Inbox and Environment News - Issue 221 

 July 5 - 11, 2015: Issue 221

 New drug listing Keytruda to treat melanoma


28th June 2015- The Commonwealth Government will invest $57 million to list breakthrough melanoma drug Keytruda® on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

This will improve quality of life for 1,100 Australian patients and make the $150,000 per year treatment affordable.

The listing follows passage of the Government’s PBS reform package through the Senate last week and delivers on our promise to list new medicines as quickly as possible.

It complements $1.3 billion from the 2015/16 Budget for other melanoma medicines as well as drugs to treat breast cancer, blindness and shingles.

Treatment using pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) currently costs patients with metastatic melanoma up to $156,130 per year without taxpayer subsidy through the PBS. 

Patients will now pay $6.10 if they are concessional patients or $37.70 for general patients. 

Since coming to office, the Commonwealth has now approved 667 new and amended listings to the PBS, with a benefit of almost $3 billion to Australian patients.

Today’s announcement demonstrates the importance of ensuring that spending on existing drugs is as efficient as possible, so breakthrough medicines like Keytruda® can continue to be listed.

Treatment will be made available on the PBS from 1 September, 2015. 

All PBS listings are subject to final arrangements being agreed with suppliers of the medicine, including risk share arrangements. 

Since coming to office in September 2013, the Commonwealth has listed the following medicines, among others, on the PBS: 

Soliris (2014) – Atypical Haemolytic-Uraemic Syndrome (rare immune disease) – $63 million – $500,000 per patient if not subsidised through the PBS

Kayldeco (2014) – Cystic Fibrosis – $174 million – $300,000 per patient if not subsidised through the PBS

Mekinist (2015) – BRAF-positive Metastatic Melanoma – $437 million – $131,000 per patient if not subsidised through the PBS

Adcetris (2014) – Lymphoma – $15.2 million – over $110,000 per patient if not subsidised through the PBS

Perjeta, Herceptin and Kadcyla (2015) – Breast Cancer – $191 million combined – $82,000 per patient if not subsidised through the PBS

Crizotinib (2015) – Lung Cancer – $60 million – $80,000 per patient if not subsidised through the PBS

Lemtrada (2015) – Relapsing, Remitting Multiple Sclerosis – $50 million – $70,000 per patient if not subsidised through the PBS

Abraxane (2014) – Pancreatic Cancer – $92 million – $16,000 per patient if not subsidised through the PBS

Lucentis (2015) – Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO) and Diabetic Macular Oedema (DME) (blindness) – $541 million – $10,000 per patient if not subsidised through the PBS

Listing these medicines on the PBS means patients pay just the PBS co-payment, with taxpayers covering the difference in the cost of treatment. For example, a patient using Soliris – which costs $500,000 per patient – now pays just $6.10 if they are a concession card holder or $37.70 if they are a general patient as a result of the drug being listed on the taxpayer-funded PBS.

 Benefits for Humanity: Hope Crystalizes

Published on 1 Jul 2015: NASA

Description: In one of many direct Earth applications of International Space Station research, the newest

Benefits for Humanity video in the Benefits series highlights how high quality crystals grown in microgravity lead to new therapeutics for disease. Learn how the investigation of protein crystals in space is helping treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), an incurable genetic disorder affecting the muscles with onset usually in early childhood and primarily in young males.

Since 2003, scientists with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have conducted protein crystal growth investigations on the space station, including proteins associated with DMD. Crystals grown on Earth are impacted by gravity, which may affect the way the molecules align on the surface of the crystal. Researchers have discovered that growing crystals aboard the space station allows for slower growth and higher quality crystals. Having a better understanding of the protein’s shape enabled researchers to design a drug that fits specifically into a location on the protein associated with DMD. The research team estimates that the drug may be able to slow the progression of DMD by half.

With many other protein crystal growth studies occurring or planned aboard the space station, many thousands of other proteins’ structures could be determined. This is yet another way the orbiting laboratory is enabling research Off the Earth, For the Earth.

 Electrical nerve stimulation can reverse spinal cord injury nerve damage in patients

July 1, 2015 - Approximately 12,000 spinal cord injuries (SCI) happen every year in the U.S., the majority caused by car accidents, falls, sporting accidents and gunshot wounds. Better emergency care and therapy have made SCI manageable, but researchers continue to investigate approaches to make it repairable. A new study in Journal of Neurophysiology reports that peripheral nerve stimulation therapy can reverse SCI-associated nerve deterioration, potentially improving the benefits of current and emerging rehabilitation treatments.

Muscles contract when the nerves controlling them are activated by electrical impulses from the brain. The brain loses control of the muscles after SCI because injured nerves do not excite easily or at all. In addition to the nerves in the spine, the peripheral nerves -- nerves going to the limbs -- downstream of the injury site are also compromised after SCI, worsening muscle atrophy and other health complications that follow the injury. This secondary nerve deterioration also limits the benefits of rehabilitation therapy and the possibility of spontaneous recovery. According to the researchers, maintaining peripheral nerve function soon after SCI may lessen health complications and "lead to better functional and rehabilitation outcome later on." In this new study, the research team from The University of Sydney in Australia examined if an intensive, short-term nerve stimulation treatment could improve peripheral nerve function after SCI.

Patients with SCI underwent 30 minutes of electrical nerve stimulation therapy five days a week for six weeks on one limb. The other limb remained untreated. All subjects started the therapy within six months of injury.

Patients with SCI had less excitable nerves with altered responses to electrical stimulation, indicating nerve dysfunction. After six weeks of therapy, the nerves in the treated limb responded to electrical stimulation more like nerves in healthy subjects. Nerve function in the untreated limb did not change over the six-week period. "The present study has clearly demonstrated that an intensive six-week peripheral nerve stimulation program was beneficial in improving nerve excitability parameters toward the normal range," the researchers wrote. Moreover, the improvements stayed if the patient continued with the stimulation therapy, the researchers said.

According to the researchers, short-term peripheral nerve stimulation may be a new approach to preventing long-term changes in nerve and muscle function and improving rehabilitation outcomes. "Therapies that help to maintain peripheral nerve function, such as the peripheral nerve stimulation paradigm used in the current study, need to be incorporated into the mainstream neuro-rehabilitation program in the early phases of SCI," the researchers wrote.

Michael Lee, Matthew C. Kiernan, Vaughan G. Macefield, Bonne B. Lee, Cindy S.-Y. Lin. Short-term peripheral nerve stimulation ameliorates axonal dysfunction after spinal cord injury. Journal of Neurophysiology, 2015; 113 (9): 3209 DOI: 10.1152/jn.00839.2014

GovHack: Celebrating science

Published on July 3, 2015

CSIRO is excited to be one of the sponsors and data providers of GovHack 2015, co-sponsoring the ‘Celebrating science’ section with Geoscience Australia. We are one of the largest producers of national-scale, open science data in Australia and we're keen to see what contestants can do with our huge variety of datasets.

 New Law Enhancing Online Safety for Children Commences 1 July

30 June 2015

New legislation to enhance online safety for children takes effect from 1 July 2015, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher said today.

The new laws establish the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner. 

The Children's eSafety Commissioner will operate a complaints system backed by legislation to get harmful cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child down quickly from large social media sites.

Leading online safety expert Alastair MacGibbon has been appointed to the role of Children's eSafety Commissioner.

Under the new laws, the Children's eSafety Commissioner has the power to issue a notice to a large social media service requiring it to remove cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child.

The Commissioner will also have the power to issue a notice to a person who has posted cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child, requiring the person to remove the material.

"Over the past few years there have been big changes in children's online behaviour." Mr Fletcher said.

"Today children use social media very extensively – often from the age of ten or younger.  And many children have smartphones or other devices which give internet connectivity – meaning they are often using the internet in circumstances where there is no adult supervision.

"The Coalition took a policy to enhance online safety for children to the 2013 election – and we are delivering on our policy commitment.

"Research has found that over a 12 month period, one in five children aged eight to seventeen are exposed to cyberbullying. The overwhelming message from the Australian public is that we must do more to protect Australian kids online – and that is what the Children's eSafety Commissioner has been established to do."

The complaints service is available to Australian children on a "soft launch" basis from 1 July 2015.  There will be a formal launch of the service in weeks to come.

From 1 July, the Children's eSafety Commissioner website and cyberbullying complaint form will be live at, for those wanting more information, or those wanting to make a complaint.  

 Patients with recurrent depression have smaller hippocampi

30 June 2015 - The brains of people with recurrent depression have a significantly smaller hippocampus - the part of the brain most associated with forming new memories - than healthy individuals, a new global study of nearly 9,000 people reveals.

Published in Molecular Psychiatry , the ENIGMA study is co-authored by University of Sydney scholars at the Brain and Mind Research Institute

The research is the largest international study to compare brain volumes in people with and without major depression. It highlights the need to identify and treat depression effectively when it first occurs, particularly among teenagers and young adults.

Using magnetic resonance imaged (MRI) brain scans, and clinical data from 1,728 people with major depression and 7,199 healthy individuals, the study combined 15 datasets from Europe, the USA and Australia.

Major depression is a common condition affecting at least one in six people during their lifetime. It is a serious clinical mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, frustration, loss, or anger interfere with a person's everyday life for weeks, months or years at a time.

Key findings

The key finding that people with major depression have a smaller hippocampus confirms earlier clinical work conducted at the BMRI. In this study, the key finding was largely explained by subjects with recurrent depression. People with recurrent depression represented 65 per cent of study subjects with major depression.

People with an early age of onset of major depression (before the age of 21 years) also had a smaller hippocampus than healthy individuals, consistent with the notion that many of these young people go on to have recurrent disorders.

However, people who had a first episode of major depression (34 per cent of study subjects with major depression) did not have a small hippocampus than healthy individuals, indicating that the changes are due to the adverse effects of depressive illness on the brain.


"These findings shed new light on brain structures and possible mechanisms responsible for depression," says Associate Professor Jim Lagopoulosof the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute.

"Despite intensive research aimed at identifying brain structures linked to depression in recent decades, our understanding of what causes depression is still rudimentary.

"One reason for this has been the lack of sufficiently large studies, variability in the disease and treatments provided, and the complex interactions between clinical characteristics and brain structure."

Commenting on the clinical significance of the findings, Co-Director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute, Professor Ian Hickiesays: "This large study confirms the need to treat first episodes of depression effectively, particularly in teenagers and young adults, to prevent the brain changes that accompany recurrent depression.

"This is another reason that we need to ensure that young people receive effective treatments for depression - a key goal of our Centre of Research Excellence in

Optimising Early Interventions for Young People with Emerging Mood Disorder. "This new finding of smaller hippocampal volume in people with major depression may offer some support to the neurotrophic hypothesis of depression," adds Jim Lagopoulos.

"This hypothesis argues that a range of neurobiological processes such as elevated glucocorticoid levels in those with chronic depression may induce brain shrinkage.

"Clearly, there's a need for longitudinal studies that can track changes in hippocampal volume among people with depression over time, to better clarify whether hippocampal abnormalities result from prolonged duration of chronic stress, or represent a vulnerability factor for depression, or both," he said.


30 JUNE 2015 - Using satellite broadband technology, CSIRO scientists have connected metropolitan-based eye specialists to patients in remote areas of Australia to help prevent blindness.

The technology combines CSIRO's Remote-I platform with satellite broadband and has been used with over 1000 patients from the Torres Strait Islands and southern Western Australia who received a free eye screening appointment at a local community health centre.

The screening program identified 68 patients who were at high risk of going blind, including those with macula odema.

"Diabetic retinopathy often causes irreversible blindness, and it affects the Indigenous population at nearly four times the rate of the non-Indigenous population," trial leader Professor Yogi Kanagasingam from the CSIRO said.

"In almost all cases this can be avoided by having regular eye checks, however those in remote communities simply don't have access to these services.

"If we can pick up early changes and provide the appropriate intervention, we can actually prevent blindness."

The Remote-I platform works by capturing high-resolution images of a patient's retina with a low-cost retinal camera, which are then uploaded over satellite broadband by a local health worker.

Metropolitan-based specialists are then able to access the cloud-based system from a tablet or a desktop computer.

"Once the health worker uploads the patient's image, I can access it anywhere at any time. It takes me about five minutes to read the images, create the report, and then send it back to the health worker," consultant ophthalmologist for the project Dr Mei-Ling Tay-Kearney said.

According to Professor Kanagasingam, technologies like Remote-I can help close the gap in access to healthcare in remote and regional Australia.

"After successful trials in Queensland and Western Australia, we're really looking to see how we can work with governments and health care providers to continue the rollout of this technology across other states and territories," he said.

Professor Kanagasingam and his team have also been successful in obtaining a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) development grant to create an algorithm that can automatically identify all the pathologies related to diabetic retinopathy. Trials of this technology will be undertaken to see how it supports current and new referral pathways for patients.

"We are also working with the Western Australia Department of Health to identify other applications of tele-medicine," Professor Kanagasingam said.

After achieving such successful results in Australia, CSIRO has licensed Remote-I to a Silicon Valley spin-off TeleMedC, which plan to take the technology to the US and world market as part of its 'EyeScan' diagnostic solution.

The founder and CEO of TeleMedC, Para Segaram, said that Remote-I is opening up new market opportunities for the company.

"We've had a great experience working with the team at CSIRO, and licensing Remote-I has helped us make basic eye screening more efficient and affordable so we can reach as many people as possible," Mr Segaram said.

About the project

The project received funding from the Broadband-enabled Telehealth Pilots Program administered by the Federal Department of Health, and was delivered via new partnerships between researchers from CSIRO, Western Australia Country Health Service (WACHS), The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists through its Indigenous Remote Eye Service (IRIS) and Queensland Health.

nbn, the company building the national broadband network, will launch the first of its long term satellites later this year. The satellite service will provide fast broadband to over 200,000 homes and businesses in remote Australia in 2016.

About TeleMedC

TeleMedC is a Tagus Ventures' spin-off company that focuses on ophthalmic medical imaging devices and smart diagnostic software for screening and management of chronic diseases and eye conditions. Its product, EyeScan, is currently being used by NASA at the International Space Station for the assessment of intracranial pressure in astronauts.

Top: Paul Christian taking part in the Remote-I trial.

 Housing Approvals boost supply of new homes

Media Release: The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning

1 Jul 2015 - Housing supply in NSW has received a major boost, with construction approvals soaring to levels not seen in 20 years, Planning Minister Rob Stokes said today.

“This outstanding result means housing approvals for May 2015 are more than double the levels achieved under the last five years of the previous Government,” Mr Stokes said.

“Boosting supply to help meet demand is the best way we can help homebuyers and these figures show that supply is booming under the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government.”

Official statistics from the ABS released today show that:

 NSW recorded 5,374 dwelling approvals for the month

 Approvals for May are up 28 per cent when compared to this month last year (May 2014)

Mr Stokes said the figures show the NSW Government’s plan to increase housing supply is working.

“We are pressing ahead to unlock housing potential so there is more land available for people to build a home,” Mr Stokes said.

“Increased housing supply means there are more options for homebuyers, and helps put downward pressure on the cost of a new home.”

The NSW Government has:

 Dedicated $400 million towards infrastructure specifically designed to unlock land for new homes and jobs

 Released and rezoned land for more than 70,000 new homes across Sydney

 Set aside $77.6 million to support infrastructure for new homes in The Hills and Blacktown local government areas

The Wait: New Horizons at Pluto

Published on 1 Jul 2015 by Video

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will do its closest flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015. “The Wait” alludes to not just New Horizons’ 9-year, 3-billion-mile journey, but also the anticipation of people from all walks of life, excited about the first good look at Pluto. Don’t miss it as the fastest moving spacecraft to date is nearing the end of an epic journey to visit the final unexplored planet in our solar system and beyond, to the new horizons we will discover on the other side. Music is “Renegades” performed by the X Ambassadors, courtesy of Interscope Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises, Universal Music Publishing Group, and SONGS publishing.

 Tales of ocean adventures draw WA marine scientists to Murdoch

July 1, 2015 - More than 100 marine scientists gathered at Murdoch in June to hear tales of exploratory ocean research voyages around the world.

Two researchers from the United States spoke, Professor Michael Landry from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Dr Barbara Muhling from Princeton University, and were joined by the Director of Australia’s National Marine Facility, Mr Ron Plaschke.

Murdoch University’s Professor in Marine Science Lynnath Beckley said that the event provided an opportunity for Western Australian scientists to connect with international marine science research.

“Western Australia is a major hub for marine research in the Indian Ocean, with researchers investigating fisheries, biological oceanography and management of our extensive coastline,” Professor Beckley said.

“Murdoch University’s Evening of Blue Water Science gave Western Australian scientists an opportunity to learn more about projects underway in other ocean systems.”

The first speaker, Mr Ron Plaschke, gave an overview of the new Australian research vessel Investigator and how marine scientists can access the ship for their research.

Professor Michael Landry, who is a Sir Walter Murdoch Distinguished Collaborator, and Dr Barbara Muhling, an alumnus of Murdoch University, were in Perth to develop future Indian Ocean research with Professor Beckley.

Professor Landry spoke about his research on the ecology of the Costa Rica Dome, an upwelling region in the Pacific Ocean.

Dr Muhling shared her insights into fishery management, particularly the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in North-East Atlantic waters.

The event was co- sponsored by Murdoch University and the WA Branch of the Australian Marine Sciences Association

 New Colour Added To Ancient Art Of The Potter. Australian Colour Diary 10

Published on 29 Jun 2015 - NFSA

Made by the National Film Board 1959. Directed by Jack S Allan.

A Sydney pottery factory uses new mechanisation processes and techniques to produce beautiful new works for the market place. The workforce draw on their cultural backgrounds for artistic inspiration.

Help us caption & translate this video!

 New genetic form of obesity, diabetes discovered

June 30, 2015 - Scientists have discovered a new inherited form of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.

A large number of genes are involved in regulating body weight, and there are now over 30 genes known in which people with harmful changes in DNA sequence become extremely overweight. Similarly, there are a number of genes that can, when altered, cause type 2 diabetes. These conditions are inherited through families in exactly the same way as disorders such as cystic fibrosis or Huntington's disease.

It is unclear what proportion of severe obesity and type 2 diabetes is caused by genetic disease.

Researchers at Imperial College London discovered the new defect by sequencing the DNA of an extremely obese young woman and members of her family. In addition to an increased appetite leading to severe weight problems from childhood, she had type 2 diabetes, learning difficulties, and reproductive problems.

They found that she had inherited two copies of a harmful genetic change that meant she could not make a protein called carboxypeptidase-E (CPE). This is an enzyme that is important in the proper processing of a number of hormones and brain transmitters controlling appetite, insulin and other hormones important in the reproductive system.

Studies have previously shown that CPE deficiency causes obesity, diabetes, and impaired memory in mice, but no humans with the condition have been found before. CPE deficiency is a recessive condition, so a person would need to inherit the altered genetic sequence from both parents to be affected.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, was funded by the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre and Diabetes UK.

Professor Alex Blakemore from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, who led the study, said: "There are now an increasing number of single-gene causes of obesity and diabetes known. We don't know how many more have yet to be discovered, or what proportion of the severely obese people in our population have these diseases -- it is not possible to tell just by looking.

"These are serious disorders that affect the body's ability to regulate hunger and fullness signals. They are inherited in the just same way as other genetic diseases and the sufferers should not be stigmatised for their condition. They should be offered genetic counselling and specialised lifelong support to allow them as healthy a life as possible."

The patient was clinically evaluated by consultant endocrinologist Dr Tony Goldstone, who runs a specialist genetics obesity clinic at Hammersmith Hospital. The patient's parents are cousins, giving her a relatively high likelihood of inheriting the same genetic change from both parents. She had an older brother with similar symptoms who died aged 21.

The first author Dr Sanne Alsters, also in the Department of Medicine, who carried out the genetic tests, said: "Finding a genetic cause for the patient's problems has helped her and her family to understand and manage her condition better. We can also look at members of her family with one abnormal copy of the gene, to see they are affected in more subtle ways that could increase their risk of obesity."

Professor Blakemore said genetic tests should be widely available for patients with severe obesity. "If people are diagnosed with a genetic condition like this one, we can look for other possible symptoms, and offer genetic advice to other family members if they want this. Diagnosis is very valuable to the patient. It helps to set realistic expectations, and can help them get the best possible treatment," she said.

Suzanne I. M. Alsters, Anthony P. Goldstone, Jessica L. Buxton, Anna Zekavati, Alona Sosinsky, Andrianos M. Yiorkas, Susan Holder, Robert E. Klaber, Nicola Bridges, Mieke M. van Haelst, Carel W. le Roux, Andrew J. Walley, Robin G. Walters, Michael Mueller, Alexandra I. F. Blakemore.Truncating Homozygous Mutation of Carboxypeptidase E (CPE) in a Morbidly Obese Female with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Intellectual Disability and Hypogonadotrophic Hypogonadism.PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (6): e0131417 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0131417

Katandra Sanctuary Open Days 2015

Katandra opens to the public every Sunday in July, August, September and October, from 10am to 4pm. The first will be Sunday July 5th with entry by donation.

See: Katandra Sanctuary Open Days 2015 by Marita Macrae

 World Heritage Committee decision sets clear steps to address proposed management problems for Tasmania’s Wilderness

MEDIA RELEASE – 2 July 2015: Wilderness Society

Advocates for the proper protection of the outstanding natural and cultural values in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (WHA) are united in calling on Government to accept the decision adopted today by the World Heritage Committee and commit to implementing the very clear steps it outlines, including a ban on all logging within the WHA.

The decision rejects the Hodgman Government’s weakened draft Management Plan and, amongst other things:

- Requests Government to work with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community on a cultural heritage study for the entire World Heritage Area

- Urges Government to review the Management Plan and:

Recognise wilderness as fundamental

Recognise cultural heritage values

Establish strict criteria regarding new tourism development

- Urges the Government to ensure logging and mining are not permitted in the entire World Heritage Area through a strengthening of conservation status

- Requests additional funding for conservation management

“This decision confirms an international rejection of Mr Hodgman’s plans to allow logging and mining in the WHA and identifies very clear solutions to addressing these and other issues,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society, speaking from Bonn.

“Logging and mining have no place in a World Heritage Area and Government must commit to explicitly prohibit both logging and mining by upgrading the conservation status of relevant areas to National Park. This relates to iconic forest areas such as the Styx, Weld and upper Florentine valleys and the Great Western Tiers.

“Tasmania is courting the world and inviting tourists to visit our wilderness and wild places and to spend their money while here. Government must heed the advice of the international community on management expectations, or risk jeopardising Tasmania’s brand.”

Aboriginal Elder Rocky Sainty, also at the meeting in Bonn, welcomed the adoption of this decision and the recognition and pathway to proper protection it finally offers for his People’s ancestral heritage.

“The urgent step now is for the Governments to properly consult with the Aboriginal community and move forward with them on the cultural heritage assessment,” said Mr Sainty.

“Understanding the full range of cultural heritage values is critical to any plan to manage them and ensure they are properly protected.

“The Aboriginal Community is proud to have its ancestral values recognised as some of the most outstanding cultural heritage in the world. We want to see it properly researched, protected, managed and respected.”

The full decision, adopted as drafted in the official documentation can be found on page 52 here. PDF - 1.73 MB


Thirty-ninth session 

Bonn, Germany 28 June – 8 July 2015

7. Great Barrier Reef (Australia) (N 154) – Pages 10 - 13

Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an update on progress with implementation of the 2050 LTSP to confirm that the inception of the plan has been effective, and the Investment Strategy has been established, for examination by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, and if in their assessment the anticipated progress is not being made, for consideration at the subsequent session of the World Heritage Committee in 2017; 

The full decision, adopted as drafted in the official documentation can be found on page 52 here. PDF - 1.73 MB

 Final World Heritage Committee decision praises Australia and unanimously rejects "in danger" listing for Great Barrier Reef

Joint media release: 1 July 2015 – The Hon. Greg Hunt MP; Federal Minister for the Environment, The Hon. Jackie Trad MP; Deputy Premier of Queensland, The Hon. Dr Steven Miles MP; Queensland Minister for Environment

Australia and Queensland strongly welcome the final and unanimous decision of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to not place the Great Barrier Reef on its world heritage in-danger list.

In fact, all references to 'in-danger' have been completely removed.

Today in Bonn, Germany, the 21 member-country World Heritage Committee reiterated praise for Australia's strong efforts and approach to protect and manage the iconic Great Barrier Reef.

The final decision upholds the earlier draft decision, and rightly reflects the tremendous effort of Australia to carefully protect this iconic national and international asset through the development of the recently released Reef 2050 Plan.

This is great news for Australia. It's great news for Queensland. And it's great news for the Great Barrier Reef.

From banning all capital dredge disposal in the entire World Heritage Area, to increasing monitoring efforts, restricting port development and ensuring the quality of the water entering the Reef is improving, the Australian and Queensland Governments are wholly committed to ensuring the future protection of the Reef.

This is backed by substantial financial resources with over $2 billion dollars projected to be invested in managing and protecting the reef over the coming decade.

The Investment Baseline released today illustrates the substantial investment coming from all tiers of government and the private and philanthropic sectors - with over $485 million in 2014/15 alone.

We are pleased the committee adopted Australia's proposal to return to a five yearly state of conservation reporting cycle, which is tied to the independent and scientifically robust 2019 Outlook Report undertaken by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

To be clear - this conservation reporting cycle is in line with standard reporting requirements for World Heritage properties.

We will also be pleased to provide the Committee with an update on progress of the implementation of the Reef 2050 Plan in 2017.

We have valued greatly the opportunity to work closely with the technical advisors to the Committee from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the IUCN. The Committee's interest and advice on the Reef has allowed us to realise our strong further actions to protect the reef.

We have already begun implementing our Reef 2050 Plan. It is supported by an Independent Expert Panel, chaired by Australia's chief scientist, and a Reef Advisory Panel chaired by the Chairman of the Australian Institute of Marine Science - a former Governor of Queensland and Australian Ambassador for the Environment. Civil society will have an ongoing role on the Advisory Panel.

The independent statutory Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will ensure the plan builds on the best management and scientific advice and with an additional $8 million announced today for enhanced reef monitoring. This will be undertaken by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and will further strengthen our ability to adapt and respond to emerging pressures on the Reef.

This decision today in Bonn is a tremendous outcome for Australia, the World Heritage Centre, and most importantly, for the Great Barrier Reef.

The world's umpire has declared the Great Barrier Reef is not in danger. It is Australia's greatest natural icon and remains the world's Great Barrier Reef.

 Proposed mining rules put Sydney’s water supply at risk

29 May 2015: The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd

The proposed requirements for mining applications that the NSW Government released yesterday[1] will fail to protect our water supplies.  These requirements include the replacement of existing protections for upland swamps with an offsetting process that allows these swamps, a vital part of our water supply catchments, to be damaged. 

Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness believes this swamp offset proposal will have serious implications for water supply security.

“The proposed offset requirements boil down to offering money for the rare, endangered and nationally listed upland swamps that are being undermined in our ‘protected’ drinking water catchments.  These swamps are essential to maintenance of stream flows in dry weather and are destroyed by longwall coal mining[2]”, he said.

“Who cares if mining companies provide financial compensation for ruined swamps!  It can’t bring back essential water supplies!  When there is the next big drought Sydney won’t want a tiny bit of conscience money, it will want more water,” he said.

“When a swamp is undermined, the rock beneath cracks and this fracturing causes a significant amount of water to drain away, reducing water flows downstream.  The importance of these swamps as significant water stores is evident from their extent in our water catchments.”

“The proposal to offset upland swamps damaged by coal mining is a perversion of the protection that must be applied to our drinking water catchments.  Sydney’s founders had the foresight to absolutely protect our Metropolitan catchments located to the south of the city.  Now this Government wants to allow these irreplaceable assets to be ruined, as long as a few dollars in conscience money are provided”, said Mr Muir.

“Last year the NSW Government abolished the Sydney Catchment Authority set up in 1998 to ensure adequate catchment management after potentially lethal bugs cryptosporidium and giardia contaminated the city’s water supply.  Having removed its defender, it now proposes to remove effective catchment protection,” he said.


2 NSW Scientific Committee, Alteration of habitat following subsidence due to longwall mining - key threatening process declaration, 2005

 Integrated Mining Policy

The NSW Government is proposing a new whole-of-government approach to mining applications

Feedback is sought on the Integrated Mining Policy. The Policy proposes to:

• require information from mine applicants earlier in the assessment process, including the requirement to show how they arrived at their preferred project designs;

• provide one whole-of-government set of Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements for mining applications; and

• clarify Government policies so they are easier for the community to understand and industry to navigate, including policies around biodiversity offsets, impacts to endangered swamps, water regulation and voluntary land acquisition.

Community and industry consultation is happening in two stages, with the first stage now on exhibition until 9 July 2015. In this first stage the following items are on exhibition:

• Standard Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements FOR STATE SIGNIFICANT MINING DEVELOPMENTS - MAY 2015   (SEARs) : PDF 1.5 mb  HERE 

 Mine Application Guideline - Specific development application requirements for State Significant mining and extractive industry developments under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979  : PDF 678.11 kb HERE

• Policy Framework for Biodiversity Offsets for Upland Swamps and Associated Threatened Species - IMPACTED BY LONGWALL MINE SUBSIDENCE  MAY 2015: PDF: 360.39 kb HERE

The second stage of consultation will involve exhibiting the remaining Integrated Mining Policy documents and will occur in coming months.

The Integrated Mining Policy will apply to all State significant mining developments, including coal and mineral mines. It does not include petroleum operations or coal seam gas proposals, or any exploration activities, and it does not change existing legislation (further coal seam gas reforms are being developed as part of the NSW Gas Plan). 

Submissions are invited until 9 July 2015Read more and have your say


Improving mining regulation in NSW

Media Release: Department of Planning and Environment

A proposed whole-of-government approach applying stringent, consistent requirements to mining applications is on exhibition for community and industry feedback.

The improvements would mean better information for communities living near proposed mines and are part of the wider plan to improve mining regulation in NSW.

“The community and industry have raised concerns that the system is too complicated and difficult to navigate,” a Department spokesperson said.

“That’s why we want their feedback on this Integrated Mining Policy, which would introduce clear policies on important mining issues, would make information more accessible for the community and reduce costly duplication for industry.”

The Integrated Mining Policy (IMP) would maintain the existing high standards that minimise the impacts of mining, while: 

requiring information from mine applicants much earlier in the assessment process. This includes showing how they arrived at their preferred project designs so community members can better understand why planning decisions are made.

providing one, whole-of-government set of Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements for mining applications. This will be clearer for applicants to comply with and easier for the community to understand.

clarifying Government policies so they are easier for the community to understand and industry to navigate, including policies around biodiversity offsets, impacts to endangered swamps, water regulation and voluntary land acquisition.

“Mining is vital for NSW. It provides jobs for tens of thousands of people and helps unlock the state’s economic potential,” the spokesperson said.

“We want the community to be armed with better information to help them understand the impacts of mining and how mining companies are working with the Government to reduce them.”

Community and industry feedback will be essential to establishing the final shape of the IMP. Consultation is happening in two stages, with the first stage now on exhibition until Thursday 9 July 2015, consisting of the:

IMP overview

new standardised Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements

Swamp Offsets Policy

Mine application guidelines

To view the documents and provide your feedback,

The second stage of consultation will involve the remaining IMP documents will occur in coming months.


Direct link to documents: 

 Police urge bushwalkers to plan ahead after two men rescued - Patonga

Thursday, 02 July 2015 : Media Release 

Two men have been rescued and are safe and well after becoming stranded while walking through a national park at Patonga yesterday.

About 2.30pm (Wednesday 1 July 2015), the two men, aged 64 and 65, commenced walking along the shoreline from Patonga to Pearl Beach.

Police have been told the men were unable to complete the journey via the shoreline, and entered the Brisbane Water National Park at Patonga.

About 5.30pm, the men became stranded on a rock and due to rising waters, alerted emergency services.

Officers attached to Brisbane Water Local Area Command, Ambulance Paramedics and NSW Fire & Rescue attended and winched the 64-year-old man to safety a short time later.

The older man had left the location prior to the rescue of the younger man, in an attempt to find a way back.

A second search was initiated including the Dog Unit, Police Rescue, and a rescue helicopter.

About 9.30pm, the man was located at an address at Pearl Beach, safe and well.

Both men did not require treatment.

The incident has prompted police to remind bushwalkers to plan their journeys ahead of time, ensure sufficient food, water and warm clothing are always taken, and to stay put and remain together when emergency services have been contacted in the case of an emergency.

Anyone entering the bush – even for a short walk – is reminded to think before you TREK.

T – Take adequate supplies of food, water, navigation and first aid equipment.

R – Register your planned route and tell friends and family when you expect to return.

E – Emergency beacons are available free of charge from police & National Parks & Wildlife Service.

K – Keep to your planned route and follow the map and walking trails.

Visit for more information.


The NSW Government is improving the management of our precious marine estate with the launch of a new Threat and Risk Assessment Framework.

Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, and Minister for the Environment, Mark Speakman, today released new guidelines on how the NSW Government will assess the threats and risks to our marine estate.

“Last year, an historic bill passed the NSW Parliament to make sure the state’s marine estate is managed based on science and not politics,” Mr Blair said.

“This is the first step in implementing this Marine Estate Management Act 2014, which sets out a robust legal requirement to assess economic, social and environmental threats, such as pollution, loss of biodiversity, restricted access, anti-social behaviour, and impacts of pests and diseases.

“This framework, developed by the Marine Estate Management Authority with expert guidance from the Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel, is at the heart of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government’s new era in marine estate management.”

Mr Speakman said the framework will consider not only the imminent threats to our coasts and marine waters, but also the cumulative impacts and potential threats over the coming decades.

“This will allow the NSW Government to focus its efforts around the key threats to the marine environment, and deliver on its vision for a healthy coast and sea,” Mr Speakman said.

“We are committed to managing our marine environment for the greatest well-being of the community, now and into the future.”

Initially the framework will be applied to two key projects:

- a state-wide Marine Estate Threat and Risk Assessment; and

- the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment, covering the area from Newcastle to Shellharbour.

The community is encouraged to have their say about both of these projects and the framework in the coming months, and the Authority may refine the framework over time after it has been applied to the first two projects.

The Ministers also today launched an interactive web portal to allow the community to have input into the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment by providing local information on benefits and threats associated with their favourite sites within the bioregion. 

The NSW Government is now seeking crucial information from the public regarding sites within the bioregion, the benefits they gain from their use of these sites, and what they see as key threats and ideas on how to manage those threats.

Along with expert input, the information people provide will help identify management options to enhance marine biodiversity conservation whilst maximising community benefits.”

Eleven sites in the Hawkesbury marine bioregion have already been identified for priority assessment and the community is invited to nominate additional sites via the web portal that they would like to see considered:

• Barrenjoey Head (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• Bouddi National Park Marine Extension

• Bronte-Coogee (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• Cape Banks (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• Chowder Bay

• Long Reef (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• Narrabeen Head (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• North Harbour (an existing Aquatic Reserve)

• North Harbour extension – Manly Wharf and Manly Cove

• Magic Point, Malabar

• Wybung Head

The web portal, framework and more information can be accessed at

Direct Link to page:

The web portal will be open until 28 August 2015.

 Have your say on the proposed extension of Wongawilli Colliery’s mine life

Media Release: Department of Planning and Environment

A proposal to extend the approved duration of mining operations at the Wongawilli Colliery will be on exhibition from today for community feedback.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the application which seeks to extend the completion date of mining operations at the Wongawilli Colliery Nebo Area Project site for five years until 2020.

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

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive and this is taken into consideration when we develop our recommendations,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.”

To make a submission or view the environmental impact statement, visit Submissions can be made from Monday 22 June 2015 until Monday 6 July 2015.

Written submissions can also be made to:

Attn: Planning Services

GPO Box 39

Sydney NSW 2001

The EIS is also available to view in person at:

Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney

Wollongong City Council, 41 Burelli Street, Wollongong

Wingecarribee Shire Council, Council Civic Centre, Elizabeth Street, Moss Vale

Nature Conservation Council: Level 2, 5 Wilson Street, Newtown



 NSW Govt.Office - HAVE YOUR SAY

Design of the Gas Community Benefits Fund

What is the Community Benefits Fund for Gas?

The Government has announced the establishment of the Gas Community Benefits Fund to benefit communities in which gas producers operate.

The Government doesn't have a fixed or pre–determined model (design) which it has committed to, in the development of the fund.

Seeking the view of the public and stakeholders will be critical to maximising the value of the fund for communities in NSW.

Have Your Say

NSW Trade and Investment, Resources and Energy is responsible for the establishment of the fund and has developed a discussion paper to facilitate the establishment of the Fund. 

You are invited to submit your view on the Gas Community Benefits Fund in writing by 5:00pm, 17 July 2015 via email or mail to:

Gas Community Benefits Fund, Strategy, Policy & Coordination,Division of Resources & Energy, Level 48, MLC Centre / 19 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000

Please note: in the discussion paper, questions are presented to provide feedback. The questions are a guide, and are not intended to restrict comments on any other issues that you consider relevant to the design of the Fund.

Email: Date: May. 21 - Jul. 17, 2015

Time: 9:00am — 5:00pm

More Information:   (02) 9338 6935 

Agency Website  Consultation Website 

Snake Rock Aboriginal area draft plan

Draft plan of management for the Snake Rock Aboriginal area

What is the draft plan of management for?

The draft plan is on public exhibition until 25th September 2015, it provides members of the community with the opportunity to have a say on the future management direction/s for the Aboriginal area.

Have your say

Anyone can make a comment of the draft plan by sending a written submission by email to: online at NSW Office of Environment and Heritage's website or by post to:

The Planner - NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service

PO Box 144, Sutherland NSW 1499

Formal Submission

Date: Jun. 12 - Sep. 25, 2015: Time: 9:00am — 5:00pm

Submission address

The Planner NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service PO Box 144 Sutherland NSW 1499

More Information:  NSW NP&WS Planning Team  (02) 6841 0921 

 Agency Website  Consultation Website


Cooee! Environmental Newsletter - July/August 2015


Welcome to Dog Day by the Bay 2015; Kids on the Coast - Winter; Indian Myna Eradication Program; Swamp Wallaby sighted at Turimetta; Protect your cat, protect our wildlife!; Cats and wildlife expo - Sunday 26 July; Trial de-sexing program; Reducing woodsmoke;  Weed alert: Rhus Tree; Gardening volunteers needed - Mona Vale; National Tree Day; What’s your beef?; Weed Society of NSW giveaway!;  Looking for a creative outlet?; New phone app for Pittwater’s walks; Bush regen and envirofun weekend!; The Mona Vale Sustainable Home; Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment; Costa gets serious about soil; Bushcare schedules - July and August



National Tree Day 2015

26th Jul 2015: 9am - 9am

Come along to Whitney Reserve, Pittwater’s venue to participate in this year's National Tree Day. Come along and help plant areas of the creekline and adjacent slope with native plants.

Please wear appropriate clothing (long sleeves, trousers, sturdy shoes and a hat) and bring a bottle of water.

Council will provide you with refreshments and free native plants for you to plant in your own garden.

Venue: Whitney Reserve, Whitney Street, Mona Vale

Contact: Jenny Cronan at Pittwater Council - 9970 1357


 Operation Little Penguin

Published on 25 Jun 2015

When a lone fox began killing Little Penguins in significant numbers on North Head in Sydney Harbour National Park, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and members of the local community responded with determination to protect their Little Penguins.

 World Heritage Committee is still worried and still watching – Reef not out of danger yet: AMCS

Wed 1 July 2015:  Australian Marine Conservation Society

Today’s decision by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to keep the Great Barrier Reef on the ‘watch’ list for another four years shows that the Reef is still at risk of being listed as ‘in danger’ and the Australian government needs to do more to protect it, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

Felicity Wishart, the AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said the World Heritage Committee’s decision requiring the Australian Government to report back in 2016 and again in 2019 has reinforced the fact that the Reef is fighting for its life.

“The Great Barrier Reef today remains at risk of being listed ‘in danger’ and the Australian government has more work to do to stop the Reef being ruined.

“We caution people to be wary of Australian government spin suggesting the Reef has been given the all-clear.

“The Reef is in trouble. The government has made plenty of promises but is yet to do everything needed to keep the Reef out of danger.

“The Reef still faces threats from the port expansion at Abbot Point, dredging, increased shipping, toxic farm runoff, and the impacts of carbon pollution like coral bleaching and acidification.

“The Australian government needs to rule out using tax payers’ money to fund the Abbot Point port from the Northern Australia Infrastructure fund.

“It needs to vastly increase its investment in Reef protection and restore the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s independence.

“AMCS welcomes the ongoing scrutiny of the World Heritage Committee and their decision requiring Australia to report back next year and again in 2019.

“We also acknowledge the extraordinary level of concern from World Heritage Committee members, and the support lent to environment groups and the world’s community for raising its voice to ensure Reef protection.

“The Reef is not out of treacherous waters yet. Environment Minister Greg Hunt must prioritise the interests of the industries that rely on a healthy Reef, like tourism, and the millions of Australians who want the Reef fully protected”, said Ms Wishart.

 New study re-writes the rules of carbon analysis

June 30, 2015 - A new study published in Nature Climate Changehas found analyses of carbon emissions may be misleading as they failed to include the impacts of policies such as trading schemes, emission caps or quotas.

"The inclusion of policy mechanisms can radically alter the outcomes from life-cycle analyses and result in counter-intuitive outcomes," said Associate Professor Andrew Macintosh from The Australian National University (ANU) College of Law, lead author of the study.

"Traditional life-cycle analysis would find a person who regularly eats beef and builds their house with bricks and mortar has a greater impact on the climate than a vegan with a wooden house.

"But when the impacts of policy mechanisms are accounted for, the simple dichotomies that so often characterise climate debates like 'lentils good, beef bad' and 'wood good, cement bad' become impossible to maintain."

The paper develops a new framework for evaluating the impacts of policy mechanisms in life-cycle analysis and applies it to the issue of whether it is better for the climate to conserve native forests or to harvest them sustainably to produce wood products.

Contrary to the findings of many previous life-cycle analyses, the study found that, when policy effects are accounted for, conserving the native forests of southeast New South Wales resulted in better climate outcomes than if they continued to be sustainably harvested.

"The results showed that conserving the native forests resulted in significant reductions in domestic emissions over the 100-year projection period; 79 to 85 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or almost 15 per cent of Australia's current annual emissions," said co-author Professor David Lindenmayer, from ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.

"The simplest explanations for why conserving native forests reduces emissions is that, when these forests are harvested, only a small proportion of the biomass finds its way into long-lived wood products and burning wood does not generate much energy.

"The applicable policy mechanisms magnify these factors by shielding Australia from the emissions embodied in substitute imported wood products and ensuring that, when native forests are burnt for electricity, it displaces other types of renewable energy generation like wind and solar rather than fossil fuels," he said.

Andrew Macintosh, Heather Keith, David Lindenmayer. Rethinking forest carbon assessments to account for policy institutions.Nature Climate Change, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2695

 EPA Risk-based licensing Begins July 1

EPA: 30 June 2015

The EPA's risk-based licensing system aims to ensure that all environment protection licensees receive an appropriate level of regulation based on the level of risk they pose. Moving to a risk-based system is an important and positive change to environment protection licensing in NSW.

The EPA undertakes risk assessments of all licensed premises in NSW in consultation with each licensee. The risk assessment examines site specific risks posed by each licensed premises to identify any environmental issues that a licensee needs to address and where the EPA needs to focus its regulatory attention. The EPA also examines the licensees' environmental management performance, which includes recognising any environmental systems and operations a licensee has put in place.

Based on the results from the risk assessments licensees are allocated an overall environmental risk level (1, 2 or 3 - with 3 being the highest risk). Licensees with a higher risk level will receive an increased level of regulatory and compliance oversight, whereas licensees with a lower risk level will benefit from reduced red tape and reduced regulatory burden.

In addition, licensees who perform well and minimise their environmental risk are rewarded with a reduction of their administrative fees, whilst poor performing licensees will pay licence fees that provide an incentive to improve their performance.

Once environmental risk levels are determined for each licence they are published on the EPA's Public Register. This provides the community with more information about the environmental risks posed by licensed activities and the compliance performance of individual licensees. It also provides greater transparency and insight into the EPA's regulatory decision-making process.

More information on risk-based licensing is provided in the Introduction of the EPA's risk-based licensing system.

Licensing approach to risk levels

The EPA has developed a licensing guideline: Environmental Risk Levels (PDF 563KB) to provide the general public and the regulated community with information on the EPA's approach to environment protection licensing under the risk-based licensing system.

The EPA's approach to regulating licensed premises is guided by theEPA's Compliance Policy, ensuring its compliance activities and actions are consistent, fair and credible.

The EPA's Compliance Policy sets out a responsive and risk-based approach to the EPA's regulatory functions. The policy provides for an escalating regulatory response according to the risk to the environment and human health, the seriousness of the non-compliance, the apparent attitude to compliance, and the compliance history and frequency of issues arising.

The risk-based licensing system aims to ensure that all licensed activities receive an appropriate level of regulation based on the level of risk they pose to the environment and human health.

Programs outside Risk-based Licensing

Priorities for the EPA's regulatory programs are based on achieving the greatest outcomes for the environment. In determining priorities, the EPA considers factors such as:

the evidence base - data and information on industry or sector performance

the risk profile of a particular activity or industry

emerging or cumulative environmental risks/impacts

the regulatory history and environmental performance

Proactive work is important and aims to address complex environmental issues to improve environmental outcomes. EPA state-wide programs best target regional, cumulative and load related issues and achieve the best environmental outcome.

While individual licensed activities may not be assessed as high risk under risk-based licensing, they will continue to be considered by the EPA as part of these other state-wide, regional or local programs.

Examples of regulatory programs

The EPA is delivering several programs to target particle pollution and aimed at improving air quality in NSW. The EPA is driving reductions in particle emissions from open cut coal mines through the Dust Stop Program. This program included industry-wide consultation to identify management practices that deliver reductions in particle pollution and improved air quality.

While the overall risk level of an open cut coal mine may be low, the EPA will continue to implement programs that target particle emissions at this premises through state-wide, regional or local programs.

 NSW Government Fulfils Election Commitment to Secure Land for Brisbane Water National Park  

Saturday, 27 June 2015: Media Release

Environment Minister Mark Speakman has announced the completion of the acquisition of land for the 77-hectare extension to the Brisbane Water National Park at Kariong. It was a key NSW Government election commitment to purchase this environmentally and culturally sensitive land to add to the National Park. 

“The completed acquisition of the final Bambara Road blocks shows the Government is committed to this state’s conservation and cultural heritage,” Mr Speakman said. 

“It acknowledges the widespread interest to see this land protected.” 

Extending the national park means there is more protection for many of the Aboriginal sites along the Woy Woy Road ridgeline and in the Kariong area. Brisbane Water National Park covers 12,000 hectares and includes two Aboriginal Places: The Kariong Sacred Land and Bulgandry Art Site. Mr Speakman said the protection of this land was important to the local community and local Aboriginal groups, who have a long-established connection to a number of cultural sites on the land. 

“The Government purchased the land because the local community has such a deep and significant connection to the land. We need to conserve and protect it for future generations,” he said. “The land is also spiritually and culturally significant to Aboriginal people.” 

Mr Speakman congratulated the Office of Environment and Heritage and Gosford City Council for negotiating the voluntary sale of all seven blocks. 

“I am confident the National Parks and Wildlife Service will continue to conserve these lands with the community for people to enjoy,” he said.


The Hon Sarah Mitchell MLC Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Rural Health Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW 

MEDIA RELEASE Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A mighty effort from the local community is helping to restore the Macquarie River to its former glory. Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW Sarah Mitchell said the landmark project Mending our Macquarie, undertaken by the Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association, was helping to carefully repair a much loved waterway. “Together we’re going to make the fishing better,” Mrs Mitchell said. “This fish habitat rehabilitation project will result in large woody structure or snags inserted into the Macquarie River around Dubbo to provide new homes for native fish. Invasive river bank willows will also be controlled and replaced with native riverbank plantings. 

“We’re rehabilitating the riverbank habitat as well as the instream habitat. Willows are a major problem in this area and a huge issue for native freshwater fish. 

“This work wouldn’t be possible without a Recreational Fishing Trust Habitat Action Grant of $33,300 from the NSW Government, which was matched with $34,000 from the Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association and another $5000 from the Wellington Fishing Club. 

“We are committed to bringing back the mighty Macquarie.” Mrs Mitchell said. Willow work has recently got underway with trained bushcare contractors tackling the major woody weed along 2 km of priority Macquarie River frontage. The project will build on the Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association’s successful project Making fish happen in the Macquarie River which resulted in a total of 72 new snags inserted in the river to provide new homes for fish such as the iconic Murray cod. Mrs Mitchell said it’s important local groups get involved. 

“This grass roots project is a great example of what passionate local fishers can achieve with the funds raised from the recreational fishing fee,” Mrs Mitchell said. “The Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association should be proud of themselves for taking the health of their local river and the future of their local fishery into their own hands.” 

The 2015-16 Recreational Fishing Trust funded Habitat Action Grants open mid-August.

 Proposed Snubfin Dolphin Park

Snubfin dolphins were newly discovered in 2005, but they are already under threat. Please ask the Government of Western Australia to commit to a marine sanctuary in Roebuck Bay. 

The largest known population of snubfin dolphins can be found playing and hunting in Roebuck Bay, on the doorstep of Broome.

We've been asking the WA Government to commit to a new marine park in Roebuck Bay, to protect these amazing creatures.

The Government has just released a draft, and astonishingly, the planned Yawuru Nagulagun/Roebuck Bay Marine Park has no fully protected "sanctuary zone".

If the park goes ahead, it would become the only ocean marine park in WA without a sanctuary zone.

The science behind marine parks shows sanctuary zones are their heart, increasing the size and abundance of marine life. They provide a safe haven for breeding fish and a healthy feeding ground for animals like snubfin dolphins, turtles and dugongs.

Fortunately this is just a draft and the Government is now asking us to have our say on the future of Roebuck Bay.  

Your voice is needed to make sure the WA Government provides a protected sanctuary for the marine life of Roebuck Bay.

Please send your message of support today.

Thanks for speaking up for our snubbies!

Fiona Maxwell

AMCS Marine Parks Campaign Manager

 Proposed landscaping and park structures at the Platypus site, Neutral Bay

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust is inviting submissions from the public regarding proposed landscaping and park structures at the northern end of the former HMAS Platypus site in Neutral Bay. The proposal comprises landscaped terraces, plazas, paths, lookouts, wharf improvements and a spiral walkway that interprets the site’s historical use.

The proposal would complete the remediation of contaminated ground in the northern part of the site, in line with the outcomes identified in the Harbour Trust’s Comprehensive Plan. It marks the final stage of the below-ground remediation works and the beginning of the vision of moving Platypus towards becoming a new Urban Park on Sydney’s lower north shore.

The proposal is on public exhibition from Thursday 18 June to Wednesday 15 July 2015 and submissions are invited until 5pm on Wednesday 15 July 2015.

See this page for more information: HERE 

 2015 Environment Minister's Award for a Cleaner Environment

Media release: The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

I am delighted to mark World Environment Day 2015 with a call for nominations for this year's Environment Minister's Award for a Cleaner Environment.

This award aims to recognise outstanding contributions by Australians towards achieving a cleaner, healthier environment and a more resilient and sustainable Australia.

The Australian Government's plan for a Cleaner Environment plan rests on the pillars of Clean Air, Clean Land and Clean Water and national heritage protection.

I want this award to recognise Australians taking practical, direct action under one or more of the three environment pillars - air, land and water. I know how many groups and individuals across the nation are working locally to achieve great things, not only for their own communities but for environmental health of the nation.

The Minister's award is part of the 2015 Banksia Sustainability Awards programme and is open to individuals, businesses or community organisations working towards a cleaner environment.

Projects that demonstrate how they have contributed to the Government's Clean Air, Land and Water environmental pillars are eligible for consideration. Projects need to address at least one or more of the pillars.

Clean Air entries could involve projects including revegetation and land management, energy efficiency, pollution control and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, recycling and waste management.

Clean Land entries could include work to protect threatened species, eradicate weeds and reduce fuel in bushland reserves, protect beaches from erosion or rehabilitate coastal foreshores.

Clean Water entries may be stabilising riverbanks and reducing weed density to promote healthy local waterways or taking action to help marine species in our oceans.

For more information on the Environment Minister's Award for a Cleaner Environment, including a nomination form, go to

Nominations close on 4 September 2015.

 Great Koala Park

June 18, 2015 - National Parks Association of NSW

The Great Koala National Park is a grand but achievable plan to secure the future of eastern Australia’s koalas before they disappear forever.

Located in the Coffs Harbour region of eastern Australia, the 315,000 ha park would ensure the protection of almost 20% of the state’s remaining koalas, as well as the area’s World Heritage forests and the threatened species that share their home, such as the Spotted-tailed Quoll and Powerful Owl.

As a strong voice for nature since 1957, we know what is involved to get new national parks proclaimed and have the capacity to in-act change but we need your help.

Please pledge your support today at

 Ultimo marked as fertile ground for digital creative startups

01 Jul 2015 - Sydney's leaders in creative digital industries converged on UTS this week to share their insights into the city's key centres of emerging business activity and startup opportunity.

Hosted by Piivot, Sydney’s new digital creative knowledge hub - a  collaboration between UTS, the NSW Government, the Commonwealth Bank, Microsoft, ARUP, and Fishburners - guests marked out a map of Sydney with the places they most favour for work and play.

The mapping exercise was part of a workshop organised by Piivot which will grow and support a robust business startup ecosystem in Sydney, becoming a globally competitive hub of digital creative industries.

Most locations identified by workshop participants centred on Ultimo which has evolved to be a digital creative hub, with the highest density of tech startups in Australia. Ultimo boasts 51.9 startups per square kilometre according to StartUp Muster, the largest survey of the Australian startup community run by Murray Hurps.

UTS Deputy Vice Chancellor (Resources) Patrick Woods said although Ultimo and the surrounding inner city and CBD precinct was thriving by Australian standards, industry had recognised a need to increase competitiveness on a global scale and in this area Piivot would add value by working with the tech startup community to strengthen activity.

“We are not trying to replicate or stifle what is already taking place here or what has already happened organically,” Mr Woods said. “We want to facilitate something that gets the best out of it.”

Piivot invited a cross-section of representatives of the digital creative industries to the workshop to share their insights into how the industry had evolved so far and new opportunities for growth in coming years. The information collected from the workshop will be used to form a working master plan for Piivot that will be further discussed at a workshop on 7 July 2015.

According to observers of digital creative industries, eyes are turning to startups because of their ability to both disrupt the status quo and grow rapidly to become influential players in the market. In a report titled The StartUp Economy, PwC stated that Australian tech startups alone have the potential to contribute up to 4 per cent to the national GDP by 2033.

Murray Hurps, General Manager of the Fishburners co-working space for early stage startups in Ultimo, has highlighted the need for collaboration across the startup ecosystem in Sydney.

“We need to collaborate to compete,” Mr Hurps said. Fishburners was named after a First Fleet ship, ‘Fishburn’, which brought supplies to sustain the early colony in Australia. The more ships we have entering Sydney the better all round for the entire economy,. “Similarly with startups, the more institutions we have to support startups in Sydney, the better for everyone.”

Sydney faces many challenges for early-stage tech startups including increasing real estate costs, global competition for funding and a rapid decline in student uptake of ICT and computer technologies courses - vital skills for tech startups.

These concerns were raised by a number of workshop attendees. Piivot is collating this information to be included in its master plan, with a vision of centralising efforts to remove identified obstacles.

Arup Urban Planner Hugh Gardner said successful overseas creative hubs such as Amsterdam and Barcelona were examples of the need for the creation of a geographical ‘hub’ for startups.

“There is a definite economic imperative of fostering a vibrant startup ecosystem in Australia,” Mr Gardner said. "If our ambition is for this hub [in Ultimo] to dramatically influence Sydney’s digital ecosystem, how do we capture and understand the ecosystem currently? It’s about what Sydney needs as much as what Ultimo needs."

The Piivot website will house an interactive map of Sydney that will feature key locations through the activities of its first workshop and hot spots for innovation.

The Piivot online portal will be launched later this month as a central point of information.

To obtain information about forthcoming Piivot workshops,