Inbox and Environment News - Issue 238 

 November 1 - 7, 2015: Issue 238

 Planning reform by stealth?

By EDO NSW Policy and Law Reform Director Rachel Walmsley

October 27, 2015

You could be forgiven for thinking that the Greater Sydney Commission Bill 2015 that is currently before the NSW Parliament is just about the Greater Sydney Commission and the Greater Sydney Area.

It's not.

The Bill does establish a Greater Sydney Commission to lead metropolitan planning in Sydney. This will include reviewing the metropolitan plan, preparing six district plans, and establishing a Sydney Planning Panel to decide on rezoning reviews and development applications. The new Commission will also involve appointing three Commissioners, integrating Government infrastructure decision-making with land use planning, and promoting housing supply in Sydney.

But the Bill goes beyond Sydney – it has implications for the whole of NSW. In fact, the Bill proposes to introduce a new Part 3B to theEnvironmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 that will determine how strategic planning is done across NSW.

During the previous Planning Review process in 2011-13, there was extensive consultation on the need to restore the community’s faith in the planning system. The previous Independent review, Green paper, White Paper, and Exposure Bill process involved lengthy discussions about the need to involve local communities in strategic planning in an early, meaningful and iterative way.

That reform process stalled in the Upper House of NSW Parliament and ever since the NSW Government has shown a preference for doing planning reforms by making incremental amendments to Regulations, State Environmental Planning Policies (for example regarding mining), Local Environment Plans, codes, guidelines and other non-legislative instruments.

Now, buried in a Bill that is likely to be passed this week, is a section establishing how strategic planning will be carried out in NSW. This is a significant reform that warrants proper examination and consultation.

The Bill proposes that the Minister can declare a ‘region’ or a ‘district’ where a strategic plan will be made. The Bill contains a basic outline of what will be in a plan (such as a vision statement, objectives, strategies and actions) and what plan makers need to consider (such as existing policies).

While draft plans must be publicly exhibited for 45 days, plan-makers only need only have regard to a summary of any public submissions received, and public exhibition requirements can be dispensed with in some circumstances. Legal review options are deliberately limited. The proposed single bite of the consultation cherry might alarm people when their Local Environment Plan starts getting amended to align with a new district or regional plan that may be made without local input.

EDO NSW has undertaken extensive analysis of best practice public consultation processes for planning laws. We have also identified fundamentally important elements of good evidence-based strategic planning (such as requirements to consider landscape resilience, cumulative impacts and climate adaptation). While regulations may be made down the track that elaborate on this new reform, the current Bill does not include these considerations.

While we’ve long supported a sound legislative basis for strategic planning, further clarity and discussion is needed for communities and experts to understand the implications and safeguards for what is being proposed, and have meaningful input into what are potentially wide-ranging reforms.


• Previous EDO NSW Blog: Strategic Planning Principles – locking in an imbalanced approach? (May 2013)

• EDO NSW Submission on Planning White Paper (June 2013) - Part 3 on Strategic Planning

• EDO NSW Submission on the Draft Sydney Metro Strategy (July 2013)



Bill introduced on motion by Mr Rob Stokes, read a first time and printed. Second ReadingMr ROB STOKES (Pittwater—Minister for Planning) [3.28 p.m.]:

Legislative Assembly:

Member with Carriage: Stokes, Rob

Notice of Motion: Tue 20 Oct 2015

Introduced: Thu 22 Oct 2015

First Reading: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Minister's 2R Speech: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Second Reading: Wed 28 Oct 2015

Third Reading: Wed 28 October 2015

Date Passed w'out amdt: Wed 28 Oct 2015

Legislative Council:

Member with Carriage: Gay, Duncan

Introduced: Wed 28 Oct 2015

First Reading: Wed 28 Oct 2015

Greater Sydney Commission Bill 2015 (PDF: 1.57 MB)

 Annastacia Palaszczuk must urgently protect farmers from CSG; and use it to lead the way at COAG

October 30, 2015

Lock the Gate Alliance has today welcome Federal Resource and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg’s move to put the rights of landholders and the need to protect land and water resources from Coal Seam Gas (CSG) on The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agenda, but said that action is urgently needed from the Qld Government right now on the issue.

Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Phil Laird said that there has been plenty of talk from Federal MPs this week, but no action at all from any Government, and that the Qld Government needs to head to COAG with changes already in place that better protect landowners form the harmful impacts of CSG.

“We’re calling for immediate action from the Qld Government to deliver changes that are urgently needed to prevent further harm to farmers in Qld from CSG companies.

“The community is increasingly frustrated that there has still been no response whatsoever from the Qld Government after the loss of George Bender.

“Annastacia Palaszczuk has not responded to requests from Pam and Helen Bender to a meeting, and there has been no response to our calls for a CSG Crisis Action Plan. 

“The plan would go along way to drastically reducing the harm to people being forced to live in gasfields.

“The Queensland Government has being warned that people are on the brink and at the end of their tether. This is not a time for buck passing.

“This week more and more people on the land are coming out and saying that they are struggling emotionally with bullying and stress of the CSG occupation.

“At Hopeland Queensland, farmers are dealing with the double whammy of good soils being contaminated by Linc Energy's underground coal gasification, and being surrounded by CSG companies wanting to occupy their farms against their will

“Annastacia Palaszczuk must be ready to attend COAG having already taken action to deliver fairness for farmers and end the bullying and coercion by CSG companies.

“We have welcomed the move by Minister Frydenberg to take the issue to COAG, but our politicians need to move beyond more talk and urgently deliver change.

“The Federal Senate had a chance to provide a veto right to farmers earlier this year, but both major political parties voted it down.  The community wants action, not another talkfest” concluded Mr Laird

 Buschcare Group Profile: Angophora Reserve

From Cooee - Pittwater Council

The Angophora Reserve Bushcare Group was established in 2010 and is partnered with the Natural Environment and Education Unit under the Bushcare volunteer program. 

The group provides valuable assistance to Council’s Bushland Management team with the restoration of Angophora Reserve, protecting the native vegetation from a scourge of weeds including asparagus fern, lantana and other woody weeds such as Senna pendula (Cassia) to name a few.

Lately the group has done a brilliant job controlling an invasion of the noxious weed Bryophyllum delagoense (mother of millions) which, as the name suggests, reproduces rapidly, producing hundreds of tiny plantlets which quickly form new colonies. 

Angophora Reserve is located in the core of the Barrenjoey Peninsula bordering the suburbs of Avalon, Clareville and Taylors Point and consists of 18.5 hectares of urban bushland. This reserve provides a small taste of what the Peninsula was like pre-settlement and provides significant samples of vegetation communities and fauna habitats that are under threat. More information about Angophora Reserve can be found

Volunteer days are on the 3rd Sunday of the month from February to December and new members are always welcome!

When: 3rd Sunday, 8:30 - 11:30am

Where: Contact the Bushcare Officer to confirm the meeting place as there are a few!

What you need: Sturdy shoes, long sleeve shirt and pants, sunscreen, hat and water. Morning tea is provided. 

For more information contact our Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367.

 Years of research shows fauna crossings on Pacific Highway are a success

23 October 2015: Roads and Maritime Media Release

Years of research carried out by Roads and Maritime Services has shown animals including koalas, potoroo and other species will use a range of structures to successfully cross upgraded sections of the Pacific Highway.

A Roads and Maritime spokesperson said the ABC has misappropriated a comment made in a technical report to wrongly suggest koalas do not use structures such as land bridges and underpasses to safely cross over or under upgraded sections of the Pacific Highway in a news item broadcast this week.

“During the past 15 years more than 190 monitoring events have been carried out to learn more about the use of structures by native animals to make successful crossings,” the spokesperson said.

“Roads and Maritime has evidence including reviews completed by external experts to show connectivity structures which are installed appropriately and supported by fencing and other mitigation measures protect koalas from vehicle strikes and allow movement across the road.

“Monitoring of the Yelgun to Chinderah Pacific Highway upgrade between March 2014 and February this year showed koalas use overpasses north of Byron Bay to access the other side of the highway.

“Photographs were recorded of a female and joey crossing the Taggarts Hill land bridge in December last year.

“A report prepared by Australian Museum Business Services for completed Pacific Highway projects such as Bonville and Yelgun to Chinderah also concluded underpasses provided a safe route for koalas to cross.

“Genetic variation in koalas near these two upgrades was found to be relatively high suggesting the population had not been impacted by the long existence of the Pacific Highway.

“Roads and Maritime has spent the past 20 years developing, refining and improving connectivity measures for all native fauna, not just koalas and the upgrade of the Pacific Highway has been recognised across Australia and internationally as a leader in reducing animal strikes and maintaining habitat connectivity.

“Roads and Maritime is continuing to carry out unprecedented work to better understand the Ballina koala population as part of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade.

“Six months of extensive field surveys have been carried out by independent experts to collect genetic and demographic information about the koala population. More than 50 koalas have been examined as part of this process.

“NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Mary O’Kane is leading a panel of experts, independent to the project team, to review all ecological information on the Ballina koala population and make recommendations on the suitability of mitigation measures to protect the koala.

“We will continue to work with the relevant government agencies and community to help mitigate and minimise impact during all phases of this critical infrastructure project.”

Key facts on Woolgoolga to Ballina:

About 25 fauna crossing structures will be installed along the upgrade near areas where koalas frequent

About 130 hectares of koala food trees will also be planted to further encourage koalas to access the crossing structures

Nearly 16 kilometres of fauna fencing will be installed to prevent animals from reaching the roadway

 Tweed Shire Koala Endangered Population Preliminary Determination



The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, has made a Final Determination to REJECT a proposal to list a population of the Koala Phascolarctos cinereus (Goldfuss, 1817) in the Tweed local government area east of the Pacific Highway as an ENDANGERED POPULATION in the Schedules of the Act. NOTICE OF PRELIMINARY DETERMINATION 

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, has made a Preliminary Determination to support a proposal to list a population of the Koala Phascolarctos cinereus (Goldfuss, 1817) between the Tweed and Brunswick Rivers east of the Pacific Highway as an ENDANGERED POPULATION in Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Act. 

Any person may make a written submission regarding the Preliminary Determination. Send submissions to: Scientific Committee, PO Box 1967, Hurstville BC 1481. Attention Suzanne Chate. Submissions must be received by 4 December 2015. 

Copies of these Determinations, which contains the reasons for these determinations, may be obtained free of charge on the Internet, by contacting the Scientific Committee Unit, PO Box 1967 Hurstville BC 1481. Tel: (02) 9585 6940 or Fax (02) 9585 6606, or in person at the Office of Environment and Heritage Information Centre, Level 14, 59–61 Goulburn Street, Sydney. 

Copies of the determination may also be obtained from National Parks and Wildlife Service Area Offices and Visitor Centres, subject to availability. 

Dr Mark Eldridge 

Chairperson NSW Scientific Committee.

From New South Wales Government Gazette – Published online October 9th, 2015:

 New $23.9 million science hub to focus on coastal and marine protection

Media release: 28 October 2015 - The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

Research designed to lower the risk of human-shark encounters and better understand the threats to marine species and their habitats will be carried out as part of the Australian Government's National Environmental Science Programme.

Conducted by the Marine Biodiversity Hub based in Hobart, the research will take place in Australia's temperate marine waters and lead to better management and protection of our coastal and marine environments.

Headed by Professor Nic Bax at the University of Tasmania and in partnership with research institutions from across Australia, scientists will develop a national population assessment of white sharks and look at initiatives to mitigate the risk of human-shark encounters.

White sharks are listed as Vulnerable under the EPBC Act yet there is still no effective way to assess their numbers.

The recent spate of shark attacks on the New South Wales coast highlights the need for better information on the status of shark populations to assist policy development for both conservation and public safety.

Whale conservation will also be a focus, with hub scientists assessing right whale subpopulations to determine trends and current numbers.

Closer to shore, research will support the repair and conservation efforts for two threatened nearshore marine ecological communities - shellfish reefs and saltmarshes.

Both habitats contain significant marine biodiversity and play a critical role in supporting healthy estuarine systems.

In addition, the hub will focus on marine pollution with the creation of a National Outfall Database to support cleaning up Australia's coastline.

The National Environmental Science Programme's Marine Biodiversity Hub will inform

monitoring and planning for coastal and marine species and ecosystems, as well as mapping and defining the impact of sewerage outfalls on Australia's marine environment.

$23.88 million is being provided for the research - as part of the Australian Government's $145 million National Environmental Science Programme.

The Australian Government is committed to integrating science into decision-making as a key principle of good environmental policy. The National Environmental Science Programme focuses on collaborative, practical and applied research that informs on-ground action.

For more information on the individual research projects, the Marine Biodiversity Hub and the National Environmental Science Programme go to

 ElectroFIED: the energy-harvesting backpack

CSIRO: Published on 27 Oct 2015

Our ElectroFIED energy-harvesting backpack has the potential to revolutionise wearable technology.

To learn more about #CSIROenergy visit­y

 Wanted: Fair players and a climate leader

October 26, 2015

An international team, led by the University of Melbourne, has devised a method allowing countries to choose their own method of 'fair' emissions cuts, effectively creating a roadmap out of the climate negotiation gridlock.

It requires one major economic power -- such as the United States, China or the European Union -- to set a benchmark emissions reduction target for others to follow, thereby capping global warming to within 2°C.

The work is published in the journal Nature Climate Change and is the first to propose this method of 'diversity-aware leadership'.

Lead author Dr Malte Meinshausen, from the University of Melbourne and the Australian-German Climate and Energy College, believes positive change is possible in the lead-up to the COP21 talks in Paris in December.

He says the model could be the first step to solving the question about how countries share the burden.

"The world is united in wanting to fend off drastic increases in weather extremes and sea-level rises, but has lost its leaders in that endeavor. The danger is that international negotiations are stuck in a gridlock about who should mitigate how much," Dr Meinshausen says.

High-level climate change negotiations continue to be plagued by conflicting interpretations of 'fair' shares.

"If the world waited to find an approach that is considered 'fair' by everybody, the outcome would be 'fair' only in the sense that all are hit by climate change"

Two broad views exist; one considers a future world where the burden is divided equally among the global population and where every person emits the same amount as the next. This is called 'distributive justice'.

The second camp, or 'corrective justice', takes into account what has already been emitted, for instance, placing more of the burden on Australia or the US, countries with historically high per-capita emissions.

This third and new model would require the leader to move first and set an ambitious target for reducing emissions.

Other nations would then match that amount of effort, but get to choose the justice model which defines its own fair share.

The researcher summarises the new idea as "acknowledging the diversity of views on what is fair."

"This study is therefore more closely related to the political realities. The approach also assumes that a large country leads by example, and one could argue that this is not on the horizon at the moment," Dr Meinshausen says.

For example, the US could assume the leadership role by pledging to reduce their emissions by 52 per cent off 2010 levels by 2025 (rather than the presently pledged 21-24 per cent below 2010, which is equivalent to the 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels).

For Australia, a doubling of proposed emission cuts (23-25 per cent below 2010 levels, which equals the pledged 26- 28 per cent below 2005 levels), would not be sufficient to assume a leadership position. Almost a tripling to 66 per cent would be needed, reflecting the high level of per-capita emissions that Australia currently presents.

Dr Meinshausen's team has shown that virtually all countries fall short of the mark when it comes to leadership as well as both interpretations of a fair share.

"One leader could catalyse a global consensus, where no one was doing more or less than the other," he says.

"But it's also vital we don't see the reverse in Paris, where a leader sets the bar too low, encouraging others to follow suit."

Malte Meinshausen, Louise Jeffery, Johannes Guetschow, Yann Robiou du Pont, Joeri Rogelj, Michiel Schaeffer, Niklas Höhne, Michel den Elzen, Sebastian Oberthür, Nicolai Meinshausen. National post-2020 greenhouse gas targets and diversity-aware leadership. Nature Climate Change, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2826

 Have your say on the proposed Bylong Coal Project

Date: 23.09.2015: Departmental Media Release; NSW Department of Planning and Environment

A proposal to construct and operate an open cut and underground mine in mid-western NSW will be on exhibition from today for community feedback.

The proposed project would be located approximately 55 kilometres northeast of Mudgee. 

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the application which seeks to:

• construct and operate an open cut and underground mine to extract up to 6.5 million tonnes of coal a year for 23 years

•construct and operate a range of infrastructure including:

o plant for washing and preparing coal to be transported

o rail loading facility and rail loop

o mine access roads

o accommodation for workers

o ventilation shafts

o water supply and water management

o electricity supply

o communications and administration infrastructure

• transport coal from the mine by rail

• progressively rehabilitate the site.

The proposal and its environmental, social and economic impacts will be thoroughly assessed against rules set out in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

It will also be subject to an independent review by the Commonwealth Independent Expert Scientific Committee.

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

A public information session on how to make a submission will be held by the Department during the exhibition period. 

“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 Wednesday 23 September until Friday, 6 November 2015. 

Written submissions can also be made to:

Department of Planning and Environment

Attn: A/Director- Resource Assessments and Compliance

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

• Mid-Western Regional Council, 86 Market Street, Mudgee

• Mid-Western Regional Council, 77 Louee Street, Rylstone

• Mid-Western Regional Council, 109 Herbert Street, Gulgong

• Kandos Library, Angus Avenue, Kandos

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



Thanks a million!

1, 107, 504 Birds sighted

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count has finished for another year, and we just wanted to give you a quick update on what happens next.

The app and website stayed open until Sunday (today) for you to submit any backdated checklists. After this time Birdlife Australia  will be collating, vetting and analysing the data. This is quite a lengthy process and they plan to have the results ready by late November.

If you took part in the count you will receive an email with the results, otherwise keep an eye on social media or the for the results to be posted.

Birdlife Australia would like to thank you all for your participation and for making every Australian bird count! We Love our Bird life in Pittwater!

If you’d like to go on a Bird Walk and Talk Pittwater Council are hosting a Birding Morning on November 8th and Pittwater Natural Heritage Association are offering a great one through Warriewood Wetlands on November 15th. See details for both below.

 Local Students Investigate Geographical Issues

From Cooee - Pittwater Council

Hundreds of local students now have a better understanding of their local catchment with thanks to education provided by Pittwater Council’s Coastal Environment Centre (CEC), made possible through the Stormwater Levy funded program. 

Year 7 and 12 students at Pittwater High School enjoyed a Feral Species and Stormwater Education talk by CEC educators, while all of Year 10 participated in a Coastal Geography fieldtrip. 

Year 7 students from Narrabeen Sports High School explored the different vegetation communities at Careel Bay and a Year 8 enrichment group examined a range of environmental issues around Narrabeen Lagoon. 

Recently all Year 10 students from Barrenjoey High School collected first-hand data in Careel Bay in order to begin their Research Action Plan. CEC educator, Toni Wilson assisted the six groups to collect, measure and interpret the water quality of Careel Creek. Our results showed that over a three-hour morning period the temperature rose from 17o to 24o, salinity dropped from 17 to 10 ppth and turbidity increased from 15 to 30 NTU. 

Can you suggest a simple explanation for these trends?

 Farmers: NSW Govt stealth attack on Landholders Rights a huge betrayal

October 30, 2015: Lock the Gate Alliance

Landholders across NSW have described changes that were rammed through Parliament by the NSW Government last week, without public consultation, as a stealth attack which has drastically weakened the rights of landholders to protect their land from coal and gas mining.

Last week the NSW Parliament passed the Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment (Land Access Arbitration) Bill 2015 which, amongst other things, amended the crucial clauses which allow landholders to withhold consent for mining on ‘significant improvements’ on their land.

The significant improvements clauses had been used previously by farmers at Bellata in north-west NSW to reject CSG company Leichardt Resources, and are the subject of a current legal challenge by landholders from the Southern Highlands of NSW against Hume Coal exploration in the area.

They had also been used by Lismore Council to prevent exploratory seismic surveys by Metgasco on local roadsides and by Moree Council to reject exploratory seismic surveys on roadsides throughout the local government area.

“The changes rammed through Parliament last week, without any public consultation, have dramatically weakened landholder rights in NSW” said Penny Blatchford, a farmer in the Bellata area of north-west NSW.

“The Government has attacked one of the single most important powers which we had as farmers to limit CSG gas mining – the power to withhold consent in areas of ‘significant improvements’. 

“The amendments have severely narrowed the definition of significant improvements, so that very few landholders will be able to use it to prevent impacts on improved areas or farm infrastructure. 

“Farmers will now have to show that their improvements cannot ‘reasonably co-exist’ with mining and CSG AND that their improvements ‘cannot reasonably be relocated or substituted’. 

“So, these retrograde changes may result in farmers being forced to move farm infrastructure to suit mining companies, which is an absolutely preposterous idea.

“This NSW Government was first elected in 2011 promising to protect farmland from mining. They failed to do that, and now they have gutted one of the only powers that farmers already had available to protect our land” she said.

“The exemption in the new Bill which allows seismic testing on roadsides without landholder consent is an extraordinary attack on landholder rights and on Local Councils” said Peter Nielsen, a farmer at Bentley in the Northern Rivers.

“It means that companies like Metgasco will no longer have to seek consent from Lismore Council or adjoining landowners for seismic activities on Council roads.

“It's a massive step backwards from a Government and a Minister that has pretended that it supports landholder rights” he said.

“I am one of several landholders in the Southern Highlands who are in the midst of a current legal challenge against Hume Coal due to the impacts that their proposed exploration activities will have on farm infrastructure and other improvements on my property” said Peter Martin, a landholder from the Southern Highlands.

“I am gobsmacked that this legislation has been rammed through Parliament whilst we are waiting for a decision on our legal case. It is a huge betrayal of landholders in this region.

“Whilst the changes won’t immediately affect our case, it means that in the future, landholders here will have very few rights to protect farm infrastructure and improvements from mining companies.

“It paves the way for Hume Coal to turn our part of the Southern Highlands into a dangerous, polluting coal mine and for mining companies across the state to ride roughshod over landholders” he said.

 Mining policy guidelines give industry and community confidence

30.10.2015: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment today announced the publication of two final Integrated Mining Policy guidelines.

The Integrated Mining Policy aims to:

• ensure the community has access to relevant and timely information about mining projects

• provide industry and the community with clarity about expectations regarding mining assessments

• improve the regulation and assessment of major mining projects

• help manage the environmental and social impacts of mining.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the policy helped address concerns about the complexity of the system for assessing major mining projects. 

“The Integrated Mining Policy helps make the system simpler by clarifying the Department’s expectations, ensuring rigour in assessments and maintaining high standards of community consultation,” the spokesperson said.

The two parts of the Integrated Mining Policy released today are:

• Indicative Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements that outline common assessment requirements that proposed mining operations must address in the Environmental Impact Statement as part of a development application

• Annual Review Guideline that brings together the annual reporting requirements of the Division of Resources and Energy and the Department of Planning and Environment into a single, concise document.

Stage 1 and 2 of the Integrated Mining Policy were exhibited for public comment in mid-2015. The final guidelines took these comments into account and the document has been amended where appropriate. 

Guidelines for the economic assessment of mining and coal seam gas proposals are currently on exhibition until 24 November.

Further information:

Other IMP documents, such as the Planning Agreement Guideline, are being revised by the Government following public consultations. All documents will be published once finalised.

Once all the IMP documents are finalised, the Government will consult with stakeholders about the implementation process. If there is any inconsistency between the IMP and the conditions of existing approvals, the requirements of an approval will take precedence.

 Sunday Morning Birdwatching with PNHA

Would you like to know more about our local birds? Our guides can help you discover the birdlife in these wonderful bushland reserves.

15 November, Warriewood Wetlands, Warriewood

Our birdwalks start at 7.30 or 8am and last for a couple of hours. Bring binoculars and morning tea for afterwards if you like. Older children welcome.

Contact us to book and get details for each walk. Email or ph: 0439 409 202 / 0402 605 721. 


Caring for Mullet Creek

Saturday 31 October, 8:30am – 12noon

Bushcare planting day at Irrawong Reserve. Come and join us for a fun family morning and help plant a tree. It’s a great opportunity to get involved with this positive environmental project. 

This six year project, now in its 4th year, aims to protect the biodiversity of Mullet Creek and tributaries from Elanora Heights down to Warriewood through Ingleside Chase and Irrawong Reserves. 

Where: Meet at the end of Irrawong Road near the main walking track. 

Please bring a hat, water bottle and wear enclosed shoes. Morning tea provided. No bookings are required for this activity. 

Wetlands to waterfall walk 

Saturday 31 October, 9 – 11am

Come and join us for a spring walk through the Warriewood Wetlands. Spring is an outstanding time to experience our wetlands come alive with wildlife and flowering plants. With a range of native vegetation communities this area provides significant habitat for many larger fauna species now lost in the Sydney region. This is a great opportunity to discover more about our amazing plants and wildlife from our expert guide. If interested you can also be part of the bushcare planting day. 

Where: Warriewood Wetlands and Irrawong Reserve (meet point provided on booking) Bookings Essential! 

Online: In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen. Phone: 1300 000 232 (Reception – Option 1)

Birding Morning 

8th Nov 2015: 7am - 9am

We will take you on a fantastic guided walk to learn more about our feathered friends. Our birding mornings are guided by local experts and are a great opportunity to get a better look at our local bird life. A great activity for those people interested to learn more as well as passionate birdwatchers. It's a great morning out for everyone!

Where: Warriewood. Meeting point provided on booking.

Cost: Free!

Bookings Essential! OnlineIn person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen. Phone: 1300 000 232 (Reception - Option 1)


Saturday 14 November, 9 - 11am

Join us for a relaxing walk taking in the beautiful views and coastal bushland of Bangalley Head. 

Bangalley Head stands as the highest point and one of Pittwater’s largest bushland reserves on its clifftop coastline. This - together with the great variety of native plants in the reserve and beautiful ocean views - makes Bangalley Headland Reserve a haven for bushwalkers and wildlife alike. Native birds and marsupials - such as ringtail possums, honeyeaters, spinebills, finches and wrens - feed, breed and shelter among the dense thickets of coastal scrub and pockets of rainforest plants. 

This is a fun event for all the family and a great opportunity to learn more about our amazing flora and fauna!

Where: Entrance to Bangalley Headland Reserve, Marine Parade, Avalon Beach 

Cost: Free Bookings Essential! Online -  In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen Phone: 1300 000 232


Friday 27 November, 7 - 9pm

Come and join us after dark for an exciting evening looking for some of the nocturnal creatures that live in Pittwater. It’s a great chance to learn about our wonderful wetlands and its inhabitants. This walk is suitable for children aged five and above. 

Where: Meet point provided on booking.

Bookings Essential! Online - In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen Phone: 1300 000 232

 Managing fisheries for sustainable livelihoods in the Torres Strait

CSIRO: Published on 26 Oct 2015

Communities on the Papua New Guinea side of the Torres Strait depend on fisheries for daily sustenance and also for much needed income generation. Disruptions to the local fisheries have significant impacts on people’s livelihoods. A rise in global demand for marine products, new technology increasing the catch, pollution from (old and new) mining operations, climate change and population pressures are all having a significant impact. CSIRO researchers have been working to characterise the traditional small-scale fisheries so they can be better managed by local communities

 Ocean beaches and headlands assessment

The NSW Government has announced its decision on the recreational fishing amnesty in NSW marine parks. Based on the Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel's advice and further consideration of social values and use conflicts, the NSW Government proposes to:

• rezone 10 sites from sanctuary zone to habitat protection zone to make shore-based recreational line fishing lawful, and to continue the amnesty at these sites until the rezoning process is finalised.

The amnesty has been removed from all 20 remaining sites and enforcement of sanctuary zone rules has recommenced. All forms of fishing are prohibited in sanctuary zones and significant penalties apply including on-the-spot fines of up to $500.

Current arrangements in marine parks 

Community and stakeholder engagement  

Have your say on the draft management rules for marine parks for inclusion in the Marine Estate Management (Management Rules) Regulation 1999. The changes will:

• rezone 10 sites within the Solitary Islands, Cape Byron, Port Stephens–Great Lakes and Batemans marine parks from sanctuary zone to habitat protection zone and to allow recreational line fishing from the shore in those areas,

• update the maps for marine parks. There are a small number of amendments that make corrections to various descriptions and spellings and ensure that the maps are consistent.

For more information please read: 

• Draft Regulation

• Consultation paper

Make a submission

It is recommended that you read the consultation paper, alongside the draft regulation, before making a submission.

• Online submission  or • Hard copy of submission form (PDF)

You can lodge your submission online, via email at or through the post at:

Ocean Beaches and Headlands- Draft Regulations, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Locked Bag 1, Nelson Bay NSW 2315

Submissions close on Friday 13 November 2015.

See all document and submission form at: ocean-beaches-assessment

 Marine Friendly Sunscreen from Surf Life Saving Australia

Did you know that it's estimated that each year 6,000 tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers in oceans and rivers worldwide? 

Surf Life Saving Sunscreen Marine Friendly SPF50+ sunscreen helps protect your skin and our unique marine environment at the same time as it's oxybenzone free, and preservative free!

Your purchase supports Surf Life Saving in their efforts to provide safer beaches and communities for all Australians.

 Visit the website to find out more.

 New amendments to help simplify the planning system go on exhibition

20.10.2015: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment today announced the public exhibition of proposed amendments to the Standard Instrument for Local Environmental Plans (SILEP).

The proposed amendments are part of the Department’s ongoing approach to improving planning policy to make it easier to use and understand. 

The five proposed amendments in the SILEP aim to cut red tape and give councils, local businesses and the community greater clarity and certainty on the:

• zoning of hardware and building supplies

• zoning of garden centres

• zoning of places of public worship

• meaning of the ‘minimum subdivision lot size’ rule

• definitions of ‘building height’ and ‘livestock processing industry’.

The revised definition of ‘livestock processing industry’ helps processors to do business with suppliers from beyond their surrounding districts and encourages more specialised processors to trade with a broader base of customers.

A Departmental spokesperson encouraged interested parties to have their say on the proposed changes, which are on exhibition until Wednesday 18 November. 

“These proposed amendments are intended to improve the clarity, performance and implementation of the SILEP, while cutting red tape,” the spokesperson said.

The proposed changes can be viewed at:


• The offices of the Department of Planning and Environment at 23-33 Bridge St, Sydney.

Submissions can be made until Wednesday 18 November:

• at

• by post to the Director, Policies and System Implementation, GPO Box 39, Sydney, NSW 2001.

 Draft Community Consultation Code

What's the draft about?

draft of the Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultationhas been prepared by the Division of Resources and Energy (DRE).  (PDF 325.10 kb)

It provides detailed requirements and guidelines to assist coal, mineral and petroleum title holders to fulfill their community consultation obligations.

The draft Code can be viewed on the DRE’s website.

Have your say

Submit your feedback on the draft Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation by 30 November 2015 online, via or post to: 

NSW Department of Industry, Division of Resources and Energy, Po Box 344, Hunter Region Mail Centre, NSW 2310 1

Formal Submission: Date: Oct. 9 - Nov. 30, 2015


Agency Website  Consultation Website

Economic assessment of mining guidelines

What's this about?

The NSW Government is seeking feedback on draft Guidelines for the Economic Assessment of Mining and Coal Seam Gas Proposals.

The guidelines have been updated to ensure economic assessments are more robust and consistent across NSW. In particular, the guidelines will have a greater focus on the impact of the project on the local community, as well as the state.

Economic assessments are used to inform consent authorities about the economic impacts of a major project, and are one of a number of factors considered in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

View and comment on the revised guidelines on the NSW Planning and Environment  website until 24 November 2015.

Have your say

Submit your written feedback online  or post to:

Deputy Secretary, Growth, Design & Programs Division, Department of Planning and Environment, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001

Exhibition Date: Oct. 14 - Nov. 24, 2015

Department of Planning & Environment - 23-33 Bridge Street,Sydney 2000

More Information:

 1300 305 695 

 Agency Website  Consultation Website 

 Economic assessment of mining guidelines

What's this about?

The NSW Government is seeking feedback on draft Guidelines for the Economic Assessment of Mining and Coal Seam Gas Proposals.

The guidelines have been updated to ensure economic assessments are more robust and consistent across NSW. In particular, the guidelines will have a greater focus on the impact of the project on the local community, as well as the state.

Economic assessments are used to inform consent authorities about the economic impacts of a major project, and are one of a number of factors considered in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

View and comment on the revised guidelines on the NSW Planning and Environment  website until 24 November 2015.

Have your say

Submit your written feedback online  or post to:

Deputy Secretary, Growth, Design & Programs Division, Department of Planning and Environment, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001

Exhibition Date: Oct. 14 - Nov. 24, 2015

Department of Planning & Environment

23-33 Bridge Street

Sydney 2000

More Information:

 1300 305 695 

 Agency Website  Consultation Website 

'Bonding' hormone benefits children with autism: World-first proof-of-concept trial

27 October 2015

A five week treatment with the synthetic hormone oxytocin significantly improved social, emotional and behavioural issues among young children with autism, according to University of Sydney research published today.

The study led by researchers at the university’s Brain and Mind Centre is thought to be the first evidence of a medical treatment for the social impairments in children with autism. It is also the first clinical trial investigating the efficacy, tolerability and safety of intranasal-administered oxytocin in young children with autism.

Autism is a group of complex brain developmental disorders characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication and stereotypical and repetitive behaviours. The diagnosed incidence is estimate to be one in 68 children and effective interventions have remained limited. There is no medical treatment for these problems currently. Behavioural therapies can improve social, emotional and behavioural impairments but these are typically time consuming (40 hours per week), remain costly and show mixed outcomes.

In this new study, 31 children aged three to eight years of age received a twice daily course of oxytocin in the form of a nasal spray.

“We used some of the most widely used assessments of social responsiveness for children with autism,” said autism expert, Associate Professor Adam Guastella of the Brain and Mind Centre. “We found that, following oxytocin treatment, parents reported their child to be more socially responsive at home and our own blind independent clinician ratings also supported improved social responsiveness in the therapy rooms of the Brain and Mind Centre.”

Overall, the nasal spray was well tolerated and the most common adverse event events were thirst, urination and constipation.

This is the first time a medical treatment has shown this type of benefit for children with autism and findings represent outcomes from a longer sustained program of research by this team. Over the last 10 years Brain and Mind Centre researchers have been documenting the benefits of oxytocin in humans revealing that oxytocin enhances eye gaze, emotion recognition and memory across a range of populations.

Study co-author and co-director the Brain and Mind Centre, Professor Ian Hickie noted the new results were a critical first advance in the development of medical treatments for the social deficits that characterize autism. The potential to use such simple treatments to enhance the longer-term benefits of other behavioural, educational and technology-based therapies is very exciting,” he said.

Most recently the team has linked observed changes from treatment also to brain changes associated with social circuitry. The next phase of this research is to understand exactly how oxytocin changes brain circuitry to improve social behavior and document how related treatments might be used to boost learning of established social learning interventions. We are seeking to further develop the potential of oxytocin-based interventions within the context of good multi-disciplinary care for autism. 

The research was largely supported by private foundations and partially funded by NHMRC grants and a BUPA Health Foundation grant.

 nbn wave hits Central Coast

Media Release: 26 October 2015

A wave of superfast broadband connections is about to hit the Central Coast as nbn makes services available to more than 20,000 homes and businesses over the next four weeks.

Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, and Member for Dobell, Karen McNamara, visited Telstra's Gorokan Exchange today to mark the official launch of Telstra's retail broadband plans over the nbn fibre-to-the-node network. Other retailers such as iiNet have also begun selling services.

"This is great news for the Central Coast, and proof of this Government's delivery to our region," said Mrs McNamara.

The nbn rollout is gathering pace with more than 8,200 homes and businesses in Gorokan and Belmont now able to order a service on the nbn FTTN network. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses will be able to connect to superfast speeds of greater than 50 megabits per second before Christmas.

By using the existing copper infrastructure running into homes, nbn can quickly build out the network, saving on construction costs and reducing the time residents must wait for broadband upgrades.

The first commercial FTTN services were connected at Belmont in New South Wales last month and already many users are enjoying superfast broadband and a simple connection process. Under the Coalition Government's broadband policy, nbn has shaved years off construction time while still delivering superfast broadband to more than nine million premises nationwide over the next three years. The Central Coast and Hunter regions are the first to gain access to the FTTN-based network.

nbn is working with delivery partners to recruit and train workers to build and operate the network in coming years. Today nbn has launched a campaign to encourage school-leavers to consider a career in telecommunications construction and maintenance. The current nbn construction workforce is expected to double to 9000 jobs over the next few years.

nbn's FTTN services will deliver maximum wholesale speeds to retail services providers of up to 100Mbps (download) and up to 40Mbps (upload).

Find out more about what's involved in getting connected on the nbn website:

 A blooming beautiful building: See the Female Orphan School during jacaranda season

27 October 2015

November is a special time in Sydney, as the city skyline is awash with glorious jacarandas in bloom, and there's no better place to witness the spectacle than at the historic Female Orphan School at Western Sydney University's Parramatta campus.

On Saturday 7 November the University's Whitlam Institute is throwing open the doors to the Female Orphan School for a community Open Day, being held from 10.30am until 3.00pm.

There will be guided tours of the building throughout the day, as well as exhibitions, activities for the kids, and the added bonus of taking in the magnificent old jacarandas that grace the front entrance to the building at their colourful best.

The event also marks the 40th anniversary of the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government, with the Whitlam Institute promising to have rarely-seen items from the Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection on display. Director of the Whitlam Institute, Mr Eric Sidoti, says the Open Day really does provide bit of something for everyone.

"Our Open Days are some of the most highly anticipated community events on our calendar. We just love being able to throw open the doors of this grand old building and to welcome all comers – young and not-so-young – to share in the beauty of the place.

"It's never more striking than in November when the jacarandas are in bloom and the gardens are at their best. My own favourite is the grand old Ginkgo, a centurian of the Boxer Rebellion, that holds pride of place in the forecourt," says Mr Sidoti.

"Our 7 November Open Day will also be a lot of fun. We have put together a full program of tours, exhibitions and activities for the kids, so we encourage people to come along, bring a blanket to picnic on the lawn, and spend a little time with the family wandering through the beautifully restored Female Orphan School building and enjoying this important part of our nation's history."

The Female Orphan School is the oldest three-storey brick building still standing in Australia, constructed under the direction of Governor and Mrs Macquarie as a home for orphaned and destitute girls of the Colony of New South Wales.

The building's foundation stone was laid in 1813, and it is one of the most important surviving buildings from the earlier period of European settlement.

Find out more about the Open Day or to book a place to any of the Female Orphan School events, contact the Whitlam Institute on 02 9685 9210 or

Open Day activities – Saturday 7 November 2015

Guided tours

There will be guided tours of the Female Orphan School on the day at 11am, 12:30pm and 2pm. Tours are $10 per person, and bookings are advised as places are limited. To book, please contact the Whitlam Institute on 02 9685 9210 or

Victoriana Sydney 1837 – 1901: A Journey in Photography exhibition

This fascinating exhibition is on display at the Female Oprhan School's Margaret Whitlam Galleries. At 11am Victoriana Sydney curator Stephen Thompson will also deliver a talk about this fascinating era; introducing the people who transformed the bush, farms and cow pastures of Parramatta, Surry Hills, Newtown, Glebe and Ashfield into roads, streets, lanes, terraces, railways and great urban parks that most of us still navigate every day.

A Changing Australia: The time of Gough Whitlam exhibition

This exhibition will also be open on the day, and the Whitlam Institute also promises to have a few extra items on display from the Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection to mark the 40th Anniversary of The Dismissal.

Fun for the kids 'Victoriana toys' (recommended ages 3+)

Create a toy like the children in Victorian Sydney played with, using paper, pencils and imagination

'What matters' craft collage (recommended ages 6+)

Use your imagination and a range of craft materials to create a collage that shows what matters to you.

'Dismissal day newspaper' (recommended ages 10+)

Create a newspaper front page for the day of Gough Whitlam's dismissal. Write your own story, or use excerpts from actual newspapers from the time.

Western Sydney University: Parramatta Campus - Female Orphan School, Building EZ, Corner of James Ruse Drive and Victoria Road. Rydalmere NSW 2116

Photo: Sally Tsouta

 Could your job be making you obese?

October 28, 2015

Your job could be having an effect on your waistline, suggests new research published in Social Science & Medicine -- and it could be bad or good news depending on the sort of control you have over your work.

The new study, by researchers at the University of Adelaide, Central Queensland University and the University of South Australia, shows that having skills and the freedom to use them at work is linked to lower BMI and smaller waist size, whereas needing to make a lot of decisions is linked to bigger waist size.

The findings suggest for the first time that these two psychological measures of control at work may actually have very different effects on our waistlines, so should be assessed separately.

Control in your job can come in two broad forms: skill discretion -- having and being able to apply skills -- and decision authority. Traditionally, increasing an employee's level of job control has been seen as a good thing and the two factors have been considered together when looking at their effect on people's health. However, the new study suggests that the two aspects of job control should be considered separately in terms of their effects on health, and obesity in particular.

In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults worldwide were overweight; of these, more than 600 million were obese. One area of interest for researchers has been how the kinds of work people do, and their experience of their work, can contribute to obesity.

"Many people point to 'eating too much and not moving enough' as the cause of obesity," said lead author Mr. Christopher Bean, a health psychology PhD candidate from the University of Adelaide. "While this might explain how weight gain often happens, it does not acknowledge things such as environmental, psychological, social or cultural factors -- these are some of the important why reasons that obesity happens."

For the study, which was part of the North West Adelaide Health Study, Bean and colleagues looked at a sub-set of data from 450 mostly middle-aged participants (230 women, 220 men), who worked in a variety of different occupations, both blue and white-collar. They measured participants' height, weight and waist circumference in a clinic and conducted telephone interviews to collect information about their work. They used a model called the Job Demand-Control-Support (JDCS) model to assess the psychosocial qualities of their work.

Traditionally, high job demands are considered stressful, while high job control has been considered useful in mitigating the effects of high demands. However, skill discretion and decision authority are usually assessed together. In the new study, the team took these two factors separately. After controlling for sex, age, household income, work hours and job nature, these two factors were comparatively strongly associated with obesity, with surprisingly opposite effects.

"When looking at the wide system of factors that cause and maintain obesity, work stress is just a small part of a very large and tangled network of interactive factors," said Mr. Bean. "On the other hand, work is a fundamental part of life for many, so it is important to find innovative ways of extending our understanding of how factors at work may be implicated in the development and maintenance of obesity. It is important to challenge the status quo and explore unexpected or counter-intuitive findings with curiosity."

Christopher G. Bean, Helen R. Winefield, Charli Sargent, Amanda D. Hutchinson. Differential associations of job control components with both waist circumference and body mass index. Social Science & Medicine, 2015; 143: 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.08.034

Emergency service workers to benefit from world-first PTSD treatment guidelines

28 OCT 2015 - by Gayle McNaught and Dan Wheelan: UNSW

Emergency service workers exposed to traumatic events are set to benefit from the world’s first guidelines to help diagnose and treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

The NSW Minister for Mental Health, Pru Goward, and Minister Emergency Services, David Elliott, joined industry leaders to launch the Black Dog Institute guidelines today.

Developed by nine leading Australian clinicians and researchers, including three UNSW experts, the national guidelines provide evidenced-based protocols for identifying and managing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The guidelines also address common and related disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance use.

“Given the debt that society owes these workers, it is imperative that we ensure that those who do become unwell as a result of their emergency service work get the best possible treatment."

UNSW Scientia Professor Helen Christensen, Director & Chief Scientist of the Black Dog Institute, said 10% of Australia’s 80,000 emergency service workers had experienced the debilitating symptoms of PTSD due to their frequent exposure to potentially traumatic experiences.

“Mental illness is a significant cause of sickness absence in this group, and without appropriate and timely intervention, it can result in long-term disability and even suicide,” Professor Christensen said.

“We are proud to have led this world-class consortium of experts to develop the first clear and comprehensive guidelines for health professionals caring for emergency service staff.”

PTSD describes a severe and persistent mental health impairment following exposure to a single or multiple traumatic events. Symptoms typically involve mentally re-experiencing trauma, avoidance of triggering situations, low mood; and arousal symptoms such including insomnia and irritability.

Lead author of the guidelines and UNSW psychiatrist Dr Sam Harvey, based at the Black Dog Institute, said PTSD can occur in anyone exposed to trauma and managing it in emergency service workers is especially challenging.

“Emergency workers fill a hugely important role in our society, but unfortunately the nature of their job means they are regularly exposed to different types of trauma, from witnessing distressing events to having their own lives in significant danger," Dr Harvey said.

“The cumulative nature of their trauma exposure, and the different coping mechanisms emergency workers use, mean PTSD often presents in atypical ways and can be difficult to identify and differentiate from other mental illnesses, especially for clinicians who are not specialists in the field. These problems can be compounded by the stigma associated with mental illness, meaning some emergency service workers may be reluctant to come forward and ask for help."

Dr Harvey said the new guidelines outline evidence-based treatments that can be used to treat emergency workers with PTSD, meaning a diagnosis of PTSD doesn’t have to mean the end of someone’s working career.

“Given the debt that society owes these workers, it is imperative that we ensure that those who do become unwell as a result of their emergency service work get the best possible treatment; we hope these guidelines will help this occur,” he said.

The guidelines have been officially endorsed by the Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists and were funded by Employers Mutual. 

A copy of the guidelines can be found here

 Quantum communications go thin and light

27 October 2015

A team of UTS researchers has made a major breakthrough that could pave the way for the next generation of quantum communications.

The team, from the Materials and Technology for Energy Efficiency Research Strength at UTS Science, has found a material that emits a single pulse of a quantum light on demand at room temperature, removing one of the barriers to extremely fast and secure information processing.

Until now, room-temperature quantum emitters have only been observed in three-dimensional materials such as diamonds that hinder integration of these components in chips and commercial devices. The world is therefore in a race to find quantum light sources in atomically thin materials such as graphene – the famous single layer of carbon atoms.

"This material – layered hexagonal boron nitride (boron and nitrogen atoms that are arranged in a honeycomb structure) – is rather unique," Associate Professor Mike Ford said. "It is atomically thin and is traditionally used as a lubricant; however upon careful processing it can emit quantised pulses of light – single photons that can carry information.

"That’s important because one of the big goals is to make optical computer chips that can operate based on light rather than electrons, therefore operating much faster with less heat generation."

The single photon sources were discovered by Trong Toan Tran, Kerem Bray, Mike Ford, Milos Toth and Igor Aharonovich from UTS Science, whose findings have just been published in the prestigious journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Associate Professor Igor Aharonovich said the single photon sources are brighter than any other others currently available, and are promising enablers for absolutely secure communications and quantum computation.

"You can create very secure communication systems using single photons," explained Associate Professor Igor Aharonovich. "Each photon can be employed as a qubit (quantum bit, similarly to standard electronic bits), but because one cannot eavesdrop on single photons, the information is secure."

PhD candidate Trong Toan Tran said the results demonstrate the unprecedented potential of hexagonal boron nitride for large-scale nanophotonics and quantum information processing devices.

"This material is very easy to fabricate," he said. "It’s a much more viable option because it can be used at room temperature; it’s cheap, sustainable and is available in large quantities.

"Ultimately we want to build a 'plug and play' device that can generate single photons on demand, which will be used as a first prototype source for scalable quantum technologies that will pave the way to quantum computing with hexagonal boron nitride," he said.

The work was supported in part by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grant, an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, FEI Company and by resources provided by the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.

Byline: Rebecca Gallegos

Top: Two dimensional nano-flakes emit red photons for quantum communication technologies. Image supplied by the research team

 Dr. Alan Finkel AO Appointed as Australia's Next Chief Scientist 

27 October 2015: Prime Minister, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Leader of the House, The Hon. Christopher Pyne MP

Dr Alan Finkel AO has been appointed Australia's next Chief Scientist and will commence in the role in January 2016.

He succeeds Professor Ian Chubb AC who has served with distinction since May 2011. Professor Chubb's term concludes at the end of 2015.

Dr Finkel is a prominent engineer, respected neuroscientist, successful entrepreneur and philanthropist with a personal commitment to innovation and commercialisation. He is currently the Chancellor of Monash University and is President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). 

His experience in science and the commercial sector means he is uniquely qualified to act as one of the Government's key advisers on science and innovation, and on ways to translate our great scientific research into real, tangible outcomes for Australians and the economy.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said science and innovation are at the centre of the Government's agenda and key to Australia remaining a prosperous, first world economy with a generous social welfare safety net.

"The Australian Government recognises the importance of science, innovation and technology to our future prosperity and economic security as a nation in a rapidly expanding and diversifying global economy," the Prime Minister said.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP congratulated Dr Finkel, who was selected from a high calibre field following an international search.

"Dr Finkel is renowned for his outstanding research, industrial and entrepreneurial achievements in Australia and overseas, his leadership and service in the university and education sector, the academies and national science bodies, and his experience in providing high-quality expert advice to government." Mr Pyne said.

"His will be a vital role in shaping Australia's economic future and leading our national conversation on science, innovation and commercialisation across the research, industry and education sectors and with the wider community," he said.

The new Chief Scientist will provide independent high level advice to the government on science, innovation and commercialisation and lift the profile of Australian scientific endeavour domestically and internationally.

Dr Finkel said he was thrilled with the opportunity to contribute to framing Australia's participation in the agile 21st century.

"My personal experience across research, business and STEM education will guide my ability to formulate relevant advice," Dr Finkel said.

"We exist in competitive international environment and to compete effectively, business needs science, science needs business, and Australia needs both."

Mr Pyne also praised the current Chief Scientist for his landmark achievements in the role.

"Professor Ian Chubb has made an incredible contribution to science in Australia and we thank and commend him on his outstanding contribution as Australian Chief Scientist, but also as an eminent university administrator and academic over the course of his distinguished career," Mr Pyne said.

For more information, including Dr Finkel's biography and information about the role of the Chief Scientist visit the science website

 Natural immunity may lead fight against liver disease

October 27, 2015

University of Adelaide researchers have uncovered the role played by a family of genes, which can suppress hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection within the liver.

The findings, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, shed light on the activity of these genes and how they produce a natural immune response to the virus.

HCV is a major health problem in Australia, with approximately 233,000 Australians having the disease that is transmitted through contaminated blood. Unchecked HCV infection can lead to chronic disease and liver cancer, and both diseases are increasing in frequency.

The researchers have shown for the first time that antiviral proteins (the IFITM proteins) produced through the natural immune response block the entry of the hepatitis C virus into the cell.

"We now have a good idea of what the IFITM proteins do in liver cells and how they act to suppress hepatitis C infection," says Associate Professor Michael Beard, Head of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory in the University's School of Biological Science.

"This improved understanding of the host response to HCV infection, and the HCV entry process, will provide new direction for the development of therapeutic treatments to either heighten this natural response, or generate mimics to target the virus specifically."

The IFITM1, IFITM2 and IFITM3 proteins have been shown in laboratory settings previously to have anti-viral action against a number of different viruses, including HCV. But to date the actual role of the proteins in suppressing HCV infection has remained a mystery.

Associate Professor Beard and PhD student Sumudu Narayana studied the impact of the proteins on HCV infection in liver cells.

"Sumudu has shown that liver cells that express high levels of the IFITM proteins are resistant to infection with the hepatitis C virus by blocking entry of the virus into the cells," Associate Professor Beard says.

"Our research team demonstrated specific interactions between the proteins and the HCV entry process within the cells. It appears that the proteins act together in a specific way to target the virus.

"This now points the way forward to develop ways of enhancing these mechanisms to prevent the virus from setting up infection."

Sumudu K. Narayana, Karla J. Helbig, Erin M. McCartney, Nicholas S. Eyre, Rowena A. Bull, Auda Eltahla, Andrew R. Lloyd, Michael R. Beard.The Interferon-induced Transmembrane Proteins, IFITM1, IFITM2, and IFITM3 Inhibit Hepatitis C Virus Entry. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2015; 290 (43): 25946 DOI:10.1074/jbc.M115.657346

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.