Inbox and Environment News: Issue 286

October 23 - 29, 2016: Issue 286

Container Deposit Scheme Legislation Passes Parliament

October 20, 2016
Member for Pittwater Rob Stokes has welcomed the passage of the NSW Government’s 10-cent Container Deposit Scheme legislation through Parliament.
From 1 July next year, cans and bottles between 150ml and 3 litres will be eligible for a 10-cent refund at collection points and depots across NSW.
This landmark scheme will be the first of its type in NSW and is part of a broad package of initiatives being deployed by the NSW Government to help reduce the amount of litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020.
“This is a vital initiative that will have real benefits for our local environment,” Rob Stokes said today.
“Unfortunately our local creeks, waterways and beaches bear the brunt of drink container waste and this impacts our whole community.
“The introduction of a refund scheme will help change the way people look at litter by offering a simple financial incentive to do the right thing.
“After many years of talk and discussion this landmark scheme is now being introduced by the NSW Liberal Government.
“More information on the scheme and how it will operate is available at
“This will be a generational change which I’m hoping everyone will get behind and support,” Rob Stokes said.

Applications Open For Illegal Dumping Clean-Up And Prevention Grants

Media release: 17 October 2016 - EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has today opened Round Four of the Illegal Dumping Clean-up and Prevention grants to applications from councils, public land managers and community groups across NSW to share in $500,000 in grants.

Under the NSW EPA’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative funding is made available for projects to clean-up and prevent illegal dumping of a wide range of waste, including asbestos and other building materials, as well as household junk commonly found dumped, like broken furniture, old mattresses and white goods.

The grants will also help to establish illegal dumping baseline data, which can be used to identify dumping trends and target hot spot problem areas like vacant residential lots and bush areas.

EPA Executive Director Waste and Resource Recovery Steve Beaman said the grants played an important role in enabling local communities to tackle illegal dumping.

“Illegal dumping is a serious problem in our state – it not only harms the environment, it can put human health at risk,” Mr Beaman said.

“The clean-up of illegal dumped waste is an expensive and time-consuming process. These grants can help councils and public land managers not only tackle existing problem areas, but also enable them to put in place preventative programs.”

In the three previous rounds of the program, a total of $4.36 million has been awarded to fund 71 projects.

To date, these projects have resulted in:
  • Over 5,000 tonnes of waste cleaned up, including over 200 tonnes of asbestos;
  • 136 hotspots protected from further dumping; 
  • A range of preventative measures installed to deter dumping including 49 gates, 2554 meters of fencing, 23 earth mounds, 164 signs, 148 barriers and bollards, 862 tonnes of rock barrier and 111 surveillance devices;
  • Increased regulatory action against illegal dumpers including 117 penalty notices, 44 clean-up notices, $100,848 in fines and $59,000 in court penalties. 
In Round Four, a total of $500,000 will be awarded under three streams:
  1. Illegal dumping clean-up and prevention projects: $50,000 - $150,000 for councils and public land managers to carry out such programs
  2. Establish illegal dumping baseline data: up to $20,000 for councils and public land managers 
  3. Illegal dumping clean-up and prevention community partnerships: up to $50,000 
Expressions of interest are open until 4pm, 8 November 2016.

More information about the Illegal Dumping Clean-up and Prevention grants is available at

Improvements To Planning Assessment

16.10.2016: Ministerial Media Release - The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning
The NSW Government will promote earlier and better engagement with the community in the assessment of large scale or complex projects, often classified as state significant development or state significant infrastructure.
Environmental Impact Assessment is typically used in the assessments of mining developments, renewable energy projects, chemical and manufacturing industries, port facilities, electricity generating works, waste management facilities and major public transport projects. 
Planning Minister Rob Stokes today released a discussion paper with ideas on how to improve planning assessments, focused on building confidence in the assessment process.
“Public confidence in the project assessment process is particularly important for state significant projects, where the impacts can be large and experienced over many years,” Mr Stokes said. 
“We need to ensure the community is involved in the assessment at the earliest practicable stage to improve the quality of engagement between all participants.
“Better engagement results in better planning outcomes and builds confidence and trust in the assessment process.”
Suggested changes put forward for discussion include:
• Driving earlier and better engagement with affected communities
• Improving the quality and consistency of EIA documents
• Developing a standard approach for applying conditions to projects
• Providing greater certainty and efficiency around decision-making, including assessment timeframes
• Strengthening monitoring and reporting on project compliance
• Improving accountability of EIA professionals.

To provide feedback and please visit


Pictured (L - R): Professional surfer and Culburra local Mikey Wright, Shoalhaven City Council Mayor Amanda Findley, Destination NSW Regional Event Development Coordinator Phil Wishart and Surfing NSW CEO Luke Madden. Photo by Ethan Smith / Surfing NSW.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016:  from Surfing NSW
Australia’s best junior surfers will head to Shoalhaven in 2017 as part of the prestigious Surf Dive ‘N Ski Australian Junior Surfing Titles.

Surfing NSW, Surfing Australia and Shoalhaven City Council have aligned with The NSW Government, through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW to bring the renowned junior event to the idyllic region.

Shoalhaven City Council Mayor Amanda Findley said, “We are excited to be hosting the Australian Junior Surfing Titles in the Shoalhaven and at beautiful Culburra Beach, Jervis Bay. We wish all the contestants well and hope their families and support crews enjoy what our City has to offer.”

Surfing NSW CEO Luke Madden is looking forward to bringing the illustrious junior titles to a region that has already spawned countless champions.

“The Shoalhaven region has long been considered one of the jewels of the NSW South Coast and over the years has spawned the likes of Owen, Mikey and Tyler Wright as well as Jordi and Ty Watson. It’s a great privilege to be able to bring an event of this caliber to the region and showcase it to competitors from all around Australia.”

Member for South Coast, Shelley Hancock, said the event would be a fantastic boost to the Shoalhaven.

“The South Coast is one of Australia’s best surfing regions, and it’s great to see the Australian Junior Surfing Titles coming to Culburra Beach next year. It’s a big win for local restaurants, cafes and businesses, with hundreds of visitors set to travel to the area.”

Six states are represented at the titles across Under 14, 16 and 18 age groups in both boys and girls divisions at the event that is considered the benchmark of junior surfing in the country. The Australian School Surfing Association Titles will be part of the event again in 2017.

With past winners including World Champions Steph Gilmore, Chelsea Hedges, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Mark Richards, Tom Carroll and Damian Hardman, a win in this year’s event is a legitimate stepping stone to world stage glory.

A Grand Design For The Ian Potter National Conservatory

17 October 2016: Media release- The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
Today marks a significant step towards the realisation of a bold vision that will transform the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

A design by acclaimed Sydney architects CHROFI has been selected for the Ian Potter National Conservatory, with the winning “hovering cube” design.

I congratulate CHROFI on their successful design, which the panel of jurors considered as being a piece of international merit, as well as leading in energy efficiency.

CHROFI’s conservatory will be a first for Australia and the world, creating a unique tropical plant conservatory, in our own backyard.

Visitors will be able to see our most remote and rare plants from areas including Kakadu and Christmas Island all under the one roof, grown with seeds from the National Seed Bank.

This will build on the Gardens’ leading work in protecting our native plants, with its collection boasting 78,000 native plants, more than 5,000 species and 300 threatened species.

Conserving our tropical plants in collections like this creates a critical safety net, and helps us to better understand the role they play in our habitat, allowing us to protect them for generations to come.

The Ian Potter National Conservatory will be a major drawcard for the Gardens and Canberra, with the Gardens’ annual visitation of 450,000 expected to jump by more than 20 per cent to 550,000.

This is the first major project from the Garden’s 20-year Master Plan, which was launched in June last year, and sets the garden in an outstanding stead for what lies ahead.

I sincerely thank the Ian Potter Foundation for its support of such an important national asset, providing $1.5 million in funding.

As a Government, we too are proud to support this project through a $5 million investment to help fund the Conservatory and a bushland nature walk.

It’s hard to imagine a design that could complement the beauty and intrigue of our national garden, but that’s what CHROFI has achieved – I look forward to seeing the completed Ian Potter National Conservatory in 2018.

Above: The competition winning concept for the Ian Potter National Conservatory, a “hovering cube” designed by CHROFI, McGregor Coxall and Atelier Ten. Image: Courtesy Parks Australia

NSW Coastal Council

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

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

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

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

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

Water And Wastewater Infrastructure Upgrades For Regional NSW

Wednesday, 19 October 2016: Media Release - Hon. Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Lands and Water
Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water, Niall Blair, today approved a range of infrastructure upgrades to help clear a backlog of water and sewerage projects in regional areas, under the NSW Government’s $110 million Regional Water and Wastewater Backlog Program.

“This funding will help boost vital water and waste water services through new infrastructure builds and modernisation,” Mr Blair said.

“It’s important we have the right infrastructure in place for our regional communities who rely heavily on the reliable access to clean water and sewerage services for their future growth and prosperity.

“Over 30 projects have been approved, including a new water treatment plant and reticulation network for White Cliffs, a new sewerage collection process at Stuarts Point, and upgrades to the Wentworth sewerage system.

The Regional Water and Wastewater Backlog Program is part of the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government’s dedicated Restart NSW infrastructure fund that continues to deliver first-class infrastructure projects across the state.

“We announced the shortlist for this fund in February and I am pleased to be delivering this commitment for communities stretching from White Cliffs to Bourke to Biniguy, from Bulga to Yass and Wentworth. Right across regional NSW we continue to improve water and sewerage services,” Mr Blair said.

Applications for each project were successful in meeting strategic and economic measures in a competitive expression of interest process.

Come To The Harvest Festival On Liverpool Plains

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.

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

To make a submission or view the Modification Application and accompanying documents, visit

Submissions can be made from Thursday 6 October until Monday 24 October 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to:

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

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

Have Your Say On Modifications To The Bengalla Continuation Project

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

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

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

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

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.

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

To make a submission or view the Modification Application and other accompanying documents, visit

Submissions can be made from Thursday 6 October until Monday 24 October 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to:

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

The Modification Application and other accompanying documents are also available to view in person at:
Department of Planning and Environment: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
Muswellbrook Shire Council: Administration Centre, 157 Maitland Street, Muswellbrook
Nature Conservation Council: 14/338 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Have Your Say On The Springvale Mine Water Treatment Project

26.09.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Springvale Coal Pty Limited for a water treatment project will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

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

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

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

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

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.

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

To make a submission or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit  

Submissions can be made from Tuesday 27 September until Tuesday 8 November 2016.

Written submissions can also be made to:

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

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at:
• Department of Planning and Environment: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
• Lithgow City Council: 180 Mort Street, Lithgow
• Nature Conservation Council: Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Have Your Say Invincible Coal Mine - Southern Extension Modification

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

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

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

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

Have Your Say On The Extension Of Martins Creek Quarry

13.10.2016: Departmental Media Release-Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Buttai Gravel Pty Ltd to extend the Martins Creek Quarry near Maitland will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

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

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

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.

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

To make a submission or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit

Submissions can be made from Thursday 13 October until Thursday 24 November 2016.

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

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at:
  • Department of Planning and Environment: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
  • Dungog Shire Council: Council Administration Office,198 Dowling St, Dungog
  • Maitland City Council: 285-287 High Street, Maitland
  • Nature Conservation Council: 14/338 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Wilderness Horse Riding

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

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

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

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

More Information

Report illegal dumping

NSW Government

The RIDonline website lets you report the types of waste being dumped and its GPS location. Photos of the waste can also be added to the report.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA), councils and Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) squads will use this information to investigate and, if appropriate, issue a fine or clean-up notice.

Penalties for illegal dumping can be up to $15,000 and potential jail time for anybody caught illegally dumping within five years of a prior illegal dumping conviction.

This is the first time RIDonline has been opened to the public. Since September last year, the EPA, councils, RID squads and public land managers have used it to report more than 20,000 tonnes of illegally dumped waste across more than 70 local government areas.

The NSW Government has allocated $58 million over five years to tackle illegal dumping as part of its $465.7 million Waste Less Recycle More initiative. NSW Premier Mike Baird has also committed to reducing the volume of litter by 40%, by 2020 to help keep NSW's environment clean.

Permaculture Northern Beaches

Want to know where your food is coming from? 

Do you like to enrich the earth as much as benefit from it?

Find out more here:


Avalon Community Garden

Community Gardens bring people together and enrich communities. They build a sense of place and shared connection.


Avalon Community Garden is a community led initiative to create accessible food gardens in public places throughout the Pittwater area. Our aim is to share skills and knowledge in creating fabulous local, organic food. But it's not just about great food. We also aim to foster community connection, stimulate creative ideas for community resilience and celebrate our abundance. Open to all ages and skills, our first garden is on the grounds of Barrenjoey High School (off Tasman Road). Become part of this exciting initiative to change the world locally. Contact us or Visit us artwork:

Av Green Team

This Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative has been attracting high praise from the founders of Living Ocean as much as other local environment groups recently. 

Turning up for Beach Cleans, or starting their own, underlines an ‘action speaks louder than words’ ethos is at the core of this group. 

Newport Community Gardens

Anyone interested in joining our community garden group please feel free to come and visit us on Sunday at 10am at the Woolcott Reserve in Newport!

Keep in Touch with what's happening on Newport Garden's Facebook:

Think before you print ; A kilo of recycled paper creates around 1.8 kilograms of carbon emissions, without taking into account the emissions produced from transporting the paper. So, before you send a document to print, think about how many kilograms of carbon emissions you could save by reading it on screen.

Create a Habitat Stepping Stone!

Over 50 Pittwater households have already pledged to make a difference for our local wildlife, and you can too! Create a habitat stepping stone to help our wildlife out. It’s easy - just add a few beautiful habitat elements to your backyard or balcony to create a valuable wildlife-friendly stopover.

How it works

1) Discover: Visit the website below to find dozens of beautiful plants, nest boxes and water elements you can add to your backyard or balcony to help our local wildlife.

2) Pledge: Select three or more elements to add to your place. You can even show you care by choosing to have a bird appear on our online map.

3) Share: Join the Habitat Stepping Stones Facebook community to find out what’s happening in the natural world, and share your pics, tips and stories.

What you get                                  

• Enjoy the wonders of nature, right outside your window.

• Free and discounted plants for your garden.

• A Habitat Stepping Stone plaque for your front fence.

• Local wildlife news and tips.

• Become part of the Pittwater Habitat Stepping Stones community.

Get the kids involved and excited about helping out!

No computer? No problem -Just write to the address below and we’ll mail you everything you need. Habitat Stepping Stones, Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University NSW 2109

This project is assisted by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust

Pittwater's Environmental Foundation

Pittwater Environmental Foundation was established in 2006 to conserve and enhance the natural environment of the Pittwater local government area through the application of tax deductible donations, gifts and bequests. The Directors were appointed by Pittwater Council. 


About 33% (about 1600 ha excluding National Parks) of the original pre-European bushland in Pittwater remains in a reasonably natural or undisturbed condition. Of this, only about 400ha remains in public ownership. All remaining natural bushland is subject to encroachment, illegal clearing, weed invasion, feral animals, altered drainage, bushfire hazard reduction requirements and other edge effects. Within Pittwater 38 species of plants or animals are listed as endangered or threatened under the Threatened Species Act. There are two endangered populations (Koala and Squirrel Glider) and eight endangered ecological communities or types of bushland. To visit their site please click on logo above.

Avalon Boomerang Bags 2016 Workshops

Boomerang Bag Working Bees run in Avalon Community Centre on Tuesdays 11:30am- 5pm.

For those of you unable to come to workshops there are many other ways to get involved, just let us know you're willing by leaving a comment or sending us a message.

Pictured is a Boomerang Bag Box. 

The boxes are located at:

Avalon Organics
Hertford Chemist
Avalon Wholefood
Fresh Fruit and Veg
Johnson Bros Mitre Ten
Avalon Meats
Avalon Rec Centre
Watch this space for another venue soon.

A huge thank you to everybody who has helped Boomerang Bags Avalon get this far. But the work is not over yet. Materials and more hands always welcome  Facebook page  Profile

Wildlife Carers and Organisations in Pittwater:

Sydney Wildlife rescues, rehabilitates and releases sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife. From penguins, to possums and parrots, native wildlife of all descriptions passes through the caring hands of Sydney Wildlife rescuers and carers on a daily basis. We provide a genuine 24 hour, 7 day per week emergency advice, rescue and care service.

As well as caring for sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife, Sydney Wildlife is also involved in educating the community about native wildlife and its habitat. We provide educational talks to a wide range of groups and audiences including kindergartens, scouts, guides, a wide range of special interest groups and retirement villages. Talks are tailored to meet the needs and requirements of each group. 


Found an injured native animal? We're here to help.

Keep the animal contained, warm, quiet and undisturbed. Do not offer any food or water.

Call Sydney Wildlife immediately on 9413 4300, or take the animal to your nearest vet. Generally there is no charge. 

Find out more at:

Southern Cross Wildlife Care was launched over 6 years ago. It is the brainchild of Dr Howard Ralph, the founder and chief veterinarian. SCWC was established solely for the purpose of treating injured, sick and orphaned wildlife. No wild creature in need that passes through our doors is ever rejected. 


People can assist SCWC by volunteering their skills ie: veterinary; medical; experienced wildlife carers; fundraising; "IT" skills; media; admin; website etc. We are always having to address the issue of finances as we are a non commercial veterinary service for wildlife in need, who obviously don't have cheque books in their pouches. It is a constant concern and struggle of ours when we are pre-occupied with the care and treatment of the escalating amount of wildlife that we have to deal with. Just becoming a member of SCWC for $45 a year would be a great help. Regular monthly donations however small, would be a wonderful gift and we could plan ahead knowing that we had x amount of funds that we could count on. Our small team of volunteers are all unpaid even our amazing vet Howard, so all funds raised go directly towards our precious wildlife. SCWC is TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

Find out more at:

 Australian Native Foods website:

Quantum Computers: 10-Fold Boost In Stability Achieved

Artist's impression of a single-atom electron spin, hosted in a silicon crystal and dressed by an oscillating electromagnetic field. Image courtesy of University of New South Wales

October 19, 2016: University of New South Wales
UNSW engineers have created a new quantum bit that remains in a stable superposition for 10 times longer than previously achieved, dramatically expanding the number of calculations that could be performed in a future silicon quantum computer.

Engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have created a new quantum bit that remains in a stable superposition for 10 times longer than previously achieved, dramatically expanding the time during which calculations could be performed in a future silicon quantum computer.

The new quantum bit, made up of the spin of a single atom in silicon and merged with an electromagnetic field -- known as 'dressed qubit' -- retains quantum information for much longer that an 'undressed' atom, opening up new avenues to build and operate the superpowerful quantum computers of the future.

The results are published today in the international journal, Nature Nanotechnology.

"We have created a new quantum bit where the spin of a single electron is merged together with a strong electromagnetic field," said Arne Laucht, a Research Fellow at the School of Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications at UNSW, and lead author of the paper. "This quantum bit is more versatile and more long-lived than the electron alone, and will allow us to build more reliable quantum computers."

Building a quantum computer has been called the 'space race of the 21st century' -- a difficult and ambitious challenge with the potential to deliver revolutionary tools for tackling otherwise impossible calculations, such as the design of complex drugs and advanced materials, or the rapid search of massive, unsorted databases.

Its speed and power lie in the fact that quantum systems can host multiple 'superpositions' of different initial states, which in a computer are treated as inputs which, in turn, all get processed at the same time.

"The greatest hurdle in using quantum objects for computing is to preserve their delicate superpositions long enough to allow us to perform useful calculations," said Andrea Morello, leader of the research team and a Program Manager in the ARC Centre for Quantum Computation & Communication Technology (CQC2T) at UNSW. "Our decade-long research program had already established the most long-lived quantum bit in the solid state, by encoding quantum information in the spin of a single phosphorus atom inside a silicon chip, placed in a static magnetic field."

What Laucht and colleagues did was push this further: "We have now implemented a new way to encode the information: we have subjected the atom to a very strong, continuously oscillating electromagnetic field at microwave frequencies, and thus we have 'redefined' the quantum bit as the orientation of the spin with respect to the microwave field."

The results are striking: since the electromagnetic field steadily oscillates at a very high frequency, any noise or disturbance at a different frequency results in a zero net effect. The researchers achieved an improvement by a factor of 10 in the time span during which a quantum superposition can be preserved.

Specifically, they measured a dephasing time of T2*=2.4 milliseconds -- a result that is 10-fold better than the standard qubit, allowing many more operations to be performed within the time span during which the delicate quantum information is safely preserved.

"This new 'dressed qubit' can be controlled in a variety of ways that would be impractical with an 'undressed qubit'," added Morello. "For example, it can be controlled by simply modulating the frequency of the microwave field, just like in an FM radio. The 'undressed qubit' instead requires turning the amplitude of the control fields on and off, like an AM radio.

"In some sense, this is why the dressed qubit is more immune to noise: the quantum information is controlled by the frequency, which is rock-solid, whereas the amplitude can be more easily affected by external noise."

Since the device is built upon standard silicon technology, this result paves the way to the construction of powerful and reliable quantum processors based upon the same fabrication process already used for today's computers.

The UNSW team has taken the first step in building the world's first quantum computer in silicon.

"Quantum computing is one of the great challenges of the 21st century, manipulating nature at a subatomic level and pushing into the very edge of what is possible," said Mark Hoffman, UNSW's Dean of Engineering. "To have a team that leads the world in this field, and consistently delivers firsts, is a testament to the extraordinary talent we have assembled in Australia at UNSW."

A functional quantum computer would allow massive increases in speed and efficiency for certain computing tasks -- even when compared with today's fastest silicon-based 'classical' computers. In a number of key areas -- such as searching large databases, solving complicated sets of equations, and modelling atomic systems such as biological molecules and drugs -- they would far surpass today's computers. They would also be enormously useful in the finance and healthcare industries, and for government, security and defence organisations.

Quantum computers could identify and develop new medicines by greatly accelerating the computer-aided design of pharmaceutical compounds (and minimising lengthy trial and error testing), and develop new, lighter and stronger materials spanning consumer electronics to aircraft. They would also make possible new types of computational applications and solutions that are beyond our ability to foresee.

Other researchers who contributed to the work include members of Morello's CQC2T team at UNSW -- Rachpon Kalra, Stephanie Simmons, Juan Dehollain, Juha Muhonen, Fahd Mohiyaddin and Solomon Freer; Andrew Dzurak and Fay Hudson at the Australian National Fabrication Facility; David Jamieson and Jeffrey McCallum from the CQC2T University of Melbourne team; and Kohei Itoh of Japan's Keio University.

Materials provided by University of New South Wales. Original written by Wilson da Silva. 

Arne Laucht, Rachpon Kalra, Stephanie Simmons, Juan P. Dehollain, Juha T. Muhonen, Fahd A. Mohiyaddin, Solomon Freer, Fay E. Hudson, Kohei M. Itoh, David N. Jamieson, Jeffrey C. McCallum, Andrew S. Dzurak, A. Morello. A dressed spin qubit in silicon. Nature Nanotechnology, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2016.178

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have Your Say On A Mixed Use Development At Barangaroo South

29.09.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
Three separate proposals by Lend Lease Pty Ltd for residential buildings at 51A Hickson Road, Barangaroo will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposals, which seek to construct three residential buildings of 72, 60 and 29 storeys.

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

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

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

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.

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

To make a submission or view the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), visit

Barangaroo South
Barangaroo South
Barangaroo South

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

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

Lucy Turnbull AO Appointed Adjunct Professor At UNSW

October 17, 2016: UNSW - by Fran Strachan
Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission Lucy Turnbull AO has been appointed Adjunct Professor at UNSW’s Faculty of Built Environment where she will share her significant skills with the next generation of city makers. 

Dean of the Faculty, Professor Helen Lochhead, announced Turnbull’s appointment at Engaging Women in Built Environment, a UNSW event aimed at connecting academics with industry and encouraging women to take up leadership roles across architecture, design, planning and development. 

“I’m honoured to be appointed to this role in the Faculty of Built Environment. This is a critical time for urban design, architecture and planning in Sydney and I look forward to the opportunity to work with UNSW students designing the future of our city,” Turnbull said. 

Turnbull is an MBA graduate from UNSW’s Australian Graduate School of Management and was the first female Lord Mayor of Sydney from 2003 to 2004. She chaired the Committee for Sydney from 2012 to 2015 before taking up her role as Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, a new independent body established by the NSW state government to deliver effective metropolitan planning for the Greater Sydney Region. 

“In her role as Chief Commissioner, Lucy is leading the future of district planning for Sydney to 2056, which is the environment many of our students will contribute to when they graduate,” Professor Lochhead said. 

In her UNSW position, which will be concurrent with her Greater Sydney Commission role, Turnbull will present guest lectures to planning, urban design and urban renewal students and develop interdisciplinary education and research opportunities across the University. 

In particular she will be exploring her interests in female-friendly cities, access to social infrastructure and the critical relationship of city economics with urban planning.

“Lucy brings expertise in the complex economic and governance interdependencies of city making and I look forward to her sharing that knowledge with students,” said Professor Lochhead. 

Turnbull is a self-described urbanist, businesswoman and philanthropist with a long standing interest in cities and technological and social innovation. In 2011 she became an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the community, local government and business and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Business by UNSW in 2012. Turnbull is also the author of Sydney: A Biography of a City published by Random House Australia in 1999. 

Photo: UNSW Adjunct Professor Lucy Turnbull will work with UNSW students to design the future of Sydney. Photo: Greater Sydney Commission.

California Condors' Genetic Bottleneck: New Evidence

October 16, 2016: Central Ornithology Publication Office

California Condors have lost 80% of their genetic diversity. Credit: J. D'Elia
The existing genetic diversity of California Condors, all of which are descended from just 14 individuals, is strikingly low. But were condors more genetically diverse before their 20th century population crash, or were they already, as one paleontologist put it in the 1940s, a Pleistocene relict with "one wing in the grave"? The researchers behind a new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications analyzed samples from condor museum specimens dating back to the 1820s and found that the historical population was surprisingly diverse, but that a substantial amount of that diversity was lost in the last two centuries. This finding supports the hypothesis that condors were fairly widespread and abundant prior to increases in human-caused mortality, which likely drove their numbers down quickly in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Analyzing the museum specimens' mitochondrial DNA, Jesse D'Elia of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and his colleagues showed that more than 80% of the unique haplotypes present in the birds of the past have disappeared from the gene pool of condors alive today. The low amount of genetic diversity in the current population, which is descended from only 14 genetic founders from the captive flock, was already well known, but this was the first study to show that there was substantial genetic diversity in the historical population.

D'Elia and his colleagues used tissue samples from 93 California Condor specimens collected between 1825 and 1984 in locations ranging from Mexico to Washington state. "The value of museum collections for answering important questions when considering population translocations and species' reintroductions cannot be overstated," says D'Elia. "They provide a direct window into a population's history and as new genetic and genomic tools continue to be developed the value of these specimens only increases."

The genetic bottleneck resulted in inbreeding and decreased fitness, and condors will continue to require intensive management for some time to recover. But there is a possible upside for condor conservation in the results of this study -- D'Elia and his colleagues did not find any evidence that the now-vanished Pacific Northwest population was genetically isolated from the condors in California. If Northwest condors weren't on a separate evolutionary track, there's no reason not to release today's captive-bred condors into those unoccupied areas of their historical range.

"These results document a significant decline in mitochondrial DNA diversity over the past century, which also suggests a corresponding reduction in nuclear DNA diversity," according to Jeff Johnson of the University of North Texas, an expert on incorporating genetic information into conservation efforts. "Therefore, the careful attention made to maintain founder lineages and prevent inbreeding is critical for improving the likelihood of producing an eventual self-sustainable wild population. Those involved in the California Condor recovery efforts are leading experts in captive propagation and release, and the methods developed and used, particularly those benefiting from whole nuclear genome approaches, acknowledge the importance of maintaining existing genomic diversity both at the individual and population level. These methods will also benefit other endangered species captive breeding programs that possess similar demographic histories."

Jesse D'Elia, Susan M. Haig, Thomas D. Mullins, Mark P. Miller. Ancient DNA reveals substantial genetic diversity in the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) prior to a population bottleneck. The Condor, 2016; 118 (4): 703 DOI: 10.1650/CONDOR-16-35.1

Mystery Species Hidden In Cave Art Appears To Be Unknown Bison-Cattle Hybrid

October 18, 2016: University of Adelaide
Ancient DNA research has revealed that Ice Age cave artists recorded a previously unknown hybrid species of bison and cattle in great detail on cave walls more than 15,000 years ago.

The mystery species, known affectionately by the researchers as the Higgs Bison* because of its elusive nature, originated over 120,000 years ago through the hybridisation of the extinct Aurochs (the ancestor of modern cattle) and the Ice Age Steppe Bison, which ranged across the cold grasslands from Europe to Mexico.

Research led by the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) at the University of Adelaide, published today in Nature Communications, has revealed that the mystery hybrid species eventually became the ancestor of the modern European bison, or wisent, which survives in protected reserves such as the Białowieża forest between Poland and Belarus.

"Finding that a hybridisation event led to a completely new species was a real surprise -- as this isn't really meant to happen in mammals," says study leader Professor Alan Cooper, ACAD Director. "The genetic signals from the ancient bison bones were very odd, but we weren't quite sure a species really existed -- so we referred to it as the Higgs Bison."

The international team of researchers also included the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), Polish bison conservation researchers, and palaeontologists across Europe and Russia. They studied ancient DNA extracted from radiocarbon-dated bones and teeth found in caves across Europe, the Urals, and the Caucasus to trace the genetic history of the populations.

They found a distinctive genetic signal from many fossil bison bones, which was quite different from the European bison or any other known species.

Radiocarbon dating showed that the mystery species dominated the European record for thousands of years at several points, but alternated over time with the Steppe bison, which had previously been considered the only bison species present in Late Ice Age Europe.

"The dated bones revealed that our new species and the Steppe Bison swapped dominance in Europe several times, in concert with major environmental changes caused by climate change," says lead author Dr Julien Soubrier, from the University of Adelaide. "When we asked, French cave researchers told us that there were indeed two distinct forms of bison art in Ice Age caves, and it turns out their ages match those of the different species. We'd never have guessed the cave artists had helpfully painted pictures of both species for us."

The cave paintings depict bison with either long horns and large forequarters (more like the American bison, which is descended from the Steppe bison) or with shorter horns and small humps, more similar to modern European bison.

"Once formed, the new hybrid species seems to have successfully carved out a niche on the landscape, and kept to itself genetically," says Professor Cooper. "It dominated during colder tundra-like periods, without warm summers, and was the largest European species to survive the megafaunal extinctions. However, the modern European bison looks genetically quite different as it went through a genetic bottleneck of only 12 individuals in the 1920s, when it almost became extinct. That's why the ancient form looked so much like a new species."

Professor Beth Shapiro, UCSC, first detected the mystery bison as part of her PhD research with Professor Cooper at the University of Oxford in 2001. "Fifteen years later it's great to finally get to the full story out. It's certainly been a long road, with a surprising number of twists," Professor Shapiro says.

*The Higgs Boson is a subatomic particle suspected to exist since the 1960s and only confirmed in 2012.

Julien Soubrier, Graham Gower, Kefei Chen, Stephen M. Richards, Bastien Llamas, Kieren J. Mitchell, Simon Y. W. Ho, Pavel Kosintsev, Michael S. Y. Lee, Gennady Baryshnikov, Ruth Bollongino, Pere Bover, Joachim Burger, David Chivall, Evelyne Crégut-Bonnoure, Jared E. Decker, Vladimir B. Doronichev, Katerina Douka, Damien A. Fordham, Federica Fontana, Carole Fritz, Jan Glimmerveen, Liubov V. Golovanova, Colin Groves, Antonio Guerreschi, Wolfgang Haak, Tom Higham, Emilia Hofman-Kamińska, Alexander Immel, Marie-Anne Julien, Johannes Krause, Oleksandra Krotova, Frauke Langbein, Greger Larson, Adam Rohrlach, Amelie Scheu, Robert D. Schnabel, Jeremy F. Taylor, Małgorzata Tokarska, Gilles Tosello, Johannes van der Plicht, Ayla van Loenen, Jean-Denis Vigne, Oliver Wooley, Ludovic Orlando, Rafał Kowalczyk, Beth Shapiro, Alan Cooper. Early cave art and ancient DNA record the origin of European bison. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 13158 DOI:10.1038/ncomms13158

2016 Prime Minister's Literary Awards Shortlist Announced

17 October 2016: Joint Media Release - The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister and The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Minister For Communications and the Arts
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield today announced 30 books by Australian authors have been shortlisted for the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

This year’s shortlist features both emerging writers and established award-winning authors. The list features stories and poetry, books about history and key characters in Australian life, and stories that promise to engage young readers.  

The Awards celebrate the immense contribution Australian writers, poets, illustrators and historians make to our cultural landscape. They enlighten, enthral and entertain us with their distinctive storytelling.

Now in their ninth year, the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards recognise the best of Australian writing in fiction, non-fiction, Australian history, young adult fiction, children’s fiction and poetry.

The shortlisted books were selected by expert judging panels from 425 entries. Up to $100,000 is awarded in each category, with $80,000 for each winning entry and $5,000 each for each shortlisted entry. All prizes are tax-free.

The 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists are:
• Forever Young, Steven Carroll (HarperCollins Publishers)
• The Life of Houses, Lisa Gorton (Giramondo)
• The World Repair Video Game, David Ireland AM (Island Magazine Inc.)
• Quicksand, Steve Toltz (Penguin)
• The Natural Way of Things, Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin)

• Net Needle, Robert Adamson (Black Inc)
• Cocky’s Joy, Michael Farrell (Giramondo)
• The Hazards, Sarah Holland-Batt (University of Queensland Press)
• Waiting for the Past, Les Murray AO (Black Inc.)
•  The Ladder, Simon West(Puncher & Wattmann)

Prize for Australian History
• The Story of Australia's People. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia, Geoffrey Blainey AC (Penguin)
• Let My People Go: The untold story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959-89, Sam Lipski and Suzanne D Rutland (Hybrid Publishers)
• Red Professor: The Cold War Life of Fred Rose, Peter Monteath and Valerie Munt (Wakefield Press)
• Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life, Doug Morrissey (Connor Court Publishing)
• The War with Germany: Volume III—The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War, Robert Stevenson (Oxford University Press)

• Tom Roberts and the Art of Portraiture, Julie Cotter (Thames & Hudson)
• On Stalin’s Team: The Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics, Sheila Fitzpatrick (Melbourne University Press)
• Thea Astley: Inventing her own Weather, Karen Lamb(University of Queensland Press)
• Second Half First, Drusilla Modjeska (Penguin Random House Australia)
• Island Home, Tim Winton(Penguin)

Children’s Fiction
• Adelaide's Secret World, Elise Hurst (Allen & Unwin)
• Sister Heart, Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press)
• Perfect, Danny Parker and Freya Blackwood (Hardie Grant Egmont)
• The Greatest Gatsby: A visual book of grammar, Tohby Riddle (Penguin Random House Australia)
• Mr Huff, Anna Walker (Penguin Random House Australia)

Young Adult Fiction
• Becoming Kirrali Lewis, Jane Harrison (Magabala Books)
• Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
• A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia)
• In Between Days, Vikki Wakefield (Text Publishing)
• Green Valentine, Lili Wilkinson (Allen & Unwin)

For more information about the shortlisted books and the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, visit

High Cholesterol Triggers Mitochondrial Oxidative Stress Leading To Osteoarthritis

October 15, 2016
High cholesterol might harm more than our cardiovascular systems. New research using animal models, published online in The FASEB Journal, suggests that high cholesterol levels trigger mitochondrial oxidative stress on cartilage cells, causing them to die, and ultimately leading to the development of osteoarthritis. This research tested the potential therapeutic role of mitochondria targeting antioxidants in high-cholesterol-induced osteoarthritis and provided proof-of-concept for the use of mitochondrial targeting antioxidants to treat osteoarthritis.

"Our team has already begun working alongside dietitians to try to educate the public about healthy eating and how to keep cholesterol levels at a manageable level that won't damage joints, in collaboration with orthopedic surgeons based at Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane Australia," said Indira Prasadam, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, School of Chemistry, Physics and Mechanical Engineering at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

To make this discovery, Prasadam and colleagues used two different animal models to mimic human hypercholesterolemia. The first was a mouse model that had an altered gene called ApoE-/- that made the animals hypercholesteremic. The other was a rat model, and the animals were fed a high-cholesterol diet, causing diet-induced hypercholesterolemia. Both models were fed a high-cholesterol diet or control normal diet, after which they underwent a surgery that mimics knee injuries in people and was designed to bring on osteoarthritis. Both the mice and the rats that were subjected to surgery and fed with high-cholesterol diets showed more severe osteoarthritis development than seen in the normal diet group. However, when both the mice and the rats are were exposed to the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin and mitochondrion-targeted antioxidants, the development of osteoarthritis was markedly decreased in relation to the untreated groups.

"Just when we thought all the angles on osteoarthritis had been uncovered, a new lead like this comes along," said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "The focus of hypercholesterolemia, whether familial or sporadic, has, of course, always been on arterial disease, but here we have a fascinating new discovery."

S. Farnaghi, I. Prasadam, G. Cai, T. Friis, Z. Du, R. Crawford, X. Mao, Y. Xiao. Protective effects of mitochondria-targeted antioxidants and statins on cholesterol-induced osteoarthritis. The FASEB Journal, 2016; DOI: 10.1096/fj.201600600R

Australia Council For The Arts 2015-16 Annual Report

18 October 2016
The 2015-16 Australia Council for the Arts Annual Report was tabled in the Federal Parliament today. It delivers the first full year of activity under its Strategic Plan, A Culturally Ambitious Nation and provides details of a significant and challenging year for the Council.

Australia Council Chair Rupert Myer AO said the Council had supported an extraordinarily diverse and thought-provoking range of artistic projects during 2015-16, through grants and strategic initiatives for 716 individual artists and 650 arts organisations.

In the Report Mr Myer said that the Australia Council had focused on maximising all available resources and invested nearly 90 per cent of the budget directly into the arts sector, with the remaining funds supporting the sector through strategic advice, specialist knowledge and high quality program delivery.

“Although the Australia Council is the principal distributor of Commonwealth funding to the arts, we see our approach broadly as a key advocate for, and an investor in, Australia’s artistic and cultural future and our agenda includes supporting arts organisations to respond to the very challenging economic and social environment by generating new pathways and new business models,” Mr Myer said.

CEO Tony Grybowski said 2015-16 saw an unprecedented level of transformation in the national arts landscape just as the Australia Council’s new strategy and reformed grants model were implemented, and there had been remarkable achievements by Australian artists in a changing and dynamic environment.

“The Council embraces its national leadership role and takes a holistic, evidence-based and long term approach to investing in and championing the arts sector,” Mr Grybowski said.

2015-16 Annual Report summary:
$173.8 million invested in grants and initiatives for artists and arts organisations ($14.6 million in individual artists and $159.2 million in arts organisations) and an additional $15 million in the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS) and other government initiatives.

The Australia Council supported 716 individual artists, 650 organisations and 7,234 new artistic works.

20% of successful applicants to the Council’s grants program were new applicants.

175 organisations supported by multi-year funding through the Key Organisations program and the Major Performing Arts framework and more than 400 artists and organisations supported to work internationally in over 50 countries, enhancing Australia’s profile and developing global markets.

More than $50 million invested in individual artists and small to medium organisations through grants programs and strategic development initiatives and more than $100 million invested through the Major Performing Arts (MPA) framework.

$25.8 million invested in regional Australian artists to foster artistic vibrancy and access to the arts, enriching the lives of 1.9 million people through attendance at performances, exhibitions, school activities or workshops.

Audience attendances reached 15.7 million (12.8 million nationally and 2.9 million internationally) which supported the work of individual Australian artists and organisations, with many projects finding new markets and audiences.

Copies of the full annual report  and factsheets  are available for downloading. Hard copies are available on request.

Seventh Annual Wounded, Injured And Ill Digger Forum

18 October 2016: Media Release - Minister for Defence Personnel, Hon. Dan Tehan 
Army’s efforts to support wounded and ill soldiers return to work would provide valuable lessons for the Australian community, Minister for Defence Personnel Dan Tehan told a conference today.

The 2016 Chief of Army Wounded, Injured and Ill Digger Forum in Canberra today focused on rehabilitation and return to work with particular emphasis on improving support and services to empower individuals and their families to lead their own recovery journey.

Mr Tehan said the forum reinforced the Army’s commitment to supporting its wounded, injured and ill soldiers.

“This event reflects Army’s ongoing support to its members who have been wounded, injured or become ill during service, and its determination to retain members through strong rehabilitation and retention practices,” he said.

“It is important that all levels of the army can come together and discuss how we can better support our wounded and ill personnel to help them recover and continue to make a contribution to the ADF.

“Activities such as the Wounded, Injured and Ill Digger Forum contribute to the ongoing development and refinement of Army’s support for members and their families.

“The best practice developed by Army can help other organisations improve how they get their injured and sick people back to work.”

The forum is part of the Army’s Support to Wounded, Injured and Ill Program which was established in 2008 to meet the needs of personnel returning from operational deployments in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Further information about Army’s Support to Wounded, Injured and Ill Program is available at the following link:


17 October 2016
House of Representatives
Prime Minister of Australia – Hon. Malcolm Turnbull

Mr Speaker
I move that the House record its deep regret at the death on 13 October of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, and offer its profound sympathy to the Thai Royal Family and the people of Thailand.

For the people of Thailand this is a time of intense sadness. It is a day that they knew must come, but in their hearts they hoped never would.

To our Thai friends, we understand your deep sorrow. I acknowledge the presence here with us today of Thailand’s Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Chirachai Punkrasin.

His Majesty—Rama IX the ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty—was crowned on 5 May 1950.

Just think of the extraordinary changes in our world across those seven decades - perhaps most spectacularly the economic transformation of Asia.

Through it all, His Majesty was instrumental in making Thailand the successful country it is today, providing a calm and steadying leadership despite the difficulties of political upheaval and momentous economic and social change.

Through it all, His Majesty maintained with his people that strong sense of national pride and identity.

His Majesty continued the work of his illustrious forefathers to introduce modern ideals to Thailand - he was passionate about science and what it could do to boost the living standards of his people and the Thai economy.
He was rewarded by the United Nation’s Development Programme with the first-ever Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award.

His Majesty was also a friend of Australia and we sincerely value the deep relationship between our countries which His Majesty helped foster.
In 1962, King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit visited Australia for eighteen days.

The Canberra Times reported that 5000 people went to the airport to welcome Their Majesties and 7000 more lined the route from the airport to Government House. The large crowds in 1962 could be explained by the fact there were already many Thai students in Canberra under the Colombo Plan.

At the welcome ceremony, the RAAF Band played works composed by the King, a keen musician and jazz aficionado.

After the visit, His Majesty wrote to the Government saying he and the Queen found heart-warming the goodwill and friendship of the Australian people.
That friendly goodwill continues to this day.

The Royal visit inspired the formation of the first Australia-Thailand Associations in Sydney and Melbourne.

Our trade, historical, academic and people links are, today, extensive.
Of course, Thailand continues to be a beautiful and welcoming destination for Australian travellers. But let us not forget how we shared with the people of Thailand the tragic impact of the 2004 tsunami.

Twenty three Australians in Thailand lost their lives in that natural disaster. So, too, did a member of the Thai royal family. Together, we grieved that shattering loss of family and friends.

Another of the most powerful spiritual connections between our countries is the memory of Hellfire Pass, and the more than 2700 Australians who died as prisoners of war in the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway.

One of the greatest of our war heroes, Edward “Weary” Dunlop, returned to Thailand regularly and, after his death in 1993, some of his remains were consecrated in a Buddhist ceremony on the River Kwai.

His Majesty marked his great respect for Weary Dunlop only weeks before his death when bestowing on him the Knight Grand Cross (1st Class) of the Most Noble Order of the Royal Crown of Thailand. Thailand’s Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant.

At this time of national mourning, I extend to the Thai Royal Family and the people of Thailand the condolences of the Australian Government, and the sympathy of the Australian people.

National Week Of Deaf People Highlights Importance Of Protecting Your Hearing

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

We’re being reminded this week not to take our hearing for granted and of the importance of protecting it from disease and loud noises.

As part of National Week of Deaf People (15-23 October), Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM MP, said many people don’t realise how vital our hearing is, until it’s gone. 

“Our hearing is incredibly precious, but unfortunately, one-in-six Australians currently experience some sort of hearing loss,” Mr Wyatt said.

“This figure is expected to increase to one-in-four within the next 35 years, with the elderly, young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people particularly at risk.

My Federal colleague, the member for Reid, Craig Laundy, this week bravely shared the story of his young daughter’s hearing loss, the importance of early intervention and detection. 

Mr Wyatt said, Mr Laundy’s story is similar to that of many Australian families, particularly in Indigenous communities.

“Ear disease, particularly Otitis media, and associated hearing loss is highly prevalent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Persistent ear disease can lead to delayed speech and educational development.”

Environmental factors can also play a significant part in hearing loss, particularly for young people.

“World Health Organization data shows nearly 50 per cent of teens and young adults are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from their personal audio devices, and 40 per cent experience potentially damaging sound levels at nightclubs and concerts,” said Mr Wyatt.

“That’s why the Government, through Australian Hearing, is providing free hearing checks at locations such as agricultural shows, shopping centres, expos and regional areas,” he said.

Last financial year 700,000 people accessed the Australian Government Hearing Services Program. And, since mobile hearing checks began in 2009, more than 28,000 people have been tested free of charge.

Mr Wyatt said resources like the Know Your Noise website offer hints to protect your hearing.  

“The Australian Government is also investing in research through the Hearing Loss Prevention Program and the National Acoustic Laboratories to help identify the causes of preventable hearing loss,” he said.

More information about the National Week of Deaf People, including activities and events available nationally, is available at the Deaf Australiawebsite.  

More information about the Hearing Loss Prevention Program is available on the Hearing Services website.  

Victorian Company Wins $47 Million Fuel Tanker Contract

18 October 2016: Media Release
The Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne, today announced Refuel International – based in Sunshine West in Melbourne – has won the $47 million contract to construct the Australian Defence Force’s new aviation fuel tankers.

The new fleet will allow the Australian Defence Force to retire its current ageing fleet of refuelling vehicles, enabling it to efficiently and effectively refuel and defuel its current and future fleets of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters across its Australian bases and at the Royal Australian Air Force Detachment located at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth.

Mr Pyne said the project was a big win for the local Victorian company and would provide a much needed boost to the area.

“This contract will create more than 60 direct jobs at the Sunshine West factory of Refuel International, who has a long history of working in Australia and global experience in the manufacture of aviation refuelling vehicles.

“Following on from the 60 jobs at Sunshine West, will be dozens more across the state and the country as they draw on their supply chain to complete the contract, as well as in the maintenance and sustainment of the vehicles.

“This is another example of the Turnbull Government getting on with the job, engaging Australian businesses and providing vital pieces of enabling equipment to the Australian Defence Forces, while at the same time supporting Australian jobs.”

The total value of the project is over $400 million, with an additional $360 million expected to be spent over the 15 year life of the vehicles on sustainment, maintenance and repair (contracts yet to be announced).

Boosting Regions Through Decentralisation

18 October 2016: Media Release – Hon. Barnaby Joyce - Deputy Prime Minister, National Party Leader and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

• Senate Estimates Committee questioned four agencies over the decentralisation and relocation of offices to regional and rural Australia.
• All highlighted the benefits of greater engagement with farmers, growers and experts in rural and regional Australia.
• The four agencies relocating include: Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

The positive impacts of the Coalition Government’s policy to relocate Canberra-based rural research and development agencies to where boots hit the dirt in rural and regional Australia, creating centres of excellence, was discussed during Senate Estimates on today.

The Senate Committee, consisting of Senators from both the Government and the Opposition, questioned the four decentralising agencies, three of which agreed they would benefit from greater engagement with farmers, growers and research experts in regional Australia.

The recently appointed Managing Director of the GRDC, Dr Steve Jefferies, told the Committee he had received overwhelming positive feedback regarding the relocation of the GRDC to Dubbo, Toowoomba, Perth (with the intent to move to Northam) and Adelaide from growers right across the grain growing regions of Australia.

“I spent two days in the Northern Wheat belt of WA, three days in the South West of Queensland and three days in the Wimmera and South West of Victoria and many growers who I met on those trips said how pleased they were about the hub and spoke model that GRDC has implemented and how much greater access they have to GRDC staff,” Dr Jeffries said.

RIRDC Managing Director, Mr John Harvey, told the Senate Committee the relocation of the Corporation was progressing smoothly.

Mr Harvey said the new office at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga opened on 19 September well ahead of schedule and is predicted to produce annual savings of about $1.2 million.
The Executive Director of FRDC, Dr Patrick Hone, said its long term goal of getting better connectivity between regions to improve research outcomes and make savings is being realised through the establishment of a southern headquarters in Adelaide.

“For example in the southern states they all share the Southern Rock Lobster as a fish, it makes sense that we manage it across Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia,” Dr Hone said.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, who represented the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce, told the Committee that the Coalition Government remains committed to the relocation of the APVMA to the University of New England in Armidale to create jobs and facilitate greater input from farmers on R&D.

Senator Ruston said the relocation of the Authority is being undertaken in consultation with stakeholders, such as CropLife, who have “shown support for rural and regional Centres of Excellence”.

First Assistant of the Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Division of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Ian Thompson, said he had received similar signs of support.

“The latest advice we’ve had from CropLife internally is….they do support or believe they could support a genuine centre of excellence in agriculture and agricultural chemicals that could deliver broader benefits and could be co-located with the rural university,” Mr Thompson said.

APVMA CEO, Kareena Arthy, told the Committee the Authority had been working with the University of New England in anticipation of the relocation to the campus.

“We have been working with the University of New England for 18 months establishing curriculum into how to be a regulatory scientist,” Ms Arthy said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources said it is clear the Coalition believes in decentralisation and RIRDC shows you can save money doing it.

Through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper the Coalition Government is committed to improving the operations of the rural research and development corporations to deliver more efficient, targeted and transparent research, and development and extension outcomes for rural industries.

Examples of Government Departments that have decentralised:
• The NSW Department of Agriculture moved to Orange
• The Department of Water (WA) moved from Perth to Mandurah
• Work Safe moved from Melbourne to Geelong
• CSIRO moved from Canberra to Boorowa
• Department of Mineral Resources moved from Sydney to Maitland
GRDC will establish four offices: Dubbo, Toowoomba, Perth (with the intent to move to Northam) and Adelaide.

RIRDC will relocate its core operations to Wagga Wagga – to produce savings of $266,000 in annual rent costs and a total savings of $1,200,000.

FRDC will establish a regional office in Adelaide, to be used as a model for further offices.

APVMA will establish an office in Armidale. 

University Of Sydney Leads Prime Minister's Prizes For Science

19 October 2016: University of Sydney
Going bush remains crucial for elements of science and the environment.

Evolutionary biologist Professor Rick Shine has won the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, while University of Sydney early career researcher Professor Richard Payne has also been recognised in the physical sciences category, at a ceremony at federal Parliament House today.

The awards, which were presented by Malcolm Turnbull, follow last week’s unrelated NSW Premier’s Prizes for Science & Engineering, which were dominated by the University of Sydney, where Professor Shine also took out the main award.

Professor Shine gained the top award at this year’s Prime Minister’s Prizes for his work using evolutionary principles to address conservation challenges. Northern Australia’s peak predators—snakes and lizards—are more likely to survive the cane-toad invasion thanks to the work of the Professor and the team at the Shine Lab.

Professor Shine, who is the only person ever to win Australian Museum Eureka Prizes in three categories, said in each of his projects had been supported and made possible by the Australian Research Council.

“I have seen many research funding bodies in operation… and none of them come close to the ARC in obtaining bang for their buck,” he said.

Professor Shine said snakes and lizards were crucial to Australia’s ecosystem: “Australia is a hard place to make a living; the soils are poor, the rains are infrequent and it is the cold-blooded animals that can wait out the bad times.

“The creatures that dominate our ecosystems, they’re the ones we need to understand if we want to keep Australia’s ecosystems functioning.”

Professor Rick Shine on broad-head snake survey at Yalwal Plateau near Nowra. Credit: Terri Shine.

The Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year has been awarded to Professor Payne in the University of Sydney’s School of Chemistry for his revolutionary drug development technologies.

Professor Payne’s team is developing new drugs including for tuberculosis, malaria and antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections; as well as developing novel anti-thrombotic drugs and synthetic cancer vaccines. His underlying technologies are being picked up by pharmaceutical companies internationally and are the subject of four patent applications.

“It is a great honour to have been awarded the Malcolm McIntosh Prize, which I share with the exceptionally talented co-workers from my lab, both past and present,

“I would also like to thank the ARC and NHMRC for funding the research that has been recognised by this award.”

You can watch the winners' videos and read more on the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science website.

Floating Landcare In The Pittwater/Hawkesbury Area 

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

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

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

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

To find out more about Floating Landcare: 

A Plastic Ocean – Film Screening Avalon

Thursday, November 17 at 7 PM - 10 PM
Avalon Bowlo
1 Bowling Green Lane, Avalon.
$15.00 Tickets at HERE

A Plastic Ocean is a new feature-length adventure documentary that brings to light the consequences of our global disposable lifestyle. We thought we could use plastic once and throw it away with negligible impact to humans and animals. That turns out to be untrue.


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

Our last walk of the year is at 7.30am on Sunday 27 November at Warriewood Wetlands. The summer migratory species will have arrived and the Wetlands will be home to nesting birds and birds with young. there should be plenty to see.Meet at Katoa Close, North Narrabeen. 

Most walks last a couple of hours. Bring binoculars and morning tea for afterwards if you like. Contact for details of each walk.

Crown Land Management Bill 2016

An Act to make provision for the ownership, use and management of the Crown land of New South Wales; to repeal certain legislation consequentially; and for other purposes.

Initially introduced in the Legislative Council
Introduced by: Blair, Niall
Notice of Motion: Tue 18 Oct 2016
Introduced: Wed 19 Oct 2016
First Reading: Wed 19 Oct 2016
2R Speech: Wed 19 Oct 2016
In Legislative Council, 2R, Debate adjourned 5 calendar days, Wed 19 Oct 2016

Reforms to be introduced by proposed Act 
the principal reforms are as follows:
(a) dedicated or reserved Crown land will no longer be vested in reserve trusts,
(b) the Minister will, instead, be able to appoint Crown land managers for dedicated or reserved Crown land (including local councils),
(c) the Minister will be able to create statutory land managers for appointment as Crown land  managers (with board members of reserve trusts being automatically appointed by the proposed Act to statutory land managers for former reserve trust lands),
(d) better governance structures and conduct requirements will be introduced for Crown land managers and their boards (where applicable),
(e) the Minister will be able to issue Crown land management rules for the management of dedicated or reserved Crown land,
(f) the Minister will be required to approve community engagement strategies for certain dealings or other action affecting Crown land (including altering or removing purposes for which Crown land is dedicated or reserved and preparing certain plans of management),
(g) the terms and conditions of certain holdings will be permitted to deal with particular matters (such as the determination and redetermination of rent and the granting of subleases and sublicences) in a way that is different from default provisions for those matters set out in
the proposed Act,
(h) the determination and redetermination of rent for holdings over Crown land will be rationalised and simplified (and applied to certain existing special tenures after a transitional period),
(i) the holder of a holding or permit will be required to pay any rent or other amount due to the Crown before the holder can transfer it to another person,
(j) a local council that is appointed as a Crown land manager of dedicated or reserved Crown land will be able to manage the land in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 1993 applicable to community land (subject to certain exceptions and modifications),
(k) the Minister will be able to transfer Crown land to local councils if the land is of local (and not State) significance,
(l) special provisions will be introduced to protect native title rights and interests (including when Crown land is managed by or vested in local councils),
(m) the current land assessment programme established by the Crown Lands Act 1989 will be discontinued,
(n) more flexible arrangements will be introduced for the sale, use and leasing of Crown land in the Western Division (including enabling certain additional leaseholders to purchase the freehold in their leased lands),
(o) modern and robust provisions will be introduced for investigating compliance with, and enforcing, the proposed Act and holdings granted under it (including provisions based, in part, on those of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997),
(p) the Minister will be required to approve 10-year State strategic plans for Crown land based on draft plans prepared and submitted for approval by the Secretary of the Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development (the Secretary).

Repeal of existing Crown land legislation and related legislation
The proposed Act will repeal the Crown Lands Act 1989, the Crown Lands (Continued Tenures) Act 1989, the Western Lands Act 1901 and certain other legislation.

Australia Continues To Fly The Flag For Marine Protected Areas In East Antarctica

17th October 2016: Media Release - Department of the Environment and Energy Australian Antarctic Division

Photo Krill are the keystone species of the Antarctic ecosystem and staple diet of many animals, including seabirds like these Cape petrels. (Photo: Rob Bryson) 
Australia will continue its push for marine protected areas in East Antarctica at the 35th annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) which starts in Hobart today.

Other priorities for the 10-day meeting include ensuring the sustainable and effective management of the krill fishery and encouraging the continued deterrence of illegal, unreported fishing for toothfish in the Southern Ocean.

Ms Gillian Slocum will lead Australia’s delegation as Commissioner this year. Ms Slocum, who was the Deputy Commissioner last year, has been attending CCAMLR meetings since 2001.

Alongside the European Union and its Member States, Australia first submitted a proposal for marine protected areas (MPAs) in East Antarctic in 2012 and remains deeply committed to their establishment. 

“It’s important that we have a system of reference areas to help us monitor and understand the effects of fishing and also monitor the effects of climate change on the Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems and the proposed MPAs offer this,” Ms Slocum said.

“While agreement on some proposals can take many years to achieve, the consensus nature of the organisation means that once a proposal is agreed, it has the full support of all nations.”

New Zealand and the United States also continue to advocate for an MPA in the Ross Sea region.

Ensuring the effective and sustainable management of krill fishery remains a priority for Australia, as highlighted in the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan released by the Australian Government earlier this year. 

“Krill are the keystone species of the Antarctic ecosystem and staple diet of many animals, including seals, whales, fish, penguins and flying seabirds,” Ms Slocum said. 

“Scientists at the Australian Antarctic Division undertake world-leading research on krill development on both wild and captive bred krill and inform many of the Commission’s management decisions.

“Current harvests are well below CCAMLR’s total allowable catch, but demands on the fishery are expanding as krill is recognised for its value as fish meal and in medical products and supplements.”

Australia also supports the continued deterrence of illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“IUU fishing undermines the CAMLR Convention and we encourage Members to continue to take strong and decisive action against those involved in IUU fishing.” 

Public Consultation On The Revised Contaminated Land Management – Guidelines For The NSW Site Auditor Scheme

What's this about?
The Contaminated Land Management – Guidelines for the NSW Site Auditor Scheme describe the obligations of site auditors in conducting a site audit, and the administrative framework supporting the scheme. The guidelines apply to individuals accredited as site auditors in NSW and those seeking accreditation.

The guidelines have been revised to account for the amendment of the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999, and to bring improvements to the NSW Site Auditor Scheme.

When finalised, these guidelines will be ‘made’ under s. 105 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997. Before the guidelines are finalised, the EPA is interested in receiving comment on this draft.

Have your say
The draft guidelines can be viewed on the EPA website, butcomments should be made by:

post at –
Director Contaminated Land Management
Environment Protection Authority
PO Box A290
Sydney South NSW 1232

Online Consultation
Date: Oct. 12 - Nov. 9, 2016
Time: 10:00am — 5:00pm

NPWS Lands Seven Finalists In NSW Tourism Awards

Media release: 18 October 2016 - NPWS
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is a valuable contributor to the New South Wales tourism industry with six exceptional NPWS tourism products announced as finalists across seven categories for the NSW Tourism Awards. 

Managed by the Tourism Industry division of the NSW Business Chamber and supported by Destination NSW, the NSW Tourism Awards celebrate and acknowledge tourism products that demonstrate outstanding achievement throughout the year.

NPWS’ Wild About Whales, Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, Royal National Park Cottages, New Year’s Eve in Sydney Harbour, Convict Footprints and Arakwal Dolphin Dreaming have all been recognised for their excellence.

Deputy Chief Executive at the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), Michael Wright, said the NSW Tourism Awards are a valuable platform for recognising the success and achievements of staff and their delivery of visitor experiences.

“Each year NPWS submits a number of entries that provide a benchmark for best practice, encourage professionalism, innovation in business planning and service delivery, and highlight the value of the tourism industry to NSW,” Mr Wright said.

“It is a remarkable achievement that every submission from NPWS this year has reached finalist status,” Mr Wright said.

The Wild About Whales campaign is a finalist in the Destination Marketing category and was developed in 2010 to increase visitation to coastal national parks during cooler months by allowing visitors to experience the annual whale migration.

“Many sites along our coastline are ideal places to spot these magnificent creatures as well as seals, small penguins, dolphins and sea birds; all having a coastal adventure that people can be part of,” Mr Wright said.

Sea Acres Rainforest Centre is a finalist in both Visitor Information Services and Specialised Tourism Services and is one of the highest performing NPWS visitor centres and one of Port Macquarie’s top attractions.

“A nature based tourist attraction has operated on the site since 1954 and when NPWS took over the rainforest education centre in 2004, it was revitalised to include a modern café, improved facilities, eco-displays and exhibitions from local artists,” Mr Wright said.

Arakwal Dolphin Dreaming is an interactive Aboriginal cultural experience for the 1.5 million visitors to Byron Bay each year and is a finalist in the Qantas Award for Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism.

“Arakwal is all about experiencing Aboriginal culture and strengthening awareness; the comprehensive tourism package has been showcased at festivals and events, school education programs, and professional and corporate groups,” Mr Wright said. 

An Awards Presentation and Cocktails Celebration will be held on November 24 at Luna Park in Sydney, where the announcement of the winners will be made.

For more information about the NPWS tourism award finalist products and other experiences on offer in over 225 national parks across NSW, head

Top: Wild About Whales - Courtesy NSW Dept. of O&E

Barangaroo Delivery Authority Fined For Iron-Laden Water Discharge

Media release: 18 October 2016 - EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Barangaroo Delivery Authority $15,000 after iron-laden water was wrongly discharged from a stormwater tank into Nawi Cove, Sydney Harbour in May.

The discharge resulted in a large orange plume being visible in Nawi Cove, the largest cove at Barangaroo, for several hours. EPA Director Metropolitan Region Giselle Howard said the discharge was the result of maintenance works undertaken on water management infrastructure at Headland Park.

“The orange plume was the result of naturally-occurring iron precipitate in groundwater, and did not pose a significant risk to human health or the environment,” Ms Howard said.

“However, the discharge of a large amount of highly visible foreign material into Sydney Harbour is a serious matter, which is why the fine was issued.

“The Barangaroo Delivery Authority reported the incident to the EPA immediately and, while the risks were low, our officers attended to ensure appropriate management of the incident.”

On 13 May approximately 5,000 litres of water was discharged from a stormwater tank into Nawi Cove, after a subcontractor emptied the tank to replace an internal pump.

The groundwater is usually used for irrigation on the parkland or pumped through to sewerage.

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance. The EPA takes in a range of factors into account before delivering a proportionate regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, potential health impacts, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

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

DPI Soils Researcher Wins NSW Premier’s Prize For Science & Engineering

17 October, 2016: Media Release - NSW Dept. of DPI
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Senior Principal Research Scientist, Dr Lukas Van Zwieten, based at Wollongbar has received one of the NSW Premier’s Prizes for Science & Engineering in the category Innovation in Public Sector Science & Engineering.

NSW DPI’s Chief Scientist, Dr Philip Wright congratulated Dr Van Zwieten for the recognition of his dedication and innovative research through the prestigious NSW Premier’s Prize.

“Dr Van Zwieten has worked for 20 years with the DPI to deliver valuable research focused on driving the performance of soils to improve primary production, and ensure the continued availability of this vital resource for food production,” Dr Wright said.

DPI A/g Director Soils, Dr Ashley Webb said currently Dr Van Zwieten leads a co-invested Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) national project investigating the impacts of the increasing use of herbicides, including glyphosate, on soil biology and functionality.

“This important work has helped to bolster farm productivity by improving our scientific understanding of soil function and microbial resilience, and how residual herbicides may be impacting crop yield,” Dr Webb said.

“The project aims to improve crop production with current models showing production is around 50 per cent of maximum potential in the $2.2 billion NSW grains industry.

“Dr Van Zwieten works with a strong, vibrant soils team based at Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute that research across a range of soils projects to increase the productivity and sustainability of cropping and horticulture industries.”

Lukas joined the Department in 1995 to work on legacy issues from cattle tick dip sites, and subsequently developed a remediation technology that has enabled over 700 sites to be safely decommissioned.

While Lukas has worked to provide on-the-ground outcomes for DPI he has also published in excess of 85 papers and book chapters and received over 5000 citations.

Dr Van Zwieten continues to deliver valuable outcomes for the wider community of NSW. He is a member of Soil Science Australia, and is on the Scientific Committee for a Global Environment Facility project.

The NSW Premier’s Prizes for Science & Engineering recognise research excellence and reward the State’s best and brightest for cutting-edge work including that generates economic, environmental, health, social or technological benefits for New South Wales.

Commercial Aquaculture Trial Begins At Port Stephens 

Monday October 17, 2016: Media Release - Hon. Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Lands and Water and Michael Johnsen, Member for Upper Hunter
A commercial-scale aquaculture trial will begin off Port Stephens today. The NSW Department of Primary Industries will begin the trial by stocking a new sea pen with Yellowtail Kingfish fingerlings.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said the trial had the potential to dramatically increase local seafood supply.

“The NSW DPI has partnered with Australian company Huon Aquaculture to carry out this innovative research, which will help us increase our supply of quality, sustainable seafood,” Mr Blair said.

DPI research has developed the technology required for hatchery and nursery operations required to produce Yellowtail Kingfish fingerlings over several years.

“The partnership with Huon extends this research to offshore sea pens, paving the way for future commercial production in NSW.” 

The trial includes a Marine Aquaculture Research Lease (MARL) operated by the DPI and another commercial lease purchased by Huon Aquaculture, located off Hawks Nest in Providence Bay.

The sea pens used in the trial are predator proof and have been designed to handle conditions of Providence Bay.

Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen said the trial could bring a range of benefits to the region.

“Not only will the trial bring jobs and investment to the Hunter economy, a successful outcome could provide the basis of an ongoing industry in the region,” Mr Johnsen said.

“Aquaculture contributes positively to the local economy, providing high quality seafood and employment.”

The aquaculture industry in NSW is a standout for its growth and this project will contribute to the State's goal of increasing the value of our primary industries sector by 30 per cent by 2020.

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

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

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

Please take a short survey to help with this research.

Damaging Lupin Disease Confirmed In NSW

Lupin anthracnose causing lesions on plant, bent and twisted stems and pods Photo: DAFWA
19 Oct 2016: Media Release - NSW Dept. of DPI
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has confirmed the detection of the damaging  anthracnose disease in lupin crops for the first time in NSW, and has alerted growers to inspect crops for symptoms.

DPI Plant Biosecurity Director, Dr Satendra Kumar, said DPI has joined forces with Local Land Services and industry to curb the disease and eradicate the fungus from NSW production areas.

“Four albus lupin crops on two adjoining Riverina farms are affected and working with Local Land Services, farmers and industry advisers we aim to quickly eradicate the fungus to protect albus lupin production in NSW and the eastern states,” Dr Kumar said.

Lupin anthracnose causes lesions on plants, causing bent, twisted stems and pods, which can lead to complete pod loss and malformed, scarred seed - suspect symptoms must be reported to NSW DPI by calling the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881.

NSW has no natural hosts for the fungus and the current infected lupin crops are relatively isolated from one another, making successful eradication a promising prospect.

Stringent quarantine measures are maintained across the state to prevent the entry and establishment of this disease in NSW.

Lupin anthracnose is spread by infected seed and the fungus can be spread by contaminated machinery, vehicles, people, clothing, animals and fodder.

Initially detected by NSW DPI Plant Pathologist, Dr Kurt Lindbeck, and confirmed by laboratory DNA analysis at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, the anthracnose damage was particularly severe in the affected lupin crops.

Riverina Local Land Services Agronomist, Lisa Castleman, encouraged all growers to look for signs of the disease and report any suspect cases.
Ms Castleman said lupin anthracnose incursions threaten the sustainability of albus lupin across NSW and all areas where lupins are grown in Australia.

“Enlisting the support of lupin growers is essential to gain rapid control of this outbreak, as we need to protect NSW lupin crops from this new threat,” said Ms Castleman.

Lupins are a significant winter crop for NSW producers with over 50,000 hectares sown to lupins this season.

Soggy Start To Spring Improves Pasture Growth

20 October, 2016: Media Release - NSW Dept. of DPI
Pasture growth continued to improve across most of the state as NSW experienced the wettest period on record from winter to early spring, with the wetter than normal conditions likely to continue throughout October.
Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Seasonal Conditions Coordinator Ian McGowen said during September rainfall was above average across 87 per cent of the state.

“September was the wettest on record for NSW. Most of inland NSW received extremely high rainfall of more than 200-400 per cent of the average,” Mr McGowen said.

“The far west and areas of central west, Riverina and the north west received rainfall of more than 400 per cent of the average.

“During September, most of NSW received 50-200 mm with much of inland NSW receiving 100-200 mm and some areas as high as 200-300 mm or more.

“Pasture growth continued to improve across most of the state, although waterlogging and inundation restricted or slowed pasture growth in some areas.”

Mr McGowen said the conditions resulted in topsoil moisture remaining high during September, particularly across areas of the Riverina, far south, central west and the southern and central tablelands.

“Subsoil moisture levels also continued to increase across NSW. Relative to historical records, subsoil moisture was well above average to extremely high across most of inland NSW and areas of the coast,” Mr McGowen said.

“The extremely wet conditions resulted in major winter crop damage from waterlogging and inundation, particularly in central and southern areas of the state and some areas of the north west. Early indications suggest these crop losses are in excess of $700 million and are expected to rise.
“Lodging of winter cereals and canola is already occurring and may prove to be more of a problem, particularly where crops were inundated. On better drained areas and on lighter country, winter cereal and canola crops are showing average to above average yield potential, with particularly good yield potential for those that were early sown.

“Delays have occurred in ground preparation and weed control for the sowing of cotton, rice and other summer crops, particularly in central and southern NSW. Sowing of cotton has commenced in the north of the state.
“An increased interest in aerial sowing of rice in the south is likely to allow crops to be sown close to the ideal time. If the wet conditions continue, this will restrict the area sown to summer crops and will further delay sowing, which will have an impact on yields.

“High levels of run off continued throughout September. Run off was well above average to extremely high across most of inland NSW, and generally average to above average across the coast. Yearly run off was well above average across most of inland NSW and the south coast.”

The Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall outlook for October to December indicates that wetter conditions are likely across most of NSW, with the highest probability of wetter conditions for the south. Daytime and overnight temperatures are likely to be cooler than normal for the period.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s ENSO outlook status remains at La Niña watch.

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

11.10.2016: Departmental Media Release  -Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Dixon Sand Pty Ltd for modifications to its Haerses Road Sand Quarry in Maroota will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposed modification, which seeks to:
  • expand the approved extraction area by approximately 19 hectares
  • extend the life of the quarry by 15 years until 2046
  • use mobile crushers and mobile watering equipment
  • import up to 100,000 tonnes per annum of clean recycled natural materials, such as soil and gravel, to be blended with the extracted sand.
A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive,” the spokesperson said.

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.

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

To make a submission or view the Modification Application and accompanying documents, visit

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

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

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

Single Gene Linked To Some Cases Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

October 19, 2016: Washington University in St. Louis
Scientists have linked mutations in a single gene to autism in people who have a rare tumor syndrome typically diagnosed in childhood.

The findings, in patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), may lead to a better understanding of the genetic roots of autism in the wider population.

The findings are published Oct. 19 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Studying 531 patients at six clinical centers in the United States, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Australia, the researchers found that mutations in the NF1 gene that cause the disease also contributed to autistic behaviors in almost half of the patients.

"NF1 is caused by mutations in a single gene -- NF1," said first author Stephanie M. Morris, MD, an instructor in neurology. "Our research indicates that this single gene also is associated with autism spectrum disorders in these same patients. That may make it possible to look downstream from the gene to find common pathways that contribute to autism in the wider population."

NF1, the disorder caused by NF1 mutations, usually appears during childhood. Symptoms can vary in severity, but they include café au lait spots, which are flat, brown spots on the skin. Other symptoms include tiny nodules on the iris of the eye, nerve tumors, bone deformities such as a curved spine or a bowed lower leg, and optic gliomas, tumors of the optic nerve. Kids with NF1 also can have learning disabilities.

"In the 25-plus years that I've taken care of kids with NF1, we've only recently started to recognize that these children also often have symptoms of autism," said senior investigator David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD, the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor of Neurology and director of the Washington University NF Center. "In the past, we didn't really understand the association between NF1 and autism, but now we have new insights into the problem, which will allow us to design better treatments for children with NF1 and autism."

The findings also could help scientists who study the genetics of autism understand how mutations in a single gene can contribute to symptoms of autism, such as problems with social and language skills and repetitive behaviors.

About 100,000 people in the United States have NF1. It is equally common in both sexes and in all ethnic groups. Autism, meanwhile, affects 1 percent to 2 percent of all children in the United States and is four to five times more common in boys than in girls.

"What's unique about our findings is that it's likely mutations in the NF1 gene are driving most of the symptoms of autism in children with NF1," said the study's other senior investigator, John N. Constantino, the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and director of the William Greenleaf Eliot Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. "Here, we have a single-gene disorder that affects a fairly large number of people and is causing autism in a significant number of those who are affected. This work could provide us with an opportunity to study a single gene and figure out what it is doing to cause autistic syndromes."

Constantino said most autism spectrum disorders are influenced by multiple genes but that isolating this one gene can aid efforts to learn how other, unrelated genes may interact along that same pathway to contribute to autism in people who don't have NF1.

Learning how those various genes come together to cause symptoms eventually could lead to better treatments. But already the findings are benefiting children and families treated at the Washington University NF Center.

"We've been able to screen children at our center, identify autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit disorder and problems with executive cognitive function," Morris said. "And when we identify these deficits in kids, we can tell their parents, inform their schools and enable these children to get the resources and support they need -- specifically academic and social support -- to improve their quality of life."

Stephanie M. Morris, Maria T. Acosta, Shruti Garg, Jonathan Green, Susan Huson, Eric Legius, Kathryn N. North, Jonathan M. Payne, Ellen Plasschaert, Thomas W. Frazier, Lauren A. Weiss, Yi Zhang, David H. Gutmann, John N. Constantino. Disease Burden and Symptom Structure of Autism in Neurofibromatosis Type 1. JAMA Psychiatry, 2016; DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2600

Cold Medicine Could Stop Cancer Spread, Study Shows

October 17, 2016: Hokkaido University
Hokkaido University researchers have discovered that a nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drug used for treating colds suppresses the spread of bladder cancers and reduces their chemoresistance in mice, raising hopes of a future cure for advanced bladder cancers.

Bladder cancer is the seventh most common cancer in males worldwide. Every year, about 20,000 people in Japan are diagnosed with bladder cancer, of whom around 8,000 -- mostly men -- succumb to the disease. Bladder cancers can be grouped into two types: non-muscle-invasive cancers, which have a five-year survival rate of 90 percent, and muscle-invasive cancers, which have poor prognoses. The latter are normally treated with such anticancer drugs as cisplatin, but tend to become chemoresistant and, thus, spread to organs such as the lungs and liver, as well as bone.

In the latest research, human bladder cancer cells labeled with luciferase were inoculated into mice, creating a xenograft bladder cancer model. The primary bladder xenograft gradually grew and, after 45 days, metastatic tumors were detected in the lungs, liver and bone. By using a microarray analysis including more than 20,000 genes for the metastatic tumors, the team discovered a three- to 25-fold increase of the metabolic enzyme aldo-keto reductase 1C1 (AKR1C1). They also found high levels of AKR1C1 in metastatic tumors removed from 25 cancer patients, proving that the phenomena discovered in the mice also occur in the human body. Along with anticancer drugs, an inflammatory substance produced around the tumor, such as interleukin-1β, increased the enzyme levels.

The researchers also identified for the first time that AKR1C1 enhances tumor-promoting activities and proved that the enzyme blocks the effectiveness of cisplatin and other anticancer drugs.

The researchers finally discovered that inoculating flufenamic acid, an inhibitory factor for AKR1C1, into cancerous bladder cells suppressed the cells' invasive activities and restored the effectiveness of anticancer drugs. Flufenamic acid is also known as a nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drug used for treating common colds.

The team's discovery is expected to spur clinical tests aimed at improving prognoses for bladder cancer patients. In the latest cancer treatments, expensive molecular-targeted drugs are used, putting a large strain on both the medical economy and the state coffers. "This latest research could pave the way for medical institutions to use flufenamic acid -- a much cheaper cold drug -- which has unexpectedly been proven to be effective at fighting cancers," says Dr. Shinya Tanaka of the research group.

Ryuji Matsumoto, Masumi Tsuda, Kazuhiko Yoshida, Mishie Tanino, Taichi Kimura, Hiroshi Nishihara, Takashige Abe, Nobuo Shinohara, Katsuya Nonomura, Shinya Tanaka. Aldo-keto reductase 1C1 induced by interleukin-1β mediates the invasive potential and drug resistance of metastatic bladder cancer cells. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 34625 DOI:10.1038/srep34625

ACCC Releases Issues Paper For New Car Retailing Industry Market Study

17 October 2016
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has today released an issues paper for the new car retailing industry market study announced in June this year, providing detailed information on the scope of the study and how interested parties can participate.

“A new car is one of the most significant purchases that a consumer will make and issues with these purchases can have a significant financial consequence,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC and other Australian Consumer Law agencies continue to receive a high volume of complaints from consumers about new cars and this market study will help identify any systemic issues across the sector.”

The market study will review industry practices in the sector to assist in identifying risks to consumers and the competitive process. The key issues to be covered by the study include:

• compliance with consumer guarantees obligations and the ability of consumers to enforce their rights
• interaction between consumer guarantees, manufacturer’s warranties and dealer’s extended warranties
• the effect on competition and on consumers of post-sale service arrangements (such as servicing and repair)
• availability and access to repair and service information and data for new cars.
• false, misleading and deceptive practices in fuel consumption, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, noxious emissions and car performance
The study is also exploring buying behaviours and expectations of consumers purchasing new cars, in addition to the structure and operations of the new car retailing industry.

“The ACCC would like to determine if car manufacturers and dealers understand their consumer guarantee obligations, and whether consumers are able to exercise their rights,” Mr Sims said.

“The representations made to consumers about fuel consumption and emissions are another key issue, as are issues around regular servicing and repairs and the ability of independent repairers to access repair and service data.”

“This issues paper will assist people in identifying and alerting the ACCC to risks to consumers and the competitive process that may occur when buying a new car,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC will be seeking information from the public to inform its study. Submissions are invited until 14 November 2016. The ACCC expects to release a draft report for comment in mid-2017 before publishing a final report in late 2017.

The issues paper and further information on the market study is available at:

The ACCC has set up an online consultation hub which includes a brief information summary to assist both consumers and small businesses to submit their views. Interested parties can choose to make either a written submission or complete an online questionnaire.
Submissions are due by 14 November 2016, and can be made on the consultation hub at:

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.