Inbox and Environment News Issue 289

November 13 - 19, 2016: Issue 289

80 Black Swans Return To Narrabeen Lagoon

Photo courtesy Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment

Hoverfly Feasting On Nectar At Palm Beach

Hoverflies, sometimes called flower flies, or syrphid flies, make up the insect family Syrphidae. As their common name suggests, they are often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers; the adults of many species feed mainly on nectar and pollen, while the larvae (maggots) eat a wide range of foods. In some species, the larvae are saprotrophs, eating decaying plant and animal matter in the soil or in ponds and streams. In other species, the larvae are insectivores and prey on aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects.

Aphids alone cause tens of millions of dollars of damage to crops worldwide every year; because of this, aphid-eating hoverflies are being recognized as important natural enemies of pests, and potential agents for use in biological control. Some adult syrphid flies are important pollinators of flowering plants in a variety of ecosystems worldwide.

About 6,000 species in 200 genera have been described. Hoverflies are common throughout the world and can be found on all continents except Antarctica. Hoverflies are harmless to most other animals, despite their mimicry of more dangerous wasps and bees to ward off predators.

Tumbledown Dick Hill: Ingleside - 1951

Roadside stop in 1951 in colour from what were then practically the rural outskirts of Sydney. Source: heavylambs panoramia

Some state the hill's name came from the name of either a horse or some other four legged wonder who kept falling down the hill!

In research we've done horses did have problems getting down this hill during the 1800's and early 1900's and were even cautioned once the track became a dirt road  that was then tarred.

A Few Other Insights

About midway between Gordon and Rocklily the road winds up the side of a high mountain, locally known as 'Tumbledown Dick,' the views from every bend, being superb. Here would be the place for a fine, up-to-date residential hotel, which would be convenient to the city, would be surrounded by charming scenery, and whose inmates would derive the benefit to be obtained from the pure mountain air, without undergoing the preliminary toil and fatigue of a long railway journey. A few hundred pounds spent on the road would, enable a swift motor-car service to be initiated between this locality and Manly, Narrabeen, or Rocklily, and irrespective of the future, when, without doubt, accommodation houses will be built along this route, the whole extent of the road from Gordon to its terminus at Rocklily or Narrabeen would make an ideal tourist route, and amply justify the money spent in making the road fit for traffic. 
As to the name of this mountain, 'Tumble-down Dick,' it is high time that such nomenclature of beauty spots should be done away with, and as a suggestion the writer would offer the name of 'Mount Cook,' or 'Cook's Plateau,' as a tribute to the great navigator, whose eyes no doubt rested upon this elevated spot in his memorable passage up the coast in the year 1770. The whole of this region to the west is practically unexplored, a greater part of it being bounded by the area known as the Kuring-gai Chase, and it only awaits development, in the shape of good roads, to make of it a desirable place, where the city merchant could establish his country home, and though almost in touch with the metropolis find himself surrounded by all that is health-giving and enchanting in Nature. A LITTLE KNOWN BEAUTY SPOT. (1909, May 19). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 22. Retrieved from 

This nickname was borne by Richard Cromwell, second Protector of England, who died in 1712. Son of Oliver Cromwell, he reigned for only nine months after his father's death.
He had led a gay youth, loved field sports, and even drunk King Charles' health with Cavaliers, but when the Army made him leave Whitehall he said to adherents, 'I will not have a drop of blood spilt in the preservation of my greatness, which is a burden to me," and went unresistingly into oblivion, taking with him an old hair trunk of documents. He was £29,000 to debt, due partly to his father's funeral, and he had been in great danger of arrest, but, prudently “Shut himself up in his cabinet" and went to France, where he lived in retirement as John Clarke, reading and painting landscapes.
"TUMBLEDOWN DICK" (1942, October 28). The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser (NSW : 1856 - 1861; 1863 - 1889; 1891 - 1954), , p. 2. Retrieved from

Old witch flying on a kitchen chair,
Cat on her shoulder, tail In the air
Man in the moon goes shivery all over.
Calls to his little dog, "At them, Rover!"
Cat starts mialling,
Dog bow-wowing,
Moon gets terrified and tips right over;
Man comes tumbling down into a motor.
"Hey!" says the taxi-man, "where shall I go ter?"
"Take me to Norwich,
They've hot pease-porridge,
That's what I want, for I'm shivery all over;
I can't find my way there without little Rover!"
TUMBLEDOWN DICK. (1926, May 29). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 11. Retrieved from


This beautiful stretch of country is the gift of Mr. V. Roinel and Mr. and Mrs. Danvers Power, to the Boy Scout movement of New South Wales, for a training camp for officers and rovers, similar to the well known establishment at Gillwell Park in England. The cleared space In the picture indicates the site of the actual camp itself. The estate, which is now the splendid domain of the Boy Scout movement, is known as Korman Hurst, and is at the foot of Tumbledown Dick Hill, between Pymble and Narrabeen. Mr. Kelso King has provided the funds for fitting out the camp, which will be opened on March 7 by the Governor-General (Lord Forster). The estate, eminently fitted, li. is considered, for tho work of the movement, includes three structures, one of which a three-roomed cottage will be used as a clubroom and library. The two other buildings will be used for Red Cross purposes and for stores and offices. An Honourable Charge has been Issued by the Chief Scout (Major-Gcneral Sir Robert Baden-Powell) to Mr. Hartley MacAlllster, Deputy Commissioner, authorising him to act as a Deputy Camp Chief at the now camp. Accompanying this document were the little badge beads of office.TRAINING CAMP FOR BOY SCOUT OFFICERS. (1925, January 17). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved from

The NRMA recently approached the Lands Department with a suggestion that two areas on Tumbledown Dick Hill on the road between St Ives and Mona Vale, French's Forest be acquired as public reserves The Department has advised the association that the site on the southern side of the road is on freehold land, and it considers that the entailed resumption would not be warranted Regarding the area on the northern side however a comprehensive design for future disposal of a large area of Crown land in this locallty is, being prepared and an appropriate area will be set aside for public recreation when the scheme is finalised.  TUMBLEDOWN DICK RESERVE. (1939, April 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 3. Retrieved from 

Search For ET Underway With CSIRO'S Parkes Radio Telescope

8 November, 2016: CSIRO
Breakthrough Listen, the 10-year, $100-million astronomical search for intelligent life beyond Earth launched in 2015 by Internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking today announced its first observations using CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope.

Parkes has joined two US telescopes, the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Automated Planet Finder at Lick Observatory in California, in their ongoing surveys to determine whether civilisations exist elsewhere and have developed technologies similar to our own.

Image: Parkes radio telescope (Photo: Shaun Amy)

Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives which include Breakthrough Listen, said the addition of Parkes was an important milestone.

"These major instruments are the ears of planet Earth, and now they are listening for signs of other civilisations," Mr Milner said.

After 14 days of commissioning and test observations, 'first light' for Breakthrough Listen at Parkes was achieved this morning (8 November (local time)) with an observation of the newly-discovered Earth-size planet orbiting the nearest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri.

A red dwarf star 4.3 light years from Earth, Proxima Centauri is known to have a planet ('Proxima b') orbiting within its habitable zone, the region where water could exist in liquid form on the planet's surface.

Such 'exo-Earths' are among the primary targets for Breakthrough Listen.

Dr Andrew Siemion, Director of Berkeley SETI Research Center and leader of the Breakthrough Listen science program, said the chances of any particular planet hosting intelligent life-forms are probably minuscule.

"But once we knew there was a planet right next door, we had to ask the question, and it was a fitting first observation for Parkes," Dr Siemion said.

"To find a civilisation just 4.2 light years away would change everything."

CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope is perfectly positioned to observe parts of the sky that can't be seen from the northern hemisphere, including the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy, large swaths of the Galactic plane, and numerous other galaxies in the nearby Universe.

Dr Douglas Bock, Director of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, said the Parkes telescope was one of the most highly cited radio telescopes in the world.

"The Parkes radio telescope has a long list of achievements to its credit, including the discovery of the first 'fast radio burst'," Dr Bock said.

"Its unique view of the southern hemisphere sky and cutting-edge instrumentation means it now also has a great opportunity to contribute to the search for extra-terrestrial life."

Swinburne University of Technology is working closely with University of California, Berkeley, and CSIRO to design and implement a signal-processing and data-storage system for the project that will make the Breakthrough Listen data available to the science community.

Professor Matthew Bailes, ARC Laureate Fellow at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology, and the Breakthrough Listen project's Australian science coordinator, said Breakthrough Listen would do more than just hunt for ET.

"The detection system on Parkes will be simultaneously searching for naturally occurring phenomena such as pulsars and fast radio bursts, which are a large part of Parkes' present work," Dr Bailes said.

"The Australian science community welcomes the opportunity to share the Breakthrough Listen data for other ongoing research projects."

Breakthrough Listen will use 25 per cent of the science time available on the Parkes radio telescope over the next five years.

The Breakthrough Listen science program is directly aligned with CSIRO's strategy to operate world-class national facilities for the use of scientists, to ensure that those facilities are adequately and sustainably funded, and to facilitate the delivery of world-leading science outcomes and impact.
Parkes radio telescope.© 2005 Shaun Amy

Native Vegetation Act To Be Repealed, Replaced With New And Fairer System 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016: Media Release - 
Troy Grant
Deputy Premier
Mark Speakman
Minister for the Environment
Niall Blair
Minister for Primary Industries
Minister for Lands and Water
Legislation is now before the NSW Parliament to repeal the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and replace it with a fair, evidence-based and modern system that will improve biodiversity and agricultural productivity in NSW.

Deputy Premier Troy Grant said the introduction of the legislation delivers upon an election commitment to reform biodiversity legislation, and repeal the Native Vegetation Act.

“This landmark reform takes the shackles off farmers so they can continue to put food on our tables while producing better biodiversity outcomes for our environment,” Mr Grant said.

NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman said the legislation was supported by a record investment of $240 million over five years, plus $70 million per year after that in private land conservation, in addition to $100 million for the Saving Our Species Program.

“These reforms aim to facilitate ecologically sustainable development while better conserving biodiversity across NSW,” Mr Speakman said.

“The reforms include strong environmental safeguards; including strong caps and limits on land clearing, offset requirements, exclusions and a record NSW Government investment in private land conservation.
“We’ve committed to this being a balanced, fair and ecologically sustainable package.”

Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water Niall Blair said today was historic.

“Farmers should be able to be productive and profitable while still working to improve the environment – these reforms will finally allow them to get on with doing that,” Mr Blair said.

“For two decades Labor’s laws – which began when Bob Carr introduced the notorious ‘SEPP 46’ in 1995 – have hung around the neck of our farming sector and have failed everyone, with biodiversity decline in NSW accelerating.

“This legislation will finally rid regional NSW of the inequitable and unbalanced Native Vegetation Act, and will replace it with a reform package that restores fairness for farmers.”

The reform package implements the 43 recommendations of the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review, which the NSW Government commissioned in 2014, and its introduction to Parliament follows an extensive eight-week public consultation period earlier this year.

The Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 and Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2016 are intended to commence in 2017. For more information, visit

Crown Land Management Bill 2016

Type: Government
Status: Awaiting Assent, Wed 9 Nov 2016
Bills Remarks: LC: Bill committed and passed the Council with amendments 9/11/2016 am
Origin: Legislative Council
Member with Carriage: Blair, Niall (Roberts, Anthony)
Long Title: 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.

Legislative Council
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
Second Reading: Tue 8 Nov 2016
Date Committed: Wed 9 Nov 2016
Reported with amdts: Wed 9 Nov 2016
Report Adopted: Wed 9 Nov 2016
Third Reading: Wed 9 Nov 2016
Date Passed with amdts: Wed 9 Nov 2016
Sent to LA for Concurrence: Wed 9 Nov 2016
Legislative Assembly
Member with Carriage: Roberts, Anthony
Introduced: Wed 9 Nov 2016
First Reading: Wed 9 Nov 2016
2R Speech: Wed 9 Nov 2016
Second Reading: Wed 9 Nov 2016
Considered in Detail: Wed 9 Nov 2016
Third Reading: Wed 9 Nov 2016
Passed Parliament: Wed 9 Nov 2016

Legislative Council 
Bill digest
See Legislation Review Digest No.17 of 2016 for an examination of this Bill by the Legislation Review Committee.:

Commencement by proclamation
The Committee generally prefers legislation to commence on assent or a fixed date. However, as outlined in the explanatory note to this Bill, this Bill is the first stage in a process of creating a new legislative regime for Crown land in New South Wales. The second stage will be further legislation introduced in 2017 which will make consequential amendments and further repeals if necessary. Given the staged approach to the new legislative regime, the Committee considers flexibility as to the commencement date for this Bill is desirable. The Committee makes no further comment.

Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016

Type: Government
Status: In Legislative Council, 2R, Debate adjourned 5 calendar days, Wed 9 Nov 2016
Bills Remarks: LC: Bill and cognate declared urgent 9/11/2016
Origin: Legislative Council
Member with Carriage: Blair, Niall
Long Title: An Act relating to the conservation of biodiversity; and to repeal the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, the Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001 and the animal and plant provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
Bill is cognate: Main
The following Bills are cognate with this Bill: Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2016

Legislative Council
Initially introduced in the Legislative Council
Introduced by: Blair, Niall
Notice of Motion: Tue 8 Nov 2016
Introduced: Wed 9 Nov 2016
First Reading: Wed 9 Nov 2016
2R Speech: Wed 9 Nov 2016

Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2016

Long Title: An Act to repeal the Native Vegetation Act 2003; and to amend the Local Land Services Act 2013 in relation to native vegetation land management in rural areas.
Bills Remarks: LC: Bill and main cognate bill declared urgent 9/11/2016
Status: In Legislative Council, 2R, Debate adjourned 5 calendar days, Wed 9 Nov 2016
Legislative Council
Initially introduced in the Legislative Council
Introduced by: Blair, Niall
Notice of Motion: Tue 8 Nov 2016
Introduced: Wed 9 Nov 2016
First Reading: Wed 9 Nov 2016
2R Speech: Wed 9 Nov 2016

Wilpinjong Coal Mine Conditions Considered Community Feedback

07.11.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
The Department of Planning and Environment took into account extensive community feedback on an application for a mine extension near Mudgee before referring its preliminary assessment report to the independent Planning Assessment Commission (the Commission) for review.
In assessing the application to extend mining operations at the Wilpinjong Coal Mine, the Department has included a number of draft conditions that are in response to the community feedback of more than 700 submissions. 
Peabody Energy, that owns the mine, proposes to construct a new open cut pit, expand a number of its existing open cut pits, extend the completion date of the project by seven years to 2033, and increase the coal production rate from 12.6 million tonnes per year to 13 million tonnes per year.
The Department’s preliminary assessment has found the project is approvable if it is subject to strict conditions including noise, blasting and air quality limits; voluntary acquisition rights for a small number of residents; thorough groundwater and surface water monitoring; and a substantial area to be set aside for conservation.
The preliminary assessment report will now be sent to the Commission for review and public hearings.
“Of the 752 submissions we received, 27 were from the local community. We understand there’s significant interest in the mine extension and the draft conditions responding to issues raised have now been forwarded to the Commission,” a Department spokesperson said.
“In addition, the proposal would secure ongoing employment for the current workforce of 550 people, many who live locally, and generate another 75 new jobs. This type of job security for regional areas is important when weighing up the economic, social and environmental factors for applications of this kind.” 
The Department spokesperson added that Peabody would also be required to contribute around $300,000 a year to the Mid-Western Regional Council for local services and infrastructure and $660,000 towards a breeding program for the endangered Regent Honeyeater bird. 

New Land Clearing Laws Have No Scientific Credibility: Renowned Professor Resigns

November 4, 2016: National Parks Association of NSW 
The dramatic eleventh hour resignation by Professor Hugh Possingham[1], Australia’s most recognised scientist, has stripped away any pretence of scientific credibility and exposed Mike Baird’s land clearing legislation for what it is: a cash grab by big business and developers.
The primary objections of Professor Possingham are that the government is proposing self-assessable codes that will result in broad-scale land clearing, thus degrading soil, water and biodiversity, and that the ‘no net loss’ standard against which clearing should be measured has not made the draft legislation. 
The Professor states that the Baird government has included elements that are not consistent with the original recommendations made by the review panel—thereby breaking the promise to adopt the recommendations.
National Parks Association of NSW CEO, Kevin Evans, said: “as recently as the 20th October, Primary Industry Minister Niall Blair was busily spruiking the scientific credentials of the Baird governments new land clearing laws in the NSW Parliament.
“Minister Blair said ‘this Government has a plan to include a scientific response to make sure that farmers in this State are part of the solution’ and referred to ‘the science that we have brought forward to address that issue’ (the issue being biodiversity decline).
“Of course, the Minister made these claims despite respected scientific organisations such as the Royal Zoological Society of NSW[2] and the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists[3] having condemned the proposed laws on scientific grounds.
“Yet despite the weight of scientific expertise opposed to the legislation the Baird Government has pressed on regardless. 
“At every opportunity they have tried to suggest that the $240 million investment in private land funding would be a magic wand to overcome any increase in clearing that may occur. 
“The Wentworth Group have previously labelled this money as a subsidy for land clearing. Professor Possingham’s statements confirm that view.
“Professor Possingham has just given Mike Baird another National Party-induced headache to go with the many he’s had to cope with recently.
“The land clearing codes are nearly identical to those in Queensland and we know what happened there. Land clearing on an epic scale. We also know that this is being driven by radical elements in the National Party that are bossing Mike Baird around on several fronts.
“For the wider public it can’t be made much clearer that the new laws have nothing to do with nature conservation and everything to do with opening up land clearing for big agribusiness and developers.” 



National Parks Association of NSW is a non-government conservation group that seeks to protect, connect and restore the integrity and diversity of natural systems in NSW and beyond, through national parks, marine sanctuaries and other means.

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.

Permaculture Northern Beaches Events

Native Bee Workshop 

On: November 20, 2016
Go to the Permaculture Northern Beaches workshop and learn about the amazing little Australian Native Bee. Learn about our different types of Native Bees and the vital work they do in pollinating plants in our gardens. Learn how to take care of them, how to split the hive each year, and see the honey they produce. This will be a great workshop! Trainer: Gavin Smith, local native bee expert. 

Book early: Maximum 30 people 

The workshop will run from 10am to 1pm and cost $25 per person to be paid in cash on the day (PNB members $20). 

For more information, visit: or email or call Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre on 9486 3512.

Thursday November 24 at 7pm 
at Dee Why RSL
Seeds provide much of the nutritional value that humans need and seed plants are the foundation of human diets across the world, yet the industrial food chain continues to control and direct the food we have access to and this is reflected in what is being served in dining rooms across this country every night. Meanwhile there is environmental destruction, social upheaval and land grabs on a massive scale and we have become content with paying a premium to consume food like substances that are bad for our bodies.

Save Our Seeds is a social impact and environmental event hosted by Permaculture Northern Beaches, and Kimbriki.  This event will answer some serious and fundamental questions around the importance of the humble seed to food security and biodiversity.  

Australia's leading seed experts Michel and Jude Fanton founded The Seed Savers’ Network in Australia in 1986 which quickly attracted national attention, They now manage over 100 local seed networks in Australia, have initiated seed saving in 44 countries, and assisted setting up 35 food biodiversity projects. They bring the message of the need to conserve traditional varieties of food plants to Sydney for this one only event.

The night's MC is radio broadcaster, author and local legend - Wendy Harmer.

If you are interested in learning about easy and practical ways of saving and sprouting seeds or connecting with other like minded individuals and organizations then this is a must see event.  There will also be seed giveaways and raffle prizes.  Numbers are limited and bookings are essential.  Reserve your place using the link below:

ENTRY BY DONATION - 7PM AT DEE WHY RSL Showroom at 932 Pittwater Road, Dee Why.

Community Groups Announce Boycott Of “Meaningless Sham” Public Hearing For Wilpinjong Coal Mine

Published: November 07, 2016 - Lock the Gate Alliance
An Alliance of community groups has announced it will boycott the public hearing of the Planning Assessment Commission review into the Wilpinjong Extension coal project, calling the event a “meaningless sham set up to deny the public our legal right to challenge mine approvals in court.”

The Hunter Central Rivers Alliance includes 43 community groups from across the region, concerned with the impacts of coal and gas mining. The Alliance wrote to Minister Stokes in September urging him not to extinguish legal appeal rights of local communities impacted by inappropriate coal mine proposals.

Today, the Minister has announced a public hearing will be held into the Wilpinjong mine expansion which means community of Wollar, which will be wiped off the map by the project, will lose their legal right of appeal.
The Department’s Assessment Report, released today, admits that over the last ten years the Wilpinjong coal mine has been responsible for the decimation of the village of Wollar, and that affected the viability of a range of community services, including the local Rural Fire Service, but proposes the expansion go ahead anyway because the damage cannot now be reversed.

“We will boycott this ridiculous charade of public consultation they call a public hearing,” said Steve Phillips, convenor of the Hunter Central Rivers Alliance, “and we'll organise a protest event in Mudgee and Sydney for the affected community and their supporters to come to instead.”

“We're tired of lending legitimacy to a process that's deaf to the suffering that coal mining is inflicting on NSW communities, that's essentially a box-checking exercise along the mine approval time line. We're disgusted that this government keeps handing out coal mining approvals while cynically taking away the public’s right to challenge the merits of bad decisions in a court of law,” said Phillips.

Under NSW law, when the Planning Assessment Commission holds a “public hearing” as part of a review of a proposed coal mine, the public loses third-party merits-appeal rights - the right to challenge the merits of a subsequent mine approval in the Land and Environment Court. This kind of “merits appeal” is what the community of Bulga used to overturn the 2012 approval of Rio Tinto's Warkworth coal mine expansion, and it allows for the robust and unbiased review of the supposed merits of a coal project in court.

A “public hearing” provides no such robust review and intensifies conflict and division, allowing for no debate, discussion, or interrogation of claims and counter-claims, and no opportunity to resolve issues or establish middle ground.

“The Department’s report has admitted that the Wilpinjong coal mine has had profound effects on my community at Wollar and that this expansion is the death warrant for what remains of the village and surrounding community. We have lost faith in the ability of the public hearing process to protect us and prevent this mine from wiping us out,” said Bev Smiles, of Wollar.

“We need our legal rights restored. We don't need another PAC public hearing circus, where our objections can be raised but are never responded to.

“The loss of our legal merits-appeal rights is one of the most unfair and egregious failings of this government's approach to coal mine approvals. It is imperative that these rights are restored for the Bylong and Wilpinjong projects,” said Smiles.

The Assessment report and referral to the PAC are available here:

The community groups’ letter announcing the intended boycott is here


  • For almost 40 years the Land and Environment Court’s jurisdiction has included merits review in planning and other matters.
  • However, under existing legislation these appeal rights are extinguished if, before consent is granted, the Planning Assessment Commission holds a public hearing into the matter, this being done at the request of the Minister (or Secretary of the Department) on a case by case basis
  • Some 38 matters have gone to a PAC public hearing at the request of the Minister (or Secretary) since the inception of the PAC in 2008, of which 29 have been for resource projects.
  • Merits review provides an opportunity for fulsome public participation in large-scale projects across NSW. This is important in itself but also acts as a key check and balance in the system. As the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has noted: “Community participation… act[s] as a counter balance to corrupt influences. The erosion of these requirements in the planning system reduces scrutiny of planning decisions and makes it easier to facilitate a corrupt decision.
  • The NSW EDO in their ‘Merits Review in Planning in NSW’ report, found that, “the consistency, quality, fairness and accountability of merits review decision-making by the Land and Environment Court results in better environmental and social outcomes and contrasts with poorer outcomes and inferior processes in PAC public hearings.
  • Extinguishment of third party appeals to the Land and Environment Court disempowers disaffected community groups, and deprives the public of the benefit of good decision-making in environmental matters and consequently serves to undermine the integrity of the planning system.
RESPONSE TO SUBMISSIONS - 2.3 Biodiversity (pages 12-13) - May 2016 by Peabody Energy
Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve Buffer
The OEH recommends that a buffer of at least 50 m is maintained between any open cut mining operations or infrastructure and the adjacent Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve. 
WCPL note that the Guidelines for Developments Adjoining Land Managed by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH, 2013) state:
Given the differences between sites and development types, it is not possible to specify a standard buffer; each development will need to be assessed on its merits. Developments that are designed to be
sympathetic to adjoining lands, and to integrate with the landscape, are likely to require less need for buffers or set-backs.
Where there is no buffer, consideration should be given to developing appropriate conditions or land management practices that minimise the potential edge effects from development.

It is noted that a 50 m buffer was accepted as a limit on mining proximity by the proponent of Stage 2 of the Moolarben Coal Project between the open cut mining and the Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve during the life of the project.
WCPL has calculated the impact of the NSW government imposing a 50 m proximity limit on the open cut pit extensions for the Project and this indicates that some 350,000 tonnes of run-of-mine (ROM) coal would be sterilised along approximately 2 km of pit if this was to occur. It is noted that WCPL has an obligation to recover economically viable coal reserves within its mining lease. 

WCPL does not consider that a nominal 50 m buffer distance from the open cut is warranted for the Project given:
• WCPL is not aware of any ecological basis for this nominal buffer that has arisen from previous Moolarben consent condition negotiations.
• The approved Wilpinjong Coal Mine does not operate to such a limit, and clearing of vegetation adjoining the reserve would be a short to medium-term impact. The pits would be progressively mined and rehabilitated to minimise the potential short-term edge effects from the Project.
• A key objective of the mine rehabilitation in the long-term is to increase the continuity of woodland vegetation by establishing links between woodland vegetation in the rehabilitation areas and existing vegetation in the Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve (i.e. a post-mining improvement in
ecological connectivity).
• The Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve (and Goulburn River National Park) would be extended if the Project is approved (i.e. by incorporation of proposed Project biodiversity offset areas) that would result in a material gain to the reserve system, that would be expected to far outweigh any
temporal impacts along small sections of the reserve boundary associated with mining proximity.
Notwithstanding the above, WCPL has considered the OEH recommendation and feedback from the DP&E, and is prepared to accept a setback of some 20 m between the surveyed boundary of the
Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve and the limit of the open cut in the Project open cut extension areas.
This proposed alternative limit would have a lesser adverse impact on Project open cut mining reserves than a nominal 50 m buffer, and Project development within the 20 m buffer would be limited to access tracks, upslope drainage and other ancillary development activities that are typically located on pit boundaries. 

STATE SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT ASSESSMENT - NSW Government Department of Planning & Environment
Wilpinjong Extension Project (SSD 6764)
Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Report
Section 89E of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
Biodiversity - Page IV
The project would disturb around 1,000 hectares of land comprising a mixture of woodland and cleared 
grazing land on the valley floors between the Goulburn River National Park and the Munghorn Gap
Nature Reserve. In total, the project would clear 354 hectares of native woodland vegetation, including 
19 hectares of endangered ecological communities and 190 hectares of threatened Regent Honeyeater 
The Department is satisfied that WCPL has avoided impacts on biodiversity as far as practicable, and 
due to the location of the coal resource there are limited opportunities to further avoid these impacts.
In accordance with the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Policy for Major Projects, WCPL proposes to 
compensate for these impacts through a comprehensive biodiversity offset strategy, incorporating:
  • almost 1,000 hectares of land based offsets adjacent to existing conservation reserves; 
  • rehabilitation of almost 3,000 hectares of the land disturbed by mining to woodland, targeting
  • v
    egetation communities suitable for the Regent Honeyeater; and 
  • $660,000 towards the recovery program for the Regent Honeyeater targeting release of captive 
    birds into the wild.
Both the Department and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) consider that the overall 
offset strategy provides an appropriate balance between land based offsets, maximising the ecological 
benefits of mine rehabilitation, and targeted contributions towards maintaining populations of critically 
endangered species.
With proper governance, the Department considers that the strategy has the potential to substantially 
improve biodiversity values and habitat connectivity in the region, particularly by creating substantial 
habitat corridor between the Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve and Goulburn River National Park. 


The Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve is a protected nature reserve that is located in the Central Tablelands region of New South Wales, in eastern Australia. The 5,934-hectare (14,660-acre) reserve is situated on the Great Dividing Range, 35 kilometres (22 mi) north-east of Mudgee. It is the second oldest nature reserve in Australia is steeped in Aboriginal heritage. The Castle Rocks walking trail reveals pagoda-like sandstone formations.

Many plants and animals are at their eastern or westernmost points of natural distribution. The reserve is situated at one of the lowest points of the Great Divide. The streams forming from the east reach the Hunter River, and those from the west eventually flow to the Darling River.

The flora of the area is an interesting combination of the moist mountain plants and those of the drier western plains. Vegetation is mostly dominated by Eucalyptus and Callitris pine.

The reserve is particularly noted for the high bird diversity. It lies within the Mudgee-Wollar Important Bird Area, so identified by BirdLife International because of its importance for the endangered regent honeyeater.
Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve is a particularly important place for Wiradjuri people. 

Regent honeyeater - at Adelaide Zoo, photo by Jessica Bonsell

Count of Public Submissions on Wilpinjong Extension Project on NSW Dept. of Planning & Environment website and webapge for above
Public Feedback       714 Submissions - 96 Support - 618 Object
Govt, Agency & Org.    41 Submissions - 12 Support -   17  Object  - 12 Comments

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

November 28, 2016 7pm: Forum
This is a most important forum where the Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, MP, and the Administrator for Northern Beaches Council, Dick Persson, will each speak about Narrabeen Lagoon State Park and its future. 

Please make the effort to be there - reply to this email: giving the name/s of people wanting to attend and we will send you your ticket/s.

Enjoy the outdoors with one of these walks
Terrey Hills to Deep Creek Sunday 4/12/2016
3 hr walk starting 8am at Terrey Hills cross the Deep Creek
catchment valley and feeder creek and end in Oxford Falls.
See and identify spectacular Sydney sandstone flora. Bring a
screwdriver for 30 min weeding near the end of the walk.
Allow 4 hrs. Carpool required. Phone Conny 0432 643 295

Oxford Falls Triangle 15/1/17
3 hour bushwalk starting 4.00pm from Morgan Rd, Oxford
Falls. We identify plants in blossom and on the way home do
20 min weeding of Whisky Grass. Please bring a screwdriver
as a digging stick. Phone Conny 0432643295

Middle Head Management Plan (Draft Amendment 2)

Date published: 03 November 2016 by Sydney Harbour Federation Trust
Invitation for public comment
The Harbour Trust has prepared a Draft Amendment to the Middle Head Management Plan to guide the revitalisation and management of Middle Head – Headland Park, Mosman.

The Draft Amendment to the Management Plan is on public exhibition from 3 November 2016 to 16 December 2016. Comments are invited until 5.00pm AEST, on Friday 16 December 2016.

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust is asking people for their feedback on the Draft Amendment to its Middle Head Management Plan (Draft Plan), which went on public exhibition today.

Harbour Trust Acting Executive Director Dr Susan Culverston said one of the main aims of the Draft Plan, which is open for public comment from Thursday 3 November to Friday 16 December, was to include more information about coordinated management of the natural environment with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

“We have worked closely with NPWS in the preparation of our Draft Plan. Both agencies want to improve public access to the headland by establishing a connected network of paths.

“Our Draft Plan proposes creating an accessible circuit path around the Harbour Trust’s Middle Head precinct, which will link up with the NPWS walking tracks.

Dr Culverston said that extensive community consultation had played an important role in the preparation of the Draft Plan for Middle Head.

“We were pleased with the very positive response to our joint community consultation activities with over 800 responses to the survey conducted earlier this year.

“We are now looking forward to seeing this strong community engagement with the site and the ideas for its future continue through this public exhibition process.

We’re also hosting a drop-in session at our office on Thursday 17 November from 1-7pm where you can view our Draft Plan and speak with our planners,” Dr Culverston said.

Please click here for more information about the Draft Amendment how to provide your comments.

EPA Appeals For Information After Hundreds Of Birds Poisoned On The Central Coast

Media release: 2 November 2016
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is actively continuing its investigation into the poisoning of hundreds of birds on the Central Coast and is appealing to the public to come forward with any information that may help catch the culprit.

EPA Acting Director Hunter, Ms Karen Marler said the EPA now has reports of over 250 birds, including magpies, peewees, butcher birds, currwongs and corellas, and two dogs being poisoned.

“Our latest reports of bird deaths have been primarily magpies in the Woongarrah area in mid- October. The two dogs were also impacted when they ate meat baited with the poison at Woongarrah. 

“Testing indicates the birds and dogs have been poisoned with the same pesticide, fenamiphos. This pesticide is not readily available to the public. 

“Meat laced with the poison has been tossed onto the ground for animals to ingest. It is very distressing that anyone could be so malicious, to harm native wildlife and also endanger pets in this way. 

“The misuse of pesticides is an offence in NSW and heavy penalties apply, including fines up to $120,000.

“The EPA has received a number of leads and we thank those people who have come forward with information. We have not yet been able to identify the person responsible.

“We are again appealing for people to come forward with any information which may assist. We are particularly interested in hearing from the owner of the dark coloured Ford Ranger ute seen in the vicinity of Highberry Street, Woongarrah on Saturday 24 September to assist with our enquiries.” 

If anyone has any information that may assist the EPA please contact our Environment Line on 131555.

EPA Pilot Program Calls For Increased Use Of Construction And Demolition Waste

Media release: 1 November 2016- EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is searching for organisations that can find new ways to make use of someone else’s construction and demolition waste.

Local councils and private businesses are invited to apply for grants under a new program, the Civil Construction Market Pilot program, which works as a “matchmaker” service where waste from one project can be safely used to benefit another project.

Examples to date include pallets being made into chook bedding and timber offcuts being used to produce eco-friendly particleboard by another manufacturer.

The new Civil Construction Market Pilot program has the important goal of landfill diversion but focuses on construction and demolition (C&D) waste, with grants available to assist consultants, contractors, waste service providers and local government personnel find opportunities where construction and demolition waste, a major contributor to landfill, can be effectively used elsewhere.

For example, an EPA funded local council could source crushed concrete, crushed brick and glass fines from construction projects, and opt to recycle this material in the construction of pavements.

EPA Executive Director Waste and Resource Recovery Steve Beaman said the EPA wanted to increase the C&D industry’s take-up of recycling and reuse opportunities.

“Construction and demolition activities account for more than 6.8 million tonnes of waste in NSW each year, and more than a quarter of that is sent to landfill,” Mr Beaman said.

“This pilot program aims to divert at least 12,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste from landfill each year by matching waste to reuse opportunities.

“The availability of these grants means councils and businesses can be more strategic in their approach to reuse and recycling, and can add landfill diversion into the early planning stages of their projects.”

The Circulate construction and demolition pilot program will run over the 2016-17 financial year across the Sydney metropolitan and regional areas. Project grants range from $20,000 to $75,000.

Applications are open for the Civil Construction Market Pilot Program, under EPA Circulate, until 25 November 2016.

More information on the pilot grant program is available online

The EPA will be hosting an information session in Sydney on Monday 14 November at 10am to provide more information about the pilot program and application process. A recording of the session will be available no later than Friday 18 November.

Venue details and link will be provided to those who register their interest via email to 

Annual Reports - Department Of The Environment + Sydney Harbour Federation Trust

Department of the Environment—Report for 2015-16, incorporating reports of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and National Heritage Trust of Australia
Published October 31, 2016
At: HERE  

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust—Report for 2015-16
Published October 28, 2016

Draft National Strategy For Mitigating Vessel Strike Of Marine Mega-Fauna

October 27, 2016: Dept. of Environment & Energy - Australian Government

Public consultation — submissions close 5.00pm AEST Friday 9 December 2016

The Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy is releasing the draft ‘National Strategy for Mitigating Vessel Strike of Marine Mega-fauna’ for public comment.

How to make a submission
If you would like to provide comment or input in response to the draft national stategy:

1. Complete a submission cover sheet
You must provide a completed cover sheet with your comments:
Submission cover sheet (DOCX - 77.49 KB) ​

2. Send your submission
Comments can be provided in email, word document or PDF Format. Please include the Reference ‘Draft National Strategy for Mitigating Vessel Strike of Marine Mega-fauna’ as a subject heading. You can submit your comments by:

Email to:

Mail to:
Migratory Species Section
Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Division
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

Please note submissions are due by 5.00pm AEST on Friday 9 December 2016

Watch Out For Baby Whales 

Saturday 22 October 2016: Hon. Mark Speakman, Minister for the Environment
With a record number of whales migrating along the NSW coast this year,
Environment Minister Mark Speakman is urging whale watchers to keep a safe distance, particularly from mothers with calves.

“The ‘humpback highway’ is playing host to thousands of whales and calves migrating south which has been a delight for spectators right along the coast,” Mr Speakman said.

“But while it is tempting to motor, swim or paddle close to these incredible animals it is important that people behave in a safe manner and give them space.”

Mr Speakman said vessels including kayaks, surf skis and surfboards were required to remain 100m from a whale, or 300m if a calf was present.
Unmanned aerial drones were required to stay more than 300m away from marine mammals.

“These regulations are in place to protect both the wellbeing of the animals and the safety of whale watchers,” he said.

“There are plenty of safe ways to view the whale migration. NSW’s headlands have some of the best land-based whale watching spots in the world.”

Top NSW whale watching sites include:
  • Cape Byron Lighthouse
  • Tomaree Head Summit, Tomaree National Park
  • Cape Solander, Kamay Botany Bay National Park
  • Jervis Bay National Park
  • Ben Boyd National Park near Eden
For up to date whale sightings near you, download the free Wild About Whales app or visit

Whale Watching Season runs May-November.

Australian Farmer Climate Survey

It's time to have your say!
As farmers, we are on the front line of rising temperatures and more extreme weather. But for too long, the public - and even our own industry and political representatives - have assumed we aren’t concerned about damage to the climate. 

It’s time to set the record straight. Join in with hundreds of farmers across the country and take this 5-minute survey.

Comment Invited On Draft Barwon-Darling Valley Floodplain Management Plan

1 November 2016: NSW Department of Primary Industries
Floodplain landholders and the general community are being invited to comment on the draft Barwon-Darling Valley Floodplain Management Plan, Director Water Planning and Policy, Alison Kirk, announced today.
“The draft Barwon-Darling Valley plan is the third of six floodplain management plans being prepared across the northern valleys in NSW's Murray-Darling Basin,” said Ms Kirk.

“The purpose of the draft Barwon-Darling Valley plan is to coordinate the future development of flood works on the floodplain.”

“The plan is designed to manage the risk to life and property from the effects of flooding and protect and maintain flood connectivity to flood-dependent ecological and cultural features of the floodplain.”

Ms Kirk said the draft plan proposes minimal change for landholders, building on current practices through improved technical knowledge and understanding to achieve a simplified approvals process for new and amended flood works.

“The draft plan outlines the types of flood works that may be considered for approval, standards of flood works, advertising requirements for approvals, as well as where state-wide exemptions apply.”

“To ensure a balanced approach, development of the draft Barwon-Darling Valley plan has been overseen by an Interagency Regional Panel incorporating representatives from DPI, Office of Environment and Heritage and Local Land Services.”

Ms Kirk continued, saying DPI Water is also currently undertaking a process to licence floodplain harvesting through the NSW Healthy Floodplains Project, which is separate from the development of floodplain management plans.

“I would urge all interested people to review the draft Barwon-Darling Valley plan and make comment to ensure that the final plan deals with local issues in a practical way,” Ms Kirk said.

Details of where people can view the draft plan, together with additional information, can be found on Floodplain management plans on exhibition.

Public comment on the draft Barwon-Darling Valley Floodplain Management Plan closes on Friday 9 December 2016.

This project is funded by the Australian Government’s Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program as part of the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in NSW.

Mt Kembla's 'New' Koala Population

7 November 2016: NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
Recent sightings of koalas at Mount Kembla have renewed hope that Illawarra’s koala population is coming back from the brink.

Koalas are one of the iconic species in the Saving our Species program
Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Senior Threatened Species Officer Kylie Madden said eight koala have been spotted over three nights in recent weeks as part of a new survey of the area.

“These findings come just two months after a lone koala was accidently captured on a motion-sensor camera just west of Mount Kembla, in an area where koalas have not been seen for more than 70 years,” Ms Madden said.

“Following this unexpected sighting OEH started formally surveying Mount Kembla last month.

“Finding eight koalas in such a short period of time is extremely encouraging and as the survey progresses we hope to get a much clearer picture of the size and extent of this koala population.

“The koalas spotted in recent weeks are all adults and four of the eight were heard ‘bellowing’, the noise male koalas make when looking for a female.

“This is an extremely encouraging sign that we may have a breeding population here, something that only a few months ago was not even considered as a possibility.

“Its early days but the survey results suggest these koalas have recolonised Mount Kembla from a population near East Kangaloon approximately 25km away, or from a colony near Campbelltown.

“Young koalas are known to walk up to 50km looking for unoccupied territories.

“Despite there being no records of koalas for decades, these koalas have very much ‘moved back in’, rediscovering a patch of good habitat above the escarpment,” Ms Madden said.

These sightings coincide with reports of a lone koala seen near the base of Macquarie Pass on Sunday 30 October.

This koala was most likely a dispersing male looking for suitable unoccupied habitat.

It’s unlikely there is a koala population extending to the base of Macquarie Pass, but the sighting is further evidence that koalas in the region are expanding in numbers and range.

The Mount Kembla Koala Survey will continue until December 2016. Results will also inform OEH’s Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project, for more information on the conservation of this iconic species, visit the OEH website.

Flagship Fish Habitat Rehabilitation Grants - Expression Of Interest

NSW Department of Primary Industries
The “Flagship Fish Habitat Rehabilitation Grant” program (“Flagship Grants”) is an exciting new funding opportunity for coastal NSW, offering up to $400,000 for individual projects that significantly enhance fish habitat, water quality and fish passage opportunities within the coastal catchments of NSW.

This innovative grant program is funded by the Recreational Fishing Saltwater Trust Expenditure Committee (RFSTEC) and seeks to benefit recreational fishing opportunities by enhancing the habitats that fish need to thrive.

The program builds on the existing Habitat Action Grants and seeks to tackle much larger scale projects that require higher levels of funding assistance.

The Flagship Grants will support a range of actions including hydrological and environmental investigations, community consultation, economic assessments, as well as on-ground works.

Examples of the types of projects supported include:
  • rehabilitation of significant riparian lands / coastal wetlands (river banks, mangrove forests, saltmarsh), including addressing poor water quality from the disturbance of acid sulfate soils
  • environmentally-sensitive bank stabilisation works
  • removal or modification of barriers to fish passage including addressing floodgates, road-crossings and construction of fishways
  • re-snagging of waterways with timber structures.
Projects can run for up to 3 years, with $400,000 available per year.
Applicants will need to complete an Expression of Interest form and submit this by 23rd December 2016.

It is strongly advised that you to contact us to discuss your ideas on one of the numbers provided in the form.

Record Hot Year May Be The New Normal By 2025

November 9, 2016: University of New South Wales
The hottest year on record globally in 2015 could be just another average year by 2025 if carbon emissions continue to rise at their current rate, according to new research published in the Bulletin of American Meteorological Society.

And no matter what action we take, human activities had already locked in a "new normal" for global average temperatures that would occur no later than 2040, according to lead author Dr Sophie Lewis, from the Australian National University (ANU) hub of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science (ARCCSS).

However, while annual global average temperatures were locked in, it was still possible with immediate and strong action on carbon emissions to prevent record breaking seasons from becoming average -- at least at regional levels.

"If we continue with business-as-usual emissions, extreme seasons will inevitably become the norm within decades and Australia will be the canary in the coal mine that will experience this change first," said Dr Lewis.

"That means the record hot summer of 2013 in Australia -- when we saw temperatures approaching 50°C in parts of Australia, bushfires striking the Blue Mountains in October, major impacts to our health and infrastructure and a summer that was so hot it became known as the "angry summer" -- could be just another average summer season by 2035.

"But if we reduce emissions drastically to the lowest pathway recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (RCP2.8), then we will never enter a new normal state for extreme seasons at a regional level in the 21st Century ."

The idea of what the term "new normal" actually means was the cornerstone of this new research. It has often been used when talking about climate change but it had seldom been clearly defined. Dr Lewis and colleagues have now developed a scientific definition for the term.

"Based on a specific starting point, we determined a new normal occurred when at least half of the years following a record year were cooler and half warmer. Only then can a new normal state be declared," she said.

After this process was used by the researchers to determine new normal conditions for global average temperatures, it was used again to examine record hot seasonal temperatures at a regional level.

Using the National Computational Infrastructure supercomputer at ANU to run climate models, the researchers explored when new normal states would appear under the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change's four emissions pathways.

The research team then examined seasonal temperatures from December to February across Australia, Europe, Asia and North America.

The results revealed that while global average temperatures would inevitably enter a new normal under all emissions scenarios, this wasn't the case at seasonal and regional levels.

"It gives us hope to know that if we act quickly to reduce greenhouse gases, seasonal extremes might never enter a new normal state in the 21st Century at regional levels for the Southern Hemisphere summer and Northern Hemisphere winter," Dr Lewis said.

"But if If we don't act quickly Australia's "angry summer" of 2013 may soon be regarded as mild. Imagine for a moment, if a summer season like 2013 became average. The likely impacts of an extremely hot year in 2035 would beyond anything our society has experienced."

Sophie C. Lewis, Andrew D. King, Sarah E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick. Defining a new normal for extremes in a warming world. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2016; DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0183.1

Untapped Metal Wealth To Be Mined At New Nyngan Project

10.11.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
The Department of Planning and Environment has approved the Nyngan Scandium Mine project in western NSW, with stringent conditions attached, bringing jobs and an untapped resource material to global markets.

EMC Metals now has approval to go ahead with the new mine which will employ 75 people and generate up to $12.4 million for the local economy over the next 21 years. The mine would also need 60 construction workers to get the project up and running.

Scandium is used in the production of transportation parts for aircraft, trains and cars. It can also be used to make parts for a range of manufacturing and technological items.

Director of Resource Assessments from the Department of Planning and Environment, Clay Preshaw, said the proposal was assessed under NSW Government policies and the local community was consulted on the plans.

“The new Nyngan mine proposes to meet a growing global demand for a once overlooked resource material and produce up to 45 tonnes of scandium oxide a year, for 21 years,” Mr Preshaw said.

“In 2015, only 15 tonnes of scandium was traded around the world and the material has previously been considered expensive and hard to come by.

“The new mine will extract a total of 1.5 million tonnes of material from two small open cut pits around 10 hectares in size.

“Mining activity will be limited to specific campaigns and will only occur up to three times in one year. The approved timeframe for these mining campaigns are between three to five weeks.

“Strict conditions have been applied to the mine approval, including requirements for a road intersection upgrade to ensure safe vehicle access to the mine.

“The company must also develop an accommodation strategy to ensure mine employees moving to Nyngan have somewhere to live, minimising impacts on the local housing market.

“As a condition, EMC Metals must contribute $125,000 annually to Bogan Council for local community services and ensure local road upgrades are also completed.”

Consultation with the community is an important part of the planning process and the Department publicly exhibited the proposal for feedback between May and June.

The Department received six submissions from Government agencies during the consultation period. No submissions were received from the public.

Increasing Cost Of Natural Hazards As Climate Changes

November 7, 2016: University of Adelaide
A new comprehensive study of Australian natural hazards paints a picture of increasing heatwaves and extreme bushfires as this century progresses, but with much more uncertainty about the future of storms and rainfall.

Published in a special issue of the international journal Climatic Change, the study documents the historical record and projected change of seven natural hazards in Australia: flood; storms (including wind and hail); coastal extremes; drought; heatwave; bushfire; and frost.

"Temperature-related hazards, particularly heatwaves and bushfires, are increasing, and projections show a high level of agreement that we will continue to see these hazards become more extreme into the 21st century," says special issue editor Associate Professor Seth Westra, Head of the Intelligent Water Decisions group at the University of Adelaide.

"Other hazards, particularly those related to storms and rainfall, are more ambiguous. Cyclones are projected to occur less frequently but when they do occur they may well be more intense. In terms of rainfall-induced floods we have conflicting lines of evidence with some analyses pointing to an increase into the future and others pointing to a decrease.

"One thing that became very clear is how much all these hazards are interconnected. For example drought leads to drying out of the land surface, which in turn can lead to increased risk of heat waves and bushfires, while also potentially leading to a decreased risk of flooding."

The importance of interlinkages between climate extremes was also noted in the coastal extremes paper: "On the open coast, rising sea levels are increasing the flooding and erosion of storm-induced high waves and storm surges," says CSIRO's Dr Kathleen McInnes, the lead author of the coastal extremes paper. "However, in estuaries where considerable infrastructure resides, rainfall runoff adds to the complexity of extremes."

This special issue represents a major collaboration of 47 scientists and eleven universities through the Australian Water and Energy Exchange Research Initiative (, an Australian research community program. The report's many authors were from the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, the CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology, Australian National University, Curtin University, Monash University, University of Melbourne, University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide, University of Newcastle, University of New South Wales, University of Tasmania, University of Western Australia and University of Wollongong.
The analyses aim to disentangle the effects of climate variability and change on hazards from other factors such as deforestation, increased urbanisation, people living in more vulnerable areas, and higher values of infrastructure.

"The study documents our current understanding of the relationship between historical and possible future climatic change with the frequency and severity of Australian natural hazards," says Associate Professor Westra.

"These hazards cause multiple impacts on humans and the environment and collectively account for 93% of Australian insured losses, and that does not even include drought losses.

"We need robust decision-making that considers the whole range of future scenarios and how our environment may evolve. The biggest risk from climate change is if we continue to plan as though there will be no change. One thing is certain: our environment will continue to change."

Some of the key findings from the studies include:
• Historical information on the most extreme bushfires -- so-called "mega fires" -- suggests an increased occurrence in recent decades with strong potential for them to increase in frequency in the future. Over the past decade major bushfires at the margins of Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne have burnt more than a million hectares of forests and woodlands and resulted in the loss of more than 200 lives and 4000 homes.
• Heatwaves are Australia's most deadly natural hazard, causing 55% of all natural disaster related deaths and increasing trends in heatwave intensity, frequency and duration are projected to continue throughout the 21st century.
• The costs of flooding have increased significantly in recent decades, but factors behind this increase include changes in reporting mechanisms, population, land-use, infrastructure as well as extreme rainfall events. The physical size of floods has either not changed at all, or even decreased in many parts of the country.

Kathleen L. McInnes, Christopher J. White, Ivan D. Haigh, Mark A. Hemer, Ron K. Hoeke, Neil J. Holbrook, Anthony S. Kiem, Eric C. J. Oliver, Roshanka Ranasinghe, Kevin J. E. Walsh, Seth Westra, Ron Cox. Natural hazards in Australia: sea level and coastal extremes. Climatic Change, 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s10584-016-1647-8

A Sweeter Deal For NSW Cherry Crops

8 November 2016: Media Release - Hon. Barnaby Joyce, MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
Cherry growers in Orange and the New South Wales' Central Tablelands are benefiting from a Coalition Government funded trial to determine the effectiveness of pest control systems to ensure cherries are blemish and fruit fly free.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce said the trial, managed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, was part of the Coalition Government's $15 million Package Assisting Small Exporters Programme, to improve market access and boost farmgate returns.

“Smaller exporters often don’t have the resources of the bigger players when it comes to getting their product to market and this project is working to address that problem,” Minister Joyce said.

“Managing Queensland fruit fly is critical to maintaining Australia’s profitable horticultural export trade, with many of our destination markets having a fruit fly free requirement.

“The project is about providing assurances to destination markets and supporting smaller exporters land their produce on foreign shores. The cherry on top is being able to deliver a program for NSW cherry growers designed to provide a real increase in exports and a sweeter deal for farmers across NSW.

“The project, which aims to scientifically prove the effectiveness of Australia’s pest control mechanisms to South East Asian markets, is supported by both the NSW Farmers' Association and NSW Cherry Growers, who believe it will be beneficial for the entire industry.”

Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee said so far 17 cherry-growers across NSW were participating in the trial, including eight in Orange, to show their fruit meets the appropriate level of protection for domestic market access.

“A total of 68 fruit fly traps will be deployed, and farms will monitored by field staff from NSW Local Land Services, which has been contracted to monitor traps,” Mr Gee said.

“Measures to protect these farms from fruit fly include pre-harvest monitoring, with associated chemical treatment where required, and post-harvest inspection.

“NSW cherry exports have almost doubled since 2007, going from 525 tonnes that year to 1,042 tonnes in 2016. In 2014-15 cherry production was worth $18.5 million to the NSW economy.

"As a trading nation producing far more than we could ever consume, exports underpin the profitability of our agriculture sector. That's why the Liberal National Coalition prioritises trade and market access and we will continue to do so into the future."

Fast facts:
• NSW produced $18.5 million in cherries (ABS 2014-15 Value of Agriculture)
• NSW currently accounts for 18 per cent of Australian cherry exports, with 1,042 tonnes exported during the 2015/16 season. (Australian Cherry Exports, Fresh Intelligence Consulting, 5 April 2016)
• 81.2 per cent of NSW cherry exports were destined for Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. (Australian Cherry Exports, Fresh Intelligence Consulting, 5 April 2016)
• Just 7.3 per cent of NSW cherry exports were exported to regulated destinations such as China, India, Indonesia and Thailand. (Australian Cherry Exports, Fresh Intelligence Consulting, 5 April 2016)

Clean Air For NSW Consultation Paper

Have your say on how we can improve air quality across NSW
The Clean Air for NSW Consultation Paper presents a proposed approach and actions for government to meet its goal of improving average air quality results across NSW. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is seeking community and stakeholder feedback on whether you think NSW is proposing the right actions to improve air quality.

Your submission can assist us in finalising Clean Air for NSW and improving air quality and public health.

Key questions to consider:
  1. Do you have any comments on the proposed actions in the Clean Air for NSW Consultation Paper to improve air quality? (Please use headings to identify each action)
  2. Are there other issues and actions that Clean Air for NSW should cover?
  3. How do you want to be informed about and involved in improving air quality?
  4. Do you have any other comments or ideas on improving air quality in NSW?
Please include headings for specific actions where appropriate throughout your submission.

Make sure you include the following information at the top of your submission:
  • First name 
  • Last name
  • Organisation you represent (if applicable)
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Postcode
Submit your feedback by Friday 20 January 2017

Email your comments to: 

Post your submission to:
EPA Air Policy
PO Box A290
Sydney South, NSW 1232

The EPA is committed to transparent processes and open access to information. The EPA may draw upon the contents of the submissions and quote from them or refer to them in publications. The EPA will treat the submission as public unless you indicate that you wish your submission to remain confidential.

The EPA will email an acknowledgment of submissions received by email within 72 hours of receipt.

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.

Nature Conservancy Writing Prize 2017

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Inquiry Into Freedom Of Speech

8 November 2016:  Attorney-General for Australia, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC
I have today asked the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to inquire and report on two issues relating to freedom of speech in Australia.

The first is whether the operation of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (including ss. 18C and 18D) impose unreasonable restrictions on freedom of speech. The second, related, matter, is whether the complaints-handling procedures of the Australian Human Rights Commission should be reformed. The reference has been made under s. 7(c) of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth).

Among other things, the Committee will examine whether the existing processes of the Commission are sufficient to ensure that trivial or vexatious complaints to the Commission, and complaints which have no reasonable prospects of success, are identified and dismissed at an early stage. It will also examine ways to ensure that complaints are dealt with in an open and transparent way, without unreasonable delay, and in a manner which ensures those subject to complaints are afforded natural justice.

The review of provisions of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act was recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission in its Report on Traditional Rights and Freedoms – Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws, released earlier this year. The review of the Commission’s complaints-handling procedure was invited by the Commission itself.

It is important that Australia strikes the right balance between laws which protect social harmony and mutual respect, and the fundamental democratic value of freedom of speech. The purpose of the inquiry is to ensure that we have that balance right. Equally, it is important that the machinery for human rights protection in Australia operates in such a way as to ensure procedural fairness, and that it cannot be used as a vehicle for vexatious complaints.

I encourage all interested groups to put their views before the inquiry in a constructive and mutually respectful discussion.

I have asked the Committee to report by February 28 2017.

The Terms of Reference are listed below:

Knowing Risk Factors Could Help Catch Melanomas

November 9, 2016: University of Sydney
The new study, published online by JAMA Dermatology, identifies high risk patients who may benefit from tailored surveillance.

The incidence of melanoma that occurs on the skin is increasing in predominantly white-skinned populations and Australia's incidence is among the highest in the world.

The study's objective was to characterise melanoma patients and the clinical features associated with their melanomas according to patient risk factors: many moles, a history of previous melanoma, and family history of melanoma, to improve the identification and treatment of a higher-risk subgroup.

The researchers classified 2727 patients with melanoma from the Melanoma Patterns of Care Study as having high or lower risk, depending on whether they already had a personal or family history of melanoma, or many moles, or none of these three factors.

Thirty nine (39) per cent of patients were defined as higher risk due to family history, multiple primary melanomas or having lots of moles. The most common risk factor in this group was having many moles, followed by a personal history and a family history.

The authors report the average age at diagnosis was younger for higher-risk patients (62 versus 65 years) compared with those patients at lower risk because they did not have these risk factors. However, that age differed by risk factor: 56 years for patients with a family history, 59 years for those with many moles and 69 years for those with a previous melanoma.

Also, higher-risk patients with many moles were more likely to have melanoma on the trunk of the body, those with a family history were more likely to have melanomas on the limbs, and those with a personal history were more likely to have melanoma on the head and neck.

Dr Watts stated: "The results of our study suggest that a person's risk factor status might be used to tailor their surveillance program in terms of starting age and education about skin self-examination or more intensive surveillance. For instance, doctors could encourage people with many moles or with a family history of melanoma to start skin self-examination and monitoring at an earlier age than other people, and discuss the body sites that require particular attention."

Limitations of the study include risk factors based on physician recall and patient medical records. The authors also did not assess the reliability or validity of the risk factor data.

Caroline G. Watts, MPH; Christine Madronio, MPhil; Rachael L. Morton, MScMed, PhD; et al. Clinical Features Associated With Individuals at Higher Risk of Melanoma A Population-Based Study. JAMA Dermatology, November 2016 DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.3327

Mobile Health Interventions: No Silver Bullet For Diabetes Patients: Study

November 8, 2016
November 14 is World Diabetes Day. Globally about 442 million people live with this chronic condition, most of them in low-income countries, where health systems often function poorly. As they are not equipped to follow-up on patients or improve the quality of care, chronic disease management largely falls under the responsibility of the patients. In her doctoral thesis, Dr Josefien van Olmen of the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) says that much-touted mobile technologies for self-management alone will not solve the problem.

Dr van Olmen and colleagues studied how health care systems in low-income countries can improve care for people with chronic diseases and support the self-management of patients, through the use of new features such as mobile technologies. They investigated how diabetes care programmes have developed in three countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia and the Philippines. The researchers also looked at the effects of a new mobile health (mHealth) intervention in all three countries.

This multi-country study involved almost 1500 diabetes patients, who were followed-up multiple times during the course of two years. The patients received text messages several times a week that highlighted the importance of healthy eating habits, doing more physical exercise or wearing shoes to avoid foot ulcers, a common effect of long-term diabetes.

"These people make day-to-day decisions about behaviours that potentially influence the course of their illness," said Josefien van Olmen, "so it is essential that they are well-informed. Our intervention was designed to change their lifestyle, their behaviour, which was an ambitious goal."

"Our study was different from other mHealth studies in terms of its the duration, the variation of patient characteristics and the scope of the intervention. We also faced many unforeseen difficulties along the way, ranging from technical issues such as filled inboxes or lost phones to challenges at programme level."

The researchers found that the intervention via text messages did not lead to more people with controlled diabetes after two years, showing that more is needed to improve the fate of diabetes patients in low-income countries. At the end of the study, 34% of the patients receiving SMS had well-controlled levels of blood glucose, which was, statistically, not more than the patients who received routine care.

"However, there were some improvements for all patients in the study which illustrate the influence of the overall programme in which the patient participated. For instance, their knowledge and attitude of their own illness showed considerable improvement. In addition, there were improvements in the pharmacological management of hypertension and diabetes, with an increase of more than 10% of people receiving medication for hypertension, added van Olmen. "Mobile health is not a game changer in itself. Its integration into the overall programme and the quality of the overall programme are far more crucial."

The lessons learnt are relevant for other chronic diseases as well. According to van Olmen's study, tackling chronic diseases in low-income countries requires interventions focusing on health care providers, patients and their families alike.

Van Olmen carried out the research in the framework of the TEXT4DSM study, which was sponsored by the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF). It was a joint effort of ITM and the Free University of Amsterdam. She will defend her PhD thesis in Amsterdam on Tuesday 29 November.

Microscopic Sensor For More Precise Radiology Treatments

November 9, 2016
A team of Norwegian, French and Australian researchers is the first in the world to succeed in quantifying the effects of radiation on individual cancer cells. This means that radiation therapies can now be tailored to individual tumours and thus be more effective.

The recently developed sensor is the first of its kind and can measure radiation doses at the level of the individual cell in mixed radiation fields (e.g. measuring all type of radiation at the same time). It enables doctors to obtain a complete picture of how much damage each cell has incurred following treatment.

"This technology means that doctors can monitor and control radiation doses to make sure that only cancer cells are destroyed, with only minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue," explains physicist and SINTEF researcher Angela Kok. Kok has been leading the work to develop the sensor as part of her day-to-day research looking into microsystems and nanotechnology.

A million cells on a pin head
Until now, quantification of the radiation dose absorbed by an individual cancer cell has been regarded as a very difficult task. Firstly, each cell is very small, and there may be as many as about a million cells in a single cubic millimetre of tissue. For this reason, and to ensure that the resulting data are correct, a sensor designed to measure radiation has to be as small as the cell itself. In other words, there has to be space for a million sensors in a single cubic millimetre of cancer tissue.

The second problem is that the cells themselves "perceive" the radiation dose in an entirely different way to the sensors. This is why, until now, no sensor has been able to quantify the actual degree of damage caused to cells by a radiation dose.

Mimicking human tissue
But the international research team has now succeeded in solving both of these problems.
The sensor size issue has been addressed simply by developing a sensor that is as small as a cancer cell. This has been achieved using a technology called semiconductor processing.

The second problem, addressing the different ways in which cells and sensors perceive radiation doses, represented a major challenge. But researchers solved this problem by encapsulating the sensors in a plastic material that mimics human tissue. In this way, the radiation dose measured by the sensors is almost identical to that absorbed by real cancer cells.

The measuring instrument contains microsensors placed alongside each other in a way that creates a "sheet" of sensors mounted on the silicon base. Dispersal across a given area enables the sensors to provide an image of the location within the cell that absorbs the highest levels of radiation.

"In simple terms, we can say that the sensors are used to map variations in radiation intensity absorbed across the exposed cell," explains Kok.

A result of basic research
The most important component of the new sensor is the element silicon, which is a semiconductor with radiation detection properties.
"When radiation counteracts with silicon the energy is converted into a measurable electrical signal," explains Kok. "The magnitude of the signal indicates the intensity of the radiation," she says.

The very first sensor prototype saw the light of day at SINTEF's microsystems and nanotechnology lab following a major multinational project involving researchers in the field of medical radiation physics. It was tested recently at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF*) in Grenoble with outstanding results. It has also been tested by Australian researchers at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

"This project is a little unusual because our research has resulted in new and fundamental knowledge about what happens in a volume of silicon that has the same dimensions as a typical cell," says Senior Research Scientist Kari Schjølberg-Henriksen, who has been working with quality assurance on this project. "We've taken this knowledge further and have seen it applied in practice after only four years," she says.

Advancing proton therapy
Research scientist Marco Povoli has been working on this project both as a SINTEF employee and as part of his post-doctoral studies at the University of Oslo. He believes that this innovation may be good news for the future development of cancer treatments using proton therapy. 

"It appears that proton therapy produces better outcomes for some types of cancer than traditional radiotherapies," he says. "This is why the University of Wollongong, with which we collaborate, has been working for some time to develop sensors designed for use in proton therapy.

There currently exist no sensors (microdosimetry tools, Ed. note) capable of measuring radiation of this kind, but we realised that our technology could be adapted to develop sensors with the right specifications," says Povoli.

The team based their work on a technology originally applied to develop sensors for tracking nuclear particles as part of experiments using the particle accelerator at CERN. The technology was used to make the silicon structures that now mimic the effects of radiation on human tissue.
"The fabrication process required more development to optimise the reliability of the results, but we overcame this challenge within a few months," says Povoli.

The sensor has now been tested with excellent results. According to the research team, it is capable of measuring the true values of radiation doses absorbed by tissue, and with a better spatial resolution than existing equipment. The team is now hoping to be able to contribute towards the future development of radiation therapies for cancer. This can be achieved by providing a more precise quantification of the radiation doses absorbed by cancer tissue, while at the same time reducing the damage incurred by healthy tissue.

Materials provided by SINTEF.

National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week

7 November 2016
Australian women are being encouraged to make sure they are up to date with their cervical screening and Gardasil vaccinations. 

Marking the beginning of National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week Minister for Health, Sussan Ley reiterated the importance of regular screening in the fight against cervical cancer. 

“In 2016 alone, an estimated 903 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer,” Minister Ley said. 

“Our cancer survival outcomes are among the best in the world but we also know that 80 per cent of all women that are diagnosed with new cancers of the cervix in Australia, have either never been screened or are lapsed screeners.

“That’s why I am encouraging all Australian women during this important awareness week to make sure they are up to date with their cervical screening.”

From May 2017, the Australian Government will be updating and making changes to the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) which has been around for 25 years.

The Pap test will be replaced with a cervical screening test for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) for women aged between 25 and 74 years of age, with routine screening to occur every five years instead of every two years.

Currently, under the NCSP, testing is recommended for women between the ages of 18-69.

The updated Cervical Screening Program will adopt a risk-based approach to cervical screening, with women to receive a result based on their risk of developing significant cervical abnormalities in the following five years. 

“The updates to our screening program means that we are taking advantage of the latest evidence and medical discoveries in our fight against cervical cancer. Australia will be world-leading in providing this new test to Australian women for better health outcomes,” Minister Ley said. 

As part of the changes a new National Cancer Screening Register will be introduced to send women invitations and reminders about the program. Legislation for this new cancer screening register was introduced by the Turnbull Government and passed by the Parliament last month. 

To coincide with National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation has developed and launched a Cervical Health App and a Comfort Checklist to promote awareness about the disease. 

For more information about the National Cervical Screening Program, or the changes to the program, please visit the Department of Health’s website. 

Remarkable Efforts Recognised At The 10th National Disability Awards

8 November 2016
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, Jane Prentice has announced this year’s National Disability Awards winners at a gala ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra tonight.

Mrs Prentice congratulated the 10 winners noting that they have all made a remarkable effort to improve the lives of people with disability.

“These passionate and hardworking people and organisations have been recognised for their commitment and contribution to achieving greater inclusion and accessibility for people with disability,” she said.

“The National Disability Awards, now in their 10th year, are an excellent opportunity to honour and recognise the hard work and achievements of every day Australians who are making a real difference to the lives of people with disability.”

This year’s winners demonstrate a range of outstanding achievements including:
• long-term advocates in social justice, equality and rights for people with disability;
• the development of innovative technology that has the ability to bring function to paralysed or damaged hands;
• a program that gives people with disability the chance to experience scuba diving in the comfort of their own local pool; and
• a community that strives to make its town more accessible.

The 10 Award winners were chosen across eight Award categories drawn from a field of more than 120 nominations.

“I would like to thank all the winners for the remarkable work being done to break down barriers faced by people with disability and to make Australia a more inclusive society,” Mrs Prentice said.

The National Disability Awards are a major part of the Commonwealth Government’s celebration of International Day of People with Disability, marked on 3 December each year.

The 2016 National Disability Award winners are listed below.  Further details of their achievements are available at

2016 National Disability Award winners
• Maurice Corcoran AM, SA
• Brisbane City Council, QLD
• The Dementia Friendly Kiama Project, Kiama Municipal Council, NSW
• Shire of Collie, WA
• Determined2, SA
• Nightlife Disability Service, VIC
• Dr Peter Puya Abolfathi, Healthcare Innovations Australia, NSW
• Tagai State College Student Support Services Team, QLD
• Kerri Cassidy, Chronic CerebroSpinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) Australia, VIC
• Kairsty Wilson, AED Legal Centre, VIC

ACCC Raises Concerns About Supermarket Delisting Notices

8 November 2016
Supermarkets need to improve the way they notify suppliers when delisting their products to avoid breaching the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said today at the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s forum in Canberra.

The Code provides default protections to all Aldi, Coles and Woolworths suppliers as of 1 July this year. Under the Code, supermarkets can only delist a supplier’s product for genuine commercial reasons and must give reasonable written notice. Supermarkets must also inform the supplier of their right to have decisions reviewed by a senior buyer.

Mr Sims said the ACCC has raised its concerns with Aldi, Coles and Woolworths following recent compliance checks known as Code audits.
“Some delist notices did not give suppliers reasonable notice; the worst examples were delistings that appear to have occurred on the same day as the notice was served,” Mr Sims said.

“Some delist notices did not include any real reasons for delisting and where reasons were provided, they were typically very general in nature.”
“In some instances, retailers largely cited a failure to meet ‘commercial sales or profitability targets’ without providing any real detail,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims said the ACCC is looking at these concerns closely and expects the supermarkets to address them quickly.

He said the delisting notices and other issues raised in the AFGC survey were disappointing as the supermarkets are working to make real and positive changes to their dealings with suppliers.

Mr Sims also stressed to the food and grocery sector that the ACCC is cracking down on large businesses that make misleading health claims.
“If you are going to put a so-called ‘health halo’ on your product make sure you don’t create an overall impression that is likely to mislead," Mr Sims said.

He said claims about health benefits of food are important triggers for consumers who want to make healthy choices.

“Those [claims] directed to choices for children are particularly important and hence some of our recent enforcement activity,” Mr Sims said.

He listed Heinz Little Kids Shredz, Unilever’s Rainbow Paddle Pops, andSmith’s Sakata Paws Pizza Supreme Rice Snacks as recent examples.
Mr Sims also provided an update on the ACCC’s work in agriculture including the cattle and beef market study and the recent report on the horticulture and viticulture industries.

Reporting on dairy issues, he said the ACCC has commenced a dairy inquiry this month, which will continue into 2017. Mr Sims also said the ACCC’s investigations into Murray Goulburn and Fonterra have reached an advanced stage. 

In the final part of his speech, Mr Sims spoke about the important work the ACCC is doing behind the scenes on free trade agreements.

“If our trading partners have competition laws that apply to all commercial activities and they have independent competition authorities that enforce those laws in a fair and non-discriminatory manner, this will help to ensure trade liberalisation is not thwarted by ‘behind the border’ barriers,” Mr Sims said

“To this end, the ACCC is assisting DFAT on competition issues in relation to the negotiation of a number of FTAs.”

Australia Exports Baseball Bats To America 

Australian Diary 74.
Published on 7 Nov 2016 by NFSA Films
From The Film Australia Collection. Made by the National Film Board 1954. Directed by Jack S Allan. A look at baseball at the Yankee Stadium and how Australia makes and exports bats to the United States.

Search For ET Underway With CSIRO'S Parkes Radio Telescope

8 November, 2016: CSIRO
Breakthrough Listen, the 10-year, $100-million astronomical search for intelligent life beyond Earth launched in 2015 by Internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking today announced its first observations using CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope.

Parkes has joined two US telescopes, the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Automated Planet Finder at Lick Observatory in California, in their ongoing surveys to determine whether civilisations exist elsewhere and have developed technologies similar to our own.

Image: Parkes radio telescope (Photo: Shaun Amy)

Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives which include Breakthrough Listen, said the addition of Parkes was an important milestone.

"These major instruments are the ears of planet Earth, and now they are listening for signs of other civilisations," Mr Milner said.

After 14 days of commissioning and test observations, 'first light' for Breakthrough Listen at Parkes was achieved this morning (8 November (local time)) with an observation of the newly-discovered Earth-size planet orbiting the nearest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri.

A red dwarf star 4.3 light years from Earth, Proxima Centauri is known to have a planet ('Proxima b') orbiting within its habitable zone, the region where water could exist in liquid form on the planet's surface.

Such 'exo-Earths' are among the primary targets for Breakthrough Listen.

Dr Andrew Siemion, Director of Berkeley SETI Research Center and leader of the Breakthrough Listen science program, said the chances of any particular planet hosting intelligent life-forms are probably minuscule.

"But once we knew there was a planet right next door, we had to ask the question, and it was a fitting first observation for Parkes," Dr Siemion said.

"To find a civilisation just 4.2 light years away would change everything."

CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope is perfectly positioned to observe parts of the sky that can't be seen from the northern hemisphere, including the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy, large swaths of the Galactic plane, and numerous other galaxies in the nearby Universe.

Dr Douglas Bock, Director of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, said the Parkes telescope was one of the most highly cited radio telescopes in the world.

"The Parkes radio telescope has a long list of achievements to its credit, including the discovery of the first 'fast radio burst'," Dr Bock said.

"Its unique view of the southern hemisphere sky and cutting-edge instrumentation means it now also has a great opportunity to contribute to the search for extra-terrestrial life."

Swinburne University of Technology is working closely with University of California, Berkeley, and CSIRO to design and implement a signal-processing and data-storage system for the project that will make the Breakthrough Listen data available to the science community.

Professor Matthew Bailes, ARC Laureate Fellow at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology, and the Breakthrough Listen project's Australian science coordinator, said Breakthrough Listen would do more than just hunt for ET.

"The detection system on Parkes will be simultaneously searching for naturally occurring phenomena such as pulsars and fast radio bursts, which are a large part of Parkes' present work," Dr Bailes said.

"The Australian science community welcomes the opportunity to share the Breakthrough Listen data for other ongoing research projects."

Breakthrough Listen will use 25 per cent of the science time available on the Parkes radio telescope over the next five years.

The Breakthrough Listen science program is directly aligned with CSIRO's strategy to operate world-class national facilities for the use of scientists, to ensure that those facilities are adequately and sustainably funded, and to facilitate the delivery of world-leading science outcomes and impact.
Parkes radio telescope.© 2005 Shaun Amy

New Life For Sydney's Fish Market

7th November 2016: NSW Government - Premier of NSW, Hon. Mike Baird, MP, NSW Planning Minister, Hon. Rob Stokes
A new $250 million fish market will be developed at Blackwattle Bay on a site adjacent the current Sydney Fish Market under a scheme expected to double visitors to one of the city’s biggest attractions.

The NSW Government will call for Registrations of Interest from the world’s best design and engineering experts to produce an iconic fish and produce market.

An historic agreement has been reached between UrbanGrowth NSW and the leaseholders of the Sydney Fish Market to proceed to the next stage of the development of a new market, which includes design, site investigations, planning and negotiations.

“The Sydney Fish Market is already one of Sydney’s great attractions but our world famous harbour deserves something even better,” NSW Premier Mike Baird said.

“The current facilities are tired and run down and upgrading and expanding the markets was a challenge that defeated the previous government.

“As part of this plan, brand new, world-class food and dining facilities will be built on Sydney Harbour – creating a haven for foodies and tourists.
“More than three million people visit the fish market every year and after the development of a new market that figure is expected to double.”

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the NSW Government is now calling for registrations of interest from Australia and worldwide to create a new Sydney Fish Market to ensure design excellence.

“We want to attract leading talent from across the world who have the vision to design a world-class market befitting of this stunning location,” Mr Stokes said.

“We will work closely with a design review panel that includes the NSW Government Architect, City of Sydney and an independent architect.”

The new markets will be constructed at Blackwattle Bay with levels under the waterline. Wharves will offer mooring space for the city’s fishing fleet and recreational vessels. The development of the new market will also restore public access from the Wentworth Park through to the waterfront.
Construction of the new building will proceed while the existing operations continue at the present site.

While the design is yet to be determined, the building will offer 35,000 square metres of floorspace – more than double its  present size.

The retail space will grow from the present 6,582 square metres to 15,500 square metres with seafood sales complemented by additional fresh produce lines.

There will be outdoor dining seating for more than 3,000 guests and the possibility of the inclusion of a rooftop bar.

The Registration of Interest process is seeking to engage designers and engineers with extensive experience in delivering creative and innovative projects that are sustainable and sensitive to the surrounding community and environment.

The project cost will be offset by a mixed-use development on the site of the present fish market and car park. Wentworth Park will not be affected by the project. The new market will not include any residential development
Construction of the new fish market is expected to commence in late 2018.

Life Took Hold On Land 300 Million Years Earlier Than Thought

November 8, 2016
Life took hold on land at least as early as 3.2 billion years ago, suggests a study by scientists from Berlin, Potsdam and Jena (Germany). The team led by Sami Nabhan of the Freie Universität Berlin studied ancient rock formations from South Africa's Barberton greenstone belt.

Today the Barberton Mountains in northeastern South Africa are covered by rocky grasslands; these hills are made of some of the oldest rocks on Earth (3.2 - 3.5 billion years old). At 3.2 billion years ago a shallow ocean covered most of this area, where rivers draining into this ocean provided favorable environment for life to start colonizing the flood planes.
Credit: Sami Nabhan/FSU Jena

These rocks are some of the oldest known on Earth, with their formation dating back to 3.5 billion years. In a layer that has been dated at 3.22 billion years old, tiny grains of the iron sulfide mineral pyrite were discovered that show telltale signs of microbial activity.

These signs are recorded both in trace element distributions as well as in the ratio between the sulfur isotopes 34S and 32S in the pyrite.

Using instrumentation installed in Potsdam in 2013, the scientists showed that the fraction of 34S in the core of some crystals differ characteristically from that of the same crystal's rim, indicating that the exterior of the grain involved a processing of sulfur by microbes, so-called biogenic fractionation. The determination of the 34S/32S ratio, using sample masses less than one billionth of a gram, was carried out at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences by Michael Wiedenbeck of the GFZ's secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) lab.

The composition of the rock, the shape of the crystals, and the layering visible in the field all indicate that the studied rock sequence was derived from an ancient soil profile; this so-called paleosol developed on a river flood plain 3.22 billion years ago.

Field data collected during this study imply that a braided river system transported the sediment containing the iron sulfide crystals. It is interpreted that microbes living in the soil, at a level that was continually shifting between wet and dry conditions, subsequently produced the rim overgrowths on the pyrite crystals.

Based on this evidence, the scientists conclude in their publication in the journal Geology that they found evidence for biological activity on land at this very early date. Their research pushes back the date for the oldest evidence of life on land to some 300 million years earlier than previously documented.

Sami Nabhan, Michael Wiedenbeck, Ralf Milke, Christoph Heubeck. Biogenic overgrowth on detrital pyrite in ca. 3.2 Ga Archean paleosols. Geology, 2016; 44 (9): 763 DOI:10.1130/G38090.1

Building Burnie C.1927

Footage from c.1927 showing builders from the Carter and Peace Construction Company building Public Buildings in Burnie, Tasmania. Construction work is shown taking place in front of a weatherboard house and includes a shot of a man operating a mechanical cement mixer.

From 'Burnie, Tasmania c1925'.
Production Company: Tasfilm Productions
Producer: R.D.Barnes

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.

Design Competition For Missing Middle Housing

04.11.2016: Ministerial Media Release - The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning
Architects and building designers are being called upon to showcase their visions for the future of housing in NSW through a design competition.

The Missing Middle Design Competition is seeking high-quality, innovative design solutions for low-rise medium density housing. The competition has a prize pool of $50,000 and seeks entries in three categories: terraces, dual occupancies and manor homes.

These housing types are known as “the missing middle” because they provide an alternative housing option for residents that bridges the gap between free-standing houses and apartment buildings. Terraces are undersupplied within the NSW housing market, despite their popularity and versatility for different lifestyles and household structures.

Entries will be used to road test the NSW Government’s new draft Medium Density Design Guide, which is currently on exhibition.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the competition will assist the NSW Government’s efforts to improve supply, choice and design of these popular housing types.

“Medium density homes such as terraces are highly sought after, efficient and versatile forms of housing, but are in short supply compared with traditional quarter-acre blocks and high-rise apartments.” Mr Stokes said.

"We want to know whether our design guide works in practice, or if aspects such as the width of the homes could be reduced in line with their historical design.

“By encouraging creative design we hope to see architects and building designers ranging from students through to established practices take up the challenge and share their ideas with us.”

The competition is open to architects, building designers, students and other industry experts. Entries will be assessed by a jury led by NSW Government Architect Peter Poulet.

Winners will receive $10,000 and runners-up will receive $5,000.Competition entries will close on 16th December.

Horrors Of War Continued At Home For Anzacs

Media release: Wednesday, 9 November 2016: National Archives of Australia
Australians can now track down the medical records of relatives who returned home from World War I, thanks to a project recently completed by the National Archives of Australia.

The three-year national project – to describe and ensure preservation of more than 256,000 World War I repatriation files – received government funding of $3.4 million in 2013 to mark the Anzac centenary. Completed in Archives' offices around the country – including Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne – the project has gone part-way towards publicly listing and repackaging the records containing the medical, hospital and pension details of Anzacs who returned.

'Some veterans had three or more repatriation records, sometimes up to 20cm thick.  However returning soldiers with no health issues or pension applications might not have a repatriation file at all,' said Anne-Marie Condé, National Archives senior curator.

'The Archives has fully digitised nearly 5600 of the repatriation records, giving an insight into the problems faced by veterans when they returned home. For many, the horrors of war never ended. Some individuals' files contain more than 500 pages of information – often revealing distressing details of their ongoing battles with illness, disfigurement and shell shock.

'Many of the digitised repatriation files belonged to Anzacs who sailed away from Albany with the first convoy on 1 November 1914,' said Ms Conde. 'Those men had a very long war, from the beginning to the last days.'

For returning veterans whose records haven't already been digitised, families can request and purchase copies of their own relatives' files. Most repatriation case records are held in state offices where they are available for viewing in reading rooms and for the purchase of digital copies. There is a delay with records held in Canberra until July 2017 due to the ongoing relocation of records to the new National Archives Preservation Facility.

Since the records were gradually released from 2014, there has been a marked increase in people researching the files, with more than 1 million views in the past financial year.

Special collaboration in Melbourne with community volunteers and Monash University students contributed to the success of the project. Many of the stories are movingly portrayed in the university's One Hundred Storieswebsite.

The records have enabled the Archives to make strong contributions to several major projects including One Hundred Stories and the ANU led Serving our Country project on Indigenous servicemen and women. They have also contributed to the book The Last Battle: Soldier settlement in Australia 1916–1939 by Bruce Scates and Melanie Oppenheimer, to be launched at the Archives on Remembrance Day.

The repatriation files complement the 376,000 World War I service records that the National Archives digitised in 2007 as a Gift to the Nation. 
Information on both collections can be found at the Discovering Anzacs website

ACCC Releases Issues Paper For Inquiry Into The Australian Dairy Industry

8 November 2016
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says its dairy industry inquiry will examine competition between milk processors, contracts between processors and farmers, global supply markets, and the profitability of dairy farms.

In its Dairy Inquiry Issues Paper published today, the ACCC has laid out the key issues it will look at as part of its 12-month inquiry which it has been directed to carry out by the Australian Government.

“The ACCC is seeking feedback from interested parties on issues across all product and geographical markets in the Australian dairy industry. This inquiry will closely examine the key competition and fair trading issues affecting the dairy industry,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“As a formal inquiry, the ACCC will also have the ability to compel information from parties including processors and retailers. Our aim is to present a really clear picture of the issues facing the market today, and make any recommendations to ensure it remains fair and competitive.”

Key issues to be considered include:
• competition between milk processors
• contracting practices
• the availability of price and other market information
• the effect of private label products, including pricing, on the industry
• options for supply into global markets
• the key factors influencing the profitability of dairy farms.

“The ACCC will hold public forums in a number of dairy producing regions so we can speak with dairy farmers about their concerns, and we will release further information about these forums in the coming months,” ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh said.

The ACCC must provide its final report to the Treasurer by 1 November 2017.

The Issues Paper, Terms of Reference and further information about the Inquiry is available: Dairy Inquiry

On 27 October 2016 the Treasurer issued a notice requiring the ACCC to hold an Inquiry into the competitiveness of prices, trading practices and the supply chain in the Australian dairy industry. The Inquiry formally commenced on 1 November 2016.

Separate to the Inquiry, the ACCC investigations relating to the cuts to the price paid to dairy farmers for milk solids, announced by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra Australia in April and May 2016 are continuing.

The ACCC has been provided with additional funding of $11.4 million over four years to establish an Agriculture Unit that will conduct investigations and engagement in rural and regional areas.

The ACCC has established an Agriculture Information Network. Subscribers to this information network will receive emails about developments concerning new or updated resources, enforcement action as well as upcoming events, surveys and other opportunities to engage with the ACCC.

2016 Prime Minister's Literary Awards Winners

8 November 2016
Joint Media Release
The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister
The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Minister For Communications and the Arts
The winners of the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards have been announced today.

The winning and shortlisted authors have continued Australia’s rich literary tradition and should be enthusiastically congratulated for their contribution to the literary arts.

Prizes were awarded in six categories including fiction, poetry, non-fiction, Australian history, children’s and young adult literature.

The winning entries were selected from a shortlist of 30 exceptional books by some of Australia’s most well regarded authors. This year’s winners demonstrate the depth and diversity of Australian literature and scholarship.
Expert judging panels recommended the winners and shortlists from 425 entries across each of the categories, with the Prime Minister making the final decision.

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards serve as a significant demonstration of the Australian Government’s support for the literary arts.  

The winners are:
The Life of Houses, Lisa Gorton (Giramondo)
The Natural Way of Things, Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin)
The Hazards, Sarah Holland-Batt (University of Queensland Press)
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)
The Story of Australia's People, Geoffrey Blainey AC (Penguin)
Let My People Go: The Untold Story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959-89, Sam Lipski AM, co-author, and Suzanne D Rutland OAM, co-author (Hybrid Publishers)
Sister Heart, Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press)
A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia)

Visit for more information on the winning books and the Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

Developing The Next Generation Of Cyber Security Professionals

Tuesday 8 November 2016 Joint Media Release -
Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham • Minister for Education and Training, The Hon Dan Tehan MP • Minister for Defence Personnel
• Minister for Veterans' Affairs • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security
The Government will improve Australia’s cyber security by delivering world-leading cyber education and research.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan today announced approval for the Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence.

Cyber security skills are fundamental to Australia’s capability in a connected, technology-enabled world.

The centres will produce work-ready graduates to increase our cyber security workforce and world-leading research on cyber security as well providing executive education programs for industry and government.
The announcement comes as a survey released today of Australian millennials found two-thirds had never discussed a career in cyber security at high school.

Mr Tehan said a global survey of 18 to 26 year olds had found Australia needed to work harder to encourage young people into cyber security careers.

“There is growing demand for cyber security professionals and it is an exciting and challenging career,” Mr Tehan said.

“Australia also needs talented cyber professionals to help protect our national and business interests online and to encourage innovation.

“The Centres of Excellence extends the Government’s work encouraging young people into cyber careers through the Australia Cyber Security Challenge and Women in Cyber networking event.”

Mr Birmingham said the Turnbull Government wants to ensure that funding for cyber security is being directed as strategically as possible.

“The Turnbull Government has committed $3.45 million to help address Australia’s shortage of skilled cyber security professionals via the establishment of Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence to ensure they are effectively meeting our country’s future needs,” Mr Birmingham said.

“In an important next step we will also appoint a working group to review the courses currently on offer at universities and the eligibility and selection criteria for establishing the Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence.

“Ultimately our Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence will help ensure our students are ready to enter the workforce, that we can upskill executives and government professionals and that our research highlights Australia as a leader in the field.”

Mr Tehan will launch Raytheon’s Securing Our Future: Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap survey today in Canberra.

Deng Adut Named 2017 NSW Australian Of The Year

8th November 2016: NSW Government
Defence lawyer and refugee advocate Deng Adut has been named the 2017 NSW Australian of the Year.

NSW Premier Mike Baird congratulated Mr Adut and the other outstanding recipients who were honoured at a ceremony in Sydney last night.

“Deng is a role model for all of us and his story inspires us all, particularly the newest members of the community who often arrive in our country seeking safety and access to the basic freedoms we enjoy as Australians,” Mr Baird said.

“He has overcome personal adversity and tragedy to achieve success, and inspires others with his life journey and the opportunities he’s embraced along the way.

“Deng represents the very best of what makes our country great, and has channeled his success into helping hundreds of people in the state’s Sudanese community navigate their way through the Australian legal system.

“I congratulate Deng and all NSW winners and finalists and thank them for their immense contributions to our community.

“Tonight’s four winners represent how individuals can make a positive difference in our society and break through barriers to benefit others, and I wish them the best of luck in the national awards to be held in January.”

The other 2017 NSW recipients are:
• Dr John Knight AM, Doctor and Altruist – NSW Senior Australian of the Year
• Mr Arthur Alla, Reconciliation Champion – NSW Young Australian of the Year
• Mrs Josephine Peter, Volunteer – NSW Local Hero

The NSW Award recipients will join recipients from other states and territories as finalists for the national awards, which will be held in Canberra on 25 January 2017.

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards

National Finalist Senior Australian of the Year 2017
Dr John Knight AM
Doctor and altruist
Australia's first celebrity doctor, Dr John Knight AM has spent decades amassing a residential property portfolio that supports elderly Australians. John, also known as Dr James Wright, answered the nation’s medical queries in print, radio and as a regular guest on Midday with Ray Martin for 30 years. In 1973, John and his late wife Noreen established Medi-Aid Centre Foundation, a charity that provides accommodation for the elderly, particularly those who are frail, have no family support and no home. Now at 89, John has battled through heartbreak, personal and financial loss and cancer, but he’s kept buying property for Medi-Aid and now has almost 1,000 investments – including hundreds of Surfers Paradise waterfront apartments – that are rented out for a meagre sum. While John could afford to live in luxury, he chooses to live in the same un-renovated home where he raised his four children and has lived for the past 60 years.

National Finalist Young Australian of the Year 2017
Arthur Alla
Reconciliation champion
While volunteering for a year in Cape York, Arthur Alla listened to the wisdom of Aboriginal elders and wanted other young people to gain the same opportunity. So in 2011, Arthur set up Red Earth, an organisation that gives Indigenous Australians from remote homelands a way to host young people from the city. For two weeks, high school students live with traditional owners and local kids, volunteering on projects and learning about the world’s oldest enduring culture. Arthur’s work is deeply rooted in reconciliation: elders show their country with pride, telling their stories with their own voice, and choosing the projects that will add the most value to their homelands. Aboriginal children make friends and gain insights into life in the city, while visiting high school students open their hearts to first Australians. Arthur’s work has connected 1,100 students who have contributed 25,000 hours to projects and raised more than half a million dollars for communities.

National Finalist Australia's Local Hero 2017
Josephine Peter
Seven decades of volunteer work began in 1940, when seven-year-old Josephine Peter knitted her first pair of socks for Australia’s troops. Over the course of World War II, Josephine made 450 pairs of socks, starting a lifetime of dedication to others. Since then, she’s been a stalwart on parents’ committees and arts societies. She’s handed out how to vote cards at elections for 54 years. She sat on the board of Broken Hill’s Robinson College for 25 years, with seven years as president, and she was a volunteer tutor for more than a decade. She’s listened to people’s problems as a telephone counsellor, coordinated 22 debutante balls for Rotary and has supported the VIEW Club and Smith Family for 27 years. She’s driven thousands of kilometres in car rallies to raise funds for kidney health and to build a children’s cemetery in her hometown. At 83 years of age, Josephine’s volunteer efforts have not diminished, and her influence on the community of Broken Hill is unmatched.

NAIDOC 2017 To Celebrate Indigenous Languages

7 November 2016: Media release - Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Hon. Nigel Scullion, MP
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has welcomed next year’s national NAIDOC theme:Our Languages Matter.
Announced today, the theme focuses on the importance, resilience and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

Minister Scullion said Our Languages Matter was a great theme that would celebrate the role Indigenous languages played in cultural identity.
“For First Australians, language links people to their land and water – it is how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history is transferred through generations,” Minister Scullion said.

There were 250 distinct Indigenous language groups in Australia at the time Europeans first made contact. Now, only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost.

 “The Coalition Government recognises the importance of Indigenous language preservation – it is an important part of our nation’s history, and culture. We recently announced $22.8 million to help keep Indigenous languages alive and showcase traditional and contemporary Indigenous cultural and artistic expression,” Minister Scullion said.

Today also marks the start of the National NAIDOC Poster Competition which is centred on the Our Languages Matter theme. The competition is open now and will close at 5pm (AEST) on Monday, 20 March 2017.

“The 2017 theme provides an excellent opportunity for Australia’s cultural and educational institutions to develop learning materials, experiences, and displays,” Minister Scullion said.

"This work helps all Australians understand and appreciate the richness and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.”

NAIDOC Week 2017 will run nationally from 2-9 July and is an occasion for all Australians to come together to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 
More information, including competition and nomination forms and ideas on how to celebrate, is available at:

Pets Of All Types Take Over The National Portrait Gallery

November 3rd, 2016: National Portrait Gallery
It is not every day that a national gallery turns its walls over to the animal companions that bring unconditional love and joy to their owners but this summer we have opened the doors to 15 contemporary artists with very different ways of depicting our furry, feathered and scaled pets.

The Popular Pet Show features more than 160 portraits, many large scale paintings, of famous and obscure Australians and their pets by contemporary artists Nicholas Harding, Lucy Culliton, Darren McDonald, Anna Culliton, Fiona McMonagle, Ken Done, Noel McKenna, Graeme Drendel, Robyn Sweaney, Kristin Headlam, Shen Jiawei, Jude Rae, William Robinson, Janet Dawson and Davida Allen.

Curator of the show Dr Sarah Engledow is excited to present an exhibition that everyone can enjoy. ‘My intention for the show is to bring together a collection of works that’s accessible for all types of people, including those who don’t know much about art. All kinds of people with different interests love their pets, and all kinds of people who love their pets can relate in some way to the paintings in this show,’ said Sarah. ‘As a big fan of the internet, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of animal snaps, but I can’t say I’ve learned much from looking at them. By contrast, the painted, sculpted and drawn pet animals in this exhibition make congenial guides to random, basic ideas about art.’

‘Some artists go at their subjects in fervour and some labour over individual hairs. For me, even comparing how much blank space different artists leave around a dog or a bird is interesting. These are all really good artists; but I hope visitors will compare their pictures, appreciate their different approaches, and make up their own minds about what they like best.’

Dr Engledow has previously curated Idle Hours, Paris to Monaro: Pleasures from the Studio of Hilda Rix Nicholas and most recently Arcadia: Sound of the sea and she’s known for her thoughtful and original storytelling.

The Popular Pet Show is open to the public from Friday 4 November 2016 until Monday 13 March 2017. Tickets can be purchased online or at the information desk at the Gallery for $10 per adult or $8 per concession and young people under 18 are free. A number of pet-tastic activities and events will be held in conjunction with The Popular Pet Show. The first celebrates farm-yard pets with a Country Fair on Sunday 13 November from 10.00am until 2.00pm.

In the new year dog lovers will be able to bring their furry companions to a Paws for Art day with a variety of dog-themed activities, demonstrations and goodies.

The Popular Pet Show
Friday 4 November 2016 until Monday 13 March 2017

National Disability And Carers Advisory Council Announced

7 November 2016: Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, Hon. Jane Prentice MP
The Coalition Government today announced the establishment of the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council.

The new Council brings together leaders from business and the disability and carer sectors, to provide advice on proposed policies and legislation affecting people with disability, carers and the sector that serves them.

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, Jane Prentice said the Council will provide advice on issues of strategic importance at a time of major reform in the disability and carer sectors.
“The Council will play an important role in helping to drive the implementation of the overarching National Disability Strategy 2010-20,” she said.

“It will also look at reforms in disability employment and carer support, and the full roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, including the interfaces with mainstream services.”

“Members represent every state and territory as well as business and the disability and carer sector, and advocates.

“I will co-chair the Council with Ms Keran Howe, who is well respected as a strong advocate in the sector and who has lived experience,” she said.

The Council will meet formally at least twice a year and establish working groups and community consultations as needed.

Members of the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council are:
1. Hon. Jane Prentice MP (Co-Chair)
2. Ms Keran Howe (Co-Chair)
3. Ms Donna Bain
4. Ms Nell Brown
5. Mr Paul Coates
6. Ms Jennifer Cullen
7. Mr Wilhelm Harnisch
8. Ms Christine Kerr
9. Mr Greg Madson
10. Ms Jessica May
11. Ms Teresa Pilbeam
12. Mr Frank Quinlan
13. Aunty Gayle Rankine
14. Ms Sally Sinclair
15. Mr Martin Stokie
16. Mr Steve Vitone
17. Ms Elizabeth Wall

$1 Billion Of Pacific Highway Works Between Woolgoolga And Ballina Put To Tender

04 November 2016: MEDIA RELEASE
Paul Fletcher
Minister for Urban Infrastructure
Kevin Hogan
Federal Member for Page
Duncan Gay
NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight
Chris Gulaptis
NSW Member for Clarence
Around $1 billion worth of major civil work packages for the Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade are currently going to tender.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the release of the tenders is a major milestone in the Australian and New South Wales government-funded upgrade.

“This investment in Pacific Highway upgrades is already delivering results with a reduction in road fatalities,” Mr Chester said.

New South Wales Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay said the tenders for the long awaited Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway should have happened more than a decade ago.

“Work is underway on about 90 kilometres of the upgrade and the award of these tenders will result in the full 155 kilometres being under construction. 
For decades the duplication of the Pacific Highway has been a pipe dream for the communities along its length—with this Federal and State coalition governments we are delivering on our commitment,” Mr Gay said.

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the Australian and New South Wales governments were on track to deliver a fully duplicated Pacific Highway between Hexham and the Queensland border by 2020.

“The work has been divided into five contract packages so works can proceed simultaneously, ensuring the project opens to traffic on time in 2020. Just as important is the jobs dividend for the entire region, with millions of dollars flowing through the local economy and even more to come thanks to these contracts,” Mr Hogan said.

New South Wales Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the slew of upcoming work signalled immense opportunities for the region's companies and workers.

“The release of this work to the market means the vast majority of the major contracts for the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade will either be issued for tender or evaluated by the end of the year, helping the project to achieve its target to open to traffic by 2020, weather permitting,” Mr Gulaptis said.

The following shortlisted companies have been asked to tender for individual, and/or combinations of packages for work:
• BGC Contracting Pty Ltd
• Bielby Holdings Pty Ltd
• BMD Constructions Pty Ltd
• CPB Contractors Pty Ltd
• Daracon Contractors Pty Ltd
• FK Gardner & Sons Pty Ltd
• Georgiou Group Pty Ltd
• Golding Contractors Pty Ltd
• Lendlease Engineering Pty Ltd
• OHL Construction Pacific Pty Ltd
• Seymour Whyte Ostwald Joint Venture

The Australian and New South Wales governments are jointly funding the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade on an 80:20 basis.

George Eastman Image Collection Goes Online

The famous George Eastman Museum has created a new, public portal where you can view over 250,000 images and other objects from their vast collections. The database is searchable by artist, collection, classification and date, and includes a wealth of photography, cinema, and technology related to imaging.
Visit HERE to see the images 

The mission of the George Eastman Museum, as an educational institution, has three interrelated goals:
• Provide leadership in the fields of photography and cinema;
• Preserve and develop our world-class collections related to photography and cinema, as well as George Eastman’s estate, a National Historic Landmark; and
• Serve our communities, in Greater Rochester and elsewhere.

History of the George Eastman Museum (from their website
Entrepreneur George Eastman (1854–1932), the pioneer of popular photography, completed his Colonial Revival mansion on East Avenue in Rochester in 1905 and resided there until his death. He bequeathed most of his assets to the University of Rochester, expressing a desire that his mansion serve as the residence for the university president. The large house, measuring 35,000 square feet, proved far too large for this purpose, especially without a large service staff.

In 1947, the Board of Regents of the State of New York chartered George Eastman House Inc. as an independent nonprofit educational institution—specifically, a museum of photography and allied pursuits created as a memorial to George Eastman. The next year, the University of Rochester donated Eastman’s mansion and surrounding property to the museum. The institution altered its name several times over the ensuing decades, but its mission has remained steadfast: to collect, preserve, study, and exhibit photographic and cinematic objects and related technology from the inception of each medium to the present.

At the museum’s opening in 1949, it was one of only two American museums with a photography department and one of only two American museums with a film department (the Museum of Modern Art also had both). In 1951, the museum opened the beautiful Dryden Theatre, with seating for more than five hundred people, to exhibit films.

The George Eastman Museum’s position as a leader in its fields is founded on the curatorial visions of Beaumont Newhall, James Card, Rudolf Kingslake, George C. Pratt, Nathan Lyons, Philip Condax, and the gifted leaders and curators who followed them. For the first couple decades of the museum’s history, its curators, faced with relatively limited competition from other collecting institutions, were able to develop world-class collections of great breadth, depth, and quality—mostly through generous gifts from photographers, filmmakers, collectors, and corporate donors.

For almost forty years, the museum displayed objects from its collections in the rooms of George Eastman’s mansion. As its collections expanded and experts became more knowledgeable about the nature and importance of appropriate conditions for the storage of photographs and film, a new museum facility became essential. In 1989, the museum completed construction of a 73,000-square-foot building (more than 70 percent of which is below ground level) that included climate-controlled collection vaults, exhibition galleries, libraries, offices, and photographic conservation and film preservation labs.

Given that George Eastman’s mansion was no longer to be occupied by the exhibition and storage of the photography and cinema collections, a determined group (almost entirely of women), led by Georgia Potter Gosnell and Nancy Turner, undertook the heroic effort of an exacting restoration of the historic mansion and grounds. Based on vintage photographs and other historical evidence, virtually all of the complex decorative interiors of the first floor of the mansion were restored and more than 85 percent of its original furnishings were returned during the two-year process.

Today, visitors to the George Eastman Museum can view at least three temporary exhibitions on photography and cinema in our galleries, tour George Eastman’s mansion and gardens (a National Historic Landmark), and see daily films at the Dryden Theatre.

From the Collection - Victorian estate of the Milne family, Australia ca. 1865