open for the 2018 Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame.

For the first time since 2011, Surfing Australia’s night of nights will be held on the Gold Coast on Tuesday March 6th at QT Surfers Paradise.

Tourism and Events Queensland Chief Executive Officer Leanne Coddington said the Australian Surfing Awards’ return to the Gold Coast was fantastic news for the tourism region.

“We look forward to hosting more than 350 guests as part of the awards ceremony, many of whom are prominent Australian surfing identities, including past, present and future world champions,” Ms Coddington said.

“Not only will these elite athletes be recognised for their commitment to the sport of surfing, they will also have an opportunity to experience the Gold Coast’s famous beaches and other tourism offerings first-hand.

“Alongside the World Surf League Awards, Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro, taking place on the Gold Coast next March, the Australian Surfing Awards will reinforce the Gold Coast’s place as a world-class surfing destination.”

World Surf League (WSL) competitor Matt Wilkinson and 2016 WSL Women’s World Champion Tyler Wright took the honours last year for the Male and Female Surfer of the Year awards, while Peter Crawford became the 39th inductee into the Hall of Fame.

“We’re pleased to be bringing the Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame to the Gold Coast for the next two years,” said Surfing Australia CEO Andrew Stark.

“In celebrating the past and present surfing champions of Australia, it’s important that we move the prestigious awards night to iconic surfing regions across the nation following successful years in Newcastle and in Sydney.”

‘We also thank Tourism and Events Queensland and our valued partners for their support of the annual Australian Surfing Awards.”

Other awards to be presented on the night will be:

The Milwaukee Heavy Water Award winner will receive $2,000 and a Milwaukee tool pack valued at $1,849.

The winners of the Nikon Surf Photo of the Year and Nikon Surf Video of the Year will each receive a brand-new, top-of-the-line Nikon D850 and NIKKOR AF-S 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens – valued at $6,800.

World renowned Surf Journalist Nick Carroll continues in the role of Curator of the Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame.

Nick Carroll - AJG Pic.

Operated with the support of Tourism and Events Queensland, the Australian Surfing Awards is renowned for recognising the best in surfing talent.

To nominate, visit:
NOTE: Nominations close Monday January 8th, 2018.

The Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame is proudly supported by Tourism and Events Queensland, QT Gold Coast, the Australian Sports Commission, Nikon, Milwaukee, nudie, Australasian Surf Business Magazine, XXXX Summer Bright Lager and DrinkWise.

Biomarker May Predict Early Alzheimer's Disease

November 10, 2017
Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have identified a peptide that could lead to the early detection of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The discovery, published in Nature Communications, may also provide a means of homing drugs to diseased areas of the brain to treat AD, Parkinson's disease, as well as glioblastoma, brain injuries and stroke.

"Our goal was to find a new biomarker for AD," says Aman Mann, Ph.D., research assistant professor at SBP who shares the lead authorship of the study with Pablo Scodeller, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at SBP. "We have identified a peptide (DAG) that recognizes a protein that is elevated in the brain blood vessels of AD mice and human patients. The DAG target, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) appears in the AD brain before amyloid plaques, the pathological hallmark of AD."

"CTGF is a protein that is made in the brain in response to inflammation and tissue repair," explains Mann. "Our finding that connects elevated levels of CTGF with AD is consistent with the growing body of evidence suggesting that inflammation plays an important role in the development of AD."

The research team identified the DAG peptide using in vivo phage display screening at different stages of AD development in a mouse model. In young AD mice, DAG detected the earliest stage of the disease. If the early appearance of the DAG target holds true in humans, it would mean that DAG could be used as a tool to identify patients at early, pre-symptomatic stages of the disease when treatments already available may still be effective.

"Importantly, we showed that DAG binds to cells and brain from AD human patients in a CTGF-dependent manner" says Mann. "This is consistent with an earlier report of high CTGF expression in the brains of AD patients."

"Our findings show that endothelial cells, the cells that form the inner lining of blood vessels, bind our DAG peptide in the parts of the mouse brain affected by the disease," says Erkki Ruoslahti, M.D., Ph.D., distinguished professor at SBP and senior author of the paper. "This is very significant because the endothelial cells are readily accessible for probes injected into the blood stream, whereas other types of cells in the brain are behind a protective wall called the blood-brain barrier. The change in AD blood vessels gives us an opportunity to create a diagnostic method that can detect AD at the earliest stage possible.

"But first we need to develop an imaging platform for the technology, using MRI or PET scans to differentiate live AD mice from normal mice. Once that's done successfully, we can focus on humans," adds Ruoslahti.

"As our research progresses we also foresee CTGF as a potential therapeutic target that is unrelated to amyloid beta (A?), the toxic protein that creates brain plaques," says Ruoslahti. "Given the number of failed clinical studies that have sought to treat AD patients by targeting A?, it's clear that treatments will need to be given earlier -- before amyloid plaques appear -- or have to target entirely different pathways.

"DAG has the potential to fill both roles -- identifying at risk individuals prior to overt signs of AD and targeted delivery of drugs to diseased areas of the brain. Perhaps CTGF itself can be a drug target in AD and other brain disorders linked to inflammation. We'll just have to learn more about its role in these diseases."

Aman P. Mann, Pablo Scodeller, Sazid Hussain, Gary B. Braun, Tarmo Mölder, Kadri Toome, Rajesh Ambasudhan, Tambet Teesalu, Stuart A. Lipton, Erkki Ruoslahti. Identification of a peptide recognizing cerebrovascular changes in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.Nature Communications, 2017; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01096-0

Old Human Cells Rejuvenated In Breakthrough Discovery On Aging

November 7, 2017
A team led by Professor Lorna Harries, Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Exeter, has discovered a new way to rejuvenate inactive senescent cells. Within hours of treatment the older cells started to divide, and had longer telomeres -- the 'caps' on the chromosomes which shorten as we age.

This discovery, funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust, builds on earlier findings from the Exeter group that showed that a class of genes called splicing factors are progressively switched off as we age. The University of Exeter research team, working with Professor Richard Faragher and Dr Elizabeth Ostler from the University of Brighton, found that splicing factors can be switched back on with chemicals, making senescent cells not only look physically younger, but start to behave more like young cells and start dividing.

The researchers applied compounds called reversatrol analogues, chemicals based on a substance naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate, red grapes and blueberries, to cells in culture. The chemicals caused splicing factors, which are progressively switched off as we age to be switched back on. Within hours, the cells looked younger and started to rejuvenate, behaving like young cells and dividing.

The research, Small molecule modulation of splicing factor expression is associated with rescue from cellular senescence, is published in the journal, BMC Cell Biology.

The discovery has the potential to lead to therapies which could help people age better, without experiencing some of the degenerative effects of getting old. Most people by the age of 85 have experienced some kind of chronic illness, and as people get older they are more prone to stroke, heart disease and cancer.

Professor Harries said: "This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life. Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells."

Dr Eva Latorre, Research Associate at the University of Exeter, who carried out the experiments, was surprised by the extent and rapidity of the changes in the cells.

"When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn't believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic," she said. "I repeated the experiments several times and in each case the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research."

As we age, our tissues accumulate senescent cells which are alive but do not grow or function as they should. These old cells lose the ability to correctly regulate the output of their genes. This is one reason why tissues and organs become susceptible to disease as we age. When activated, genes make a message that gives the instructions for the cell to behave in a certain way. Most genes can make more than one message, which determines how the cell acts.

Splicing factors are crucial in ensuring that genes can perform their full range of functions. One gene can send out several messages to the body to perform a function -- such as the decision whether or not to grow new blood vessels -- and the splicing factors make the decision about which message to make. As people age, the splicing factors tend to work less efficiently or not at all, restricting the ability of cells to respond to challenges in their environment. Senescent cells, which can be found in most organs from older people, also have fewer splicing factors.

Professor Harries added: "This demonstrates that when you treat old cells with molecules that restore the levels of the splicing factors, the cells regain some features of youth. They are able to grow, and their telomeres -- the caps on the ends of the chromosomes that shorten as we age -- are now longer, as they are in young cells. Far more research is needed now to establish the true potential for these sort of approaches to address the degenerative effects of ageing. "

Professor Richard Faragher of the University of Brighton, will today argue for more research into the degenerative effects of ageing in a debate into whether science should be used to extend people's lifespans.

"At a time when our capacity to translate new knowledge about the mechanisms of ageing into medicines and lifestyle advice is limited only by a chronic shortage of funds, older people are ill-served by self-indulgent science fiction. They need practical action to restore their health and they need it yesterday," he said.

Professor Faragher added: "Our discovery of cell rejuvenation using these simple compounds shows the enormous potential of ageing research to improve the lives of older people"

Jeynes, Amy Hooper, Helen R. Dawe, David Melzer, Lynne S. Cox, Richard G. A. Faragher, Elizabeth L. Ostler, Lorna W. Harries. Small molecule modulation of splicing factor expression is associated with rescue from cellular senescence. BMC Cell Biology, 2017; 18 (1) DOI:10.1186/s12860-017-0147-7

Australian Government launches trial of world-first satellite positioning technology

9 November 2017: Senator the Hon Matt Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia; Joint media release with the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Darren Chester MP, and the Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry MP
The Australian Government has launched a national trial of world-first satellite positioning technology.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said in Rockhampton today the first contracts with industry had been signed as part of a two-year trial examining the economic and social benefits of a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for the Australasian region.

Minister Canavan was speaking in Rockhampton at CQUniversity Australia, one of the first industry participants to sign on.

“In coming months, further contracts are expected to be signed covering more than 30 industry-based projects across 10 sectors examining real-world applications of three new satellite positioning technologies.

“We know that working closely with industries like agriculture is the key to understanding what Australia can gain from investing in technologies that may improve positioning accuracy from the current five to 10 metres down to less than 10 centimetres.

“As part of the trial, a number of the projects will be looking at how improvements in positioning can be used to increase production and lower costs for farmers.

“For example, one of the projects will be examining the potential of ‘fenceless farming’ for strip grazing, while another will be looking at how crop health can be improved through more precise irrigation, fertiliser use and pest control.”

Minister Canavan said the new technologies basically augmented and corrected the positioning signals already transmitted to Australia by constellations of international satellites like the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS).

"All up, three signals will be uplinked to a geostationary communications satellite out of Lockheed Martin’s station at Uralla in the New England region of New South Wales.

“In September, a second generation SBAS (SBAS-2) signal was switched on. It is the first time anywhere in the world that SBAS-2 signals have been transmitted. Australia is also the first country in the world to trial Precise Point Positioning corrections integrated into a SBAS service.”

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said improving positioning technology also had the potential to provide safety, efficiency, capacity and environmental benefits for all transport sectors.

“Satellite-based technology is already used significantly in the aviation and maritime industries, however SBAS provides opportunities to increase the safe and productive use of this technology,” Mr Chester said.

“Automated vehicle and train management systems also provide exciting opportunities for road and rail users in the future.”

Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said CQUniversity’s project would receive up to $180,000 in funding from the Australian and New Zealand Governments, with the project partners contributing an additional $105,000.

“You may start seeing cattle and sheep with special collars in Rockhampton and Longreach. The CQUniversity-led project is testing the construction of ‘virtual fencing’ for strip grazing, and looking at how the precise tracking of livestock can be used for early disease detection and more efficient breeding programs.

“It all sounds a bit technical but what we’re really talking about is potentially increasing production and lowering costs for farmers.”

Fast facts
  • The SBAS trial is being managed by Geoscience Australia in partnership with the global technology companies GMV, Inmarsat and Lockheed Martin.
  • The Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) is managing the industry projects which will trial, evaluate and report on the benefits and applications relevant to their business and sector.
  • The CRCSI received 86 applications to participate in the trial.
  • The projects range across 10 industry sectors including agriculture, aviation, construction, consumer, maritime, rail, road, resources, spatial and utilities.
For more information about the SBAS trial, visit

The Popular Tabloid Pix Magazine Now Online!

November 8th, 2017: State Library of NSW
Australia’s post-depression resurgence from 1935 to 1939 coincided with a change in the tempo of public thought and the arrival of new pictorial magazines like Pix which gave the public new ways to imagine Australia and themselves. By the early 1930s, nearly all the magazines previously published in Australia had ceased production and only a handful of the well-established titles from the turn of the century were still in circulation. 

Pix played an important role in the post-war aspirations which shaped Australian’s and their sense of national identity, albeit in a playful, light-hearted manner. At the price of sixpence, the heavily illustrated magazine featured a uniquely Australian mix of scandal, sensationalism, human-interest stories, fashion, politics, culture and entertainment. Its boldly designed covers included a black and white photo, showcasing a Hollywood starlet, fresh-faced Aussie girl (often in a swimsuit) or quirky animal, shot along with attention-grabbing text .

Pix provided many local professional and amateur photographers with an additional source of income by offering top rates for ‘unusual pictures which have not appeared elsewhere’. One of the magazine’s best features was its focus on Australian content with pages of Aussie jokes and cartoons as well as international photo stories. Proudly proclaiming ‘There's knowledge in PIX - every week’, the magazine’s ‘Photo Crime’ series asked ‘how good a detective are you?’, tempting readers to examine the pictures closely for clues to see if they could solve the crime, as well as including a ‘Check What you've learned’ quiz and crossword puzzle in each issue.

Pix also favoured more liberalised attitudes towards sex in its articles and, following in the wake of the late 60s and 70s sexual revolution, became even more daring with its covers and content – often running stories focused on adultery, hedonism and nudity. At the height of its popularity in the 60s and 70s, Pix magazine was read by millions of Australians. The proliferation of tabloid periodicals like Pix, saw the launch of Australasian Post (1946-96) and People (1947-68); so similar in content were Pix and People that the two titles actually merged in 1971.

Every issue of Pix from 29 January 1938 to 25 December 1954, has been digitised and made fully searchable online as part of the State Library's Digital Excellence Program. This is a major initiative supported by the NSW Government. 

By Margot Riley, Curator, Research and Discovery, State Library of New South Wales, 2017

New Initiative To Enhance STEM Leaders In Our Schools

Monday 6 November 2017
Media Release
Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham
Minister for Education and Training
The Turnbull Government is backing a new initiative from school principals aimed at enhancing leadership and changing the way Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is taught in our schools.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the Turnbull Government’s Principals as STEM Leaders project would strengthen the foundation for greater participation and engagement, and ultimately better learning outcomes in STEM subjects.  

“We want to identify and replicate the best STEM leadership practices across Australia,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations in Australia require skills in STEM so it’s vital our next generation of workers have the skills to thrive in the changing employment landscape.

“It is no secret the performance of Australian students in STEM subjects has stagnated and even declined in some measures and this project will identify the leadership and teaching practices in STEM that are currently working well with the aim of rolling these practices out more broadly in our classrooms.

“The $2.6 million we’ve committed to this project will back the research, development and piloting of professional learning approaches to build on principals’ STEM leadership skills.

“It’s those leading approaches that we want to support to drive whole-of-school improvement in STEM engagement and learning outcomes.

“We’re overhauling Australia’s schools funding system and boosting investment by an average of $2,300 per student or $23.5 billion across the whole system ensuring students with the greatest needs get the greatest level of resources. However while funding is important, we know what’s more important is how it’s used which is why projects like this are so important.

“Through the National Innovation and Science Agenda the Turnbull Government is investing $64 million on top of our record school funding in additional early childhood and school-level STEM programs to boost opportunities and participation in STEM subjects in our schools.”


8 November 2017 
Medical scientists, inventors, a surf therapist, a teacher, rural community leaders, a Playschool legend and cycling cancer fundraisers are among the nominees for the 2018 NSW Australian of the Year Awards.

The NSW Award nominees announced today are in the running to be named NSW Australian of the Year, NSW Senior Australian of the Year, NSW Young Australian of the Year and NSW Local Hero.

The 2018 NSW Award nominees are: 

Geoff Coombes, Gary Bertwistle, and Samantha Hollier-James – Cancer fundraisers & Tour de Cure founders (Northern Beaches Sydney)
Professor Peter Macdonald AM – Cardiologist & medical pioneer (Maroubra)
Walter Mikac – Gun control campaigner & children’s champion (Byron Bay)
Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons – Professor in quantum physics (Sydney) 

Reverend Bill Crews AM – Humanitarian (Sydney)
Dr Catherine Hamlin AC – Pioneering surgeon (Sydney)
Brian Myerson – Organ transplant advocate (Rose Bay)
Don Spencer OAM – Singer, songwriter & musical educator (Sydney) 

Macinley Butson – Scientist & inventor (Wollongong)
Connor McLeod – Human rights & disability campaigner (Sydney)
Joel Pilgrim – Mental health champion & surf therapist (Sydney)
Ben Wang – Inventor (Sydney) 

Jay Allen – Melanoma crusader (Southern Highlands)
Ian Burns – Community supporter (Dubbo)
Alistair Ferguson – Indigenous community leader (Bourke)
Eddie Woo – Mathematics teacher (Sydney) 

The NSW Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Local Hero Award recipients will be announced on Monday 13 November 2017 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

The NSW Award recipients will then join a cohort of 32 State and Territory recipients from around Australia in the national Awards, which will be held in Canberra on 25 January 2018.

National Australia Day Council CEO, Ms Jenny Barbour, said the NSW nominees are among 130 great Australians being recognised at the state level in the Australian of the Year Awards. 

"The Australian of the Year Awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding Australians – people making extraordinary contributions to our society," said Ms Barbour.

“The NSW Award nominees are an extraordinarily diverse group of people, yet all are giving in their own way.  Their stories remind us we all have the power to help others, to bring about real change, to improve lives, to create and to bring joy.”

Commonwealth Bank has been a major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for over 30 years.

“We are proud to support the Australian of the Year Awards, a program that celebrates the achievements of inspirational Australians,” said Mr Ian Narev, Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Bank.

“Thank you to all of the amazing nominees for your contribution to our nation.”

Geoff Coombes and Gary Bertwistle and Samantha Hollier-James
State: New South Wales
Cancer fundraisers and Tour de Cure founders

Three friends determined to find a cure for cancer, Geoff Coombes, Gary Bertwistle, and Samantha Hollier-James established the now iconic Tour de Cure in 2007. Drawing on their professional backgrounds in branding, marketing and events, the trio decided to create a life-changing bike ride to raise money for pioneering Australian cancer research, support and prevention projects. 

The first Tour de Cure, from Brisbane to Sydney, brought together 29 people and raised just over $400,000. Today, Tour de Cure’s signature Tour is considered a ‘bucket list’ experience that raises more than $2.5 million annually. As the charity expands, Tour de Cure hosts a calendar of cycling tours and non-lycra fundraising gala events. 

Geoff, Gary and Samantha have also established a kids’ cancer prevention project that has encouraged more than 95,000 Australian school children, to be fit, healthy and happy. Tour de Cure has raised $32 million to fund 266 world-class Australian cancer research, support and prevention projects, that has resulted in 21 breakthroughs.

CSIRO Announces Investment In Two New Science Breakthroughs 

November 9, 2017
Transforming Australia into the world's leading low emissions energy exporter and revolutionising the way healthcare is delivered are at the heart of two new breakthrough science investments by CSIRO.

Announcing the creation of two Future Science Platforms (FSPs) at the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the $27million investment would see CSIRO ramping up its research into hydrogen and precision health.

"Under our Strategy 2020 we're committed to increasing funding for science that underpins innovation and will reinvent and create new industries and jobs for Australia's future," Dr Marshall said.

"Securing Australia's future prosperity means we have to ensure our reach exceeds our gaze, turning our big ideas into breakthrough technologies for major Australian industries.

"Today's announcement adds two new FSPs to our portfolio, which will transform two of Australia's most critical sectors- energy and health."

The creation of a Hydrogen FSP will enable the development of technologies that allow Australia to export its solar energy, as well as providing low emissions energy solutions for Australians.

"The opportunity for Australia is clear – we have access to vast energy resources through sun, wind, biomass, natural gas and coal, all of which can be used to produce hydrogen, allowing us to potentially become a leading exporter of low emission renewable energy," CSIRO Energy Director Karl Rodrigues said.

"This is not only important to ensuring Australia has a diverse mix of energy sources, but positions us to have a competitive edge in the global energy market, fueling industries from transport, to manufacturing and agriculture."

By creating a new FSP focused on Precision Health, CSIRO's Director of Health Dr Rob Grenfell said the aim was to develop tailored health solutions that enable Australians to live healthier lives for longer.

"In an era of ageing populations and escalating health costs, we need to move from a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to managing illness and look at new ways of delivering tailored food, nutrition and digital health solutions that focus on keeping people healthier for longer," Dr Grenfell said.

"Investing in this new FSP allows us to improve our understanding of how Australians think about their health, harnessing the power of big data to personalise solutions, creating new foods for health, and establishing new industries to deliver better health for all." 

Rule Change To Put Customers First

Media release: 7 November 2017, The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
The Australian Energy Market Commission today released a rule requiring retailers to notify electricity and gas customers when their energy discounts are about to finish or change.

This is the direct result of the actions of the Turnbull Government to ensure consumers are not paying more for energy than they need to.

In August, the Prime Minister secured a commitment from major energy retailers to support a range of actions to put downward pressure on prices, including the rule change.

This rule means that, for the first time, retailers will be required to notify customers ahead of time, when a benefit in their contract is about to end or change. This will put consumers in a strong, informed position to consider their energy options and to shop around for a better deal.

The rule change will start on 1 February 2018, with retailers required to provide further detailed information to consumers from October 2018, about how much consumers will pay if they stay on the same deal.

The Turnbull Government continues to proactively engage with retail energy companies to deliver on the remaining retailer commitments to put families and small business first, including retailers contacting nearly 2 million households to let them know there are better deals.

On top of this most recent action, the Government has abolished the ability of energy networks to appeal the decisions of the Australian Energy Regulator. This reform is critical as network costs make up around half of the household bill. Previously, networks have used the appeals mechanism to add $6.5 billion on to consumers' electricity bills.

To further put downward pressure on electricity prices, the Government has secured more gas supplies through tough new regulations in the gas sector to give Australian customers priority access to gas before it is exported overseas.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is also undertaking a review of retail electricity prices. The review will consider, among other things, the competitiveness of offers and take into account wholesale electricity market price and cost issues.

Taken together, these measures will put downward pressure on electricity and gas prices across the country.

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.